Tumblr Radar, the new tumblr front page, was launched recently. Part digg, part delicious/popular, part flickr's interestingness, and all tumblr. It's wonderful. Check it out.
Playing on anxieties about national security, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has released today a “red phone moment” advertisement that suggests she would be better able to respond to a crisis than Senator Barack Obama. Read more about this campaign and Obama's response to it here.
One of my favorite artists is on show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She was a cultural leader in her day. And by the look of the lines wrapped around the building she remains a cultural leader today as well. The NY Times reports that the lines are long for “Frida Kahlo.” This show is a distillation of the centennial show from last year, with 42 of the Kahlo’s small number of surviving paintings and a slew of photographs. As surveys go, it’s modest and compact, but for that reason quickly absorbed.
As Holland Cotter of the Times writes in his critique of the show, that’s the way Kahlo enters your system, fast, with a jolt, an effect as unnerving, and even repellent, as it is pleasurable.
Kahlo was a Jewish-Mexican painter, who has achieved great international popularity.
According to Wikipedia: She painted using vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by indigenous cultures of Mexico as well as European influences that include Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. Many of her works are self-portraits that symbolically express her own pain. Kahlo was married to and influenced by the Mexican/Spanish muralist Diego Rivera and shared his Communist views. Although she has long been recognized as an important painter, public awareness of her work has become more widespread since the 1970s. Her "Blue" house in Coyoacán, Mexico City is a popular museum, donated by Diego Rivera after his death in 1957.
Her full name was Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón, as her name appears on her birth certificate. She was born on July 6, 1907 in her parents' house, known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House), in Coyoacán, which at the time was a small town on the outskirts of Mexico City. Her father, Guillermo Kahlo (1872-1941), was born Carl Wilhelm Kahlo in Pforzheim, Germany, the son of painter and goldsmith Jakob Heinrich Kahlo and Henriett E. Kaufmann. Kahlo claimed her father was of Jewish and Hungarian ancestry, , but a 2005 book on Guillermo Kahlo argued that he was descended from a long line of German Lutherans . Wilhelm Kahlo sailed to Mexico in 1891 at the age of 19 and, upon his arrival, changed his German forename Wilhelm to its Spanish equivalent, 'Guillermo'. Until the late 1930s, in the face of rising Nazism in Germany, Frida acknowledged her German heritage by spelling her name "Frieda" (an allusion to "Frieden", which means "peace" in German).
Frida's mother, Matilde Calderón y Gonzalez, was a devout Catholic of primarily indigenous, and also Spanish descent. Frida's parents were married shortly after the death of Guillermo's first wife during her second childbirth. Their marriage was largely unhappy. Guillermo and Matilde gave birth to four children (where Frida was the third of their four girls) and having two older half sisters, Frida grew up in a world surrounded by females. Throughout most of her life, however, Frida remained close to her father.
The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 when Kahlo was three years old. In her writings, she recalled that her mother would usher her and her sisters inside as gunfire echoed in the streets of her hometown which was extremely poor at the time. Men would occasionally leap over the walls into her backyard and her mother would sometimes prepare a meal for the hungry revolutionaries. Later, Kahlo would claim that she was born in 1910 so people would directly associate her with the revolution.
Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg looking thinner sometimes than the other (a deformity Kahlo hid by wearing long skirts). It has been conjectured that she also suffered from spina bifida, a congenital disease that would have affected both spinal and leg development . As a girl, she participated in boxing and other sports. In 1922, Kahlo was enrolled in the Preparatoria, one of Mexico's premier schools, where she was one of only 35 girls. Kahlo joined a gang at the school and fell in love with the leader, Alejandro Gomez Arias. During this period, Kahlo also witnessed violent armed struggles in the streets of Mexico City as the Mexican Revolution continued.
On 17 September 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus when the vehicle collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries in the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. An iron handrail impaled her abdomen, piercing her uterus, which seriously damaged her reproductive ability. Though she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she was plagued by relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She would undergo as many as 35 operations in her life as a result of the accident, mainly on her back and her right leg and foot.
After the accident, Frida Kahlo turned her attention away from the study of medicine to begin a full-time painting career. The accident left her in a great deal of pain while she recovered in a full body cast; she painted to occupy her time during her temporary state of immobilization. Her self-portraits became a dominant part of her life when she was immobile for three months after her accident. "I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best" reflects her inner feelings about both her art and her psychological state. Frida's mother had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes. Drawing on personal experiences including her troubled marriage, her painful miscarriages, and her numerous operations, Kahlo's works are often characterized by their stark portrayals of pain. Of her 143 paintings, fifty-five are self-portraits, which frequently incorporate symbolic portrayals of her physical and psychological wounds. While Kahlo's paintings have a distinct unrealistic quality, she insisted "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality." It is evident that her paintings reveal a personal truth about her life, her experiences, and her inner personal emotion. Kahlo was deeply influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her paintings' bright colors and dramatic symbolism. She frequently included the symbolic monkey: in Mexican mythology it was a symbol of lust, yet Kahlo used them as tender and protective, even nurturing symbols. Christian and Jewish themes are often depicted in her work as well; she combined elements of the classic religious Mexican tradition with surrealist renderings. While her paintings are not overtly Christian they certainly contain elements of the Mexican Christian style of religious paintings. In 1939, at the invitation of André Breton she went to France and had an exhibition of her paintings in Paris. The Louvre bought one of her paintings, The Frame, its first work by a 20th-century Mexican artist.
As a young artist, Kahlo approached the famous Mexican Diego Rivera, whom she had previously admired, and asked him for his advice on pursuing art as a career. He immediately recognized her talent and her unique expression as truly special and uniquely Mexican. He encouraged her development as an artist, and began an intimate relationship with Frida. They were married in 1929, to the disapproval of Frida's mother. They were often referred to as "The Elephant and the Dove." The nickname originated when Kahlo's father noticed their extreme difference in size.
Their marriage was often tumultuous. Both Kahlo and Rivera had notoriously fiery temperaments and both had numerous extramarital affairs. The openly bisexual Kahlo had affairs with both men and women (including Leon Trotsky); Rivera knew of and tolerated her relationships with women, but her relationships with men made him jealous. For her part, Kahlo was outraged when she learned that Rivera had an affair with her younger sister, Cristina. The couple eventually divorced, but remarried in 1940; their second marriage was as turbulent as the first.
Active communist sympathizers, Kahlo and Rivera befriended Leon Trotsky as he sought political sanctuary from Joseph Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union. Initially, Trotsky lived with Rivera and then at Kahlo's home, where he and she reportedly had an affair. Trotsky and his wife then moved to another house in Coyoacán where he was later assassinated.
A few days before Frida Kahlo died on July 13, 1954, she wrote in her diary: "I hope the exit is joyful - and I hope never to return - Frida.". The official cause of death was given as pulmonary embolism, though some suspected that she had died from overdose that may or may not have been accidental. An autopsy was never performed. She had been very ill throughout the previous year and she had her right leg amputated at the knee (owing to gangrene). She had also had a recent bout of bronchopneumonia that had left her quite frail.
In Diego Rivera's autobiography, he later wrote that the day Frida died was the most tragic day of his life, adding that, too late, he had realized that the most wonderful part of his life had been his love for Frida.
The pre-Columbian urn holding her ashes is on display in her former home La Casa Azul (The Blue House) in Coyoacán, today a museum housing a number of her works of art and numerous relics from her personal life.
For most of the 20th century, Kahlo's work was not recognized as it is now: she was largely remembered just as Diego Rivera's wife. It was not until the early 1980s when in Mexico the artistic movement known as the Neomexicanismo started, that actual stardom began.
This movement recognized the values of contemporary Mexican culture; it was the moment when artists like Kahlo, Abraham Angel, Angel Zárraga, Helguera's classical calendar paintings and more became household names.
During the same decade several other factors helped to establish her success. The movie Frida, Naturaleza Viva (1983), directed by Pablo Leduc and with Ofelia Medina and Juan Jose Gurrola as Frida & Diego was a huge success, and Medina remained for the rest of her life in a sort of Frida's spell, still depicting Kahlo even now. Also during the same time Hayden Herrera published a determinant and influential biography: Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo, a worldwide bestseller. In addition, Raquel Tibol's (the most influential Mexican art critic for the second half of the 20th century, and a personal friend of Frida's) own effort: Frida Kahlo: una vida abierta; and a biography by Teresa del Conde, and texts by other Mexican critics and theorists like Jorge Alberto Manrique.
Fridamania had begun, and many artists, particularly the Mexicans Adolfo Patiño aka 'Adolfrido', Marisa Lara, Arturo Guerrero, Lucia Maya and Nahum B Zenil, took Frida's imaginings into their own work and transported her interests and obsessions into the 1980s. In 2002 the American biopic Frida introduced new audiences to her work.
Frida Kahlo was photographed by many artists including Edward Weston, Héctor García, Imogen Cunningham, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Lola Alvarez Bravo, Nicholas Murray, Guillermo Zamora and Lucienne Bloch. Many Chicana/o artists have included versions of her self portraits in their work, among them Rupert García, Alfredo Arreguín, Yreina D. Cervántez, Pietro Psaier, Marcos Raya, Gilbert Hernandez, and Carmen Lomas Garza.
The 100th birthday of Frida Kahlo was honored with the largest-ever exhibit of her paintings at the Museum of the Fine Arts Palace, Kahlo's first comprehensive exhibit in Mexico. Works were on loan from Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Nagoya, Japan. The exhibit included one-third of her artistic production, as well as manuscripts and letters that have not been previously displayed. The exhibit was open 13 June through 12 August 2007 and broke attendance records at the museum. Some of her work is on show in Nuevo León, and will move in September 2007 to museums in the United States.
The first major Frida Kahlo exhibition in the United States in nearly fifteen years presents over 40 of the artist's most important self-portraits, still lifes, and portraits from the beginning of her career in 1926 until her death in 1954.
Previously, the most recent international exhibition of Kahlo's work was in 2005 in London, which brought together 87 works.
In 2002, Julie Taymor directed a biographical movie about Kahlo (Frida; Salma Hayek starred). The film sparked even further interest in Kahlo's life and work. The film Frida grossed US$58 M worldwide.
The 1986 Mexican movie Frida, naturaleza viva, also helped to revive interest in Frida Kahlo, her work, and her role as a feminist.
In 2006, the 1943 painting "Roots" set a US$5.6 M auction record for a Latin American work.
She is also known for painting The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, now made famous by an Off Broadway show.
Additionally, Latino comix artist Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets (comics) fame wrote and illustrated a pictorial history of Kahlo which utilized some of the themes of her art within the style of Beto's brief biographical story.
In the 2006 Homestar Runner Halloween episode, the character Marzipan is dressed up as Frida Kahlo.
There are an increasing number of blogs out there commenting about marketing and advertising and the internet.
Everyone from college kids right through to well-greased marketing machines have a blog these-a-days.
The major established marketing publications all have blogs such as the well-written AdFreak by Adweek - and some even have multiple blogs all targeting niche topics (Ad Age is a good example of this). I for one get my greatest giggles and entertainment from some of the newcomers. The gossip, the juicy insider information, the gawker-like unpublishable content - all intended to attract as many clicks as possible.
All of this is really great for our industry, because it makes it both more interesting and more open.
The biggest problem about the advertising industry is that it has been such an exclusive club for so long. Breaking into the business in the first place was, when I started, like breaking into Fort Knox. Although breaking into Fort Knox was probably easier.
Today it is still difficult to break into the business, but at least it isn't like the secret society it once was. The blogs out there - especially the elite blogs such as Agency Spy, The Daily Ad Biz, and Adrants - do us all well.
The more open our business becomes, the more fresh blood we attract, the stronger it gets, the better the work, the happier the clients, etc...
Agency Spy wrote a very insightful piece today about the dramatic shift happening as we speak inside the advertising + digital marketing world. It is a new day. One of the biggest clients in the world has decided against the legacy brands and instead handed a significant chunk of their business to one of the poster kids of the new order. This is a very good thing. Because it further establishes the credibility of the modern challenger agencies such as AKQA, Mother, and StrawberryFrog among the world's mainstream marketing management.
The full story can be read here:
Crispin Wins Microsoft And It’s A New World Order
February 28, 2008
Crispin has won Microsoft. We repeat. Crispin has won Microsoft. Pick your jaw up off the floor. You better recognize. The $300M brand (Pretty. Fucking. Sweet.) has selected the upstart, the rebel, the defy the odds and take prisoners agency of the day. They took JWT and McCann - two agencies that have been around the block and back. Fallon, the runner-up, has got to be shocked.
This is where you must sit back and consider. You’ve seen the Mac vs. PCs ads. Microsoft is a stalwart. A heavy machine that is the pillar of the economy, of the American way. This is no little brand. This isn’t a burger chain looking to be hip. This is Microsoft. The software titan has bypassed the death stars, the agencies with all the resources and international locations, hundreds of workers to select Crispin. The game has changed and permanently.
The Rebel Alliance has won.
YouIntern.com has written today an article featuring our Chief Strategic Officer Ilana Bryant. It's a fun read.
Strategy & Planning (PART ONE): Building a department and an agency
STRAWBERRYFROG'S CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER TALKS ALL THINGS STRATEGY
Submitted by Dan@YouIntern on February 26, 2008 - 4:41pm.
Ilana Bryant is the Chief Strategic Office at StrawberryFrog, one of the most influential independent agencies worldwide. She was kind enough to answer some questions about planning, strategy, StrawberryFrog and internships. In Part I, she discusses her agency and its take on planning.
YouIntern: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for our readers. Let’s get started. Can you give us your brief thoughts on entering the advertising industry?
Ilana Bryant: I think people in advertising often act as if they are in a kind of mythical fortress. They don’t give a lot of access points for people to get into the industry, and they think that the chosen few who deserve to be in it will somehow find their own way to break in. It’s an unnecessarily difficult process and the industry would benefit to make it easier and more meritocratic for those seeking a career in communications.
YouIntern: How do you think StrawberryFrog is perceived by students, by young people who want to get into advertising? Do you think there’s an established perception of the company?
Ilana: That’s an interesting question. I think we’ve been fairly good at communicating what the agency is about and the philosophy behind the agency. I think our PR and our website help project an image about how we work, our philosophy behind building brands, the kind of people we are. We want to encourage clients to come here, and if we can’t, we have photos of people around the office so that people get a feel for the vibe of the place.
YouIntern: What are some of Frog’s principles to grow client’s business, and help them reach their goals?
Ilana: We have two approaches, to brand building and developing creative work. Our philosophy is about creating cultural movements for brands, that is, harnessing the power of the fan base through shared brand values. Two aspects of achieving this are that (1) we try to have a role for the brand in culture that transcends the category and (2) that we believe that people need to interact with the brand, and it needs to live in people’s lives. We need to find channels so that people can act on the brand, so everything we do works holistically. Whether that’s a TV show, or a website, or a manifesto for a political party, we look at all possible channels. And that’s one of the best things about being independent is that we don’t have to sell anything except for the answer. And we’ll bring in someone who has the answer if we don’t.
In terms of the way we work to create these ideas, we have principles of collaboration in the way we work. We’re non-hierarchical, we have a team-based system, we attack a problem from all different perspectives from the beginning. The creatives can have a solution to the business problem, and the guy in the suit can have a great perspective on creative.
YouIntern: What about the ad that ran in Fortune, the t-shirt ad (link). Do you think agencies doing a good job of branding themselves, and think of this in two parts – (1) compared to the industry and (2) to students.
Ilana: I think ironically, agencies are really bad at communicating what they do differently. They are great at communicating how they differentiate their client’s brands and products but not themselves. I think StrawberryFrog and other agencies are part of a next generation of agencies that don’t have the names of the owners over the door. The StrawberryFrog name is based on a our philosophy as embodied by a small Amazonian poisonous frog – it’s small, but deadly and agile. And another aspect to it is that the actual Strawberry Frog is that it adapted and evolved so well that it doesn’t need to camouflage itself like other frogs. It’s bright red and blue. Also, it’s also memorable and quirky and goes against the old advertising agency convention of sounding like a law firm or an accounting firm. Surely, the communications business, of all industries, should look completely different.
YouIntern: What’s the role of planning at StrawberryFrog and how does it compare to other agencies?
Ilana: As I said, we have a project-based system, so all of the disciplines are integral to our process. Planning is very crucial because we solve such a wide range of business problems. So, we might be asked to create an entirely new media concept, as well as more conventional work, like repositioning a packaged goods brand. Unlike other agencies where strategists might step-in midway through, we practice what I call ‘free-range strategy’. We’re involved throughout the process. One of the first things we do is called a “FrogLogic session” where we identify the key issues and challenges for the brand. As part of the process, we have to find the cultural connection. What role could this brand play in people’s lives? And the planners can go out and do cultural research. We do trend research – though I hate the word trend, because it makes it sound like it’s coming and going – really we’re looking at big themes in culture. We like to do a lot of cultural research working with semioticians (who de-code communication and symbols), psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists. They give you unique insights on what’s going on in consumers minds and culture that people can’t tell you in a focus group.
StrawberryFrog continues to grow. We've put on significant new business in our 3rd year in the US and in Brazil. We have made several important new hires and built out our management team in New York. The principals of the agency now include:
- Mike Lanzi, Managing Director whose experience includes having led the Martin agency's digital company and, in addition, the massive national Bank of America business.
- Kevin McKeon, Executive Creative Director, who has been a partner with the firm for over two years. He was previously ECD of BBH New York.
- Ilana Bryant, Chief Strategy Officer who previously had launched Play Station, and had been at BBH where she was responsible for Levis' and Unilever brands. She also taught marketing to Unilever's Marketing Academy.
- Tori Winn, ECD Digital who previously was the Creative Lead of AKQA London. Tori's previous experience includes the award winning digital work for Coke, Orange and Gucci.
- Chip Walker, Head of Strategy New York who has a distinguished reputation in the industry. Chip previously was the Director of Strategy for BBDO Energy in Chicago.
- Karin Drakenberg, COO and founding partner of StrawberryFrog.
- Justin Luke, Design Director who previously was at Widen & Kennedy.
We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Dagmara Szulce who will oversee the Frog's move into luxury brand marketing. She previously ran Caviar, the luxury division of JWT. Chaz Mee who joins us from Tribal DDB where he led the digital work for brands such as Philips, and while at RGA led the work for Nike ID. And also Gabby Lott who joins us from the UK and is heading up our Brand PR capability.
Now, we are expanding our strategic communications planning and social media planning capabilities. If you represent strategic and creative excellence, innovation, modern thinking and are an extraordinarily nice person and fun to work with please send us your resume.
Fred Wilson points out in his blog that Facebook is not experiencing a decline but rather it has reached a plateau in the USA. Look a few feet outside the US border and we see a very different picture.
His post was in response to Erick Schonfeld's blog talking about Facebook fatigue and the flattening of the facebook growth curve in the US.
But the charts in Erick's post tell a different story, that Facebook is a global business now and what's happening in the US is not anywhere near the whole story.
Here are some stats Wilson culled from comscore.
Check that out. The percentage of monthly uvs coming from the US dropped from 76% at the start of the year to 35% at the end of the year. The percentage from the three big english speaking countries (US, UK, and Canada) dropped from 96% at the start to 64% at year end. Europe is now 23% of Facebook and Asia is now 14%.
Here is where Facebook's growth is coming from right now.
For a long time now, people - like yours truly - have claimed that the sky was falling and that dramatic change was a foot in the media world. That the digital world was digesting the analog world from the inside out and overtaking all vestiges of the famous brands that were, previously, defined by the media channel they represented. Well that time has come. Today, about 2 million Americans ready the WSJ on paper while close to 14 Million read it digitally. Today, Deutsche Bank cuts NY Times stock to "sell" from ''Hold," saying advertising revenue nationwide has softened. Bloomberg News suggests the reason for this is that the New York Times is one of many media companies that have struggled with declining ad revenue as more consumers turn to the Internet for news and information. Also announced today was that long-time magazine owner Reed Elsevier are to sell up to 150 trade magazines and possibly fire 1,000 staff to get out of the trade magazine market. Reuters says the reason they plan to sell its Reed Business Information arm is to “reduce its exposure to cyclical advertising markets”. Advertising accounts for about 60pc of RE’s revenues. Reed meanwhile have invested $4.1bn on US risk management system ChoicePoint that provides data and analysis to the insurance sector.
These are high-profile examples of the changing landscape.
At the same time, there are (as always) new players emerging with different experiences and different business models which will offer advertisers and the media industry new hope.
Recently, Swedish-publishing giant Bonnier recently bought Time Inc.'s Parenting Group and Time4 Media titles. Through this transaction, Stockholm-based Bonnier and its U.S. magazine partner, World Publications, will become one of the largest consumer publishing groups in America, with 40 titles and annual revenue of more than $350 million.
Under the proposed agreement, Bonnier will acquire 18 titles, which will join World Publications' award-winning, market-leading collection of magazines, such as Saveur, Spa and Islands. The expanded portfolio strengthens the company's position among special-interest magazines and increases its new media opportunities.
Bonnier known as one of the most innovative media companies is planning to do to the magazine world what Murdoch has done to the Newspaper and TV world. And what is that exactly? The European players have more experience working much more efficiently than the legacy US brands, and these efficiencies and innovations into the internet will bring new growth.