What goes around…


Amelia Torode posted today on her blog about how old ways of communicating with audiences by bringing value over and above seem to be coming back into brand correspondence. It’s a good post and has some great 20th century examples. You should read it.

The discussion that followed between John Dodds and David Bausola led me to thinking about digital projects and their impact models. I am not sure that new models can be measured in old ways, or at least not at this stage of the game when new combinations of digital content with brand dna are emerging all the time. The best example of this is The Beast. It was created by Microsoft to launch AI: Artificial Intelligence. It is considered the first fully mature ARG and is well -known beyond ARG circles. It’s the progenitor of “experiences” such as Volvo’s Pirates of the Carribean treasure hunt. It’s well known, but I bet you don’t know anyone who played it. I don’t even know anyone who played it and I know the writers of it!

I guess it could be described as demonstrating long-tail brand value. The innovation will continue to attach itself to Microsoft and to Stephen Speilberg long after ARGs have become more complex and satisfying experiences than The Beast. 

With experiences such as these, as well as The Joneses you are dealing with an audience that reaches out to find stuff, finds pleasure in the search and is intensely dedicated. Then they are the people who tell other people, the early adopters, the Mavens (as Malcolm Gladwell) described them in his book The Tipping Point. So though they share characteristics with viewersof soap opera, comparing them with massive audiences of passive consumers isn’t right. They bring value in a different way and so the projects have different drivers and different end results.

One interesting thing about The Joneses is that though the project is officially “over” interest continues to grow and people continue to come to the blog and watch the video posts. Because we used distributed, free, social media as the distribution platform Ford will continue to gain value from the project for as long as these free platforms last. That’s quite a return on anyone’s investment.

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Graduate recruitment


I’m not sure that this is the best ad if you really want to recruit creative people. You just know that anyone who gets inspired by the stories told in this ad (particularly the girls) will be the kind of people you don’t want to hang out with, let alone work with. Perhaps I am being harsh. Judge for yourself.

http://www.bbh.co.uk/gradrecruit

Enjoy the video and let me know if my unreconstructed feminism has found a friend or an enemy.

Freedom of speech


People with money have all the power. But they shouldn’t have and they don’t need to have.

Tthe internet’s uniquely distributed platform allows us freedom of speech like never before. Uk ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has had his site removed by hosts Fasthost. Why? Because the billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, threatend them with a lawsuit if not. Apparently he doesn’t like the fact that people have said nasty things about him. I’m not sure that using the law in this case is strictly justified and Craig Murray has actually invited the man to sue him so that his allegations can be tested in a court of law. Brave.

You can get more of the detail on teh case here –
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/24/usmanov_vs_the_internet/

and here’s some more
http://charliemarks.wordpress.com/2007/09/22/our-internet-rebellion-makes-the-news/

There are also badges should you want them, since there is an “I’m Spartacus” response going on on the net at the moment and I am attempting to track down a version of the original article criticising Usmanov.

The beauty and the pain of the net is that you can’t control it. It’s distributed media for goodness sake. We just have to hope that the hosting companies don’t buckle and that the net fulfills the purpose that Arpanet was originally designed for – to keep information alive in the face of an attack. Not perhaps how the US government thought it would work, but an appropriate metaphor in the current circumstances.

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.

things I've noted in the world around.