• People want to be brands, brands want to be people

    On: September 13, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 872
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    So, I was in the paper today.  I’ve not been in the paper since I was in the Hamilton Advertiser for playing rugby or something.  It was a while ago.  Mum may have a cutting I guess.

    Anyhoo, I was in The Observer, chipping in my tuppence-worth about sports people and twitter, after all the Pietersen/Mascarenhas/Rice twitter hiccups of late.  The article’s here if you’re interested (and you aren’t an Observer reader).

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    Of course, as is always the case whenever you say something, you walk away and think of millions of much smarter, wittier, more insightful things. 

    It occured today that, in general, sports stars (and other celebs, of course) have been chasing ‘brand’ status for a while… to have the perfect, replicable, sellable image that will reap millions from sponsorship deal after sponsorship deal.

    Twitter (if in the hands of the star themselves, unfiltered and unfettered by advisors, managers or PRs) doesn’t help with that. 

    By putting someone so indefatigably human at the heart of a direct communication to millions, it should be no surprise that they act… well, human.  They say the sorts of things that ordinary people say to each other.  It doesn’t get ground through the machine into the worthless, sanatised quotes we expect from today’s sports stars.

    The main benefit of this (and I think this is kinda of universally agreed) is that it helps bring sporting stars and sporting fans ‘closer together’.

    Which is, at the other end of the spectrum, what ‘brands’ want to do.  Which is why companies and brand teams up and down the land are trying to break apart this ‘perfect brand image’ and become more real, more connected, more… human.

    I reckon that, over the next five years, a lot more companies will end up somewhere in between the sports stars and the brands; unique, talented individuals who’re part of that company will be the brand representatives, but with the acceptance that it’s warts ‘n all. 

    It’s not just what is being said that’s important, it’s who is saying it.

     

     

     

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  • Physical stuff. It matters. In Matter.

    On: September 10, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 1091
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    A quick ‘un…

    We love all the digital malarkey.  It’s ace, and new, and exciting, and so on and so forth.

    As a result, we spend less time thinking about the physical stuff.  And as Ed points out here, physical connections for brands & companies can be phenomenally powerful.

    It’s what Matter was started to do, over two years ago now. 

    Here’s a photo of the first box I opened back then.  There’s a whole pictorial review on flickr here

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    Anyway, Matter is coming back this November, when we put the Pocketgames in it.  Woo!

    Someone’s dropped out though, so Tim asked if there was anyone else that might want to put something wonderful in Matter to send to people. 

    I thought I’d post it here, in case anyone who reads it might have something.

    But what to put in?

    Charlie wrote a good critique of the first matterbox pointing out that…

    “Most of the other bits were a bit weak… not really getting me that excited or stimulated.”

    I think (and may be wrong) that the trick to getting something that works brilliantly in Matter is to create something physical inside the box that will make people want to do something social outside the box.

    It’s not (I repeat, NOT) a sampling exercise. 

    It’s a box of actual social objects.

    Email Tim, he’ll tell you more – tim@artomatic.co.uk

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  • Instant Google Instant Ad… and the time it takes to get things right

    On: September 10, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 821
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    This is wonderful… the guys at Whirled Creative have taken Google Instant and used it to create a video for the wonderful Tom Lehrer’s Elements song…

    (Via Farisarium)

    It was only launched, what, twenty four hours ago?  It’s amazing how quickly you can turn things around nowadays. 

    And, in fact, how quickly you should.

    When we we started on the Pocketgame project for Cadbury’s Spots V Stripes, we realised we could either spend ages getting something exactly spot on…

    …or just do something to the best of our ability as quickly as we could.

    We summed it up like this…

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  • The stupidity of the IPA Excellence Diploma

    On: September 3, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 3034
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    Why would you want to come up with anything new? 

    It just gets in the way of doing the same things that your boss did before you, and his before that. 

    Nothing’s changing, not really, it’s all the same game… write a powerpoint presentation, make a telly ad, put it on telly, repeat every year ad infinitum.

    Everyone gets paid, media folk go to lunches at The Ivy, advertising folk go to shoots in Argentina, digital folk go and get their microscooter pimped in Hoxton.

    Why rock the boat?  We’re onto a good thing here, people…

    If you go learning things, reading things, forming opinions on stuff, then go around writing and sharing these thoughts… well, how’s that going to make your agency better?

    So, I guess, the IPA Excellence Diploma isn’t helping anyone at all.

    I blame the tutors.  For a bunch of so-called industry greats, they really should know better.  Let’s name names; Nick Kendall, Chris Forrest, Jim Taylor, Peter Field, Gerry Moira, Mark Lund… all guilty, to a man.  Especially Kendall, he’s the ringleader.

    You’d have thought they’d have just covered the ‘how to get ads made and shown as quickly as possible’ bit, and done everyone a favour.  But no.

    Six modules, on just about every conceivable topic… brands, people, channels, measurement, creativity and leadership. 

    They they give you a two months to read endless amounts of brilliant discourse on each area, after which you’ve then got to write a 2,000 word essay on ‘what you believe…’.

    And if that weren’t bad enough, at the end of it all you’ve got to craft a 7,000 word thesis on what it all means… where the future of our industry lies.

    Frankly, it’s asking for trouble.  So unsurprisingly, over the four years of the course it’s produced endless amounts of trouble makers… Faris, Sam, Graeme, Matt, Alex, Chris, Chris, Bethan… the list goes on. 

    In fact, I was at the graduation last night of the class of 2010 (I mentored Ben Harrison at Rocket this year), and it turns our there are 66 of us who’ve gone through the course so far…

    Which is enough, surely, yes?  How can the industry expect to stay firmly stuck in the nineties if we keep teaching our best people to think better, more revolutionary thoughts?

    So, this is where you come in.

    I want you to email Chloe at the IPA (chloe@ipa.co.uk), and rule yourself out now

    I dunno, say something like “Chloe, if you were to send out any information about the next intake of the IPA Excellence Diploma in 2011, I would be in no way interested AT ALL.  I am happy sitting here in blissful ignorance, because life is easier that way”.

    Or, if you’re the boss of a someone who’s looking like they might unfortunately turn out to be brilliant, maybe say “Dear Chloe, I would request that you refrain from sending my charge any information on this course, because they’re enough trouble as it is with all their ‘great ideas’, and I don’t’t want them having any more”.

    So please, please, for the sake of the comfortable, easy, unchallenging world we all seek to protect, email Chloe right now.

    Of course, you may take a different view. 

    You may think the the only thing that’s stupid about the Excellence Diploma is that there isn’t a five year waiting list to be on it. 

    But, you know, maybe that’s just you.  And me.  And a fair few other people.

    Either way, drop Chloe an email (chloe@ipa.co.uk).  Ask her about the Excellence Diploma.  And make up your own mind…

     

     

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  • Inception, MacGuffins, and ideas that spread

    On: August 27, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 1616
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    “What’s the most resilient parasite? An Idea.

    A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules…”

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    (This is a follow up to the previous post on MacGuffins and so on.  It’s worth reading that first.)

    Now, I’m very certain I won’t have been the first to seize on this quote from Inception and bend it to fit some hinky marketing theory about social sharing.

    I thought the quote had a beautiful simplicity of expression about it.  We all know that, at the end of the day, powerful ideas spread.  As we navigate the layer upon layer of modern communications though, it’s the how and why we’re increasing trying to unpick.

    One of the contributors to the last post, John Dodds, said…

    “Think Social Idea”

    …and followed up with an explanation…

    “Focus on the idea, the belief behind the company – why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you’re hoping to change the world for the better – and focus your efforts on making it social ie spreadable discussable, supportable…”

    Beautifully expressed.  Of course, the thing is, it all amounts to same thing; Object-Idea, Social Idea, MacGuffin.  It doesn’t really matter what you call it.

    Why?

    Let’s go back to the movies.

    I found a post by Douglas J. Eboch, who’s a screenwriter (and a fine fellow I reckon, given he uses his middle initial… that’s always a mark of good character…).  It was on MacGuffins.

    Douglas writes…

    “I define the MacGuffin as the object or goal that the characters’ mission is focused on. For example, in Inception (written by Christopher Nolan) it is the idea that Cobb and his team are trying to implant in Fischer’s dreams. In Casablanca it is the letters of transit. In Sweet Home Alabama, the divorce papers. In Avatar (written by James Cameron) it’s the goofily named Unobtanium.”

    The thing that gets people moving, doing things, makes you care about finding out what happens.

    Douglas continues…

    “Alfred Hitchcock defined the MacGuffin this way: “It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers.” Hitchcock believed the more generic the MacGuffin was the better since the audience didn’t really care about it.”

    “Inception tells us what the idea that Cobb must implant is, but do we really care? It could be just about anything and the movie would still work as well. It’s simply a device to get Cobb and Arthur and Ariadne and the others into a dangerous dream world that will test their skills and force their characters to undergo internal change.”

    It doesn’t matter what it is, or what it’s called.  It’s what it does to people.

    Back to our MacGuffin.  Well, what I called a MacGuffin.  John called it a Social Idea.  Hugh called it an Object-Idea. You’re maybe thinking of calling it something different, putting your own spin on it, something that works for you to help explain to others.

    It is all of these, and it is none of these.

    The Macguffin here is a MacGuffin.

    It doesn’t matter what it is called, or what diagrams you use to draw it.  What matters is what happens to the people who’re talking about it, debating it, remodelling it, chasing the perfect version.

    It changes us. It plants an idea, a seed inside our head, which starts to grow.  And when we talk about it to others, it starts to change them too.  We can express it however we like, and it will take many forms, but that idea will continue to spread.

    And that idea is that we’ve got to change the way we do things.

    The idea that the future of marketing, branding, advertising, media and so on is very different from the past, and indeed from the present.

    The idea that companies whose purpose isn’t an social, spreadable idea actually might not have that much of a future.

    It’s an idea that can transform the world and rewrite all the rules…

     

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