Let's learn a new language

Campaign, targeting, guerilla, ambush, shooting, killer apps, cross-fire strategy, impact, hits, aggressive stance, defend, capture share, escalate, virals, captive audience, lines of attack etc. Don't you just love the language of marketing and advertising. We are talking to people for heaven's sake.

A world without advertising...

... would look like this. Oxford Circus station has been going through renovation for a while and they stripped all the ads off, it looks horrible. It occurred to me that a world without advertising would look like this. If you are Banksy however, you might argue that a wall is the best place to publish works of all sorts by all sorts of people. I wonder if people's musings would ever be better than advertising? I suppose the internet is the next best thing to publishing graffiti on the walls of London. A bit like this blog really.


I hate benchmarks

Brilliant APG papers, presentations and planners at JWT recently. I loved the planning behind the Honda GRRR, however, it made me realise how much I hate benchmarks. Not the ones you have to beat but the ones that you have to conform to.


The light bulb & the candle light

The one image people associate with ideas is a light bulb. Sometimes a thunderbolt even the APG's logo is a light bulb. Reality is different. Not all ideas are born as a lightbulb or a thunderbolt most are born as a flickering candle light. To really make it come alive you have to cup your hands around it nurture it allow it to be heard and grow. How many agencies allow that nurturing to take place to really get the best of each idea on the table and allow enough time to flesh it out. A prominent MD of a top UK agency moaned to me recently about the fact that his agency has a fraction of the time it had before to come up with ideas and that the whole industry was suffering the same problem. Can we please defend our time. We need to because a brilliant idea is like a needle in a stack of needles it takes time and tlc to find the best one and make it come alive.

The next thing for planning

Planning has to move on. Account planners in ad agencies are obsessed with the creative message. Media planners are claiming 'accountability' more than their supposedly accountable account planner colleagues. Then there is digital and channel specific planners who may or may not want to play ball with the account planners and the media planners. Successful communications is about saying the right thing (acc planner), to the right person (account/media), at the right time (acc/media) and in the right place (media/discipline). Two choices really for the discipline to move on: 1. Hybrid planners who can do a bit of everything, 2. Collaboration in core teams of discipline experts. (Option 3 of-course is we stop talking to each other). Whichever way it develops I think the real art in the future of planning is not going to rely purely on brilliant creative ideas alone but the art of the planner is going to be in campaign structure. The real innovation is going to be in the infinite combinations of media, message and timing.

Latral not Linear

It is not a sausage machine. It is a fake illusion to think that brilliant planners work a process where they stick meat in one end and it comes out sausages on the other end. Genuine brilliant thoughts, briefs and ideas don't come through a re-active thought processes. Real genuine sparks of creative thought come out of reflection not reaction. Lateral thought not linear thought is how ideas are created. Please don't put planners in a box.

Disconnected, A book you should read

Barham has done an amazing job. He wrote a book from the edge. He traveled up and down the country to speak to teens on the outskirts of society. The chavs, cybers, goths ... the youth who are disillusioned and disconnected. He went where not many in the media world would dare go. He actually spoke to them, spent time with them and wrote about what he found out. His writing is honest, true and compelling. It tells an untold story about those on the edge. Nick gives a fresh and surprising perspective on these kids. He found that in the absence of inclusion in mainstream culture, parents, government and god the kids made their own rules, morals and codes. They have their own language, grammar, customs, sub groups and codes for behaviour. Most interestingly, they have a vibrant, original and fascinating creative side. Natural adopters of technology and fluent at harnessing it for their creative needs. Next time you see a chav he might have his own online photo gallery. This is a book about what happens when you exclude people ... they disconnect and inevitably create.

Big Ideas

everybody likes to talk about them. but few really know the differences between the different types of ideas and specially in the digital world. my take is that there are three types of ideas:1. Strategic. Sometimes known as a brand idea. This is the purest form and should be the backbone of all communications from a brand. e.g. Nike = Authentic Sport, IKEA = Democracy of Design, Diesel = Anti Fashion2. Creative. This is the creative interpretation of the strategic idea. e.g. Nike = Just do it, IKEA = Elite Designers Against IKEA (UK), Diesel = The Future. A musical we believe in (US),3. Executional. This is where media gadgets, creative techniques deliver 1 & 2. e.g. Nike = Run London, IKEA = Elite designer protest, Diesel = Spoof musicalHaving a definition or an agreed way of talking and identifying the types of ideas needed, specially in multi-agency and multi-diciplinary teams saves a lot of confusion and potential frustrations.


Blackspot not brand. The culture jammers who don't like brands, logos and advertisers have come with one simple visiual device. A blackspot. Draw a round of black ink on any brand logo you care to mention to show your anti support.In another recent execution a couple of artists Dempf and Steinbrener in Vienna covered brand signage in a Vienna street with bright coloured yellow as part of a two week project entitled "Delete". They were rebelling against 'too much advertising in our streets'. In the US people are exposed to 3000 messages a day with only 142 in products and categories that maybe of interest to one person, in the UK about 1500 and in the US one in four children utters a brand name as their first recognisable word. OK so let's make sure we are talking about the right problem here. This is not about whether we need advertising or not this is about advertising 'pollution'. I would be the first to agree that there is too much advertising out there but I would also say it doesn't mean we don't need it completely.As a consumer I still need advertising because:1. I still need to tell which is the best brand, product or service for me.2. I still need a brand, a guide or something to make the choice easy as there is too much choice.3. I believe I have free will therefore I can chose whether I respond to advertising or not. (I actually believe I have 'free won't' as John Locke so eloquently put it ages ago).As a planner I don't want advertising pollution because:1. Too much advertising makes it difficult to stand out, therefore more interruptive techniques rise, therefore we add annoyance to nagging.2. Too much advertising for the same brand causes decay in effect.3. Too much un-inspiring advertising is insulting to a generation of audiences who believe that their own opinion supersedes that of God, Queen, Blair and Posh Spice.We need information to aid choice. Advertising is a form of information. But it is becomming more like the crying baby. It doesn't necessarily have to be traditional advertising but it needs to communicate to aid choice. Read a classic article on this Olins.'I need consumer information' was a line of graffiti sprayed on Dempf and Steinbrener lovely yellow work in Vienna a couple of days after it went up. Subverting the subvertisers. Love it.LeeAndDan Did an ad for VW that was subvertising in action. I wonder whether VW will ever admit to it though.

Fanmade Films

"For me the great hope is now that 8mm video recorders are coming out, people who normally wouldn't make movies are going to be making them. And that one day a little fat girl in Ohio is going be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her father's camcorder. For once the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed and it will really become an art form." -- Francis Ford Coppola This view is also echoed by Sir Ridley Scott when he said, "Digital film is going to enable more film makers to enter this world of movie making".DIY Digital films are already influencing and catching the eye of filmmakers but it is also capturing the imagination of some brands who actively encourage their fans to make films about them. Here are some examples: Converse did it with covnerse gallery, and firefox fans created their own viral. The latest (adage) is from Cadillac who intiated a five-second-film contest which recieved 2648 entries and boosted traffic to the site by 458% in a six week period. Inspired Ad agencies have always claimed that the audience were the real owners of the brand now these landlords of brand equity have gone to the next step of making the ads they like about the brands they like, co-creation at its best I say.

Client's can't remember online Creative.

According to the latest research from MSN Pulse 63% of marketing managers couldn't remember any online creative work from the last six months. Maybe somebody should tell them not to keep treating online as a direct response medium then. Online can be brilliant for branding and creative executions that stick. As an industry we should sell creativity to clients not just the accountability of the medium ... that's the old news.Article here.

Digital is the 'Truth' medium.

Mr Vucinic started an independent radio station in Belgrade in the early 90's because he believed less than 20% of the world's press is free to print or say what it wants. He founded Media Development Loan Fund which is helping foster free media in 17 countries. He also admits that his initiatives were long before the advent of google and the internet. I always maintained that online is the 'truth' medium at least for its comparative ability where you can compare what the BBC says with what the sun says right down to what militant websites say, (if you really wanted to). People flock online for information and news. It is the number one source of information to many people (and in many categories too e.g. cars). Rupert Murdoch agrees: "The next generation wants control over their media, instead of being controlled by it." This is a reality today Cyber Journalists were given press passes to the democratic convention during the US elections, and Oh My News in Korea the online news site is that country's 3rd largest news source and its reporters are real people not journalists. Online allows truth to be told because: 1.You can compare different sources, 2.You can hear the story from non-salaried agenda-less real people 3.You can interact with it for further clarification e.g. forums blogs. It all sounds pretty wonderful but some visions of the future might show a slight twist to this noble view of the medium, watch this EPIC film.

Big Brother & Behavioural Targeting.

There are some people who are against behavioural targeting online. They think it is a case of adware. I cannot understand their argument. Behavioural targeting profiles users, puts them into buckets of typical behaviour depending on their exposure, response, interaction with ads and only serves them executions that they are most likely to respond to. As a consumer I want to see relevant ads to me, so I don't understand the problem. With up to 1500 messages a day that a consumer is exposed to I would think relevance is a good thing. Probably the wider issue is that we have become generally paranoid about being watched in any shape or form. According to the Sunday Mirror Britain is covered by 4.2 million cameras, 1 for every 14 people, the average person is caught on film 300 times a day and London is the CCTV capital of the world.

Gabi on your arm.

Technology doesn't turn me on, humanity does. The big danger for those working in digital media is to get caught up in the wonders of technology and what it can technically do. I am more fascinated by what people do with the technology. As a great planner John Grant once said, It is not what you do, it is what they do with what you do. Although he was talking about brands this equally applies to technology. Part of Vodaphone's futures is this arm band that communicates your current physical condition with 'Gaby'your Swedish personal trainer who you can choose to interact with to recommend your next exercise or activity. This is just an example of the simple thought that technology may evolve dramatically but humanity pretty much stays the same. Just imagine if the title of this post was 'Vodafone predicts the use of interactive wrist bands to control health and exercise regimes' ... Gripping.

Digital POS

The beauty of digital outdoor is that it is not static. It is moving, update-able and directional. According to Flasma their floor embedded digital screens have increased footfall in the Plaza shopping centre in Oxford street by 28% on last year. Given the fact that nearly 70% of brand purchase decisions are made at the point of sale it makes perfect sense to give people the right nudge just when they are outside the store. A 'world first' in digital media are the new DEP's (Digital Esclator Panels) in Tottenham Court Road where 33 digital screens are linked to provide all sorts of moving image adverts. This allows showing ads that not only relevant in their content and location e.g. latest shows in the Dominion Theatre but ads that change depending on the time of day or day of the week.

Birds of a feather ...

According to researchers in York & Durham universities the internet will influence the gap between the rich and the poor as reported in this Reuters article. It will do so because more services and more people are getting online to find everything they can about a neighbourhood they are moving into. So they can find out crime rates, the best schools, local attractions and even the 'type' of people who live there by income, attitudes and social grouping. Therefore if you wanted to hang out with like minded people you can, just go to a site like upmystreet.co.uk in the UK or bestplaces.net in the US. The concern raised is that this might hinder social cohesion and the breaking down of barriers between classes (and presuambly incoms).

I see animals

That's what happens when you stare at something till it tells you what you couldn't see. A brilliant example of seeing something that others cannot see. Jon Steel would love this. See what others cannot see and add a pinch of imagination. Click for more animals.


According to its creators students from Carnegie Mellon University roadcasting is:'Collaborative, mobile radio'. The story goes that the project was designed upon a request from a nameless but major auto manufacturer. The principle is simple download and listen to other people's digital music libraries while driving. The creators of the concept tested it against the biggest potential barrier of: 'Would people do it?' As the chart shows initial user and survey results show that they would. What I like about this is that underneath the skin of any new technology that looks like it may succeed is typically a simple and compelling human driver. In this case it is our stone age obsession with what our neighbour may have or in this case is listening to.


Empty Nests

Empty nests are interesting concepts. Game developers often while developing the game make mini games within the game partly to test code. However these mini games or 'empty nests' are sometimes sexual in nature. Rockstar a game developer, have recently been accused of allowing a version of one of their games to go on the shelf with some questionable content in it. Hillary Clinton is taking a stance against games such as Grand Theft Auto, saying it is a “major threat” to morality. Apparently, Clinton is trying to make this “her” issue as she starts to maneuver toward her bid for the 2008 presidential nomination. The hackers hijack the game and the politicians hijack the issue.

Someone had to say it

Panadol did.