Nov 13

Appropriate langauge

The magistrate has a post listing some of the terms that are deemed inappropriate when addressing people.  it includes all the usual terms that are deemed politically incorrect or offensive.  It also includes things like ‘love, pet, dear’,  but no ‘hen’ which is the generic term found in wonderful places like Clackmannanshire.     The give no alternatives or context – what are you supposed to call a juvenile female member of the species if you cannot call them a ‘girl’ 😉  (and yes, I know it refers to using the term to an adult as an insult).

Nov 07

Big Brother In Second Life

I’m not sure whether I think this is innovative or downright scary but Big Brother is moving into Second Life.   Check out the trailer, which appears to be the sales pitch for the franchise and does not mention the SL version.

In the virtual version, they are looking for 15 people in 3 time zones who can be online for 8 hours a day during December.  At the end of it, the last remaining inhabitant wins a tropical island inworld.   You can follow the who thing in SL and I guess through other media – any profits will go towards a charity chosen by visitors to the world.    Given the following of the show, I’m guessing we’ll see membership increase dramatically.  Hopefully the income will include additional hardware to run the world.

I’ve never seen the TV version, so can’t really comment on the potential for this, though I guess it is high.   However, I’m still not sure it’s April 1 somewhere, it just has that feel.

Nov 02

Cable troubles

Setting up the new apartment I have had two very different customer service experiences from the facilities suppliers.   On ringing up ConEd, the electricity/gas supplier, they had no problem in changing over the account into my name.  Time Warner cable on the other had will do nothing until the previous tenant remembers to cancel their account or I send them a notorised copy of the lease.  Can’t they just chase up their own customers..I want to pay them moeny, I’m new, I’m voluteering to pay them but they don;t appear to want my money.

Nov 02

Make a Superbowl Ad

The US’ NFL are runnng a competition this year to have their Superbowl ad created by a fan.   Interestingly, they are not jumping onto the ‘upload your video’ bandwagon but making peotential ad writers turn up and audition in person. (although, given the rules of the pitch, I think they should have allowed video presentations)
Auditions are running at three locations in the US, 2 days for each, and they are planning on seeing 2000 people at each location.  Everyone gets 90seconds to make their pitch and gets scored on

  • connection to NFL football
  • commercial appeal
  • originality and creativity

The tie breaker is based on emotional connection.   Each audition will be taped and you have to agree to allow the audition tape to be placed on the web for viewing and voting.   The NFL are not paying anything for people to travel to the auditions and are not paying people for their time or creativity.  But they are going to be taking all rights to the concept that you show them, regardless of whether it gets picked.   So by travelling at your own expense to the audition, waiting for up to 2 days in the hope of being seen, the NLF take the copyright to your idea just by you standing up for 90seconds.

Furthermore, by being videotaped you are allowing signing away your right to dignity:

I understand that, as part of the Contest, the public may vote on my Concept after viewing a video of my participation in the Contest over on the Internet or otherwise. This may result in the public disclosure of my appearance, name, likeness, voice, conversation, biographical data and other information about me, including that which is of a personal, private, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, which may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation. 

Even after all of this, they reserve the right to not make or show any of the ideas that have been presented, even though they now own them for all time.  Crowdsourcing at its worst.

Nov 02

University Challenge Questions

Dave has picked up on one of the latest questions from University Challenge:

“What XML formatted files are used on web sites to provide machine readable content summaries and are often visually marked with an orange box?”

In this case the students apparently got the answer correct. However a few weeks ago they asked:

“What colour is the letter ‘l’ in the Google logo.

and they got it wrong, answering blue. The series is getting far too web friendly 😉

Oct 31

IAB – Fran Kelly keynote

Frank Kelly is the CEO of Arnold US and has written a book ‘The Breakaway Brand – How Great Brands Stand Out’. However, I found his talk about using interactive to help build brands extremely frustrating, with multiple asides and exclamation marks in my notes as he said something that I disagreed with or just left me baffled. (I’ll add those in to the notes as I go through). As the person next to me said, he was obviously selling his book but not necessarily giving any real insights into interactive usage. He’s CEO of an agency that has dome some great interactive work but he’s the CEO – I’m not sure that indepth understanding is within his remit. The first half of the talk was about branding in general before moving onto interactive. Again notes are taken as fast as i could, paraphrasing where necessary.
Building Breakaway Brands in an Interactive World

Companies aspire to get their brands to a great place and the book looks at 50 brands that great.

The web is the greatest development in marketing since TV; there’s unbelievable potential but lots of problems. You have to understand it but by focusing on many small details, on building a better heart monitor, we may end up blowing up the hospital.

To be a breakaway brand you have to be in a category of one, you have to be different. Interactive is a growing influence in building a brand. 15% of Arnold employees are digital specialists; for their biggest 20 clients these specialists sit in the service teams, not in a separate team.

You have to understand how the brand is different and then execute to drive the brand away from the competition. Interactive currrently has aound $16billion out of an industry of $300billion so there is a plenty of growth available.

The disaggregated model make sit harder to get a breakaway brand as all elements need to work together. You have to have a core idea against which all activity is executed. A good example would be Dove, Campaign for Real Beauty. The best campaigns often come from such simple insights.

Marketing has moved from building businesses to building brands and is now building communities. The two key elements in any campaign are TV and the web; you need to focus on how they work together, along with all the other channels. (The conference chair later made a comment about how three years ago they were doing sessions about convincing people that the web was an important component so was pleased that a CEO was now saying it was key)

We now move into the core of the talk, where Fran goes through 7 areas where he thinks the web really helps drive brands.

Building Commuity

Interactive is best for this. Three examples his agency has worked on – Royal Caribbean Cruises, Timberland and VW.

This section was the one that most annoyed me. There was no talk about how these sites build community; from the examples and from the text, it seemed to be that building community was equated with building a interactive site that engages people and gets them to spend time on the site. Not encouraging interaction and feedback amongst brand fans and back and forth with the brand which is where I’d put building community.

Driving Results

Examples – Google and Vonage. Both of these have used the web to successfully drive results and drive brands. Google is a $140billion idea and Vonage uses brilliant segmentation to drive targeted advertising.

Google is a web company and of course needs the web to drive the results. Google search was used as the key example that drives the results as opposed to the contextual ads which were the key to driving revenue. Again, the example driven did not illustrate the point enough for me.

Stretching Budgets
Example: theTruth.com Truth funding has reduced from $100m to $25m. !0 years ago 80% of their advertising was on TV, now it is only 20% and they are using the web to drive most of their message and stretch their budget. The site is continuosly changed and updated to keep it fresh

Here’s an example I agree with. The web is great for making more of your budget when it comes to engagement (if you are not necessarily after mass reach) And the site itself looks perfectly targeted, at ‘young, disaffected teeens’. As he says, the teens who are likely to be affected by the ‘talk to your children/talk to your parents’ message are unlikely to actually be the ones the need the message!

Respecting the Channel

examples – two commercials that were used on abc.com online programming. You cannot just repurpose the TV ads for this, both the ads were specially created and were effective.

Although this is not a reason why the web is good (which most of the rest are) it is a reason why you need to think differently and cannot just use it as an extension of TV or print but have to think holistically about the whole campaign and how all the parts fit together

Building Loyalty

Examples: thetruth.com and espn.com. Tracking has shown that people can spend 10-45 mins on thetruth.

Is he measuring engagement and interest or loyalty. The first is about how long someone may stay on your site exploring it; the second is about return rates (for a website at least)? the principle is sound, the explanation is poor.

Brand Modernisation

Example talbots. A classic clothes brand (catalog) that has used the web to improve sales. the web is its fastest growing and most profitable of its biusiness. the web shopper has higher purchase and lower return rates than the catologue shoppers.

He gives a good example of a retailer that has used the web effectively to maintain and grow sales in a world that no longer relies on printed media for its at home purchases. But does this modernise the brand. Does beng on the web mean that a brand is hip and with it? No, it does not, it’s reality of marketing today that you often need to be on the web but being on the web is not a short cut to modernisation.

Disintegration vs Integration

The great brands see all the channels pulled together, it’s part of the whole campaign not treated as something different.

Again agree. But can also see the place where the web is great to try out the outer reaches of the brand message.

And that was the end of the speach. Writing it up I’m still frustrated and annoyed. Kelly is a successful speaker about building brands and building great brands. The book itself is supposed to be good. But he hit all the wrong buttons with me, not really explaingin his points.

One more to go ‘taking control of UGC’. Happily, the panel were more realistic than the title.

Oct 30

7 days in a Nissan Sentra

Nissan have been runing some interesting commercials this week, to promote the new (I assume it is new) Nissan Sentra. Marc Horowitz has blogged his story – it was last week – and explains the rules.

  1. I must live 7 straight days out of my Sentra. I am free to come and go from the Sentra as I please.
  2. I must not return to my apartment at any point during the 7 days.
  3. I must assume my normal day-to-day responsibilities including work and all scheduled client meetings.
  4. I must personally prepare at least 4 meals within the immediate vicinity of my Sentra.
  5. I must go on at least one date. Hopefully more.
  6. I must not let anyone else drive my car for the 7 days.
  7. I must sleep in a different location each night. Once the location is chosen I must not move from it.
  8. I must not set foot outside of my car for any reason from 12am to 5am.
  9. I must host at least 2 social functions in my Sentra. One must be on or after Day 6.
  10. I must maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene.

The last one is curious, as he only thought he needed three pairs of underwear for the week!  Maybe this is why Nissan put a disclaimer on the link to the blog about not necessarily agreeing within everything said 😉
The car industry was mentioned today as one of the areas that is embracing integrated marketing and this is a good example.  I’m not sure where else this is – definitely online ads, not seen it elsewhere, but I like it.

Oct 29

New Software

I’ve changed over the software, imported the posts and managed to get most of the links working in the same way.  I think I’ve sorted out the feeds by following the relevant instructions, but not too sure.  So added an upgrade entry into the old ones.   All I need to do is upgrade the style sheets and design, but that will take more time then I have now I think.

Oct 27

Rugby and Roulette

A couple of virals for Friday – both UK based. The first is from the Rugby Football Union, not your usual source of viral videos, with a short funny encouraging you to go out and play rugby. If you are a cat fan, this may not be your cup of tea.

The second is from my previous empoyer Smirnoff. As the US bans online gambling (and see Freakonomics for a good analysis of that and why it is stupid) Smirnoff UK, in conjunction with FHM, release Czar Roulette – spin the wheel, predict the numbers and win entry to a sweeps for 500 quid at the same time as giving them your name for the database. The game itself is as fun as any other roulette game, especially as I don’t have any money on it. Couple of annoying things about it, though: having my opt-ins pre-populated is bad practice and not something I thought Diageo did; and do I really have to go through a second age check if I want to visit the main Smirnoff site?

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Oct 26

Life is short…make it Eventful

Today, I had the good fortune to listen to Jordon Glazier, the CEO of eventful, talk about his service. They say time flies ont he web but I was surprised that the service was only 1 year old as I it feels like I’ve been aware of it for much longer. That said, I use it rarely being more of an upcoming user. However, by the sound of it there are a number of changes coming along that may change that choice, with increased personalisation available, the ability to see what your friends are doing and share your events etc.

For me, the search/category option is far easier to work around on Eventful and makes it easier to find my way round the site without having to dig through a lot of pages. But the most interesting side is the Demand side – demand an event and it may just happen. I first saw this being used on Wil Wheaton’s blog, with him using it to organise a few readings on a trip. Jordon stated that the original purpose was to enable ‘fan’ driven events, pulling together like minded people and hopefully persuading someone to do something but the service has taken off far more for artists, comedians etc who use it to find out where major concentrations of fans reside and organise tours etc. Otep are using it to finalise 6 cities in their next tour. All in all, a good service I’m going to be looking at more.

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Oct 25

Halloween Time Virals

A couple of ‘virals’ have come through the mailing list over the last few days. The first, from Capri-sun, is fun, but found in a very confusing site. It ‘supports’ the new drink made from Blood Oranges and is claled Guffy the Ghost. Use you mouse, click a lot, kill lots of pumpkin headed vampires and win an iPod. The main Big, Flat and Twisted site is very confusing to me. There’s a lot of little fun games, a sign up for more information, a few commercials and a solicitation to send in your stuff – what for, I’m not sure. Can’t see anything on the site curently, it looks like it dissappears into a black hole – a rather flat attempt at UGC, it sounds like somebody had this idea and just thought that by sticking a lin they’d get a content.

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The second is a very nicely done AI type experience – Ask the Spirits. A viral with an age check (they ask that you are over 15) you get to question the spirits via a ouija board. It’s apparently got some learning behind it, tracking common questions and getting answers added to it. At the moment it seems to like the answer doctor, which it gave me as an answer to its favourite dance and to the name of the boyfriend of Andrew, my guest spirit of the day. Noce flash, a few scary moments – I like this one.

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Oct 19

Withnail and I – 20th anniversary

It’s the 20th anniversary of Withnail and I and to celebrate there is a new special edition of the DVD coming out. To support the release comes the mandatory website and viral game. Using a version of the memory game, you have to serve Withnail an increasing longer drinks list until he falls down drunk (with a nice little surprise at the end). I’m not sure whether this is a bug or not, but you can build up the drink level without necessarily getting the order correct, but the inebriation is quicker when you do get the order right. Once completed, you can enter to win a weekend away as well as handing over your info for updates

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If I was still working for my previous company, i probably would not have posted this…as it ‘supports’ drinking to excess. The game is still fun, the passing out for real not a good idea.

Oct 18

MS Soapbox

Microsoft’s entry into the video market looks pretty good. It’s got all the expected features – tagging, commenting, links/embedding, accounts (tied into your Passport account) all put together in a pretty slick interface.

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Even better, the video quality seems to outshine YouTube and Google Video. To test it out, I grabbed the Bravia Ad (the HD version at 36MB) and ran it through the upload process. It took 25 minutes to upload and process but the results look good.

Video: Sony Bravia Paint Ad

Oct 18

OfficeMax Tul Pens – an interactive campaign

BL Ochman has been interacting with OfficeMax and their new line of Tul Pens. At first glance, it looked like a compnay had taken it so far, but not all the way, constrained in part by logistics, costs and legal. But the response back to her shows that this company if more on the ball than most and has probably put in place the time and budget to interact directly with the commenters and looking for references on Technorati does confirm that they are going out and interacting.

The campaign will analyse your handwriting via print insert postcards that you send in or from a series of questions on the website. The video reply back is excellently put together, very smooth – and funny. Well worth a look.

tul.JPG

Oct 18

New Ad for Sonia Bravia

Sony Bravia TV have a new commercial out. Using gallons of paint and a disused Glasgow tower block, the ad was filmed over the summer. It can be found over on their ‘blog’..

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Another great ad from them, bringing home the message of colour without no other. However, whilst being able to produce a 70′ piece of film, I’m disappointed in their attempt to replicate some of the buzz that surrounded the first ad with the balls – they are doing some things but not pushing it out to where they promised it would be.

Here’s what they promised

The site will also feature podcasts, stills, video and text from the making of the new ad, which is understood to feature fireworks and paint in a similar way to ‘balls’, which showed thousands of coloured balls bouncing down a San Francisco street.
Sony will also feed content and encourage comments on sites including dig.com, del.icio.us, Flickr.com and YouTube.tv and provide bloggers with digital cameras and access to the commercial set so they can film content for the site.
All the site content will be updated daily and users can subscribe to receive notifications via RSS feeds.

What I expected:

  • a series of posts about the shoot (provided – but all removed now)
  • links out to all those bloggers that were providing coverage (some of this was done)
  • a series of posts during the last few months about the editing and post-production of the ad (nothing)
  • assets about the new ad (these are there)

They have provided a lot of images and multiple versions of the ad for you to download and share (but why not a link to embed the video on my site). So they are expecting me to go sell there message – and look, I am. But I’m being short-changed. I wanted to follow the story of how the ad was put together, to feel that I could comment and participate in that process. Instead, a corporate is still spoon-feeding me but now expects me to to be part of that push process. Yes, I enjoy the ad; yes, i have brand awareness for the TV but the negatives still outweigh the positive.

Oct 17

wheeee!

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wheeee!, originally uploaded by RachelC.

As I find myself unexpectedly in London, I thought I’d go take a look at the slides at Tate Modern. There are 5 alll together, with the longest spiralling down from the 5th floor. Unfortunately by the time I got there, there were no more tickets left for the ride. I’m going to have to go again and get there early.

Oct 09

Google Buy YouTube

I signed up for the Google Press Mailing List; up until now it’s been pretty quiet and RSS/other sources have been quicker. Today it’s been working well, with 2 releases this morning about Google Video signing deals with Warner Music and Sony BMG to allow uesers to watch their music videos and to purchase them if they want to. Another video service workign with the music biz who have finally wised up to allowing people access to content to watch and share increases the opportunities for sales – sort of like YouTube. And finally today, confirming the rumours over the weekend, Google announce they have bought YouTube for $1.65billion. It will continue to act independently to “preserve its successful brand and passionate community.”

With content companies, both tv and music, making deals with YouTube, the threat of lawsuits al a Napster by be reducing but can not have gone completely. Google is a far bigger prize – i wonder if it will entice any sharks intot he water.

Oct 06

Flushed Away slugs

One of the emails from viral monitor today was about a nice little short animation of Dancing Slugs; it was forwarded to the list by a PR agency (That’s what the list is there for). On YouTube, the clip is there twice, the first from ‘flushedaway‘ a new member who joined yesterday. The clip is doing pretty well, getting over 200k views. (it’s also a featured video today). The clip is far better quality on the PR agencies website Way To Blue (this opens a .asx file which will open a media player instead of inbrowser experience).

The clip itself does not actually give clues about where it has come from, but the email does – it’s to promote the Aardman/Dreamworks film Flushed Away, which opens in the UK on Dec 1. It’s CGI instead of the the trademark clay stop-go animation and from the results of this clip, looks like the quality is there. they normally come up with a good story, we’ll just wait and see.

Oct 04

UN World Food Programme Contest

Running a contest to to make a video (stop calling them viral please…) is pretty common currently, for all sorts of reasons, anti-DRM, Coke and Mentos, Chevy taho etc etc. They are being used more and more froma commercial aspect as a way for brands to engage with their consumers.

But here’s one for a slightly different reason. The UN World Food Programme, in the guise of fighthunger.org are asking for contributions of “a short video (no longer than 120 seconds) that sends the message that child hunger should end by 2015” which is one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goal. There’s some serious reasons behind this and some serious backing:

Everyone who enters is a winner because by sharing your creativity you’re joining our global movement to end child hunger by 2015. The overall winner will have the chance to visit and film a WFP School Feeding Project. The winning video will be used by Fight Hunger: Walk the World in their media campaign to end child hunger by 2015.

Nice to see the site (and the contest rules) licenced under Creative Commons; they’ve also done the sensible thing and not built themselves out a video site but are just using exisiting sites such as YouTube. A far better reason to be out making your own content than the usual brand competition.