31 Jul 2006

life is not a spectator sport

i had a great weekend, full of sports and movies, which made me feel much better, so i've decided not to let another day pass without practising some sports. However, since i've visited some parks and some neighbourhoods, i couldn't stop thinking about some article Alex indicated me some days ago. The article is very well entitled "Life is not a Spectator Sport" and pretty much describes a sad reality of the present times, namely the awkward transformation of children from doers to watchers: "Today’s children are following the example of many adults to become watchers instead of doers, consumers instead of creators, observers instead of active participants. [...] instead of singing, they watch others sing. Instead of making up stories, they watch or listen to stories someone else made up. Instead of figuring out how to do something and developing a new skill they watch someone else perform. Parents have a relatively few precious hours to teach, train, and encourage the development of children's minds and hearts. Yet in today's society, during those hours, shared focus on a mutual task may not take place at all. [...] parents and grandparents are just as likely to be caught up in the “watching” instead of “doing” mode as are the children. Today when parents “do'” something with small children, it seldom involves really “doing” anything at all. Parents are most likely to suggest they watch TV together, go and watch a game, go and watch a movie, or go to the zoo and watch the animals."

28 Jul 2006

"what is said determines who listens and who understands"

Signal vs. Noise (which i rediscovered recently) points back at a Wired interview with designer Tibor Kalman. And, well, how could an interview with a person who likes computers because they give individuals the power to fuck things up not be a thrill?
  • We live in a society and a culture and an economic model that tries to make everything look right. Look at computers. Why are they all putty-colored or off-fucking-white? You make something off-white or beige because you are afraid to use any other color - because you don't want to offend anybody. But by definition, when you make something no one hates, no one loves it. So I am interested in imperfections, quirkiness, insanity, unpredictability. That's what we really pay attention to anyway. We don't talk about planes flying; we talk about them crashing.
  • "There was a time not so long ago when egomaniacs made media to their own personal standards, and when you make something for yourself, it will always be far better and more honest than something you make to please the marketplace. With computers, individuals can be egomaniacs and make the media they think is good."
  • "Where are you looking for innovative media?

    I don't know. Probably it's being hatched in some garage. It's always the freaks in garages who make things move forward. There's always a garage and antisocial behavior involved. I think without those two things there is no real cultural advancement.
    There seem to be a lot of new-media garages. What's your take on them?
    I think some of the most innovative Web sites have probably already come and gone. Meanwhile, I think there's tons of room left to experiment with traditional media."

  • "I want to know if it's possible to make a movie that's just words, or if it's possible to make a movie on paper. And why can't television be 100 times faster? Or slower? And why are 90 percent of magazines structured the same way? And why do they all stop at borders?"

26 Jul 2006

Shepard Fairey-Webisode 2

Shepard Fairey-Webisode 1

Creator of the "André the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign, Shepard Fairey is a great graphic designer and street artist i accidentally found out about quite recently, when checking out the designer of "Walk the line" poster. His slogan is "The Medium is the Message", which i very often agree with. This is a very brief interview with him in two parts.


yet another proof of how inspirational www is. Valéry Grancher is inspired by web pages to paint and draw and all the rest. T-shirts in the Bazaar.

sea adventures in the very town

25 Jul 2006

i'm back...am i ?

i am sorry for the lack of posts, and mostly for not answering comments in a while now. apparently the health problems i kept on whining about are far from being solved, therefore i have spent most of my time lately gathering hospital insights (to put it nicely), reading and watching movies. And it's hard to explain how very pissed and totally disconnected i feel. My weekend plans have gone to waste, i haven't gone out in what seems like ages to me and whenever i try to walk, it feels like i'm wearing these placebos from Eelko Moorer.

12 Jul 2006

relevance in tradition

Some time ago, Bogdana wrote an article (ro) in which she talked about "tradition vs. anniversary". Which was great, especially since, as people have been talking about for a while now, invoking tradition is one of the latest trends on the Romanian communcation market. More and more brands turn to tradition and evoke their past, no matter how relevant this actually is for the brand. For some reason, everybody seems to think that no matter what category some product belongs to, if you show the product has been on the market for a long while, it's enough to inspire the best feelings towards the brand, to create awareness and increase sales and so on. Well, history is after all a sign of quality, so this might actually work. However, i think that there might be a little problem when an ad break includes a bundle of spots looking pretty much the same and saying pretty much the same about different products. And i'm sure it might be just me being really stupid, but i have been confused myself for quite a while as far as which message/ spot to associate with which product.
Well, i was reading this article called "Storytelling: Escaping the Price War" on adage yesterday, and i was thinking about how little trouble all these guys advertising in the manner i described earlier took in order to find something trully relevant and authentic and memorable in the long history of these brands they're advertising. I mean i don't think it's enough to simply place the product inside or following some vintage-like images if you really want people to associate it with a relevant past or tradition and the values thus derived. I'm sure that if they were willing to dig a little, they would have discovered things which could have actually induced or reinforced the personality of those brands. Just like the article describes how "Mag-Lite has managed to capture both the hearts and minds of its customers" by using and highlighting stories such as the one of a policeman in Virginia, who wrote Mag-Lite in order to thank them because the flashlight had showed him the way out of a burning house, saving both his life and the life of somebody he'd rescued from that house. Just like Parker pen is known to have had a significant role in history, because it was used by Dwight D. Eisenhower when he signed the peace treaty in Paris, officially ending World War II; by Giacomo Puccini who let his Parker pen dance across the paper when he composed "La Boheme," and by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he created the infamous Sherlock Holmes. In other words, "if your product has a long history, chances are you can dig out stories from the past that can add value to the product in the present." If those stories are unique, and have a strong resonance, and actually connect the consumers with the spirit of the brand. No matter if they come from weird historical connections like this, people within the company who have made extraordinary achievements, the founder of the company, customers and so on.
Storytelling in a business context is not about telling stories just for the
sake of it. Rather, as rational and physical features are becoming easier to
imitate, authentic storytelling is becoming a growing source of competitive
power. All companies have authentic raw material: genuine, real-life episodes
that can be used in the continuous communication of messages and values that
appeal to key stakeholders. Little anecdotes, seemingly insignificant at first,
may very well be the stories that most effectively show why your company is
special -- whether it's the wacky yarn behind the product, a tale about the
company founder, achievements of outstanding employees or praise from thrilled
customers. As long as they are true, honest -- and, hopefully, unique -- you
will have a strategic tool for explaining how your company makes a

11 Jul 2006

it's hard to beat someone who won't give up

i've been thinking a lot about sports lately, mostly because i haven't played anything in a very looong while, which is both painful and shameful. And i think that if i don't play at least some ping-pong or badminton very soon i'm gonna start crying.

But anyway. The interesting thing is that i've come across some very interesting connections to sports recently, which made me think a little. First of all, i listened to the first IQads podcast (ro), which brought together Adrian Botan, Creative Director McCann-Erickson and Bogdan Naumovici, Creative Director Leo Burnett. And Bogdan said something which i considered to be brilliantly "sad but true", namely that our advertising industry is the "industry of the exempted from sports, the losers of the class", which explains both the behavior, and the results of many people around. Then, Mihai Coliban's article (ro) expanded Bogdan's assertion, making some great points about these people, these "exempted from sports", who don't know anything about competition, about wanting to win, about respecting, but beating your opponent, about effort and what it actually takes to win and so on. All these great things that sports teach you, and without which you become "exempted from ambition".

On the other hand, Paul Colman gave a brilliant record of his marathon, which was also discussed by Russell. I had all these things in mind and i realised just how much i learnt from sports, both from playing individually, and in a team. Now i've never been a pro, but "serious playing" :) started when i was about 8 or 9 and my neighbours and i started to have badminton championships in front of our blocks of flats. Each day, a new championship. Sometimes we'd even collect points and establish a weekly or monthly top. Sometimes we'd organize some mixed championships, with badminton, voleyball and a sort of football. And this lasted until i was about 15. About 7 years of daily championships :), and i was the only girl in the group, and i felt like i needed to win and be better and better, especially since one of the guys was training intensely to become pro-tennis player (which he did, in the mean time). After all this, i've continued playing basketball in highschool, until i had some severe problems with my right hand and was forced to stop. Kids games maybe, but I learnt fair play and ambition and working harder and harder in order to win. I learnt to exploit my will, my willingness, my competitiveness, my instincts in order to win. I think i gained a winning mentality. Or at least i hope so. But no wonder the words of Vince Lombardi keep on coming into my mind again and again, and sometimes simply resonate daily:
  • Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.
  • We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.
  • If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?
  • Winners never quit and quitters never win.
  • Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.
  • The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.
  • Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.
  • Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.
  • Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
  • The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.
  • Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
  • Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price.
  • A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.
  • But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, his greatest fulfillment of all he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.
and so on. image courtesy gapingvoid.

my blog's template

the bad thing about the template of this blog is that i hate things written with white fonts on a black background. i have always hated them, they're tiring and hard to handle, and they remind me of a quote saying that if this was the normal and easy way for written stuff, The New York Times would have probably used it instead of the classical, yet useful regular black fonts on white background manner (i think Ogilvy said it, of course i modified it a lot, cause i really cannot remember the original version). So why on earth did i choose it in the first place? Beats me, probably because i do like black a lot, and i didn't like the other templates anyway. And now i am pretty much afraid to change it because of some nasty related experiences with blogger.

in the mean time however, Alex decided it was time for me to have a better-looking header, and sent me these options to choose from. Obviously, i couldn't decide, so i thought i'd just post them here, and in case anybody wants to express an opinion or something, please feel free.

I think the first one is too blurry for my tastes, the second one gives me the impression of bar-codes, the third one makes me think about Sherlock Holmes (especially since this morning i watched a Tweety&Granny episode with an extravagant millionaire who gathered the world's biggest detectives, and trapped them in a room, forcing them to try to solve a mysterious murder, which wasn't even a murder after all; anyway...) and the last one is very simple and reminds me of computers and stuff. However, I'm just not sure whether i should actually have a better-looking header in the first place.

9 Jul 2006

summer weekends

either my passion for old movies and vintage stuff got me bonkers, or i'm actually evolving like a Paul Auster character, but i've been thinking about my weekends this summer and i decided i could use them in order to learn a great deal more about this country and its habits. after all, i should be really familiar with all types of "consumers", right? so i intend to use my weekends in order to meet or listen to or look at people and habits outside Bucharest. and also learn some stuff, if i'm gonna be away anyway. So the deal will be like this: i got myself a detailed map of Romania, i am a great fan of darts, so each weekend i'm gonna throw a dart on the map, and go to the place it indicates. By train, of course (i adore train bonding most of the time, it gives you the chance to find out so many things about a person). And make the most of the visit.
next week, i will be heading to Recas Wine Cellars, where i want to find out more about the entire process of wine-making and storing, about the technology behind, about tradition and tasting and so on. And i will have a very interesting guide for Timisoara and the surroundings.
until i come up with further details, i must say this adds to other random stuff i do in order to cultivate my curiosity, such as going to the bookshop ever two weeks in order to get and read the book with the title and/or cover i find the most peculiar or the most unrelated with what i usually read or do.

first flight

last Monday i attended the first gathering of romanian planners, basically organized and supported by John Griffiths with free drinks. i don't know how much it meant for the others, but it meant an awful lot for me, because having around so many great planners i can talk to or just listen to is the thing i long for the most. therefore, despite damaging health problems and personal problems and sleeping problems and many other problems which kept me quite grumpy and stranded, i enjoyed the evening quite a lot and left in a rather inspiring mood. however, the following week i found myself in the same frustrating position of not having basically anybody to share the new planning thoughts and ideas with (i'm talking about implementation matters mostly).
Anyway, John was really open and cheerful, and following his vaguely outrageous ignorance as far as stamps are concerned, he received his very own stamp as a gift from the Burnetts, which he appreciated enough to stamp himself on the forehead (my pics turned out absolutely dreadful, i am getting worse and worse at this). Apparently, John doesn't entirely disregard junior planners :), but he does however think that if you're extremely young and a planner, you didn't have the time to go though all the nasty jobs in the agency, which means you didn't have time to end up hating the nastiness of all other positions, in order to fully appreciate how lucky you are to be a planner. We also talked about bringing "Mozart" here again (that would be Russell, of course), and hopefully John will also return for the rest of the course, because i must admit curiosity is driving me absolutely crazy, after catching some phrazes and some records about what he has further talked about with the guys at Leo and those at Sister. Oh, and in case you're reading, Costin, i'm terribly glad i could finally meet you in person, with and without your JeremyWright cap :).

why i haven't been posting for a while