Archive for the afterlife

May the force – of the wind – be with you.

Posted in The Epitaph with tags , , , on September 7, 2009 by Speider

A fun new product is a long time coming (30 years, to be exact). Star Wars 3D kites will be the hottest thing in parks and the beach (Hoth ice planets and planets about to be blown to smithereens). For $39.99 you can pilot your own Tie fighter, X-wing or Millennium  Falcon.



Personally, I think the world needs a Death Star kite or at least balloon. I know that’s what I would be flying proudly – but then again, I have a soft side for the dark side.


Nobody knows pop culture, new products and innovative thought like The AFTERLIFE! When it comes to your design needs for packaging, products, print or digital, we can supply you with the WOW! FACTOR you need. Drop us a message and we’ll WOW! you with just our reply.

WOW! me



The AFTERLIFE EPITAPH – Nov. 17th, 2008 #3, Vol.1

Posted in The Epitaph with tags , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Speider

McDonald’s is the hard body of the corporate beach and they kick BRAND in your face (and no booklet from Charles Atlas will help you!).

I‘ve had the pleasure of meeting some key people who work on the McDonald’s brand. From the creation of the Happy Meal Toys® to how the restaurants and drive-thrus are planned. It is, for lack of a less butt-kissy word, genius. Perhaps that is a bit too far for a creative of a firm that would LOVE to have McDonald’s as a client (contact us via our “Seance” page) to say. Perhaps dedication to their brand AND consumer satisfaction is what really makes them one of, if not THE top brand in the known universe (my money is on there being a McDonald’s on the expanded International Space Station in ten years, but the workers who make fries will need Phds in astrophysics and zero-gravity hot oil containment).

Perhaps one of the oddest de-branding moves in fast food history, McDonald’s recently launched a Bizarro World version of a super sized location in Tokyo, Japan.

29426_10_468Announcing, the QUARTER POUNDER Store (simply titled “Quarter Pounder”). The menu has two choices only. Minimalist furniture and decor with a black and red theme that is carried into the stylish uniforms of the employees (and goes so well with this blog design!). No statues, Happy Meals, super sizing or apple pies. Not even a mention of the McDonald’s brand name.





What if the concept doesn’t work? Well, McDonald’s, again to their credit, has never kept trying the same experiment hoping for different results (Einstein’s definition of insanity). Although I know, in my heart of hearts, the egg roll-like apple pie will one day return to the menu!


While you may have seen the Food Channel show on the weirdest (or was it most unique?) McDonald’s restaurants, there are many locations that go for a quieter and more upscale look. McDonald’s has very cool interior designers at work in Europe.


European readers know that McDonald’s has been very successful in Europe, not necessarily because of the menu, but because of the store design.

Uniforms have also come a long way and continue to evolve.


Thank goodness they didn’t go “jumpsuit” in the ’80s!


McDonald’s marketing has also been the leaders in the packaging movement. Sure, at one point styrofoam from McDonald’s alone threatened to strangle this planet, but, out of all fast food firms, McDonald’s was the first to relent and go “green” (before that annoying term became popular) and redesigned the packaging it uses every day. At McDonald’s International Media Days 2008, the revamped packaging showed that it emphasized the product as opposed to the brand. The lack of non-biodegradable material is evident.



Chief Marketing Officer, Mary Dillon, noted that the packaging change was a big part of the McDonald’s branding transition: “This packaging is all about simple, easy enjoyment.”

McDonald’s is attempting to change consumer perception of the brand from “fast food” to “good food fast,” according to the blog, McChronicles (Chronicling the McDonald’s Brand Experience From The Customers’ Point Of View).


As a fan of innovative billboard advertising (a medium in great need of innovation), McDonald’s has always been the leader in the use of the medium.


Getting people’s attention several times each day, every day make this billboard expense more than pay for itself! Perhaps a little less of a shelf life and a whopping expense, the “egg timer” is a mechanical marvel. The Giant Egg was installed across from Wrigley field in Chicago.


The egg starts “hatching” in the early morning hours. By breakfast’s time, the billboard is fully hatched, displaying “Fresh Eggs Daily” on the egg’s yolk. The egg stays open between 6:00AM and 10:30AM, indicating the availability of fresh eggs for breakfast during that interval. Later, the egg starts closing up again and returns to its “whole” state. The next day, the same cycle is performed and the egg billboard starts hatching again.

Another unique use of the medium is this billboard that “shakes” up conventional thinking (sorry!)


Placement, such as this billboard right near the Starbucks corporate headquarters, can not only eat into OTHER brands, but they make for a great corporate raspberry and you have to appreciate a good corporate slap-fight.


Not to skip an important message with a haunting visual, the campaign that equated beef with the healthy production of breast milk, there was this billboard (and thank GOD it wasn’t Ronald in the picture!).


This image will always haunt me and I have not had one good night’s sleep since finding it. I am also forced to sleep with my hands and feet securely tucked inside my covers for fear that the Ronald baby will eat off anything that he finds outside the covers while I sleep.



But, McDonald’s does have detractors and some people will take any chance to turn a billboard into an anti-message for the company. Oh, baby Ronald is still really creeping me out. It’s staring at me in the edit window as I write this blog.

Anyway, just look at what some quick-witted individual did with the simple image of the golden arches!


And a really frightening display from San Francisco’s Haight section. I’m just not sure what the message is.


The logo, being so well know, was also part of a recent exhibition, “liquidated logos” by zevs at Lazarides Gallery in London.



Then there are the times when McDonald’s just does it to themselves. What GED genius proofread the punctuation on this billboard?


Or this image? I STILL consider Ronald baby to be the most evil thing ever. I need heavy therapy!



I think one of my favorite aspects of the McDonald’s menu is that you can find regional differences. In a Newark, New Jersey location, I was able to get McBean Pie. I have always heard that in Chicago, there’s McPizza and I have actually eaten a McLobster Roll in New England (please let us know if your location has anything regional that can’t be found elsewhere in the continental U.S. or even globally. Please address all e-mails: “I, too, am scared of baby Ronald.”)

Japan has some interesting menu options. The fried shrimp burger looks really good and it’s very doubtful that Ronald baby would be able to push past it.


The “MEGA” series is equally as interesting as a road block to Ronald baby as well as probably blocking arteries and intestinal tracks. Some refer to the menu items as the “Harikiri Lunch” or “Seppuku Supper.”





All kidding aside, McDonald’s has always been very generous with charitable contributions and while Ronald McDonald House is probably the most visible, in California, a pilot program to stop drunk driving has McDonald’s doing more than their part.


A free taxi service via London Taxi Cabs, will first test you to see if you’re legally intoxicated and, if so, take you home…buuuut, first it will stop at McDonald’s so you can get something to eat. 


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention yet another giant in the fast food industry with another creepy image; Burger King. While I don’t fear the Burger King as much as Ronald baby, I have to admire their new, “build your own T-shirt” on-line branding. Pure genius!


The DIY shirts came after the wild success of a Chicago event in which five designers and artists exhibited their iterations of the iconic fast food chain.


To create your own Burger King shirt, just click and drag elements onto the shirt. You can tweak their orientation, color and size. When you’re finished, the shirt is then digitally silkscreened and sent to you. If you’re not feeling creative, click Randomize for an already-submitted design. 



Another top brand on the cutting edge? The Swiss Army brand has adorned the pockets and purses of people all over the world. Not just for Swiss soldiers, spotspeople or those afraid of Ronald baby, it has many uses and evolves every year.


Every tool ever included in a Swiss Army Knife. There’s also a USB jump drive or just get the 2GB drive below.




Another electronic evolution for the line, the Swiss Army Knife MP3 Player. With wireless earbuds, it’ll drown out the impending approach by Ronald baby!


And the Swiss Army Knife…chocolate bar. Who would have expected chocolate from the Swiss?


The world’s first Barbie flagship store has just opened its doors in Shanghai.


Hoping to cash in on Chinese consumerism, Mattel spent a cool US $30 million to build the massive, 3,400 square-meter, “House of Barbie” store.

Barbie dolls and all Barbie-related products are sold at the store, including toys, movies, books, shoes, clothing, cosmetics, bedding and home decorations. Naturally, Barbie’s Dream House is actually the STATE’S Dream House. She’s just allowed to live there with a number of other citizens according to their need.


Mattel has partnered with Hilton Toronto to present Barbie and Hot Wheels themed hotel rooms for children. Toronto is the first North American site for these theme rooms. Similar rooms have been introduced in Argentina, Chile and South Korea within the past year. Depending on the response of the summer trial, Hilton might introduce this concept to other properties. The Barbie room, of course will be pink and the Hot Wheels room will include a car-shaped bed. This launch also coincides with the launch of furniture from Mattel, which will be sold exclusively through The Brick. Hilton Toronto and Mattel will also donate a portion of proceeds generated from the rooms to SickKids Foundation. 


Long known for their incredible branding and work with top-name designers, Target has decided that giving plain plastic gift cards was ready to go to the next level. Now Target shoppers can give a holiday gift card/digital camera combo. The camera has 50 MB of storage, a USB and is battery-powered. Included with the gift card-camera combo is a certificate to turn those digital images into prints.



Feel overwhelmed? Branding is a difficult thing to approach, but having worked with the top ten brands in the world, the angels at The AFTERLIFE are ready to show you some incredible ideas. Whether you are building your brand from the ground up or just want to move it to the next level. Promotions using your brand and other attention-getting initiatives are our specialty. There’s no challenge too great…unless Ronald baby stands in the way.

Really, why stand for BRAND being kicked in your face? We will make YOU “Hero of the Beach!”

Just go to the “SEANCE” page to get in touch with someone at The AFTERLIFE.

Jonathan Schneider – Archangel of Creative

“Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae”
~ There is no great ability without a mixture of madness


The AFTERLIFE EPITAPH – Nov. 10th, 2008 #2, Vol.1

Posted in The Epitaph with tags , , , , , on November 10, 2008 by Speider

Perhaps more than many, I love gadgets. I don’t mean the latest iPhone or iPod or iToilet, I mean fun little things that make life fun where there is no fun. Things that are designed for fun, taking the flab into fab!

With the blogs and news still being filled with Obama this and that (like these cool Obama sneakers – check the treads)…

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…I thought, while looking for a free limb to use on my “Hub Man,” how much I love the USB drive.


There are lot’s of hub hardware available. I like the odd ones, myself.


(The “Ladybug.” Cute for kids!)


(My next “must have” – the “Self Destruct Button” hub. It doesn’t destroy anything, but it is too cool!)




There are also tons of USB accessories. There’s a mini George Forman grill, a drink warmer, missile launcher, pole dancer, heated mittens and slippers, lava lamp and just about anything you can think of, but there’s not enough space to even list them all, much less put pictures on this blog.

Remember the Syquest? If you shook them like an Etch-a-Sketch, the information would be wiped out. Then came cool little 85MB Zip disks, then 1GB Jazz Disks (which I use as drink coasters along with my 1.2MB AOL floppy disks). Now, we all travel with our “jump drives” and they have gotten cheaper and hold more memory.

Jump drives have become the new, hip “accessory.” Why carry an ordinary silver or black stick when you can have one of these beauties? There’s toys, food, bling, watches, necklaces, bracelets, dolls, cars and, well, these will give you an idea of just a few of the drives available on the market.








































Now, the following examples are ultra cool! Limited editions, they are just the tip of coolness. check out the site with the incredible lines of limited edition work by very hip artists:







So, when thinking of your corporate holiday gift this year, why go with the useless stress ball that’s shaped like a telephone and has your company logo printed on it? Will people really use a cheap calculator with your logo or does it go to school with the kids or sit in a drawer? Try a unique jump drive and listen to the viral buzz it creates. Remember, it’s blogs like this that spotlight the ultra cool and that’s free PR for you.


Just a few other holiday suggestions for those tech lovers in your life, here’s some links to some ultra-cool uses of technology…

Origami phone

Origami DVD


Energy Seed


You say you just can’t think of any ideas for your firm’s jump drive? Why not try crossing over into The AFTERLIFE? We’ll come up with a great idea based on your brand, set up bid packets for manufacturing and work with your purchasing agent to make sure everything runs as smooth as a satin coffin lining.

E-mail us and one of our design grief counselors will be happy to help you in your time of need.

Jonathan Schneider – Archangel of Creative
The Afterlife

The AFTERLIFE EPITAPH – Nov. 3rd, 2008 #1, Vol.1

Posted in The Epitaph with tags , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2008 by Speider


There is so much talk about the election and will the voting machines work. Will they switch parties? Will they keep an accurate vote count? Will they go berserk and elect an evil robot overlord? Calm down!

 Machines are a boon to humankind. They give us money, keep us alive, clean our homes, help us exercise, have sex with us and issue us goods and services. Children still enjoy putting a quarter into a machine at the supermarket and receiving a plastic egg with a toy in it. There are vending machines that have the equivalent for adults.

In this issue of the Epitaph, we look at vending machines around the world and explore some uses you might not have seen.

Starting with simple, hot food, large offices can offer a healthy alternative to workers with variety. When I was a child, I was taken to an Automat in New York City. Behind the doors of the food selections, you could see dozens of workers stocking the selections from the kitchen area. I have always remembered that visit to Horn & Hardart and always suggested these machines at places I have worked.

Jumping to the other end of the spectrum…it’s not food, it’s not something for everyone; it’s a used underwear machine. Yes, the land of the rising sun has a certain love for used panties and where people might feel odd walking in to the used panty store, here anyone can just step up, feed in their yen (forget any puns in this passage) and enjoy a good packaged pair of women’s panties! Notice all the styles available. There’s nothing like a great selection available 24 hours in a local vending machine!








Not to be outdone by the panty machine, sometimes you’re just in the mood for a good surprise! Also from the land of Bushido comes the blind vending machine. Maybe your drink will be strawberry? Maybe it will be mango? Maybe it will be used panty flavored? The best thing is, look at the photo and reach in to extract your surprise drink. I hate to think of other flavors that might be available.













If you like surprises but have loftier ideas of taste, then perhaps the Artomat is more in keeping with your vending needs. I have seen these and they are wonderful! Local artists create small pieces of art that are placed in cigarette pack-sized boxes that are vended from old cigarette machines. For about five dollars (US), you can not only support local artists, but also amass quite a collection of mini art.




Naturally, art comes in many forms and perhaps having tons of small pieces, collecting dust just isn’t your preferred artistic expression. Some people are really into performance art. There are vending machines for that, too. Personally, I used to love some odd, out of the way arcades in New York City’s Chinatown section. You could play tic-tac-toe with a chicken or even watch a chicken dance to some unidentified tune (it stood on a wire grid that apparently had a small electric current run through it so the chicken would “dance.” I had heard that after about a week, the chicken went insane and was “retired” and served at a local dim sum place and a new “performer” was put in the machine.

BUT, getting back to performance art without running “a-fowl” of the health inspector, here’s a machine that allows you to break things. Feed in your money, choose a piece of china or other breakable and watch it move forward and drop onto a slab of concrete and smash. Surprisingly, it does make you feel much better!

And feeling better is another advantage to vending machines. There are some tests being done with using vending solutions for certain prescription medications.

Sometimes little Billy and Mary Jane need a different type of prescription, so, in Southern California, where medical marijuana is legal (I guess because I wouldn’t know…HONEST!) there is a vending machine that uses the prescription holder’s finger prints to identify the dispensing to the correct individual. Never mind that you could easily lift a fingerprint from a glass with simple cigarette ash and a piece of cellophane tape and place it over a latex glove and use the fingerprint that way.






Why, it’s almost the same way Japanese youngsters learned to trick these interactive cigarette machines. The machine has a camera that views the buyer and determines their age by certain features of the face. The only problem was, young, tech-savvy Japanese youth learned they could just hold up pictures of models in magazines in front of the camera. Oy vey!

Feeling good also comes in liquid form as a vending machine for fine wines offers instant service for last minute purchases or out of the way places that may not be open at convenient times. Night Train will always be available at the gas station, but what if you’re willing to spend more than $2 (US) on a bottle of spirits?













Vending will also make you feel better on the outside. Fake nails, hair straightener and a suntan oil dispenser are just a few of the examples we found to show that the right product, in the right place can have a large financial impact on your product sales.


There is also the need to feel good on the inside. Something the “Prescripto-Mat” or “Marijuana-Vend” just can’t provide. That’s why this futuristic “Vendo-Shrink” listens to the level of anxiety in your voice and issues the “proper” amount of ice cream to the “patient.” What would Freude make of this? Well, sometimes an ice cream cone is just an ice cream cone!

There are transportation solutions. We’ve all rented the luggage carts at the airport or train station but how many of us have rented a bicycle from a vending machine or bought spare parts (would Japanese machines have used bicycle seats?) or swiped a credit card for a quick getaway in a $20,000 (US) Smart Car (watch out when it rolls out of the chute in a plastic egg!).

Of course there are the vending machines that deal with food and items. Some machines offer gourmet selections… balls and cell phones…


…vending machines manned by real humans…

…and humans using vending machine costumes for urban camo (see the shoes appearing under the front of the disguise?).

Sometimes, vending machines become part of a bigger message with guerilla marketing (push for change button has Obama sticker placed over it).

For fun, the old photo booth has given friends and lovers memories that can last a lifetime. My friend Christine and her friend Emilie dropped $50 into what they called a “crazy Japanese photo booth.” Who could turn down such a chance at this kind of memory?

But my personal favorite, is the rogue vending machine that not only attacks consumers that buy competitor’s products (he tries to pinch your head), they come with a line of licensed products!


I once suggested a mall and supermarket card Kiosk for a greeting card company that would either allow the consumer to purchase a card and output it with a stamp, ready for mailing, or take a photo of the buyer, print it on the card and output it for sending, or place the image on an e-card and send it at that very moment. It hasn’t hit the market yet and when it does, I doubt I’ll get the credit for the idea, but the fact is, that 1.) eventually it will become a reality and I’ll know who had the idea first and 2.) it shows that you can bring anything to the consumer in the form of a vending machine…except, maybe another vending machine.

Here at The AFTERLIFE we are experienced with concepting the use of new media, marketing initiatives and other unique ways to reach your target consumer. Want to arrange consulting or brainstorming? Just go to the SEANCE page to contact us.

– Jonathan Schneider, Archangel of Creative