6 Jul 2010

Brilliant, inventive and original.  An animation from BLU in WA.

6 Jul 2010


“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” - Gustav Mahler

(Thanks to Entartete Musik)

25 May 2010



via mandalay, philsimmons, digital-marketing-diva & thelonelyastronaut

4 Mar 2010

25 Jan 2010

Google + Content rights = does not compute?

Well that’s the way it used to be. 

The announcement last week that YouTube has signed a deal with the Indian Premier League (IPL) for live coverage of their cricket games is surely an unequivocal signal that this is about to change.

The ownership of sports broadcast rights has been the central motive force for the growth of Sky over the past 20 years, and the combination of YouTube’s reach and Google’s ability to monetise through advertising, must be blowing a very cold wind down the corridors of subscription-funded sports channels.

YouTube IPL

According to Joe Leahy in the FT, this deal has been largely driven by a brief to increase Google’s market share in India, but bandwidth issues mean that live streaming on any scale is still in the future. 

However, industry commentators generally agree that this is a good deal if the price is right (Google is still looking for a headline sponsor).  What do you think?

P.S. I nearly titled this post “Google bowls a Googly”, but thought better of it ;-)

24 Nov 2009

Peperami eats agency business model!

There’s been a lot of discussion in the agency world about Peperami’s (Unilever) move into Crowd Sourcing for its next advertising campaign, an initIdea Bountyiative announced in August this year with a prize pot of $10,000.

The brief was issued and entries gathered via Idea Bounty, a site that’s well worth investigating if you’ve not yet done so.

Opinion of Peperami’s motives were varied, from adulation for an inspired and radical innovation, to sceptics muttering about headline-grabbing, award-hunting, cynical, pointlessness etc. etc.

Well today the winners have been revealed, and guess what, they are ‘seasoned’ advertising industry professionals.  Marketing Week has the story.

peperamiMore intriguingly, Peperami’s Marketing Manager, Noam Buchalter, says that a large proportion of the entries came from “experienced creative professionals”.

Peperami has been so “overwhelmed with the level of entries” that they have increased the price to $15,000.  Is this generous?  Well the individual winners will doubtless be pleased, but the real story here seems to be the exclusion of the agencies who would traditionally have sat in-between client and creative ideation.  Sat collecting substantial fees… (for valuable services rendered, natch!)

A shot across the bows for the network agency super-tankers?  It’s starting to look that way.

9 Sep 2009

Two Blue chips wrestle the social media monster. One winner.

Interesting developments this week from Proctor & Gamble and Mothercare, both of whom have, in different ways, taken steps to address the question of how to have vibrant online communities around their brand(s).

In Mothercare’s case, they have bought a ‘pregnancy and parentingurgle logog social media site’ called Gurgle.  P&G have taken the build rather than buy route, working with an agency to create an ‘umbrella community site, aimed at savvy mummies’, called supersavvyme.com.

Both potentially valid routes?

The nub of the problem for marketers in the social media world lies at the junction between the brand owners commercial interests and messaging, and the community’s ‘ssupersavvyme.com logo P&Gocial activities’ - forums, discussions, blog posts etc.  No-one minds a supermarket’s brand on a high-street fascia, but the same brand in the classroom (for example) is much less acceptable (“What did you learn in Easyjet Geography today, kids?”).  It’s a question of context.

On this measure, P&G’s supersavvyme.com ssupersavvyme home garden tipsite looks like a big fat FAIL.  Why?  Well let’s take a look at the Home & Garden channel, and its ‘The latest Tips' (see right), where someone called Kate has posted five Tips on a range of topics such as herb growing made easy and the collection of rain water for your garden.  So far so innocuous… but look at the Tip titled 'Clean the floor in one swipe': 'Don’t waste time lugging a bucket and mop upstairs – swipe floors clean in a hurry with hygienically disposable Flash Express Floor Wipes’. Crikey, hang on Kate, for a moment there I nearly thought you were a housewife, but let me guess, Flash… yes, it’s that same Flash that’s owned by… P&G.

Oh dear.  Also, there’s very little content (i.e. no real community yet) but endless banners for P&G products.  It’s hard to see how, other than through the relentless distribution of coupons, samples and special offers, P&G are going build the site to any significant scale.  But being P&G, there will undoubtedly be both a plan and the funds to execute on it, so we’ll watch how the supersavvyme brand develops with interest.  I suspect the underlying objective might well be datacapture for DM.

As for the Mothercare Gurgle acquisition, it’s much easier to see how the existing, vibrant, community on this site can be of value to the Mothercare mothership.  And the commercial content and promotional offers on-site sit very comfortably alongside the forums, blogs etc.  So if the price was right, then nice job!

4 Sep 2009

Listening in (corporate eavesdroppers).

We spend quite a lot of time at Harvest using and assessing monitoring tools such as Jodange, Radian6, SentimentMetrics, and other like them.  Measuring ‘sentiment’ is a hot area for good reasons, as the ability to ‘listen’ to your consumers’ conversations can’t be ignored (is in fact more like a responsibility), and new applications to help us do this seem to be coming out with dizzying frequency.

This morning I have been tyre-kicking www.twitratr.com which looks at twitter data and categorises tweets using negative, neutral or positive keywords.  Simple stuff - no-one could accuse Twitratr of over-complexity - providing a nice snapshot view for big brands (benchmarking territory this).  However, dig into the detail, and holes start to appear…  here’s a search for UK supermarket Sainsbury:

Sainsbury Twitratr.com failings

The top Positive mention has misinterpreted the word brave, and should really be Negative. In the Neutral column, the word horrid in the 4th tweet down clearly marks this as also Negative.  Finally, looking at the Negative colum, the top tweet is nothing whatsoever to do with the supermarket…

Does this mean automated monitoring of this kind is inherently flawed?  I don’t think so, just that you need a large enough data-set before forming theories or drawing conclusions.  And you need to work to improve the rules / algorithms - changing the categorisation of horrid from neutral to negative is an easy fix…

It’s not just microblogging data streams that are being diced and sliced either.  I discovered yesterday that online bank First Direct uses voice recognition to turn ALL the calls through their call centre into a data-stream that is analFirst Direct logoysed by keyword.  Their system then picks up on certain words to trigger responses (customer service measures of one kind or another).  You can see how this data would also give First Direct early warning of problems with, for example, their website or mobile services.  So if you’ve ever wondered what that recorded voice telling you that 'Your call might be recorded for training purposes' was really on about, you now know!

A few years ago voice recognition was widely talked about as life-changing technology, but for most of us this never happened.  Even poster-child for the sector, wireless voice-to-text service Spinvox (Corporate tagline - ‘What we say and how we say it is a wonderful and powerful thing’.  Quite.) is now embroiled in controversy after it emerged that some proportion of its ‘technogy’ is in fact a call centre in Pakistan.

16 Jun 2009

riversimple - an open source car

A new two seater, hydrogen fuel cell powered city car was launched in central London today.

riversimple is the brain child -and love child too perhaps - of Hugo Spowers, whoriversimple_Hugo has spent 10 years pursuing his inspiringly holistic vision for the future of personal transport.  The riversimple team, whose first prototype we saw at the launch, has been supported for the past 3 years with funding and in other ways by the Piech family - the ‘other half’ of the Porche family dynasty.  Sebastian Piech spoke at the launch, as did Hugo Spowers. 

As Hugo says in the video I posted earlier today, “riversimple isn’t just about the technology”.  Another ‘pillar’ of the company (and there are several) is non-Ownership - the cars will only ever be leased, not sold; “this is a business model that rewards longevity and low running costs, rather than obsolescence and high running costs”.

The riversimple website tells us that their purpose is nothing less than to 'work systematically towards the elimination of the environmental impact of personal mobility’. 

Such a lofty aim might seem quixotic, and riversimple themselves ask the question ‘Are we doing too much?’ in their launch materials.  Indeed it could seem impractically radical to launch a car company that aspires to have others build its product using designs published online under open source licences.  On the other hand, who would try to launch a conventional car company now, or for that matter at any point in the last 10 or 20 years?

Surely now, as the motor industry crumbles under the combined pressure of oversupply and what seems like a systemic failure to provide any genuine innovation (I don’t count ‘dual engine’ hybrids!) is the right time for fresh thinking and new ways of doing things. riversimple can provide both of these in abundance.  What they are trying to do is profoundly disruptive: it is nothing less than a comprehensive reinvention of the existing structures of the motor industry - technical, financial and cultural.

What about the car itself?  Is it a hairy-shirt, brown bread eco-warrior’s public statement? 


Definitely not.  In fact, there are details everywhere you look that will appeal to enthusiasts as well as the current Prius demographic.  And not just the details; the stance is sporty - the wheels (each with its own motor) are placed right out in the corners of the car; the exposed carbon-fibre monocoque will draw in motor-racing fans (though it is there for reasons of lightness and strength, not aesthetics), and especially the doors, which open like a beetle’s wing cases.

riversimple doors

In the West such considerations will play a part in purchase decisions, but riversimple’s car is conceived as a true world car - a competitor to the Tata Nano that has sustainability built into its DNA…

From my point of view, the riversimple car, and everything that it manifests (the radical thinking, idealism, creativity, technology) is exciting and desirable in a way that the supposed ‘halo’ cars of the existing manufacturers completely fail to be.  The Aston Martin One-77 for example; £1m worth of old ideas, in a packaging concept that was relevant(ish) in 1960…

riversimple is looking for funding to take it to the next stage of its development.  Surely the UK government should be putting money towards this kind of venture (and retraining auto industry workers), rather than propping up existing manufacturers and dealers with £2,000 subsidies granted on the condition you scrap a perfectly usable 10 year-old car! 

 - Good article on Wired
 - ‘Talking ‘bout my hydrogeneration’ - AndyH of greenthing analyses why riversimple is a BHAG
 - My photos of the launch on flickr

16 Jun 2009

riversimple launch, London 16th March 2009.  Hugo Spowers speaks, and drives the car.