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Chipotle Scarecrow

Chipotle Scarecrow

I just wanted to do a quick post to share a couple of ads I’ve come across recently that I think are reflective of really well-thoughout communications strategies. These advertising and other comms professionals have really gone beneath surface issues when considering what their customers/patrons/consumers value, and as I’m learning through my degree, that is an integral part of a successful media campaign. Their ads tell a story, offer a narrative for viewers to follow, and appeal to our emotions, rather than our hip pockets.

1. Chipotle

‘In a dystopian fantasy world, all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system. Dreaming of something better, a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory.’ The ad features a cover of ‘Pure Imagination’ from the film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, by vegan and animal lover, Fiona Apple.

2. True

‘Giving’ tells the story of a man unexpectedly rewarded for a lifetime of good deeds he performed without expecting anything in return. True “believes in the power of giving without expecting a return.”

3. Expedia

Expedia’s ‘Find Your Understanding’ tells the tale of a father coming to terms with his daughter’s marriage to another woman, and his (cliche) journey both physically and mentally, to arriving at their wedding.

4. Pizza Hut Canada

This ad ‘Dip Hop’ might tell less of a ‘story’ but it’s pretty bloody fascinating, at least for a minute or two.

5. Airbnb

Airbnb have combined ‘the history of filmmaking (Hollywood) with the future of filmmaking (Vine)’ to make ‘a true work of art’. According to PSFK, ‘[s]tarting on August 22nd, different sets of instructions were released between the hours of 8am and 5pm until August 27th [via Twitter]. There was a 48 hour window for submissions for each set of instructions, and they were judged based on several weighted criteria: Originality & Creativity (40%), Compliance with Instructions (40%) and Video Quality & Clarity (20%).’ If a video was selected, it appears in the final film, and winners received a $100 Airbnb coupon. Vivek Wagle says, ‘[i]t’s a story about personal transformation and finding one’s place in the world. It’s what happens when you decide to eschew the boring and familiar. In the end, the raw, imperfect nature of the medium is part of the story.’

6. Ikea

And finally, Ikea shows us the importance of adventure, getting out of your comfort zone and not letting your habits and routines rule your life. I wish this ad were a true story.

Enjoy!

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And here’s what I did at artsHub this week:

Record number of finalists for Portia Geach Memorial Award

Young singers battle for Australasia’s top award

New model for artists’ payment

Songs I Love to Hate: generally these songs are overplayed on commercial radio stations, may be used in advertising, are sung by mainstream artists worth millions of dollars who couldn’t give two shits about our opinion because ultimately, we’re listening to it whether we like it or not. Quite often, I’ll like the song the first time or first few times I hear it. It’ll be catchy and repetitive before becoming an unwelcome ear worm, slugging away in my ear; stretching out when it’s least wanted and curling back up to sleep when I’m actively engaged in something important. But something about their ridiculous quota of airtime and popular success ignites a passion deep within that sustains our interest enough for us to remember how much we dislike the song or possibly the artist. When the song/artist comes up in conversation we immediately pounce, saying how much we hate it/them and how if hear that song “one more time…” Yeah. We might find ourselves swimming against the current and that’s okay. Just so long as you know how to tread water while waiting for the storm to pass and everyone to get addicted to some other new release, possibly by the same artist but hopefully, by some new one hit wonder with better tone, musicality and talent than the last.

Case in point:

Anything by T.Swift especially 22, One Direction (lol, R.I.P Haylor), Lily Allen, Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Diamonds by Rihanna, Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye ft. Kimbra, Glamorous by Fergie

But You Belong With Me has the cutest video clip ever!

Songs I Hate to Love: on the other hand, I find myself mildly embarrassed to love some songs. They are commonly commercial hits by international acts with huge budgets and an entourage of hundreds running behind. The good thing about secretly loving these songs is that more often than not, you’ll find you’re not alone in your singing while driving, dancing in your bedroom or stalking the twitter account of the artist. The most obvious way to out a secret lover is by catching them humming the melody, or by scrolling through their iTunes Most Played playlist, and finding the artist’s entire album slotted in alphabetically after an impulsive download late at night. Unlike those we Love to Hate, it might take us a while to grab onto the wow factor of these tunes – if there is any wow involved at all – but once we’ve caught on, we’re hooked for good. These songs also may be connected to memories or occasions that mark special moments in one’s life. The artists may be better performers than musicians, speakers than singers and give great interviews obviously scripted by a smart publicist wanting to sell tickets. But ultimately, they’ve most likely got me, and you, between their hot little hands, ready to refresh our browsers 101 times at 9am to get a ticket to their next gig.

Case in point:

Sexyback by Justin Timberlake, Beauty and a Beat by Justin Bieber ft. Nicki Minaj, Scream & Shout by will.i.am ft. Britney Spears, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson (shout out to the Bieber/Gomez/Tisdale video clip), Gangnam Style by PSY, Festival Song by Pez ft. 360, The Sweet Escape by Gwen Stefani ft. Akon, Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne, Party in the U.S.A by Miley Cyrus

  1. Hygiene and Sanitation in Communal Bathrooms – bathrooms and toilets in particular have the potential to be inherently dirty and disgusting. But walking into a clean, air-freshened toilet cubicle makes the whole experience so much nicer. No one wants to pee when there’s dirt on the floor, blood on the bin lids and others’ remains waiting to greet you, so I’m thankful for cleaning staff and the majority of the population who respects the facilities they use and the cleanliness of those present before and after them. Leave a toilet how you’d like to find it.
  2. Navy Blue – today I wore a navy blue top with navy blue shorts. As a little kid I hated navy because I was constantly dressed in it but I’m happy to say my opinion has changed. I also wore a baby blue backpack. I’m feeling blue, with a positive connotation.
  3. Honesty – it is pretty rare, so it’s nice to know it still exists.
  4. Location – today I woke up at 7:45am to be somewhere by 10am. That’s early for a sleeper like me. But other’s had to get up at 6am to arrive at the same place at the same time. So I’m thankful I live within close proximity to many places I frequent.
  5. Diversity – today, an ABC newsreader was publicly abused on a Sydney bus. But I am in awe of how diverse our population is. Each person is unique and no one can be defined by a single determinant such as race, religion or age. I am thankful that I’ve grown up in a multicultural society and that I have the chance to meet new and interesting people so often.
  6. Graduation – or more distinctly, the phases one passes through and graduates from within their life. I was in the presence of a young man today who is about to graduate into a new phase of life. Stepping into unfamiliar territory is scary, but he has accomplished many things and is now ready to make this transition. It is important to recognise our small graduations, because they may be significant in subtle ways.
  7. Random Acts of Kindness – I opened a lovely packet of Derwent Artist’s colour pencils today. They had been used many times before but the girl next to me had taken the time to organise them according to the colour wheel. I feel less anxious when things are in order and her small action had also made my experience of scanning the pencils more aesthetically pleasing.
  8. People Singing in Their Cars – while driving today, a song came on the radio and I started humming along, as I’ve taken to doing since driving on my own because I’ve always thought people singing in their cars look pretty silly. So while I was humming and singing the words in my head, I looked in my rear vision mirror and instantly recognised the girl in the car behind me was mouthing the words to the song I was listening to. It was a strange feeling, firstly knowing we were listening to the same radio station (which I’ll admit, must happen all the time without us realising) but then I was reading her lips and hearing the words come through to me via my stereo. It made me smile. Furthermore, we were going to the same destination and entered the building one after the other. And it was a song with lyrics and a video clip I love. So keep singing in your car, it’ll make someone else giggle.
  9. Athleticism – not mine, but observing that of others. Watching someone truly run, with power, energy and determination is a great thing.
  10. Getting to the Station Just Before the Train Arrives – I walked onto the platform and the monitor told me the train would be there in two minutes. Best feeling, knowing I’ve timed everything right, from waking up to stepping outside.
  11. Today’s Weather – Melbourne was a beautiful 28 degrees today. I’m generally a Winter Girl, but today had just the right amount of sunshine, a light breeze and no insanely hot periods. Nailed it, Melbourne.
  12. Coincidence – today I met a girl who’d gone to the same school as me, a few years behind, and yet I’ve never seen let alone met her before. Someone recently noted how frustrating it is that in Melbourne (and possibly other cities/countries as well) people are very quick to ask what school you went to. While she saw it as a negative, and I can see her point of view if it leads to judgement or remains the only topic of conversation, I believe it’s an easy way to make connections with new people, find mutual friends and acts as a pathway to discussions of similar interests and knowledge.
  13. Professionals and Education – being in the presence of someone who actively steers a conversation in a meaningful way as a result of their professional training or knowledge is both a testament to their abilities, and a help to those they are guiding. The value of education is often disregarded, particularly in a society where almost everyone receives a minimum of 10 years of mandatory education and so many go on to complete further training. Amongst my peers, I feel learning in its own right is thought as compulsory rather than voluntary or engaging which means it is often seen as having many, often unwanted, strings attached. We should be able to enjoy learning without the pressure of grades or rigorous study schedules, as well as learning to gain qualifications. Hundreds of people go through all levels of education each year and settle with just passing their subjects so they can get their degree and walk. Education is an opportunity, but I feel it isn’t valued as such.
  14. Flexibility – similarly, education amongst other things, should be flexible. Amidst a group of people I was with today, many educational institutions had been flexible in allowing them to miss a day of school or study, allowing the individuals to better themselves and expand their horizons outside of their primary institution. While rules and regulations are necessary to maintain standards and behaviours of living, being about to be flexible is so important. I am still learning to be more open to flexibility myself, but accommodating unexpected situations, people and new ways of thinking is important for our personal growth.
  15. Preparedness – on the flip side, being prepared is very rewarding. I know that if I’m cold, I’ll get shitty. It happens every time and so for me, checking the weather forecast the day before, for instance, is very important. Despite the beautiful weather outside today, I was inside an air conditioned building for the majority of the day. So I’d packed a jumper. When possible, prepare yourself and life get’s easier.

It’s crazy how we define ourselves by numbers so often these days. Numbers find their way into our lives as restrictions, boundaries, descriptions and ultimatums. To be a fight attendant you must be a certain height, dieters seek a number on the scale, people are obsessed by clothing sizes and how they differ between labels, students finishing year 12 receive an ATAR score which determines what university course they get into, there are age limits for drinking, driving and most public pools have an age you must be to swim unsupervised. And these are but a few examples. In some cases, age specifics are sensible, others, maybe not. But defining one’s self by a number is, for the most part, unhelpful, especially considering that number may grow, fluctuate or change over time.

Last night, I saw Les Miserables, the story of 24601, or Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a prisoner in a pre-revolutionary France, who breaks parole but is touched by kindness and God, and spends the rest of his life doing good deeds while running from the watchful eye of police officer, Javert (Russell Crowe). The Victor Hugo novel became the one of the most watched musicals of all time, and there was much anticipation for this film production that was released in Australia on Boxing Day.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of music theatre. However, back in 2005, I saw an amateur production of Les Mis and was far from taken by the music or the story. Based on this production and my thoughts thereafter, Les Mis has always been a bit of an in joke in my family, as we laughed in awe of how such a depressing, bland musical could ever have become so popular. In retrospect, I think I was too young to see the complexities and depth of the superficially simple plot, and I suspect by the time the production I saw came to a close, it was probably a late night and I just wanted to be in bed. The show is very lengthy, as is the movie. But the screening we went to last night only started at 10:30pm, and I was most certainly kept away for the film’s full duration.

What struck me about the film were a few key decisions made by the production crew, which I’d read about before seeing the film itself. Firstly, the casting was (almost) impeccable, and was broadly international in that it was far from a Hollywood/strictly British cast. With leads from Australia, the US and the UK, the search really had gone out for the best of the best. The casts came from a range of backgrounds and experiences, with Anne Hathaway as Fantine (reprising a role her own mother played when Hathaway was a child), musical theatre-famed Aaron Tveit and Samantha Barks (my personal favourite), and new faces including the superb Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche, with an almost blank entry on imdb. Character actors Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Sir and Madame Thenardier stayed true to their roots, and the majority of the cast were able to sing in tune, with clear diction and didn’t make me want to block my ears. That’s pretty good for a blockbuster movie.

Secondly, the fact that the cast sang live, to the camera is very impressive. I’m a stickler for badly-sunk television or film, as it just takes the picture so far away from anything actually authentic being portrayed. But in Les Mis, each lead was fitted with an ear piece so that the orchestrated score was played to them as they sang. In my opinion, this made the movie. It is both thoughtful and effective, and the fact that the actors sang live on set showcases their talent and their adaptability. If the character was sobbing, their singing was disrupted, but in a good way. Things were incredibly fluid and the immediate emotions were complete and whole, like they should be – and would be, on stage.

Finally, the big budget of the film made it possible to have a really large ‘ensemble’, or cast. The opening scene where we meet Jean Valjean as a prisoner, the Work Song is sung and the choreography (if you could call it that, perhaps movement is more suitable) is performed, as well as the scenes of the barricades are vast and people-strong. I don’t know how realistic that first scene is, but it’s certainly visually spectacular.

I wasn’t expecting much from the film to be honest, so I was pleasantly surprised at the talent and the production overall. If you’re not a fan of nonstop singing, maybe it’s not your thing. See The Hobbit instead?

Now I’m just hoping for that rumoured stage revival in 2013. A new year, another number. Just wait 365 days and that will change again, too. Here’s to the last 23 hours of 2012.

Pleasure is such a simple noun. Yet its interpretations are as varied as those who experience it through satisfaction, gratification, and freedom in living. Today’s youth have been categorized as the techno generation, whose pleasure is obtained through means of online communication, digital media, mobile phones, game stations and virtual worlds, where face-to-face interaction has been depleted to a minimum at the expense of physical nurture and embodied experiences. Additionally, the International Diabetes Federation has stated the younger part of my generation are predicted to be “the first generation where children may die before their parents” due to sedentary lifestyles, poor dietary intake and diminishing use of support networks, whether it be family, friends, community groups, health services, or financial subsidies. Yet while vivacity and adventure are being drained from some, others are embracing their circumstances, their unique characteristics, their gifts and their passions. You can find such inspiration at the respite program run by Jets Bundoora, a creative arts facility owned by the Banyule City Council.

 

Twice a week, Jets opens its doors to youth who face unique challenges with everyday living. Monday Night Rock Stars focuses on social connectedness in a supportive environment, using music and movement to build resilience and confidence amongst its participants. I attended a session with ten 18-25 year olds, facilitated by two qualified carer-musicians with a therapeutic background and, like the participants, was treated to a special guest artist, David Wells, who was to run the night’s session.

 

The program responds to the participants’ interests, and activities range from dance, improvisation, drama activities, songwriting, performing, recording, to self-expression as it evolves throughout the sessions. Having arrived early to meet the staff and help prepare for the night, I was struck by the enthusiasm and energy that entered the space when the clock ticked over to 6:30pm. With warmth, smiles and stories to tell, the regular members hugged each other and voiced their excitement about what was to come. As they discussed their weeks and chatted amongst one another I immediately felt connected and engaged. The young people were open, telling me what they had done that day, who they lived with, what their hobbies and interests were and stories from their past, like we were old friends reuniting after a long hiatus.

 

Their attention and focus was like nothing I’ve experienced before. The young creatives’ commitment to the program for their personal wellbeing is proof enough of the admirable use of government and community resources to fund such a program. I listened to an overwhelming amount of appreciation for the Jets program and how it was the event many of them most looked forward to each week. For some, it was the chance to play the guitar and sing to their peers. For others, it was the chance to socialize with “nice boys” and loving staff. And for me, what became the most uplifting experience was the constant encouragement and support they had for their peers, cheering them on whilst they danced, thunderous applause and “You go, girl!” when they finished, and countless comments of how talented and “awesome” the others were. There were occasions when a member didn’t feel comfortable to participate in the activity for whatever reason, but this was only met with further reinforcement and understanding. I said then and it continues to resonate with me, that if only my own friends gave each other such support we might be kinder and more appreciative individuals ourselves.

 

Each activity was a team building experience. Throughout the night I danced the tango, was courted by a charming young man to waltz, moved my way through the space following the shapes and poses made by other participants, and clapped along to interpretive performances both group and individual. Moving and responding to the sounds and songs, the participants became part of the music and soundscapes through simple improvisation, using inspiration from their lives, their space and those around them. It was amazing to watch each personality emerge and evolve through their performances, giving me insight into their values and skills.

 

The two hours were up before we knew it. After only six weeks in operation, the Jets respite program is appropriately and subtly structured as well as adaptable, giving parents of the young people time for themselves, with the knowledge that their children are in the hands of people who genuinely care for them and respect their individual differences. Monday Night Rock Stars is a program full of pleasure gained through community involvement, creativity, care and supportive networks. All in the name of assisting and empowering those in the local area living with a disability.

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Visit the Jets website here or their Facebook page here.