Wednesday, 31 December 2008

What it takes to be a Tiger! - the best print ad campaign

There is nothing exciting about going through an airport security line, especially if you happen to be Pakistani like me. Except... maybe Heathrow. Over the last few years every time I line up for the security check at Heathrow I have been captivated by the Tiger Woods theme print ads by Accenture, the consulting company.

The ads compare Wood's ability on the golf course to the traits of leading businesses, from foresight and preparation to flexibility on changing circumstances. The company claims that the campaign is based on a three year research program which analyzed thousands of companies worldwide to find the traits of high-performing companies. The arresting feature of the ads however, are the powerful visuals and the matching phrases attached to them.

Here are some examples I could find:

Monday, 15 December 2008

Shattering the World Record: Bob Beamon

World records are about fractions of a second, or inches. Sprinters yearn for a hundredth of a second and jumpers crave a quarter of an inch. But every now and then some one puts in a performance that doesn't just improve the record, it shatters it to smithereens. Recently, I read about just such an achievement in the long jump.

The inimitable Jesse Owen had owned the world long jump record of 26 feet 8 1/4 inches for 25 years until Ralph Boston topped it in 1960. Boston then went on to raise it another 5 times in the ensuing 8 years until the record stood at 27 feet and 4 3/4 inches. Would anyone ever beat that record? Would anyone ever cross 27.5 feet? What about 28 feet?

Then along came Bob Beamon. It was the 1968 Mexico Olympics and the 22 year old Beamon took 19 strides, hit the board perfectly and flew in the air like no human had flown before him. He crossed the world record, and then 27.5 feet, and then 28 feet, and then 28.5 feet... wait... there's more.. he passed 29 feet and landed at 29 feet 2 1/2 inches, nearly 2 feet beyond the world record!

That is an Olympic record that stands to this day 40 years later (although Mike Powell overhauled the world mark in 1991). His achievement inspired a new word in the English language: Beamonesque, meaning an athletic feat so dramatically superior to previous feats that it overwhelms the imagination.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Most Dangerous Race: Isle of Man TT

The 37.7 mile course with over 200 bends rises and falls 1300 ft from the sea and is a circuit around the Snaefell mountain- famous because you can see six kingdoms from the peak- Man, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and Heaven!

Heaven is where 223 people have ended (hopefully) since the world's oldest motorcycle race began here in 1907. The track was chosen on this island in the geographic center of the British Isles because of its lack of a speed limit, a quirk that persists to this day. While the average speed between hills, bends, rocks, telephone polls, houses, villages and stone walls is about 130 mph, riders get to top speeds of over 200 mph on the straights. There is nothing to keep them on the narrow twisting track other than hard concrete shoulders. In 1976 the TT lost its world championship status after 27 years because it was deemed too dangerous. But the crowds never stopped coming to the TT. The cult following increased. There is something forbiddingly alluring about a race that has claimed more lives than formula 1 has in its entire history.

There are dangerous tracks around the world. The cork screw at Laguna Secca California, Spa in Belgium, Indiannapolis' banked curve, Daytona 500, Le Manns 24hrs when its night or the Tamburello corner at Imola (where Senna died). But none approach the terror or the death toll of the Isle of Man TT. Here is a video of Milky Quayle from the centenary race to give you some idea of the terrain (he survived!):