Contactless Communication

Close enough to kiss … but shopping instead

Soon SmartPhones will be used like credit cards and the need for carrying all images (1)those plastic cards on your keychain or in your wallet will seem positively primitive.  NFC technology is here and traces its roots back to radio-frequency identification or RFID (the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects that contain electronically stored information).  What does it all mean … let’s break it down.

visa-iphone-contactless-payment-in2payNear Field Communications (get it … near the field … lol) is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into proximity, usually no more than a few centimeters. This shorter communication range is more optimal for security reasons than RFID, which may be able to transmit data from hundreds of meters away.

Who is at the forefront of NFC technology?  In 2004, Nokia, Sony, and Philips came together to form the NFC Forum. This group is dedicated to promoting the security, ease of use, and popularity of near field communication. It aims to educate businesses about the technology and upholds standards that allow NFC to operate between different devices. Those who wish to create NFC compliant devices must meet these standards set forth by the NFC Forum. This ensures that any user with any NFC device can use it with any other NFC device or NFC tag.

Who’s currently in on the action? Google has launched Google Wallet that supports MasterCard PayPass, PayPal offers money transfers between smartphones, and other companies are expected to follow suit. As the technology grows, more NFC compatible smartphones will be available and more stores will offer NFC card readers for customer convenience.

So there it is, just wave the smartphone over a NFC compatible device and actually pay a merchant. I mean … .what’s not to love?  There is a strong chance Apple’s iPhone 6 will include NFC-compatibility. If so … that will be a game changer. Apple is the only smartphone manufacturer that has enough influence over its customers to change payment behavior en masse.

Let’s go shopping!

 

 

 

Apps to Live By (come on get appy)

Where would we be without them … those apps we have learned to depend on.
Our handhelds hold google walletthe keys to our lives and that is likely why you see people in the streets, supermarkets and restaurants looking at their phones. For me…the more paper I can eliminate, the “appier” I am.

I recently installed the Google Wallet – and wow – am I glad to remove all the loyalty cards that have been crowding my keychain!  Now I simply open the app, show the loyalty card and the cashier can scan my phone.

When shopping … if I see the logo for NFC technology, I can use my Google Wallet to tap- and- pay utilizing contactless payments.  Can it be this easy?

wazeWhen I am driving anywhere over 30 minutes I depend on Waze for real time traffic and road information. This app also indicates where the most economical fuel is located … who could ask for more?

And here is another great app – Big Oven, a cooking app that helps you with step by step cooking directions, creates a shopping list and even provides nutritional big oveninformation (ok, that might be over the edge). I love the design which features a user friendly interface and appetizing images. I keep this one on the tablet so I can have larger pictures and allow the husband to be influenced (*wiggles eyebrows*) which is always a good thing.  It even helps you use left-over’s which is economical … so let’s see what’s in the Big Oven …then let’s eat!

shazamFor those who love music (wait …that’s me) here is a great app, Shazam.  This app will recognize music and media playing around you and identify it for you.  It will additionally create a playlist for you and … of course direct you to iTunes so you can make a purchase it if you like.

As a coffee drinker, nothing is more convenient than my Starbucks card. Flashingindex the phone is way easier than finding the little card when I am standing in front of my favorite barista … and I can always load using the convenience of my laptop so I’m never charging/signing at the cashier … I love this app.

An how can any of us live without our banking app.  Forget to pay a bill, check a deposit … transfer money … the bank is right there in the palm of your hand. I can remember when the first ATMs showed up and we thought they were the coolest … but now that acronym just means “at the moment” *smiles*

 

Can you recognize great advertising?

Good is good … there is no argument there.  Sometimes advertising is not good … but it sells anyway, even if it insults.  On occasion advertising messages can be confusing and I say to myself “Geez … I should have been in that copy meeting … I mean … what were they thinking?”

Here are some of reviews from where I sit:

Great advertising …

The Defiance ad for Citrical, created by Energy BBDO, USA, featured a heavily female team that was led by creative director Nancy Hannon.  Copywriter Gwen Rutledge wrote the line “Beauty is Bone Deep” and in my humble opinion this ad speaks to women about bone health with positive, compelling messaging. The visual of the female skeleton moving about in an x-ray visual is technically interesting, strong and on point … with the hook being that you cannot see the age of the woman until she becomes full color.

“Defiance knows no age, and neither do you. Citrical keeps your bones strong, so you’ll feel as good as always.”

I love a happy ending.

Good job ladies!

Xray

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NzPQJJYHRQ

 

Good Advertising

The following is an example of good advertising. What prevents this ad from Milk Mustachebeing great is that it is predictable, carrying through an advertising concept that has been around since 1993. Ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners wrote the line “Got Milk” for the “California Milk Processor Board” and later it was licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers. The campaign has been credited with greatly increasing milk sales in California though not nationwide.It does speak to how you can use milk and why it is good for you … well done and clever line “oh la latte” but not as creative and amazing as Defiance.

 

Mediocre Advertising

I’m sure the food
stylist and the
art director felt
totally clever creating
this ad … but it’s Heinz a bit far from ketchup in my view. Maybe if it was food that people actually put ketchup on … or maybe if the ketchup were not representing the mouth and breasts?  Oh wait. I get it. It’s HOT ketchup.

Nope. Not even then … it’s not fair to the brand in my view – and unless we are selling potatoes … it’s mediocre and [ahem] tasteless.

 

Bad Advertising

Marithe & Francois Girbaud, French designers of fashion for woman and men created a satirical last supper replacing the apostles with female fashion models. The image offends the religious sensibilities of many people by trivializing the intense and dramatic moment during the Last Supper (in which Christ anticipates his crucifixion in order to liberate humanity from sin) by appropriating religious symbols – such as loaves and fish – for commercial purposes.

The advertisers´ primary defense was that modern society has enabled women to achieve sexual equality with men only by sacrificing their femininity. The advertiser maintains that this ad’s interpretation of Leonardo´s painting does not trivialize the sacred, but rather creates a new perception of femininity by presenting men – instead of women – in a position of fragility.

sacred-profane

Iconic Animated Characters, What makes them Timeless?

Animated characters can be tremendous in advertising for a variety of reasons … and the first is that they are timeless. An animation doesn’t age, never goes out of fashion … and in some instances can be just as cool in 2014 as it was in 1951.

And yet, they are flexible and they can change with the times. Just give them new language, attitude and a hip humorous script and they will be extremely effective and relevant.  Brand recognition has been, and continues to be, amazingly successful with anthropomorphized animated characters.

Let’s take a look at some of these amazing creations and pay tribute.

Speedy Alka Seltzer   1951                                                                               

Speedy was created for a TV commercial in 1951 and featured a tablet body with aSpeedy Alka Seltzer hat and an “effervescent” wand. He was originally created to communicate how fast Alka Seltzer worked and appeared in 212 different television commercials from 1953 to 1964. He is still alive and was last seen in Alka Seltzer commercials touting the cold relief product.  His peppy voice and happy face made him the hardest working tablet on TV and let’s not forget the great platform song “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz oh what a relief it is.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxYRhnBzp8U

 

The California Raisins   1986

The California Raisins were originally created in 1986 for a televisiCalifornia Raisinon commercial commissioned by the California Raisin Advisorary Board.  The anthropomorphized raisins became a fictional R&B group and became wildly popular with a portfolio that included 2 TV specials, a cartoon show, a holiday special and future television commercials. Using the 1968 Marvin Gaye song and the voice of Buddy Miles, this advertising team got it “right on”.  Let’s not forget their amazing line which gave Marvin Gaye more exposure that he ever dreamed of with “Heard it Through the Grapevine”.

The California Raisins reportedly grossed more in the year that was their heyday, 1988, than Californian farmers made selling raisins!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcDGbaCsatQ

 

Poppin’ Fresh: The Pillsbury Dough Boy    1965

“Nothin says lovin’ like something from the oven … and Pillsbury says it best.”

The Pillsbury Doughboy is an American icon. An anthropomorphic embodiment of fresh dough, Poppin’ Fresh has a winning smile, big blue eyes, his signature “belly poke” and payoff giggle.

The Leo Burnett advertising agency of Chicago was assigned to work on Pillsbury’s refrigerated dough account in 1965. Rudy Perz, a copywriter at the time, popped open one of the cans and envisioned an image of a doughboy popping out. Martin Nodell, one of the artists in the advertising group, supposedly quickly came up with a sketch of the character.

Perz first thought the character could be animated, but after seeing the stop-action motion technique used in the credits of “The Dinah Shore Show,” he liked that better. So in March of 1965, the Doughboy was brought to life on television through the ground breaking technological process at Hollywood’s Cascade Pictures, Inc.

Within three years of his debut in 1965 in a crescent roll commercial, the Doughboy had an 87 percent recognition factor among consumers!

Poppin FreshPoppin’ Fresh has been featured in numerous commercials over the years. He has been an opera singer, a rap artist, a rock star, a poet, a painter, a ballet dancer, a skydiver and a skateboarder. In addition, he has been seen playing harmonica, accordion, bugle, electric guitar and violin.

He is amazing … timeless … and still making beautiful music for the brand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR8SBa962Fk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0wqNxtjIiM

 

M&M’s

In 1995 M&M’s introduced computer animated “spokescandies” in their television commercials. These include the team of the cynical and sardonic Red (originally voiced by Jon Lovitz, thereafter Billy West) who is the mascot for milk chocolate M&M’s, and the happy and gullible Yellow (originally John Goodman, thereafter J.K. Simmons), who is the mascot for peanut M&M’s (he was originally known as “Peanut” when first introduced). Other mascots include the “cool one”, Blue (Phil Hartman, thereafter Robb Pruitt) who is the mascot for almond M&M’s; the seductive Green (Cree Summer), who is the mascot for dark chocolate M&M’s; and the slightly neurotic Orange (Eric Kirchberger) representing crispy M&M’s.

The Mars company took their success with the M&M characters into ground- breaking territory when they cast Ms. Brown (the voice of none other than Vanessa Williams), the “Chief Chocolate Officer”, into a Geico commercial.

It opens with Ms. Brown seated across the table from her insurance rep. She says she understands that being made out of “delicious chocolate” makes her “high risk for insurance companies”. The shot then turns to the GEICO Gecko standing across from her on his desk. He says unfortunately he can’t help her because she’s not a human. The commercial ends with the infamous GEICO camel shouting, “Guess what day it is” as Ms. Brown exits the elevator and tells him to “save it, hump boy.”

The humorous 30-second commercial is the brainchild of BBDO New York and Mars Chocolate North America, who collaborated with auto insurance company GEICO to bring together Ms. Brown and the Gecko.

It’s cross marketing at its best!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L5mpOGh80k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bJuOIbrWXk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygAEKZbfJrY

 

M&Ms

“Ma, it’s not a phone, it’s a computer that has phone”

It’s yet another truth from my astute son.  That’s exactly what we are using when we manipulate the touch screens of our handheld devices – a micro-computer complete with an operating system and applications that help us run our lives. They run the gamut from calendar, address book, e-mail,  camera (for stills and video, of course), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, text messaging , media player, links to social media  and other applications to personalize the experience for the user.  Oh, and yes. You can even call someone.

Ma, it’s not a phoneBack in the 80s I remember experiencing my first fax machine and I was so impressed!  No longer would I have to pack up the artwork in a portable, though sometimes cumbersome, portfolio, drive to the client for the required in- person meeting and secure approval for a magazine ad. Today if someone even suggests sending me a fax … or even asks for my fax number … I have to smirk. I now send my clients pdfs and in seconds ads are in front of them where they can study them and get back to me at their convenience – now that’s progress.

I use my handheld to pay for my coffee at Starbucks, show my boarding pass and check into a flight,  use coupons at the department store and text my husband to see what’s for dinner. I read and answer email or play FreeCell when I have to wait, and I  take photos and post them to social media when I’m feeling kinda social … man has life changed.

So in this age of the handheld, the next device that features a faster processor, a high def screen, and a longer lasting battery has my vote. I will be opening my wallet and upgrading. My latest love is the HTC M-8 phone (oops I mean computer) in glamour red … sweet!

 

Skeuomorphic vs Flat Design

What, you may ask, is skeuomorphic design? Although the term might seem unfamiliar, it’s actually something you probably experience every day while online.

Skeuomorphic design is simply digital design that incorporates shadows, gradients, reliefs, animated functions and other details that have been created to resemble how objects would look and act in real life.  Apple is quite famous for its application of skeuomorphic design. From their calendars to their tool bars, to their ibook bookshelf, Apple’s design elements have been derived from real world objects.

 

Skeuomorphic Design

 

Like most things in life … there are pros and cons to skeuomorphic design and should be considered when developing your website.

Pros:

  • Skeuomorphic realistic design orients people immediately. It is safe and familiar to a large variety of users and allows for more intuitive use, which in a way opens up the floodgates for a larger demographic.
  • Skeuomorphic design may enrich the user experience. With more “do-dads” in play, there’s a chance that your visitors with more time and/or less attention span will stick around.
  • It’s a designer’s dream! We love textures and attention to detail and that’s exactly what skeuomorphic design is all about.

Cons:

  • Skeuomorphic design reflects the philosophy that “more is more” which could very possibly hurt the audience that has a specific reason for visiting your site. When someone is looking for your contact information, they couldn’t care less about your perfectly constructed gradient over stitched-leather texture (the truth can hurt).
  • With such an incredible amount of data in the design, the page is slower to load and render in a browser – and depending on one’s computer speed … this could really be an issue.
  • These designs take more development time and look dated faster.
  • It is not really “responsive web” friendly.
  • With its attention to realism, this type of design may be perceived as less creative to the non-graphic user

Which brings us to….drumroll please….flat design!

The Windows 8 platform is a perfect example of flat design.

Pros:

  • Usability, usability, usability. The user experience is swift, clean and smart. More thought is put into how the site works instead of how realistic it looks, so you can bet your bottom dollar that your viewer will be able to get done what is needed to get done, every time.
  • You can make buttons look pretty all day, but if they don’t work then what’s the point?
  • This type of design is responsive web design … way more important for mobile friendly environments.
  • It’s straight forward and honest. Flat design has been referred to as “two-dimension design for a two-dimensional screen”. It allows the user to feel like they can really see everything that’s going on.
  • It requires little or no illustration so it can be faster and more economical to develop.

Cons:

  • At the end of the day, lots of sites will start to look similar. [From the pictures above you can see how distinctive the geometric shapes and bold colors are.]
  • It is an art (pardon the pun) to be able to hold back as a designer and with flat design there isn’t too much deep design going on. Yes, there is design planning and layouts for different devices, etc., but not as many creative button designs and such.
  • Sometimes things are so simple that it confuses people. Flat design calls for the designer to be able to strike the right balance between smart and convoluted.
  • Believe it or not, successful flat design can be more difficult in that it calls for so much more engineer-like creativity. Users may be willing to sacrifice ease of interactivity and usability in order to engage with a beautiful, skeuomorphically designed website.

So that is what’s trending in web design. Faster, cheaper, better? You decide.