Monthly Archives: December 2008

Sole prediction for 2009

michelinPredicting the future is a mug’s game. Nobody predicted Google, or youtube. they may have felt the need for the service they provide but nobody saw them coming.

interesting tale: we at the escape pod once had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Google’s first salesman, david scacco. he was the guy whose job it was to visit ad agencies back in 1998 and sell advertising agencies on the merits of using google. in 1998! can you imagine a tougher sell? He showed us his foamcore backed presentation boards that he used to use in his original presentation. surely they’re in the google museum by now. they were very funny. stuff like “over 125,000 daily users!” and “search over 2 million web pages!”.

even if he’d presented Google, the idea of google, to me back in 1998, i’m pretty sure i would not have recognized its future potential. so no future predictions from The Escape Pod.

OK, just one. It’s this. 2009 will mark a return to the basics of advertising in a big way. and i don’t just mean in a there’s-a-recession-we-have-to-sell-stuff way. I mean a refocusing on what advertising is supposed to do as opposed to “ooh look there’s a new digital thingy let’s obsess about that for ages”. we see a return to big ideas. big ideas that can effortlessly be incarnated in any medium or platform or whatever. big ideas have, and always had, power. they are infectious and usually elemental. they have intrinsic value. they are WORTH something.   they can make  a brand.  my first boss was the guy who came up with the big ideas that made Perdue Chicken (the best)  Volvo (well engineered safety)  and Maxell Tapes (worth it) what they were.  his ideas (and the ideas of his clients) created a magic.  he defined brands.  he said  he “helped brands realize their destinies”.  which i always thought was as neat a definition of advertising as i’ve ever heard.

i recently had to buy tires for my minivan and one image kept swirling around in head. the baby sitting on the Michelin tire with the line “Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires”. That’s what i mean by a big idea. have they even run that ad in the past ten years?  didn’t matter.  there it was, still haunting my consciousness.  still being the decisive factor in the purchase process of a product that everybody feels is important but nobody really has a clue about.

i think at this point we have all digested the idea of the internet and had enough experience of it that we’re not in its thrall anymore. we get it. it has its uses. but it’s not the only tool available to us. so let’s apply big ideas to to it.

have we entered the “post-internet” age?

[update:  is it just me or does the baby in the michelin ad look like an irish-american tavern owner?]

The best posts of the year

based on the number of clicks received, not our opinion. the hard facts jack!

1. Our idea for Obama. still have some plates if you want one.

2. A post inspired by our back to school effort for client OfficeMax. we like this one too.

3. A post about our new favorite ad blog written by UK ad legend Dave Trott. free wisdom, you can’t beat that.

INTERESTING FACT: A surprising/depressing amount of visitors to our blog seem to come from Poland and are using google image search to find pictures of Mike Tyson. Oh well.

Happy holidays from The Escape Pod!


We did this a few years back. I say “we”. I really mean Bent animation in Portland. They did an amazing job. took bloody ages to do this one. stop-motion animation is not for those with short attention spans to say the least.

Finally, some art for the walls of The Escape Pod

zzzzzz7654105
We at the Escape Pod have long been fans of Hugh Mcleod.  Hugh is Scottish.  Hugh is a true artist. Hugh is a great cartoonist.  Hugh is a great marketing thinker.  Hugh is a digital pioneer.   Hugh is arguably the world’s foremost blogger.  Hugh is restless.  Hugh used to live in Chicago.  Then he moved to the Scottish border region.   Then he moved to London.  And now he lives in Alpine Texas.   He is about to, finally, publish a book.   And it will be a big hit.  Because Hugh has put in the hard work over the last decade to amass an audience of devoted fans, myself included.  Hugh is quite simply a breath of fresh air.  He’s a bit of Quixotic figure in a way.  Taking on Microsoft and Dell and helping clue them in on the web hugh.0

It is one of the biggest regrets of our professional lives that a project we hoped to collaborate with Hugh on never came to fruition.   we pride ourselves on  knowing a good thing when we see it and hugh is the real deal.

So were delighted to be able to purchase a signed limited edition print of the above “cartoon” by Hugh today.  It’s one of our favorites of his many cartoons.  A print out of it  used to adorn our office wall in a previous life.  And now it will adorn our office walls once more in a more fitting manner.

Rock on Hugh!

UPDATE: Man on Wire = brilliant!

so i watched the movie i impulsively rented based solely on seeing the promo trailer at the dvd store.  it’s an account of the French highwire walker, Philippe Petit, who fulfilled a lifetime dream of walking between the twin towers of the world trade center in new york in 1974.

having been up to the viewing deck of the World Tradc Center years ago, i’d seen lots of framed b/w shots of his escapade there, and assumed -  not unreasonably i thought – that this somehow was a WTC sanctioned publicity stunt.   it clearly wasn’t.  the whole thing was illegal as hell and was meticulously planned like a 70s bank heist movie.  an appropriately motley crew of new yorkers (including, hilariously, a jewish stoner)  and frenchmen somehow pulled off the wirewalk of the century.  this was art.  Philippe Petit makes Christo look like a  flower arranger.

it’s a great story.  and it’s really well told here.  and, coincidentally, it was edited by the inestimable Jinx Godfrey, who we at The Escape Pod have had the pleasure of working with in the past.  i actually checked to see who edited it and was happy see Jinx did it.   she’s just a master of her craft.  and this movie is yet more undeniable proof of that.  good on ya Jinx!

It’s inspiring for all us creative dreamers because Monsieur Petit himself was, and remains, a creative dreamer who wouldn’t let anything — self-preservation, impossible odds — come between him and his dream.   He did it!

why do we buy?

I have always been fascinated by the psychology and micro-psychology of purchase decisions and processes. It really helps keep your advertising honest if you’re true to the way your product is actually purchased and the real role the product plays has in people’s real lives. and i find it fun to dissect various purchase decisions. and i realize that doing so makes me a pathetic ad geek.

beer, for example is a surprisingly complex purchase decision. what you drink socially says something about you. so a lot more thought goes into it than might appear. are you a cosmo gal? are you a Bud man? the implication for me about this was that the advertising should create a halo of fun and likeability around the brand. because the beer you drink is your friend. you only associate it with good social times. so demonstrating those qualities that everyone seeks in friends could only be a good thing. because the beer you drink is, by definition, not a rational choice. the rational thing is to stay home and read a book.

so anyway, i was in the local dvd rental store looking for the new Star Wars Clone Wars for my son. not intending to rent anything for myself . when i saw a promo for MAN ON WIRE playing in the store. it’s a documentary about the tightrope walker who walked between the twin towers in New York in the 1970s. and i was hooked. i had to see it! so i rented it. it looks real good. that was yer classic “impulse” purchase. Low stakes. low cost. looked like fun. little downside. should be great viewing. a great example of the power of point of purchase. how many times has your wine choice been swayed by a little shelf talker recounting a positive review in Wine Spectator? Sometimes it really is that simple. People are usually open to suggestion and sometimes haven’t really thought about the purchase decision.  And that’s a good thing to remember.  Help them make the decision.

because if your advertising is in tune with how people really buy and consume your brand it has a much greater chance of being welcomed into your customer’s hearts and lives. you might think this would be obvious but there are a lot of insensitive oaf brands out there who clearly don’t get this. i am constantly surprised!

How to be exciting

Being exciting is easy.  you simply have to do exciting things.  that’s all.  people are attracted to exciting things and exciting people.  Being exciting means you don’t have to work so hard to meet new people.

celebrities are exciting.  if you’ve ever seen a celebrity, you know what i mean. the actor  peter o’toole once knocked on the door of my home in Ireland when i was a teenager.  i nearly died of shock.  of excitement.  so the ideal then would be for your brand to be exciting.  there are two routes to this: one is to create an exciting product.  have you ever used a FLIP video camera?  i have.  now that’s an exciting product.   but chances are your product might not be one of those ideas.  therefore the things you do have to create excitement. your packaging, your advertising, the things that are in your control that  you can make exciting.  and of course not everything will create a tsunami of excitement every time.  but if being exciting is not a consistent and explicit goal every time and at every opportunity, it will NEVER happen to your brand.

you know all those stories of famous actors and models who were “accidentally discovered” when they were “dragged along” to auditions by friends? never happened. complete horseshit. it takes a will of steel to succeed in the hyper-competitive entertainment industry. everybody who gets the spotlight fought hard to get it. usually by being exciting in some way.

If being exciting is a consistent goal, when lightning finally  does strike, and people are genuinely excited about your brand,  your reaction won’t be: “Oh my god, how did this happen?”.  It will be “Thank god.  It finally happened!”.