Archive for the ‘ Oddities ’ Category

The Internet is a serious business #2

Here we go again.

While the most of us are happily relaxing during Summer vacations, big brands are always trying to get the best out of the World Wide Web by continuously engaging their consumers and fandom base. This time is taking the shift PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew, which, in the middle of August, started the marketing campaign “Dub the Dew” for naming its new apple-flavoured soda.

After all, letting the Internet choose the new name for a brand new soft drink is a great marketing move, and it also helps to build brand loyalty. However, if the management behind the initiative was aware that the Internet can be a dangerous place, the company’s new green apple flavoured soda wouldn’t get names suggestions like “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong“, “Diabeetus” or “Fapple” as some of the most voted entries.

Credits: Huffington Post

The website ultimately got even hacked, with an offensive sentence and a misleading banner leading to a RickRolling placed in the voting page.

It was a matter of time before someone in PepsiCo noticed: some names were so politically uncorrect that the campaign was needed to be shut down completely, and now the website no longer exists.

News of the action bounced from website to website, forum, boards and magazines, as well as the popular Reddit. In only 1 day it was already a worldwide-known event. On August 14th, Mountain Dew responded to a tweet by Reuters columnist Anthony De Rosa, admitting that they “lost to The Internet”, and clarifying that the contest was only a local customer program:

As a Reddit’s user cleverly pointed out, “The campaign itself wasn’t a bad idea. They just forgot that the internet is run by children […] They could have controlled the outcome by having the public choose between 5 predetermined names. Much like they did a couple years back when they had the public choose which flavor (of three special edition ones) would stick around for mass production.

That’s not the first time where internet trolling takes place. Among the most recent, Pitbull’s trip to Kodiak, Alaska, or the campaing which apparently is going to send American singer Taylor Swift to play in the campus of the Horace Mann School For The Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Some people may be wondering why a company should then start engagement campaigns on the internet if the risk of being boycotted is high. The point is that marketing campaigns on the web are incredibly cost effective and allow to reach the target customers more quickly and directly, especially if the customer base is relatively young. However, a good pianification should always be in order, and with some more tricks to keep the damages at the minimum (as the above-mentioned Reddit’s user suggested), it’s still possible to come out with a good result. Something that the Mountain Dew management forgot, and that has been hilariously imagined in this funny ragecomic:




Lumen’s design runs to Space

Here in Lumen, we all agree that the restyling of Velkopopovicky Kozel is one of our best projects. Kozel is the most successful Czech beer sold abroad, and you could easily find it in bars of Eastern Europe, or even in some pubs in the UK.

According to the Euromonitor International research agency, in 2011 Kozel has been the N° 1 beer in the world in term of market growth and sales. But conquering the world wasn’t enough, they also wanted to conquer the space.

Kozel then instructed Aleksandr ‘russos’ Popov and Den ‘netwind’ Efremov, two amateur russian explorers with the hobby of launching weather ballons in the upper atmosphere, to accomplish the mission: send the Kozel beer into space – or more likely, to the stratosphere. To make this unusual experiment more interesting, it has been arranged a competition between the light and the dark versions of the beer: which one would reach the highest altitude?

Of course the mission didn’t have only an experimental purpose, but also a promotional one: the launch has been supported by a campaign for the Russian market both on a dedicated website and the social media. With the promise of a year-long beer supply, users were asked to vote which type of beer would reach the highest height – however, voting wasn’t enough: to get eligible to win the prize, every user had to “bet themselves”: in case their beer bet is winning, they have to perform something; the more this performance is considered interesting/ridiculous, the more votes by other users/friends it can get; the more votes it gets, the higher the chances of winning the final prize are. A simple ‘social mechanism’, but very effective for the viral spread of the news.

Eventually, the winner of the race has been the dark beer, which reached the respectable height of 21,750 m., while the light beer stopped at 20,180 m.

Honestly speaking, when we designed Kozel bottles and cans, we expected to see them on the pub’s desks, or houses’ tables, but we would have never imagined to see our favourite goat reach even the stratosphere.

You can also watch the spectacular full video of the mission here on YouTube, or -if you know Russian- you can read Popov’s post on his Livejournal with pictures of the making-of.

So long, guys!

Google’s April Fools’ prank brings back the glorious 8-bit graphic

8-bit graphic has been an integrated part of the gaming childhood of many of us, especially those who grew up playing with SEGA or Nintendo. We couldn’t really avoid to mention this.

Everything actually started last friday, when Google posted a video introducing a new type of cartridge (with the adventure videogame GoogleMaps) for the NES system. This was purposely made as funny teaser for the April Fools’ prank Google was preparing for the users: a “Quest mode” in its Maps service, an entire world developed in 8-bit graphic with famous landmarks to explore and -no joking- monsters to discover all around the world.

And there’s quite a lot to discover. Here’s a map of the City of London, with some of its famous landmarks (the ‘A’ pin is the location of our office in High Holborn): Buckingham Palace, the Big Ben, Trafalgar Square with the Nelson statue, etc.

London map in 8 bit

But 8 bit graphics isn’t limited to maps: in Street View mode it makes buildings more ‘cartoonish’, like the Eiffel tower in Paris you can see here:

Eiffel Tower in 8 bit graphic

This 8-bit world is literally full of surprises, as well as UFOs and dragons..

It’s not the first time Google is putting such a big effort in April Fools’ pranks: last year they introduced Gmail Motion, a way to compose emails using ‘simple’ gestures, with a pretty semi-serious video. This time, however, they went for a more visual, but still funny, approach which went immediately über-popular once it eventually appeared on Reddit.

It’s not said whether this quest map will stay or will be removed in the next days. Many users are already claming to keep it as their default maps browser, since the landmarks and the monsters to discover are many. If you are lazy, you can check here the list of the most interesting objects.. otherwise, good luck hunting, Dragon Warrior!

The internet is a serious business.

PRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIL (a.k.a. how internet became so real)

For those of you who never heard of this case history: in May 2011, the German company Henkel launched a design competition on Facebook, asking the fans to respond with their own redesign of the label of the historical Pril bottle. The winning design would have been commercialized in a limited edition for the German market only.

However, this initiative, who conceptually had the chances to run very well, backfired and proved once again that such competitions, so strongly linked to pro-active online communities, lie on a fine line between the great success and the bitter defeat. The response was anyway huge – the participants let their creativity run wild and submitted more than 50,000 new Pril labels. Anyone could draw their own design using the tools on the website, and anyone could vote for their favorite design.

Pril finalist

The official winners of the competitions are these two designs (click on “Die Gewinner”, if the page doesn’t open). Originally, Pril wanted to let the online community choose the design by voting on their website, but after they saw what was happening, they decided to use a jury to choose the winners (a screencap of the final standings can be found here).


Changing the rules and introducing a formal jury at the end of the competition has been a very unpopular decision, and unleashed a roaring storm on the company’s Facebook page, because in fact it was the PRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIL design which got the most votes from the community. The actual “winners” picked by the jury were on places 9 & 10.


The company feared it would damage their image if they didn’t print the design, because it actually had the most votes of all. So, they made a Limited Edition of 700 bottles with the PRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIL design, and officially sold them on eBay for 2€ per bottle. All the bottles where sold incredibly fast. A few days later you could even buy one of these bottles (re-selled by the ebuyers) for about 25€ on eBay.



But that’s not the end of the story. Henkel decided to sell the bottles on eBay so that nobody would see them in stores. However, some German guys decided to give more visibility to the real winner of the competition, so they printed out the design and went to the nearby stores and modified some of the Pril bottles…


The moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of the internet (and its users).

Chinese Corpo-rate Identity in Milan


I have to compliment the Chinese businessmen of Milan for developing one of the most powerful retail identity systems I’ve seen in a long time: instantly recognizable, differentiating, memorable and coherent.

But above all, successful.

I’m talking, of course, about the “Wellness Centres” (massage parlours).

Success? They are popping up like mushrooms. Consider that in 2007 there were 10 in all of Milan. Two years later they over 130. Today, who knows.

And the competition? We’ll honestly I haven’t done much field research into the topic but it seems to me that if you’re trying to open or run a “wellness centre” in Milan and it doesn’t have a bright pink store-front with a certain oriental style, you’re not going to be very successful.

Basically they’ve cornered the market.

And how did they do it? A colour. Pink. It’s that simple.
(Well no, to be fair I guess they must be pretty good at the “Brand Experience” thing as well)

But the real issue for me is that they did it all without the help of a Brand Identity Consultancy.

No research, no strategy, no guidelines. Damn.

Kind of turns things on its head for us experts.

Design rip-off or coincidence?

About 5 years ago Lumen did a big restyling project on Kellogg’s Coco Pops cereal:


I’ve just seen the new pack design that replaces it. Done by another agency.

Strange, the new identity… I think I’ve seen it before. It looks an awful lot like an alternate design route we proposed to Kellogg’s during that restyling years ago.



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