A World Tour in Images Via COVID-19, the Coronavirus

Awesome images. Deadly.

Unforgetable. Diabolical.

stock-photo-coronavirus-ncov-novel-coronavirus-concept-resposible-for-asian-flu-outbreak-and-coronaviruses-1625951248

 

Known the world over, yet we’d like to forget.

We never will.

 

 

 

Strikingly bizarre. Amazing how some life form that microscopic can wreak such havoc on mankind.

CoronaVirus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Enemy #1

Image 3-18-20 at 10.47 AM In some strange way there is beauty among these images. Strange and weird and deadly. Awesome.

 

Corona Virus-yellow

 

Let us never forget what we’re going through, will go through and have gone through.

The Horrors.

The ones we’ve lost and will lose.

Those of us who will survive.

Image 3-18-20 at 10.49 AM

warningsigninlondon

 

 

No matter how advanced we think we are, we’re still no match for microscopic life on this planet.

 

 

moscow

Moscow

buildingnewhospitalinWuhan

Building new hospital

market fears

Stock market woes

From Hong Kong to San Francisco and Italy to Israel and all points in between, the Coronavirus or COVID-19 has made its mark and as of this writing sees no stoppage.

Make no mistake, we will find a cure.

But what of next time?

What of next time?

 

Boosting Your Creativity – Just Like Einstein – Even in Crisis Times! Part 2.

4 Ways Combinatory Play Gets You Out of a Brain Rut, Plus Helps One Deal with a Crisis.

Now that you see how the human brain can get stuck in a rut thanks to neural pathways and a fondness for the familiar, how can you free your brain and lead it on a path to innovation? Based on research and real-life examples from great minds, here are four ways Combinatory Play can to get you out of a brain rut:

1. Cross Train Your Brain

Each cross-training activity works a different, but complementary, part of the body that will help get you stronger in the overall event, task or project. In other words, if you’re a novelist, try your hand at poetry. If you’re a painter, dabble in sculpting. If you’re a computer scientist, play around with web design.

For instance, how did playing violin help Einstein theorize about matter and energy? A study from UC Irvine and the University of Wisconsin found that giving piano lessons to preschoolers significantly improved their spatial-temporal reasoning— a key skill needed for math and science—much more than giving computer lessons, singing lessons, or no lessons at all.

So try a new activity within your field or related to it; you’ll expand your neural connections and strengthen your brain overall.

2. Take a Shower, Go for a Walk or Do Some Other Mundane Activity

First, creativity and relaxation could be linked. I’ve found that whenever I’m really tired, my creativity just hits a wall. Trying to go on is fruitless. Wrap it up and go to bed or walk away from whatever it is you’re working on and come back to it in several hours or the next day.

Depending on when you’re doing this, try something boring, like showering or taking a walk (though some folks would argue that this exercise is not boring) or go for a swim. These tasks don’t require substantial cognitive effort, so our brains are free to wander. And contrary to popular belief, a brain “at rest” isn’t really resting at all.

ZZZ's

Some researchers believe there is a positive correlation between our daydreaming state (occurring in a brain region that becomes more active at rest) and creativity. Mind-wandering may allow the conscious to give way to the subconscious, so the brain can connect disparate ideas.

Second, distractions may boost creativity. Research by Harvard professor Shelley Carson found that high creative achievement was associated with low latent inhibition, or the capacity to screen out irrelevant information, especially if the participants had a high IQ.

For the creative mind, inspiration can be found everywhere. Sometimes, you just need to distract yourself long enough to notice it.

3. Sleep On It

Regarding the process of discovery, scientists have proposed that there is an incubation period during which “unconscious processes contribute to creative thinking.” In his memoir, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway reveals how he safeguarded his creativity through such a process:

Ernest_Hemingway_in_London_at_Dorchester_Hotel_

“I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything…”

And in a later chapter:

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

In 2009, a study out of the University of California San Diego was published suggesting that sleep may assist combinatorial creativity. In particular, researchers found that study participants who were allowed to slip into Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM)—the stage during which we dream—showed an almost 40% improvement over their earlier creative problem-solving test performances, while those who had only non-REM sleep or quiet rest showed no improvement.

The authors of that study hypothesized that when we’re in REM, our brains are better able to integrate unassociated information, which is essential to creative thinking (it explains why dreams are so bizarre).

As mentioned earlier, when you’re stuck on a problem or the creative juices stop flowing, try going to bed. You’ll have a refreshed and different perspective the next morning.

4. Feed Your (copy) Cat

Is anything truly original? Uh, doubtful. In fact, according to artist Austin Kleon, the answer is no. Kleon presented a TED Talk “Steal Like an Artist” and a book of the same name, in which he asserts that nothing is original and all artists build upon previous work.

With this in mind, don’t plagiarize someone, but get inspired by and improve upon someone else’s creations. In this Age of the Internet, one can’t help “borrow” from someone else’s idea. That’s in part why I’m both sharing this article from Amy Rigby and the Trello blog but also adding some of my own perspective.

Suggestions:

  • If you’re suffering from writer’s block, buy a pack of those word magnets and rearrange them until you come up with creative phrases on your fridge;
  • As previously mentioned, break your concentration, especially when it’s hard for you to focus, and go for a walk or go to bed (depending on the time, of course);
  • If you’re not sure how to move forward on a project, bounce ideas off of your teammates and see if you find any hidden gems in their suggestions;
  • If you’re building a product and stuck in the design phase, search for competitors who have made similar products, find where their customers are unhappy, and design something new that solves the problems your competitors failed to address;
  • Step back from your computer or tablet or canvas or whatever tool you’re using and try and get a bigger or completely different picture of what you’re doing. Go wherever your mind wants to go. Although you may want to continue working on a particular piece of creative, your mind may not. Try doing what it wants. You’ll end up with a different perspective, and, maybe even a new project or topic.
  • During crisis times, our emotions seem to be at their peak. Don’t let them get the best of you, but learn from them. You’re already jacked so let your new-found motivation help guide you to your (new) goals; what was important yesterday may not be as important today.

We all get stuck in a rut at times, even the greatest minds in history like Einstein did. If you need a new way of thinking, use Combinatory Play to give your brain a boost:

  • Participate in creative cross-training to expand your brain’s neural connections;
  • Let your mind wander by doing something mundane or even boring;
  • Go to bed and let your subconscious mind connect the dots during REM sleep;
  • Use another person’s work as a springboard for inspiration and improvement;
  • Go where your mind wants to go and gain a different perspective.
  • Emotions tend to peak during crisis times; learn from them.
Abstract design made of human head and symbolic elements on the subject of human mind, consciousness, imagination, science and creativity

“Diversity of the Mind” Thanks to iStock Photo


Thanks to Amy Rigby in

Map Locations of Creative Class Growth Meet Up with “Rise of the Rest.” (Part 2)

Let’s face it: Economic growth is boring, though important. The better it is, the more resilient a community becomes. Out of this comes the culture and cultivation of the Creative Class. Houston may be the 4th largest city in the country but its creative class designation is, while on the upswing, crawling.

In this Part 2 blog post, I share some of the findings of Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, and his colleagues. Houston, despite all its size and culture, remains a lukewarm bed of creativity, especially when compared to New York, LA, and even Chicago. Most of that is due to the client base in Houston; much more B2B than B2C. More oil-n-gas than cornflakes; more energy than autos.

Based on Florida’s research and his colleagues’ input, they found that one of the most troubling trends of the past decade is the deepening geographic inequality across the U.S., especially through the clustering of particular types of talent in coastal cities like San Francisco and New York.

But a growing chorus of economists and urbanists suggest that we may be seeing the “rise of the rest,” a result of both increasingly unaffordable housing in established hubs and the improvement of the economies in less-established hubs.

While startups and tech employment remain highly clustered, recent reports suggest that some Rustbelt and Sunbelt metros are increasing their ability to attract college graduates.

Cincinnati Riverside

Cincinnati saw nearly 20 percent growth in its share of the creative class from 2005 to 2017. Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Investigating what is actually happening to the geography of talent, Florida concentrated on changes in the location of the creative class for a period immediately before, during, and post-recession. While most studies equate talent with the share of adults who hold college degrees, his creative class metric is based on occupation.

About nine in 10 Americans with a college degree are members of the creative class, which is made up of knowledge workers in education, healthcare, law, arts, tech, science, and business. But, only six in 10 members of the creative class hold a college degree.

CreativeClass 2005

In 2005, the top ten list read like a veritable who’s who of the nation’s leading knowledge and tech hubs, led by Washington D.C., San Jose, and San Francisco. But Baltimore (with a large cluster of medical and scientific research centers around Johns Hopkins University) and Minneapolis-St. Paul also make the top-10 list, besting bigger metros like New York and Los Angeles.

In 2017, the creative class makes up more than half the workforce in the leading metros, and there are substantial changes in the rankings. San Jose tops the list, followed by D.C. and San Francisco, and now Denver and Philadelphia have joined the top ten.

CreativeClass2017

The map below shows the percentage growth in the creative class from 2005 to 2017. A number of Rustbelt and Sunbelt metros which have previously lagged now show robust growth. Salt Lake City posted the fastest growth, with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati next in line. Las Vegas, which had the smallest creative class share of large metros in 2005, also saw significant growth.

Of leading creative class metros, only Seattle and Baltimore registered comparable gains. On the flip side, superstar hubs New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., all ranked among the ten metros with the slowest creative class growth.

CreativeClassGrowth

The even better news is that the creative class—which often garners the highest paying jobs—appears to be growing as a percentage of total workforce employment across the board.

This next chart shows Houston coming in at 32nd out of 53 metro areas, between St. Louis and Pittsburgh for the 2005-2017 time span. Houston’s Creative Class growth rate approximates 37% over the 12-year span.

Growth:Change 2005:2017

According to Florida and his research associates, the creative class has seen remarkable growth over this time frame, increasing from 44 million members in 2005 to more than 56 million in 2017, as virtually all large U.S. metros saw growth. The rate of creative class growth (27.2 percent) was more than double the growth rate of overall U.S. workforce (13.6 percent) over this period.

Florida believes we may well be seeing the beginnings of a tipping point in the geography of talent as housing prices continue to rise in superstar cities, while metros in once talent-lagging parts of the country capitalize on the significant cost advantages and quality of life they have to offer.

Houston Skyline Glow

Houston Skyline Sunrise Glow Panorama – Color Texas Canvas Print is a photograph by Bee Creek Photography – Tod and Cynthia.

In Houston, as in other comparably sized metro areas, technology and shared work spaces are in the forefront of change and innovation. The medical community, at least in Houston, is striving as never before to consistently research and provide for better and faster disease fighters. Economic and infrastructure expansion in the Texas Medical Center continues to roll along. This progress goes hand-n-hand with expansion of the Creative Class.

But we can’t let up. Just as important as innovative medicine development is, so, too, is the expansion and underwriting of the arts, culture and creativity in its purest form.

 

So, let me know your thoughts, questions or comments. I’d really like to hear from you.

 

Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a university professor in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management.

This is one Whopper we pray will never find its way onto BK’s menu.

WARNING: If you’re squeamish, prepare yourself and, please, don’t throw up on your computer monitor!

burger-king-moldy-whopper-2020

        Burger King highlights “the beauty of no artificial preservatives” in its Moldy Whopper campaign.
Burger King

In a word, BLEAHHHHH!!!

Last week, according to Adweek, Burger King unveiled a global ad campaign  highlighting its commitment to dropping all artificial preservatives. Such campaigns, while laudable, come and go somewhat often without generating much more than passing interest.

This one is truly bizarre. It tests just how far Burger King can virtually thrust its product down its customers’ throats before they gag.

The Moldy Whopper campaign, created through a partnership between three agencies, features intriguingly high-resolution photography and video of a Whopper being consumed not by humans, but rather by the horribly incredible passage of time itself. In other words, we get to see a Whopper rotting. Lovely!

Adweek reports that each ad shows a Whopper whose ingredients are being engulfed in mold, alongside a date stamp letting you know how long the burger has been exposed to the elements (too long, but typically about a month). The tagline, are you ready for this, describes the images as “the beauty of no artificial preservatives.”

Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

The work promotes the brand’s pledge to drop all artificial preservatives, which it has accomplished across much of Europe and 400 locations in the United States. By the end of the year, Burger King says it will have removed artificial preservatives from Whoppers in all U.S. locations. That’s nice and laudable.

I’m still feeling nauseous.

“At Burger King, we believe that real food tastes better,” (no kidding) said Fernando Machado, CMO for Burger King parent company Restaurant Brands International. “That’s why we are working hard to remove preservatives, colors and flavors from artificial sources from the food we serve in all countries around the world.”

burger-king-moldy-whopper-outdoor-1-2020

Burger King

I’m sorry but this just looks gross! It’s certainly not appealing at all. I get what they’re trying to convey but I wonder if BK ever considered giving out Tums, Alka Seltzer or nausea tablets with their meals.

In addressing reality, Adweek posits that the mold campaign might be challenging to common sense, but it was also a difficult one to accomplish in terms of craft and required months to achieve.

“We are very proud of crafting this idea,” said Björn Ståhl, executive creative director for Ingo, one of three agencies involved. “Mold grows in a very inconsistent way. We had to work for several months, with different samples, to be able to showcase the beauty of something which is usually considered undesirable.”

” . . . the beauty of something undesirable.” Really? Sort of sounds like a contradiction in terms. I’m still feeling nauseous.

burger-king-moldy-whopper-outdoor-2-2020

Burger King

So how will it go over? According to Adweek’s reporting, in the short term, the likely answer is: not great. Head-scratching advertising tends to generate quite a bit of short-term negative publicity, usually thanks to morning talk shows and late-night monologues.

And some within advertising will call the work “awards bait,” knowing that juries at Cannes Lions and other awards festivals tend to swoon over concepts that challenge every seemingly obvious but unwritten rule of advertising, such as “Don’t make your food look like it will literally kill people.”

But in the process of sparking debate and consternation, the campaign is also likely to resonate across the industry and encourage other brands to take similar moves, knowing that the ideas will be easier to sell when something so “off the wall” (that’s one way to put it) has already been sold to a major global corporation.

burger-king-moldy-whopper-vertical-1-2020

Burger King

This campaign will indeed show something else:  How strong are BK’s customers’ stomachs? This is revolting no matter how “beautiful” the photography. Just because a global corporation has gone along with this hideous idea doesn’t make it one to copy. After all, how many global CEO’s have signed off on something that should never have come out of committee?

What will definitely be interesting to see will be the types of “toned down” ideas and executions coming forth that are based on the Moldy Whopper campaign.

In the meantime, BK needs to supply their restaurants with plenty of Tums and barf bags, just in case.

 

PS . . . Thanks to David Griner (@griner), creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek’s podcast, “Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad” for source material for this blog.

Handwritten OOH Boards Deal Delicate Subject Gut Punch. Kudos!!

In most circles, any discussion of mental health is still taboo. On this side of the “pond” we often pretend mental health is something other than what it really is, a disease, which can and should be treated.

In the UK, mental health is being put to the forefront by some interesting outdoor boards.   The campaign is for Samaritan, a charity who tackles mental health and its challenges.

Featured in Ad Age, the campaign by Mother London directly takes on mental health by asking actual men, not actors, to share their stories and opinions. A unique approach the campaign uses is to feature handwritten words of advice from real-life men who have previously contacted the Samaritans feeling depressed or suicidal.

Running at locations like train stations, the boards are aimed at men when they are most susceptible, when they may be considering hurting themselves or pondering suicide. The campaign also includes social media ads.

Mental Health Billboards in UK

According to AdAge’s reporting, the campaign comes as Samaritans releases results of a nationwide survey, which shows two in five (41%) men in England, Scotland and Wales aged 20-59 do not seek support when they need it because they prefer to solve their own problems.

Paul McDonald, executive director of external affairs at Samaritans, says: “We didn’t want to create just another awareness campaign. So we asked men to share their stories with us. Men who have been through tough times and come through the other side.

“They wrote some words down, and we’ve got those words on the posters to inspire and encourage other men going through difficult times to seek help, and to contact Samaritans if they’re ready to talk.”

Being in the U.S., I can’t help but wonder what kind of effect this sort of campaign would have on men here in the states. My guess is that results would echo the UK’s results if not prove more so. Most men like to solve our own problems or not even admit we have one.

Kudos to the Brits for trying to face this problem head on. Again, creativity in this case is best showcased rather simply but directly.

More OOH Mental Board

So what, dear readers, do you think of this campaign? Think it will work. Think it will do what it’s designed to do?

Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your comments!

Colorfully Weird, “Speeding” Image Wins Hyundai Cannes Lion. Should it Have?

Winning an award in the advertising business is a big deal. The really big deals come annually during the sun-baked, beach-worshipping, booze-enhanced party in France known famously as the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. This year was no exception.

Except. One campaign that did win a Lion was done by MullenLowe/SSP3 for Hyundai called Speeding Emojis. As their brief explained, “Every day, more people are involved in car accidents for texting and driving. To make drivers aware of this issue, we decided to use one of the most common elements, when it comes to writing: emojis. But we wanted to use them in a different way. So, we decided to show how they would look at 69, 85, 43 and 76 km/h to prove that texting and driving at the same time just doesn’t make sense.”

Color Swirl Hyundai Ad

Colorful representation of an emoji used while texting when traveling at various high speeds. Note the vertical line of copy at left basically saying “don’t text at xy speed and drive.”

The explanation given in the brief by the agency obviously doesn’t appear in the ad, nor should it. Given this, how is one to know what the image is? While the single line of copy is pretty self-explanatory, the big-ass image of a color swirl is not.

The campaign also uses several different emoji varieties with accompanying swirls of different colors, tying in with that emoji.

Color Swirl Hyundai-green

Another in series of colorful swirls in Hyundai’s Don’t (emoji) and Drive campaign

Given that the image dominates the ad and the tag line is sort of lost, it sort of begs the question: What the Hell does the image represent and/or why isn’t that explained in some fashion? Given an art director’s or designer’s perspective, one might wonder, “How’d they do that?” or “What is that supposed to be?”

Well, this is where it gets even more interesting. According to a post on Twitter, a very “similar looking” image is available from Shutterstock. Now, it’s not unusual to use stock imagery in spec work or presentations but unless an agency is in partnership with a stock footage and imagery company like Shutterstock, this is highly unusual and probably not even kosher. There’s not even a credit given to Shutterstock in the ad nor to the designer who created the original artwork, Rik Oostenbroek.

Color Swirl Hyundai-large

Color swirl image via Shutterstock compared to image used in Hyundai ad campaign.

I’m surprised that, to my knowledge thus far, neither Shutterstock nor Rik Oostenbroek have contacted the agency or Hyundai about about this; of course, this assumes that approval was given beforehand. Even if it was, where’s the credit?

In reporting on the story, Adweek requested a response from MullenLowe who sent the following:

“In regards to this particular campaign, the images were identified as the most fitting way to illustrate the important ‘don’t text and drive’ message for our client. The appropriate rights for the four images were purchased through the correct channels and we acted legally within the terms of the licence. We have been in contact with the artist claiming credit for the work on social media, with a full explanation of the creative process and the surrounding legalities.

“D&AD investigated the entry and deemed it eligible on the evidence provided.”

But . . . where’s the originality? Some folks may not have a problem with using stock imagery in ads while I’m sure some do. Are we seeing some sort of trend in advertising? What’s the proper use of stock photography and when and where should it be used?

“If you literally copy and paste something and stick a line of copy on it, I don’t think it’s worthy of an award,” said Chris Garbutt, global CCO of TBWA\Worldwide and a frequent awards juror. “I don’t think it’s enough to do that anymore.”

I believe this ad and its campaign has a few issues. Feel free to write in the comments section of this blog and let me know your thoughts.

Personally, these images remind me of something caught in a time warp, but absolutely nothing concerning automobiles. The concept of “don’t text and drive” could apply to any cell phone provider’s message, for that matter.

The images do illicit one’s attention. However, their reaction may produce a “WTF?”

Go figure.