Soho plays


Last night I attended a networking event at insync in 01zeroone, which is the basement of Westminster Kingsway college. They hold free events for industry types from all kinds of media, but with a digital focus.

Last night we were workshopping the key challenges and some solutions for a junta involved in building an ARG for the London Games Festival fringe. It was the fringe that really started me blogging in earnest at about this time last year when I heard Pat Kane talk on his ideas about th eso I has a special place in my heart (elsewhere in the “blogosphere”).

All the usual gaming luminaries were there (eg Dan Hon, Adrian Hon and Paul Bennan) and it was great fun and hopefully I will be getting involved in the labs to fully develop the storyline and gameplay.

The net provides opportunities for multi player games and alternate universes like never before. Team new platforms with old expressions like the work of Punchdrunk Theatre or the kind of games I helped create for the Hide and Seek Pervasive gaming festival back in May and you have a fantastic world that is as large or as small as your engagement with it.

Tim Wright believes that these kinds of games will be the key cultural expression of the 21st Century. I’m inclined to agree.

Can I come in? – social media spaces


I noted this post on Matt Locke’s blog which I think is a useful way of examining the social spaces that characteristics we find ourselves in in the Web 2.0 environment.

http://www.test.org.uk/archives/002852.html

I think this is particularly interesting in the light of a comment Nick Baylis  made at Channel 4’s In The Wild event back in May. (I paraphrase) “Privacy/anonymity will be one of the most valued commodities in the next ten years.” The spaces where we interact and intersect feel as if they should be controllable but increasingly we become aware that they aren’t. Understanding exactly where we can intrude on the lives of strangers, where we can but with caveats and where it is best we don’t, will be key skills in an increasingly unfocused media environment.

Cool Brands?


brands.jpgThe latest Cool Brands survey has been published, and here are the top 20/87  cool brands in the UK.
1. Aston Martin
2. iPod
3. YouTube
4. Bang and Olufsen
5. Google
6. Playstation
7. Apple
8. Agent Provocateur
9. Nintendo
10. Virgin Atlantic
11. Ferrari
12. Ducati
13. eBay
14. Rolex
15. Tate Modern
16. Prada
17. Lamborghini
18. Green & Blacks
19. iTunes
20. Amazon

Want to know the definition of a “cool brand”?

“CoolBrands are brands  that have become extremely desirable among many leaders and influencers. They have a magic about them signifying that users have an exceptional sense of taste and style.” Apparently only 5% of those even considered qualify,  however you have to be slightly suspicious when the only media owner represented is The Times (hmmm, well known bastion of cool?) and astonishingly one of the members of the Council of Cool works for them , ditto O2 – for my money Virgin is far cooler on the logo alone. I could go on in this cynical vein but I won’t.

I used to work at Channel 4. We considered ourselves to be the coolest body on the planet. Even at the time I knew it wasn’t true, if I believed it I’d still be there, no? But I also knew that there is a certain atmosphere that meant that it was kind of true. And that atmosphere gave us a chutzpah which meant we were prepared to take risks and be creative within our brief. It made us proud to work there and it made it fun and it ensured that (by and large) we all believed in what Channel 4 was about and why we were there.

It’s the same at Imagination but I won’t go on about that because…. enough already. 

It’s more important that you enjoy your own working environment and believe that what you deliver is cool than it is that  a group of PR agents and self-appointed pundits say that you are cool. Whether you work for a small careers publisher or Agent Provocateur. So I am not going to write my own list of cool, which would be the natural progression of this piece. After all, what do I know any more than these guys?

And remember, unless you are Timothy Leary or Bishop Desmond Tutu, there is always someone cooler than you.

Britney


Her return was crap. We’ve all seen it on YouTube and it’s such a lack lustre performance that I would say she is either drugged or depressed and probably both.

And it should come as no surprise to anyone – the brand of Britney has never been more than surface – it’s never been about her personality it’s just been about her as a blonde bland that the trend of the moment can be projected onto. Unfortunatley her brand managers seem to have lost their way and they appear to be flogging a dead horse. There is no question of Britney taking this depression and “come back” as an opportunity to do something new because none of this is coming from her head nor really from the head of the people managing her. They only know how to do something (someone) one way and they are not interested in her being herself because they can’t control and monetise that, or so they believe. Because they are not interested in her being herself there is no chance that she will reinvent herself and no chance that they will reinvent the Britney we know and love either qed in that terrible performance and frankly mediocre song she performed at the MTV awards.

In this she is the antithesis of Madonna who absolutely understands that you can’t stand still in self-expression and who always keeps in touch with the edgy street style that eventually translates into the mainstream of media and marketing. 

It’s sad that she is being exploited not only so ruthlessly (the girl needs a shrink or a good telling off) but in such an amateurish fashion. Both the person and the brand are dying up there on stage for all to see.

I’d like a gorilla with my chocolate


Gorilla looking pensiveYou would have to be a dedicated tv refusenik not to have seen the new Cadbury’s ad. But just in case you’ve been on Mars or otherwise outside the plannersphere I have provided a handy link below-

http://www.aglassandahalffullproductions.com/

It features a gorilla drumming to Phil Collins’ “I can feel it coming in the air tonight”.

And why would a drumming gorilla be the perfect expression for Cadbury’s? Well as Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) said on 30 Rock “I’ve got two ears and a heart, don’t I?”. The emotional nature and the slightly cheesy rep of the music combined with the sheer strangeness of the gorilla’s serious enthusiasm communicate exquisitely the essence of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, “a glass and a half of pure joy”.

What is so brilliant about this ad is that it takes the essential brand DNA of Cadbury’s, pushes it through the prism of creativity and comes up with something surprising yet completely on the nail. And because the idea stays true to the brand, it works.

That’s what we did with Where Are The Joneses? You wouldn’t expect to see an online comedy about sperm-donor siblings associated with Ford, but that’s exactly what Where Are The Joneses? is. More than that it has opened a conversation between Ford and the public, because the website users actually wrote the comedy for us, and we responded. Oh enough trumpet blowing already, I know, I know, it’s not allowed.

It will be interesting to see the shape of the evolution of the Cadbury’s ads, to see how they are going to pursue a conversation with us.

things I've noted in the world around.