Category Archives: Branding

This year, “say it with socks”

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William is not an Artist, nor a stylist but by watching him, he grabs your attention. Everyone is seduced by his charm. They are impressed by his confidence.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 10.42.36 AMA few months ago Brendan and I attended UX Camp Ottawa. On the first day we met two incredible designers and entrepreneurs, Francois Boisvert and Sylvain St-Germain, founders of Socks by William. Organizers of the event had commissioned Socks by William to produce custom socks for the event to be gifted to each attendee. They had also set up a booth at the event where they were showcasing their collections.

As luck would have it, Brendan and I had the opportunity to share food and drink with the “men behind the socks” at a funky wood clad bistro-brasserie in Vieux Hull called Gainsbourg. After a few drinks and a few prefunctory “Sock, Sock jokes“,  Francois and Sylvain invited us to share our ideas on how we might help them take their business to the next level. The rest is, as they say…history in the making!


Pop up shop December 11th at Java U on Rue McGill.

Pop up shop December 11th at Java U on Rue McGill.

Working in collaboration with our two “Socksperts” our initial mandate was a complete look and feel re-fresh of their Shopify site geared specifically to hit Black Friday and close our 2014 in style. Our Black Friday / Holiday campaign was all about increasing engagement online and off. While working in paraleel on physical and social channels we did deep POS market testing at a lovingly designed pop up shop in Old Montreal and invited the influencer, fashion bloggers and host of prominent sock fans.



The challenge for our creative team was to create a visual story different from other sock designers while still adhering to time-honoured industry standards. To start things off, we needed to take Francois’ and Sylvians’ initial inspirations for the ten designs and further develop them into concise but compelling stories. As you’ll see on the site, and beyond the sheer beauty of the designs are the prominent artists behind them and story they tell through their choices of patterns and colour.  The ever popular Tour de France is a great example:


We designed a series of these graphics (In French and English) for Facebook and Instagram.

In order to accomplish this task we needed to get super creative and then a little bit more. All told, the H&C team spent triple digit hours in the boardroom cultivating and developing ideas.

The next big challenge came with the online shopping experience. We knew we wanted to do something different. We decided to create a continuously scrolling story that drew the user through the – pardon the pun – thread of the collection. With custom photography and a complete content re-fresh, we were able to successfully engage with the consumer through beautifully designed experience of beautifully designed products. And it seemed our work paid off. Within the first week of our launch of the campaign, three of the ten designs were sold out.

Moving into 2015, Socks by William has tasked us to expand their retail program, design new stories around each collection and continue to help grow their online community.


Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.29.39 AMWe custom designed and coded a responsive multilingual Shopify theme using original design concepts, photography, and content.

Check it out and tell us what you think.

Video of the week: Choose Your Winter

nike_logo_wallpaper_for_mobile_iphone-t2Let’s face it, winter is here and we cannot do anything about it. It’s easier to be lazy and snuggle with your warm, cozy blanket with a bowl of chips and hot chocolate, while watching TV shows all day. An easy excuse to hibernate than to exercise.

“Is winter out to get us?” the Irish actor, Chris O’Dowd as a weatherman says.

The weatherman then presents various winter sports that features athletes who train and perform during winter, whether you are out in the soccer field or inside an ice rink. He also, ironically describes the effects of the cold on a human body by exaggerating of what would ‘happen’ to you. His corniness adds a flair of comedy to the campaign while simultaneously showing athletes how Nike’s new line is efficient.

Additionally, the ad is promoting Nike’s new line of products called ‘Nike Hyperwarm.’ The ads show how their new winter gear is beneficial and effective, how the fabric is made to keep you dry, and warm, and their fit is streamlined so you can have full range of motion, effective performance and are comfortable.

The approach is to tackle a dilemma that everyone faces during winter whether you are a professional athlete or not. With Nike Hyperwarm, everyone can keep training and exercise harder. “You can’t choose the weather, but you can choose your winter,” Nike stated. Basically, as their slogan says, “Just Do it.”

Total is committed to better energy, but is it committed to better commercials ?

Total SAOn today’s Bad Marketing, we are looking at the new commercial for Total, a French multinational, which is one of the six major players in the oil industry. They have been on the news lately due to the recent passing of their CEO, Christophe de Margerie in a plane crash at the Vnukovo Airport of Moscow in Russia. They only have 415 gas pumps in North America, but have almost 15.000 employees working in the oil, gas, solar and petrochemical industries.

On a more positive subject, Total is currently using the “Committed to better energy” campaign with its hashtag #MakeThingsBetter.Total and Publicis Agency have partnered together since their 2013 deal. According to its site, Total has launched this campaign in more than 20 different countries to improve awareness and growth objectives.

You know what also happened this last decade in more than 20 different countries? 59 oil spills. That said, Total has a lot to do to be seen as a positive company. As the oil industry isn’t the most transparent, they still have to respect legislation of each country they are working in. But as different countries means different laws, most of the time the whole oil lobby industry works in the shadows of government to make sure that different laws aren’t going in opposite directions.

With improvements in technology, more information on a geological scale has been obtained and also helped engineers to build stronger and more flexible materials in the construction of their refineries and pipeline. It helps engineers immensely, allowing them to make the best and cleanest industry as possible. Unfortunately for them, they still live in an unappreciated industry.

I’ll be honest, Total and friends aren’t my favourite companies on earth. Oil is unfortunately quite essential to most people everyday. Our population is growing, and thus our needs expand accordingly. Changes aren’t coming fast enough, and the fast-paced growth of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are making things harder as they represent almost 3 billions people. But to multinationals, a growing population means more customers and more demand.

To make an impression, Total has decided to show us that they care as much as we do, or at least as we all should, by releasing a new commercial to promote their services and seriousness. Since many people have concerns about Total’s activities, they decided to show different places of work across the globe to demonstrate how things work in this industry.

The first thing you’ll notice is the music. Total have used the song “Roadgame” from the French artist Kavinsky to amplify the motif of young and active people in the commercial. With electronic music ensuring a fast-paced commercial, different people are telling, looking straight at the camera, that it is “not a question of place” nor “of temperature” nor “of dedication” because “it’s not a question at all”. “Energy has to be better” because “it is our responsibility” and “our commitment” “to make it better” “for all of us”. By saying this in that way, Total is hoping to unite us, while making us emotionally connected to the company. They display different people with different origins at different locations which amplifies the statement “for all of us”.

It appears that they wanted to use Total employees to be brand ambassadors to make the multinational closer to every employees on Earth. The things is, it sounds fake.

In my opinion, they forget one crucial thing: most people are not big fans of the oil industry, and having some statement that they are doing a good job because of their commitment to #MakeThingsBetter doesn’t feel natural. To me, this commercial raises more questions than ever. How are Total making it better? What does total define as your responsibilities? Is Total truly improving our lives?

I get that using “employees” from all around the world might sounds like a good idea to show that the whole group is working together on this goal, but it feels unnatural. To be clear, I feel it is more like a propaganda film that you want to show at a presentation to recruit people. And I am sorry, but making a statement isn’t enough. I truly believe that we are more aware of what surrounds us, so no matter how committed the people in the commercial are to their jobs, I don’t buy that they are making something better.

I understand that Total needs to do some public relation from time to time to show their goodwill, but not like that. No matter what they say, they are working in a high profit and dark industry. Despite what they are saying on their social media with the hashtag #MakeThingsBetter, they aren’t truly delivering the truth. They need to be more inspired than that. A statement isn’t enough, and Total did it better before including with this one:

In short, Total is a major player in a industry that makes billions every year. In 2012, Total netted $13.35 billion, which represent a $36.5 million profit every single day. That same year, they have been fined for the oil spill of the Erika Tanker which sank near the Breton coast in France to $213 millions. In 6 days, they got their money back. That said, to make us believe in their commitment, we need more than statements like that. They have to show what they are actually doing, what they are bringing to the world, and what exactly they are improving. Otherwise, Total just reeks of disingenuous propaganda like in this ad.

Video of the Week – The Boy Who Beeps by GE

‘Weird yet awesome, and interesting but still confusing’ – the thoughts that went through my mind while watching GE’s new video.

This short video talks about an epic tale of a boy who only beeps and can communicate with machines. As he grows older, he discovers his capabilities and what he can do. His special powers allows him to speak with the machines that surround him. When “the boy who beeps” converses with the machines, he is making them work better that benefits everyone.

GE tells a powerful and poignant story about the abilities and capabilities of their Industrial Internet who speaks the language of industry. The ad is designed to evoke emotions surrounding the evolution of GE and how Industrial Internet business brings software and machines together to serve various industries. Additionally, they effectively portray a vision where all machines and IT systems can communicate efficiently together. Yet having a human, the little boy, embodying the language of the industry is a symbol of GE: that they are people that are doing this and not robots! It is edgy, distinctive and vividly brilliant.

At the end of the video they quote: “When you speak the language of industry, the conversation can change the world.” GE is winking at us, saying when you’re GE and you create things such as the Industrial Internet (AKA the Internet of Things), they’ll change the way we communicate with machines, and these communications are changing the world.

We especially like how they’ve created an evocative, sentimental view of a world where we can communicate with our machines. The “boy who beeps” is fluent in machine and human languages, whereas everyone else in the ad are constantly frustrated with their machines. The Internet of Things, or as GE is calling it, the Industrial Internet, is meant to make machines work for us in a much more cohesive manner than ever before. This ad makes us excited to see how well it will work!

Fun Friday Post – Advertising Fails

This Fun Friday post brings you a good laugh from advertising gone wrong.

We have seen a lot of campaigns that are misinterpreted when it is advertised internationally. Companies that are well known, such as Pepsi, KFC, Coca-Cola, etc. have made the mistake of mistranslated slogans. We posted, a while ago, about how Pepsi came up with a new slogan and when translated into Mandarin, it transformed into “bring your ancestors back from the dead” – yes, so hilarious!

And now, we’re providing you with more humor and examples of mistranslated slogans from other companies.

  • Nokia’s new smartphone – Lumia – translates to Spanish as the slang word for prostitute.
  • When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, its “Fly In Leather” campaign was translated to “Fly Naked” in Spanish.ip.bitcointalk
  • Coca-Cola phonetically translated the brand name in Chinese- “Ke-Kou-Ke-La,” which means “Bite the Wax Tadpole.”
  • Parker Pen, a ballpoint pen maker, translated their slogan to Spanish to enter the Mexican market. Their slogan is “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you,” and mistranslated into “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
  • Electrolux, a Swedish vacuum cleaner slogan in the U.S. translates to “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Yeah, they are going to get a lot of sales…
  • images-4When Vicks started providing their products in the German market, they realized later on that the German pronunciation is “Ficks” which translates into “sexual penetration.”
  • General Motors introduced their “Chevy Nova” in South America, and they did not realize that ‘No va’ translates to “It won’t go.”

In conclusion, marketers need to be aware when advertising globally, because a slogan can literally be lost in translation, resulting in a misunderstood campaign. Although they are entertaining, this reflects poorly on the marketers who didn’t take the time to make sure the was represented appropriately in other languages, cultures, etc. If your brand is putting thousands if not millions of dollars into a campaign, the least you can do is check for accuracy!


Real Business.” 10 Translated Slogans Gone Wrong– Web. 17 Oct. 2014

13 Funniest Mistranslated Slogans Ever” | DailyCognition.” 13 Funniest Mistranslated Slogans Ever | DailyCognition. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Lincoln’s Ad Campaign Captures “True Detective” Actor Matthew McConaughey Thinking And Driving

Matthew McConaughey, and his one-of-a-kind personality, stars in Lincoln’s “Live in Your Moment” ad campaign. The Oscar-winning “Dallas Buyers Club” actor is the perfect fit in putting the right talent in place to tell stories with an emotional appeal that is unique to Lincoln. The star behind Lincoln’s newest vehicle, embraces his weirdness as he muses about life, cars and bulls in three new spots for the Lincoln MKC. Ever since McConaughey signed on with Lincoln in late August, sales of the long-suffering brand have started to pick up. It turns out someone with a best-actor Oscar does a pretty good job at selling cars.

“McConaughey captures the essence of ‘Live in Your Moment’ in an authentic conversational manner, with most of the ads following his internal dialogue as he navigates the open road, enjoying his time behind the wheel of the MKC,” the company said in a statement.

McConaughey is an established face having a great year in the entertainment industry. The ads have a strong True Detective feel with philosophical statements on the universe with great moody visuals. The Southern drawl and the True Detective style of delivery in his vocals, is the reason his soliloquies are entertaining. McConaughey has always been a great man of stories, but sometimes he goes on in a way that leaves people unsure of what he really means.

In Lincoln’s new “Intro,” commercial, McConaughey is driving through a city nightscape and philosophizing; “Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward. I don’t mean going back to reminisce or chase ghosts. I mean going back to see where you came from — where y’been, how y’got here, see where you’re goin’. I know there are those who say you can’t go back. Yes, you can. You just have to look in the right place.”

What exactly is he talking about? McConaughey mimics Rust Cohle, the weirdly reflective and obtuse character the actor played on “True Detective.” But really, who would want to be alone in an MKC with him? He was just an unusually cerebral detective with a dozen bodies buried under his porch.

In another spot, McConaughey actually seems to be making fun of his True Detective persona. In that spot, he is somewhere in Texas, blocked by a bull standing on the asphalt and staring him down.

“That’s a big bull,” McConaughey drawls. “I think that’s ol’Cyrus, 1800 pounds of ‘I can do whatever the heck I want.’ I can respect that. Take the long way, huh? [McConaughey steers around him.] Thank you, Cyrus.” The standoff is absurd, and somewhat awkward. Once again, the Rust Cohle character is a pretty obscure reference, no matter how popular it was to the few million that loved it.

But, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Lincoln’s ad campaign is already a smash hit. McConaughey’s ads even made it on Conan O’Brien’s TBS show. He releases a parody of Mathew McConaughey’s second Lincoln MKC TV Commercial, “I Just Like It,” in which he drawls:

“I’ve been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one… Didn’t do it to make a statement. I just liked it.”

O’Brien’s team star in a voice-over from McConaughey’s portrayal of the troubled detective Rust Cohle on HBO’s True Detective, including: “I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution… The honorable thing for our species to do is stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction.” The words overlaid on the commercial’s close-out scene: “The Lincoln Motor Company” — are followed by: “Walking hand-in-hand to extinction.”

The now much darker parody commercial is not how Lincoln would prefer the MKC to be marketed, but in most of the ads, they seem to star Rust Cohle instead of McConaughey. The tone of his voice and his portrayal onscreen are just so close to that character.

On her talk show, Ellen DeGeneres gives it a lighter treatment, showing a spoof of one of the ads with her photoshopped into the back seat in a spot called “Bull” featuring McConaughey sitting in his MKC face to face with a giant longhorn steer on a lonely road in Texas.

McConaughey says: “That’s a big bull.”

DeGeneres, munching on a brownie, says: “I don’t see it. Hey, you know, whatever you put in these brownies, I don’t know what they are, but boy, they are delicious.”

The ads certainly demands attention, especially to all the fans of True Detective. They will be especially entertained by the absurd way Lincoln and Matthew Mconaughey choose to showcase Rust Cohle.

Fun Friday Post: Our Faux Landing Page Roundup and What’s Next

As both Brendan & Brendan and now as Horse & Cart Agency we’ve put out a lot of great landing pages. Especially the landing pages about ourselves that are total jokes. We like to see who “gets it” and who doesn’t, and show that even though we’re a serious business and agency, that we don’t take ourselves so seriously. It’s important to be able to take a step back and laugh at ourselves and the industry from time to time. We’re not stopping anytime soon, but here’s a collection of our greatest hoaxes.

zenpersand was an April Fool’s joke. Taking on flat design and faux-Buddhist hocus-pocus we decided to play a joke on everyone and call ourselves “the agency formerly known as Brendan & Brendan”. Not many people got it, but it was a treat for those that did get that we were playing around with the concept of agency folk with huge egos and zen lifestyles.

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The Boys of Lost Forgotten
On International Goth Day, we decided to celebrate in true goth style. We created a “band,” an “album” and riffed on every goth stereotype we’d ever seen and laughed about. Looks pretty good for a band page too!

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Two and a Half Beards
This one happened after CT and digibomb took their sons to Mount Royal. It was a hilarious and fun day where the boys got to be boys and the men hung out. After they took this picture we realized this would make a great premise for the pilot – big men with big beards, taking care of their boys. We created the synopsis for one episode, named the production company “Ampersand Productions” and most people were really into it!

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derp designs
Some designs we’ve seen require no explanation. They’re just terrible. With Josh joining the team, we’ve been using that word a whole lot more, and finding the funniest “derp designs” we decided to create our own fake design agency page. Using the cheesiest techniques we could find, we created… derp designs.

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What joke faux-landing pages should we put together next?