A Spin on the Subway: Google’s Good to Know Campaign

Google ad campaign, New York City subway system, © Adroyt.

Google is running a new and pervasive ad campaign in several US metropolitan centers; the subway trains in New York City are plastered with banal posters explaining internet privacy, basic browsing lingo, and Google’s own policies. This seems to be a spin directive aimed at countering the recent storm of response to Google’s cross-platform consolidation of its privacy policies, which took effect March 1st. In their own words “Written in clear language and featuring practical examples to illustrate complex security and privacy issues, the website and advertising campaign aim to empower users to tackle their online security concerns and make more informed decisions about their internet use.” OK, I feel better now…

Google ad campaign, New York City subway system, © Adroyt.

The copious placards feature caricatures and catch-phrases intended to answer simple questions or concerns of the everyday netizen; they’re calling it the “Good to Know” campaign. The facile messages masquerade as Big Brother Data in a second-grade teacher costume – it brings to mind a disquieting revision of the roles in the insightful “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” scene from The Wizard of Oz.

I find the cartooned characters somewhat repugnant. One commentator described them as childish… but is there a mindset or underlying ethos behind these depictions of lumpy humans dealing with a technoworld they don’t understand? It’s an interesting idea to consider. Their heads are nearly vestigial; the legs are atrophied props. Arms are rubbery tentacles devolved for grasping devices. The stoop-shouldered torso is wide, flattened, and squared off: it reminds me of a smart-phone or a flash drive. Nearly all the inhabitants of this anxious scape are delineated in black and white; only the world around them has a bit of remaining color.

Google ad campaign, New York City subway system, © Adroyt.

What do you think? Are you relieved and reassured by this kindly intervention on your behalf? Stop back in on the 20th when we take a look at the ROI of Instagram, the photosharing app that is getting so much buzz.


Let’s Hear It for the Noise!

In a little over a week, the exhibition “No Object Is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection” will be history so if you are anywhere near Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, before March 25, you might want to stop by the Cranbrook Art Museum to see the varied works by 50 leading contemporary artists and designers on view within the building designed by Eliel Saarinen. The Finnish architect, who taught at Cranbrook and became the school’s president in 1932, had Charles and Ray Eames (then Ray Kaiser) as students. If you haven’t seen the PBS documentary on the Eames, it’s worth watching for its in-depth view of the rampant creativity for which the couple is known.

One of the pieces in the exhibition at Cranbrook that captured our attention is a Nick Cave soundsuit titled “Tree Soundsuit”—one of the artist’s wearable mixed-media sculptures about which Roberta Smith of The New York Times said, “Whether Nick Cave’s efforts qualify as fashion, body art or sculpture…they fall squarely under the heading of Must Be Seen to Be Believed.” In the video below, Cave explains that he didn’t set out to produce “wearable art”; that he didn’t even realize the suits made noise until he put one on! Leave it to someone who has a background in textile design and modern dance to meld the two disciplines so dynamically!

Cave’s art is available through Jack Shainman Gallery and he sells some interesting items on his SoundsuitShop site, including these punching bags, which we thought might serve as stress-relievers for all of you overachievers out there (we’re online ordering ours as we speak)!

Coming up on the next #ThoughtThursday, we ask you how you feel about the new Google privacy policy, taking on the advertising campaign slathering the New York City subway system. Called the Good to Know campaign, the marketing effort might have been a bit better conceived. How does this related to the Wizard of Oz? We guess you’ll just have to stop back in to see, no?


Adroyt Labs: Productrazzi

The Lithium table by Peter Harrison is such a fine example of exemplary workmanship that we thought we’d give it a little buzz. There are a few photos of the classically chic creation on our google+ page. Have you followed us there yet?

Speaking of amazing products, we’ll feature a new effort by GoodWeave for our next post. The organization is an exemplary example of philanthropy–championing the end to child labor for the weaving of rugs and carpets. Fazel Wasit will tell us about the program. I first learned about GoodWeave when interview Stephanie Odegard years ago: her Stephanie Odegard Collection still makes me week at the knees (and it’s a true bonus that she’s so passionate about social justice)!


The adroyt Salon: Virtual and IRL

There have been a higher than average number of people remarking on Twitter and Google+ during the past couple of days that they are shocked we’re zooming toward the end of 2011—just a week away from Thanksgiving today, in fact. Is it any wonder? October was slamming busy where design events were concerned—the A&D Film Festival, Tile of Spain’s “Material Matters” event, a wonderful evening of chocolate and flowers at Clodagh, the INAX showroom opening, Interiors From Spain’s closing party at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, Duravit’s Design Week and Highpoint Market (whew: and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg)!

Bethanne Matari of Currey & Company said of this fall’s Highpoint, “It was well attended and buying was strong. The entire 6 days were filled with positive energy. Lots of the design world glitterati were out and about at book signings and various special events. We are feeling very optimistic about our business!”

The design world in November has been even crazier—Cristina Grajales’ opening for “Ayala Serfaty: In Vein” and Surface Magazine’s release party for the November/December issue at Hotel Americano were standouts; OpenSky’s pop-up shop debuted in Soho; our Four Florida Moderns event, “Design Into Miami,” was our first IRL salon at Relative Space; the debut of Benzinberg Stein Associates’ permanent installation at the MET got great buzz; and attending the BDNY show with our client Global Lighting was stimulating (as was the after-party at Royal Botania with music by DJ Sid Vaga—there was breakdancing by the attendees, no less)!

Things won’t be letting up until we swing into Christmas holiday mode in mid-to-late December, as we are heading south for the Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami/ mêlée during which we will hold the adroyt salon IRL at Avant Gallery with Planar, who will debut new video technology, and Surface Magazine on November 30. We’ll be surrounded by the third installment of the gallery’s Pictures + Furniture exhibition as we 140 during our TwitSalon from 6 to 7 p.m.

The show will feature emerging industrial designers Chad Jensen, Philip Michael Wolfson and Pryor Callaway, and fine artists Alejandro Vigilante, Arne Elias, Alec Monopoly and Guy Le Baube. A lighting sculptor, Callaway is designing a mobile art installation for Art Basel Miami Beach that will be exhibited in the gallery that evening as well.

So we’re guessing that the design arena, as dynamic as it is, isn’t the only sector of business that seems to be picking up steam as the year comes to a close. Our salon question this week is, “Do you feel time is moving faster with each passing year?” If so, how are you managing to deal with the pace? If not, do you have a secret that the rest of us could use to help us slow things down a bit? Where are Christopher Lloyd and his DeLorean when we need them, eh?


The Scarlett O’Hara Approach to Social Media?

Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara.

It’s Saxon here, and it’s time for #LetsBlogOff again; the question du jour is “What one thing did you really want when you were a kid?” I wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara! I am southern, as many of you know, so the minx had me seriously charmed. I wonder to this day whether it was the heavy doses of romance in the film version of Gone With the Wind that set me up for all the angst I’ve experienced in my relationships! Okay, enough about me…

Why would we even consider talking about this particular southern belle on our blog that focuses on social media and deep thinking? you may ask. She has always been associated with shamelessly using her charms to get whatever it was she wanted so we at adroyt would like to declare that she’s the perfect model for social media behavior. To a point, that is. Along with being beguilingly sweet, she resorted to lying, cheating and even marrying her sister’s boyfriend—none of which are behavioral constructs that will give you any longevity on sites that require all of us to play well together.

What do we mean by using your charm? Beguiling behavior on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ amounts to giving back when someone gives something to you (RT—retweet—or TYSM—thank you so much—every mention or RT, “like” every “like,” and +1 each and every +1). Always remembering to engage someone who has called you out in some way (unless they are lying, cheating or marrying your boyfriend, of course) is the epitome of being charming on social media.

Katherine Hepburn, who wasn’t given the role.

And keep in mind: arrogance can come back to bite you. When producer David O. Selznick was casting the role for Scarlett in the film, Katherine Hepburn reportedly demanded an appointment with him, saying, “I am Scarlett O’Hara! The role is practically written for me.” Selznick is said to have replied, “I can’t imagine Rhett Butler chasing you for twelve years.” No one on SoMe channels is going to pursue you if you are conceited enough to think you’re the only one who matters “out there.” If you’re playing hard to get, you’d might as well be playing dead. If you feel entitled, you might as well use the time and energy you’d be wasting on SoMe platforms to join a country club and fraternize with the haute crowd. Even the pithiest tweet has a life of about four minutes so it’s best to make each and every one of them count!

To see our comrades posting for this #LetsBlogOff, click here for the roster. For a very funny blog post juxtaposing Scarlett and Sarah Palin, visit Cocking A Snook!



It’s the Adroyt Salon: Belly Up to the Bar!

McSorley’s Old Ale House by James Maher Photography

Pushing boundaries or entering unexplored territory can be daunting, especially when the landscape is as unmapped as social media. Those of us working professionally in the field are a bit like early cartographers who scaled ridges and skirted wetlands to create the documents that “explained” the landscape to the paper on which it would be recorded—our “paper” a vibrant upright screen holding all the wonders of the virtual world.

Not long ago, on another 100-degree day, we trekked to McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest continually operating bar in America and an institution in New York City, which was founded in 1854. Staying true to the character of its origins, sawdust still swirls around on the floors even as Y-3 wearing tourists and work-boot-clad locals whisk through to belly up to the bar. Presidents have sipped their choices of light or dark ale at McSorley’s, and some of New York’s most avant-garde creative types have squeezed into a sliver of standing room at the bar or taken a seat at one of the rough-hewn tabletops with their attendant rickety wooden chairs.

This description might lead you to believe that McSorley’s is the antithesis of new media because nothing could be less modern than these dark, dank interiors; and in that respect, you would be right. But the bar has earned its place in the revolutionary history books because it served as a favorite hangout for a generation of visionaries that included the Beat Poets. The haunt particularly appealed to Jack Kerouac and another poet bent on experimental language, e.e. cummings, who birthed one of his innovative poems in the long, narrow room looking out onto 7th Street. It begins:

“i was in mcsorley’s.     outside it was New York and beautifully snowing.”

e.e. cummings

Just as McSorley’s fostered those who were determined to push the envelope, SoMe is the perfect incubator for those of us determined to create uniqueness with our own points of view. Think about the fact that this crotchety bar, which has been in existence for over 150 years, is now a player in the phenomenon of geo-location trust marks as patrons check in on Foursquare, Google+ and Facebook Places! We believe there’s a lesson to be learned here—that authenticity remains relevant no matter how much time has passed or how many fads have come and gone. The pub never tried to shift with the times or to be something it was not. We have a hunch that with new media, this ability to stay true to a vision will be as worthy an accomplishment as it is in the fickle world of hospitality. Find out who and what you are, articulate it well, and stick with it. If you do this, people will respond. And keep in mind, what we’re spraying out into the virtual world will long outlive us; once things are “published,” we won’t have the luxury of hiding our drafts away in our Moleskines like the writers of the past have done. These communiqués will be “out there” for time immemorial.

A beautiful reading by Jack Kerouac: he explains the meaning of the word “Beat”

Speaking of putting it out there: our salon question we’ll be riffing on here for the next seven days is, “Do you believe it’s the outsiders in a society or a culture who usually become the catalysts for change?” We posed this question thinking of the Beats, like Kerouac. We hope you’ll have fun with it this week and give us a piece of your mind by commenting below. We’ll also be continuing the dialogue on our Facebook page and on Twitter so check in there as well if you are so inclined. We will throw out our next question here next Thursday, giving you a week to think and respond. Let’s make this a lively salon, shall we?

I have to blame this tenacity to deepen on my fascination with Gertrude Stein and her Paris salon. There are so many places to look for inspiration; I hope this will be one of the places to which you’ll return for awareness. Don’t worry: we won’t always be so deep: we’re dishing about social media again in a few days while simultaneously flouting Diane von Furstenburg, and cursing automation!


Bigfoot Sighting on Google!

Why Should I Use Social Media for Marketing?

Your Search Footprint Will Be Larger

It’s #WhyteWednesday and we’re trotting out (with large hairy feet) another WhytePaper ™. Adroyt’s in the relationship business and today we take a look at the relationship between you and Google (you’re in bed, whether you want to be or not). So why not be all you can be?

It’s no longer a neologism, but it IS a truism: “Googling” has become a default behavior, to the web giant’s dismay (not the action itself per se, but the gerundification of its vaunted trademark). Cease and desist orders notwithstanding, we all know what to do when there’s a question in the air and a smartphone in the vicinity. Google it already! If you’re reading this, we’re preaching to the choir.

Let’s extrapolate just a little. Here are a few “givens” about which there can be no quibbling (and these are the operative assumptions of that Holy Grail known as SEO, by which web presence lives or dies); if information is sought, a search engine is consulted. The more easily found results will draw greater attention. If you’re not seen, you don’t exist. Keywords, links, and relevant content make busy indexing spiders hum little happy songs. Chasing site and page rank is a lot of work (and keeps expensive consultants in caviar and champagne) but it will often pay off. However…

There’s a fresh new kid on the block and he’s playing with a new set of rules. It’s open to all comers: you don’t have to jump in but this is where the action is going. It’s called Social Media and it’s a game changer. And here’s the payoff: search engine crawlers (especially Google) are taking note of these forays into relationship and peer validation. This mashup of “search” and “social” is becoming the foundation for the new paradigm tagged  Web 3.0. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Exhibit A – anecdotal evidence follows using Google search returns for the term “adroyt” (Granted, it may not be pure exegetics but it demonstrates a point – we’re not the only “adroyt” out there)…

1. Google’s first two pages of results show 20 results (duh, wait for it); 14 of those entries refer to yours truly.

2. Of those 14, fully 9 are drawn from social network sites. The other 5 mentions are from our own blog platform (this one), which is the content anchor for those outposts.

3. The #1 URL result is adroyt.com (*deep sigh of relief*) but #2, 4, and 5 are Twitter, FaceBook, and Flickr respectively. LinkedIn is #11 and our YouTube channel wanders in at #16 (gotta work on that: some shuffle dancing kid from Cali is stepping on our toes even if I do like his style). Tumblr is gaining.

This is called expanding your footprint. It’s a new take on the SEO acronym: it’s Search Engine Occupation. It matters now and it will matter even more very soon. Ignore at your SERP peril!