Monday, June 27, 2005

Thinking outside the box

Because I am still wrestling with the ads, I did some research on the slogan used on them. Most people have thought that ´thinking outside the box´ is just a stab at Microsoft. Well, it may be more than that. The expression relates to a puzzle, where you need to connect nine dots (arranged in the shape of a box of three lines of three dots each) with no more than four lines. You need to do this in one stroke, i.e. not disconnecting. The puzzle can only be solved when you think ´outside the box´ and consider reference points other than the dots. Here´s an image of that, courtesy of author Jim Pinto.

This little brain teaser is often used in management training. In fact, a Google search on the expression comes up with a number of hits where the following image is shown in relation to the puzzle:

Now, I don´t know if you all remember but the cube in the picture looks exactly like one in the launch ads for the Gamecube:

EDIT Just for proper citation, here are the creative credits for this ad.
Agency: Leo Burnett USA
Executive Creative Director: Jonathan Hoffman
CD/Copywriter: Broke Brockenbrough
CD/Art Director: Bill stone

One such site is FRS consultants, where you find directly underneath the cube image something very familiar to us:

Uncanny, isn´t it? Well, it gets better. Back to our Google search and the second hit is this page by a New York psychic called Ellie Crystal. On the page, you find the same cube pictured above with the following text:
Are you trapped inside the box - the emotions of the game? Thinking 'outside the box' means balancing lower frequency emotions - fear, anger, etc. With higher frequency emotions and therefore not being controlled by your emotions. Let it all go ... it's just an illusion in time.
With her talking about illusion in time, I followed a link to a page called sandbox of time and found these photos:

Do they just remind me of Super Mario Sunshine? Certainly very akin to videogames. On a further page, there is a lot of stuff on brainwaves and both sides of the brain:
When you drop a small stone in water, you see waves. Similarly our heart and our brain have wave patterns. (...) Usually the left brain and the right brain waves are independent. They reach peaks independent of each other. During meditation and deep relaxation, the left brain waves and the right brain waves happen together. For both, the peaks are reached together. This is called synchronization.
And finally, on this page, I found the following photo of crop circles, tying in neatly with the second Revolution ad, which also shows a hexagon.

What am I trying to say with all of this, you wonder? Well, I guess I learned why there´s all these N-gamers about. I wasn´t even expecting to find any mysterious clues - and they were all over the place. Of course, I don´t seriously believe that Miss Crystal has anything to do with Nintendo. But... I may just send her a mail, to make sure.

But disregard these weird coincidences, if you will, and consider the box puzzle from the beginning. It shows one thing: The expression from the advertisement is potentially much more than a cheap slogan, quickly thought up. There´s much more to it. And, perhaps, we may even be tempted to say the same about the ad itself.

EDIT As I promised, I just contacted Ellie Crystal. I actually rang her up and we ended up talking for over an hour, no less. Now, as we all knew, her pages have nothing to do with Nintendo. She was very intrigued about my call, though. And she explained to me that the slogan ´outside the box´ very much relates to games:
"To exist ´outside the box´ is to exist outside of physical reality. We exist in a hologram which is virtual reality, which one might conceive of as a game. In essence, the new Nintendo game console is a metaphor for moving human consciousness outside the game through the alchemy of time. The timing of the game console coincides with the movement of consciousness."
A lot of this makes perfect sense with regard to the Revolution. I then talked to her friend Ron, an IT specialist and industry consultant for the pharmaceutical industry. He commented on the possibility of a viral marketing campaign (what some people call the N-game).

"There is an enormous amount of stuff like that going on," he said. But it necessarily stays out of sight, because it is "crossing the line into the spam world." That´s a very interesting point I had not thought about before: A viral marketing campaign can never truly reveal itself, even when it is finished.

Lastly, Ellie brought in another friend, George. After learning about that advertisement, he pretty much knew the Revolution would feature an extensive online service. He simply interpreted how the slogan might relate to a game console.

Altogether I have had a very long and very interesting conversation. I would like to thank Ellie, Ron and George for their patience, their time and their comments. Even though I haven´t unearthed the mystery of the Revolution controller, I still had an excellent conversation with some very nice people and we have all learned something from it, I hope.


Anonymous said...

well you may be right, but unfortunately it reveals nothing. just a big teaser.

Jason said...

That is interesting. Hmmm

Anonymous said...

Thinking outside the box, finding a new way to do things.....
All I can do is smile and wait!

whitedragon33 said...

Yup...this is exactly the kind of thing that got me obsessed with Moz's blog and the N-Game in the first place. It's the thought that if people work together to find answers, there is something out there waiting for us.

Excellent finds these are too. Seems to be a coincidence, albeit a rather large one. Sometimes our minds see things that aren't necissarily there. We had the same problem with N-Game stuff.


Falafelkid said...

Hi Whitedragon33. Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. I just updated the post with a summary of my phone conversation with Ellie Crystal. That was quite intriguing, too.

Anonymous said...

Are you insane?

You couldn't be looking any deeper. 'Think outside the box' means exactly that. In fact, it's a common cliche used to hype new products.

You're looking way too hard.

Falafelkid said...

Anonymous. Read my posts before you bite, man. You don´t come across as too intelligent, not having understood what I wrote.

By calling the idiom a cliché, you actually warrant my research into it: a cliché is an overused expression, one that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse. If that is so, it was only the more important to research its etymology. And it does, in fact, derive from that little puzzle I quoted. A major advertising agency would have researched the slogan at least as thoroughly - providing the ad is real.

Hence, that´s the depth we should consider in order to determine the authenticity of the ad. Everything beyond that was coincidence (and written down purely for the irony of it). That was evident to everyone else but you. If you prefer something ´less deep´, go somewhere else.

Kydd said...

you have a great site here man, i love to read your stuff, and report alot of it on my blog with you site listed of course!... i also work at and reported this article, its a good read and good research...keep it up

Falafelkid said...

Hi Kidd. Thanks for the comments - and the links. I very much respect - your site really got tons of traffic this year I have heard and has really lived up to the responsibility of having such a big audience. Like your blog, too. Added both to my link list (can´t believe I didn´t have 4CR on there already...)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Okay. You're right.

You're 'research' is well found and applicable. I guess I'm too stupid to understand the deeply grounded roots of Nintendo's advertising.

Scratch that.

You're a tool.

Anonymous said...

On the E3 show, reggie said the words 'Right Brain' several times, as a hint...

Falafelkid said...

Anonym1: You´re too stupid to understand subtlety, it seems. I think it´s quite clear which part of that post I label as research and which I label as a funny coincidence I wanted to share.

If ´think outside the box´ is really a slogan in consideration for the Revolution, the etymology of it would no doubt have been considered. That is why I did the same. And it´s research, because I back it up.

If you think advertisers don´t think that deep, you´re a fool. The end products may seem bland and unoriginal to outsiders like you, but a great deal of research goes into ads, for legal reasons alone. I am a tv journalist, believe me.

Anonym2: Yup, you find the references in older posts on my blog. Before he left, he also said ´be prepared to let your right brain go wild´.

Anonymous said...

This is really amazing what you uncovered. You did some great research that people like myself would never be able to do. This is a very interesting read. I think it's all true. Like the Nintendo ON speculation. I think this is just the beginning... More is to come... Or at least I expect more to come...

Anonymous said...

Andreas... Ellie wants to e-mail you but the address you sent her doesn't work when she replies... Are you that far out of the box that e-mail doesn't reach you? Ron

Falafelkid said...

Hi Ron. I wvery, very tired that night - and it was very late over here by that time. So perhaps I gave her the wrong address. Try using my private one: - I´d love to hear from you. Regards, Andreas

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