Laser-etched skateboard by Alife
Traditionally, skateboard graphics are either screenprinted or applied using a dye-sublimination process. However, Sydney-based Refill magazine has commissioned a host of designers and illustrators (including Delta, Ben Drury, Genevieve Gauckler, Jim Phillips, Maharishi, Marc Atlan, Marok, Parra, Michael C Place, Mr Jago, Nick Night…) to create designs to be laser-etched onto skateboard decks: each design is created by cutting away the top layer of wood with a laser.
Detail of Alife’s deck
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Seven international ad agencies have joined forces with the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI) to create a series of spots to raise awareness of AIDS. The first 24 spots in the campaign will debut on MTV channels globally on World AIDS Day, December 1.
The ads forms part of the Staying Alive campaign, which launched nine years ago with a one-off documentary and now encompasses documentaries, a website, concerts and forums with leading politicians. This is the first year that the advertising industry has been involved with the campaign. “We realised that the GMAI needed to involve advertising agencies, so we approached people in Cannes,” explains Georgia Arnold, VP of Public Affairs for MTV. “There were no restrictions placed on the agencies. They were given background info on each of the core subjects, and then the scripts were only reviewed to check that they were factually correct, there was no creative interference.”
This freedom means that the films cover a broad range of styles, from the humorous to the heavy. I80 Amsterdam, for example, has contributed a simple animation of a talking penis, while Ogilvy has created a 70s style commercial showcasing the joys of not having sex (see still above). On the more serious side, Ogilvy has also created a chilling film, directed by Stink’s Neil Harris, which shows three men pulling out handguns and shooting their partners after having sex, with the guns representing the killer virus they have just passed on. On a similar theme, Y&R has created a commercial featuring a couple engaging in casual conversation while playing a game of Russian roulette.
We hate to say it, but this is pretty bad from the start. But it’s not Johnny Cash’s fault. Featuring 36 famous faces from music and film, the new video accompanying the singer’s track, God’s Gonna Cut You Down, sadly backfires from celebrity overload. Intended as a montage of personal tributes to the Man in Black – which, on its own is a touching idea – the film actually comes across as more of an excercise in cool-by-association.
And rather than a heartfelt eulogy from those indebted to Cash’s music (and many artists featured in the film, of course, had an acknowledged debt to, or intimate friendship with the man) the film feels like a furthering of what’s slowly become, particularly since his death, Brand Cash.
As part of the Gap’s partnership with (Product) Red, a new AIDS–related charity, the company has produced Individuals, a collection of advertising campaigns past and present, the profits of which will go to the charity writes Tim Nelson. At $20 a copy, the book stands to make a sizeable contribution to this Bono/Bobby Shriver initiative to persuade US companies to help in the struggle to control AIDS and HIV in Africa. The Gap is also committed to donating half its profits from a new range of clothing to (Product) Red, but the aims of the book go beyond charity towards a continued promotion of the Gap, celebrity in America, and the national dream of success.
While CR readers may not be familiar with designer David Johnston’s name, his work for Red Design in Brighton has consistently featured in these pages over the last year or so. Before his two year stint at Red, art directing projects for clients such as EMI and MTV, Johnston worked in-house for Nike at their European HQ in Hilversum, Holland.
In the history of attention-getting advertising, writes Rick Poynor, Benetton must surely deserve a place as one of the most effective companies ever to splash its promotional message across a billboard or magazine spread. There was a time when not a year would go by without some new outrage or controversy to set the pundits’ tongues wagging, usually in disapproval, and compel everyone else to take notice of what the knitwear giant was up to now. The company’s charismatic creative director, Oliviero Toscani, was able to dream up an apparently never-ending supply of jaw-dropping stunts and dubious provocations. Neither he nor his indulgent boss, Luciano Benetton, appeared to care in the slightest if people were upset or scandalised by the company’s latest campaign. The main thing for them, it seemed, was that we should keep talking about Benetton.
Then, in 2000, all this stopped. Benetton’s Sentenced to Death initiative about killers on death row was a campaign too far. It caused enormous offence in the US and Toscani resigned. If Benetton’s ads are still provoking heated discussion and calls to tear posters down from the hoardings, it has passed me by. It’s hard not to conclude that, without Toscani at the helm, Benetton’s corporate image is a shadow of what it was.