March 3, 2010

Week of Tweets #8

I was starting to think nobody read my Week of Tweets until I found out that at least one person does – so this is for you Daan!

Interesting AdAge article – Hasbro Moves Beyond Uproar to Create a New Web ‘Monopoly’

  • While the print industry scrambles (or scrabbles?) to save their skins we see other old-world companies doing a great job at reinventing themselves.

Well said! RT @brainpicker: Design icon Saul Bass on making money vs. quality work

  • Great video showing that perhaps we’re all chasing the buck a bit too much.

Despite Promise, Mobile Ads Come Up Short – interesting Brandweek article –

  • If the future of the internet is mobile then we still have a long way to go if we want to really produce amazing mobile ads.


RT @fwa: “the best advertising isn’t advertising” leaf through the Internet Case Study book

  • Check out this latest Taschen book then go buy it. Inspiring stuff.

RT @gracesmith: 52 Weeks of UX: @Jack_Franklin) *Love this site!

  • You’ve only missed 8 weeks of this great website so go catch up now.

Good read RT @BBHLabs: ‘Dotcom 10 Years On’ – entertaining / frightening / incredible piece in UK Sunday Times –

  • If you were there then you’ll know what it was like. This article brings back the shivers.


Delicious!!!!! RT @bohellberg: Frito Lay makes good use of Vimeo:

  • Amazing page take over. Just wish I could embed it here…

The future is now RT @DDBRadarUK: RT Science fiction turns fact as ‘internet of things’ draws closer

  • The Guardian says “The idea of a world where even mundane objects like shoes and food can be connected to the internet may sound like a plot culled from Hollywood – but a new report suggests that it is fast becoming reality”. Hope it will connect my socks too. Then maybe I’ll be able to find a matching pair.

Until next time.

November 30, 2009

Week of Tweets #1

One thing that is a shame about Twitter is its fleeting nature. Miss your tweets for a few hours and you may have missed something really interesting. I thought that I would sum up the most interesting of my own tweets from the past week. Hopefully you are following me at But if you’re not this is what you missed…

Laughing (and cringing) at some comments from the CLIENTS FROM HELL blog

  • This one went around a few times. Everyone working in advertising or design can recognise some of these stories. Wonder if our clients have set up their own AGENCIES FROM HELL blog?

Don’t Call Me A Social Media Guy – great blog post from Rohit Bhargava

  • Rohit writes some excellent blog posts and this one was retweeted many times. He says “I happen to believe that the future of marketing is increasingly going to require some level of knowledge and expertise in social media. But it’s not the only thing”. Worth reading.

Agencies frown now RT @edwardboches: Old ad pros win Peparami (Unliver’s) crowdsourcing competition,

  • What’s interesting is that even though the brief was opened to the world it was a very experience advertising team that won the pitch. But ideas are just the beginning. Will they now crowdsource the production? Just remember… a camel is a horse designed by committee. Or something like that.

Food for thought RT @WundermanUK: The same rules of engagement still apply, Lester Wunderman’s theories still ring true:

  • Many digital experts want to throw out everything from the past and focus on new paradigms. While that may work in some cases it is good to learn from the past. So much of what went into the “old” thinking of DM and advertising is valid today. Technology has changed but human nature is basically the same.

RT @BBHLabs: “Digital is so yesterday – consumers crave real-world & virtual interactions”

  • So we’re already talking about a post-digital world. I think it makes sense. In a world where technical marvels are greeted with a yawn, people seems to get excited by real-world spectacles. The Nike chalkbot wrote real messages on the road during the Tour de France. That excited people. Before it was messages written on a virtual wall that turned people on. Digital and physical need to work together.

Fascinating. Nokia focuses on the future – how the mobile giant plans to move ahead

  • Nokia must be feeling the pain with iPhone and Android getting so much attention. In some ways it is like Sony missing out to the iPod revolution. But don’t write off Nokia yet. Up in Finland they are cooking up the future.

Thanks #TweetCloud for not warning me that you would spam all my followers to say I’ve been on your site 🙁 Not cool.

  • I’ve really tried to avoid any Twitter apps that spam my followers (Mafia Family anyone?) but I thought it would be interesting to try this out. Well I tried a few different variations and found that each one Tweeted the results. I hate that. Anyway, below is my cloud from the past 6 months.

Until next week…


October 27, 2009

How to be a good (digital) client


In his book “Confessions of an Advertising Man”, David Ogilvy devotes chapter 4 to the subject of clients and gives them some advice about how to be a good one. He says that bad advertising can unsell a product but often this catastrophe is the fault of clients (sorry). Ogilvy said “some behave so badly that no agency could produce effective advertising for them”.

The book lists 15 rules that David Ogilvy would obey if he were a client dealing with an agency. Do these rules apply to clients dealing with agencies in our digital world? Let’s check…

1 – Emancipate your agency from fear.

Ogilvy said, “frightened people are powerless to produce good advertising”. The digital revolution in advertising has generated more fear than empty pizza boxes after late night deadlines. Everyone has been afraid. From the early days of “if we build it will they come?” to the current extreme of all traditional media being on its deathbed (it isn’t). As a client of agencies developing digital campaigns you should be able to trust their knowledge and abilities to execute an idea flawlessly. This is no longer a new media. You don’t need to be afraid so there is no need to make your agency afraid either.

Of course the digital medium is still evolving and new techniques are appearing all the time. Clients could insist on following tried and tested paths but if you really want to stand out you need to put aside fear and take the leap with your agency. As Alex Bogusky of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky said, “if you have to be afraid of something, then fear mediocrity”.

A great example of fearlessness? Philips Carousel >

2 – Select the right agency first

In his book David Ogilvy suggests that clients find out if they like the people at the agency as the relationship “has to be an intimate one, and it can be hell if the personal chemistry is sour”. He also looked at the pros and cons of big agencies vs. small ones.

The Cannes Cyber Lions this year has shown that the “traditional” agencies have caught up with the pure digital players in their ability to deliver amazing work online. As the playing field becomes level clients will find it harder to judge agencies by their technical or creative skills. More agencies are spending time expressing their individuality by how they project themselves online. The new site from Crispin Porter + Bogusky brings to the forefront what the world is saying about them and the work they do. Even the opinion of the interns is used to show how different the agency is from anyone else.

In the same way that the “traditional” advertising industry had its stars we now have the digital celebrities who play a key role in making clients feel confident about their agency choice. All this adds up to the chemistry clients are looking for today.

3 – Brief your agency very thoroughly indeed

“The more your agency knows about your company and your product, the better job it will do for you” said Ogilvy. In the digital world this is more true than ever since a client might brief his agency to create a campaign but, knowing the client’s business, the agency could come back with something radically different. Maybe they’ll respond with a service like Fiat’s Eco Drive or a platform such a Nike +.

4 – Do not compete with your agency in the creative area

“Why keep a dog and bark yourself?” Ogilvy complained about backseat drivers and while this may be true things are less clear in digital realm. Creativity and technology have merged so much that the traditional idea of “creative” is less distinct. Yes, clients should let agencies do what they know best – come up with great creative solutions. But a client that comes along with a smart technical innovation could be helping to spark an idea for campaign that the agency may not have explored otherwise. For me the best clients are collaborators.

5 – Coddle the goose who lays the golden eggs

As David points out many clients spend years developing a new product but give their agency just a few weeks to put together a campaign that will present it to the world. In many ways the way a product is marketed owes as much to its success as the product itself. If clients could involve communications agencies soon enough in the process then perhaps the product launch could stronger. Bring the agency into the loop earlier and they might lay a golden egg that shines a little brighter.

6 – Don’t strain your advertising through too many levels

Committees do not make for powerful ideas with a single-minded vision and executed in a creatively unique way. It was true then and it is still true today. As Ogilvy said, “hydra-headed clients present insoluble problems.

Within a client organization there should be one clear leader who can cut through the crap and give the agency one voice. The digital world makes it too easy to share work in progress with every stakeholder from Tokyo to Texas. Input can be useful but there comes a point when you need to ask if too many cooks are watering down a big idea. Being bold is always better than appearing mild.

Take a break from this long blog post and watch this parody video about designing the stop sign shows what happens when too many people throw in their opinions:

7 – Make sure that your agency makes a profit

While advertising spend online may even be overtaking TV in some countries it doesn’t always mean that agencies are seeing the benefit. There is still a problem convincing some clients about how much it costs to develop online communications. Their kids know how to build a website so this somehow makes them believe it is a piece of cake.

Building complex campaigns costs money and unless clients understand the work involved and the value agencies bring the results will suffer. Hopefully the days are over when clients blindly accept a million dollar budget for a TV spot but question just a fraction of that being spent online. When agencies make a profit and can afford to hire talented people clients will see their campaigns improve in creativity and effectiveness.

8 – Don’t haggle with your agency

David Ogilvy suggested that clients trust their agencies about the cost of projects and not haggle. Just like old-school advertising, digital is not an exact science although it is getting there. If your agency recommends testing then take their advice. Digital campaigns are much more complex than traditional you need time to fix problems. Skip that to save money and it could end up costing a lot more in lost customers and reputation.

9 – Be candid, and encourage candor

“Don’t beat around the bush” as Ogilvy said. Clients need to speak their mind without being so brutal that they “paralyze the troops”. Be clear about what your expectations are or otherwise the agency will be playing a guessing game. With all the tools available to us today there is no excuse for poor communication between clients and agencies.

10 – Set high standards

Expect more and you’ll get it. Don’t forget to praise your agency when they do well but always ask them to do even better next time. When you can access all the best campaigns online (with sites like Contagious, AdAge or Campaign) it is even easier to find examples of what your agency needs to beat. Hopefully your agency would have seen them already too and are already pushing themselves to do better.

11 – Test everything

Digital advertising and marketing is data driven so it’s easy to know when something has worked or not. Ogilvy was a great believer in testing. Testing promises, media, headlines, frequency, images… One of his most famous quotes is “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving”. Today we can test while a campaign is running online and adapt it as we go. We can test multiple versions, change a call-to-action on the fly… a campaign never needs to be finished. It may always remain in perpetual beta.

12 – Hurry

No worries there. Very early on it seemed that clients felt that because it was digital it took less time than traditional media. While sometimes it can be a bit rushed there is a real need for speed in our industry. If your agency has a great idea then help them get it out there quickly. That includes the internal approval process clients go through. If you are not quick someone else will steal your thunder and do something online that makes you look more like a follower rather than a leader.

13 – Don’t waste time on problems

In his book Ogilvy advised clients to “concentrate your time, your brains, and your advertising money on your successes”. Even though digital media is no longer a new kid on the block there is still an element of experimentation. If you invested in Second Life then take what you learned and move on. Not all developments pan out. Watch the video of George Bodenheimer,
President of ESPN speaking at the 2008 Verge conference and see how his approach to leaving failures behind helped ESPN be a digital leader.

genius14 – Tolerate genius

Yes, they can be disagreeable as Ogilvy pointed out (he wouldn’t use the word assholes) but they can lay golden eggs. There are not that many around but if you can tolerate the ones you find then what they come up with could put your brand on the digital map.

15 – Don’t underspend

The last point in the book’s chapter urges clients not to skimp on budget. David said that “it’s like buying a ticket three-quarters of the way to Europe; you have spent some money, but you don’t arrive.” Great ideas don’t have to be expensive and digital campaigns often cost a fraction of the budget of a traditional media campaign. But if an idea calls for a higher investment then try to find the money. The results will be worth it.

Want to read the book that inspired this blog? Click below to buy from Amazon.

Confessions of an Advertising Man

October 19, 2009

Invisible beauty

Oslo School of Architecture and Design wanted to know how RFID signals were shaped to help improve the design of objects using these short range transmitters.

Jack Schulze and Timo Arnall made this stunning video by using a specially-made LED wand, long-exposure photography, some animation, and a lot of patience.

With more and more objects including RFID it’s fascinating to see the invisible made visible. Are these radio waves safe? We don’t know yet… but they are beautiful.

Immaterials: the ghost in the field from timo on Vimeo.

October 8, 2009

Digital remastered

Forget about the Beatles Remasters, another, equally influential, fab foursome have released remasters of all their albums this week. Kraftwerk helped change the course of music and, in many ways, present an interesting parallel with the world of digital advertising & marketing.

When Kraftwerk began producing electronic music they had to make many of their instruments themselves as the available technology could not produce what they imagined. In the same way the early days of the commercial web involved a huge degree of invention. Those of us working online in the mid to late 90s were inventing new ways to communicate and interact with the audience. Like Kraftwerk we were experimenting with new forms of expression and not everyone got it. Then suddenly…. the world caught up.

Looking back at the history of electronic music, the 80s and 90s saw a slow decline in the quality of output from early electronic pioneers like Kraftwerk while others built on their inventiveness to take the genre further. Then electronic music became commoditized to the point where today anyone can make a song in their bedroom or even on their phone. We’ve witnessed the same thing on the internet with web 2.0 allowing anyone to be an online publisher. The results have not been pretty (I’m looking at you MySpace) even though the idea (of putting the power of the web into the hands of the people) is fantastic.

Yet while this web of the unwashed masses has been turning the internet into a bit of a mess we have seen a resurgence of the kind of inventiveness that made digital such an exciting industry when it first began. The original pioneering spirit is being remastered by a new generation – building on the past to create something new. The past was exciting but maybe the best is yet to come.

August 6, 2009

Deadly sins for the Internet age


The Pope recently declared that social networking is bad for the soul. While he is praying for the downfall of Facebook he may not be aware that there is a bigger problem with the Internet. It is full of temptation and turns surfers into sinners before you can tweet Hail Mary. To help his holiness I’ve compiled a list of deadly sins 2.0 with a little help from Wikipedia.

Extravagance (Latin, luxuria) is unrestrained excess. Extravagant behaviour includes the frequent purchase of luxury goods, and forms of debauchery.

It’s so easy to spend money online. One-click and you’ve bought something you don’t really need. You get obsessed with winning that eBay auction to the point of staying up all night to make a bid in the last 10 seconds. While you are not buying you are drooling over gadgets or reading reviews of cars you can’t afford. Repent before it is too late – put that credit card back where it belongs. Or donate what you were just about to spend to charity.

Lust or lechery, is usually thought of as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature. Dante’s criterion was excessive love of others, which therefore rendered love and devotion to God as secondary.

Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession. The sex industry was also there at the genesis of the Internet too. We all know how Internet porn is a huge industry thanks to clicking sinners. It’s so easy to find (I’ve been told) and every fantasy is catered for. Don’t blame the spammers for tempting you. If your hand offends thee cut it off. Or just shut down your PC.

Gluttony Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.

Wasted time more like it. Just how many viral videos can one person watch in a day? Or can you resist having one more go at a mind numbingly silly game someone sent you. How many movies or TV shows can you really download and actually watch? Beware, just like eating too much you might start feeling nauseous. Or end up in hell watching Susan Boyle remixes non-stop on YouTube for eternity!!

Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to the acquisition of wealth in particular.

Everyone dreams of becoming rich. Dot com rich. So many new ventures and start-ups are driven by this powerful urge to live the life of the successful entrepreneur. No matter if your dot com idea makes no sense. It’s your ticket to the top – but will only lead to your damnation. Devote your time to helping the poor instead. Hold on, is taken yet? Stop it!!

Despair (Latin, Tristitia) describes a feeling of dissatisfaction or discontent, which causes unhappiness with one’s current situation.

Spend any time on the Internet and you’ll come across people who are more interesting, exciting, intelligent, successful, funny, lucky, happy, beautiful and basically better than you. No wonder you feel despair. There are even groups where you can share your despair and encourage each other to do yourselves harm. Switch off your computer and go to the church. Turn your despair into guilt instead.

Sloth is described as the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts.

Well if you will spend your time online it can only lead to complete laziness. Forget about using your talents. You don’t even need to use your legs or brain for that matter. Get instant recommendations for just about everything. Buy anything you need and have it delivered to your door. Shame on you! What about using your God-given gifts? Like that fat guy dancing to Single Ladies?

Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as anger or “rage”, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.

Clearly the Internet has provided a channel for everyone to pour out their wrath. Didn’t like a book? Give zero stars and insults to anyone that gave it otherwise. Chatrooms? How about bloodbaths? Even Tour de France cyclists rage at each other via Twitter. Give peace a chance. Change your ways and turn to religion. Oh, that makes you angry too?

Envy (Latin, invidia) is when someone resents that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking.

Very closely linked to greed, it occurs when we watch a video of grinning buffoons who’ve just sold their website to Google for billions. They don’t care that it will make no money for their buyers. They’ve made it and you watch in total envy. But don’t forget. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. Now don’t you feel better?

Pride or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise.

As you write your blog or tweet about yourself, make your own video CV showing your numerous talents… or upload a video of yourself performing some amazing feat. Just remember that pride comes before fall. God might smite your visitors and you’ll see your popularity drop to zero. Ashton Kutcher, hope you’re listening.

So tread carefully online if you care about your spiritual well-being. Just say out loud “Get behind me Satan”, or Facebook, Twitter, eBay, YouTube…