It's 1am, I've just got in, I saw this on telly. I think it's great.
Photo by Oskay
I thought I should try to be a bit more positive about stuff here. It's very easy to slag stuff off. I mean I do think the majority of ads are shit, but then that is true of almost everything so is an incredibly boring thing to point out. And surely the existence of stuff that is shit is what allows us to appreciate greatness? If, as is often said, good design should be invisible, surely we need an absence of good design to see it?
Plus, a quick perusal of Scamp's comments demonstrates how depressing constant moaning is. It's a fascinating blog, that one - Scamp himself is a great read. The comments are a bit like Zoo. It says on the cover "Abi Clancy Naked". You pick it up and flick through it. You look at Abi Clancy naked. You put the magazine down, having learnt or achieved nothing, feeling depressed and and faintly disappointed in yourself. Then Nuts promises Sophie Howard and before you know it...
So you read Scamp's post, which is usually thought-provoking and interesting. You see the bit underneath that says "120 comments". And you know what is in there, but there's like 120 comments! So you click on it and emerge 10 minutes later, depressed and faintly disappointed in yourself.
Does it make sense to explain your reasons for not being negative by being negative about negativity? Hmmm.
Anyway, I was setting up a website for a friend and chose DreamHost as the host because they offer one-click installation of Wordpress (this blog will be moving to Wordpress soon - it's pretty awesome)
I entered my address details but put Surbiton in the "address" rather than the "town" line. It wouldn't let me register that way, so I moved Surbiton. But if you pick up and drag something on Firefox, it drags a copy, unlike Explorer. I only noticed after I clicked submit.
Having worked in DM for a while, few things irritate me like a badly addressed letter (I know, the coddled life I lead. Sometimes the free coffee in work isn't as hot as I'd like either). So I knew that I had just entered details that would mean I'd get a letter with Surbiton in the address twice. This gnawed at me, it annoyed me. I couldn't take it. I pressed the stop button and deleted the extra Surbiton.
And then, a great thing happened. A pop-up box opened on my screen and said "Hi, I'm a DreamHost sales bot. I'd like to offer you a $50 voucher. Click here to claim your voucher". I clicked on it and got $50 dollars off my purchase.
That is genius, isn't it? It saw me cancel my transaction and immediately weighed in with a big offer to keep me. I've rarely been made to feel so important by an algorithm. It made me like DreamHost, a fairly impersonal service selling commoditised product way more than three years of TV. Well done them.
A few reports flew around about an Accenture report that found that people are not loyal to TV channels, but to the content that those channels showed!
Furthermore, if they watched more than three TV shows a week, they probably watched them on more than three channels!
Now, when it comes to stating the bleeding obvious, this goes beyond a joke. However, I will use it to point out that delivery of high quality content will not alone sustain your brand. You have to do it ALL THE TIME. It also demonstrates that consumers want content, not branded distribution channels. (Do you like that phrase? I lifted from the report - look.)
Accenture concluded that this "channel-hopping" trend showed that "consumers are more loyal to the content they want to watch rather than the branded distribution channel to which they may be accustomed".
Accenture, you sound like a dick. Speak English. I look forward to your report on how people don't really watch ads. "This "tea-making" trend showed that "consumers were more interested in the high-quality, well-produced engaging content that accompanied the brand message rather than the shallow repetitive content of the brand messages themselves".
I'm officially a web expert. Would have posted earlier, but I had to phone my Mum.
Orange have a cute little quiz on their site that will rate how internet savvy you are. It decided I was a web expert (did I mention that?) and told me that "You could probably teach us a thing or two"!
Imagine, little old me might know some things about the internet that Orange don't. The websites they then sent me to have a look at included Nike Plus (you may have heard of it). They advised me to look at my feeds using a Google reader. That's nice, but I did tell them in the questionnaire that I used RSS feeds more than once a day and found them easy to use, so chances are I've heard of this Google shower and their reader already.
By the way, if you are thinking "Well, you do work in digital. The average person on the street doesn't really understand it", shame on you. SHAME ON YOU! It's not that they don't understand, they just don't give a toss. Besides, it did rate me as a web expert - I'd expect a bit more credit about my browsing preferences.
Few things give me such mixed emotions as a pun. In everyday life, I love puns. You can't beat a rubbish pun in a joke.
In professional life, I see them presented and my heart sinks. I can't stand a pun in an ad. There seems to be a rash of them at the moment - the Ford cars parts one, which I won't post in case it increases the views on youtube and I inadvertently contribute to a presentation somewhere in the distant future where some dick tries to sell it as a viral success.
Here's one from Audi -
I was wondering what the point of the ad was, until the line at the end. "Performance from every part" Oh I seeeeee. The new Audi is all about performance, so let's get some people to perform as if they are the car!
Second up, Mars. Bless. They dropped "Work, rest and play", which was brilliant, and replaced it with some new big idea that I don't even remember. But now it is back. So how to breathe new life into this line?
Oh, I seee! You show them working, then resting (nice product shot) and then playing! But the play element is, like, so totally incongruous that the viewer will not be able to resist watching the ad!
The problem with this stuff is that it is an inherently circular piece of communication. The visuals refer to the copy and vice-versa. There isn't really room for a bigger story about the brand. Unless the brand wants to "own puns". Which I can imagine someone saying, unfortunately.
I always think these concepts come up when there is little of real interest to say about the product or brand. Instead of showcasing the cleverness or benefit of your client, you're reduced to showcasing the cleverness of your copywriter. Bravo.
What exactly is it you're on about? I ask this question of clients sometimes. In a more polite way, obviously. In my experience clients rarely take kindly to blunt questions.
Jesus - span a good yarn.
Anyway, I was delighted by this post on Seth's blog, mainly because he articulated something that we have been talking to clients about. And it is a surprisingly difficult concept to get across. (How often do you waste time trying to work out what makes your client different, rather than what makes them better?)
From our (forthcoming) E*TRADE brand book -
Today, however, a brand
needs to engage the customer. They
need to be interesting. And saying the
same thing over and over and over
again isn’t interesting.
A great benefit of branding with the
story-telling approach is that the
principle does, indeed, encourage
simple clarity even in complex
situations.It does this by allowing
communications to consistently
come from the heart of a brand. A
well articulated and authentic story
platform maintains focus, which strips
away clutter. It can and should inform
everything a brand says and does.
In a similar vein, if you are going to get into social media (and who isn't? It's so hot right now) you need a clear story. Because you can't impose that A4 ring-binder of guidelines on youtube, or myspace, or facebook, or twitter. If someone slags you off on a messageboard, you can't get the PR department involved to formulate an "appropriate response". You have to know what it is that you're about, and get stuck in.
(Photo by Scootie)
My girlfriend went to Venezuela this morning (Caracas? No, it was a totally rational decision). She's travelling around South America for three months, the longest we'll have been apart in about 10 years.
Obviously, a bit emotional, but I had the full resources of the internet to make sure we could communicate constantly. So I sorted out an iGoogle homepage, with RSS feeds to my flickr, my blog, and put an iGoogle chat gadget on there as well. I RSSed her blog, and resolved to repost all her posts to my Facebook page so all our friends could see them (She's still holding out on Facebook).
All set. Then, last night, my internet connection went down. And it's a massive kick in the stones, I can tell you.
The new Agent Provocateur website went live today, and it is pretty cool. Obviously the visuals are stunning, but I particularly like the "cloakroom" - drag an item to the bottom of the screen and it puts in in the cloakroom. When you are finished, output it as a pdf ("ticket") to strategically place around the house, or go straight to check out and treat yourself. A great example of a flash heavy interactive experience actually allowing people to do something useful. Hooray to all involved.
(I should point out that Large, whom I work for, built the site. I wasn't personally involved, mores the pity, but it did mean a few months of all the designers' 22 inch screens being full of pictures of models in lingerie. It's a hard knock life.)
The word brand gets used far too much. It's losing any meaning.
Take this quote from Billy Payne, Augusta Chairman, about not picking Colin Montgomerie for the Masters -
"They are outstanding representatives of their respective countries. This is also another component in our objective of growing the game of golf worldwide utilising the Masters brand. We think the interest in golf in each country will heighten when these players compete in the Masters."
Take the word "brand" out of the second line of that, and what does it lose, except to make Mr. Payne sound a bit less like a money-grabbing Apprentice contestant and a bit more like a man who wants to grow the game of golf worldwide?
Quote taken from the Guardian.