images

 

A old film but still a good one -

Scientific proof that to be more creative you have to find ways to be playful.

So if you work at an organisation that wants you to be more creative and yet puts you under constant stress and doesn’t provide the space and time to be playful then it is a contradiction in terms.

Now that Facebook and Twitter are public companies they are of course hungry for a bigger slice of the advertising pie. But-and it is a big but- they did not fundamentally start out as commercial spaces so they are have to innovate and come up with new advertising formats like “native ads” and “Likes” to get revenue to satisfy their shareholders. Thats ok- if they create formats with real value then they deserve a bigger slice.

Unfortunately these things can be “gamed”

The web – lovely and fascinating though it is – also a place for hucksters and scammers or , if you look at the so-called dark web , much worse. It is a world of link farms and low paid workers sitting behind screens and generating bullshit interest in brands (and other entities looking for business or audience) in return for a few pence.

I don’t blame Facebook. They don’t control the behaviour of others. Nobody can control the scammers.

But this short film explains some of the perils of this and in particular lifts the lid on how likes can be hyped to the point of being meaningless

BTW- it is worth adding that this is an age old problem of new advertising formats which can take a while before they become credible/respectable. In the early days of the poster industry there was a lot of “misreporting”

( to put it at its least libellous). I remember meeting “poster guys” in the Dog and Duck in soho and feeling that there was something a bit dodgy going on.  This was the 1980s I stress – all very above board now.

 

is the title of an enlightening and helpful little book by BJ Mendelson.

Unknown-1

It helps you sort out the crap from the hype. Some things that rang bells

Beware cyber hipster’s thought leadership

A whole class of cyber hipsters is busy creating and spreading hype because it helps their own business/raises their fees as public speakers. Heard of web 2.0? Yup. Tim O’Reilly – an uber cyber hipster -came up with it (probably) and has built a consulting business and a regular expensive conference on the back of it. He can stand for a whole class of cyber hipsters who swim around in the same pool and scratch each others backs- no different them from other walks of life then.


Unknown-2

There are very few pure social media successes

Many so called social media success stories – Think Old Spice man – are not really that. They also had big ad spend and top quality media production behind them.

Cui Bono ? is always a good question

Who benefits from the idea that social media are powerful in building brands?It’s the big platforms themselves- like Facebook and Twitter-who are trying to grab their share of the advertising pie.You’re a dinosaur if you are not using social media aren’t you? well, arent you?

Cue all sorts of “innovations” from these platforms to win more adspend – sponsored tweets/native ads-all of which will be boosted as the next big thing

Talent alone rarely wins out

Unknown-3

Beware the Justin Beiber myth- this is idea that someone with talent (yes he has got some painful to admit) can come from nowhere and break through big time. It is very rare. Mostly when you lift the lid on successes there are big media partners and/or adspend and various other (paid for) boosters behind it.

BJ Mendelson book is useful in helping you develop your bullshit detectors.

The Internet is so young that it is bound to be teaming with hucksters and charlatans- he calls them out.

But he overstates the case.

It may be naive to think that talent alone or great content will win through. Yet yet yet.. access is greatly increased.Everyone can now be a publisher/creator/filmaker/Writer now. You can build a following if you do it well – i.e. you are relevant and/or interesting. Bear in mind though if you have any success you will have to trade with big media and other big beasts of the Internet to get to the next level.

One other good reason to read this book is he has a whole section on how to “game the system” – i.e. get seen as an expert and win profile and followers.

Which rather proves the point that the system is much more open than before

 

smoke imageand other fascinating creations at the Digital Revolution show at the Barbican. Anyone in retail (or experiential marketing) will enjoy it. Why? With the growth of e-commerce the shop is changing-it has to evolve or die- and is becoming a form of entertainment in its own right

The digital instillations at the show are just the kind the thing that helps to reinvent the shop as a memorable experience.

The tech is expensive but as costs come down it goes mainstream – expect the likes of Nike,Apple and Burberry to pioneer it in their brand experience temples (which is what shops are becoming)

The early part of the show takes you through key stages in the history of gaming but it is the later parts that are worth dwelling on – fascinating cinematic quality animations,new ways of interacting with screens- and the story of how the film Gravity was made.

Behind this, I think,are two exciting trends

-gaming is very powerful,well funded and important in the UK and the inventiveness it has spawns flows out into all other kinds of creative work.

-Coders are now collaborating with artists and creators of all types-musicians, sculptors, painter, fashion designers. This cross fertilisation is making digital creativity somethings that appeals to all the senses.Physical,playful,fascinating.

Take the Nintendo Wii ( gaming again) and how it helped gaming open up to new audiences with its “gesture based wireless control interface” . Now that technology is being evolved in new and more creative ways. I for one could not resist seeing smoke pour out of my eyes.

For most of my career people have aspired to buy premium brands and just wanted an affordable way to buy into them – think of the Mercedes A class, Waitrose essentials or a tie from Armani. Premium brands used to “reach down”

But something has shifted in the culture – Value brands have captured the middle classes as extended recession has finally stripped away illusions.

Now to be cheap is chic and the next inevitable development in branding is for these cheap brands to smarten themselves up to reflect their new clientele. These images are from Chippenham High Street

Poundland now looks just fine to me and perhaps a coffee in the Greg’s cafe too ? Who wants to fork out £4-00 for a coffee in Starbucks ? Inside Gregs was just fine and dandy and you can get a sausage roll for 99 p.

IMG_2433IMG_2434

Justin King left Sainsbury at just the right time…Aldi and Lidl will be smartening up soon too no doubt to hang onto those newly converted members of the squeezed middle.

Since writing this post we have seen the first big beast to suffer the consequences – the CEO of Tesco-Philip Clarke- has stood down as his business has been battered by the discounters.

Matisse is the perfect artist for Tate modern. He already adorns a thousand pieces of merchandise from greetings cards to mugs so he is a good generator of  extra revenue through the well-positioned and well-stocked gift shop that (with Ikea like ruthlessness)you have to pass through as you exit the show.

He is joyfully easy to understand and has the mass appeal which exactly fits the Tate modern’s mission to convert modern art from being something for high minded elites into a mass cultural experience and driver of the tourism market.

He also has a great back story. These cut outs were created in the last 20 years of his life when he was increasingly sick and frail. They are a bright energetic and optimistic antidote to gloom, greyness and the dying of the light. A lesson for all those marketing to seniors and the grey market.

Like Elizabeth David and Sir Terence Conran he seems to me to have captured the zeitgeist atScan 2Scan 3 the right time – bringing a blast of bright mediterranean light, design and freshness to gloomy 50s’ Britain.

Much hype in the media about how the things we own (cars,beds,fridges,boilers,mobiles,wearable devices yet too be invented) are going to make our lives better. The revolutionary nature of the change becomes apparent when you examine what the benefits to people might be at market by market level.

Easier – because things automatically happen -such as your car booking its own service.

Safer-because devices – think of a home water detection device- can automatically report a problem. Or a car that spots that the car two in front has suddenly braked

Cheaper – because devices may identify waste or overuse and help you make economies or even reward good behaviour with cheaper prices. Think of a device in your car that monitors your driving speeds and the amount of driving you do and gives you a personal insurance price.

Healthier -devices on our bodies or in our beds can monitor your training regime or spot an remerging problem such as elevated heart beat or blood pressure

Sounds good – the fact that a) You can identify big easy to understand benefits and b) the technology is cheap and getting cheaper suggest this is a revolution. Like most revolutions it will happen slower than you think. The mobile revolution – much trailed over the last decade- is only just upon us. As Niel Amstrong once said ” We expect too much change in a year and too little change in a decade”.

We are getting used to the idea of devices automatically responding to our behaviour from using apps and the Internet more generally. We know that google serves up ads that reflect what we are searching for.Sites use cookies and mostly we don’t disable them  Our behaviour is being monitored we know that. Internet use and app use soften’s us up for “the internet of things”

So what can go wrong? Plenty 

Strip away the devices and ask what does this really mean?  – it means

-lots of devices reporting on your behaviour. Are you happy with that ? well yes if it prevents a flood in my home or prevents a heart attack, but no if some big brother insurance company penalises me  for driving at 80 in 70 mile a hour road – many of use do that on a motorway.

- lots of data on your behaviour being delivered to organisations that you hope will use it in a way that is in your interests rather than theirs. The benefits above are appealing but not if what you end up believing is that the data is mainly being used to sell you things you don really need.

Then there is infrastructure and technology. The much promised electric car revolution is stalled/ very slow because of a lack of recharging points and batteries that won’t take you long distance.

The internet of things will be plagued with this – software that does not talk to other software for example.

Expect many conferences on the internet of things over the coming decade. Expect the hype to run ahead of the reality. But in a decade expect industrial design to be very different. Chips with everything- and i don’t mean the fried sort.