Friday, 28 November 2008

Balls of Fury Eat your Heart Out

This got sent round the office two days ago and seems to be sweeping the globe on you tube etc. Nice use of post production and the Bruce Lee name in an Ad - no idea of the relevance to Nokia but a good watch.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A Duty of Care

The guys who share our office Abel & How, no not the organic vegetable people, these guys are like change management guru's and one of the partners has just launched his book - the wonderfully named 'A Duty of Care'

The book sounds good and particularly insightful into the failings of management and training in most businesses and how it is our duty as managers to look after and put the personal development of our staff higher up the priority ladder.

David says: "The premise is that we can all be better leaders, but few businesses offer us any training at all for the job. There’s lots of content with a heavy academic background. The latest thinking and detailed psychological studies…"

I know I have always felt strongly about the development and training of my teams but inevitably it does seem to be the thing that slips down your to do list in busy times - so I guess I am one of the guilty majority. anyway I'll be buying a copy and if its anything like as well written as his blog it should be a good read.

BBC Weather in Beta Test

Like any good Brit I have an unhealthy obsession with the weather. I use the BBC 5 day forecast but have a feed on my iGoogle page so haven't visited the site itself for a while, but I've just noticed a new development on the site.

The BBC are Beta testing a new design for their online weather centre and testing it in a quite public manner (the big pink button top right hand corner):

It is interesting to see the text book way the BBC roll out new developments. The new service appears to be based on a very similar platform and technology to that of the service that has been available on digital TV like Sky+ for some time now.

It's definitely got some new features and looks impressive.

This feedback page also impressed me - when the BBC get it right they do it well and this is something more companies should look to learn from in terms of open beta testing with real users and a developed and considered feedback loop.

Do The Green Thing

I went to a talk last night by Andy Hobsbawm in London to talk about his new venture 'Do The Green Thing' - if you haven't already heard about it you should go and take a look at the site, and the work (which is both thought provoking and charming). It's basically an idea that we can all do a little bit to help stop climate change. the site takes advantage of lots of community features and is all run on a not for profit basis - it reminded me of the same sentiment of the books 'Change the world for a fiver' and 'Change the world from 9 till 5' by the guys at we are what we do.

Meet Green Thing from Green Thing on Vimeo.

This is just awesome:

I also found a talk on ted that looks like an abbreviated version of the same talk you can watch it here:

The talk was fantastic, much kudos to Andy for a really inspiring talk, that hit a nerve. He is one of those rare people who stopped talking about 'doing something' about a cause that he believed in, and got off his backside, and did something.

In a way it kind of makes you feel a bit bad about yourself. Having worked on some offending brands in my time I really empathized with his points about time the advertising industry gave something back.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Forrester: Best And Worst Of Brand Building Web Sites - Delicious Irony

Forrester has just released a new survey or 20 top sites evaluating their user experience, so like all good marketeers they have sent a well target email out to lots of user and consumer experience professionals worldwide telling them about the report and inviting them to Participate in the annual customer experience professional survey - there is only one problem

And as problems go its a bit of a big one - considering the email - this is the wonderful consumer experience you get when you click on the link

I love irony when it strikes as long as it's not on my campaigns.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Communication and Passion

Two things you need to be successful in this industry and probably quite advisable in running a restaurant. I had a lovely meal the other day at a restaurant in Covent Garden with 15 or 20 colleagues, peers and associates from other agencies.

It was spoiled though as there were two problems that running an agency, I have seen far too often:

1. Communication:

The salad to accompany the main course came 15 minutes after we had all finished the main course. Now there were 20 of us, and it was a busy night, but when we commented about the fact we had actually finished our main meal so the salad wasn't much use to us - the waiter told us it was Italian style menu, and it was a separate course. If this was the case then simply tell people before the meal (if it wasn't 10/10 for quick thinking). This is a classic case of managing expectation and keeping communication open. What could have been seen a a sophisticated 'nuance' was seen as a complete shambles by 20 otherwise very satisfied and well satiated guests.

2. Know your product:

When asked what the desert he had just placed in front of us was? the waiter looked at it and then back at us and said 'I actually don't know' (it looked like a nice Pot au Chocolat / Chocolate Mouse). I appreciated his honesty, and the fact he went straight off to find out, and came back to tell us it was a 'Melting Chocolate pot' but he should have known that fact before he went out to serve. If you don't know what you are serving to people (off a set menu), it doesn't seem like you give a shit about what it is you are serving, or your job for that matter.

The food was excellent and I'm pretty sure the owner and the chef were passionate about their product, the interior was great a nice mix between chic but relaxed atmosphere , the glassware and cutlery were quite cool etc etc and they had a good reputation - but the fact the waiter didn't know let down the experience.

I know my agency has not perfected our process yet but I want to make sure our clients don't walk out having had some excellent work served to them and only remember - it was nice but it was let down by poor communication, and the staff didn't know what they were doing or seem to care.

Ad Placement

I love ad's of any type or medium that are relevant to the environment they are placed in. I'm not sure if this is a spoof ad, a total accident or it was intended but it made me laugh about the importance of placement - courtesy of fail blog.

All Our Best Work

Nigel at the IPA emailed me to let me know that a project I had been involved with at it's inception (although I never did anything in its development - that credit goes to Marc Guisti at GT, Dare, the guys at LMFM, Kinship, and a host of other agencies on the IPA Digital Committee) has finally gone live and will be launched tomorrow.

It's called All our Best work and was set up by the IPA as complimentary/alternative tool sites like the IAB Showcase. It has been created to allow any agency to showcase any of their work in one place. Rather than just online advertising or just TV ads etc. So that agencies who's work extends above just advertising can show their work, such as: interface design, usability, technology itself etc. alongside more traditional routes including all the usual suspects.

It is one of those problems that despite the great work out there, its often hard to find, and certain sites that do exist only ever show one type of work from Banner Blog to Visit4, but no one seemed to do it all, so the IPA set this up.

The site has some nice touches, in terms of personal credit for the individuals who work on each piece, as well as agency credentials, and has some peer rating features - hopefully it will get used
- it's open to everyone so get uploading your best work, we're uploading all of ours.

Simulataneous Broadcast

Last week the BBC announced that both BBC1 and BBC2 would join the other BBC channels and from 27th Nov be broadcast simultaneously online - nothing particularly innovative here but hopefully it will mean all the other main UK based broadcasters will follow suit quickly.

On demand is one thing but live is much better and one wonders why it took so long?

Happy viewing

Friday, 21 November 2008

It's Search Jim but not as we know it

I just saw this on the Google Blog - Search Wiki - they are releasing a new piece of functionality if you are logged in to your Google account and use the search engine you can personalise the search results you see. so if your favorite Football site only ever appears at 4th position you can move it to position 1 and add a comment about it.

I wonder what effect this will have over time and how it will in turn affect PPC revenue and adwords relevance etc.

Check out the video to see how it works:

NBC What's Your iCue?

NBC has created a video trivial pursuit like quiz for a facebook application.

The "What's Your ICue?" application pits Facebook members either one on one or in teams, answering trivia questions on current events, history, arts and technology.

Looks like fun.

Synchronized Swimming - Office Style

I saw this rather random video on the Adrants site and it made me wonder if this was part of a marketing campaign? I can't read Russian so don't know what is written on the board at the beginning of the video?

Perhaps someone like Veet or Pretty Polly could have done something like it as a traffic driver.

Anyway, it has a certain amateur charm to it, and the Russian ladies team did win Gold at the Olympics, so perhaps 1000's of Russian office workers do dream of becoming a synchronized swimming star? The one at the back probably won't make it.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Nowhere to hide

Very topical this but the recent data protection breach for the BNP has been in the news, and I am always amazed how quickly people out there manage to either put a spoof together of an ad, or respond to something that happens.

Some clever person has taken the data and built a google maps mash up using the postcode data to show the spatial distribution of BNP members across the UK - called BNP Near me

Virtual Shops

Things seem to have come full circle in terms of how online manifestations of offline environments are developed. I remember the days of CD-ROM presentations vividly when every client would want us to create a virtual 3d environment of their store or bar etc.

Thankfully, this dropped out of fashion and 2d interfaces designed with making the task easy to complete for the user took over, the era of usability, task orientated thinking gave us the ability to make viable businesses and tools for customers.

However, to some extent these interfaces lacked the ability to elicit an emotional or impulse purchase, or failed to cater for the browser in all of us in a shopping environment. For a long time I have wondered how the First Moment of Truth concept is related to a virtual shopping environment and it looks like a marriage of the two approaches is starting to emerge in the way online shopping is allowing users to view and choose products.

Unsurprisingly it is the bookstore online that is driving this forward and here are two examples. A totally new test on Amazon earlier this year called Window Shop and Zoomiii a US based online retailer brand that uses Amazon's open source app and their sorting and P&P logistics etc. - both create browsing environments using the book covers to allow you to choose a book by its cover.

1. Amazon Window Shop

2. Zoomii:

Product Hacks

Every so often you see people take existing products and technologies, and use them to do something they definitely weren't intended for. Hacking them or pairing them with other products, sometimes the outputs are funny and sometimes they are even better than the original item.

I think its great as it celebrates consumers in control of their products and their creativity, but its also got a bit of geek chic about it.

Here are a few of my favorites. The first is from talk showing Johnny Lee create a digital white board out of a Wii controller.

Secondly, another Wii one - a perverse experiment to turn a robotic vacuum cleaner back in to a conventional cleaner using blue tooth and Wii remotes.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

More brands advertsing on Facebook

James just sent me a screen grab from his face book account with new tie ups from big brands this time Coca cola and Orange offering free stuff and using the social network site as an acquisition tool.

Pepsi MAX QR codes

I don't drink Pepsi but I just saw a can with a QR code on it and discovered the Pepsi Max Kicks Campaign.

Looks like this is one of the first big brands in the UK to have done something using QR codes - tech brands and b-2-b have dipped their toes in it but it was interesting to see a mass brand like Pepsi taking this seriously.

I love the idea of QR codes but the problem being the phones don't come loaded with the software readers which to me has been the biggest barrier to entry - wake up handset mnf's and sort this out. I am interested to see how well it works for pepsi because everyone else will be watching making the old adage ring true - everyone want's to be the first person to do something for the second time ;-)

Good on Pepsi for pushing everyone else forward in the UK.

Microsoft gets touchy feely

This looks an awesome development from Microsoft for the mobile phone interface. Microsoft's interface could soon allow you to use the area around a phone to control it.

It gets more Minority report everyday.
The video is from New Scientist.

Virtual Re-Cylcing From Nokia E-Series

This is another in a long list of crazy machines and stunts created for online marketing campaigns in order to peak engagement and entertain the audience.

This time its called 'The Nokia Unloader' and those kind people at Nokia have created a virtual re-cycling machine to unclutter your desktop, in-box or hard drive from all the unwanted memos and documents you get sent.

There are 3 ways to re-cycle your documents below are two - Tar and feather and extreme shredding, the last is imolation.

Only problem I had on a mac was actually uploading any of my documents so I had to use the defaults but hey it was fun.

Monday, 17 November 2008

P&O Memorabilia

As I work on P&O these made me smile.

Lego - seems to have come along way since my youth

A nice stunt to get attention in an unofficial capacity I like this film for French fashion designer JCDC in NY Fashion week using lego models. About 20,000 seem to have watched it online so far and as I had never heard of JCDC before and I now have if the intention was to get their name out there - they have succeeded to some extent. If on the other hand it was just for fun to make something totally cool and innovative they have done a fantastic job - well done.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Puppy Powered Poster

I saw this nice interactive poster site on Adrants site yesterday.

It is a nice example of an interactive poster site for Pedigree. The passer by can interact by pushing one of 4 buttons on the touch screen and the video of the puppy responds in different ways - including licking the screen.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

New Japanese DIGIT(al) Toy

I love this rather 'low:fi', pixel art, this Christmas' must have toy from Bandai in Japan called 'Tuttuki Bako' (Rather unfortunately this translated to 'The Finger Bang Game'). It's a similar approach to that of the Wii but this time really retro and incredibly simple. The approach is known as AR 'actual reality' or 'augmented reality' technology.

Basically, it's all about sticking your finger in and waggling it about - so some people will be better finger bangers than others.

Check out the video

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Great Amnesty International Video

Change seems to be the buzz word of the moment. Here is a very funny little video done by AI that made me smile.

Loving Putin and the ballons

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Customer Research doesn't have to be hard or expensive

Last night Mark L gave a great talk about turning customers in to advocates with some genuinely thought provoking ideas.

I stumbled over this picture on the crackunit blog which I thought was genius. So simple, quick and I guess effective. By using existing infra stucture its also cost effective if not free.

The Card Reader Display just says 'Was our Store Free of Clutter' - Yes/No

Judging by Iain's post, the gesture alone made him feel special and obliged to talk about it - little things all add up. Kudos to the Co-op for thinking of this.

A Window in Time

It seems ironic that the last few weeks have been filled with talk of cloud computing, and protagonists like Google and Yahoo bidding to hold our data in a centralised computing model.

But this week - It's Windows 25 birthday.

...Happy Brthday Windows, will you ever make 30? I'd say yes but not as we know it.

Whatever you think about Billy Boy and the crew from Seattle, you have to hand it to them that they have changed the world. Anyway here are a couple of photos of the original product Windows 1.0

Thankfully things have moved on a bit.

Monday, 10 November 2008

You Should Know how To...

On Seth Godin's blog a few weeks back I read a post where he challenged everyone who considers themselves a 'highly skilled knowledge worker' to know how to do the following list:
  • Can you capture something you see on your screen and paste it into Word or PowerPoint?
  • Do you have a blog?
  • Can you open a link you get in an email message?
  • Do you read more than five blogs a day?
  • Do you have a signature in your outbound email?
  • Do you have an RSS reader?
  • Can you generate a PDF document from a Word file you're working on?
  • Do you know how to build and share a simple spreadsheet using Google Docs?
  • Do have a shortcut for sending mail to the six co-workers you usually write to?
  • Are you able to find what you're looking for on Google most of the time?
  • Do you know how to download a file from the internet?
  • Do you back up your work?
  • Do you keep track of contacts using a digital tool?
  • Do you use anti-virus software?
  • Do you fall for internet hoaxes and forward stuff to friends and then regret it?
  • Have you ever bought something from a piece of spam?
Now I am writing this blog, I can answer yes to all most of the desirable questions and thankfully have never done the last two but I thought I would put a few links to some useful sites in either directly related to the list above or other online utilities that I have found useful:

Avoid Hoaxes:

Sending Long Links in Short format:

Keeping up to date with contacts

Uploading large files quickly without an ftp:

Remote accessing Your PC online:

RSS Feeds:

Friday, 7 November 2008

Cowboy Branding

A couple of weeks ago a colleague Franco gave the rest of our group a nice little talk about Branding and Design, along with the usual jokes about Helvetica Neue or Gill Sans he played a really lovely little video from an old cowboy film - in order to explain what branding was. So here it is.

Customer Service 2.0

There has been a lot written about the changing role of the consumer and the fact that consumers can now 'control' their connections, creativity, content.

This has meant that there is effectively nowhere to hide anymore for individuals, brands and businesses where there is any GAP between what you say and how you Act.

Specifically the emergence of consumers who are very happy to publish previously private correspondence between them and a company or utility that has not lived up to their expectations or handled their complaint or inquiry to the level of satisfaction they desired - the web it littered with correspondence posted up on various blogs and to be frank many of these companies deserve the bad publicity. They have rested for too long on their laurels not caring about their customers.

However, its not all bad news if you are forward thinking company who embraces change and wants to listen and help your customers, and cares what they think about you, and even see's the opportunity to turn a disgruntled customer in to an advocate, or a customer who needs help - take a look at Getsatisfaction, there is a much more in depth review on e-consultancy's blog but you get the idea.

It's a new site that helps customer service and customers get together and sort out their problems. If a company has signed up when a customer posts a complaint then a customer service representative can respond directly to them. Quite why its so hard to do that in the first place who knows but well done to the team for creating this service.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

'Now' This is a Dashboard

Interesting idea to promote mobile broadband from the phone network Sprint in the US. It is by Goodby Silverstein, and it's great, it really captures the essence of the service and it's benefit. Also hits the spot in our obsession for rolling news and facts, facts, facts - you'll never miss a thing.

Its called the Now Network and it is a good waste of 5 minutes. Nicer than an O2 or T-mobile campaign that is for sure.

Mainly Annoying and pointless words

Just a random one. I was staying at a fabulous country hotel this weekend down in the valley's, and I spotted this entry on their fantastic menu that after 3 glasses of good wine made me chuckle but also made me think why?

'Selection of Mainly Welsh Cheeses'

Why try this hard to be Welsh? either it is Welsh cheese on the menu or it isn't. When your reputation is based on authenticity and trust just live up to it don't dilute it by a halfway house. This is a classic case of marketing wank spoiling the effect. When can an 'absolute' statement be the only thing you want to hear. Pretty safe condoms? Superglue that's kind of strong, Gortex it's waterproof to some extent.... The temptation to try to say something but then cover your back is too great for marketeers, they would get a lot more respect by being honest and acting authentically.

It was a bit like that pizza advert that talks about 'Italian Ristorante' Pizza's and then has the 'Made in Germany' super at the end, here WTF?

The Most Exciting Excel Spreadsheet Ever

Now I'm not really an AC/DC fan but 'Back in Black' was a classic and I quite like the Hayseed Dixie cover of 'Shook me all night long' for delicious irony.

Anyway, Angus and the gang have embraced digital technology with a truly innovative way to reach office based fans online at work.

The result means they can legitimately lay claim to the title 'The Scourge of the office IT policy or corporate firewall dodgers' - yes would you believe it they have launched the first ever music video in an excel worksheet - the entire video is animated using ASCII text. This means it can be sent via email, and as long as they have Macros Enabled you can watch it undetected by the boss.

It's Like 24 meets Crash - Volvo Ocean Race Site

Yesterday I met James and Monique from a production house called Annex, and they showed us the promo reel and case study for an interesting site they have produced the content for promoting Volvo's association with the Volvo Ocean Race.

In essence it's an interactive film reminiscent of the adventure books you may be familiar with, if like me you liked Steve Jackson fighting fantasy books when you were 10, but it follows 4 characters in a split screen interactive choice adventure.

Although the concept of an interactive film isn't new the thing that impressed me most was production values, the budget spent (over £600k), the quality of the director, the post production and the way the agencies including Annex, LBi and Euro RSCG 4D had all worked together to create the site and content.

This wasn't the usual script then production of a film and then pass it on to the web company it was all developed in an interactive and collaborative manner - and whilst the concept of 24 meets Crash is a nice idea the overall effect and experience is better for the collaboration itself.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

US Election Night & Not a Baby in sight

Without doubt this election has seen politicians drop their traditional penchant for infants as a campaign vote winner in favor of digital and interactive media campaigning tools, and its not just them the public have joined in too.

Some of it is the same cynical political machine just using new techniques to do the same old stuff, but some of the most interesting stuff is relatively spontaneous and led by the public themselves.

Here are a few interesting things other people have spotted online:

1. The Twitter Vote Report:
Real people reporting in real time. Very interesting rolling news cycle activity by real voters in real time.

It's clearly popular because its gone down about 15 times in the last hour.

2. We Just Live Here
Asks how the US vote would be effected if resident non-voting aliens in the US had their vote counted

3. Coldcut – cutup Election Vivisection video
Nice video here, quite powerful and very skewed to one side but hey got to love the techniques and passion involved to create it.

Dancefloor hooligans Coldcut join forces with America's leading audio-visual vigilante TV Sheriff to bring you an election vivisection Revolution '08.

4. CNNBC Combats Voter Apathy with Personalised Email-Video Genius
It's not a new concept but this is one of the best personalised video emails I have seen and it's very well executed (sent to my friend Rick Kiesewetter).

Dear Rick,

Your friend Patrick sent you the following video from CNNBC: "Obama's Loss Traced To Rick Kiesewetter"

Sometimes in previous examples of this technique the perosnalisation seems contrived and a bit obvious but this is very well done - and it's for a great cause.

5. Wassup - new edition

Its been eight long years since the boys said wassup to each other. Even with the effects of a down economy and imminent change in the White House, the boys are still able to come together and stay true to what really matters.

It's definitely the most sophisticated election campaign to date.