Category Archives: Inspirational Stuff From Others

Lens Crafter of the week, Nam Nguyens

I’ve missed my camera more and more over the past several months. In the midst of school, work, ongoing projects and making time to feel socially relieved, I tend to forget that it’s there for me, waiting to be utilized. To jumpstart this shutter bug I’ll post about some experimental photographers every so often. Maybe this occasional curation will catalyze my own. Maybe it’ll remind me that small moments, even those locked in a library, can unveil an unlikely point. Regardless of what happens, it’s still content worth recording– Enjoy the view.

“I felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and there are much more stories behind each photograph. Hopefully, these photographs will lead to a beginning of a story however funny, sad, long, short and challenging it will be.” – Nguyens

Nam Nguyens is a New York photographer with under 200 “likes” on Facebook. I ran into a few of his pieces on Designspiration, struck by his deep saturation and clever use of textures, from petals to bed sheets. A few clicks through his Flikr proved even more interesting, as each series displayed a different skill and style than the last.

Here’s a brilliant example of range if I’ve ever seen any:

© 2013 | NAM NGUYENS | All Rights Reserved

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Depth of field miniatures, text treatment, unique color minimalism


High resolution manipulation, respect for natural light, fearless saturation


Attention to natural texture, intense clarity of forms in motion, deconstruction of a typical oceanic persona

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Simple special effect, monochromatic drama, stark portraiture, stylized graphic


Vesuvius gets a soft side

HD TV’s are HD TV’s, I don’t care about them. But this ad starts make me think I should? What’s neat about this brand new piece for Sony is that nothing was animated. Hundreds of helpers actually found a way to shoot thousands and thousands of petals “exploding” from a volcano by using high powered fans, plastic tarps shifted to make them appear bubbly, and lot of brooms for cleanup. Impressive, right? Intense craft is always inspiring, like illustration and sculpture, but if it’s not in your face or over-done craft can be taken to an incredible scale. I’d say this is an example of crafty gone awesome.

making of:

Delta: Keep Climbing

The title is Delta’s current tagline, not my own. It fits with their initiative so well that it deserves the bold font. Before I dive into Delta’s recent app, I have to share this. I stumbled upon it while researching, it’s stamped September 30, 2000.*

Airlines are racing to sell more tickets on the Web. Why? Simple. It’s much, much cheaper than any of the alternatives.

Today, Delta Air Lines, like most major carriers, distributes about 70% of its tickets through travel agents. Each one of those round-trips costs the airline $10 in fees. Delta’s annual tab: $330 million.
The cost of accepting an online reservation and of processing an e-ticket via, however, is close to zero. Delta has sold nearly 5% of its tickets, representing $400 million this year, on its site — second among airlines only to Southwest Airlines… By 2003, Delta expects that will account for up to 20% of the company’s sales.

Fast forward thirteen years, Delta is competing solely online, through several points of entry, with every airline today. Hilarious.

ANYWAY- Delta was in need of a brand revamp to compete with many other flight plans and they decided to focus on costumer service. Even though every company ever says that, these guys seemed to truly mean it. They’ve fashioned customer service around re-innovating everything about their customers’ experience, not just how flawless your boarding is, and it’s payed off.  “Keep Climbing”, that lovely tagline I mentioned above, launched things with a series of well-written spots and print ads.


But that fluff isn’t fraudulent, it’s reflecting actionable change. Starting with a digital revamp, or “hub” as they put it, Delta altered their site’s UI. That interface then seamlessly flowed into an app, which carried most of the weight/attention.

It improves ticket checkins, baggage security, wifi/movie access while flying, and uses a fancy-shmancy map to illustrate things passengers are flying over. Someone flying Delta might not ‘quit’ their app until the transit is all said and done- and that’s the goal, right? From the journalist’s 2000 perspective, this app is practically magic.

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Overall, this app is a solid addition that’s wisely paralleled with the “Keep Climbing” direction.

I also like seeing the soft-sell for an airline like this, especially when its coupled with utilitarian digital. As a kid who didn’t fly often, with parents who can still rarely afford tickets, getting up into the sky feels futuristic– however silly that sounds. Seeing this company disseminate their much needed business change with a consistent style and diction is inspirational.

Ha, obviously I’m sold.


Hang on Snapchat, I’m in the middle of something.

Y&R Melbourne just sent me on a whirlwind of Australian travel research. They’re an awesome agency! So awesome that I might pack my bags and fly (way) west if they had any creative opportunities I could fill.

One of their many interesting projects was a medical recruiting challenge for Defense University. The client needed a way to give scholarships to the most suitable pre-med students through advertising, so Y&R created the Mobile Medic. Check out this explanation:

“It’s extremely accurate… and an interesting step forward to what’s currently taught in medical school,” reported Dr. Charles Bush in a longer case study of the campaign.

I find this project fascinating for many reasons but innovating diagnosis taught in schools today isn’t one of them. Many medical institutions have extended access to top-notch technology for research that spurs true global change. For an advertising shop to say they’ve innovated medical diagnosis is ridiculous. I’m definitely not suggesting that’s what Y&R is claiming, just saying that overdramatized “innovation” claims in advertising are way too common. Anyway, that’s another discussion. It IS safe for Y&R to say that they’ve innovated the way agencies interact with targets using print ads and mobile, all for a really unique client.

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From a messaging perspective, I like this campaign for how it communicates the fast-paced nature of military medicine to students who have might only considered conventional practice. From a tech perspective, I really like that Y&R created multiple ways to augment the user’s reality. During the interaction, a student could see any combination of 3D organ models, mammograms and audio commands, all prompting unique responses that prove or disprove medical knowledge. Within a few minutes a student could be intrigued, led to interact, and shown results as to whether they had performed at qualifying standards. As the video said, the ad serves as an application for  scholarship and Y&R inserted real purpose to what would’ve been a simple OOH placement.

Granola To the Rescue

You know Nature Valley, they’re the granola bar too awesome for old people and babies. At least my grandpa can’t eat them, he has shitty dentures.

Recently, Nature Valley has partnered with the National Parks Foundation for some promotion/preservation marketing tactics, as evidenced by their website:

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Then McCann Erickson NY took this partnership to another tech-fueled level. Using the same moves as Google Street View, the agency created five step-by-step looks into America’s most popular national parks. Inside Nature Valley Trail View, users simply choose a park, then on of several trails, tracked from the path’s head to base. For the health-conscious, mid 20’s-mid 40’s Nature Valley target, this project is spot on without feeling forced. This target have at least considered visiting a national park, and now they can.


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Although the site’s view is pretty pathetic compared to the real deal, it’s the first time someone took our habitual perspective of Google Maps far from the streets. So that’s neat. And besides, I’m all for conservation in the name of noms. And besides besides, you could say that’s why Google Street turns wonder into action already: “Yo, here’s this rubbery, fish-eye view of the place you’re looking for. That’s the right corner? Ok cool, go check it out IRL.” McCann knew this view would likely translate to visits.

I found a small shot from the set of their case study, sporting the campaign tag:

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After watching their “making of” nicely illustrate this concept, seeing how much content framed the interaction, and considering the awards McCann received in the end– I’d say the project was successful. “”Preserve & Inspire” indeed.

I’d like to see how Nature Valley might take that strategy line even farther, maybe by speaking to urbanites who might not give a rats ass about National Parks. Yeah, it’s probably out of their target… but city hipsters still like granola? It’d be funny to see how they could transport the natural praise somewhere really unexpected. Just an idea.

Just A Second

For clients like Montblanc, advertising is all about the shine. Leo Burnett Milan must’ve known this when they decided to break away and pieced together a surprisingly accessible digital work called The Beauty Of A Second. The campaign is specifically advertising Montblac’s new watch that “pays homage” to the chronograph inventor, Nicolas Rieussec. If you didn’t know, a chronograph has several timing functions that make second-to-second timing simple and extremely accurate.

Montblanc’s target market is undoubtedly narrow, comprised of educated and generally wealthy shoppers. These are the sort of design-obsessed men and women who seek that perfect jewel encrusted watch for their partner, or pen to expel their well-practiced signature over and over. But to reach the more digitally active segments of their target, and highlight the watches main feature second-timing feature, Montblanc/Leo Burnett put together this one-second competition. To enter, users just needed to submit their own second, then compile a short “film” using a bank of other one-second submissions. Piece together the most interesting film, and you’ve won the competition. The campaign’s best branded short films were even featured at SXSW, a likely surprise to audiences and Montblanc, then took home several awards including a 2013 ANDY. What’s interesting is that Leo Burnett Milan seemed to widen the consumer scope for Montblanc. With the help of a prompt with tight diction and high-res imagery, the competition seemed to breathe life back into a brand image that walked dangerously close to dusty. Here the Montblanc name has extended past the stuffy top .5%, potentially touching more trendy and artistic individuals. These folks might be less shiny, but probably have deep pockets they might have spent on a rare end table instead. The typical Montblanc look: eva-green-montblanc-ad-campaign-1 Leo Burnett’s version:

Undercover Russia

Saatchi & Saatchi Moscow has launched this campaign for the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture. Entitled ‘Discover The Full Story’, the pro bono press and outdoor campaign aims to encourage more visitors to the museum, whose collection reflects the thousand-year history of Russia’s architectural heritage.

Yuri Polonski was the CD in charge here. I’m a fan of his use of hi-res realism and color palette, especially the blue.


This guy should art direct with Anastasia sequel… whenever that happens.

Hi, I have a crush on your website.

Wildlife is an interactive shop based in LA that focuses on motion graphics and design. You’ve seen there stuff, they’ve hand a pixelated hand in lots of projects. Most recently, that’s Old Spice.

Their work is fun and all but I just really wanted to post about their site design, if for no other reason than to remember it when my bookmarks get deleted (that always seems to happen).

Lots of people are using the scroll down, timeline-esque web design style now. This site has the same format, just five thousand times cooler than you’re used to. This “about us” timeline reveals texture, animation, typography, and photography all inspired with a sci-fi tone.
Check it out:

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The Renegade Who Had It Made, Retrieved For A Bounty

Amnesty International, the global org for human rights, has a new interactive app called “Trial by Timeline”.

In seconds it’ll show which foreign laws you’ve broken based on your Facebook activity. Then a bright map highlights your many punishments, all of which contradict freedom in America.


My own “Trial by Timeline” (above) was impactful, to say the least. In some Middle Eastern or African nations I could be hanged for “liking” Jack Daniels because it suggests alcoholic consumption. My sexuality could also have me tortured or executed in over seven nations. These global injustices have been infographed over and over again, so it’s interesting to see how the right adjustment, like this bright UI, can bring the problem to the forefront in a  tangible manner.

Personally linking my freedom to another’s struggle for it was an ingenious move by AI. I’m curious if scanning Facebook Timeline will be so helpful for other causes/campaigns.

Try it yourself.

Enjoy your freedom.


The Pussy People

this would be make a great dog food ad


It’s More Than Sugar-water (sometimes)

“With the Small World Machines, Coca-Cola continues its positive-driven multi-year initiative which sees Coke re-imagining its dispensers and trucks, turning them into gift boxes and carriers of happiness.”

Tweets Turn Wheels for Progress

Minddrive, an after school non-profit in Kansas City, Mo, has been teaching “at-risk” teens mechanical engineering since 2009.

Recently, they travelled to Washington DC to support education reform in one of their electric creations. But there’s a twist: the entire trip was powered by word-of-mouth.

In their “Social Fuel Tour” video, Minddrive asked people to share their cause the way they normally would (using social media channels and functions like shares, tweets, etc.). They then converted that buzz into electricity for their travel! As a young group looking to drum up attention for legislative change, banking on the energy of public buzz turned out to be a brilliant move.

Minddrive scored big with us on this innovative use of social media by taking something organic but typically passive, like discussion about education change, and turning it into something active, immediate and observable in the real world.

More on Minddrive and their efforts.

Whoa, Kid

Wieden+Kennedy is the largest independent ad agency in the world. These kings of free thinking reign from a corner of America called Portland. Here’s some shots of their beautiful beaver castle:ImageImageImageImage

In the past Wieden+Kennedy was known for Nike because of their creation and unending brilliance of the tag “just do it.” Since its start in 1981 the agency has spit out creative beauty time after time. They’ve gained endless awards, most recently titled Agency of the Year by AdAge in 2010. So these days, I’m not sure what WK is known as- the everything agency?

Some of their notable clients right now are Coke, Heineken, Levi’s, Nike (still), Sony, P&G… it goes on. Everyone’s seen at least ten of their ads- they’re everywhere- but here’s a couple old one’s for Nike you might have forgot. They both won Emmy’s in 2000 and 2002, respectively.

You might also be unaware of the seven genius blogs WK has for its seven locations. Each speaks through bright colors and brighter language to express the branches different tinkering and studies. So far my favorite blog is London. It’s different from America and still readable.

The Wonderful World of Digital – hug more trees

I like advertising. Mostly because it makes good stuff happen, partly because it puts cats on TV. (Good) advertising can take a product’s sales from nothing to awesome in no time, but more importantly, it can sell change in the name of a product.

“We now have server farms that use more energy than some of the smaller states in the US,” says Neutrogena. In light of the issue, they paired with marketing/tech agency LBi to create The Green Server. This self-sustaining box, attached to twelve solar panels and just one wind turbine, powers the entire Neutrogena site. The agency had the opportunity to dive into modern ecological science to engineer, then promote, this inspiring first-ever. Visit the Neutrogena site (seriously, right now) to see live stats on The Green Server’s function and video showing how LBi did it. The work was nominated for a “Corporate Social Responsibility” Webby in 2012.


This is the kind of ad work I find fascinating. It started with Neutrogena’s core concept of “natural” and ended up with a scientific feat to push the sustainability of society. What’s equally exciting is that innovation in social responsibility is now a powerful sales tactic. This kind of mutualism, of capital gains and advances of sustainable-tech, is one I hope will swell in the future of digital advertising. It’s where the eyes and money are, so why not create responsibly?

must watch:

Someone woke the dragon.

I’ve been on a Game of Thrones kick for the past several months. All along I’ve had awesomely visual dreams of dragon fire, riding dragons, dragon warfare, etc. Why is this relevant? Because when I think of the mystical lanscape of advertising today, there’s one who holds the reptilian crown; David Droga’s an Australian who spits creative fire. His last name sounds like dragon.

Droga grew up on an Australian ski resort and initially wanted to travel the world as a ski instructor. Instead he attended the Australian Writers & Art Directors School and graduated in  flying colors. Immediately after, at age 22, Droga became a partner and executive creative director of OMON Sydney. In the decade to follow he tore through the world, eventually landing in New York to head his own agency, Droga5. He is the single-most awarded creative at Cannes, with over 70 Cannes Lions, including six Grand Prix and four Titanium lions.

Droga5, his newborn business, is a Manhattan-based agency founded in 2006. It’s been named Agency of the Year twice by Creativity magazine, and made Advertising Age’s Agency A-List in both 2010 and 2011. It is now the fastest-growing independent agency in the country.

The agency had a great kick start in 2007 with a campaign for UNICEF called “The Tap Project.” It was/is a simple effort to give impoverished children clean water by asking for $1 from New Yorkers who asked for the tap water we normally receive for free. Many awards, and millions in clean water later, the campaign is still running strong. Since this success, Droga5 has claimed an armada of golden clients like Coke, DietCoke, Spotify, Puma, and American Express.

Did you see their Puma ad they did called “After Hours”?

It’s poetic and beautifully shot.

Here’s the copy:

Back-spin on a warped table, under a bad light

A kiss of the eight ball, a bank off the sixth

Double bowl on a single throw, three pints in

Picking up a spare on the final frame

Singing on key, off key, losing keys

Steading hands, blurry eyes

Bars billiards basements

bacon sandwiches with extra hot sauce

Surviving buzz kills, third wheels, cock blocks

and cabs in the rain

finish lines drawn by dawn

these are the providence of the after hours athlete

when the last call calls, don’t answer

the night too is for sport

and they are the champions. 

Droga5 was also behind the Beyonce music video for World Humanitarian Day. It had a one million impression goal and gained over a billion.

Obviously Droga5 has made some incredible stuff you’ve probably seen.

But you might have not seen their interactive/social campaign for Newcastle.

The tag is “no bullocks” and was stocked with smart, refreshing copy.


Overall, Droga5 is a monster of talent and ingenuity. I’ve read a lot recently on the agency’s seemingly unstoppable success and began to question myself. Is David Droga a machine? Do australian’s just eat better fruit? Droga was a partner at age twenty-two. I’ll be twenty-two in four months and there’s a chance I could fail Spanish 1.

Then I found this interview by Contagious Magazine. It doesn’t make me feel any better about  Spanish vocabulary, but it was nice to hear real human-responses from this business dragon.

check it out:

a few of my favorite responses:

How have clients and brands chaned in recent years? 
– We see more and more companies that are building a legitimate business by caring about the state of the world “and” the commercial business side. You don’t have to choose between giving your time to good projects and being a capitalist. You can do both. You can build a good business by doing good. That is why I feel privileged to work in a creative industry where you can do both, help good causes and commerce. It also helps raise the reputation of our profession.

When and why did ad people loose their status of being the go-to-guys for creative

– When they stopped solving problems and started doing what was expected from them. When they stopped delivering ideas and started delivering process instead. When they started opening offices just because the client wanted it and not because it was the right thing to do. When people who understood advertising stopped running agencies, when it turned into a commodity.


If you were hoping this post was about dragons, here’s a neat speed-sculpting video of one. Coincidentally, he’s named Droga: