September 28, 2009

Sources and resources

fwaWhat would we do without the internet? I for one would still be stuck in the world of traditional advertising & marketing (not that there is anything wrong with that). But the internet, in less than 15 years, has radically altered the communications industry. It’s great to interact with your target audience rather than just talk at them. What’s great too is how we in the industry can find inspiration from what others are doing all over the world. In some ways it’s a fantastic way to spur yourself onto bigger and better ideas – at the same time it can be disheartening to find that your amazing idea has already been done by two guys working in a bedroom in Brazil.

I thought I’d share a few of my sources of inspiration. Some of them are obvious but others may be new to you.

FWA – the motherlode of Flash sites. Get your daily dose of Flash goodness but don’t forget to check out interviews, movies and more.

creaCreativity Online – sign up for the newsletter too. Lots of smart campaigns get showcased, news and interviews…

AdAge Digital – has a mostly US flavour and their articles go behind a subscription wall after a while… but still worth a weekly look.

contagiousContagious Magazine – has a really interesting mix of commercial and more leftfield examples. If you can’t afford the subscription then get snippets by email or in summary PDFs. Enough to get the brain juiced up.

Twitter can be an amazing resource for finding out about the latest cool happenings in the digital world. Some of the smartest people in the business are sharing their information on there. Find someone with something useful or interesting to say then check out who they are following. Just make sure you Tweet too or else the people you want to follow may block you.

The blogosphere is full of great inspiration but it does take time to find the good ones from the bad. Some of the blogs I regularly visit are:

PSFK – a trends research, innovation, and activation company that publishes a daily news site.

Digital Buzz Blog – Featuring the latest digital ad campaigns, hot new websites, interactive marketing ideas, virals,
industry news, social media, insights, and other great digital trends from all over the world.

Digitology – is a dissection of digital culture. Here you’ll find everything from the latest digital marketing news to information on new and innovative digital products.

Untitled Blog – They are “a young and sprightly full service digital agency” based in East London. Don’t just blow their own trumpet but share inspiring news.

Chris Brogan – not so much for creative inspiration but a social media guru. You need to know everything that is happening in this business to be able to propose great ideas that work.

I could go on for several pages sharing more links. But I need to keep a few to myself. Please feel free to add a few or your own.

After all that input, if you are still struggling for inspiration try these techniques suggested by Dragos Roua…

September 24, 2009

The wwwild frontier

87When you think of Google you picture a money making machine powered by ad sales, search words, maps or videos. In fact there is a group within Google called the Creative Lab helping to push the boundaries of what the web can do. Check out their presentation here. The internet has not finished surprising us yet.

September 18, 2009

Did you know?

A couple of years ago, Karl Fisch was working at a school in Colorado as the director of technology. One day he started thinking about what facts his students needed to know. His answer was to produce a visual presentation called “Did you know?” for a school administration meeting. Later he posted the presentation on his blog Fischbowl. And then the viral thing started.

Other creative people picked it up and developed several versions,Xplane offered to do the graphics properly and so on – read the whole story here. In the meantime the various versions have been viewed more than 20m times. Two of them are in the charts this week again. And now there is a new one. “Did You Know? 4.0” was made for The Economist’s Media Convergence Forum in New York City on 20 and 21 October. The figures are all about the US but the trends remain the same worldwide.

Taken from an article on the Guardian UK website’s digital blog.

September 17, 2009

Advertising vs. Gaming

kurt-cobain-guitar-hero-5-01“Here we are now, entertain us”. When Kurt Cobain (who was recently resurrected in the Guitar Hero game) sang those prophetic words he seemed to anticipate today’s society, one that is constantly craving entertainment. The internet has stoked the fire and in some ways entertainment has become the new currency for many brands. Whether it is viral videos or other forms of branded content – the audience expects something from brands in exchange for their attention. Now we see branded games from the likes of Coke Zero, Doritos and even Barclays being used to engage with their audience in the hope that a moment of entertainment will turn into brand loyalty and sales.

On the 16th September the Dutch ad industry (and students hoping to be part of it) descended on the Tuschinski theatre in Amsterdam for a special Cannes Lions event. As well as viewing the best print and poster work there were special screenings of the winning films. I was invited to be on a panel discussing advertising and gaming following a presentation from Peter Warman of NEWZOO. He showed the results of a Dutch gaming survey that revealed how more than half of the population plays games in one form or another. Check out the international version of the survey here.

The panel, moderated by Bas van Berkestijn (Woedend!), included Victor Knaap (MediaMonks), Nathan Cooper (RIOT/180), Michiel Sala (Little Chicken) and myself. A lot of the discussion centered around the brand’s relevancy in the gaming experience. Does the audience feel that the brand fits within a game naturally? Can a game be the core of a campaign or an extension? Is the target audience right for a branded game?

Brands offering entertainment is nothing new. Soap operas were developed originally by brands like Unilever to create moments when they can sell washing powder. Fast forward 40 years or more and the Get the Glass game helped the Californian Milk Processor Board sell 10 million more gallons of milk than it did the previous year. It also won Gold at the 2007 Cyber Lions.

Casual gaming, consoles, mobile, alternate reality games or simple quizzes… these are all ways that brands can connect with consumers and see real results. Agencies and game developers need to just work together so the experience is relevant and entertaining to create a win win campaign.

September 10, 2009

Who’s who online?

sellersThe other night I watched a great movie – The Life and Death of Peter Sellers starring Geoffrey Rush. One of the things that really stood out was his identity crisis. As Wikipedia say “his ability to speak in different accents (e.g., French, Indian, American, German), along with his talent to portray a range of characters ensured his success as a radio personality and screen actor yet Sellers’s private life was characterized by turmoil and crises”. He only seemed to be confident when he was inhabiting a character. When Kermit the Frog told Sellers he could relax and be “himself,” Sellers (while wearing a Viking helmet, a girdle and one boxing glove), replied, “There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.”

The internet has allowed so many people to reinvent themselves whether it is via chatrooms, Second Life, World of Warcraft or a MySpace page. In a world where everyone wants to be Googled there are many tips from people telling you how to manage your online identity. At the same time we’ve seen people having their identity hijacked by others. Sometimes it is in good humour like the Fake Steve Jobs but other times it is truly criminal. Like Natasha Cann who “endured the Father’s Day from hell when hackers broke into her Facebook account and proceeded to scam her closest friends out of significant amounts of money”.

It is the same with brands who are trying to reposition themselves and define their identity in the digital world. Everyone wants to dabble in social networking, perhaps marketing via Twitter or experimenting with user-generated campaigns. But if people’s online identities are fake (or at least enhanced) can brands really rely on the response they are getting? Are the online identities that brands are projecting really true to their values? Let an intern loose (so they claimed) on your Twitter marketing and brands like Habitat come across as opportunistic and untrustworthy. Are fake brand personas connecting and interacting with fake consumer personas? Is the internet suffering from an identity crisis just like poor Peter Sellers? Do we need a little more truth in online advertising – from both sides?

September 4, 2009

Digital to physical

In a world that is becoming increasingly digital it’s interesting to see companies realising how physical experiences are what customers really want. Take the example of Mission Bicycle, a unique company based in San Francisco that sells custom fixed gear bikes where each bicycle is made to order from a combination of stock parts. As reported on the PSFK blog “they recently opened up a physical retail location designed to mimic the look and user experience of the Mission Bicycle website – giving physical presence to a digital brand”. Check out the video below or read the full story.

Need more proof of the physical revival? Take the Nike Chalkbot project developed for the Tour de France. It wasn’t long ago that people would have been amazed to see their message appear in a digital space. That is so last year!

alg_believeBeing able to remotely write a message on the road has somehow captured the imagination in a more tangible way.

In some ways the upcoming full-body game controllers are an extension of this return to physical. People want to feel what they are doing and being able to use your whole body to experience a game (like in this video for Project Natal) is the closest you will get to the real thing. Maybe the kid should actually go out and skateboard but maybe he lives in a scary neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, in Japan, researchers have developed touchable holograms. Using jets of air someone can feel as if they are actually touching a virtual object. Check out this video. Technology that makes digital more human can only be a good thing. Soon we’ll actually be going out to meet our friends rather than stay at home and network with them via Facebook. Welcome to the brave old world.