Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Refreshing drinks and tasty food billboards around L.A. in July 2013...

Summer is here and there's plenty of time to lounge on the beach, by the pool, or in your garden with your favourite drink. That's what all these alcohol and soft beverage brands are counting on anyway as they vie for your attention (and your hard earned cash) in the skies of L.A.

Drinks billboards
Corona Extra Find your beach billboard
I'm not a beer drinker, but the 'Find your beach' ad campaign from Corona Extra certainly wants to try and convert me, as that chilled beer and lime on a tropical beach is a very inviting image.
Bud Light Golden State of Mind billboard
Bud Light was also getting into the seasonal summer mood this month with this evocative 'Golden state of mind' creative, a nice play on California's nickname (reinforced by the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean) and the smooth golden beer in the bottle.
Dos Equis Yes He's on the list billboard
Meanwhile Dos Equis focuses more on your nightlife, and continues their 'most interesting man in the world' ad campaign, who would of course be on the list of any exclusive bar or nightclub venue.
Michelob Ultra Refreshingly Refreshing billboard
And this Michelob Ultra light beer ad made my lips curl with its fun and frivolous 'Refreshingly refreshing' tagline.
Patron Tequila jigsaw puzzle billboard
In the world of spirits, Patrón Tequila was piecing things together nicely along Sunset Boulevard with this clever jigsaw puzzle ad design.
Jack Daniels sharing music billboard
Whilst Jack Daniel's Whiskey was reinforcing its music industry rock and roll credentials with some clever copy, a special extension billboard and another ad creative on the other side of the street. All perfect timing for this weekend's Sunset Strip Music Festival, so be sure to check out both of the new Jack Daniel's billboards.
Smirnoff Sorbet Light Vodka billboard
Now I wonder if Smirnoff will see the irony of their latest vodka variant ad creative being so pink?

Following the Russian government's treatment of their LGTB community, many notable gay activists have called for a boycott of all Russian vodka and other products (plus a delay in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games), until President Putin stops his anti-gay crusade of persecution and bigotry.

The funny thing is, even though Smirnoff has Russian origins, it's actually manufactured by British  drinks giant Diageo, and this ad creative for their new Smirnoff Sorbet Light is pretty cool and eye-catching.

Regardless I'll be sticking to my French Grey Goose vodka and certainly refusing any Russian vodka brands if offered it at bars. Some people only respect money and power, so if we have to put a dent in big companies profits and a country's exports to get them to be more pro-equality, then so be it.
VeeV Vita Frute Better Way billboard
If you're looking for some refreshment this summer, aside from jumping into a cool swimming pool, then VeeV has a new range of ready-to-drink açaí berry cocktails called Vita Frute to enjoy over ice.
Pom Coconut special extension billboard
Speaking of fruity drinks, this fun special extension billboard for Pom heralds their new pomegranate drink, which comes with 60% coconut water (certainly the drink of the moment).
Starbucks Refreshment hour billboard
It's not often you see Starbucks advertising on outdoor billboards and maybe that's why the design of this ad looks so amateurish and cheap.

I get what they were trying to achieve with the refreshment angle, but this looks more like a college art project than a professional ad from a big global brand like Starbucks (who probably paid an advertising agency millions for this campaign).
Stop Vitamin Cruelty Activate Water billboard
Next up are two different ways to market premium bottled water with gimmicks. First is this fun 'vitamin cruelty' parody from Activate, who have a nifty cap you twist to release powdered vitamins into you drink.
Dream Water Monday morning freaking amazing billboard
Secondly is this ad for Dream Water, which apparently makes Monday mornings feel 'freaking amazing', the implication being because you've had such a good night's sleep and you'll literally be skipping into work come the start of the week.
Giant Pepsi Live for Now Beyonce billboard
And rather than putting you to sleep, here's a giant-sized Beyoncé billboard for Pepsi's Live For Now campaign to perk you up with a shot of fizzy caffeine (plus it's amazing promotion for her Mrs. Carter World Tour).

Food billboards
Butterfinger Bart Simpson billboard
This Butterfinger confectionary billboard made me smile when I first saw it, as I immediately knew it had something to do with The Simpsons. Fortunately most Americans are familiar with the chocolate and peanut butter treat from the 1920's, because the uninitiated (like for example someone from the U.K.) wouldn't have a clue what this ad was for.
Vons Local Produce Grapes special extension billboard
And finally for today's installment of food and drinks billboards around L.A., here's a bit of 'food pornography' (big gratuitous close-up) courtesy of grocery store, Vons, to help promote their local produce. There's nothing like a special extension billboard to make those grapes stand out from a distance.

If you liked these ad creatives, be sure to also check out this month's round-up of movie billboards and stay tuned for more cool ads in the days to come...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

More Summer movie billboards around L.A. in July 2013...

This Summer has been a tough time for the major studios, with lots of big budget movies bombing at the box office, along with a few surprises. Here's a round-up of the coolest movie billboards lining the skies of L.A. in July.

Movie billboards
Wolverine movie billboard
This month Marvel's clawed mutant, The Wolverine, returned to the skies of the City of Angels with the same Japanese style creative that had teased the movie in April and May. Even though I love this imagery, I found it odd that with this second wave of ad support didn't at least feature an actual Hugh Jackman creative.

The movie itself is entertaining with a real James Bond/Bourne Identity feel to it, in no doubt helped by its Japanese setting which helped differentiate it from previous X-Men offerings. Plus the absence of unnecessary X-Men universe cameos made this feel like much more of a solo Wolverine movie outing. Although saying that, the thing that got the most cheers from the audience was the end credits sequence featuring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart reprising their roles as best frenemies, 'Magneto' and 'Professor X', and teasing Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014.
Man of Steel Superman sigil billboard
I've also showcased a whole host of Man of Steel movie billboards at my Daily Billboard blog, but when I spied this Superman symbol version over at Warner Bros. Studios this month I couldn't help but share it, especially as now we know the 'S' doesn't simply stand for Superman, but is his Kryptonian family's sigil and a symbol of hope.

Although am I the only one slightly concerned over the further darkening of the DC cinematic universe by the announcement of the Superman and Batman movie.
Pacific Rim Gipsy Danger Jaeger billboard
This month I saw Pacific Rim and even though I had low expectations that this would just be another robots beating up monsters movie (or another Transformers travesty), I was actually pleasantly surprised.

The Hong Kong setting makes for a novel change, one it will probably appeal to broader international market (especially the Japanese market with their fascination with their post-atomic Godzilla-like creatures), plus it's refreshing not to have America save the day in every Hollywood film you see. For me this global flavour was a welcome ingredient, the fantastic costume design and the sci-fi elements, like the mind-merging of two pilots to operate the gigantic robot 'Jaegers', also made this a winner for me.
Elysium movie billboard
Speaking of science fiction, after 2009's District 9, Neill Blomkamp's Elysium is the movie I'm most looking forward to next month. The writer/director's original aesthetic and approach, plus the political class war plot of the haves and the have-nots on and above a future Earth is really appealing.
RIPD movie billboard
Meanwhile my most disappointing visit to the cinema came this month when I went to see R.I.P.D. (Rest in Peace Department). Bewitched by Ryan Reynolds once again, I can't tell you how much of a snooze-fest this comic book adaptation is and a blatant rip-off of Men in Black, with the undead replacing aliens in hiding.

For me there is no surprise this movie tanked, especially as it foolishly opened the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con, when a vast majority of comic geeks and aficionados were attending the event and being distracted by news of far more exciting projects. Long may this potential movie franchise rest in peace.
Giant Lone Ranger movie billboard
I have to say I wasn't surprised in the least by Disney's The Lone Ranger remake flopping. I'm not a huge fan of Westerns (and apparently neither are millions of cinema goers) and I totally believe the studio's over reliance on Johnny Depp is a real mistake, especially when he plays similar quirky characters over and over again. Plus stop casting him with the same people all the time - yes, I'm talking about the likes of you Helena Bonham-Carter.

If you are a fan of the movie, be sure to check out these original costumes from The Lone Ranger on display.
Giant Disney Planes movie billboard
Replacing the giant Lone Ranger billboard was this fun fancy for Disney's new computer-animated Planes movie, which is a spin-off from their successful Cars movie franchise.
Smurfs 2 movie billboard
Speaking of movies aimed at kids, even though I'm certain I won't be going to see The Smurfs sequel, I do like this fun billboard for the movie.
We're The Millers movie billboard
And for much more grownup humour, there's We're The Millers on the way, which stars Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis (plus the boy who played the irritating 'Eustace Scrubb' in The Chronicles of Narnara: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Will Poulter, plus the boyfriend-beating niece of Julia Roberts, Emma Roberts). The comedy is about a guy who puts together a fake family to get a big weed shipment across the U.S./Mexico border.

Be sure to also check out the other billboard for We're The Millers, which was on the other side of the road from this one along Sunset Strip.
Conjuring movie billboard
One of the movies which exceeded expectations this month was supernatural horror, The Conjuring. Just like The Purge, this low budget movie based on the true cases of paranormal investigators The Warrens, has done surprisingly well in a time of year not well known for its horror movies.

Be sure to take a look at these creepy original props from The Conjuring on display at ArcLight Hollywood cinema.
Giant 2 Guns movie billboard
Meanwhile next weekend Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington lighten things up with another comic book adaptation in theatres, 2 Guns.
Giant Clear History movie billboard
Whilst on paid-for TV, HBO Films debut their latest offering in the form of Clear History, starring the likes of Larry David and Jon Hamm, and these clever billboards are everywhere at the moment.
Return of Mike and Ike candy movie billboard
And on a final note, here's a candy product comeback masquerading as a movie billboard. This advertisement for The Return of Mike and Ike may look like a real movie billboard and actually has its own movie trailer, but I believe it's just part of the marketing strategy behind the brand of fruit-flavoured candies (sweets to us Brits), first introduced in the 1940's. Let's face it, this billboard creative looks far too cheap to be a real movie ad.

And there you have it, a nice eclectic mix of superheroes, sci-fi, cowboys, comedy and horror, all in the space of a month.

Be sure to check out Daily Billboard Blog every day for more eye-catching ads around the streets of L.A., plus come back in the days to come for more round-ups of July's TV, fashion and lifestyle billboards...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Wedding Day memories...

So, it's happened. I've turned into Bridezilla, or is that Groomzilla? I've been super excited about sharing our Wedding Day with all our friends and family.

Finally tying the knot after 14 years
Gay getting married Beverly Hills
I know I need to write this all down before I forget how I felt on the day, as it was oddly more emotional than I thought it would be. We had our appointment for 3:15pm at the Beverly Hills Courthouse, but before we could leave, some lovely flowers arrived at our condo all the way from the U.K. from our absentee bridesmaids.

Lovely wedding flowers
Wedding Day flowers
Then rather unexpectedly our wonderful friend, and one of our official witnesses, Mike, arrived bearing gifts. Champagne and a bouquet of white roses for both of us, each bunch with seven roses apiece to signify the fourteen years we've been together.

Wedding cards and messages
Wedding cards
We headed to the courthouse early, hoping to avoid the crazy L.A. traffic, and after passing through the metal detectors at security (how glamorous) we waited on the second floor to be called.

Waiting to get hitched 
Waiting to get married
We thought we'd have to wait for at least thirty minutes, but all of a sudden they called us before time and we were up (although we did have time to read the signs in the waiting area which specified no flip-flops, tank tops or shorts, so I'm glad I gave in to a shirt and tie - FYI the Grooms wore a mixture of  D&G, Ted Baker and Prada).

Trying to hold back the tears (of happiness)
Getting married
It was really strange stepping into the courtroom with its floral arch and rows of seats (considering there were only four of us in total). 

It all felt very surreal and when it was time to get down to business, with our friends snapping away for posterity, I was the one who stumbled and blubbed when it came time to repeat the marriage vows (although unexpectedly I went first).

Sealed with a kiss
Wedding Day gay kiss
Fortunately Charlie kept it together when it was his turn and before you knew it, we were officially wed. And in Beverly Hills of all places, which is the last place I thought we'd ever be married. It's all very Hollywood for this boy from Wales.
Married Beverly Hills Courthouse
So after the simple and emotional ceremony (we didn't exchange rings, maybe at a later date) it was time to head home and celebrate with some champagne, great friends and of course our adorable Yellow Labrador, Cooper.

A status update more important than the news of the new royal baby's name
Facebook relationship update married
We also did the important things like update our Facebook relationship status to let all our friends, all around the world, know that we'd done the deed and we were finally married.

We were really overwhelmed by all the messages of love and well wishes we received. It's times like this that you really can see the benefit of a social network like Facebook, being able to share your news, digital photos and experiences instantly, and gets lots of feedback (without having to wait ages for official wedding photos to be processed).

Celebrating on the rooftop with our pup
happy couple Labrador Cooper
Now that all the official paperwork is over, we're looking forward to celebrating our union with our L.A. based friends (and three very special visiting bridesmaids) in a about a month's time with an informal cocktail and canapé gathering.

Cooper wedding kisses all around
Labrador Cooper kisses
We have no official honeymoon planned, but you can see from that glorious California sunshine that we pretty much live in a fantastic place and have a wonderful life already.


And just like that, we're married. Hopefully happily ever after...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finally time to get married...

What am I doing today you ask? Well today I've got a wedding to go to, my own.

I've been off the grid these past few weeks running around getting marriage licenses, organising a little wedding celebration and finding something to wear for my big day (plus going to physical therapy three times a week to repair my knee and shoulder, but that's a whole other story).

Groom Groom Wedding figures
I'm not a huge fan of weddings, having always thought that marriage was not an option for me growing up. Most religions preach hate rather than acceptance for gay people, so I'm a bit of an atheist and the spiritual side of things doesn't mean much to me.

Personally I find the whole wedding tradition of mixing of lots of different friends and family who have nothing in common really uncomfortable and unnecessary, and expensive. So today is going to be quick, no fuss and without much formality hopefully (I'm such a romantic aren't I).

When we moved to L.A. over five years ago in March 2008 it was the year that President Obama was elected (one giant step forward for progress), but also the year that Proposition 8 passed in California denying same-sex couples the right to marry (even though 18,000 LGTB couples already had, so two steps back).

We wondered how this could happen in progressive and gay-friendly California, but then we'd also seen all the hateful and misleading ad campaigns financed by religious groups outside the state, falsely claiming that gay marriage would affect the sanctity of marriage and harm families. What utter and total drivel and lies, but the god-fearing folk of California believed them by a slim margin and so this heinous act denying civil liberties was voted in for over four years.

Fortunately the gay community was galvanized by this inequality and fought back getting this law ruled unconstitutional the Chief Judge Vaughan R. Walker in August 2010 (I even attended the West Hollywood Prop H8 victory rally after the verdict), although it still took until June this year to make it through all the appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court to be dismissed and the earlier ruling upheld.

At the same time, and this is where it gets interesting, the U.S. Supreme court was also hearing another case regarding gay inequality brought by 83-year-old lesbian Edie Windsor, who received discriminatory treatment under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when she was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes when her wife died in 2009 (something which a straight married couple wouldn't have to do). In a historical triumph she won the case and got the relevant clauses of DOMA repealed at a Federal level, meaning all gay unions must receive the same benefits and rights as straight marriages (resulting in more fantastic local DOMA and Prop 8 victory celebrations).

So back to me and my partner of almost fourteen years (Charlie). Like other gay couples we'd not been able to get married in California all this time, and upon investigation returning back to the U.K. for a civil partnership took too long, was too costly and frankly didn't give us any rights here in America. Until now that is.

So it's time to finally wed and feel more equal. To have the same rights and be treated with the same respect as straight people.

A weight has been lifted. We can now finally plan for the future and our lives are no longer on hold.
Californian Groom Groom Wedding figures
Hence the happy groom and groom figures under that Californian sky (which are actually filled with delicious chocolates, so best not to let them out in the L.A. sunshine too long).

As you can see above, for us this is more than just a simple wedding day. June was a very good month, but today really does mark the start of a new life together (with our adorable Labrador Cooper of course).

I do, I do, I do...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Giant Marilyn Monroe in all her glory in Palm Springs...

So I got my wish and revisited the super-sized Marilyn Monroe statue currently residing in Palm Springs, along Palm Canyon Drive.

Forever Marilyn by J. Seward Johnson
Forever Marilyn J Seward Johnson
When I'd first spied her over the 4th July weekend it was overcast and muggy, but on my return on the morning we left, stopping off especially to take these fabulous snaps, there were clear skies and the brilliant California sunshine that we've all grown to know and love.
Giant Marilyn Monroe statue Palm Springs
Forever Marilyn statue Palm Springs
I can't really think of a better backdrop for this 26-ft statue of the Hollywood screen legend and it really does shine a spotlight on the iconic starlet.
Forever Marilyn statue Palm Springs
Giant Marilyn Monroe sculpture Palm Springs
Those San Jacinto Mountains certainly frame the giant statue of the star, who was 'discovered' at Palm Springs Racquet Club over 50 years ago.
26-ft Forever Marilyn statue Palm Springs
Giant Marilyn Monroe statue
This over-sized sculpture, which has also visited Chicago and is due to leave Palm Springs at the end of August, really is a wonderful likeness and really captures the spirit of the actress in her infamous pose, with her dress flapping up over a New York subway vent in 1955's The Seven Year Itch.
Giant Marilyn Monroe statue
Forever Marilyn statue
The Californian blonde bombshell and sex symbol, and former Norma Jean Baker, modeled and starred in around 30 movies until her death on August 5, 1962, but this iconic image of her is one of her true legacies and it's no wonder it's called 'Forever Marilyn'.
Giant Forever Marilyn statue
Many celebrities make Palm Springs their home (or one of their homes), so I wonder if one day we'll see a giant statue for Liberace or Barry Manilow behind a piano, or even Barbra Streisand towering over downtown Palm Springs.
Marilyn Monroe statue downtown Palm Springs
I wonder if those stars would have the same amount of people lining up to have their photos taken with them though.

Like other tourists I couldn't resist sneaking a peak up her skirt
Forever Marilyn statue Palm Springs
After I'd bemoaned other people posting photos on Facebook and of them being fascinated by what was up Marilyn's skirt, I have to confess I couldn't resist finally finding out what is under a girl's skirt. Now I know it's big white bloomers, and my curiosity is forever satisfied.

I hope you like these glorious images as much as I enjoyed taking them. Forever Marilyn really is a sight to see in person and I'm so glad I returned to get some proper photos.

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but personally I'm a huge fan of this kind of outdoor art...

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