Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

01 OCTOBER, 2008

Deadliest Itch: Malaria Awareness Mosquito-Mosaic Posters


Why the seat of privilege comes down to having OFF! on hand.

The other day, we established that we’re all African. Fitting, since today we’re looking at one of the coolest awareness campaigns we’ve seen in a long while, which happens to address Africa’s most serious malady: Mosquitoes.

And if you think we’re kidding, or making an awful joke that belittles the AIDS epidemic or genocide, we’re not — every year, mosquito-carried malaria takes more children’s lives in Africa than all other diseases combined. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 3,000 children die from malaria every day.

So African nonprofit África Directo unleashed a brilliant campaign to make this simple point so powerfully:

Mosquito PSA

Mosquito PSA

“Nothing and no one takes more lives than malaria”

Mosquito PSA

The portraits are, of course, composed entirely of mosquitoes — a stencil technique that puts Banksy to shame.

Mosquito PSA

Out of Spainish agency Sra. Rushmore.

via Arab Aquarius

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30 SEPTEMBER, 2008

Artist Spotlight: Adrian Johnson


Because nothing non-awesome ever came from the U.K.

We’re suckers for awesome illustration. So we dig U.K. artist Adrian Johnson, whose work spans anything from editorial stuff for iconic publications like The Guardian, GQ and The Monocle, to advertising for big-timers like Vodafone and Canon, to animation for a number of top ad agencies, plus a ton of other killer artwork for clients like Scion, Computer Arts and 2K by Gingham.

Green Living

Some of our favorites: The instant point made in Brand Whore for adidas / British Airways Business Life, the social commentary of Relocate for The Guardian, the category-defying Small Business Trip for MasterCard, the simple wit of Memories Are Our Fuel for Scion / Giant Robot, and the sheer awesomeness of Coolest. Fact. for 2K by Gingham.

Fucking Negative

via design:related

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25 SEPTEMBER, 2008

You Better Believe It


Why we drink, scandal!, the world’s most expensive clock, theft-worthy animation, what Radiohead and Goldfrapp have in common, and how diarrhea can save the planet.


Enough said.

Inspired by the ever-amusing Indexed blog — if you’re not already familiar, we strongly suggest you fix that cultural mistake ASAP.


The horror! The scandal! You know those annoying new “PC Pride” TV spots for Microsoft that attempted to shove the Seinfeld fiasco under the carpet? Well, an overzealous conspiracy theorist decided to look at the EXIF information of the campaign photos sent to the media — that’s the little piece of file information that shows what program the file was created in.

Guess what — those Microsoft ads were made on…gasp…a Mac. And if you think Microsoft and Crispin, their ad agency, have the relationship equivalent of a Catholic priest caught with his pants down at a gay bar, it gets worse. Turns out, Dell’s agency, Enfatico, did the exact same thing with their client’s campaign. Except in their case, those Macs were actually bought on the Dell dollar.

And just when we thought no one could out-whore-out the ever-irreverent Improv Everywhere…who actually revered quite quickly at the sight of corporate bling.

via Tribble Ad Agency


Speaking of Seinfeld, here’s something that sounds like one of Kramer’s ideas but is, in fact, completely real:

Corpus Chromophage

One of our heroes, brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking, has just unveiled the world’s strangest clock. Called

Chronophage, which means “time-eater,” the beastly time-keeper cost $2 million and was developed over 5 years in Cambridge’s Corpus Christi College by Dr. John Taylor, a renowned inventor and horologist.

Its shtick: It has no hands — time is displayed by a series of blue LED lights illuminating the 24-carat gold surface through various slits and lenses. The design itself was inspired by the work of legendary innovator John Harrison, who came up with the “grasshopper escapement” mechanism almost 300 years ago.

The clock is only accurate every five minutes, but is wired up to an electric motor that will keep it running for the next 25 years.

We’re fascinated by the idea of a device that captures the relativity of time and how its passage mercilessly eats away at our lives. That, and we like shiny things.

via BBC Technology


On the cool-LED-stuff note, we’re obsessed with chronophage art collective PIKA PIKA. They make abstract animation using LED flashlights, which “draw” an image by tracing its outline over and over. Their movement is recorded in a series of photographs using long exposures, which are then spliced together into an animated sequence.

In 2005, the team was invited to a conference, where they presented the back-end of how the animation worked. They noticed that the audience of people interested in the concept was incredibly diverse, so they came up with a way to make the animation more interactive and inclusive, recruiting audience members in its production.

PIKA PIKA Today, PIKA PIKA films are made by that audience: Each person gets a flashlight and becomes a part of the animation. The films have since traveled the world and won various awards across a number of art and film festivals.

So that’s where Sprint stole the idea from.


From one cool audience-made light-employing video to another: After Radiohead’s In Rainbows fan-made video contest, a Goldfrapp fan got inspired to animate the track “Lovely Head” from their first album.

It’s essentially a visualization of the sound data, with the lyrics superimposed, producing the visual equivalent of what we’d imagine goes on in one’s brain when listening to the track on psychedelic drugs.

It was made through a process that’s way over our head, which makes us dig it all the more. It also reminds us of binary data sculptor Paul Prudence his video stream data visualizations.

via Coudal


And since we’re getting into things way over our head, here’s something that blows everything else out of the water. Or, as it just so happens, out of the oil.

Plastic-Producing E. coli

Scientists have developed a new strain of that same pant-pooping E. coli bacterium that can make butanediol (BDO), the material used in stuff like spandex, car bumpers and plastic cups, from scratch. Which basically means they can make plastic without using oil or natural gas, taking a huge energy load off the current plastic production methods.

That’s what we call research-grant-justifying progress. (Unlike, say, the one that measured methane emissions from farting cows.)

Now, if they can only get them to make tacos…

via PSFK

12 SEPTEMBER, 2008

Retro Blast


Saggy superheroes, dance lessons from James Brown, what chickens have to do with the roots of hip hop, how to fix all your marriage troubles, and why Springfield, MO is a nerd hotspot.


Let’s face it, we’re all headed for the nursing home. Superheroes included. And despite all those “aging gracefully” shenanigans, we don’t think there’s anything particularly super about old age.

Luckily, Italian cartoonist Donald Soffritti is there to put some funny in the grim prospect of it all.

In his line of senior superhero illustrations, he shows Iron Man’s discrediting golf habit, Wonderwoman’s so-not-Madonna arms, and what happens when Aquaman forgets the dentures at home, among other don’t-really-wanna-see-but-can’t-help-looking stuff.

Quick, before you choke on the potent combination of hilarity and gag reflex, rinse your eyes out with the reglorifying stuff of our Superhero Superdose issue.

>>> via Comunicadores


Speaking of cultural legends, life… well, death, really… sure did a number on the one, the only James Brown. We hate seeing a living legend grow old — first arthritis steals the swagger, then before you know it, they stop being, well, living.

So when the Godfather of Soul went down at the Apollo last year, it was an acid rain on our holiday parade. Good thing YouTube was there to lift us out of our mourning by reviving Mr. Dynamite from those most dynamitous days, full of energy and ready to show Soulja Boy who’s who.

Watch the great James Brown teach you some dance moves you won’t see in your Hip Hop Abs fitness class.

Now that’s a blast from the past that puts the present to shame.

>>> via Very Short List


But if hip hop really is your thing, you might as well learn a thing or two about the genre’s own heritage and origin — who knew it had to do with chickens. Straight from the source:

Courtesy of the folks at Nokia N-Series. (Remember when we said Nokia was the underdog to keep an eye on?)


Speaking of advertising and the past, we’re continually befuddled by the level of idiotic pseudo-PC stuff drowning today’s advertising. (A Snickers commercial pulled off the air for being too “homophobic” springs to mind.) One thing’s for sure: today’s regulatory bodies would have a field day with the ads of yore.

Thanks to Weirdomatic’s Old Creepy Ads collection, we can gawk at sedated elderly people (Senile agitation? Pop gramps some Thorazine.), sedated children (Forget Adderall, Nembutal is the name of the game.), self-butchering pigs, the long-lost cousin of the Geico cavemen, and — divorce lawyers behold — the solution to all marriage problems: a bit of Lysol you-know-where.

The irony: Some of these products, along with the delightfully absurd cheesiness they’re framed in, are all to reminiscent of, say, late-night informercials today. Hey, we’re already plotting bringing back the Beauty Micrometer as an As Seen on TV hit.

>>> via Very Short List


It’s not like the olden days don’t have their nostalgic appeal. Who doesn’t love nerdy retro games?

And if you happen to love them enough to go out of your way, consider a place that’s just there: Springfield, Missouri. That’s where you’ll find the 1984 Arcade, a wonderland of classic games from Asteroids to Zaxxon.

The arcade is particularly famed for its glorious pinball machines, already an endangered species in retroland. You can even book an event there — how’s that for an unforgettable all-you-can-play birthday party for your neo-nerd friend?

So put on your acid-wash high-waist jeans, unleash the big hair, and head over for some nostalgic revival of that era — as far as “best of the 80’s” type of stuff goes, VH1 has nothing on the 1984 Arcade.