Coca Cola cough medicine

Well… almost. It’s been a hot and stuffy Friday afternoon in the office and I’m finding myself trying to find inspiration in clever design when I came across this innovative idea by a charity called ColaLife.

 ColaLife works in developing countries to ‘bring Coca Cola, its bottles and other together to save children’s lives by opening the distribution channels which Coca Cola uses to enable ‘social products’ such as oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements to use similar routes’ (http://www.colalife.org/about/)

This began with the concept of using space in Coca Cola crates transported around developing regions, this is currently being trialled in Zambia. In case you aren’t aware, in some countries it is common practice for Coca Cola and other bottled drinks (for which we, in the UK, would expect plastic bottles) to be sold in glass bottles which are then recollected by the seller and sent back to the company to be refilled. This earns the seller extra money (they get paid a small amount for each bottle that they return), eliminates waste material and means that Coca Cola spend a lot less on material.

On a recent trip to Tanzania I noticed this trend and was impressed with how resourceful the locals were with the materials that they could get their hands on. There is no throwing half a bottle in your bag for later or reusing it personally as a water bottle for a few days, plus there is something about drinking from a glass bottle that is (dare I say it) a bit classier. Having said that, I’m not sure drinking from a glass bottle while building a toilet for the local village can be called classy…

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Going back to ColaLife, they have noticed a gap in the market and a need that needs to be addressed. As a charity they have worked with a current service at no inconvenience to what is already in place. ColaLife realised that Coca Cola is something that is available virtually anywhere in the world but in developing countries there are areas where one in nine children die before their fifth birthday from preventable diseases like dehydration or diarrhoea. This is a heartbreaking statistic when you consider that this is sixteen times the average for developing countries where the same statistic stands at 1 in 152.

One girl I met when I was travelling was called Joy, she was a part of the village that we were building in and she was clearly very ill. While we were in the village she was extremely shy – we would be playing with the other children and she would join in when everyone else did but she would never be the first to run to catch the bubbles or chase after the ball. After a couple of days we gained her trust and she liked nothing more than to sit on our laps and watch what was going on. On one of the days we went to the village there was a change, she was quieter and kept falling asleep… it was horrible to know that we had food in our backpacks and clean water but couldn’t give it to them (under orders from our team leaders and the fact that we couldn’t give everyone something) but eventually our team leader came and took a look at her and told us she was very dehydrated so he subtley took her parents aside and gave them a bit of food and some clean water to give to her away from everyone else. It is heartbreaking to know that now, two years later, she or someone she knows may have died from such a simple, preventable problem.

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So ColaLife have developed this system, see the photo below to see how exactly their products fit in with the Coca Cola bottle system that is already in place. 

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The AidPod (as it’s known) fits between the necks of the bottles and utilises the unused space in the crate to take vital aid to areas where Coca-Cola is a commodity (now most places)

As well as carrying some simple but potentially life-saving products, the AidPod has other features. First and foremost it is a container for the products shown below but it also acts as a measure for the water needed to take the medicine and a cup for future use.

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So all in all this is an incredibly well thought through and resourceful product for use in a culture in which aid is often difficult to distribute. It has often been said that to get aid out into a community that isn’t ‘westernised’, we have to be sensitive to how their culture works – throwing medicines at them won’t work but integrating them into an already seamless system and making the most of the free (well, perhaps it’s not free but it won’t be super expensive) transportation and distribution systems that Coca Cola already has in place.

This really is a truly inspirational product and while I’m sat at my desk designing leaflets/posters/brochures etc I can’t help wondering whether we, as designers, could lend a little of our time to thinking about how we can help those who aren’t in our immediate environment. We hear about poverty all the time, and I’m not blind to the fact that there is poverty to an extent within the UK, but the fact that one in nine children are dying from something that could be fixed with an AidPod fitted inbetween bottles distributed by a global brand? That’s something the designers within ColaLife should be insanely proud of.

Excuse me, can you read this for me?

It’s been a while since my last post and unfortunately I don’t have an original or exciting reason, I can only blame deadlines and exam revision, however as the last week of Uni for this year approaches I’ve decided I can treat myself to some productive procrastination in the form of blogging.

It’s your second year of Uni and you’re starting to realise that the work you do is really starting to count for something, it’s taken a while but finally you’re realising that every little bit of feedback from your tutor could make the difference between that all important first or 2:1 (depending on your own personal aim of course). It’s unbelievably infuriating to be given written feedback on your work and not being able to read it? As creatives we all know how easy it is to become blind to our mistakes after working on a brief for too long, even if it’s just a few spelling mistakes, and that’s where feedback from others becomes so useful.

While trying to distract myself from impending deadlines and exams I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Behance and design blogs and noticing a lot of typographic projects. The ones that are sticking out to me at the moment are those handwritten ones and I started to think about why this was the case.

Technology has stolen our preference and ability to write by hand, it’s something that should become habit and natural and say something about our personality. As designers we may be transmitting our personalities through online portfolio websites, twitter accounts and emails but I think an interesting handwriting style should be held as just as important for portraying our personality. 

One particular project I came across was by a graphic designer, illustrator and creative named Wasted Rita based in Portugal, she jots down frank statements about life, work and reality, she plays with words to note brutally honest statements, mainly in her handwriting. 

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Whether or not you like her handwriting or not, the humanist element of this ‘handmade typeface’ gives the statements much more emotion than if they were presented in Helvetica or even in a script typeface that has been used hundreds of times before. In fact people can even be specialists in the art of graphology, otherwise known as the analysis of handwriting to reveal character traits. But if we continue to use handwriting as a rarely used backup when our technology cannot do the job for us then graphology will become a thing of the past.

There is some debate over whether graphology is accurate, most would describe it as a pseudoscience; only one study has found a correlation between personality and handwriting styles. However it is possibly to predict the gender of a writer from their handwriting more often than chance could account for (according to linguistics expert Marisa Brook) and also hints that some hand preferences and neurological disorders could be linked, but psychological studies indicate that nothing else can be reliably determined from handwriting.

So graphology might not be a scientific science, the amount of times I changed my handwriting over the years clearly doesn’t mean my personality traits have changed. It’s funny how many people seem surprised by the fact that I can string a legible sentence together on paper, just because I’m a designer.

A few years ago I did a project where I handed out handwritten scraps of paper with a phone number on saying ‘tell me something I don’t already know’. The aim was to see how much information I could get from people by using the cloak of anonymity and one person commented on my handwriting: ‘You write nice, please write more, filled with grace and rhythm to the core’… a little unnerving but they later texted asking whether I was the doctor type, as my handwriting seemed that way. Interesting seeing as my father is a doctor and his handwriting’s awful…

Another example of handwriting used in creative projects is in this project, an experiment into the effects of sleep deprivation by a student at the University of Leeds, ‘documenting is decline into emptiness’. You can see his progress and judge whether you think his handwriting adds anything to the project, go to http://thexvoid.tumblr.com.

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So here’s a challenge to anyone reading this: use your handwriting more often, create an interesting and unique style… you may not use it all the time but people will notice it more than you would think. When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? When was the last time you wrote one? Would you rather receive a birthday email or a birthday card that’s actually been written in? Pick up a pen and see if you can make something interesting and unique out of that skill you haven’t thought about since high school.

How to create Jon Steel’s ‘Perfect Pitch’

I’ve been reading ‘Perfect Pitch’, by WPP’s Jon Steel, and it’s prompted me to think about what it really means to give a good presentation, something that, so far, I haven’t thought about in too much detail.

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This book was recommended to me by Peter Dart, of WPP fame, and Dave Brown, worldwide VP of Consumer Branding for the Brand Union; I was interested by the idea of the book but didn’t know whether the information would be relevant to me at the stage of my education/career that I am at (second year Graphic Design student, looking for placements for a year in Industry next year). I used to think advertising was where I wanted to be, partly because it was the only area I knew a lot about while doing Graphic Design at A-Level; since coming to University I have realised that my strengths and my preferences lean towards branding and working to establish the identities that become household names. However I thought Jon Steel’s book would give me an interesting insight into presenting to clients, a process that I haven’t had much formal experience in.

Although the focus of ‘Perfect Pitch’ is presenting, I think there’s a lot that can be applicable to our working process as designers and that we can learn from. In particular, Steel describes the five steps that he believes are essential to planning a good pitch.

1. Grazing

This is the research stage of any project, whether for presentation or for work on a brief, the collation of ideas and the ‘gathering of raw materials’ which seems obvious but as Steel mentions and as I have observed myself, many people will attempt to find a solution from the work go.

When I started my degree, having done two years of Graphics AS/A-Level at school and then specialising at Foundation level, I was used to the idea that you never settle on the first idea that you have, it was habit rather than something I consciously thought about. When our first project was group-work and I was coupled with people who came up with an idea seemingly out of nowhere and were happy to settle on it, I was surprised that I had to explain that the first idea was never backed up by enough evidence to be a final solution.

Steel mentions what he refers to as ‘the Data Dump’; this is when presenters throw a lot of unprocessed information at their audience without refining it, he uses O.J. Simpson’s trial as an example. Marcia Clark and her team were working to prove Simpson’s guilt and, in doing so, presented a large amount of complicated, scientific information that proved that Simpson’s DNA had been found on a glove at the scene. The information that she gave them was relevant but not refined to the point where it wouldn’t bore or confuse the audience and this was one of her big mistakes. In his book ‘Presenting to Win’ Jerry Weissman states that a Data Dump is ‘vital to the success of any presentation. The secret is that the Data Dump must be part of your preparation, not the presentation’. Weissman makes an excellent point that you do not need to mention every snippet of research in your presentation, rather work towards finding key insights within these vast areas of research so as to keep it concise.

Every week, for one of my modules, we have a three hour feedback session. We are separated into groups of eight or so with a tutor and given the opportunity to present what we have found or done during the week. Although not a formal presentation it’s interesting to see those who have planned how they will explain their research and those who simply go through piles and piles of articles and books, detailing every sentence or image that’s of interest to their brief. These are the people who need to read ‘Perfect Pitch’. I think it’s important that, even in a casual scenario, your research is presented well so as not to bore the audience, after all they are the people you will be relying on for feedback!

2. Looking for meaning

This is the part where you gather together what you have so far and try to make connections within it, which may lead to further research, insights and eventually the solution. Steel puts emphasis on the practice of moving points around (his preferred method is to use post-it notes) and pair them with points with which there is not an obvious connection, this is the way that the most original connections can be made and unique insights formed.

A few months ago I was working on a brief which asked me to promote the general population to live more sustainably. Obviously sustainability is a huge subject area and I initially didn’t know where to begin or how to narrow down my research; when I eventually settled on the disposal of objects that have lost commercial value, I conducted an interview with Dr. Julian Allwood, author of ‘Sustainable Materials, With Both Eyes Open’ and he encouraged me to look for the co-benefits – those that didn’t necessarily relate to the stereotypical view – of recycling. This led to much more unique insights and solutions than going for the points that fit together at first glance.

3. Drop It

I’m glad this was a part of Steel’s list as it is the perfect excuse for procrastination. I’m sure I’m not the only designer who gets creative block and has to completely detach themselves from their work every now and again in order to find their direction again. Steel says that they key is not to forget the project but to ‘put the whole exasperating problem as far from your conscious mind as possible’ in order to let it simmer. Steel mentions those who keep a notepad by their bed (something I have tried and not enjoyed, bed is not a workplace) but I prefer a more active approach. Everyone has their own form of ‘creative procrastination’ and mine is exercise; however much a project is stressing you out, working it out gets you out of the house (or office), clears your head and gives you an often much needed endorphin boost. Sometimes you won’t even realise that you’re thinking about the project – once on a night out I came up with a really strange idea (completely unrelated to events of the evening) which ended up becoming the conceptual solution to a book cover (this can be seen at http://jenny-cook.co.uk/117397/1122970/gallery/folk-tales-for-the-ever-curious). So the ‘creative procrastination’ does work!

4. Adapt & Distill

Back to business, this stage does involve going back to your workstation and narrowing it down to more specific presentation points. It involves sharing your idea with those who haven’t worked on the project to see if it makes sense (there’s a major conflict of interests if you try to establish this yourself), as Steel says ‘it’s not what you say that counts, it’s what other people hear’.

The reason for this stage is that you need to be able to cut the project down if needs be, for example if time runs short and you need to get all your main points across in five minutes.

Steel uses his part in a presentation to Unilever, for Persil’s ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign, as an example; this follows creative writer Robert McKee’s description of a story as a ‘design in five parts’:

  1. Inciting incident – the power of the concept which is based on real-life truth and blurs the line between what is good and bad.
  2. Progressive Complications – this is the problem, that parents agree with the concept on an intellectual level but still see it as a hassle when their children come home dirty.
  3. Crisis – an even bigger problem, this involved encouraging parents to play with their children.
  4. Climax – a ‘catalyst for change’, encouraging the ‘crisis’ problem to be solved through the childrens’ conversation with their parents.
  5. Resolution – the confirmation that the idea works through effects seen elsewhere in the world.

With a presentation broken down like this, it was presented in forty minutes but could have been delivered in 5 with all the main points put across.

5. Writing the presentation

Up to this point in the chapter Steel has not mentioned the use of a computer, and he definitely has not mentioned his arch-nemesis – the power-point presentation. This is an interesting point as during our weekly feedback sessions, we are often asked to put together a power-point or multiple page PDF to illustrate the ideas we’ve had so far… whereas Steel says putting slides together too early is ‘putting the cart before the horse’ and that ‘what you say, and what they see and hear should not be the same’. Basically do not read from the slides, this is boring and unoriginal; slides should be there to illustrate not as a step-by-step guide.

Interestingly I have a lecturer who is very good at not reading from the slides, to the point where if you daydream for five minutes of the lecture you will have completely lost the point that he was making, so abstract are some of the images he uses to illustrate. This is, however, a clever way on his part of ensuring concentration (for those who want to pass the module anyway) for his whole presentation every week. He likes to point out that the slides are of very little use on their own without his dialogue,  which is the point that Steel is trying to get across – slides are illustrations not the full story.

It’s interesting that we are not taught the specifics of how to present. At infant and primary school I was the girl whose report cards would state: ‘Jenny needs to put her hand up more’ or ‘Jenny is too quiet in lessons’, at some point in high school I outgrew this to take part in a public speaking competition, in which getting through the first round was a major achievement for me. On Foundation we were given the opportunity to present to our small group (of friends) but there were a few who would be missing on every ‘presentation day’. Now I feel that I could present a project adequately but not amazingly and, although at University we are told regularly that our presenting skills are not up to scratch, we are given little in the way of guidance. Steel’s book has highlighted a skill that I could definitely use some improvement on, but I do think Universities and higher education could provide more support for those for whom presenting will be key in their future careers!

Jon Steel has been in the advertising business since 1984, working as the agency’s youngest Brand Director for BMP and helped to make Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein, an agency in San Francisco, go from a fledgling agency to National Agency of the Year. He has worked for Sir Martin Sorrell at WPP and spent a year as vice-chairman of Berlin Cameron United in New York before returning to WPP in London. 

Image source: http://jigsawresearch.com.au/blog/?p=1286

Maggie – one of a few notable female icons of our age

If you’ve listened to the radio, turned on the TV or tuned into any type of social media or online news feed then you will know that today is the day that Margaret Thatcher died.

Now I’m no politician, nor am I a historian, so I know very little about her politics or her time in office but after today I have come to the conclusion that she is rather like Marmite, people either love or hate her. This post isn’t concentrating on that though because I, unlike many people whose opinions I’ve seen today, don’t think it’s fair to comment when I don’t know the facts. As for those who don’t know who she is… I have nothing to say to you.

I’ve noticed that today has unearthed hundreds and hundreds of images of ‘the Iron Lady’, but there are a few that keep appearing again and again. Photos that will, undoubtedly, become the ones that stand the test of time and be brought up when she is spoken about in ten, twenty or fifty years time. The photos in question are a mix of official and non-official photographs that show her professional front as Britain’s first woman prime minister and reflect her personal life, which was predictably well documented from the time she left Downing Street in 1990 to her death today, 8th April 2013.

We are a society who are obsessed with the photography of those who we deem to be ‘celebrities’. Celebrity culture is something that is far too complex to explain today but most people would understand the term without having a clear definition – it is the lifeblood of countless magazines, newspaper columns and gossip blogs – and it has fathered an interesting breed, the paparazzi.
These are the journalists who are not interested in quality stories and reporting honest facts but with photographs of those in the public eye; they try to capture every possible moment in the hope that something controversial will happen which will earn them the big bucks. And these are the kind of people who capture our female icons today. 

The first image which has stood out has been the one taken outside number 10 Downing Street when she first became Prime Minister in 1979, she is pictured with her husband Denis.
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Relations with the USA were built up by Thatcher throughout her time in office and her friendship with Ronald Reagan, the President at the time, was another element of her career which has been documented by photography; she is pictured here in Washington, November 16th 1988.
Imageand of course the day wouldn’t be complete without a photo of a tearful Thatcher leaving Downing Street in 1990 when she was defeated by the Conservative Party and replaced by John Major

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After this photograph there are countless others documenting her as she grows older and her health slowly starts to fail but it is interesting that the three above are those which keep reappearing. It made me think about other female icons of our time, not the trashy celebrities like the Kardashians and the cast of The Only Way is Essex but women  like Princess Diana and Kate Middleton (or her lesser used title, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) who is arguably the most photographed woman in the world at the moment.

I was very young when Diana died and my interest in her funeral was largely based, as a five year old, on indignation that children’s tv programmes weren’t on for a week. However as I have grown older and especially with the speculation around Kate’s marriage to William, I have come to realise how iconic a woman she was. Again it was interesting to see which photos of her were brought up around the time of the royal wedding by those analysing whether William’s marriage would be affected by that of his parent’s.
As far as I can tell Diana’s iconic photos show three particular perspectives on her life. Diana the princess turned royal embarrassment, Diana the mother and Diana the style icon.
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If we thought Diana was photographed a lot, Kate has had it even worse. Even before she became royalty she was hounded by the press for being William’s girlfriend and is pictured here trying to escape the constant media attention on her 25th birthday.
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Of course this is not an iconic image, merely a demonstration of how the paps get their best shots. Her first iconic photo could be said to be the moment William first noticed her on the catwalk for a fashion show at St Andrews University but their first official photo has to be on the announcement of their engagement in November 2010 (the dress she wore sold out within 24 hours and started a ‘little blue dress’ trend)
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and then it would have to be their wedding and the infamous ‘balcony scene’ which was hailed as much more of a success than Diana and Charles’ forced kiss on their wedding day many years before

Kate has already followed in Diana’s footsteps as a style icon, at every official engagement she is photographed and her outfit scrutinised, especially now she is pregnant. There will always be the unofficial photos of course, many of which have caused scandals at the Palace over media intrusion on private holidays that the couple have embarked on, but these will be the photos that will be brought out in years to come and mark the lives of those iconic women in the media spotlight.

The science of creativity

I’m bringing a slightly different post this week after watching an incredible documentary on how creativity is generated in the brain.

Available on BBC iPlayer until Thursday (and I’m sure you’ll be able to find it somewhere online after that), Horizon’s: new episode, ‘The Creative Brain: How Insight Works’ is pretty scientific but also comprehendible to the creative mind. In fact it’s interesting on more than one level because it goes beyond artistic creativity to explore how scientific creativity has shaped the human race.

The documentary focuses on three main channels of research

  1. How insights work
  2. Divergent thinking
  3. The science of improvisation

We’ve all heard of the ‘aha!’ moment, that flash of inspiration that seemingly comes from no-where and provides an ideal solution to a problem that we’re facing. Do you ever wonder if there’s more to it than that? Is the flash of an insight more than just a random thought? I suppose I’ve always known there was a science behind it but never really considered this fact in too much detail. The truth is that over the past decade there has been a boom of interest and research in the whether the creative ‘spark’ can be explained. A subject that was previously considered too ‘elusive’ or subjective can now be observed and explored through more than watching a person’s exterior reactions; the development of advanced neuroscience equipment has opened up a whole new avenue for us to gain a better understanding of what really makes us creatives tick.

So back to the documentary. The first guy who they look at is a man called Jonathan Schooler who states that ‘the development of humanity is based on creative innovation’.
In order to try to establish where an insight comes from he set up an experiment where a metal pyramid is balanced upside down on top of a $100 bill; the challenge is to remove the bill without toppling the pyramid.

Impossible? Not when the answer is revealed to you within a set of clues. But will you be able to process the words to understand what could be the answer?

Confused? So was I.

Breaking it down simply, an iPad with the clues on was placed on the left of an image – when done like this, the observer still couldn’t come up with the answer, even though it had been within a select group of words put in front of them. This is because they were using the left side of the brain to work it out. ImageHowever when this was reversed, they were able to see the answer fairly promptly. The answer, in case you’re wondering, is to burn the note.

So the conclusion from that piece of research was that the right hand side of the brain is more likely to make the connection leading to that coveted ‘flash’ of insight.

Our next guy, Mark Beeman, is a pioneer of neuroscience and his research aims to uncover the neural correlate of creativity – in English, that’s what interacts to form the insight within the brain. He set up a test where he would measure a person’s brain activity while giving them three words and asking them to think of a word that would work with all three.

For example, the three words are ‘pine’, ‘wood’ and ‘sauce’.
The words that goes with all of these is ‘apple’ (it’s all very 11+/verbal reasoning isn’t it?)

Once the test subject has thought of the answer, they then say whether they came to the answer through analytical means (testing out word after word to see if they fit) or through insight (a seemingly instantaneous answer). Beeman then compared the brain waves to come to his conclusions – this next bit is a bit science-y but stay with me.
Insight occurs in the anterior superior temporal gyrus, we have one of these on each side of the brain but when an insight occurred it showed a burst of gamma rays on the right hand one.

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The reason for this is that on the right hand side of the brain, the neurons branch out more broadly than on the left, and this means that they are able to find more connections.

John Kounious, another scientist, pushed Beeman’s theory further by finding that about one second before insight occurs and the gamma rays are released, a burst of alpha waves are released from the back of the brain.

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Alpha rays reflect areas of the brain shutting down and so this burst, before the insight, allows something resembling a ‘brain blink’ to occur, momentarily shutting down the visual cortex so a faint idea is allowed to rise to the surface of our consciousness as an insight. Interesting isn’t it?

It’s like when you ask someone a difficult question, they will inevitably look away from your face because a face is a distraction, they will be drawn to look at the area of least distraction so their brain can concentrate. This is what your brain helps you to do subconsciously.

 The next channel of research explored is divergent thinking. This simply means a way of thinking that ‘diverges from known ideas and comes up with something novel’ and it is tested in the simplest of ways.

A person is presented with a brick and told they have a minute to come up with as many different uses for it as they can. They are then scored from 1 (unoriginal and predictable) to 5 (highly original) and the higher score you get, the more of a divergent thinker you are.

Rex Jung tested several people on Venice Beach, California, a well known spot for eccentrics and creative thinkers like this guy:

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Your guess is as good as mine as to how this demonstrates the use of a brick… Anyway, Rex’s idea was that intelligence and creativity may not be as closely linked as previously thought.

He brings in some beautiful images of white matter for us to look at; in case you aren’t aware of what this is, it’s the wiring in our brains that connects different regions and we all have 150,000km of it stored up there!

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Rex explains how, with intelligence, more white matter = higher intelligence. His theory is that the opposite is true for creativity. Why? Because, ironically, it gives us the ‘head-space’ to generate ideas (see where the saying comes from?). Where intelligence is measured from how fast an idea can get from A to B, creativity is more of a meandering, less travelled road which is the neurological basis to divergent thinking.

Back in Baltimore a man called Charles Lim is relaxing in a Jazz café after work, this is his favourite place to hang out as he is fascinated by the way in which they improvise their music. Keen to find out more, he places musician Mike Pope in an MRI scanner with a keyboard on his lap, plays him a melody and asks him to improvise with his own keyboard.

The results showed changes in the pre-frontal cortex of his brain, an area that acts in conscious self-monitoring, basically making your focus on whether what you’re saying and how you’re acting is ‘right’ in a situation. The decrease shown is what Lim likes to describe as proof of people ‘taking a risk musically’ and interestingly could be linked to great poets such as Coleridge who were well known for their use of opiates while writing great masterpieces of poetry.

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There’s a lot more I could write about but I think I’ll let you watch the documentary yourselves to see the rest of the tests. Personally as a creative (and not a scientist) I found it really interesting to see the basis to something that I often consider to be spontaneous and, let’s face it, a little bit magic. Who doesn’t know the panic of a creative block a week before the deadline and the relief of that miraculous insight that you’ve been searching for?

And before I forget, here’s the link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rbynt/Horizon_20132014_The_Creative_Brain_How_Insight_Works/

Will you ‘Do The Green Thing’ for Earth Hour?

Have you ever thought about raising awareness for climate change through creativity? Do The Green Thing have.

If you’ve never heard of them, Do The Green Thing is a charity focused on the environment that inspires people to live more sustainably through creativity. They claim to have reached over 11 million people in over 200 countries and estimate that those who subscribe to them save over twice as much CO2 as they would have otherwise.

Do The Green Thing are currently running a campaign to support WWF’s Earth Hour through the creation of 23 posters designed by big names in the creative industry. From 1st of March until 23rd March (the day on which Earth Hour takes place between 8.30 and 9.30pm), a poster a day will be uploaded to their site (http://dothegreenthing.tumblr.com).

According to the charity, the posters will inspire people “to take simple green actions at home, school and work” through getting to places without a car, using less electricity and consuming less meat. These sustainable actions have been chosen by the nine environmental advisors of the charity and are executed by some of the industry’s top creatives.

Having read all this (if you have read this far), I bet you want to see what the fuss is all about… Here are some of my favourites so far, although there are still thirteen more posters to go so keep your eye on the blog!

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Marina Willer, a partner at Pentagram design, created the second in the series with a photo of her own foot encouraging people to walk rather than drive. She claims that walking two miles a day rather than driving would save over 300kg of CO2 each year, and burn a tidy 73,200 calories (so you can focus on that if you’re not too bothered)

Her view on her piece is that “We can panic about where the car keys are, get grumpy in a traffic jam, run out of petrol before we find a parking space, have a fight with the pay machine, and get a congestion charge penalty to finish off. Or we can walk and enjoy the world.”
Personally I like to feel like I’m doing something to help the environment but at the end of the day if it’s raining and I need to get somewhere I’m most likely to choose the comfort of the car. I like the way Marina puts this though, parking spaces can be a nightmare, not to mention always having to have change for the ticket; and what about getting in and out of the parking space when some moron has parked too close? Going back to the design, I love how simple this poster is; yet it’s simple enough to be memorable.

ImageThe fourth installment in this series comes from another partner at Pentagram, Michael Bierut, who decided to scare people into making their shower that tiny bit snappier (If you’re not familiar with the reference, Bierut is pointing to the shower scene in Psycho, an iconic moment in movie history).

Here’s what he had to say on his work:
“Taking a brisk, water-efficient shower is the best way to start a productive day. And the most famous shower ever filmed was one that was notoriously interrupted. Had Janet Leigh been a bit quicker, she may have made it to the end of the movie!”

Just think about it, cutting your morning shower two minutes short will cut down your water use by 16,425 litres and if that doesn’t cut it, just think of the extra two minutes in bed.
And if you’re still not convinced, you can download Do The Green Thing’s ‘showercast’ here: http://www.dothegreenthing.com/content/short_sharp_showercast

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London based designer and director, Steven Qua, was commissioned to create the tenth poster, released today, to encourage people to save electricity and free their minds… interesting.
I’ll be honest, I had no idea what this was about until I read his explanation:
“When I was young I lived in a town with a lot of dogs, I used to lie in bed at night looking at the moon, listening to the barking. Now I’ve moved away I miss the barking in the dark. Every day I turn the lights off look at the moon and bark myself to sleep.”
Taking a less generic approach to the brief, Qua has brought us a personal memory and experience but with the added incentive to save 20% on your electricity bill. As for barking myself to sleep… well I suppose you should try everything once.

That’s the end of my spiel on a few of the posters so far, but you can see all of them (with the full explanations) on http://dothegreenthing.tumblr.com.
To find out more about Earth Hour, the reason behind this campaign, visit http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk.

Is going too far the new ‘thing’

After my post a few weeks ago about Nivea’s ‘Stress Test’ campaign, I thought it would be interesting to show you this:

The upcoming release of a neo-noir film named ‘Dead Man Down’, a thriller/crime production by Niels Arden Opley, prompted marketing agency Thinkmodo to pull this rather morbid stunt.
In true 21st century style this New York-based agency decided to hide a camera inside and elevator and stage a murder attempt and then film people’s reactions when the elevator doors open.

The reactions are mixed – some run away, some try to stop the assailant and one simply stands there and takes a photo on his phone (whether or not he intended to use this later as evidence is unclear).

As I asked before when I wrote about Nivea’s campaign… how would you react?