These images posted on Reddit.com last February to immediate viral acclaim. The Huffington Post took notice,  Casteel netted almost 100,000 likes on his Facebook page and traffic to his website jumped from 200 daily visits to more than 100,000. Casteel said he's gotten more than 1,000 inquiries about private shoots for clients in 20 countries.









Indian Motorcycle

Retro Branding and the Anti-Harley

Ran across the Indian catalog on Communication Arts site. Note the emphasis on individual expression. The leather upholstery, the retro styling. Buy a Harley, you're in a club. Buy an Indian, you're owned by no man. 

April 10, 2012
Indian Motorcycle




In a move straight out of the Mad Men handbook, PETA's latest campaign casts veganism in heroic sexual proportions.

Their new campaign—“Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom out of Me (BWVAKTBOOM)—essentially positions a vegan diet as the organic equivalent of Viagra. In a new series of YouTube videos, injured women describe what happens when their boyfriends (in the words of announcer Kevin Nealon), “go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star."

One spot shows a woman describing the side effects of her husband’s new vegan diet…

“I sprained my knees. And…rug burn. This hand thing. Inner thigh bruising. Outer thigh bruising. Hip dysplasia. (I know, I thought only German Shepherds got that. No.)” 

The women in the spots are bruised, bandaged and, without exception, happy.

Women’s groups are not. One ran a sendup of the Nealon spot, citing figures on sexual assault, domestic violence and conviction rates for rapists. Even Michael Learmonth, digital editor at Advertising Age, expressed reservations. “These ads aren’t made for TV, so the strategy here is that they will cause controversy, trigger coverage and go viral,” he said. “But I don’t think portraying women as beat up physically is a good idea, even in jest.” 

YouTube viewers seem to agree. The response to the videos has been overwhelmingly negative, with dislikes outnumbering likes by about 3 to 1. As one viewer wrote, “PETA . . . stopping abuse of animals … but promoting it for women.”

Like it or not, the campaign has already generated more than 2 million views on YouTube. It also delivers a clear, compelling message to men—traditionally a tough audience for PETA. But does it go too far? Do the spots really conflate sexual prowess and domestic violence? Even if they don't, do they do more harm than good to an already wobbly PETA brand?

What do you think?


Cracking The Code



Calvin Klein has never been known to shy away from the erotic. But a recent billboard for CK Jeans raised the bar for even that brazen brand. In place of the usual steamy imagery, the board displayed a QR code which, when scanned,  linked to a video of 20-somethings in various stages of undress, all evidently intent on mixing up the jean pool. The campaign generated tens of thousands of trackable views online and, presumably, caused more than a few pairs of pants to change hands.

QR codes—short for “quick response” codes—have opened a new realm of opportunities for marketers. The 2D codes function like the bar codes on packaged goods, except that they’re scanned by the cameras in smart phones. Once scanned, QR codes can deliver just about any kind of digital content—text messages, electronic coupons, web pages, videos, GPS directions and more. With QR codes, marketers can launch a rich brand experience from almost any object, linking the physical and virtual worlds instantaneously.

QR codes are an easy fit for businesses looking to join the mobile fray. There are no apps to develop, no websites to retool. The only requirements are a sound strategy and an online destination. Once those are set, creating the actual code takes about ten seconds. (Go on, give it a shot.)

So what all can QR codes do? Just look around. You’ll see…

Guided Tours—Museums are using QR codes to conduct guided tours of their collections. The codes are posted alongside individual pieces and linked to podcast lectures. Nature centers are doing the same with flora and fauna.

Sweepstakes—You’re at a football game. A QR code appears on the scoreboard with a chance to win a trip to the Rose Bowl. You scan it, hit send and you’re entered into the sweeps through an auto-generated text message. You get a chance to win and the promoter gets your text info for future marketing.

—Advocacy Campaigns Associations and advocacy groups are using QR codes to generate the phone numbers of legislators, so voters can just scan and hit CALL. It’s never been easier to stick it to The Man.

Fine Dining—Restaurants are posting QR codes in their windows and lobbies to link patrons with online menus, daily specials and coupons.

After-Hours Shopping—Retailers are posting SHOP ONLINE NOW codes in their windows to capture after-hours sales. They’re also posting QR codes on clearance tables, so consumers can scan and send discounts to friends.

Program Ads—If you’ve ever wondered what possible good could come from an ad the size of a matchbook, you’ve got your answer.

Real Estate—Realtors are placing QR codes on lawn signs so that passersby can link directly with online listings, virtual tours and sales agents.

T-Shirts—A clever line, a QR code, and you’re a walking billboard.

Tattoos—DJ’s, aspiring rock-stars and other solo entrepreneurs have gone so far as to have their contact info tattooed on their persons in the form of QR codes. If you’re not ready to commit at that level, you can buy temporary tattoo paper online and leave your employment options open.

The list goes on. Even in the early adoption stage, QR codes are popping up in some very prominent places. The only real obstacle at the moment is consumer resistance, since only one in four smart phone users has ever scanned a QR code. But those numbers are changing fast; in the second half of last year, consumer scanning jumped 1,200 percent. And given the low cost and huge potential, smart marketers are redoubling their efforts to crack the QR code.


Download Your Free Copy Of The QR Codebook.

The all-purpose toolkit for QR mobile marketing.




Cracking The Code

7 QR Ideas You Might Want To Steal


Amateurs borrow.

You, on the other hand, are a paid professional and thereby ethically bound to steal a good idea when you see one. Where QR codes are concerned, there’s plenty to steal. Last year saw some remarkably clever efforts, with the 2D matrix codes appearing on everything from dinner plates to live cows. Here’s a quick scan of some of the best…

 1. The Webcam—A northeast regional glass maker installed a webcam in their shop so people could watch glass being made. They created a QR link to the webcam, stickered it onto their catalogs and mailers, and at one point reported a five percent scan-through rate on the catalogs alone—about five times the response of a good mail campaign.

2. Gorilla [sic] MarketingZoo Records, an alternative music store in Hong Kong, promoted its stable of indie bands with QR codes assembled into the shapes of animals. The animals were posted throughout the city, and each code returned information about a specific band with a sample of its music. Between the mobile purchases and social media postings, more than half of the 14 bands sold out their albums in the first week.

 3. The Video—QR links to video are fast becoming a staple for delivering complex messages. The trend is particularly strong among healthcare providers, where tough times are squeezing traditional media budgets. One Nebraska hospital posted QR links to a video tour of its birthing center. Specialists now link mail and print ads to videos where they can introduce themselves personally. One Colorado hospital even posted links to its Facebook page in all delivery rooms, so patients could upload photos and videos of the blessed event. Presumably after the delivery.

4. Currency—To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Royal Dutch Mint produced five- and ten-Euro coins imprinted with QR codes that link to an online memory game. The game site itself is not mobile optimized (ahem), but then the coins should be in circulation long enough for the problem to be rectified. One observer suggested selling the rights to the landing page, which could change every month according to the dictates of the high bidder. If you’re not too nervous about breaking the law, you could accomplish the same by rubber-stamping QR codes on dollar bills.

5. The Retail Kiosk—Gotta love this for initiative. Tesco, the #2 Korean grocer, couldn’t afford to build stores, so they built scannable kiosks in the subways instead. Riders browse photos of food while they wait, scan their choices and order for home delivery, which arrives just in time for dinner prep. Sweet. This is a large-scale application, to be sure, but the idea translates to just about any retail window, exterior wall or bus stop.

 6. The Scannable Like—No need to steal this one. At Likify.com, they’re giving away QR codes linked directly to a LIKE button for your Facebook page. You can include your own logo in the code itself and even return a coupon when the user LIKEs you. Restaurants and bars are building sizable fan bases and distributing coupons directly to customers, saving themselves the cost and the hassles endemic to programs like Groupon.

 7. The Coded Cow—One enterprising French farmer actually spray-painted QR codes on his cows. When visitors scanned the codes, they were sent to an online bingo game where they could win free products from the farm’s dairy store. And while a herd of Holsteins might not be your number one media choice, the novel placement of QR codes can become a important part of the brand itself.

 The list goes on. Trucks, kids, trees, rocks—almost anything can serve up a unique brand experience. Stealing isn’t mandatory, or even particularly necessary once you know the basics. But with smartphones now outnumbering traditional handsets, you’ll need to learn them soon.



Download Your Free Copy Of The QR Codebook.

The all-purpose toolkit for QR mobile marketing.






7 QR Ideas You Might Want To Steal