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A recent enlightenment has caused me to take notice to a number of things that had previous not been on my radar. Simple things, really. Like smiling for example. Or the lack of. I find this particularly interesting as we enter the Happy Holiday season. Why? People don’t really seem to be happy at all. If anything, this time of year seems to bring more frowns and stressed-to-the-max looks than ever. This is baffling as we know that by simply putting a smile on your face you will actually feel better. Not rocket science.

Okay, I understand it’s not that simple and there are a number of factors that influence what makes someone happy. JWT’s October trend report took this idea of happiness one step further. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand, explores the rising notion that a healthier person is a happier person and, in turn, a healthier person is a happier person. I agree with that and can see the correlation.

Now, this idea of health and happiness carries into the workplace as well. JWT Stockholm/SWE Advertising went to the drawing board to develop a new campaign for Adecco, a Swedish staffing firm, with this in mind. The agency used the foundational insight that a lack of praise and flattery in the workplace is one of the biggest contributors to poor health, sick leave and overall dissatisfaction among employees. The agency launched “The Praise Challenge”, a 10-day program activated through an app where both employees and clients were challenged to complete one exercise a day that involves encouragement, positive feedback, appreciation or acknowledgment. The success of the campaign encouraged over 18,000 praises that would have otherwise gone unsaid. A rough translation (via Google) of the campaigns can be found here.

This holiday season I challenge you to make it a Happy Holiday season. SMILE. Make someone else smile. Be the positive attitude in the room. Give a stranger a compliment. Smile some more. Because at the end of the day it’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. Happy Holidays.

 

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According to the philosopher William James “all of our life is nothing but a mass of habits,” as picked up by a recent New York Times piece by Jonah Lehrer.

It’s true. We give little thought to what we do, once done. It doesn’t mean we can’t reflect and think or feel about what we’ve done, it’s just that we easily continue to ‘do.’ And once we do anything enough, it’s tough to stop.

Lehrer points out that recent scientific inquiry is coming to the consensus that habits are really just an extreme form of learning. Like those of us who swim or play the piano a lot, once you have it down, you just go at it.

The same may be true for shopping and the brands we buy. Products that communicate and convey messaging in line with our habitual natures are likely successes. Lehrer points to a case from Charle’s Duhigg’s recent book “The Power of Habit” where the P&G brand Febreze didn’t become a hit until it incorporated habitual behavior into its product messaging.

Seems that consumers neither understood the product nor its benefits when it debuted. That’s until P&G  revamped the advertising campaign to bundle its use with perfoming the usual household chores of making the bed, cleaning the kitchen floor, and then spritizing Febreze into the air as part of the usual routine. Nothing new, but an integral part of habitual weekend cleaning. Bingo!

The lesson learned? Don’t make ‘too’ much out of your product or service.  We see a lot of that here at W5. Clients spending so much time on differientating themselves or making their product or service special and novel. The goal, we think, is rather to communicate that it’s a part of the norm, the ordinary, the mundane of every day; bundle the product into accepted habits and practices: find a slot in the routine of people’s life, highlight it in a nuanced manner, and you’re home free. You are swimming with the tide.

A great new book out entitled “Pantone, The 20th Century in Color” incorporates beautiful color plates with accompanying narrative by authors Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker that describe the last 100 years in the evolution of the color spectrum through the lens of the groundbreaking 1963 Pantone color system developed by Lawrence Hebert of Pantone.

The system codified the color spectrum, so that a certain shade of a color can be uniformly agreed upon and unknowingly revolutionized the world of graphic design. One can think back to any decade of the past century and certain colors and hues are easily associated with each time period. Serving as more than a mere color index, the book succeeds in describing the evolution of colors’ social imprint on culture, illustrated through advertisments, product design, fashion and general day-to-day life across generations.

Just close your eyes and visualize the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s–it’s easy. That’s what’s so great about this book. From a historical perspective, filtered through the nuance of aesthetics, we have each period literally ‘colored in’ for us. Beautiful and simple.

So much has been said, read, and posted about Steve Jobs in the months since his passing. While so much was known about Steve Jobs as an innovator, marketer, and world-class jerk, It’s been interesting to hear more about who he was, personally and philosophically – to really get a sense of what made him tick. Maybe he was too guarded in life, and all of this insight about him was only able to emerge after his death.

The above video is a great example. He’s not talking about a specific product…even technology in general. He’s talking about a philosophical approach that guided the way he sees the world. This becomes even clearer in this article. What’s becoming clear is that he had big ideas about the way the world worked. These ideas made it possible for him to see something most of his peers missed. He was able to take something confusing and make it simple – to take something ugly and find a way to make it elegant.

Check out this beautiful little video from Chipotle, illustrating their position in support of sustainable farming. With Willie Nelson covering Coldplay’s “Scientist,” this animated short by Johnny Kelly shows us one farmer’s rapid expansion, crisis of conscience, and return to simpler times. Though it’s already spreading like wildfire on the web, Chipotle plans on showing it in movie theaters this fall. Enjoy.

I’m  a sucker for one-take TV spots. In a time when anything – any I mean anything – is possible with CGI, spots like this are refreshing. Careful choreography, plenty of rehearsal, and a sweet Status Quo track make it all worthwhile. Enjoy the summer while it lasts.

Interesting little article from the WSJ about the throwback trend in consumer packaged goods. While the trend itself isn’t all that remarkable, I found the “Chip Flashback” sidebar amusing. Here’s a simple recipe for creating a throwback package:

  • Colors: The brown, orange and yellow palette is ‘very time stamped’ to the 1960s. Limitations in printing techniques also meant that only a few colors could be used.
  • Letter Blocks: Often used by TV shows and stations in the 1960s to highlight color-television technology, says Mr. Murphy.
  • Typeface: ‘Doritos’ is in a dramatic but playful serif font typical of the 1970s, says Mr. Wallace. (Serif fonts have feet at the edges. Sans-serif fonts do not.)
  • Flat Design: Before computers, shadow effects and colors that gradually blended into one another weren’t common.
Follow these rules and your brand can go retro, too.

Beautiful video about the barrage of commercial messages we contend with every day. In the words of the video’s creators…

Award-winning Typo-Animation that gives you a clear impression of the enormous amount of visual stimuli that plague us every day. Due to the immense scale of the visual bombardment, the commercial effectiveness has become utterly dubious.

What I love about this video is that it doesn’t demonize or condemn advertising and branding – it simply questions its effectiveness. All of this visual “chatter” ensures that the viewer is unable to engage in a “conversation” with any one brand.