Peaks and Pits

The past few months I have ended my day, each day, by reading Humans of New York (or during SXSW, Humans of Austin.)

If you are familiar with the blog it is likely that you share the same fondness for it and have adopted a similar daily or weekly ritual of your own. If you are not familiar with the blog, or the book, it is an ongoing collection of photographs of people that the photographer encounters around the city paired with a quote from the subject depicted.

While the photographer does not always reveal the question that prompted the response captioned on the photo, I’ve come to learn that often times it is a variation of one of the following:

“What has been the saddest moment of your life?”

“When was the happiest you have ever been?”

“What is your biggest struggle?”

The responses are simple, quirky, heartfelt, shocking, thought provoking and everything in between. I think that is what draws the fascination – the feeling of gathering an intimate detail or a small piece of insight about a stranger.

Reeling this idea back to a much, much smaller scale… It reminds me of a tradition I had with my friends in college. At the end of every week of senior year a group of us would go to dinner and take turns sharing “the peaks and the pits” of our week. The peak was the best moment and the pit, the worst.

That sounds incredibly cheesy, I realize, mainly because it is incredibly cheesy. But we grew to love “peaks and pits” because it gave us the opportunity to hear each person pinpoint their two extremes. It also forces you to really reflect on your own week. It’s interesting how easily you can gain insight into the trend of someone’s week by just watching which they struggle with more – identifying a peak or identifying a pit (OR narrowing it down to just one peak versus just one pit.)

I learned that asking a person to explain the best moment and worst moment of their week (or in HONY’s case, of their life) is a simple way to transform small talk into a genuine conversation.

And isn’t understanding people what success in this business is all about?





Biggest Balls in the Biz

I like brands with balls.

Old Spice arguably has the biggest right now, but Kmart‘s are growing faster than your pubescent little brother’s and Dodge threw their testes into the ring when they partnered with Ron Burgundy for the new Durango. Everyone in advertising talks about “disruption” and “breakthrough ideas,” but few campaigns are unexpected enough to blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday. (If you get that reference, you have taste.)

Ever heard of Tipp-Ex? Me neither. It’s Germany’s version of White-Out, and its balls are bigger than Ivan Drago‘s. And Tipp-Ex produced what is, hands down, my favorite advertising execution from the past the decade. Allow me to introduce… the Tippexperience.


The Easter Bunny couldn’t find all the Easter eggs hidden in this rich media unit/YouTube experiment. The video starts with a compassionate hunter sparing the life of a grizzly bear. He breaks the fourth wall and the constraints of the YouTube frame as he grabs a Tipp-Ex Pocket Mouse from the ad unit nearby. He erases the verb in the title of the video, “A hunter shoots a bear,” and asks the viewer to “white and rewrite” the story. It’s like a choose your adventure story, but in video form, and it’s awesome. The following words yield my favorite results:

  • FUCKS—Obvious first query.
  • Parties with
  • Drinks with
  • Dances with
  • Shrooms with—All drug references elicit this response.
  • Washes
  • Cooks with
  • Shops with
  • Dates
  • Marries
  • Plays games with
  • Shakes hands with
  • High fives
  • Paints
  • Watches TV with
  • Mown the lawn with
  • Scares—You can’t.
  • Tipp-Exes—Ha!
  • Jumps through hoops with
  • Tickles
  • Plays footballs with
  • Sings with
  • Hangs out with
  • Farts with
  • Fishes with
  • Moonwalks with

But wait, there’s more! Allow me to introduce Tippexperience 2.


The hunter and bear are celebrating a birthday party in 2012, but there’s an asteroid on its way to destroy Earth. It’s up to you to save them by inputting a different year. I found these:

  • -10,000,000,000
  • -10,000
  • -2000
  • 0
  • 100
  • 500
  • 1000
  • 1500
  • 1800
  • 1900
  • 1914
  • 1930
  • 1939
  • 1940
  • 1950
  • 1954
  • 1960
  • 1970
  • 1974
  • 1980
  • 1981
  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1998
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2050
  • 3000
  • 10,000

My challenge to you: Find the results I have yet to discover. Post in the comments. Best discovery wins a shout out and whatever else you can negotiate for.

And please, show me a bigger set of balls that makes all other brands doubt if theirs ever even dropped.