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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Fire Escape Photo

Why is it that the usual form for advertising executive photo is to look rather moodily into the camera?

Is it cos we're trying to be cool when we're not?

Is it cos we're actually not enjoying it?

Is it cos we want people to think we're serious when we're actually jokers.

I wanted to put my friend Alex's photo up, but unfortunately he came out over-exposed...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Martin Smith

I had the good fortune to meet Martin Smith last week. He's a jolly nice chap, an ex-chief at BBH and after that Grey.

We talked about some interesting things, for example about how it seems that 20 years ago, advertising agencies were the thought leaders - palaces of innovation and creativity and way ahead of clients. But today the opposite is almost true. We're operating in structures built in the 1960's that have hardly altered at all. Martin suggested that the growth of big agency networks had put lawyers and accounts in charge of creative organisations - to the detriment of innovative and no-risk thinking.
I got the sense from him that the networked / open-source business he's creating in The Law Firm (with Andy Law) will be far more fluid and less compartmentalised than traditional creative agencies. The whole model is based on passing work across a nodal network and then taking in ideas in the same way. It means you can harness lots of small specialists under one umbrella - a kind of Creative Co-operative. Each node benefits from any business they put put to the other nodes. And each node gains by being part of wide-ranging network. It's a great idea.

We also talked a lot about the future uses of IPTV. The idea that IPTV channels will combine the best of programming, advertising, funded content and even merchandising - and bring them to niche audiences as specialist interest channels. He mentioned an ethical channel that were doing exactly that - and refusing advertising space to any non-ethical brands!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Integrated Thinking Prompt?

This is my tool, ('model' sounds too serious for something so simple), for developing totally integrated campaign ideas for brands. The point is that so often still, creative teams develop ideas that live in print or on TV but they seem to stop there.

So, the point of this is to encourage thinking in other dimensions. So a great creative idea might well be expressed in the written word and as image. But how about we also take it in the following directions;

Action: Let's get people doing something that expresses the idea. It could be as simple as a field force handing out samples, or as engaged as a flashmob dancing to the ipod beat. This one could also be called Person. Think Celebrity operating as brand platform. What Kate Moss does says a a lot about your brand

Music/Sound: This isn't new, but music and radio/podcasting is underused in taking a creative idea forward. From the Lynx single to a branded MP£ story.

Object/Place: Brands creating experience. What a great way to make an idea real. From 4x4 driving days to corporate sculpture. It's a sure way to get noticed, be involving and become a hot-topic.

Interaction: Yeah yeah. We're all doing it right? But the best thing about the co-creative world is that we can leave our idea unfinished and invite others to complete, alter and enhance it. So let's leave them some room. Wasn't that what great communications was always all about?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating though, so watch this space.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Digital Assault Course

Today, all the Planners are sitting down for the Digital Assault Course. A galloping tour through
the latest web fads with some demonstrations of some of our better creative efforts to the team.

I hope we all find it useful and interesting.

The key will be to think about how it could impact our clients' business.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Working in 2010?

Talk of how advertising and marketing agencies need to shape themselves for the future seems to be a constant of agency-life. I sometimes wonder if it was always like that, people looking for something new, something emergent, something different?

What really surprises me, and I guess gets people talking, is how Direct Marketing and Advertising agencies seem to reject the opportunity to engage the public in new and more creative ways. It's not just putting the idea online as well as in print. It's thinking differently about how an idea can be shaped, transmitted, reversioned and magnified. We seem to intellectually accept that the 'consumer' is no longer 'consuming' in the way they used to, that control and co-creativity have been enabled by the web and that communities are connecting online. But still people fall back on print and TV.

There's no doubt that the structures of many of the businesses we work in can be resistant to change. But they seem resistant to the way the market is moving. And this has a commercial impact, the Ad agencies enjoy margins of less than 10%, whilst so-called Below the Line agencies can achieve 15-20%. You'd think that money would talk? That people might see that together something of far greater value could be created. Certainly it's true that web design firms are hiring old-world marketing professionals to beef up their offering, but why aren't the big firms really grasping the change by the throat?

Leo de Bono talks about how the mind is like water running over a rock. Slowly the water wears a groove into the rock and over time, the river can go no other way. This makes a lot of sense to me. People get stuck in ruts, often they don't know they're in one. But what is it that makes people so resistant to change? Perhaps its the comfort of knowing what you're doing. But you would hope agencies aren't so conservative. Perhaps it's the system - the awards, the management structures, the bonus schemes, the senior managment who grew up in an age before Instant Messenger, before Email even. Is the system inimical to the creation of new ways of working and new kinds of work?

I'm divided on what to DO about it though. Is it better tobe a fifth column working from within, or to stand outside the edifice and try to pull it down? If all this talk sounds a bit revolutionary, then you can blame the book I am reading, a novel on the French Revolution. What struck me in the book was how the Old Regime in France was unable to accept that the system in which people had operated all their lives was false, narrow and "wicked".

There is hope though. People are talking about the desire to create change. Surely that's the first step. My view is that a few of us together, even working on small projects can cumulatively create a bigger sea-change in the way agencies operate. Also, time is on our side; eventually the old order will retire and the new paradigm will be established.

There are a few businesses who appear to be trying to do things differently. To talk about new ways of engaging the public, new ways of interacting with customers. They aren't media biased. But they do hire media and craft specialists in as required. They aren't afraid to create intellectual properties that they can sell to their clients. They're forward thinking, brave and interesting. They are often modern versions of production companies (the people who already realised that you can run a successful freelance model).

It makes me think of Russell Davies' view of a marketing world peopled by Ronin-like planners (those Samurai hired hands) "It won't be long before groups of creative, strategic and executional Ronin become effective competitors to established agencies".

Anyway, have a look at these guys;

The Law Firm - Andy Law's new outfit, talking nodal networks and open source creativity
Anomaly - New York based agency moving beyond the stereotypes
4 Creative - Channel 4's in-house creative team
The Barbarian Group - US digital production outfit
Open Intelligence Agency - Russell Davies' mates operating virtually together

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Limits of Co-Creation

I'm all for the whole reversioning content and taking ownership vibe.

But then I saw this here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

V-Dubs Rock!

Another great idea from Crispin Porter Bogusky. The premise: buy a Volkswagen and we'll give you a guitar (which, just by the way) you can plug into the cars' stereos.

I love the sheer off-the-wallness of the idea. Its entertaining to watch. And it's not just for guitar freaks, it gives the brand some interesting associations of rock, rebellion, jamming and humour.

Oh and check out the ads on Youtube.

Top banana.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gossip in the town square

It was only a matter of time before we saw the emergence of marketing companies trying to facilitate brands' conversations with people online.

This US business tells a good story, and it feels that new technology has allowed them to widen their offer. But its still all about listening to the latest farming tips in the market square, acting upon it and later gaining customer feedback on your efforts.

Same old same old huh?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gigantic Optimistic Bravery

I attended a great conference today. The APG's Battle of Big Thinking. Good format in that every speaker was given only 15 minutes, which meant the good ones threw out lots of great ideas and the boring ones didn't go on too long.

I took a lot away about the brand-marketing-communications-creative-media-advertising'sdead industrial complex. But mainly I took away some inspiration and some refreshing perspectives. I guess I might revisit some of them in the coming weeks, but for what it's worth, here are a few I thought would be of interest;

1) The marketing industry can be a bit of a dinosaur. And the point is that the old way of engaging with customers at a mass level is under serious threat. So what should you do? There's no put in trying to evolve the best dinosaur you can if a new ice age is just around the corner. Far better to be little agile warm-blooded mammal.

I guess mammal-like things at the moment for me are harnessing the power of the web in a bid for brands to facilitate conversations, and recognising that by giving up control, brands can actually gain influence. (I'm pretty sure there's a judo reference in there somewhere).

2) I loved the idea of future planners as Ronin, hired hands adapting themselves to whatever mission they're undertaking. The idea that planners, like great online businesses, should always put their work out there in a Beta version was cool. The point is you've got to have a go. If you wait for the grand unified theory of marketing, youy'll never get anything done. This I think ties in nicely to the web aesthetic of hand-made, that I'm really interested in at the moment.

3) Actually it's not about 'big ideas', which are impossible to ground in reality, too precious to be messed about with and generally a block to doing good stuff. No, its actually about the little ideas, the little things we can do to make a difference. As Trevor Beattie put it, 'Every Little Helps but Every Big Hinders'.

PS. Russell Davies was really inspiring, Jim Carrol (BBH) was very plannerly and Ivan Pollard was very slick.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Stairs, they are your friends.

I've been pondering the interplay between the medium and the message for a while now.

It is clear that using media or connection opportunities can help shape the message and bring it to life. Showing that you've thought about the interaction between the message and where you see it, broadens the creative idea. It takes it into another dimension.

Think of the British Heart Foundation, exhorting you to take the steps (rather than riding the escalator) in tube stations, for the sake of your heart.

Or think about VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) who placed ads about life changing meaningful experiences on the London tube, where the depth of commuter despond is thoroughly plumbed.

I suppose the trick to coming up with opportunities like these it to start at the strategic end. What are we trying to communicate? Who are we reaching? Is there any way of bringing the thought to life in a physical way for the consumer?

One idea I'm keen to try out is the 'lost' car key.

Here's the deal; for a car client looking to get more test drives, why not drop a series of real looking car keys and fobs in pubs, or restaurants, the backs of cabs or even the supermarket. In short, wherever your target market goes. You spot car keys on the floor, of course you're going to pick them up. And that's when I've got you - with a carefully crafted and charming message on the back that exhorts you to take a test drive or win a car etc. Its interruptive I know, but I'm sure the copy can offset that. Plus its a new way to reach a market that might not view more traditional media. An even better idea would be to embed an RFID tag in the key fob offering you for example free public transport to the nearest dealership. C'mon... any takers?

I was motivated to write a little about this, having seen Cubemate's post here. Cubemate, aka Dan Ng, is one of the brightest stars in the Planning firmament and I urge you to subscribe to his blog.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Immerse yourself

We wanted to share the excitement and transfer some of the closeness that you get to powerful beasts of the sea at Sea World Florida. Both are concepts only, using outdoor to raise awareness.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why Paris Hilton is Madonna 2.0

Read a great article today that argued that Paris Hilton isn't so much a modern celebrity as a marketing platform like youtube.

The point is that although every song or book she produces totally dies, her omnipresence in popular culture provides her with an inestimable market value. She constantly links to other brands (desingers, restaurants, night clubs, other celebrities) and they constantly link to her.

Guess its true of Posh and Becks too in a way. Though it saddens me to see their level of linkage dropping off, as their popularity wanes.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tell me that you love me, that its not a one-night stand.

Its less glamorous than selling cars.
And it's hard to do customer service really well.
But After Sales is critical to the customer's experience of the product and therefore the brand.
This campaign encourages drivers of older Volkswagen cars to re-consider getting their servicing and maintenance done at the local Volkswagen dealership.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell talks Chairs

Listen here to his lovely talk about the risks in taking what people say at face value. Another nail in the coffin of bad consumer research...
1) Preferences are unstable - think the Coke sip.
2) Beware the perils of introspection: making people explain what they want actually changes their preferences, and often kills innovation.
3) When people explain their actions, they often just make it up, because accessing the unconscious is very difficult.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More on Mass Creation

There's just something so compelling and fascinating about the idea of Mass Creation: The creation of content by the masses. Perhaps its because at heart its all about shifting the balance of power. From heavily controlled, high barriers to entry for the production and communication of the written word, pictures, audio and video to the absolute opposite. As long as you've got a computer.

But there's an interesting paradox at the heart of the freeing up of content creation, namely the desire of big media companies to get in on the act and make money out of it. Think of News Corp buying MySpace or Walmart's very own heavily-controlled 'Hub'.

For brands wanting in on the act, its critical to refrain from polluting public spaces. You wouldn't expect people to want to read papers totally subsumed by advertising - you've got to leave room for entertaining content. But its too easy to assume that brand associations with mass created content have to be negative.

If brands help create and sustain meaning and identity, if they FIT with the audiences' aspirations and fantasies, then they're playing a significant role in peoples' lives. And it won't feel like they're treading on toes.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Digital is a state of mind.

Digital is a state of mind. It is not a channel.

This is a perspective that radically alters the balance of power between producer and consumer.

Now the consumers are producers. We are in the era of Mass-Creation. In one day, YouTube uploads a Blockbuster outlet’s worth of video content.

Digital technology hasn’t so much created a fragmented multi-channel world as a one-channel world, yours. Think Google and Yahoo’s customised home pages gathering all your favourite feeds into one place.

Now the consumer has become a media owner too.

The barriers to broadcast (or more often narrowcast) have disappeared as teenage girls post their thoughts immediately into blogs whilst IMing their friends.

It used to be all about the big creative idea. And it still is. The difference is that now, the big idea can be reversioned and reproduced in myriad different ways. Instantly.

The age of creative ideas and campaigns owned by brands, their advertising and media agencies is ending. Today Chevrolet gets the public to co-create their campaigns. Sometimes with embarrassing results. Think suicide bomber in a VW polo.

Control has already been relinquished. Anti-McDonald’s websites were just the start.
Control was a myth anyway, convenient for marketing professionals but totally bogus. A brand exists in the minds of the public, it is ultimately devolved.

Yesterday, brand managers hoped that the stimulus they created would help shape perceptions positively, would encourage the right word of mouth. And ultimately sell their products and services. Today their hopes are the same, but the challenge is more complex. And more interesting.

All forms of traditional marketing agencies at heart are afraid and unhappy with the birth of a world where their favourite medium isn’t king by divine right anymore. But this is simply a fear of change.

What frightens them is not knowing how to reach large numbers of people with a well-crafted story anymore, when channels are fragmenting and stories get edited, twisted and reframed.

Perhaps they need to take a lesson from the martial arts? Don’t oppose your opponent’s energy, it’s wasteful. Use it instead to achieve your goal.

The best brand strategies are being designed to embrace the world of Mass-Creation and to harness the power of the one-channel media owner. Tomorrow’s successful brands already revel in the power of peer-2-peer review, seeing the customer as a channel on a scale that dwarfs the audiences of 1960’s TV stations.

When you look at it that way, you realise there are two ways of seeing the change. It’s either the death of the era of mass-marketing, as we descend into a dark age, seething with rubbish content, lies, confusion and chaotic extremism furthering personal prejudice. Or it’s the dawn of a golden-age, as significant as the Renaissance, a great flowering of creativity and the birth of new communities of interest that will change the World for ever.

So what about brands and their creative ideas in this brave new world?

1. Devolve ownership, become a brand Steward not a brand Director
2. Encourage co-creation with the customer in everything you do
3. Harvest the best of your advocates’ creative efforts and distribute it
4. See your consumers as a channel in their own right, remunerate them accordingly
5. Turn your brand from an artificial abstracted construct into a lifestyle channel for your chosen community…
6. … and facilitate the best Wiki in your category
7. Develop a deep and penetrating understanding of your communities of interest, do it by participation, not by remote observation
8. Segment your offer in manifold ways to make the most of the long-tail
9. Break down the walls of the firm and create a porous wall to encourage osmosis with your community
10. Don’t limit access to your business, products or people; make everything available everywhere all the time on every platform
11. Turn your brand story from a monograph into a participatory soap opera
12. Align formal partnerships according to the web of interests that your communities have created
13. Put as much creative effort into your analytics as you do into artwork
14. Make sure the content you create is enlightening and engaging, refresh it regularly

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"I need to believe"

I just love this promo by Chemical Brothers. Seems to capture the terror of the industrial age brilliantly. Perhaps Neil Ludd was right.

Leo's Communications Principles #1

Principle #1: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

I'm all for creative usage of media to communicate marketing messages, or a company's ethos or just some positive associations. But I'm not a believer in Creativity that simply used to show quite how clever you are. Or Creativity that exists simply because it was possible to do it. Creativity practised properly in a commercial context has a business end in mind. If not its art. And Art is great, but why ruin it with a nasty aftertaste of Capitalism.

This site, for London ad agency Mother is a great example of up-its-own-arse creativity. Have a look and see how long it takes you to find their work before you give up. Whoever put this together got so close to the design that they forgot about the rest of the world. I suggest they need to look up 'Usability'.

Friday, April 28, 2006


This is where it is at: great example of a brand (MacDonald's) being attacked using informative and engaging content. Just like No Logo its my job to learn and adapt. Think Virus/Anti-Virus.

How to get ads watched.

One of the many interesting things about delivering marketing messages via the web is that viral TV ads really make you pay attention. Plus they engage you in an action, either deleting or forwarding. It's such a brilliant way to get people involved. Try this one, from an American Gym company.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Reasons Why

Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote a review in the New Yorker of a book called 'Why'. All about the kinds of reasons people give for their actions. There's an interesting critique here of focus groups, where people often rely on 'convention' reasons to justify their actions and attitudes. In reality the reasons for our behaviour are far more complex. See Leo Burnett Planner's comment here.

In summary though, reason giving is dependent on our context and the reltationships and roles we are playing at the time we give the reason, not on some kind of totally rational argument - "Effective reason-giving, then, involves matching the kind of reason we give to the particular role that we happen to be playing at the time a reason is necessary".

Monday, March 27, 2006

Great Short Stories, the easy way.

Create the mood, set the scene, then add a crazed twist. It's that simple. By introducing a surprising element, you add tension, mystery and interest. Then the reader/viewer is hooked.
See this winner of a short film category called Duncan Removed. Would love to see the full version, not just the trailer.

Great Ikea ad

Ikea have found a lovely way to do low price product advertising without being horrible and boring about it.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Paris with Prakash

Been staying with Prakash in his cool flat in Paris. I'll upload some photos to show you just how stylish Parisians can be.

Not quite so stylish but certainly memorable is our friend's Arif's Goth look. Somewhat derivative of Marilyn Manson and shows Goth's not dead.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Does anyone else think it is incredible that you can see Mars in full detail here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

21st Century Revolution

The rise of the Internet and its impact on business, politics and the media is widely documented. But it is my contention that we have witnessed nothing but the opening salvos in a deeper revolution. A revolution who's implications will be far-reaching and can at present only be dimly glimpsed.

A familiar story; the Internet took control of information away from the few and gave it to the many. Banks, political parties and companies were opened up to scrutiny and greater competition. This cutting out of middlemen and lowering of barriers to entry were closely tied into the widened availability of information. It's hard to charge 15% for a loan when the web brings you fifteen different providers who'll only charge you 5%.

The change in the balance of power between the consumer and the business is clear and progresses still today. Take Zopa, an online money exchange that puts borrowers directly in contact with lenders - there's just no need for a traditional bank to get in the way.

At the same time, the Internet broke down any remaining barriers to the publication of content. This was fundemental in allowing the transfer and sharing of ideas. No more photocopied zines, now its all online.

This is going one stage further as the Internet allows anyone to publish video content, formerly the preserve of film studios and TV companies (think and google video). The point here is that the dissemination of digital cameras and the ability to broadcast video easily over the web is going to speed up the transmission of ideas and the sharing of content.

But there will be other implications too, video piracy, like MP3 downloading, is something traditional industry has failed to cope with. Those businesses that fail to capitalise on the change in the balance of power over video content will be ruined.

There are a couple of other important issues to consider here. Historically, changes in the ability to disseminate ideas have preceded major revolutions in social, political, economic and moral ideas and behaviour. Think how instrumental the printing press was in heralding the advent of the Protestant Reformation of the Catholic church (oh and brought untold death and misery in wars of religion). Fundamentally, without the printing press, there could be no mass production of bibles in the vernacular. Widely available vernacular bibles were critical to the success of the Reformation.

The same pattern can be seen in the printing of 'Libelles' in pre-Revolutionary France. Satirical, politically inspired anti-monarchial books, they helped usher in the French Revolution. Subject of a life's work by Robert Darnton, the Libelles and other forms of communication helped create a mindset that helped Frenchmen forsee a different kind of society altogether.

"A surprisingly large percentage of this illegal literature belonged to a genre that the French called libelles: defamations of prominent people. These were typically scatological biographies of famous people, including the king. They were often racy and obscene and also deeply political. Louis XV appears in this literature as a dirty old man; there is nothing impressive about him except his sexual appetite. Louis XVI has no sexual appetite at all, since he's presented as impotent, and so Marie Antoinette appears as sexually frustrated and promiscuous...

Most historians would say that the tax programs proposed by the crown at this time were sensible and progressive, and that those in the parlements who resisted them were merely defending their own privileges. Yet somehow the parlements mobilized tremendous public support at crucial moments. Why? To put it much too simply, I think the public already had a worldview, a schematized notion of contemporary history and politics, that prepared them to oppose the crown, and I think this worldview was basically derived from the forbidden literature, as well as other forms of communication. Before the end of my career I would like to write a history of the fall of the Old Regime and the outbreak of the Revolution that puts the media at the center of the story."

Clearly the French revolution and the Reformation had far wider causes than simply the publication of radical content - things just aren't that linear. Furthermore, society today is democratic (in the main) and enjoys a somewhat freer press. But we should not underestimate the impact that change in the creation, publication and ownership of content is going to bring about in our society.

So what changes might this revolution bring?

One likely impact will be the spread of radical ideas from the fringes to the mainstream. Some candidate ideas that I suggest might gain a great deal of popular support include;

#1 Eco-living: A strong belief in the importance of recycling, animal welfare and the production of cheap and local healthy foodstuffs. The widespread use of renewable energy. As the impact of man's activities on the environment become clearer, voices that cried from the wilderness in the 1970s are steadily getting louder and louder as they occupy the kitchens of Chelsea.

#2 Citizen Journalism: Media conglomerates weakened by the creation of networks of self-funded, self-directed web journalists, producing articles that stimulate wide interest. They'll get paid by the number of hits their articles generate.

#3 Political and Corporate revolution: Countries with repressive regimes, e.g. Iran, China (0perhaps even the US) are likely to come under intense pressure to allow real democracy. The internet by its very nature allows for real diversity of opinion, for the challenging of corruption and cronyism. The same pressure will be at work on the consumer's behalf against businesses that employ illegal and unfair practices. At a rather prosaic level, see Jeff Jarvis' Buzz machine attack on Dell.

#4 Moral Tolerance and Intolerance: The revolution in the publication of content means that liberal ideas such as abortion, Gay marriage and female clergy are far more likely to become acceptable. Perversely at the same time there will be a spread of intolerance, witness the effects of radical Islam disseminated via the internet. Perhaps it just means more extremes of opinion.

#5 Grass roots entertainment. Witness the creation of celebrity from nowhere as displayed on Big Brother. The same principles will be at work in the creation of popular contnet from the ground up. The Arctic Monkeys did it with their music - turning an underground album into a global hit. How long before the first grassroots soap-opera? The first real grassroots film?

There is obviously a lot more that could be said here. I'd like to revisit and suggest some other key themes that we are likely to spot as the revolution takes hold. One critical piece in understanding the revolution and its implications lies in scouring the internet for interesting, radical and challenging content that points towards ideas that are spreading. Google's Zeitgiest would seem to be somewhere to revisit frequently!

The Future of Computing?

Wonder how long it will take Dell to start making these cheaply... if you've seen Minority Report, you'll get the idea.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gordon Parks

Worked his way up from the bottom, made some films including Shaft and took some great, simple black and white photos. See more about him here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Marketing Bullsh*t

Today, a client wrote asking for some copywriting to be organised as follows:
-Traditional Easter Promo Headline
- Strategic Easter Headline
- Strategic Easter Tactical Headlines

What a load of rubbish. How does one write a Strategic, Easter, Tactical, Headline?

Simple and straightforward.

Medium drives the message

Not much today... but these two images that are great. One is a superb example of using the medium to drive the message ...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Use yer loaf...

I've been reading a thought provoking book, 'A Whole New Mind' by Daniel H Pink. Part trashy business book, part self-help guide, I found it readable and quite motivating. Having said that, the arguments he presents are not without flaws; for instance he oversimplifies global trends to support his point that the right brain (conceptual, creative, metaphorical, empathetic) is coming to the fore once again. Of course it has always been there, ticking away in the background, and to be fair he does say that.

Nonetheless, he inspired a couple of activities for me and a couple of books to read in future.

Interesting quote #1: "I see us being in the art business, Art, entertainment and mobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation" - Bob Lutz of General Motors. Of course they may not actually be IN business for much longer given the problems of the American Motor industry but I like the sentiment.

I am absolutely, definitely, about to, probably write a short story. Or a poem. Or a book. Or none of the above. BUT if and when I do, then I'm going to read these books first;
'Story: Substance Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting' by Robert McKee. Apparently he's the guru for writers in the States.
Another interesting sounding one is 'Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art' by Scott McCloud. He explains how comics, their illustrations and text come together... using the medium of a comic. How cool is that?

Metaphor as a thought process.
I'm not sure I've quite thought this all through yet, but basically metaphor is a hugely powerful means of expression. Some people use them all the time in the daily speech, you hear them in songs all the time and there's a great article by Jeremy Bullmore all about the way an insight as a metaphor can be a really powerful starting point for the creative development process. Some of my faves from last week (from my 'Metaphor Log', as recommended by Daniel Pink) are;
  • A mind as sharp as a knife
  • She was pulling her hair out
  • A list as long as your arm
  • The seeds you sowed
  • Close to my heart
I suppose that they encourage visualisation, lateral thought, inject situations with emotional meaning and even drama. In short, what a great way to communicate! There's another book I'd love to read called 'Metaphors we live by' George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.

There are a few more interesting points in the book and I'm planning to come back here at some point to capture any others.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Not been on for a bit, but haven't been uninspired. Russell Davies snet me through to a link from a US org called TED (Technology Entertainment Design). The mini highlights were pretty thought provoking. Particularly the Botswana Population Chimney - not sure I fully understand it but it seems to show that big holes the population will cause lots of strife.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

ads get brands noticed / brands get ads noticed

Read an interesting paper on the way people with PVRs consume ads. Basically it seems to show that whereas in the good old days ads built brands. Now those fast forwarding through the ad breaks will stop to see ads from brands they like. Les Binet refers to this as the Rosser Reeves effect.

It seems that ads with a great legacy of entertainment (think Stella) or those that have strong relevance to the individual get picked up. Those that have weak brands or are in low interest categories just get lost...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Paradox of Choice and Discipline

I read this article by an old ad man called Winston Fletcher in the Guardian on Saturday. He wrote about how we are all swamped with choice. You know it, its an old theme; 30,000 lines in the average supermarket, too much choice, leads to confusion, frustration and irritation.

On the other hand, we also see examples of brands telling us what to do, how to eat, where to live, what to wear, how to raise our children (think Supernanny) and even the rise of a new authoritarian style in advertising. I referred to curated consumption before. But yesterday I heard someone complaining that there were too many different people telling how to live her life and what to do and she couldn't keep up.

So here's the dilemma: Too much choice, which makes people seek Editors and Curators to tell them what to do. Too much being told what to do by the wide range of personal and public Editor-Curators... What does this imply?

1) Greater self-responsibility for taking onboard or rejecting choices, offers and ideas?
2) Total shut-down and ignoring of constant approaches and solicitations?
3) More reliance on an Uber-Lifestyle Editor brand?

Probably all of the above. But I'd be interested to see number 3.

Kimberley commented that there is an interesting question of the role government plays in choice and direction. In health, government wants to provide choice (eg over hospital referral), but at the same time it needs to play a role in directing public health (eg ban on smoking, 5 a day fruit and veg), without being labelled a nanny state.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Web Wormhole

There's a scene in Alice in Wonderland where she falls down a hole I think and discovers an unceasingly intricate alternative reality. That's how I feel after playing with this Blog, discovering Squidoos and G*d knows what else besides. If you want to create content online its SOOOOO easy, and then there's so much more you can do. If only I had the time to create content all day!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Don't Fight It, Feel It

I keep getting more and more impressed by just how much creation, mashing-up and remixing is going on at the moment. Particularly in the online space. There's this great video site where people upload their films to share, with lots of niche interest stuff and re-edited films leaving you unsure as to which was the original version or what its true meaning was...
It just seems to be growing exponentially.

There's a similar trend offline too, with PSP addicts rejigging their hardware to make it play older console games as well as doing loads of tasks that weren't originally planned. Apparently Sony don't like it. But that's ALL WRONG. The point is to encourage your communities to rejig your stuff making it more relevant and valuable to them. Don't fight it, Feel it!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Five Years 'Below The Line' and You Learnt WHAT!

Today marks my last day at WWAV Rapp Collins. Five and half years just drifted by. I lost some hair, I gained some weight. I learned some cool things, I forgot some important things about myself, went through joyous times of sheer professional happiness and experienced searing bitter resentment. Not quite as bad as this person though.

I've enjoyed learning about marketing, about brands and businesses, about profit and customers. And about Creativity. And about harnessing it for commercial reasons. I met some great people who taught me a lot. I also met some pretty silly people who taught me a lot about how people interact, and how groups of Humans work - think Chimpanzees in the jungle...

Its impossible for me to have gotten to today without having gone through the last five years. So here are five good things I'd like to remember and take-away from here:

1. Coaching is good. It's always worth going the extra mile to brief a younger / less experienced person. It encourages them to deliver super work. It inspires you with new ideas. It grows the whole.

2. Single-mindedness is next to Godliness. People often just aren't that interested in what companies want to tell them. The best you can hope for is to convey a very simple message that shows the man in the street what's in it for him. The best direct marketing is so simple and persuasive that it affects peoples' behaviour.

3. Surround yourself with bright and dynamic people who have a vision for change. It's great when there's someone you can learn from, be inspired by and react with. It sucks when there's no one to feel inspired by. Which leads me on to my next point.

4. Inspire yourself. You can't spend your whole life looking for a role model. Its time to be your own generator. Read widely, challenge yourself, never accept compromises that you know in your heart are wrong. It may only be marketing but its good to passionate nontheless.

5. Understand the mental model of the organisation you're in. What? I mean, understand that there is a way of thinking about how marketing works (or any other discipline for that matter). Then challenge the model. Is it right? Is that the latest model of how things work? Or is it out-moded dogma. Make up your own dogma. Then change it.

That's it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Viral may be cheap but it does not mean its good

I got sent the OK GO viral video today. Apparently it only cost them £13 for about 2.5 million downloads. Not bad for a huge distribution and living proof of the Long Tail economic theory. But frankly as a piece of viral marketing, rather boring.

And then there's this French one, which just seems to be an excuse to use the low cost of the medium to avoid having to keep the idea short.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I love the way you can use the Internet to monitor what is going on in the world minute by minute. By what I like even more is when you can see what other people are searching on the web for. The ten by ten site is pretty fun way of seeing whats getting people going.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Viral Schmiral

So, here I am, about to join one of the most famous ad agencies in the UK, perhaps the world.

And already I find suprisingly little attention being paid to media that lie outside the client's comfort zone. I hope I'll be able to think a little more broadly about how we reach people. For starters, I got sent this cool site by Ildut Loarer - a good source of viral campaigns.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Less Choice and More Authority

I spent a lot of today pondering over people's desire for Curators / Editors (companies, people, websites, shops). These brands help people navigate the sea of choice that is out there. The thing is you see, people want less choice, not more. It's just that the choices they want to have are between a few good things, rather than lots of mediocre things. What would you rather have, 30 varieties of chocolate cookies or simply the best fresh cookies that taste just like Mom made them?

Allied to that I read today about brands that are taking a more authoritarian line. You know, rather than simply empowering you to confuse yourself, they actually tell you what to do. Think about the Supernanny or Queer Eye for the Straight guy. So the future is, less choice and more being told what to do... great.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fill the Gaping Void

I quite like this blog by an angry chap. Very embittered and focused on the marketing world but good cartoons and sometimes thought inspiring.

Having said that on further reflection the following comes to mind; People tell me that in the bigger world that exists outside the blogsphere, hardly anyone is reading them, writing them or has heard of them. I don't deny its easier to publish material than it was when you had to programme your own website - Christ, even I've got one.

But it will be a long time yet til they really become the dominant mode of conversation. I mean what has more imapct Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine or what your friend told you over a beer? Big dose of reality check from the outside world please.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Thoughts inspired by seeing a Play

We went to see a play last night, called Pillars of the Community by Ibsen. A well produced play but the interesting thing for me was how the themes of Truth, Corruption and Redemption are as true now as they were when a Norwegian playwright wrote about them in the 19th Century. Nothing really changes about Human nature does it?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Mind Atlas

I'd blogged before. Back in the summer of '05. But I didn't write it every day, nor put in my fave links... Have a look at it if you like

Friday, February 03, 2006

The first twigs

I wanted to collect some of the things I've been interested in lately, so here are a few of my top links at present;