Monthly Archives: September 2012

Repurposing and Sharing Your Digital Assets

Not too long ago, once a file was printed and distributed, that would be the end of the story. Today, the same files that were sent to print can be distributed a number of different ways, allowing more people access to an agency or company’s digital assets within the mobile environment.

The New York City Poison Control Center initially asked Vanguard Direct to include a QR code on its bus shelter posters, brochures, and fact sheets that, when scanned, would simply go to its homepage on the website.

We reviewed the Poison Control Center’s homepage and found that it was not mobile-user friendly.

The website’s homepage did, however, have a wealth of information available for New Yorkers to view: four medicine-safety brochures produced in six languages (English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish) and two medicine-safety videos that were produced in English and Spanish.

We could have just created a QR code linking to the homepage as requested, but…

Instead Vanguard Direct proposed a smarter solution: Distributing the client’s existing digital assets to the public via print and mobile environments.

Vanguard Direct applied a QR code to the client’s print materials and developed mobile landing pages where smartphone users could select their native languages and view existing PDFs, videos, and associated websites. All mobile landing pages in six languages (English and Spanish are now active, with the other four about to go live) as well as the pre-existing digital assets can now be viewed from one QR code. “Save to Contacts” and “Call Now” features were added and can be saved on the user’s smartphone for future use.

Author: Mark Dion, Matt Ford, Susan Hallinan


AdForum’s Top 5 Commercials for This Week

Take a look below at AdForum’s top five commercials for this week. In a nutshell, we were underwhelmed with most of the spots. Coke Zero’s “Unlock the 007 in You” was fun, but I’d hardly call the concept original. Nike Russia’s “Spartak Forever” falls in that same boat. How many Nike commercials have we seen that are exactly like this?

As for the St John Ambulance commercial, all we have to say is, wow—and that shouldn’t be confused with “Wow!” There are ads that shock us. There are ads that make us pause. And then there are those that take the risk of doing both and end up winning our hearts. This is not one of those ads.

We admire BBH’s gumption for trying something so bold. Across the board, however, this is an epic fail. Yes, we understand the cancer connection. Yes, we get the shock-and-awe factor, but unfortunately, a bigger objective was missing. What does this do for the brand? We certainly know what it does for BBH and its award aspirations, but after viewing this ad, do you find yourself more likely to call St John Ambulance? I doubt it. My guess is that you’ll just chew your food more carefully.

And if the “masticating best practices” message isn’t enough of a sell for you, just remember, even cancer survivors can choke and die in front of their children. Sorry, guys––we’re not impressed.

We do think the “Hands” commercial stands out from the pack of subpar spots. Would it have been better suited as an advertisement for hand lotion or arthritis medication? Probably. But the execution was great, so five points for that.

Have a favorite? Take a look at these five and let us know what you think!

1. Coke Zero – “Unlock the 007 in You” – Publicis Counsel

2. St John Ambulance – “Helpless” – Bartle Bogle Hegarty

3. Peugeot – “Hands” – BETC Paris
Please note: video contains brief nudity.

4. Nike Russia – “Spartak Forever” – Instinct

5. State Farm Insurance – “Ivy” – DDB Chicago

Mobile News

In case you missed it: Apple has unveiled its new iPhone, the iPhone 5. It has a larger screen with Retina Display, a thinner, faster processer, better battery life (so they say), and will run iOS6.

But also recently released was Nokia’s flagship phone, the Lumina 920. It has a PureMotion HD+ screen that has baked-in technology from Synaptics in the display––allowing the user to operate the touch screen with gloves––a PureView camera that compensates for shakes, and a sensor that allows for low-light photography. The 920 also adheres to the Qi wireless charging standard, and for the first time in a smartphone, wireless charging is the default. The Nokia 920 runs on Windows software.

On the heels of the iPhone 5, LG is launching its new phone in Korea. The Optimus G will be released in the US by Christmas. It is currently being released with Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, but hopefully by the time it reaches our shores it will be shipping with Jelly Bean, the latest Android operating system. The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, promising longer battery life and more speed. One cool feature of the Optimus G is the QSlide, which allows you to overlay two screens running different apps so that you can, for example, text while watching a video or surfing the web.

What features would you like to see on future mobile devices?

Author: Susan Hallinan

A QR Code You Can’t Read With Your iPhone5

Image from

In the marketing communication industry, everyone is blue in the face talking about QR codes. Every time I hear the phrase “QR code” these days, I cringe. More often than not, they are improperly used. But now there is a good case for their use in protecting our currency.

Researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology have created a tiny version of the QR code that can be used in protecting currency from being counterfeited. These nanocodes are created with blue and green florescent ink and can be applied to many surfaces to prove authenticity. The code is only visible under near-infrared laser light. It’s expected that criminals would someday catch onto this and be able to mimic the code, but isn’t this always the case with crime?

Let’s just hope that the codes the criminals place on their counterfeit bills don’t take you to their Facebook pages! Wouldn’t that be ironic?

Author: John Mehl

Two Vanguardians’ Reflections on 9-11

I was speaking to a colleague a few weeks ago, and we were remarking on how long she had been with Vanguard Direct. I knew exactly how long because she started on 9/10/01. We all know what followed next.

Eleven years ago, Vanguard Direct was located at 90 West Street.

A block south of the World Trade Center, we faced the North Tower, the first building to be hit by the passenger jetliner. Rita was on her way to work, and it was her second day. She was lugging her books of paper and production samples in a shopping bag.

As she approached 90 West Street, she heard a very large bang and could not determine where the noise came from. As she passed a firehouse, she was rushed inside by a fireman. At that point, no one had any idea what was going on except that we all thought a commuter plane had hit the tower. The fireman told her to go into the basement. After spending some time in the firehouse, she left because she had to get to work.

When she left the firehouse, it looked like the world had come to an end. There was debris everywhere––plane seats, paper, and a foot in the middle of the street, etc., etc.

As she entered our building, she saw Millie, her supervisor, as we were being evacuated from the building. During the time Rita was in the firehouse, the fuel from the first plane had exploded. Everyone who was not facing the north side of the building really had no idea what had happened. It was nineteen minutes later when the fuel exploded that everyone realized something major had gone wrong.

As we evacuated the building, we were herded south away from the Trade Towers toward Battery Park. We were slowly realizing this was a major deal. At this point, Rita and I had not been formally introduced. We all broke off in groups––I was among the Midtown commuter train group bound for Penn Station and Grand Central.

We started our trek uptown. Manhattan is a very big island, and the walk took two and a half hours. This story is like many others, and it is about ordinary people stepping out of the box. As we were walking uptown and realized we were thirsty, a store owner dragged out water for sale. Now he could have charged whatever, but it was the standard $1.00. Then someone in our group mentioned she could use a restroom. All of a sudden, a doorman from a building who was standing on the street invited anyone who needed it to use his restroom (not glamorous but much needed) and also allowed us to use the phone!!! (All cell phones downtown were not working.) As we stood on line, the TV was on, and that was when we as a group realized we were under attack.

We continued our journey uptown to Grand Central. For the most part, people were calm. By the time we reached Midtown, it was almost surreal––people were working, stores were open. We stopped at a deli for lunch. But things were far from normal. A van had its doors open blasting the news. People huddled around to get the latest updates.

When we reached Grand Central, it became very apparent there were no trains leaving anytime soon. We decided to get a cab up to 125th Street, where trains were rumored to be leaving from. The subways were not running, so it was our only option. One of the people from our group managed to grab a cab. Two of our group got in the front seat, and Rita and I were headed toward the back seat when two strangers jumped in our cab. On any other day, you would have called the police, but not today. They were scared, and so off went the cab, and there we were––Rita and I standing and wondering what to do next.

I suggested we head over to the West Side, thinking maybe we would have more luck catching a cab there. Rita said, “I have an idea,” and said she would ask a passing car for a ride. We looked at the first car and thought better of it, and then there was a late-model Saab from Connecticut covered with ash. Rita gently knocked on the window. The man rolled down his window, and Rita explained we just walked up from 90 West Street and that we were just trying to get uptown. He said he was going to Connecticut, to which Rita replied, “That’s even better.” He immediately invited us into his car. He expressed feeling guilty about driving in an empty car with so many people walking uptown. Rita explained that she lived in the Bronx, and the man said he would take us home but just had to stop by his apartment in Manhattan to get his cats and his wife’s medication. He was headed to their weekend home until the dust settled, as it were. We could not believe our luck. He took us up to his West Side apartment and let us use the phone and offered us food. Then with cats in tow (I am allergic to cats but would have carried them on my lap at that point, which I practically had to do), we headed up to the Bronx. He turned out to be an attorney––I cannot remember what his wife did. Then we were driven to the Bronx, safe from the mayhem in Manhattan. We passed a church, and I asked Rita if we could stop in. Although neither of us are Catholic, we said a prayer of thanks for our safety.

Then Rita, having only just met me, invited me into her home to wait until my father came to pick me up. I sat in her home while she baked me cookies. The neighbors came over to make sure Rita was OK. She was not even sure of my name but remembered correctly it was Chuck.

We were going through our lives, spending time with family, going to work––sometimes not appreciating what we had, taking things for granted––when this happened. You would never imagine that in NYC in the USA that we would ever get caught up in a major terrorist attack. People all around us rose to the occasion. Rita and I were swept up by a perfect stranger and delivered home.

Author: Chuck MacGill, Rita Orphanos

Rebranding Causes Mixed Feelings. Is It Worth It?

To rebrand or not to rebrand? Yes, people do love change. But rebranding can be a hit or a miss. You had better have an excellent reason for trying to change the look while keeping the same business. Putting a new spin on things can be exciting, but know that customers need to get it right away and that they expect something fabulous from you. A logo change might get your customers’ attention but not their approval.

Now we ask, why did a well-known, appreciated brand put its substantial and age-old brand equity at risk after more than a half century? We refer to Yves Saint Laurent, which has recently rebranded its ready-to-wear collection as Saint Laurent Paris.

These are just some of the comments that unhappy customers have left on Yves Saint Laurent’s Facebook page:

  • This is so stupid. Why would you change such an iconic name?
  • don ‘t like it…
  • I like the design but unfortunately this does not represent YSL to me anymore. this is another story. it’s a shame 😦
  • now it sounds like a chocolate brand
  • YSL was much better.
  • Such a shame for an iconic logo to be rid of. Yves saint laurent himself created a legacy and in utter respect to him after his passing and what he has created the least they could have done is leave it a YSL
  • No no no

Most customers seem to be relieved that the brand is still formally Yves Saint Laurent and that the title change will apply only to the ready-to-wear collection.

So why did Yves Saint Laurent undergo this change? Take a look: For a fresh and modern look? Hmmm … I personally am not convinced. What about you?

Author: Marina Kaljaj