Jeff’s Super Bowl 2015 Ad Picks

Kim Kardashian – presents T-Mobile  – Because you can’t have a super bowl without a Kardashian, I guess.

Budweiser Builds Life-Size Pac-Man Maze For Super Bowl Ad

Happy Super Bowl! Go Hawks!

Super Bowl Trends

As Super Bowl weekend nears, a few of the big tech names have launched activities, commercials, and applications focusing on the big audience week.

Here’s a few…

Über (Los Angeles):

Uber and Animal Planet are teaming up with Wags and Walks dog rescue to deliver puppy playtime to offices in Los Angeles. (Pretty cute!)


Facebook Rolls Out Football-Only Feed Ahead of Super Bowl

Because we all know it’s all about the feed the feed the feed.


Google trends is  on the hunt for the next Super Bowl Champion.

Hint: I don’t think Bostononians are gonna be happy with the  current trend.

Why the Cat Herding Ad Will Always Be My Favorite

If you’re like me, you’ve been clicking your browser’s “refresh” button at AdWeek’s Super Bowl Ad Tracker to get the latest on which brand’s are teasing or releasing their commercials before the big game on Sunday.

If there is a recipe for cooking up a great Super Bowl ad, it seems like it would consist of heaping servings of humorsocial media interactionPUPPIES, with a generous sprinkling of patriotism (narrated by a folk icon, or starring a gorgeous Paralympic athlete), all with a good grip on the ol’ American heartstrings.

But the most memorable ad spot comes from 2000. A commercial that has outlasted even the company it endorsed. It somehow is the perfect combo of silliness, Americana, and cuteness. Featuring a cast of cowboys wielding lint-rollers and lassos, your seven layer dip has nothing on the layers of this masterpiece.

Copy Shop Tuesday : (Super) Bowling for Truth

I love commercials almost as much as I do not love football. The idea of a brand buying a kajillion dollar :60 second spot and making us laugh, or cry, or gasp in shock, is so cool to me. If anything, it reminds me that while technology still cranks out flashy-but-doomed novelties and things are filmed and printed in 3D (why?) writers still need to tell stories, and people still need to hear them. We tend to hang onto those stories that ring true for us; the messages that illuminate something old in a fresh new way. It is an elevated but classic form of communication, and it is so, so, so important and will never not be.

Have you guys seen the new awesome (surprise, Weiden & Kennedy, Portland) Weight Watchers spots? I think I actually bolted upright from my horizontal couch position mid-Hulu binge when I saw this campaign.

Take a tired brand like Weight Watchers, who banked on C-list celebrities to be spokespeople. The before-and-after imagery execution was not strong, maybe because it lacked that truthful communication, or maybe because it wasn’t that different from what other brands were doing, like Jenny Craig. But watch this ad, and you can see how the truth-ness comes when Weight Watchers successfully and humorously examines the complex relationships we have with our food and our self-image.

All of a sudden I’m listening, and when I see an ordinary woman shoveling cheese puffs into her mouth, fully clothed and in a bathtub, or a pretty girl with bangs sobbing into an ice cream cone in the rain, I can instantly relate. I can relate a lot more to these people than I can to a trim Jennifer Hudson whose smile struggles to assure me that if she can do it, I can do it, too! But no. Stop. You’re not talking to me. You’re famous, kind of, and that only fuels my compulsive urge to eat my feelings.

And that’s where so many brands can miss the mark.

You don’t need an expensive broadcast spot to tell a story. Check out “World of Food” below, which could have worked just as well as a print ad. The insight in this one was probably an iteration of: “When you’re trying to lose weight, you’re always hungry,” or “food seems to be everywhere.”

Who can relate to this? Probably everyone who has struggled with dieting, i.e. Weight Watchers’ target audience. I am guessing the objective was to promote the feature of a Personal Coach when you subscribe to the program. The strategy was to highlight normal people experiencing the cravings throughout their day, and the execution was to show the encounters or interactions people have with objects as food. Like a chocolate office phone, a restaurant booth made out of pizza, or a couch made of tortilla chips.

Needless to say, I am the most excited to see their Super Bowl debut… and to rack up HECKA Weight Watchers points with some hot wings and seven-layer-dip! That’s how it works right, more points = touchdowns = scores = win?

…What time does the Puppy Bowl come on?

Free Museum Day: January 31, 2015

The annual free museum admission day in Southern California falls on Saturday, January 31st (with a few exceptions falling on Feb 1) in celebration of “Museums Free-For-All” program.

There are plenty of participating museums this year, from Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the California Science Center.

Though this does not apply to special exhibitions (general admissions only), it’s worth checking out the many free museums!

View the list of participating museums here.

2015 LA Art Book Fair

Another large creative event is coming up, and it’s taking place at the MOCA Geffen (Little Tokyo, Los Angeles) on January 29th – February 1st.
The 3rd annual Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair is a large event that many graphic designers attend to view and purchase inspiring, creative work. The fair kicks off on Thursday, January 29 (Preview Night — tickets required) and opens up to the public starting Friday, January 30. The fair continues until February 1.
The full schedule can be found here.
Hurry! Prints run out quickly!


When someone mentions a certain movie, it’s hard for me not to instantly think of the poster that came with it. These images are almost burned in my brain when recalling its mood, what it’s about, or who is in it. The entertainment industry is fully aware of how important these posters are for promotion of their product, as they should, because the well-crafted design of movie posters help set the tone for the film’s initial release, drawing in their audiences, as well as their visual place in movie history. These images have become iconic to an era, and one man who is responsible for well over 135 of these classic images is John Alvin.

John Alvin (1948-2008) was a genius of his time, in terms of creating memorable and poetic artwork for movies. Starting at an animation studio, he was asked by a friend to paint a poster for the movie, Blazing Saddles (directed by Mel Brooks), in 1974. From there, he turned into Hollywood’s busiest cinematic artist and painter, as he created posters and key art for some of the biggest films within the past 40 years, including E.T., Blade Runner, Batman Returns, Jurassic Park, Princess Bride, and the big Disney movies of the 90s— just to name a few. Throughout Hollywood, his style was referred to as “Alvinesque,” which means they wanted more of it. I don’t blame them, as his operatic composition and sincere subjects create an intriguing platform for viewers to wonder about. Every hand-painted poster feels very theatrical, and classic. But also, Alvin seemed to be very empathetic to the human condition, clearly seeing the mood and concept of the film— what to pay attention to, and what is most interesting— visually translated into a single image.

Alvin’s place in Hollywood was set for life. His poster for the film, Phantom of the Paradise, was selected by the Smithsonian Institute and National Collection of Fine Arts for “Images of an Era (1945-1975),” which was a collection of posters that toured Europe from the US Bicentennial. A book of his portfolio of work was released last year, called, The Art of John Alvin, including his movie artwork and unseen sketches and illustrations. My entire childhood is pretty much measured chronologically by memories of photographs, gadgets, and John Alvin movie posters. Who can forget the stark T-Rex from the Jurassic Park poster image? Or the epic orb of Empire of the Sun? And later on, all of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter posters? Thank you, John Alvin, for drawing us in and without regret. We can only hope cinematic artists will be referred to as “Alvinesque” in the future.

2015 Y Conference – AIGA San Diego


The 20th annual Y Conference held by AIGA San Diego is just around the corner. This two-day event brings together some of today’s biggest designers and influencers in the field of graphic design; it promises to be a weekend packed with creativity, inspiration, and learning. The conference will be held at the beautiful Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice on the campus of the University of San Diego on March 27th and 28th.

Every year, the conference’s speakers’ panel attracts some of the biggest names in the design world and this year is no different: Michael Bierut of Pentagram, Gail Anderson of Anderson Newton Design, and Brian Gartside just to name a few. In addition to the wonderful talks and the opportunity to meet some of today’s biggest up and coming designers, the conference also offers a slew of valuable workshops. Referred to as “Thinkshops,” attendees can dabble in everything from calligraphy to block printing. You’ll surely find something to help get your creative juices flowing.

So get your ticket early and come geek out on all things design!

For more information visit:

Copy Shop Tuesday: Where’s the Brief?

Good morning and welcome to Copy Shop Tuesdays! Every week we will look at an existing print ad, critique it, and ultimately take a few passes at new copy.
This week I picked a Brown Cow yogurt ad from 2006. It’s too long. Anyone can write long content, but a good copywriter can cut to the chase and present engaging copy that captures the essence of the brief, and essentially, the attention of its audience.

A tried but true writing exercise is to take an existing ad and, going backwards, try to piece together the brief. For the sake of continuity, let’s use this five-step template:

1. Background
2. Objective
3. Audience
4. Strategy
5. Execution

And here she is:


Continue reading

CSS Preprocessors Are Awesome.

CSS preprocessors make CSS way better and anyone who writes a significant amount of styles should be using some kind of preprocessor. It’s understandable why some people are hesitant to switch to this workflow. It adds more complexity to the development process, you have to install extra stuff, maybe work from the terminal, and figure out how to automatically compile your code to regular CSS. It can be a lot of stuff to do, but while initially it may take more time and work to set up a project, it will pay off in the long run. The reason why CSS preprocessors exist is because CSS by itself can be pretty limited. Two very popular CSS preprocessors are Sass and Less, so I will focus on these two. With something like Sass or Less you get the ability to use variables, functions, mixings, you get nesting capabilities and more stuff that you just can’t do with css. Variables are one really useful thing you get with Sass and Less. You can define things like your site colors in one place, use the variables in your styles and if you ever need to change these colors you just go back and edit the variables. You would not have to go through your styles, copying and pasting new values or do a search and replace which can sometimes be unsafe.

Both Sass and Less also have these things called “mixins” which are these kind of reusable grouping of styles. Mixins can be useful to deal with something like CSS vendor prefixes, for example. To use the latest CSS tricks you sometimes have to repeat the style with a vendor prefix for each of the major browsers so you end up with a bunch of repeated stuff in your CSS, like so:

One thing you can do with a mixin is that you can wrap up all of those styles and call the mixin when you need it, and as many times as you need it. You can even pass parameters into a mixin and reuse it differently in different sections or pages.

Another cool thing about sass and less is the nesting capabilities. I’m a big fan of the nesting thing; here is an example of what I’m talking about:

And here is some Sass:

This nested structure helps you avoid repetition, organize your styles, and makes your CSS more closely resemble your HTML structure which I think is really neat. CSS just makes more sense to me written in this way. These are just some of the reasons why css preprocessors are awesome and why writers of css should be using them. You can get started with sass or less by checking out their documentation at for sass and for less. So check them out, try them, they will make your css much better.

Welcome back, Flo!

This Friday, we welcome back Flo from France, who has brought us back a souvenir from her travels.

Double The Pleasure, Double The Sun. Visit Kepler-16b!

We are loving the JPL initiative “PlanetQuest” Exoplanet Travel Series, featuring a beautifully illustrated set of some of the universe’s most eligible travel destinations. Naturally, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the sci-fi version we released for the planets of Star Wars. I’ve chosen Kepler-16b as my favorite, if only for the double sunset similar to Tatooine. However, it should be noted that Kepler-16b also features a slightly less habitable climate, similar to the surface and temperature of dry ice. Yikes.

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