Jun 30

Superman Returns

I went to see the new Superman Returns film late on Wednesday evening, at the insistence of a colleague who always goes to see new films on the opening weekend. He’d arranged tickets for the showing at an IMAX 3D showing. An hour before the showing we were lined up, pretty far back in the queue. Although the gorup of us were able tto get seats together, it was not smack bang inthe middle of the place, so some of the effect of the HUGE screen was lost.

i really enjoyed the film; not a flash-bang showy as the Xmen film, far more restrained in the action and with a far deeper emotional core running through it. Brandon Routh fitted the part with ease (and the skin tight suit) and Keven Spacey was great as Lex Luthor. There were about 5 scenes in the movie that were 3D enabled…everytime the notification came up on screen there was a scrambling in the audience to put on the oversize glasses. Neve rhaving seen any big production of 3d, it was a fun addition.

Jun 29

Google Checkout


Google Checkout

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

Google Checkout launched today. The selling points are a single place to put your credit card info for multiple online sites, a fraud protection policy and anti spam measures, ie you don’t have to give you email address to the stores you buy from.

I usually sign up for most things google. But I did a stop and think when i went past the login page..the first thing it asks for is your credit card number. I know google has all my info, but I’m not too sure I want them to have that as well, yet. But digging into the ToS, I find out I can;’ anyway.

Despite having a full country listing, it turns out that I need a card from a US financial institution and that I am a resident of the US. OK, so why even allow me to choose a different country???

If I got over that hurdle, Google would then be able to run credit checks on me at any time they please. They are then going to retain information about every single transaction I make (although you can opt out of sharing the info between the part of the compnay doing the credit card stuff and the search part of the company). But that’s OK, they’re not going to sell it anywhere. they’re going to be keeping it just for themselves…the ultimate online loyalty card to track your everymove so they can target appropriate ads to you.

This could be regarded as a good thing – you’ll only ever get to see ads for things you are interested in. Then again, do you really want them to know everything you;ve bought online?

Jun 29

Ford Bold Moves

Going one better than GM’s Fastlane Blog, Ford this week launch BoldMoves.com, tying in with their new campaign in the US. This is a reality video blog, documenting the trials and tribulations of the company as they try and find a new direction. Ford is allowing cameras into business meetings throughout the comonay and also using the site to comment on the state of the US motor industry. Launched 2 days ago, it’s already garnering plenty of comments.

Ford appear to have embraced conversation, syndication and sharing. You can embed the video in you own blog or subscribe to feeds for the videos or the blog. They are offering opposing arguments and letting disagreemtn show in the comments. But the proof in the pudding is if we see reaction to the comment and conversation that they are encouraging. All in all, a bold starting position from the company.

Jun 27

BBC and the editors

The BBC have opened to the public their internal blog from The Editors

Welcome to The Editors, a site where we, editors from across BBC News, will share dilemmas and issues that surround our services.

Jeff Jarvis talks about it here.

The blog explores the news behind the news, opening the process of gathering and producing programmes to the audience, giving a glimpse behind the curtain.

One interesting post from Kevin Marsh illustrates the ever-changing world that is English

Their latest complaints bulletin rules that Radio 1′s Chris Moyles wasn’t being homophobic when he called a ringtone “gay”. Young people – apparently – now routinely say “gay” when they mean “rubbish”. And the complaints committee is “familiar with hearing this word in this context”.

Read the comments, a good cross section of opinions from all ages, with some defending him for using the language of a primary audience to others challenging him for not setting an example. Although what example I’m not sure…this is not swearing as such, just the continued meaning change from ‘carefree’ to ‘rubbish’. It’s the opposite to nice, which moved from ‘stupid’ to ‘agreeable’.

The post also links to a paper about the relative severity of swear words and the changing of ranks between 1997 and 2005 (I think, could be slightly earlier). Most words stay in a similar rank, with the only major changes being with the racial abuse swear words, which are now seen as far more severe than they have been in the past

Jun 27

People formally Known as the Audience

Jay Rosen has a piece about the changing balance of power from media to all.

The people formerly known as the audience wish to inform media people of our existence, and of a shift in power that goes with the platform shift you’ve all heard about.

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You don’t own the eyeballs. You don’t own the press, which is now divided into pro and amateur zones. You don’t control production on the new platform, which isn’t one-way. There’s a new balance of power between you and us.

The people formerly known as the audience are simply the public made realer, less fictional, more able, less predictable. You should welcome that, media people. But whether you do or not we want you to know we’re here.

There are two elements at play in this change – wanting to create, to take and mix and drive new content and wanting to watch and participate at a time of choice. People may want to do both or one, but no longer are they passive consumers waiting to be fed by the media machine on the terms of the media machine.

Jun 27

The Naming of Things

Sitting in a restaurant last night watching the world go by, I was not really paying too much attention and thoughts were just floating across the brain. Everytime a car came by, it got classified as ‘car’, with exceptions for ‘policecar’, ‘taxi’ and ‘mini’. I’d probably put a name to the VW Beetle as well. In contrast, when dogs came past, the name of the breed normally floated past – French Bulldog, Pharoah Hound, small white fluffy thing stuffed in silly girl’s bag ;-).

The same non-conscious classification takes place in my brain when I scan Craig’s list. I’m looking at accommodation in New York, assessing costs and locations. So i scan down the list looking for interesting ones to read. And I find that I automatically classify certain one lines as spam. They have capital letters, asterisks, exclamation marks: “NO ***OPEN HOUSE*** Tue June 27th *** see details!!*** OPEN HOUSE”. These fall into the do not open mark, at least on first scan, as they are far too alike to the subject lines in spam emails. If you go into the ad, you usually find they have been placed by a broker/agent of some sort. If you are lucky, they have dropped the capitals but not always…sometimes the whole post remains in the SCREAMING mode.

If the people placing these ads do not know any netiquette, are they going to be any better in real life? Picking up things from Craigslist does depend on a certain amount of trust and these types of ads drop the trust measure before I get past the first hurdle. But I may not be the most typical of web user, even if research shows that people are getting more advertising savvy,, so these loud obnoxious liners may work. Is there research around that..comparing types of headlines for the ads?

Jun 26

People Aggregator Launches

Marc Canter’s Broadband Mechanics’ People Aggregator launches today. There are multiple ways to network through ‘relationships’, joining (and creating) groups and networks. It currently ties into Flickr and del.icio.us and allows you to post directly to your blog, using the service outputthis.com. There’s a strong structured blogging/microformats background, with the ability to add reviews, people, events, reviews etc. At the moment, people are just joining up (you can see the list growing on the first page). Looking forward to play with it…i”m joined as Rachel.

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Jun 26

BA Support

I’m currently trying to change some travel plans. but the British Airways website keeps giving me this error : “We are encountering a temporary fault, please try again. If the problem persists, please contact your booking agent.” So I ring up the number I find, choose the only option that appears to lead me to a live person and find this message: ” due to website technical problems this call line is closed” (this is slightly paraphased). I wonder if the same people working on both problems?

Jun 26

Guinness Ad wins Grand Prix

Nice to see Guinness win a coveted award at the weekend for the Noitulove commercial. This ad cost over 1million GBP to make, full of CGI and expensive filming. To see it you can go to YouTube, although a better quality version (although with an age and country check) is available on the official site. You have to go in as being from England though, as it is not available on the other versions of the site. Good to see that Carlton’s Big Ad is also up there – a firm favourite. The third one in the running for the main prize was the Sony Bravia Balls.

All three are very good ads and 2 of them have shown definitely demonstrate a wider impact than the TV commercial they are aimed at. the Big Ad demonstrated the power of great content going viral with the story of the link to the website being sent out to

Jun 26

Football Weekend

Yea to England. A reasonable game, but nothing to get excited about. Beckham hit a cracker of a free kick, but the rest of the time too far off target. Not sure if the formation worked – Rooney was left too often with little to do. But Jo Cole remains my favourite player, he is continously hustling away a tthe ball and creating opportunities. Now the next match is on Saturday, so I need to make a travel decision…be in the US or the UK?

There were a number of virtual attendees at Bloggercon IV over the weekend (see the Frappr map). During one of the breaks, the conversation turned to football (not the only time the subject came up) and it was cool to see how many around the globe were watching the match (Mex vs Arg).

With Ghana beating the US, they now face Brazil. The odds of them beating that football superpower must be pretty low, but it does not stop the Ghanians celebrating now. This quote had me smiling..a viral text mesage that is apparently going round hte country: “After beating America, Ghana is now a superpower. Now we should get into nuclear enrichment!”

Jun 22

Advertising and the new Media

Cannes Advertising Festival is taking place this week, so it’s a perfect opportunity for the various execs to pipe up about how their business is adjusting to the new world. Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, talked on Monday in the Financial Times .

The head of the UK advertising group also acknowledged the difficulty of competing against websites that destroyed business models. “How do you deal with socialistic anarchists?” he asked, referring to Craigslist, the popular, free classified advertising site that has been threatening revenues at US city newspapers. “The internet is the most socialistic force you’ve ever seen,” he added, noting that the response from some media groups had been to offer their content for free in traditional and digital form.

Not necessarily the best thing to call one of the most successful websites. Especially as he goes on to state that successful companies need to good people and changewho have been used to the quick reactions of the web. As most of these are probably extremely at home with Craigslist, far more so than the ads produced by most of WPP’s group of agencies. He thinks that agencies need to set up a separate group to manage through the changes.

Meanwhile Craig Davies, worldwide creative director of the JWT recognsies the change..”The redefinition of advertising is not being led by ad agencies. It is a consumer-driven phenomenon. There are just so many ways to say no to advertising.” (also FT, but firewalled). So he thinks that “The challenge to us is to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

So in an attempt to do just that, JWT took over all the advertising on the Huffington post for a week. Let people watch full ads when they want, is the idea. Unfortunately part of the campaign slightly backfired..the ‘buzz marketing’ part. MaxPower has a good breakdown of what appears to be astroturfing

There a lots of companies that provide this service, sending out information and tips to blogs, message boards and other community sites. I’m not against it, as long as done openly. If the ad/game/video etc is good, it will usually be picked up, but doing it in an underhand way is old school marketing, doing it openly is closer to to the concept of markets of conversations – sending on stuff to people you know..and being honest about why you are doing it. In this case, it looked like whoever was behind the emails was not that clear..leading pretty quickly to a bad taste in the mouth of a few of the bloggers on the receiving end.

And in the spirit of disclosure, I’m currently doing some work for JWT…but nowhere near the stuff mentioned above ;-)

Jun 22

Brew Blog

The Guinness Blog I worked on in my previous job took time and effort to work out the legal restrictions. I’m pretty sure the Glenfiddich blog (which I discovered today via Suw) had some similar issues, although their lawyers are not making them use a age check.

But the Miller Brewing company are taking a different approach. They are publishing a blog that discusses the whole brewing industry, written by a journalist. So it attracts anyone who is interested in the industry, whilst pretty subtly pushing across the seriousness of the brand.

Diageo has also started another blog lately in the same vein. The No Bull Bar Blog is being written by Guy Smith, Executive Vice President of Diageo North America and is being used to challenge and correct ‘anti-alcohol studies’ or at least point you to places to make up your own mind. I’m a fan of companies using tools like this to challenge the media, either by arguing the point or just publishing the raw interviews so that the information can be seen without spin or the reporters spin.

Jun 22

Mobile Tech meetup


Just more gear

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

Another thing I went to on Monday was the Mobile Tech Roundup Meetup, where a gaggle (or another collective noun for the 3 hosts) of mobile podcasters got to meet each other in new York instead of always being in different cities.

Despite a lack of air conditioning, about 10 turned up to chat and look at some cool gadgets. Not being completely au fait with all the names, makes and models i never the less saw somethings I liked, such as the Motorola Q – fe;lt great, light and thin but crap battery life of about 4 hours by the sound of it. The tiny Sony Vaio was good and so was the pictured set up , with EVDO being used to network the device to a Slingbox..so we were watching the ABC TV channel. Testing the download speeds I learnt that it is always good to straighten out the USB wire, as the speed increased from around 500 kbps to over 900 kbps.

And it’s brilliant news to hear that the Slingbox is finally available in the UK.

Jun 21

Studio Work


Prep Work

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

On Monday I got the chance to spend a little time in the studio where some of the content for a site I’m working on is being filmed. There was no actual business reason to be there – I just wanted to see what a filming set looked like! The bigest surprise to me was just the large numbers of people required to do the shoot…as opposed to the one person video blogging stuff that mainly appears on the sites I visit.

Jun 21

Orbit gum, Snoop Dogg and Do Not Call

Updated…now I’ve put the password here! And the URL for the site is www.goodcleanfeeling.com

There’s a US campaign for Orbit Gum that involves a spokeswoman* suggesting that various characters clean up their mouths and language by using the gum. The latest version involves Snoop Dogg, beng sent to hell for using foul language in front of a bunch of schoolchildren.

A site you can happily spend a few moments on, looking at the videos (especially if a Snoop fan, with some of the behind the scenes stuff). There’s also a nice little tool – enter your (or any) number and either Snoop or one of the other characters will phone you and leave a message. In this way you can get a password to see a ‘hidden’ video with more background stuff. And the password is ‘fabulous’….but if you can take the phone call it’s fun ;-)

Looking at the screen below, for all intents and purposes you are giving them your number only to make this call back to you as a one time event. They are not after your name or other identifying info. So imagine my surprise to hear at the end of the call the fact I need to press some buttons to go onto their Do Not Call list. I didn’t even know I was on the call list, there’s no indication that my number would be retained, I have not opted into anything that I could see…so why make me press 2 buttons on the phone to opt out? And do I opt out of everything – I may have wanted to be called by wrigley on another matter. This is very confusing. Looking at the privacy policy I think it was driven by the statement: “Such responses will include information on how to opt out from receiving further information or services” but it definitely needs more warning and more explanation as to why they are doing something to remove me from a list I did not believe I was being added to.

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I was also surprised that there was a lack of product information…or even a link to the main product page. Instead, there’s just a flashy series of product images.

*Sometimes characters just cry out to be put into little advergames…I’d pay money to get this very annoying woman in a nice flash game I could shoot out all her nice shiny teeth and then whack her to the ground.

Jun 21

Rooney returns

During the England-Sweden match today (great first half..second half they needed shooting!) the ESPN commentators made one of their random remarks that I so try and ignore about Wayne Rooney being plastered all over billboards and papers with the cross of St George. This made no sense until I say this post from W&K explaining the campaign. The image below (gratuitously taken from the W&K blog to avoid hotlinking) is plastered on a 20m by 30m billboard next to the M4; I’ve been along this road a lot and it can be a nightmare – I wonder how much of a jam they caused this morning when it was rolled out?

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After being trailered yesterday, the Lynx advert is up for real today. The video is streamed – pity about the completely poor quality and the lack of controls… being abel to pause the video has to be good practice.

Jun 20

Second Life growing

Caught quite a few posts this week about Second Life.

You have the clothing compnay American Apparel opening a store.

The BBC are building a replica of their Maida Vale studios, from where they can simultaneously broadcast into Second Life as well as hving real-time interactions between band and audience. (From Jo)

And Jeremy has a great post about trademark issues in the virtual world.

For an environment that only has around 250,000 users (and how many of these are like me in that they have an account but do not use it that often?) there is a lot of marketing activity taking place. This is increasingly moving away from the selling of in-world artifacts to the use of it to supplement and develop the metspace activity. Companies are looking for the next big thing that is not MySpace and Second Life is getting the press. For those lucky enough to have the bandwidth to run it, it offers fantastic opportunities to interact with brands and companies of choice. This is reliant on these companies having the manpower to provide the interaction, which is always going to be a problem for anything corporate. The BBC, focusing on event driven activity, can manage the resource requirements (but how do they manage the licence payer issue as there appears to be no banning of IP addresses going on there).

The boom in companies moving into Second Life is likely to happen faster than the growth in inhabitants – at least whilst the PR of having a presence outweighs the fact there’s not a lot of people necessary going to see the virtual estate.

In the meantime though, the focus and increased press will bring in the lawyers looking at the IP issues as Jeremy suggests. It won’t be hidden away so easily and it can be easy picking for a lawyer in the future.