Thoughts on Cannes

Cannes are a bit like what the car industry does in their motor shows. Full of concept cars, beautiful and shiny stuff that no one in the street would buy or ever be able to buy and somehow not many people see re-incarnations of these glimmering toys post a motor show. Cannes tend to be the industry's pat on the back by its own hands (no audience awards, critic's awards or anything that may make it the credible zenith of achievement in our business). Yet we love to see the winners out of spite or inspiration depends on who you are. I went through the winners and finalists this morning and for what's worth here is what struck me as interesting random thoughts: 1. Animation is back. don't know if this has been started by Honda GRRR... 2. Serialisation / soap opera style ads e.g. Love Story from Thailand. These were interesting because that type of campaign gets to watch the different bits of the story not just a single ad. The narrative becomes what keeps you looking forward to the next episode. You wouldn't have to fight too hard for attention when you already have an audience that is interested in the next twist in the story. Stella, VW, Smooth 3. Ads that mock ads. I thought these were really interesting Beer AU and Smooth Thailand. There is some honesty about the punter in the street's perceptions of advertising and brands poking fun at the whole thing WITH the audience instead of AT them. 4. There was an ad from Renault that I really liked about crash tests not only because it subverted the conventions of crash test advertising but of food category advertising as well in one creating 'depth' to the engagement. 5. Craft? Somehow it felt like the winners were rewarded for the craft and the new 'tricks & techniques' that were introduced in the production of the ads not the brilliance of the idea. See for your self here.


I wish I had the mind of a teenager.

Compund Security Systems have developing an alarm that can only be heard by young people under the age of 20. Capitalising on a medical phenomena where we stop hearing sounds at a certain frequency (18 to 20kHz) after the age of 20. The intended use was to push the kids out of malls and places where they may be a nuisance (a worthy cause of-course I mean kids should be treated like insects right?) So here we go the kids record the alarms turn it into ringtones to pass on to their friends so that when they call each other in class the teacher can't hear them. Brilliant. More here.


Doing the (RED) thing.

I am a cynic. I don't believe in silly ideas like every little helps ... but every time I make a call from my new Motorala RED mobile phone my phone company Orange makes a 5% donation of the cost of the call to Africans desperate for help. It makes me feel better about my 'middleclass guilt' but beyond that I also feel that at least it is something that I can participate in everyday. To do something is better than doing nothing. As well as a cynic I am also a hater, I hate indifference. Indifference is the biggest enemy that civilised societies ever had. RED allows a cynic like me to stop being indifferent. Do the RED thing even if you don't see the results immediately people will see you doing it. A colleague of mine after seeing my RED mobile decided to change his Amex from Gold to RED. As I said to do something is better than to do nothing. And if one does the RED thing maybe others will see you doing it and it might just catch on. The greatest irony would be if RED catches on like a virus and spreads across companies and consumers a bit like AIDS … but without the 's' beating a virus at its own game. One more thing, I really couldn't give a toss about Motorola as a brand felt nothing thought nothing about it, if anything my natural default choice would have been a Nokia N series - you know the one that your creatives are carrying. But somehow I feel different towards this brand now on a level that its silly ads would never get me to feel. Here is to the power of doing not saying.


Mother Earth.

John Grant requested some thoughts for The Ecologist magazine. I think we should all contribute. It is mother earth and she is in trouble and maybe, just maybe, we can do something about it. You wouldn't just walk away if you saw an old lady who fell over on the street and needs help to get up or would you? If you'd like to contibute ideas go to John's site.

Economy of Presence

Nothing is more useful than water, but it will purchase scarce anything: scarce anything can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce value in use: but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it. - Adam Smith the Wealth of Nations 1776.
Core to what Adam Smith's idea was the simple formula Scarcity = Value. We value what we have the least of. If you are wealthy you may covet time, if you are hungry you want bread, if you are isolated you covet belonging. Humans seem to want what they don't have. Whether they need it or not that's another discussion. William J. Mitchell of MIT talks about the Economy of Presence. He proposes that society today in the face of a multitude of hi tech ways of communicating it values face to face interaction far more than other ways of interaction. For example most e-mails appear to be about setting up face to face meetings, we pay more for the opportunity to hear a speaker in a conference than read their book. My personal experience of this is a recent breakfast I had with a luminary planner friend with multiple books that I know inside out but the value of the one hour conversation somehow added a significant depth to his books. Face to face 'presence' definitely has huge value far and above pretty much any other form of communication. This has wider and bigger implications. Belonging. Is the first on the list, with a society that is increasingly individual in mindset and isolated in reality opportunities to meet and connect face to face are very pertinent to a wide variety of products and services. For example; the web cam as a standard in the new Macs, YouTube, SkypeVideo, Nike Run London. Secondly. Economy of Presence has implications for how meeting places of all kinds take a new meaning. Anything that allows, encourages, adds value to face to face interaction should be fundamental to the design and architecture of the space. The Apple Store genius bar, lectures, Wagamama sharing tables, Starbucks, Selfridges food hall etc. Thirdly, from another angle a psychologist friend of mine recently argued that there is a lost art of telling stories. We are so dependent on visual and written media that we forgot the great art of telling a story and oratory skills.


Make if infectious

True Viral Marketing

Trust No One

So we have YouTube, WEB 2.0 and all that which is great for finding stuff out and finding the truth but as this example shows under the veil of information and sharing comes the opportunity to pull the wool over people's eyes. It's ok if you laugh at it / with it but what it does is it makes it very difficult overall to trust anyone online. I wonder how many people on WEB 2.0 have spoof detectors on all the time? What might appear as a harmless video blog about a lonely young girl can turn out to be Blair Witch style promo for an upcoming teen film. Now if you think that "Lonelygirl15" is really locked up in her bedroom by her strict parents and can't have fun then think again. Sucker -:) - full story in Brand Republic (she is 20 year old film graduate not a lonely 15 year old in need of friends.


No's 1, 2 & 3 ...

No. 1: Owns the category codes No. 2: Wannabe number one No. 3: 'd Better be funny No. 4: A passer-by in this category No. 5: Cheap shit No. 6: Pretends to be in the category but really isn't

You've heard it here first

In my entry on Porn below I suggested that Public Pornographic Performances may be just one of the things that we may see influenced by the substantial number of porn junkies online etc. The London Paper has published research with YouGov outlining some interesting stats about sex in the city: 17% of males had sex in the office, 36% of males and 34% of females have been unfaithful to their partners and an astonishing 36% of males apparently had sex in public (only 25% of females admitted to that-:) naturally the story was about a couple in their late twenties having full on sex in full on public view. Only about 36% may admit to such behaviour but I wonder if underneath this: - sex is no longer a private act and closer to a performance act, - sexual performance is somehow become part of the typical bragging rights; big cars, big job, big knob culture Nothing is new here really, it has always been like that I guess -:)


Paris Hilton has been interfered with again -:)

Hundreds of copies of Paris Hilton's debut (and only, possibly, given its reception) album have been tampered with and left in independent record stores and branches of HMV and Virgin across the UK by 'guerrilla artist' Banksy. A spokewoman for the artist has confirmed that he has replaced Hilton's CD with one featuring his own remixes with titles like 'Why Am I Famous', 'What Have I Done' and 'What Am I For?', which is all rather amusing to a needless celebrity heiress deplorer such as myself. Banksy also doctored pictures on the CD sleeve to make Hilton appear topless, and with a dog's head, but he left the original barcode on the 500 doctored albums so that customers could buy them without realising that anything was awry. A spokesman for HMV said that the chain had found seven CDs in their Brighton outlets, and confirmed that no customers had thus far complained, or returned a CD. He continued: "It's not the type of behaviour you'd want to see happening very often. I guess you can give an individual such as Banksy a little bit of leeway for his own particular brand of artistic engagement. Often people might have a view on something but feel they can't always express it, but it's down to the likes of Banksy to say often what people think about things. And it might be that there will be some people who agree with his views on the Paris Hilton album." A spokesman for Virgin Megastores said that staff were looking for the CDs, but that they are proving hard to find, adding: "I have to take my hat off - it's a very good stunt." Pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharl/sets/72157594266743665/ That's why I love Banksy. Beat this fad-lads.

So what did you think of the London Paper and Lite?

Well they've both gone for the colour Purple - says it all really There's little to compare. I saw the ads for the London Paper which use purple and my first reaction was this is the new Metro ... ah but no it isn't. Talk about me too advertising / design and I am a planner never mind the poor punter in the street The format is lite it is another addition to bitesize dumb down culture to give to those dizzy commuters who need a bit of light relief after a hectic day at The Office. Both papers appear to be going for the same need / want / whim The editorial was very similar in style highly indistinguishable from each other tone of voice etc not to mention they both went with the same lead story that of the crocodile hunter...as a consumer this simply means I can pick any of those two without any conscious effort to be loyal or pick one because I like it is a bit like asking someone do you want chips or chips ... Lite is claiming a FIRST with the London Paper a split second behind ... talk about first mover advantage and fast follower advantage. Interestingly though there are some consumer generated content in Lite with columns like Citizen Reporters naturally reported by you and me. I think there could be something interesting in this if it is pushed further for example imagine an evening paper half written by consumers that day in all fields the city broker dishing the dirt on his boss, the estate agent commenting on the hottest neighborhood in his property watch and you get a different Londoner to do it everyday then it truly puts Londoners in London's first evening Paper. The London Paper appears to have better listings or at least better layout. Naturally I only gave both papers about 1 minute each yesterday which is probably more than the punters in the street who simply refused the distribution method of can I shove this BIG leaflet in your hand sir....and then you walk another ten meters for another one dressed in purple trying to shove another BIG leaflet in your hand and you ask yourself why?


The Pursuit of Perfection

I finally got to work on a fashion brand. I always wanted to work on one because they are genuinely fascinating. Here are few of the things that struck me about advertising for fashion brands compared to other brands: Real & fanatical attention to detail. They spent hours debating every single detail in a shot right down to counting the time it takes to walk down the red carpet at a film premier in a designer garment. Their attention to detail is something to be commended and aspired to. The brand ‘attitude’ turns brand onions into pear shaped meaningless drivel. They are so in-tune with what their brand is about that the need for a formal articulation is almost the equivalent of someone writing their own name on a post it note to remember who they are. They are masters of the image creation industries. As well as the detail the brand personality and attitude is extremely well honed in the delivery or execution, they know more about spinning the stories behind their designs and works that literally transcends any tangible quality for the fabric or the design. With so much effort that goes into the pursuit of perfection it’s not surprising that when given the luxuries of life so many dispose of the necessities without hesitation.