The Escape Machine

This black cube that looks to be a piece of contemporary art in the Place du Palais Royal in Paris is actually a brilliant piece of experiential marketing by DDB Paris for French travel company Voyages SNCF called “The Escape Machine.”

It’s based on the very literal idea that Voyages SNCF helps you escape, but the execution is a very clever, outside-the-box (literally) form of allowing people to “escape!”

This presence of this actual cube, and the resulting press, has got to be the most attention Voyages SNCF has gotten in a long time.

Check out the video… it’s so clever, and I promise it will put a smile on your face!

Outstanding in the Field

What happens when you combine the concepts of a pop-up shop and a food truck? A pop-up dinner party! Pop-up shops and food trucks are already fun– isn’t anything that is only limitedly available and fleeting more exciting than their permanent counterparts?– and the idea of a pop-up dinner party in the middle of an outdoor location is enough to make me giddy.

That’s exactly what Outstanding in the Field does. They travel around the country with their bus and put on events in gorgeous locations, featuring both local ingredients and local talent, pulling in well-known chefs of the region in each respective area they visit.

I also love that they use long tables– there’s something so much more exciting to me about one long table in place of a bunch of round 8-person tables. And it looks awesome in photos!

Events are open to anyone, all you have to do is buy a ticket (fairly well in advance, they sell out!). Also, isn’t their name brilliant? One of my favorite double meanings in a name ever…

‘Test Drive’ VW’s New Car via Ad and App

This has got to be one of the most innovative ads I’ve ever seen.  In fact, outside of the use of StickyBits, it’s the only print ad I’ve seen that utilizes and integrates iPhone technology and apps.

Here’s the scenario: Volkswagen has just introduced three new innovations that they want people to experience, because experience is really the only way to understand innovations such as these.



The usual strategy for a car company would be to get people in for test drives, which in reality only a handful of people will actually do. VW had the brilliant idea to use a medium with a much broader reach– print ads– to get more people interested, and then to let them “experience” the innovations through an iPhone app!

So the print ad provides an aerial shot of a road that the user can “test drive” using the iPhone app! The app has three modes, one for each innovation– a sensor that vibrates when you get too close to the edge of the road, another for when you get to close to a car in front of you, and a third that lets your headlights bend around curvy roads.

Check out the video to see it in action.

I’d download the app and try this just to “test drive” the ad, even though I’m not in the market! Just to see the technology in action! Brilliant!!

PS- Did you know that not a single Superbowl ad featured or encouraged connecting to their brand via social media? Isn’t that remarkable?! What a missed opportunity… all those people sitting there with their cell phones within feet. Apparently, the big ad agencies are slipping behind when it comes to creative integrations of social media! I realize this is rather unrelated to the post, but in contrast to all those Superbowl agencies, VW’s agency came up with a very creative new media ad-integration.


Pixar Behind-the-Scenes

I won’t beat around the bush, this whole post is an excuse to show this behind-the-scenes tour of Pixar from the New York Times. I am totally fascinated by animated movies. That may sound random, given that it doesn’t have a lot to do with the other interests I express on this blog, but I am so amazed by how the creators of animated movies have to think up and create an entire world from top-to-bottom!

As they say in the film, in a normal movie, if you have a scene in a grocery story, you just go out and scout the perfect grocery store. In an animated film, you have to create the whole thing from scratch! Even all the little products sitting on the shelves!

Thinking about it puts my mind on the exact same loop as the part in Inception when they talk about how your mind creates buildings and cities etc. in your dreams.

So, I totally loved this little preview into the world of Pixar, creators of my favorite animated movie I’ve seen yet– Ratatouille. The kitchen design alone was enough to make me fall in love (see above). The dozens of black and brass La Cornue ranges (oh the dreaming that animation allows… in real life that would be like $300,000+ worth of ranges!), the infinite copper pots and pans, the black and white tile floor… it’s spot on!

Highlights: That Steve Jobs oversaw the design of the Pixar building and “designed it for forced collisions of people; he felt best meetings were meetings that happened spontaneously in the hallway.” The fact that they cast animators like hollywood casts actors, depending on their strengths and style. The speakeasy behind a false bookshelf with guest book– I want one of those in my house someday.

PS- If you are as fascinated by animation as I am, check out Pixar’s website, they have great little factoids about the films, like these ones below:

Club Montrachet

Wine can be an intimidating world, and few parts of it are as intimidating as Burgundian wines. That’s where Club Montrachet comes in. Club Montrachet is owned and run by a handful of people from Burgundy who are plugged in and know their stuff, and they curate a rotating selection of wines that you order six at a time.  As an additional benefit, as a member of the club, you get the wines at a discount because you are bypassing the markups tacked on by distributors.

On top of that, their site, designed by Shane Edelman, is just really awesome and totally breaks the mold of what you might imagine from a French wine club. Fresh, approachable, and hip.

I particularly loved this little video, with it’s charming writing-on-photos + voiceover approach and Amelie-style music (I’m pretty sure that actually is a Yann Tiersen song playing!).

Lastly, I have to tell you, when I emailed Philippe Faraut, the president, about writing a post on Club Montrachet, expecting that maybe I would hear back, maybe not, he personally called me back about an hour later to talk about the company and to hear about Wonderlust! He clearly has a passion for this project, which is just a side hobby for him, and if I didn’t already love the concept, I certainly do now! How’s that for a personal touch?

Dana Tanamachi’s Chalk Installations

I love chalkboard paint (see past post on chalk paint walls), and I love chalk writing (don’t menus in cafes look so much more charming when they’re written on a chalk board?), so naturally, I love Dana Tanamachi’s chalk installations.  Their retro hand-painted storefront window sign quality is so appealing!

In addition to her chalk work, Dana also works for Louise Fili, so it’s no surprise that she’s a whiz with letterforms and signage.

Check out this fun 30-second time-lapse film of her Cooper Collection installation.  I love that it’s set to a Morning Benders song!

What Katie Ate

If you’re the type who likes to read cookbooks in bed before you go to sleep, haul out your iPad tonight and check out What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies.  Just a warning, you might be up late trawling through the archives bookmarking enough dishes to last you all winter.

The food styling and photography are so gorgeous that they could qualify as art.  I think I would gladly have prints of her images hanging on my kitchen wall.  I can’t wait until she puts out a cookbook!

Project7 Coffee: “Brew for a Better World”

“How can a cup of coffee change the world?”  For each cup of coffee you buy from Project7, you contribute to one of seven causes.  Just by buying what you already buy, from a different company, you can make a difference.  Check out the video, it’s awesomely done.
LOVE this concept.  In fact, we’re in the process of working on something like this ourselves, but I can’t give anything away yet… pretty exciting!

Masters and Their Crafts >> Ira Glass

Do you get giddy when you hear the mid-week teasers from Ira on NPR in his endearingly nasal little voice?  ”This week…. on This American Life…”?
The video quality isn’t great, but the content is.  I’m always in awe of what a great storyteller Glass is on the show, adding suspense to even seemingly mundane topics, so I loved hearing insight on his method.  Hint: he says to throw out the rules you learned in school.
The ability to tell a story well is a really incredible life skill and one that I admire greatly, because despite whether it is part of your job, it is a major boost to your conversational repertoire and is sure to make you more interesting at dinner parties!

Masters and Their Crafts >> Tartine

Tartine is one of my absolute favorite bakeries and a must every time I’m in San Francisco.  I actually am a little bit worried about what might happen once I move up there… I fear it could be habit-forming.  

Their bread is incredible, as are their sandwiches, desserts… pretty much everything.  It’s a bakery, cafe, and even wine bar, and I love the vibe that comes from people opening up a bottle of white at lunch on a Saturday.  With the line almost always out the door, there’s always a ton of energy, great people watching, and a cool European cafe-meets-San-Francisco,-specifically-the-Mission,-vibe.
Check out this video to see the owner and head baker, Chad Robertson, in his element.  Although I’ll warn you, this is dangerous to watch if you’re hungry.
[Tartine cookbook]
[Kitsune Noir]

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