#Obsession: Capitol Couture

Capitol Couture is a high-end online magazine for the most sophisticated and fashion-forward members of Panem’s Capitol.

It’s a narrow target audience, considering Panem only exists in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. It may be the first publication dedicated fully to covering a fictional society (unless you have another for me? Comments. Link me, people.)

And I may not be a citizen of the Capitol, but I can’t get over it.

The creators, promoters of the series’ second film Catching Fire, have immersed themselves in the world. The team never bothers to explain what they’re doing, and they don’t apologize for it.

They know that true fans of the series will get it. The rest of you? Well, you don’t need to get it. (Tweet this. And therein lies the fun–it doesn’t just show you the Hunger Games world, it makes you part of it. As a fantasy writer, I get a real thrill from that.

As a marketing professional, this is my dream project. I have to take us out of the enjoyment of this campaign for a moment to talk about the marketing back end, because that’s where the real genius took place. And not just about working for Hollywood, or for something that’s hot right now, or even for one of my favorite stories.

It takes an open-minded and trusting client to allow this kind of out-of-the-box outreach. Most want you to stick to more straightforward tactics. To get a client to run through the looking glass with you like this is a creative’s dream.

And to their credit, the team has really run with the concept and made it all it can be. The true brilliance of it is that the publication blurs the line between fiction and reality.

In addition to the publication, which is released quarterly, the campaign is also posting real advertisements for Capitol products, like a perfume created by Cinna.

It’s also partnering with brands from both the Capital and the real world for creative features. Take, for example, this District 12-themed look from Cover Girl–part of a series featuring looks from all the districts to get you ready for the Hunger Games.

And the blurred-lines tactic is perfect, since the blurring of reality and fiction is a theme in the books–after all, the entire concept of the Hunger Games is a reality show gone awfully wrong. And the publication, eerily similar to real fashion magazines like Elle, emphasizes the similarities between the Capitol and upper/upper-middle class America. (Tweet this.)

Even better, the campaign is utilizing up-and-coming designers to create the latest Capitol fashions. As a creative, I love to see a major mainstream project lift up this indie spirit.

And as if that wasn’t enough to love, Capitol Couture is full of striking, captivating images–it’s just way too much fun to look at. 

Enjoy the latest issue here.

Obsession: The Best Metro Announcer Guy Ever

The DC metro is an efficient way to get around—certainly much better than braving its crowded and unpredictable streets. But at rush hours it’s also a dense mess of overtired, overworked zombies rushing to the office. These guys are metro masters—just watch and learn the fastest way to force your way up an escalator, and just how long after the warning bell you can keep cramming into the cars.

It’s just one big hot mess. It’s convenient, but it’s not exactly fun.

But there’s this one metro employee who does train announcements. He’s just incredible. I know it probably sounds ridiculous to use the word “incredible” for metro announcements … but you haven’t heard this guy.

The first thing you notice as you step onto his train is that you can clearly understand every word he says. The second is that, hey, this guy is using full sentences. Not a huge deal, but it’s a welcome break from jarbled messages you can’t understand “Next ^$&#*-op is %#*($#@,” and the ones too tired to bother with verbs: “Chinatown.”

“Good morning metro customers. The next stop is Chinatown. Doors will open on the left.”

Hey now. That’s what I’m talking about.

But that’s not all. What really makes this guy special is that he has fun with it. Fun? With rush hour metro announcements? Yeah, I know. Crazy.

But he does it anyway.

Sometimes he gets a little edge, like we’re between songs on a soft jazz station—“Your next station this morning, Chinatowwwwwn. Doors, left siiiiide.” One of my coworkers is conviced he really used to be a dj (yes, we talk about this guy).

And sometimes he even gets a little snarky, adding an over-the-top French accent to L’Enfant Station and reminding us that, “It is Cherry Blossom Festival time—large groups, you can enter the metro train through separate doors. You will not lose your groups. Just remember where you’re getting off.”

He always makes me smile. Even if I haven’t had nay coffee yet. Heck, we’re all smiling.

This is all well and good, but why have I made this guy an obsession? He reminds me that you can bring joy and creativity to any work. And that these qualities are contagious.

So rock on, metro announcer guy. You brighten our mornings, and we love you for it.

Obsession: The Walking Dead

New regular feature! When I love something, I quickly sink from appreciation to obsession, and from obsession to inspiration. And then I want to talk about my new obsession. With everyone.

It finally occurred to me that instead of harassing my poor coworkers, I should take them to you guys, where we’re already all looking for that next thing to inspire us. No regular schedule to these, I’ll just be posting them as obsession strikes me.

Do you have an inspiring obsession? Come over here and learn how to share it with the rest of us.

And now without further ado, today’s obsession:

The Walking Dead.

As a geek, I love this comic simply for the cool monsters. Zombies always win. As do vampires, werewolves, demons … you get the idea.

But I became obsessed because The Walking Dead is much, much more than a zombie fix.

It’s got a hell of a compelling group of characters at its center. And, as a result, a hell of a plot driving it forward. As a writer, I just can’t get over how incredible the storytelling is.

You’d think that after a while, zombies would become a one trick pony … Oh no, zombie! … Aim for the head! … Whew, that was close … Onward.

But instead of relying on the zombies to do the work for him, Walking Dead writer Robert Kirkman uses the zombie apocalypse motif to explore the brightest and darkest corners of humanity. And he puts this struggle between the good and the bad in every single one of his characters.

What does that get you? A sympathetic, basically good crew of heroes who are desperate and flawed enough that they just might do anything under the right circumstances. And an ongoing series of villains who are just mind-blowingly rotten. We’re talking far worse than zombies here …  psychopaths … cannibals … disturbed children … brain-bashing self-appointed dictators … I’ll stop there. I don’t want to ruin it for you.

This leaves the series field of possibility wide open, and Kirkman doesn’t think twice about taking us to the darkest, sickest corners of humanity. What’s more, you can tell he thoroughly enjoys every awful, gory moment of it. And I love him for it, because so do I.

But Walking Dead is more than a spiral of depravity—and herein lies the real genius of the series. It also exposes the best of humanity. The group at the core of the series continues to protect, love, and look out for each other no matter what comes their way. They call each other out when they start to tip toward the dark side, and always, always have each others’ back. Sometimes it starts to creep toward my touchy-feely-emotional overload, but because it can quickly turn to such extreme darkness, it’s never too much. And it’s never predictable.

Kirkman’s ability to always hold onto this balance while stringing me along threads of suspense is absolute storytelling genius. And of course the artwork is also just amazing.

And, also, you know, the zombies.

What are you obsessed with right now?