Blog, business, graphic design, Pasadena and local, post production for film and video

Are we in good times or bad?


Wow, it’s hard to get a hold on where the economy is, for entertainment companies both big and small. The L.A. Times has a story on how the toy industry is looking to large blockbuster films like Transformers to drive more and more toy sales, especially in the off-peak summer months. A story about the success of the movie industry? But a day earlier, the Times looked at how smaller production and support companies were being squeezed by runaway production — filming moving to cheaper locations out-of-state — and how it’s going to be hard for the SoCal economy to absorb the loss of work.

And is NBC-Universal for sale or not? Who knows. They have been having a hard time, both on television (Knight Rider) and at the moviess (Land of the Lost). But what happens to the big affects even us small companies.

But look at total box office figures for the last few years. We’re on track this year to at least keep up with last year, if not surpass it. People are still spending money on entertainment.

With all of the bad things that are going on in the economy, it’s good to look at a few bright spots. When an economic shakeout happens, the competition in the market becomes fiercer, allowing strong companies to strengthen their position and weaker ones to be weeded out. Interestingly, it’s not always those that stay out of bankruptcy protection that are the safest. And sometimes, especially in the entertainment industry, it becomes hard to capitalize on a successful business — like British films.

A few quick links:

  • My new friend Petrea from Pasadena Daily Photo did a series of pieces on our building in Old Town Pasadena last week. Interesting stuff, if you are into the history of old neighborhoods and buildings. Here are the three posts: 1, 2, 3, & 4.
  • Homage or plagiarism? Lots of designers are up in arms about this website for a Republican candidate for governor, including Print‘s Daily Heller blog. Is it plagiarism? I don’t know. But the similarities to Obama’s well-designed site for his candidacy are striking…
  • Copyblogger has a great little article about my favorite ad guy, Lloyd Ogilvie. Even though he wrote Ogilvie on Advertising decades ago, it still rings true for me as a marketer and graphic designer.

Happy Monday to you, wherever you are!

Blog, post production for film and video

Obama's Inauguration Requires 30 Truckloads of Sound Equipment

Have you ever heard of Maryland Sound International? Well, they just pulled off what they think might be the “largest amplified event ever. Period.”

Pro Sound News covers the requirements for a presidential inauguration: JBL VerTec rigs hung on custom motorized portable poles dotted the National Mall. But the coolest thing (from a scientific perspective) is the time-delay required to make sure everyone hears the same thing:

Given the vast expanses needed to be covered, it took more than nine seconds for audio to travel from Obama’s microphone to the last loudspeaker, requiring that video fed to the many portable screens on hand be delayed to match the audio. Accordingly, MSI spent the last week working onsite, checking wires, listening to mixes and interacting with a government sound architect.

From what I can tell, everything went off without a hitch. Congratulations to MSI and all of their people for making a historic event sound great!

Blog, graphic design, post production for film and video

Shoutout to some great campaign trail design

Whether you like the outcome of the election or not, this — I believe — was the most important change in the recent presidential campaign vs. previous campaigns: good design. Honestly, can you remember a well-designed logo from any previous political campaign? Barack Obama’s people hired Sender LLC to design a logo, and MODE to handle the film and video duties for the national campaign. The “O” logo is a brilliant embodiment of the “hope” message of Obama’s campaign, and therefore makes it a powerful “single read” identifier or placeholder/surrogate for the campaign. More powerful still, the simple fact of a well-designed logo immediately tells the viewer that this organization “has it together”. The videos and ads continued that marketing push with well-designed graphics and a perfectly-set “tone” for the current national climate. Regardless of whether you like Obama, we can admire and acknowledge the successful role that good design had in winning the election for Barack Obama.

Matthew Creamer from Advertising Age takes it one step further, and argues that Obama’s team did something crazy with their marketing: they succeeded at “reimagin[ing] who his audience, or his customers, could be. His win was in many ways about ditching doctrine and boldly plunging into places where most wouldn’t necessarily expect the brand to work — which is to say places such as Indiana — and then winning them over”:

The result was a brand that was big enough to be anything to anyone yet had an intimate-enough feel to inspire advocacy that raised funds at record-breaking, almost obscene levels and gave birth to a massive network of on-the-ground supporters who were so crucial in the get-out-the-vote effort that added incremental Democratic ballots.

The article challenges us as marketers to continue to re-imagine our own marketing efforts, and check whether we are underestimating who our target market should be. Don’t settle for what conventional wisdom says; rather, think big, and come up with the big ideas to back it up.

Edit: Forgot to add this very interesting article breaking down the online ad expenditures for the Obama campaign. Some smart moves here.