insights, ironies and idiosyncrasies in communication and design

from the wide, wide world and the world wide web

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Poor benchmark.

If advertisers will insist on blindly branding on all matter of surfaces in the public realm they should at least make an effort to keep up regular host maintenance – for the sake of their brand as well as the host. This bench outside the train station in the Vietnamese town of Da Nang really doesn't offer much support for a multivitamins product with a USP that is all about get up and go. 

The biggest billboard in the world.

A comment made in response to my post on Beijing construction site boards, praising the value of boards being used in some cultures to keep eyesores (junk, trash etc) away from the population, brought to mind a rather large cover-up operation in Thailand (that occurred during my pre-blogging days).

During the 2003 APEC forum a 360-metre long banner, brainchild of the then Bangkok Governor (now Prime Minister) Samak Sundaravej, was used to cover up a whole slum neighbourhood so that world leaders wouldn't have to view the 'mess'.

This type of short term, 'band aid' solution perfectly demonstrates that face (and not substance) is everything in Asia.

If only Samak had sold the prime media space to a multinational corporation he could have regenerated the whole area and had enough left for a few aprons, too. 

Thanks to for the image.

That'll be the Deawoo.

Better known for its rickshaws and bicycles, the rampant tiger economy of Hanoi also now boasts fleets of flash compact taxis – though the taxi rank on Hai Ba Trung that we saw just turned out to be a row of kit cars with poorly aligned, misspelt Daewoo logos. Perhaps it's an intentional move to raise the profile of the service (evading copyright laws by altering the spelling) rather than a simple failure to grapple with the Korean transliteration, but either way the glistening logos in the midday heat underscored a shortcoming of some sort rather than adding dazzle as the move was more than likely designed to achieve. 

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Fabricated housing.

It was once that the primary function of construction site boarding was for keeping stray bricks away from passing pedestrians and cars (and in some cases perhaps even keeping shoddy site safety standards and dubious workmanship away from prying eyes) but all that has long changed.

In an effort to take advantage of every inch of media space available for brand communications clients have turned to their own real estate. A line of copy or an artist's impression of what condo or shopping centre would spring up is typically the kind of thing to adorn such boards, though in Beijing one or two projects just recently have taken their brand promise to fantastical extremes – offering ancient Oriental architecture of a bygone era, acres of natural woodland and what looks like a lovely English country lane. And so popular is some of the new landscaping, one or two have even become photo opportunities themselves (as the last of the quartet of the images above shows).

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Fishy business.

'No Fishing' is one thing, but 'No Chucking Fish Back into the Lake' seems a bit of an odd law – even if you consider the merit making tendencies of most Bangkokians. 

Temple hawkers who sell birds to release into the wild have actually been known to attach fishing wire to the legs of the creatures so as to be able to rope them in and sell them again when the customer's turned the corner – so who would think the park administration would turn down the chance to sell and re-sell a pond full of fish over and over again?

Perhaps the strategy behind this park posting though is something altogether different. Maybe we're supposed to take the meaning of the two signs in tandem and the authorities are just concerned anglers might get plastered and chuck their day's catch back into the water?

The white sheep of the family.

While Unilever try to wriggle out of accusations that the images from the Dove brand's Real Beauty campaign were Photoshopped they can't claim such innocence (or feign such positioning) where Ponds is concerned – not in Southeast Asia anyway.

As the only billboard in this sleepy Laotion town of Pakse testifies, Ponds continue to promise bright white skin – the face of the model precisely the colour of the bleachy white billboard itself – and nothing like that of any of the girls I met east of the Mekhong.