➟ Old Spice man responds to online fans

Earlier today on Twitter, I said:

The @oldspice copywriters deserve every prize on the shelf they’ll build with their bare hands after exploding Cannes with sheer brilliance.

The guys behind the new Old Spice commercials showed a good understanding of social media before when they spread their ads virally online, but yesterday they pretty much won the game. Getting Isaiah Mustafa to come back into the studio with nothing but his bare chest and a towel, they started producing video responses to fans on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Over a hundred personalized responses in all. Some were replies to counter-replies, so we can see that these were being written/performed on the fly to some degree. It is a very high standard to be achieving on the fly, both as writing and performance.

Online engagement doesn’t get any better than this – rewarding content that viewers happily seek out and interact with, even celebrities like @aplusk, @guykawasaki, @rosemcgowan, and @alyssa_milano. He wore a tie when responding to @GQ, gave himself a trophy on HollywoodLife.com’s advice, and even helped someone propose to his girlfriend with wheeled-out candles and a ring. She said Yes.

Here’s the latest TV ad for context:

➟ Apple’s new iPhone 4 ads

I posted these four ads on Twitter earlier, calling them a cut above Apple’s recent advertising; each one a force of emotion. It strikes me now that these ads are so natural, so well conceived and performed, that they’re more moving than scenes several times their length in Hollywood film. In any case, they are a refreshing change from disembodied hands and players introducing themselves as metaphors for machines.

What’s remarkable about Apple’s advertising is how they have come to accurately reflect the brand’s approach. It’s a lot rarer than you’d think, and most communications from large companies with offices in multiple countries inevitably veer into “off-brand” territory. Just as the modern Mac and iPhone are familiar tools whittled down to their purest forms – no extraneous buttons or indicator lights, solid blocks of CNC-machined material, and straightforward “naturalistic” user interfaces – the modern Apple ad is simple, uncluttered, and devoid of transitions and flashy effects.

They keep the basics: a story, a product, and a pay-off. These iPhone 4 ads all have the same straightforward presentation, an over-the-shoulder shot of someone having a FaceTime conversation, and yet they look like no other ads on TV. You’d recognize the next one in a heartbeat. They’ve taken out everything that could be a distraction, and there’s nothing you could add to make them better. That’s good work, and the craftsmanship is impeccable. I imagine being on the Apple account at TBWA\Chiat\Day is like being an honorary Apple employee.

Link (Apple.com – four new ads total)

➟ Double Rainbow All The Way

Update: The Gregory Brothers’ Double Rainbow song is now available on iTunes for 99c. Half the money goes to helping Yosemitebear (Paul Vasquez), the original video’s creator, out of poverty. This article at the Merced Sun-Star says he’s been living on $5,000 a year and can’t afford to replace the tires on his car, limiting his ability to go into town.

If you haven’t seen the original Double Rainbow video yet, it’s essential viewing as a primer for all the remixes and spoofs appearing on YouTube. The meme started with a hippie stoner uploading a video where he sees a double rainbow while on a hike (gives new meaning to “Hiking Trip”), and totally loses his mind trying to absorb the beauty of it. “WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! WHOAAA!!”

And so now we have guys like this impressionist applying the template to KFC’s Double Down sandwiches (DOUBLICIOUS ALL THE WAY!!):

And the guys from Auto-Tune the News made an awesome song out of it:

Link (original video)

➟ Dokaka performs the Super Mario Castle theme

This is an oldie but a triple-A, gold-starred goodie all the same. It’s probably not fair to call Dokaka a beatboxer – he’s more a shrieking, humming genius – but that’s probably the only way to sell him outside of Japan. I was reminded of this video today while listening to his version of the Katamari Damacy theme song from the soundtrack album. He also appears alongside Rahzel and other more conventional vocal instrumentalists on Bjork’s Medulla album, which is notable for being almost completely composed of human voices. If you have the time, watch him do a Nirvana cover on a street corner while no one seems to care.
Anyway, enjoy the video. It’s impossible to watch this and not think him completely mad while you laugh.

Edit: Turns out my timing couldn’t have been better. A new 6-CD album, he calls it “The Dokaka Discography“, has just been released on his website. Only 100 copies are available, each one handmade and autographed. Just USD$30 including delivery. Half unreleased material, and most of his output since 1992 is included. There’s even the threat that this may be the last CD he’ll ever put out. It’s a wonder they haven’t been sold out yet (or perhaps I’m just mad), so hurry and order one now!


➟ iPhone 4 Drop Test

For a brief moment after the iPhone 4 was introduced, I thought I’d risk using it without a case. Now I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get one until I see a really nice solution from SwitchEasy, InCase, or Speck. Having a glass phone for most people is like having glass knuckles as a boxer.
I used my black iPhone 3G for a year with nothing but some anti-glare screen film, and all it got were a few minor scratches on the back. I might have dropped it twice, but not on bare concrete. I’ve been especially careful with the 3GS, and it’s been in some sort of case from Day 1. Unfortunately, the Power Support Air Jacket* I’ve been using since December has caused some scuffing of the chrome bezel. If you’re getting a case for your iPhone 4, be sure that all surfaces coming into contact with the phone have some sort of soft buffering material, not hard plastic.

* Power Support products are grossly overpriced outside of Japan. That USD$35 case is about SGD$60 locally, but I got mine in Tokyo for about half that price.

Update [25/06]: Now Gizmodo’s dropped their own phone by accident, and the back is all cracked too.


➟ Magician Michael Ammar on Letterman

Back when magic tricks were something I did without irony, Michael Ammar was one of the best names to start learning with. His how-to videos were slightly dated, and his gentle, fatherly style of performance at a green felt table suggested that pejorative term “parlor trick”, although his illusions were neither cheesy nor dull. It’s been years since I’d heard his name, until he popped up on The Late Show with David Letterman last month. His presentation has been updated a little, and it ends on a great (and unexpected) note.