While our major focus (and primary object of devotion) is, of course, email, it always pays to seek creative inspiration in other forms of design and marketing. With this idea in mind, we took to the streets (and to the nets) in search of fresh thinking. Here's what we found:
Virgin America (http://www.smith-harmon.com/images/edm/screenshots/092210_VirginAmerica.html). This little plastic salt shaker came free on Lisa's recent VA flight - just one more reason to love Virgin. Not only does it serve a tasty function, but it also provides fliers with a charming memento that could reward Virgin next time the flier makes travel plans.
"The Virginity Hit" (http://www.smith-harmon.com/images/edm/screenshots/092210_VirginMovie.html). Speaking of virgins, what could be more attention-grabbing than a sign promoting a hotline to "help" them? This movie poster for the upcoming comedy creates hype and piques curiosity whether or not many passersby place a call (virgin or not, go ahead...dial...).
Arcade Fire (http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/). With the release of their newest album, "The Suburbs," the Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire also released an interactive music video, "The Wilderness Downtown," built with Google Chrome's HTML5 technology. The webpage first invites you to enter the address of the home where you grew up, and then uses Google maps to incorporate your old neighborhood into the video. This fun and unique experience hints at a more interactive future of media and creates a sense of nostalgia around a totally new album.
Facebook admirers(http://gadgetsin.com/tag/facebook). This collection of Facebook-themed gadgets from various designers shows how popular icons can be transformed into something innovative. With interpretations ranging from retro posters to functional "like" and "dislike" stamps to Facebooking Storm Troopers, these ideas infuse social networking with a new level of coolness.
Threadless (http://www.threadless.com/product/2464/Traditional_Greeting?). This hoodie lets you turn a drawing of a hand into a wearable greeting. The design invites -- even requires -- an interaction between the design and the wearer in order for the work to fulfill its purpose. How fun!
S.Pellegrino (http://www.smith-harmon.com/images/edm/screenshots/092210_Pelligrino.html). For lovers of all things Italian, the marriage of the fashion house Missoni and San Pellegrino mineral water is a match made in heaven. The stellar design and big-name collaboration calls attention to both brands and gives a little something extra to sippers. Drink up!
Equinox (http://www.smith-harmon.com/images/edm/screenshots/092210_Equinox.html). This window ad for the gym Equinox invites subscribers to text-message Equinox to "boost" their "knowledge." Not only is the copy cleverly intriguing, but the invitation to text is perfectly placed -- on a sidewalk window -- to catch the attention of folks who probably already have their phones in hand (...or in pocket).
What does all this have to do with email, you may be wondering? In a sense, it's up to you. The great work exemplified in each of the links above is a call to action for us to innovate exciting directions for email. We can emulate the heightened thinking of these brands and designers by seeking more collaboration, more experimentation with form, more wit, or more interactivity between design and subscriber. When we pay attention to any one of those things, our work will get better, and inboxes will get more interesting.