Can't Wait to Get on the Road Again

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Can't Wait to Get on the Road Again

This week will be my last in New York City. After a year and a half battered by hurricanes, endless winter and round-the-clock days of slowly aging in front of a laptop screen, I'm packing up and heading out west to settle in Redondo Beach, California.

My car has seen very little action since moving from LA to NYC in 2012. That's about to change. Read more>

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HBO Transforms New York City into Westeros for Game of Thrones Premiere

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HBO Transforms New York City into Westeros for Game of Thrones Premiere

HBO hosted the premiere for Game of Thrones Season 4 last night in New York City, the perfect location for this particular event. In the spirit of the show, winter is not only coming in this city - winter is never leaving.

The night opened with the premiere of the first episode of season 4 at a screening at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. The entire cast and crew walked the red carpet and narrowly escaped the gigantic dragon that had taken over the plaza. Once inside, the New York Philharmonic took the stage to perform the show's title theme as well as the score from last year's gruesome "Red Wedding" episode.

After the screening, guests were bussed over to the Museum of Natural History which had been transformed into Westeros. The iconic giant whale was on fire. Couches were decked with faux furs. The bar in the center of the hall featured hundreds of candles and each of the houses' flags, and was draped in chainmail. White stag antlers formed centerpiece candelabras. They served dragons' blood snow cones and Ommegang red and white Game of Thrones ale.

I took some blurry pictures.

I lorded over the kingdom.

But the biggest takeaway was the show itself. If the first episode is any indication, Season 4 is going to be good. Really good. 

Here's the final trailer for the new season, released just following the premiere:

Huge thanks go out to Carol Bell of Brandlink Communications for the invite, to the cast and crew for inviting us to join them, and to HBO for throwing a killer event.

April 6th can't come soon enough.

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Festival of Colors Holi Reminds Us that Life is Beautiful

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Festival of Colors Holi Reminds Us that Life is Beautiful

While the Irish and Irish diaspora of the world raise a pint in honor of St. Patrick today, the people of Nepal and India celebrate the arrival of spring with Holi, a festival of colors and love. Celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, the festival signifies victory of good over evil, the end of winter, and a chance for many to celebrate with friends, family, and total strangers as colored powders fly free throughout the city streets.

Directors Jonathan Bregel and Khalid Mohtaseb of NYC-based production company Variable created this stunning short film documenting Holi, featuring an original score by Salomon Ligthelm. 

As the festival has gained exposure to the western world, celebrations have popped up outside traditionally-Hindu cultures. Its influences can even be seen here in the United States with the growing popularity of events such as the Color Run, a 5K race featuring the brightly-colored powders that touts itself as "the happiest race on the planet."

Sadly, New York is still stuck in what feels like eternal winter. So while it may be way too cold to go outside and celebrate St. Paddy's, do yourself a favor and watch Variable's beautiful Holi video full-screen in HD, and remind yourself that spring is (eventually) coming.

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Volkswagen Has No Female Engineers, According to Super Bowl Spot

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Volkswagen Has No Female Engineers, According to Super Bowl Spot

Volkswagen has a history of Super Bowl ad excellence, but last night's "Wings" spot struck a sour note with many who were understandably bothered by this sausage fest of an execution.

The German brand tells us that their cars are now more reliable. As a previous owner of a late 90s always-broken Jetta, this focus to shift negative brand perception makes sense.

In the spot, the father excitedly points out the moment the odometer rolls over to 100,000, telling his daughter that every time a VW reaches this milestone, "a German engineer gets his wings." (emphasis: mine)

This implies that all German engineers are male. As the ad plays out, we see that all of the engineers shown are, in fact, guys - the one exception being a female engineer in the elevator whose ass is accidentally slapped by the freshly-erect wings of her male coworker.

Now, this isn't all VW's fault. The company does have very successful female engineers. But they're too busy kicking ass and taking names at the highest level on the race track to be bothered with silly wingy thingies.

Maybe instead of focusing on an amusing, cute gimmick for the Super Bowl, Volkswagen could focus more on celebrating the inspiring stories they already have within their company. During the biggest sporting event of the year, who wouldn't want to see fast-paced Le Mans ad celebrating dedication, courage and ground-breaking victory? 

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Are Super Bowl Ads Irrelevant?

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Are Super Bowl Ads Irrelevant?

With the Super Bowl just two days away, sports fans and non-sports fans alike are all talking about the other big game - the ad game.

Up until a few years ago, the only way that brands could play this game was to pony up the big bucks to buy a 30-second Super Bowl spot during the network broadcast. That cost of entry has risen to astronomical levels in the past few years and, as many have pointed out, most of them just don't work.

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In the last few years, however, the digital game has become even more important than the actual Super Bowl broadcast. With such high ad buy costs, brands understandably held their ads to be revealed as a surprise for the expected 181 million viewers during the game. As online presence became more important, teaser videos became commonplace to drum up anticipation. Now, it's rare to find a brand who hasn't released their entire Super Bowl spot online, in full, up to two weeks early. It's a new necessity - a way to capture the audience early as the demand grows - as well as a surefire way to gauge the success of the ad long before the flip of the commemorative coin.

This tactic has certainly paid off for Super Bowl newcomer Jaguar, whose "Good to Be Bad" spot celebrating British villains has already garnered an impressive 4.2 million views on YouTube

But in an age where digital is the new standard, it begs the question:

Why buy a Super Bowl spot at all?

The internet has broken down the boundaries for major event relevancy that traditional broadcast used to dominate. Now, brands can be just as successful, if not more so, when they embrace the digital space to create a timely, relevant ad of their own. Without the hefty costs of the ad buy, there's more freedom to get creative, and smaller brands who could never dream of a Super Bowl play are now on level ground with the big boys.

Recent examples include the hilarious "Behind the Scenes of the Mega Huge Football Game Ad Newcastle Brown Ale Almost Made" video featuring Anna Kendrick.

With Wes Anderson-inspired graphic treatment and a no-holds-barred script, Newcastle laughs in the face of the NFL and FOX while showing they know how to laugh at themselves. And we laugh right along with them.

Guinness jumped on this trend with their beautiful ad featuring twin U.S. biathletes Tracy and Lanny Barnes. The spot embodies everything that that makes the Olympics so uniquely inspiring. However, because Guinness is not an official sponsor of The Games, they are banned from airing any advertising featuring Olympic athletes between January 30th and February 26th. Not exactly the spirit of The Games, International Olympics Committee.

Since the official ad has already been pulled, watch this copy before the IOC yanks it away from us.

As long as traditional broadcast TV is around, big-money Super Bowl ads won't be extinct any time soon. But now brands have to compete not only with other brands whose ads air during the broadcast, but everyone who puts up a well-produced Super Bowl-related spot online as well. 

The playing field has gotten much, much bigger. For advertisers, it really is anyone's game.

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How to Design a Killer Invoice that Reflects Your Style

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How to Design a Killer Invoice that Reflects Your Style

There's nothing more exciting than spending a Sunday night sending out invoices. Ok, I can think of at least 50 things that are more exciting, but as any freelancer knows, it's a boring-but-necessary part of life.

My invoices are perfectly adequate. They're clean and easy-to-read, created from a Google Docs template. I changed the information, the color palette, dropped in my logo and voilà - a branded invoice that's easy to use and, more importantly, gets me paid.

After sending an invoice or two tonight, I started to wonder what other designers put forth with their invoices. I quickly learned that I'm due for a refresh.

It's easily overlooked, but an invoice can be an easy-to-use tool without losing your personality and brand. It's the last thing your client sees after the end of your project, and may be the very thing that gets you hired again.

Want to create your own custom invoice? Here's how to get started. Read more>

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Hilarious Animation on American Football by Non-American Perfect Way to Kick Off Super Bowl

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Hilarious Animation on American Football by Non-American Perfect Way to Kick Off Super Bowl

British animator and fellow ginger person Fraser Davidson is back at it again with his hilarious animated short, A Guide to American Football. In it, he explains to "liberals, ladies and lymeys" the ridiculous rules, terrible traditions and silly structure of America's most beloved game. 

Davidson produced another equally-hilarious football-themed short a few years back with his animated piece Irritable Bowl Syndrome based on Bill Maher's book The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass.

What really sets Davidson apart is not only his excellent animation skills, but strong script-writing and storytelling. He never forgets to bring the funny. I recently featured the sizzle from his animation collective, Sweet Crude, as an example of how to create a sizzle reel that shows off your skillset without being complete bullshit.

Yes, football is ridiculous as this piece points out, but damn if we don't love it. Onward to the Super Bowl in New Jersey!

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Calvin and Hobbes-inspired Snowmen Come to Life, Attack City, Get Pummeled by Nissan

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Calvin and Hobbes-inspired Snowmen Come to Life, Attack City, Get Pummeled by Nissan

Ok, so maybe they're not the tongue-in-cheek snowmen that Calvin notoriously flanked his front lawn with in the classic comic strip. They are unholy snowy bastards out for blood. HUMAN BLOOD.

Every winter needs Calvin and Hobbes' snowmen.

Every winter needs Calvin and Hobbes' snowmen.

The Nissan Rogue is a fine product. Not wonderful, not terrible, just fine. So kudos to Nissan and TBWA Toronto for finding a very fun way to show off the Rogue's all-wheel drive capabilities without making us look at the actual car for too long.

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Here's 50 Years of Mustang Design DNA in One Infographic

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Here's 50 Years of Mustang Design DNA in One Infographic

To trace the history of lighting design in the new Ford Mustang, I created this infographic for Road & Track. Following a series of popular posts showcasing a behind-the-scenes look at each generation of the Mustang from sketch through production, this infographic presents information pulled from the series in a clean, visually-dynamic way. 

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Refinery29 names 5 Ceiling-Shattering Women (Including Me!)

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Refinery29 names 5 Ceiling-Shattering Women (Including Me!)

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Huge thanks go out to Refinery29 for naming me one of 5 Ceiling-Shattering Women, or, Women Kicking Ass in Male-Dominated Industries.

In the article, I join four damn-impressive women from the worlds of management, digital product development, online retail and venture capitalism to discuss the challenges of being female in traditionally-male industries, along with sharing inspiration and advice on how to buck tradition without burning bridges. 

The biggest pain point in my career has been that women feel the need to be overly-competitive with other women; to cut them down rather than work together to make a bigger impact. From the story:

What's the most important quality that a woman needs to be successful in an industry that may be a bit of a boys' club?

“I think attitude goes such a long way. It amazes me how many people don’t understand this. It seems like there’s a tendency among women to be a little more competitive when we really don’t have to be. We should all realize we need to help each other and be open. There’s always going to be someone who knows more than you, but learn from them. Be nice, and be a decent person. People want to work with people they like.”

Check out the rest of my interview and read what the other women had to say about their experiences over on Refinery29.

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Melbourne Metro Adorably Tells You All the Dumb Ways to Die

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Melbourne Metro Adorably Tells You All the Dumb Ways to Die

Melbourne Metro's "Dumb Ways to Die" video hit over 60 million views on YouTube this past week, making it one of the biggest viral hits of 2013.

Following the trend that brought OREO huge success this year, the ad is driven by its addictive music and disarmingly-cute animation. Who knew beheading could be so adorable?

The featured song, written by John Mescall and Ollie McGill, broke into the top 10 on iTunes in Australia within 24 hours of its release, and by November 18th, 2012 was the sixth most popular song globally, ahead of Rihanna's "Diamonds." It's since reached the iTunes charts in 28 countries, peaking as high as number 3 in Hong Kong.

Save your private parts from flesh-eating piranhas in the mobile game.

Save your private parts from flesh-eating piranhas in the mobile game.

It's also spawned a highly-rated game which you can download on Android and iPhone

Created for Metro by McCann, the ad raked in five Grand Prix awards at Cannes - for Film, Radio, PR, Direct and Integrated. It also earned 18 Gold Lions, three Silver Lions and two Bronze, making it the all-time most awarded campaign in Cannes Lions' history.

Perhaps most important, the Metro saw a 21% reduction in accidents and deaths compared to the previous year.

The message in the ad is an important one, and McCann by no means downplayed the grim realities of Metro accidents. But by taking a different approach than the usual straight-up stats or scare tactics, they created a far-more memorable PSA, got the message in front of millions, and left us humming along to a song about safety. Quite the remarkable feat.

h/t to Kyle McMorrow for sharing the video

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Forza FilmSpeed Behind-the-Scenes Nominated for Digiday Video Awards

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Forza FilmSpeed Behind-the-Scenes Nominated for Digiday Video Awards

Bust out your ballots, the Forza FilmSpeed behind-the-scenes video series has been nominated for a Digiday Video Award! Produced as part of a Forza Motorsport 5 campaign with Studio@Gawker under my creative direction, the video series was directed, shot and edited by 8112 Studios in partnership with Tiny Toy Car.

The series documents the creation of FilmSpeed, a promotional concept for for Forza created by 215McCann and executed by legendary director and driver Jeff Zwart.

In partnership with McLaren and stunt driver Tanner Foust, Zwart and team set out to bring the sense of speed to life in a way never been done before. Together, they developed and built the world's fastest zoetrope, featuring 680 aluminum-mounted frames from the new Forza game, one of the launch titles for the new XBox One.

Top Gear's Rutledge Wood hosts the five-part behind-the-scenes series, giving viewers an inside look at how FilmSpeed was made.

Congrats to everyone involved. Keep those fingers crossed for the announcement on February 6th.

For more on this series, including all-five videos and behind-the-scenes photos, check out the project page.

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How Ford Almost "New Coke"-ified the Mustang to Death

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How Ford Almost "New Coke"-ified the Mustang to Death

The 1980s was a dark time for the Mustang. Sales tumbled amid the era of OPEC, high gas prices and fuel rationing, and global automakers were shifting towards front-wheel drive platforms as a solution to this problem.

Seems like a good solution, right? That's what Ford executives thought - that what American rear-wheel drive muscle car fans really wanted was a front-wheel drive Japanese car, so long as it had the galloping pony slapped on its grille.

It was a plan as brilliant as "New Coke." Read more>

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Zombie Defenders, F1 Simulators and Adventure Time! The Cars of Comic Con

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Zombie Defenders, F1 Simulators and Adventure Time! The Cars of Comic Con

Last weekend, Comic Con descended on Gotham - er, New York City, bringing with it all manner of cosplay, comics, art, toys and a heinously-awful smell that got worse as the day progressed.

But it's all worth it! Because what Comic Con brings that other shows don't are some seriously badass vehicles you won't see anywhere else.

Preparing for the zombie apocalypse? Hyundai and The Walking Dead have you covered. This fan-designed Santa Fe has everything you need to fight off the undead, including knife blades, automatic crossbow, razor-wired windows, three machine guns, a samurai sword, aluminum armor and a muffler silencer (so the walkers don't hear you as you're out scavenging for food). Read more>


 

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