Augmented Reality Buzz: Google X Labs Project Glass

Do you remember those cool spy glasses you’d see in the movies? The ones that would let you map your way across unknown territory, talk to your friends, work on voice command, take pictures. Well it may not be so far out of your grasp. Google X Labs has been developing their their own futuristic, augmented reality spy glasses. It is a head-mounted display (HDM) that allows users to enjoy the perks of a smartphone using voice commands for en entirely hands-free experience. Users can call or text friends, take pictures and videos, map alternate routes to their destinations on Google maps, and so much more. Take a look at the video below and see the all the things you can do with with the Google HDM:



I think that it would be pretty interesting to see how this device would affect communication. Would it augment communication, or create a barrier? Imagine being on a date and thinking that your date is listening to your stories, only to find out they’re actually aren’t because they are preoccupied with the HDM. It is already bad enough that the world of text messaging is holding us back from one-on-one conversation.

The device itself is said to retail at approximately the same value as a high end smartphone ($250-$600), and is set to be available to the public near the end of 2012, according to a New York Times blog.

I’m still on the fence as to weather or not I would want one of these. I think it would be cool to try it out and pretend I’m in a mission impossible movie, but whether or not I would adapt to it instead of a tangible smartphone, I’m unsure. Time will tell. Keep up the good work Google.


Fresh Ink and High Gloss – Internship Update

As an advertising intern, most people expect that you will be taking some outrageous “non-fat half-sweet caramel latte orders,” doing some intensive filing, and kissing arse like nobody’s business. Although this might be reality for some, it is not the case for me, thank goodness.

I was accepted as a design and strategy intern at Downtown Rideau BIA in Ottawa. So far I am thoroughly enjoying working with such a great team. I’ve been designing my little heart out for the past two weeks, and now in my third week I get to see my work become public.

My first real printed work is my Underpass 2012 Season Poster. This high gloss beauty is located at the Underpass and William Mall in the Downtown Rideau district, featuring dates and times for entertainment down at Ottawa’s urban outdoor performance venue.

Me and my Underpass Poster

Me and my Underpass Poster

My Poster at the Underpass

My Poster at the Underpass

My second printed work is a handout for the “Downtown Patrol”, a program funded by Downtown Rideau BIA. The handout will be distributed to businesses in the district by the Downtown Patrol security guards to ensure that business owners know who to call and what to do in case of by-law and safety disruptions.

Downtown Patrol Handout

My Downtown Patrol Handout

Third, is a poster series (and matching handout) with the common By-Law and Safe Streets Act violations that are applicable to the Downtown Rideau District. The posters will have put up on posts on Rideau Street, and the handouts will be distributed to By-Law/Act violators by the Downtown Patrol.

My By-Law/ Safe Streets Act Posters

My By-Law/ Safe Streets Act Posters

Three published works in two weeks? Not bad for an intern I would say.  I have a few other works in progress including a couple logos, pamphlets and memos. Updates to come!

When Social Media Commits Social Suicide: Social Media Failures

While social media has its advantages including low cost, credibility and connectivity, there are also some disadvantages. Prior to posting an update on behalf of yourself or any company, one should consider these potential downfalls. Social media has a lack of anonymity, therefore anything you post online can be traced back to you. Below are three recent social media failures.

First off, there is a high potential for harassment and negativity in social media. Regardless of how positive your post is, there are always those who will find a flaw and use it against you. Take McDonalds for example. They recently launched a few promoted hash tag trends on Twitter (#Meet the Farmers and #McDStories).  The generalized #McDStories trend was intended to receive positive feedback,  however horror stories of food poisoning and unhealthy food comments were posted instead.


McDonalds Starts Trend: #McDStories

McDonalds Starts Trend: #McDStories


Second, the connectivity aspect also goes hand in hand with the lack of anonymity. Yes it can be an advantage if posts and updates are done right, however when they are done wrong, serious consequences may occur. Just seconds after an update is posted, your viral views begin to grow, especially if it is a scandalous one. Take the Anthony Weiners case for example. The potential New York City mayor’s entire career was ended by one tweet. The married man accidentally tweeted some photos of himself shirtless and in his underwear to women on Twitter, without thinking the entire online world would see them. The indiscretion resulted in the end of his career, even with the televised apology released after the outburst. The lesson here is: think before you click. People love to gossip and spread the negative, and it all happens in seconds.

Anthony Weiner Scandal

Anthony Weiner Scandal


A third common mistake in social media is that some people don’t always know where to post their updates. Post categories are crucial to the credibility of the post. You don’t post a used car ad in a fashion tab on Kijiji because it’s irrelevant to the category. A social network that has very fine lines about where you should post is Reddit. Recently, Woody Harrelson posted “I am Woody Harrelson AMA” in the AMA (Ask Me Anything) category on Reddit.

Woody Harrelson AMA

Woody Harrelson AMA


The AMA category contains treads where Redditors can ask questions about occupations and life (ex: I’m an electrician, AMA). Harrelson proceeded only to answer question about his upcoming movie: Rampart. This enraged Redditors, who then threatened not to go see the film. One user replied asking if Harrelson remembered taking a high school girl’s virginity, which he replied with “First of off, its not true, and second off, I don’t want to answer questions about that. Lets focus on the film people.” It was labeled one of the” worst AMA threads of all time” and an “epic fail from his PR team”. Needless to say, the rumours are out and Harrelson’s reputation dissolved.

The main lessons learned here are: be aware of what you’re posting, where you’re posting, and who’s going to read your post. Keep that in mind to avoid social media failures and keep your online reputation credible.



Marketers and their Monkey Business: Trends in Guerrilla Marketing

Every day, marketers strive to find creative ways to reach their audiences. One of those creative methods is Guerrilla Marketing. Wikipedia defines guerrilla marketing as:  “an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are utilized, often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a product or an idea.”

Typically, if done well, guerrilla marketing causes people to look twice and enjoy the concept presented to them. It will create a lasting impression that could then be passed along by word of mouth, photo sharing, and repeat visits.

“Done poorly, guerrilla marketing can make your company look like a nightmare. Done correctly, it is one of the single most powerful marketing tools.” –  Erik Hauser, Founder and Creative Director, Swivel Media

As mentioned in the quote above, a poorly executed ad could diminish your brand. For example: in an effort to promote a cartoon television show called “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, the broadcasters placed several LED signs across Boston in 2007. Even though it seemed to raise awareness, the broadcasters forgot to notify the authorities of the purpose of these signs. As a result, these complex-wired signs were suspected to be bombs, and taken down by the state police. Turner Broadcasting had to pay millions of dollars to homeland security to solve the problem. See the picture below:

Boston Guerrilla Bomb Scare

The major advantages of guerrilla marketing are high exposure and significant long-term impressions. High exposure can also become a major disadvantage if the ad was done wrong. People are more likely to repeat negative comments than positive ones, therefore, they are more likely to tell their friends about a poorly executed ad. In order to avoid negative exposure, intensive market research should be taken into account, prior to putting a guerrilla ad on display.

As for local guerrilla marketing, I was able to witness one at Winterlude in Ottawa two years ago:

Rogers/Samsung Ice Phone at Winterlude 2010

This is an effective way to market Rogers and Samsung brands in a high traffic area. It creates a lasting impression because festival attendees can take photos of each other in the phone and share it with friends. It gets passed along by word of mouth. Also to the left of the photo, you can see a few phones frozen into the ice-wall, as a part of the display.

A few other examples of effective guerilla marketing include a coffee cup promoting a plastic surgeon’s business, a street ad promoting National Treasure the movie, and a lamp post promoting McDonald’s free coffee day. All of them are successful in generating awareness and lasting impressions. Take a look:

Free Coffee Day at McDonalds

National Treasure Guerrilla Marketing

Plastic Surgery Coffee Cup


Guerrilla Marketing really captures our attention and helps us appreciate the ad much more than just a regular print ad or commercial. We can relate to them, and in turn want to share them with others. Even if we don’t purchase what is being advertised, its all about awareness. I’d like to see more marketers advertise like this here in Ottawa in the not to distant future. Lets give them something to talk about.



Balloon Animals and Beer–International Commonalities in Advertising

In many advertisements we see on TV, we find commonalities that can be applied to cultures worldwide. After reviewing a few ads on the Cresta International Advertising Awards website, I came across an ad that not only has beautiful copy, but also has those international commonalities. Below is an english version of an ad for a German job-finding site, .

The cultural universal that is associated with this ad is the need for a career that makes one happy. It contradicts all the stereotypical downsides to being a fisherman, that it is not boring, nor frustrating, nor lonely.  Then it proceeds to ad a bit of humour when the main character turns a fish into a balloon animal.   The main message–if you feel that you are in the wrong job, there are more options available to you if you visit the It is questionable whether or not this ad would be deemed acceptable in Canada. There is a large animal rights movement here in Canada, and activists might think that turning a fish into a balloon animal is slightly barbaric. Job finding sites, such as, use a similar kind of “epic-ness” if you will, and finish with a more acceptable, and humourous scene asking if the main character needs a new job. Take the following ad for example:

As an advertising enthusiast, I notice some fine detail in many ads. No words are said in this Heineken beer commercial from the Netherlands, yet if you’ve seen their other creative, many of the characters come from their own separate Heineken ad. Watch below and see:

You can recognize the one eyed man, the kung fu man, and more from other Heineken commercials. It is an example on non-verbal communication that Heineken brings everyone together. Featuring guests from around the world, Heineken assimilates an abundance of cultures together to create a gem of an ad. Another underlying statement I picked up is that Heineken is “impressive”. The leading man turns down a fancy drink, a martini (or champagne in the short version), and reaches for the beer instead. However, before he finally gets his own bottle, he goes through several “impressive” stints such as: offering the one eyed man an eyeball, play-shooting the cowboy, performing a magic trick, and play-fighting the Kung-Fu guy. He then changes his black suit to a white one, a symbol of being revered and respected. He earned the respect of the guests and therefore earned his beer thanks to his brilliant entrance.

Check out the Cresta International Advertising Awards website for more extravagant ads.


Check your watches Advertisers, It’s “Appy Hour”

Nowadays, developing a brand personality is no longer about creating entertaining advertisements, it’s about creating an experience. It is so easy to skip ads or fast forward through them thanks to digital TV’s and PVR’s, that the messages that these brands are trying to get across are not being heard. Advertisers have to try and find innovative ways of keeping consumers engaged  and focus on the utility of their brands. Many brands have yet to realize that:

“Content is not the end game here. The end game is giving the consumer value and utility. If the most value for the consumer would be derived from free shipping, or a new piece of software, or a better user experience, then doing a feature film integration isn’t the right answer.” Jonah Bloom, Advertising Age

In most cases, mobile apps are the way to go. According to a recent Neilson study, 40% of the US population are using smartphones.

% Breakdown of Smartphones in the US Market 2011

% Breakdown of Smartphones in the US Market 2011

That 40% of the market have the advantage of downloading apps to make day to day activities more convenient. Marketers can use that to their advantage. As an iPhone owner, I use many different apps everyday. This includes anything from the traditional social media apps including Facebook and Twitter, to branded apps. My favourite “branded” apps are the RBC Mobile Banking app and the Weather Network app. These brand made a utility that brings the convenience of checking the weather or transferring money from one account to another, right to your fingertips. Another neat app is the Tim Horton’s Timmy Me. It shows all the nearby Tim Horton’s locations, your  Tim Card balance, nutrition facts, and even a convenient little note pad to take down orders. The app coincides well with the 5 brand utility “virtues”. It is interactive, helpful, interesting, relational and genuinely useful.

There are a couple local brands that have created apps to better reach their audiences. Place d’Orleans Shopping Centre has their own app which allows users to see promotions within the mall, check their Place d’Orleans gift card balance, an interactive map of the mall and links to the PdO’s social networks. Another nameable local brand is Hot 89.9. Their app allows users to listen live, enter contests, view the program guide and visit their facebook. Both these brands are reaching their audiences on a higher level. Users are carrying the brands everywhere with them.

A brand that I would like to see develop and app would be the LCBO. They have several different promotions year round that could also be promoted using an app. They could show their featured products, add tasting notes to popular wines, offer recipes and beverage pairings (like Food and Drink magazine). Also, they could add a gift card balance component, store locator and more. It would be convenient as it is one of the stores with the highest traffic in Ontario. It would be another way for the LCBO to reach their clientele on a more personal level.

In my opinion, the best brand utility at present is brand applications. More and more brands are going to see the value of developing these apps to better reach their audiences. Smartphone users, prepare yourselves!

Chart Link:

“Superbad-vertising” – Hidden Advertisements in a High-School Flick

Its incredible how many brands make an appearance in our favourite hollywood movies. Some of these product placements are intentional while others are just there. As a hybrid case study in my international advertising class, we were asked to watch a movie and record all the different brands that we saw. I chose the popular high school party-life flick, Superbad.

Right off the get-go, popular brands such as Coco Puffs, and Honda make an appearance. Evan and Seth, two main characters, walk into a convenience store where Seth proceeds to buy a Red Bull. Other small appearances do occur throughout the movie(see list below), but the most obvious ones were Frito Lay and Pepsi. There are packages of Doritos, Cheetos, Ruffles and Fritos in several scenes as well a cans of Sunkist “Mist”, which is a Pepsi product. Also on the wall outside the liquor store, there is a Pepsi sign that is visible throughout the scene

Pepsi sign on Liquor Store in Superbad

Pepsi sign on Liquor Store in Superbad

Both Frito-Lay and Pepsi would be considered arranged product placement. Since so many packages of Frito-Lay and Pepsi products are used in the movie, I believe that in exchange for air-time, the producers of Superbad were compensated with ample supplies of Pepsi and Frito-Lay products. See the “How Stuff Works” article on product placement below for more information on arranged product placement. The other brands are shown so quickly that it seems that they are just there coincidently.

Here’s a list of other brands that I spotted in the movie:

Coco Puffs, Honda, Red Bull, Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, Ruffles, Frito-Lay, G-Shock, Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Puma, Under Armor, Tabasco, Sunkist, World of WarCraft, C.C.T. Busses, Toyota, Ford, Quaker, Xtra Detergent, Pepsi, Sambuca, Myspace.

Another cool thing I found was that the liquor featured in the film were fictional brands that can be translated into real brands. Two nameable ones are Goldslick Vodka and Old Musketeer Beer. Both are easy to associate with the traditional brands Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps Liqueur, and Old Milwaukee Beer. The association isn’t really considered product placement, but it gets the brands some recognition.

My list only consists of 25 brands in Superbad. Imagine how many brands are recognized in bigger motion pictures. Brands are everywhere!

“How Stuff Works-What is Product Placement”