Friday, December 23, 2011

Things I Love - Friday 23rd December

This Tumblr of very low key rock & roll anecdotes

Tim Minchin's Woody Allen Jesus song.  I can see why ITV didn't want it in a prime time show two days before Christmas, but now lots of people are hearing it anyway.  It might even work better on YouTube, and I'm sure it would sell a lot of copies if it was available as a download.

This terrifying mountain biking video.  Dear mountain bikers, I think of your mothers...

Jon Spira's excellent documentary Anyone Can Play Guitar, all about the Oxford music scene, and featuring Ride, Supergrass and Radiohead.  It's also a great example of how creative communities work; the scene revolved around a venue that all the bands played in.  There was also lots of movement between the main and peripheral bands.  A lot like lots of other creative communities.  Watch it!

The Divine Comedy's song Gin Soaked Boy.  Is there a better 'list' song?  Is there a better final couple of lines?

Oh - and my new 'long skinny' scarf from Tallulah and Hope!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Four companies Marc Andreessen talks about

Marc Andreessen was one of the writers of Mosaic and one of the founders of Netscape.  Since then he's been actively involved in lots of businesses, as an entrepreneur and an investor.  He's definitely someone worth listening to.

In CNET yesterday he was interviewed about future trends and predictions.  The whole article is essential reading, and I wanted to list some of the companies he talks about.  All are potentially changing and disrupting the online world:

Fab is an ecommerce site.  It sells niche homewares, for members only.  When you join you're given access to the curated sales, but also given a percentage of sales from items that you share, and also from what people that you sign up buy.  You can also get inspiration from what other people are buying, a bit like Pinterest.

Uber is a taxi service.  Request a car (an American Town Car, rather than a taxi, and then track it online as it comes to you.  You can also work out the cost online, and cleverly they charge you based on their distance or time taken for the journey, according to the speed of the car.  If the car is going at more than 11mph they charge by distance, if it's less than that they charge by time spent.

TaskRabbit is an online services company, a bit like Zaarly.  Find people to do small jobs for you, like deliveries, household chores, or even virtual assistance.  All people offering to do the tasks are vetted by the company, and rated by members.

Shopkick is like a rewards-based Foursquare. Get rewards for visiting stores, checking in, or by scanning barcodes of specific items.  They've just launched this promo with Visa:

Please read the full article - lots and lots to think about!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lands' End Canvas promotion on Pinterest

Pinterest has been around for a bit over a year, and I think this is the first marketing campaign to use it.

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking site.  You can save images on different 'boards' and see other people's saved images for inspiration.  I think it's been one of the hits of the year; some of the users have thousands of  items 'pinned', and I've come across lots of non-geeky people who use it.

Lands' End Canvas are using Pinterest to spread the word about their collection and their presence on the site.

For the next few days they're encouraging people to pin some of the Lands' End images to their own Lands' End boards, in a competition they're calling Pin It to Win It.  The owners of the most creative boards will win a prize.  (What's in it for Lands' End is that pictures and links to their clothes are shared, and will be seen by many of the people who subscribe to the entrants' pages)

See the full ts & cs here.

Here are a couple of examples of boards people have made to enter the competition - The Budget Babe's board, and Susan Henry's board.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Things I Love - Friday 16th December

The brilliant 'Pst a Pudding' service from The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.  Very fast delivery (& the box says 'Warning:  Contents Irresistible'

The self explanatory site You Park Like a C***.  Wonder if this'll be turned into a book.

This lovely interactive Christmas card

& this, probably the strangest site you'll see all week...

12 Trends for 2012

Here's my new Trends presentation.

I've been doing predictions for the past few years now, and since my Next Generation Media presentations have proved to be popular I decided to do this as a presentation.

I look at the things that will be more popular next year.  None of them are that surprising (although maybe they are - I'm very close to this sort of stuff), but they're all trends that will grow a lot next year.

Here are the 12 trends:

Mobile Commerce
Mobile Payments
Mobile + TV
Connected TV
Mobile in China, India & Africa
Mobile's Threat to Other Services
Ecosystems & Walled Gardens
Real Time Bidding & Automation
Education Enabled
Hijacks & Guerrilla Marketing
'eBay' for Services

Bohemian Hangouts

I'd love to see this actually work...

More ads for the new Galaxy Nexus here

Converse Create

Converse Create is an interesting take on FCommerce (Facebook Commerce).  Instead of just being able to buy Converse shoes on Facebook, you can design your own, and then sell them to others.

It's reminiscent of the Kaiser Chiefs stunt from earlier in the year, although likely to attract more participation because people are probably more passionate about sneakers than Kaisers!

But it also reminded me of something else:  In 2008 Keds did the same thing, but without Facebook.  They let fans create and sell their own shoes through Zazzle.  I don't know how well it worked for Keds, but the ubiquity of Facebook, and the tools they offer, make this much more likely to be a success on Facebook, I think.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stephen Fry leverages his followers to promote Sherlock Holmes

The second Guy Richie Sherlock Holmes film, A Game of Shadows, is out in the UK on Friday.

To help promote it the film company have persuaded Stephen Fry to post a daily puzzle to his 3.5m followers on Twitter.  This is very smart, because the official account for Sherlock Holmes 2 has only 3,600 followers.

Fry is in the film, as Mycroft, and is a huge Holmes fan.  When he was Celebrity Mastermind a few years ago he chose Holmes as his specialist subject.  (Amazingly he didn't win; he hadn't revised enough and didn't remember all the details).

For the past few days Fry has been tweeting teasers to his followers at 2.21 precisely (geddit? - It's Holmes address in Baker Street).  Followers need to answer correctly tweeting with the hashtag #GameOfShadowsUK and @-ing one of the partners - @BleedingCool, @LoveFilm, @IGNUK, @DigitalSpy, @msnmoviesuk, @HeatWorld, and @HeyUGuys

Here are Fry's tweets:

The first person to get the correct answer (including the hashtag, and @-ing a media partner) each day wins a prize.

I think this is a very inventive use of Twitter to create anticipation for the film (& I'd love to know how much Fry got paid / or how it was tied into his contract for doing the film.)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Things I love - Friday 9th December

A slightly longer one this week, to make up for not doing it last week (too busy)

The delicious beers made by Fyne Ales in Scotland.  Great customer service too.  Buy a case or two for Christmas - for yourself or as a present - you know you want to!

This excellent mashup of the best film trailers from this year.  I need to see more films!

& speaking of mashups...  We used this at the pub quiz I run (1st Sunday of the month) - teams had to identify both artists from 10 mashups.  This was the best one:

The Procatinator

This QR Tattoo - it plays a random link each time.  Try explaining this to your grandchildren though!

These Christmas cards from Ham.  Officially this year's cutest cards!

Amazon's Price Check Day

This is possibly the most blatant attempt yet to get people to use stores for browsing, but buy online.

Tomorrow in the US Amazon is offering 5% off on up to 3 items when people scan in store with their apps.  Items will include electronics, sportswear, music, DVDs and toys.  I think the stores must be furious.  (Best Buy has even been reported as removing bar codes from some items to stop in-store scanning)

Discussion (& hat tip) on Metafilter

Update - some coverage of the stores' reactions here

Embedding Tweets

The new Twitter makes it possible to embed tweets - for example:
Cool, huh?

Simply 'open' the tweet, click on 'details', and then 'embed this tweet'

More info at the Twitter developer blog

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Twitter

It seems only a few months ago that Twitter had a major re-design; now they're having another one.  (In fact it was probably over two years ago)

Watch the video

& read more about it here.

It's much richer, and much more visual.  I think it will also differentiate the mobile and desktop experiences a lot more.  It seems sensible, as Twitter changes its demographic.  Nowadays, as I've mentioned before, the trending topics are frequently dominated by teenage concerns, particularly (in the UK) One Direction.  I'm expecting this re-design to cause lots of grumbles from oldies like me, but the younger people will probably love it even more.

Update - here's an article that argues the same thing, but much better:  New York Times - A Twitter for my Sister


"So why the big redesign that was unveiled on Thursday? The answer comes down to one thing: my sister.
As I wrote earlier this year, Twitter has had a problem trying to become relevant to new users who find it confusing. I came to this realization when I watched my sister try to use Twitter. She, along with dozens of other readers I have spoken with, simply didn’t understand how to use the service and found it incredibly confusing.
Specifically, non-techies find the @ and # symbols don’t make much sense. Twitter has known this, but couldn’t exactly remove them from the service, after all, these symbols have become the fundamentals of Twitter’s entire communications system. Removing these key characters would be like removing numbers from a telephone.
That’s where the new Twitter comes in. The company had to figure out a way to keep the site running for people who are more technologically adept and for those who understand and rely on the @ and # symbols to use the service. But, it also must make sense for those who think these characters are used as substitutes for swear words in comic strips."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Old Spice for Christmas

The Old Spice guy returns, as MANta Claus:

Personal messages to bloggers and online celebrities with gifts,

Plus gifts for whole nations

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

YouTube premium channels launch: Kin Community

Kin is one of YouTube's new premium content channels.  It's aimed at mothers, and all content is made by YouTube's partners.

You can see examples of the videos:



Two other strands, Parenting and Stories are coming soon.

Full story on AdAge

Monday, December 05, 2011

eBay - Donate Christmas gifts from your smartphone

This is a really good initiative from eBay in the US.  They have set up shop windows in New York and San Francisco, showcasing a number of toys.  QR codes next to the toys let people buy them, not for themselves, but to give to charity.

As we saw last year & this, mobile can be a real driver for donations.  If you make it easy & convenient for people to donate, people are more likely to do it.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

"A seat of learning worthy of the Anunaki"

Well done to the University of Huddersfield for this very entertaining promo video.  Perfect for the target market, and it also gives you an informative tour of the campus!


Liz: 2 friends in common

You've got to love the ingenuity of the people making ads online - even if they are completely untrue.

Strangely this one appeared on a page of the online news site The Drum.  You can see that its from the Google ad network - the little box in the top right hand corner lets you set your targeting preferences.

Still - at least it's not quite as bad as this one:

Please tell me it's not just me that gets these!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MINI's Escape 'Tag' Game Comes to Tokyo

Last year MINI ran a very successful mobile game in Stockholm.  Players had to download an app, then try to 'hold' a virtual MINI, in a game of tag.  If you get within 50m of the current holder you can grab the MINI, but then all the other players will be after you.  The person who 'held' the MINI when the competition ended won a real one.

About 11,000 people played in Stockholm (playing an average of over 5 hours per person - see case study below), and now it's coming to Tokyo this Saturday, an area 32 times bigger.  Last time it was for iPhone users only, this time they've also created an Android app.  They expect over 100,000 people to play over the 9 days of the competition!

Here's the video announcement:

& here's an excellent case study of last year's competition in Stockholm:

"On the final day, parts of Stockholm were totally jammed with players"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Things I Love - Friday 25th November

The book Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan - a novel about jazz & betrayal in the 1940s.  Nominated for the Booker, and very good.

This set of classic album covers, re-created in Streetview

The fact that Hugh Laurie's debut album sold more than Matt Cardle's (I haven't got either.  & yes, OK, in a month or two MC will have probably overtaken.)

Here's one of Hugh's favourite songs:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friday - The Ad

Great opportunistic use of an internet sensation by Kohl, to promote Black Friday.

I wonder who got paid - Rebecca Black, the songwriters, or both..?

& I also wonder who's going to be the first to do something with Fenton & his owner!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Toyota FT-86 Fastest Painted Website

This is a neat stunt that Toyota pulled over the weekend in Tokyo.

To promote the new FT-86 concept sports car, they created a website based on a painted wall that the very busy Shinjuku station.  Web developers turned different parts of the painting into clickable links, and the site was able to respond in real time to tweets and Likes.

Check it out - it's only going to be live until the 26th.

& see the making of here:

Or alternatively, how about a website made out of chocolate..?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Things I Love - Friday 18th November

My cousin Andy Farrell's book about The 100 Greatest Ever Golfers - so far it's got 4 5-star reviews on Amazon, and there's a quote from Arnold Palmer on the cover (& it's obviously the perfect Christmas present for any golfer)

This video on 25 ways to wear a scarf

Danny & The Deep Blue Sea at the Southwark Playhouse.  It finishes tomorrow, but get a ticket if you can.  It won lots of awards at Edinburgh, and both of the actors are on top form.

Herman Cain's 404 page - hopefuly that's what he'll be best known for!

This list of the best 100 dance tunes, from 1965 onwards, complete with YouTube links, starting with Shirley Ellis:

One Direction on Ustream

Last night One Direction went onto Ustream to hold an hour-long live video listening party for fans to hear extracts of their first album Up All Night.  This is on top of the mainstream media work they've done - breakfast TV, Children in Need, and so on.  This gives them more time to talk to the hardcore fans though.

You can see most of the listening party on YouTube - first extract here:

They talk about the success of the 1DCyberPunk - which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago -  all the stuff made by the fans and more.

So far the channel's had 71,000 tweets, and 13,000 Likes (Twitter more popular than Facebook among this audience it seems), and the album's out on Monday.

I think lots of companies could learn a lot about how 1D have built their community and kept their fans busy and engaged.

More next week!

Update 30-11-11 - One Direction acheived the highest sales for a first album this year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Square's Card Case

This is all sorts of amazing, and it shows what Foursquare is missing out on.

Card Case from Square on Vimeo.

It makes payment so much easier, and you can imagine that if you saw someone doing this in your local coffee shop you'd want to do it as well.  As it's location-based it's a good competitor to NFC, something that Square dismiss as 'having no value'.  Square is currently only available in the US, but here's hoping it comes to Europe soon.  See the full details here.

Square have come so far since the early days (last year).  Now Branson is an investor, they process millions of dollars each day, and colleagues tell e that it's becoming the main way to pay for taxis in some American cities.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Promoted Tweets in the Timeline

This is a first for me - today I got a promoted tweet in the Twitter timeline for a brand I don't follow.

See the screengrab below.  The tweet appeared at the top of my timeline, but then dropped when I refreshed.

I'm sure it was appropriate, and it was also something that I was interested in.  I'm assuming it was because I follow similar accounts to Sainsbury, and also a lot of food-related accounts.

Twitter say that they've been rolling this out since September.  I think it's not too annoying, but presumably the usual suspects will be up in arms about it when they see it.  However it will potentially create lots of revenue for Twitter.  You can currently roadblock (take over) Facebook for certain days for brands for pretty sizeable sums; with my work hat on this would be a good thing for advertisers to be able to do on Twitter too.

PS - this is what Sainsbury are promoting - the new Jamie Oliver Christmas ad.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Things I Love - Friday 11th November

These 'Muppets' concert posters, created by Michael De Pippo for fun, and now very likely to actually go on sale.

Rick Perry's appalling blunder on live TV, plus the memes that immediately came out of it.

This incredibly brilliant QR code

The scarves from Timothy Everest's new online shop

The Velorution bike shop in Great Portland Street, perfect for unusual presents, like things made from old bike tyres.

Lou Reed and Metallica - together at last - on Later.  Yes, they've both done lots of better things, but they look like they're having so much fun:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

H&M use a Promoted Trend to offer something money can't buy

I like this a lot.  H&M are using a promoted trend with the hashtag #BeatVersaceQueue on Twitter in the UK today to offer an one lucky shopper per store a 10 minute private shopping session on the first day of sale for the new range by Versace at H&M.

This collection is likely to sell out on the first day, and queues are likely to stretch round the block for all stores.

By offering shoppers the chance to win something that money can't buy they're creating real buzz for the brand.

"We are giving 20 lucky winners the chance to beat the queue and shop The Very Best of Versace for H&M on 17th November before anyone else. 1 winner per store will be selected to have a special 10 minute allocated time before the stores open to the rest of the public at 8.50am.

For your chance to win, follow us on Twitter @hmunitedkingdom using the hashtag #BeatVersaceQueue and your preferred store. In 140 characters tell us why you would like to be the first to shop The Very Best of Versace for H&M collection?

The winners will be selected by 16th November."

Nicely done!

Kevin Spacey in multiple roles for American Airlines

This is very clever - I love the pay-off!

Excellent use of a celebrity in advertising!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Jeep Wrangler - Call of Duty Special Edition

Jeep have partnered with the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 game.  They're producing a special edition Wrangler Jeep with the game's branding on it, and as far as I can make out the Jeep also appears in the game.

That stats behind Call of Duty are huge - millions of players each day, millions of minutes spent playing - and probably a very good fit with Jeep's target audience.

That's what articles like this imply - can anyone confirm?

Update - PC Mag says that the Jeep features prominently in the game

How news spreads across networks

This is a screen grab of the Bitly stats for the Sun's story about Frankie Cocozza being ejected from X Factor.

Click to enlarge

(Background - Frankie Cocozza is a young, not very good singer on the British X Factor.  He'd managed tp stay in because he is popular with some people - he has over 300,000 followers on Twitter, acquired since the start of the competition - but he was always going out drinking and finally - reportedly - boasted about taking drugs in front of production staff)

It's an interesting story to look at because it was initially only in one source - The Sun - before being reported elsewhere.

The pattern of clicks shows that clicks started between 1pm and 2pm (15,000 clicks) rising to 25,000 clicks the next hour as the story spread.  Then it started to fall as more sources started to report it, and the story moved on from the original news.  However it still got over 1,000 clicks between 10pm and 11pm.  (I've no idea whether Bitly track all the clicks accurately, but I'm assuming that they get the pattern about right)

Next look at the sources of the clicks.  Twitter and Twitter's URL shortener account for over 60% of the clicks, then email, IM, apps and direct clicks, with 18%, then Facebook desktop (12%) and mobile (6%).

Not surprisingly, nearly 90% of the clicks came from the UK - it's a very British story.

I think it's interesting to see how news spreads - and the importance of Twitter in passing around this sort of news.  Don't forget that this was a school day, and that many of Frankie's fans would have been at school when the story initially came out.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Things I Love - Friday 4th November

Inspired by this regular post from Timothy Everest's blog, I'm going to start making regular Friday posts on random things I've found around the net.

This week:

Nelson, a graphic novel by 54 British artists, in aid of Shelter

Kitten Covers - classic album covers, with kittens

The very minimalist site for the restaurant Duck Soup

Honest Burgers in Brixton - now getting longer queues than Franco Manca

QR Code postage stamps that track their status

Jimmy Carr's Halloween outfit

How to be a Retronaut - a great repository of retro pictures and articles

Google's Easter Eggs - search for Do A Barrel Roll; also try tilt, askew, anagram and recursion

& Jon Ronson's investigation into Ark, makers of Rebecca Black's Friday

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Converse's 'Take it Outside' Treasure Hunt

A great competition from Converse.  To promote their new boots, they're leaving some pairs around the UK.

Pictures are posted on Facebook, with a date and time that the boots will be left in the vicinity.  Other details are added on Twitter.

For example here:

& here:

Users then have to find them. There's only one pair, so it they're the wrong size they can give them to a friend.  A great low-tech competition.  I particularly like the low-tech converse logos!

(I think if this happened a year ago you'd have had to check in on Foursquare as part of the mechanic.  Foursquare seems to be getting less buzz these days)

& even if you don't find the boots you can win a trip to the 100 Club (sponsored by Converse) by emailing

GTA Five - Vinewood

The new trailer

It plays on a classic film theme - the old gangster wanting to retire.  Visually it looks very impressive!

Find out more about 'Vinewood' in the wiki here

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Twitter Stories

This is great - Twitter's repository for interesting, unusual and inspiring uses of the service

I love this one:

"Aaron Durand’s mother was in trouble. She had run an independent bookstore for nearly two decades when an economic downturn hit that threatened to close the shop. Aaron wanted to help his mom, but wasn’t sure what he could do. He wrote about his mom’s plight on his blog then tweeted it out, adding at the last second an offer to buy a burrito for anyone who bought $50 worth of books during the holidays at his mom’s shop.
The story took hold. The Tweet was passed along from person to person across Portland’s art and design community. It was retweeted and retweeted until hundreds of people had read the story.
Overnight, new customers started to arrive and business began to pick up. The story continued to snowball on Twitter. The bookstore went on to have its best holiday season ever, and has continued to thrive each season since."

(Doesn't always work, of course...)

See the stories here

JESSIE J IS TOTES AMAZEBALLS - or How Hits Happen on Twitter

Trending Topics (TTs) are one of the most mysterious aspects of Twitter.  How do they start, how do they grow, what takes off...  These are all questions that have puzzled marketers at some time.

Twitter promote TTs as one of the most useful aspects of the service - allowing people to see what people are talking about to get early warning of breaking stories.  Recently I've noticed TTs becoming more and more driven by pop culture, and not about news at all - the band One Direction seem to inspire at least one a day - and when one particularly strange one JESSIE J IS TOTES AMAZEBALLS trended in the UK last week I decided to investigate how it had started and become popular.

(I should say that I've seen Jessie J and I agree that she's pretty amazeballs, but totes?  That's probably over-doing it a bit.  Maybe after a couple more years)

To do this I used the analysis tool Radian6, which has access to the entire Twitter firehose - that is all tweets sent.

In all cases I've hidden the identities of the Twitter users, but I'll show the Tweets.

The phrase got a sudden flurry of Tweets on 27th October, to hit a peak of about 18,000 for the day:

According to my analysis, this was the first tweet, in minute 1 a user - with 1144 followers - tweeted:

It was then picked up by friends, first slowly, and then it started to gather steam, rising from 1 tweet a minute (TPM) to hit 14 tweets a minute by the 7th minute.  In this time the first Tweeter Tweeted other versions 6 times.

I show the number of TPS for the first 90 minutes here

It continued to be re-tweeted, but it did not rise above 21 TPM until the 40th minute, when it suddenly started to hit 45 TPM on the 43rd minute.

What happened was that on the 40th minute it was tweeted by someone with 13,978 followers

and then in the 42nd minute by someone with 94,090 follwers.

(This last user is pretty amazing - a 23 year old from Ireland who 'loves Rihanna more than my mother'...)

This last one was re-tweeted more than 100 times, and the TPS started rising to hit 45, and then a few minutes later 51.

It then declined again, until it hit an absolute peak of 68 TPS in the 67th minute.  I think thiw was caused by two tweets by users with nearly 12,000 followers each, in the 63rd minute.  I also think that by that time it had hit the TTs, so other Jessie J fans had seen it and spontaneously joined in the fun.

So what does this all mean?

1 - Twitter works organically, but can be swayed by very popular users if they are in the mood.  If you're a brand it helps to have some of these people; if you're a digital PR person it's essential to have either lots of followers yourself, or be on very good terms with people who do.  But also the messages must be relevant to your followers.

2 - This can de-value Twitter's reputation.  How so?  Because they trade on the TTs as a serious, useful service. It's mentioned a lot in their presentations to agencies, and other companies, for example Nielsen, put a lot of store in the top trending topics.  People are now actively starting to manipulate them - although there's not evidence that Jessie J's people were involved in this - and it's potentally going to be akin to SEO spam.

Twitter already block words in TTs - all the main swear words (I think) and other words like 'Assange' (once 'Sweden' was trending because it was ruled that Assange could be extradited there, but 'Assange', a word that featured in all the 'Sweden' Tweets, didn't appear).  If Twitter can block these, why not address some of the other abuses?  Block TTs in block capitals?

Or even do 'Trends among Friends' - i.e. just trends within who you follow.  That would be a better solution!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Zero Moment of Truth

Zero Moment of Truth is a new buzz phrase created by Google to describe the consumer's decision-making process:

The First Moment of Truth was a concept from classical advertising, the moment at the shelf when the consumer makes a decision.  The Zero Moment of Truth is the step before that, when someone is researching online.  According to the document, the Zero Moment of Truth is:

"A BUSY MOM IN A MINIVAN, looking up decongestants on her mobile phone as she waits to pick up her son at school.
AN OFFICE MANAGER AT HER DESK, comparing laser printer prices and ink cartridge costs before heading to the office supply store.
A STUDENT IN A CAFE, scanning user ratings and reviews while looking for a cheap hotel in Barcelona.
A WINTER SPORTS FAN IN A SKI STORE, pulling out a mobile phone to look at video reviews of the latest snowboards.
A YOUNG WOMAN IN HER CONDO, searching the web for juicy details about a new guy before a blind date.
ZMOT is that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service (or potential boyfriend) you’re thinking about trying or buying."

Have a look at the video, and then download the book here.

The Hope Tank - Mending Broken Hearts

The Hope Tank is a new project for the British Hart Foundation by my colleagues at glue Isobar, in aid of their 50th anniversary Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.

The Hope Tank virtual aquarium site is home to an increasing number of zebrafish - each one a representation of hope for the campaign. The zebrafish is a real fish that has the ability to repair its own heart, so scientists funded by the BHF are trying to unlock its secrets to learn how we can mend human hearts too. Show your support by creating your own personalised zebrafish here.

Hear about the amazing science behind it here:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Microsoft's Vision of the Future

This is a good new video from Microsoft about how the world will look in a few years.  A lot of it is based on display technologies, like Surface, and a lot on mobile.  (& read this for background)

My only problem with it really is that it only talks about middle class or rich people, and current events suggest that in the future many will be less well off than today.  This quote from a thread on Metafilter from a couple of years ago is still very apt:

"One of my friends points out that this future is very specific to the middle-class. The people delivering all those groceries, and driving the buses 24 hours a day, and presumably maintaining the garden-like restaurant (and somewhere, preparing the food pods to be dropped into the tubes) are not working from home three days a week."

However having said that I'm guilty of the same thing with recent posts on interactive toys for kids and the falling costs of smartphones, so let's be quite clear about this:  This is what some will see, but many will not be included in this vision of a perfect world.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Almost anyone can afford a smartphone

Now on offer at T-Mobile (other operators are available) A Samsung Galaxy Ace, for free, with a £15 per month plan over 24 months.  A friend recently took up a very similar offer, that included unlimited internet, unlimited texts, and 100 minutes talk time.

Three thoughts:

1 - Smartphone penetration will keep growing very quickly to reach something like 70% within a year in the UK

2 - Apple is going to be seen as very expensive when lots of handsets are being offered for free, and will not be an option for most

3 - However there will be lots of additional (unlocked) handsets bought.  With the best will in the world the Samsung Galaxy Ace isn't designed to last for 24 months

Toys interacting with mobile apps

We're now starting to see examples of toys and games that mix real objects with mobile apps.  Here are two examples, both from clients.

First, Lego, with Life of George, on sale here (£30)

Unpack the set, then the mobile app asks you to create pictures against the clock.  Expect it to be a big seller this Christmas!

Second Pixar, with 'Cars' toys that interact with the iPad.

Also - added bonus - I love this video of a baby trying to interact with magazines:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Direction's Cyber Punk

For plans for the One Direction Paper Dolls please see at the bottom of the page.  Plans for all 5 dolls are down there!

One Direction is the band that came out of last year's X-Factor (a bit of background for anyone who's not in the UK).  They're close to releasing their first album, and to stoke up the interest their 'people' (record company, management or whatever) have been playing an online game with fans.

The character 1DCyberPunk was introduced a couple of weeks ago through the main One Direction site.  She's supposedly stolen their laptop, and will release images and more as fans complete a set of challenges.  For example solving a cryptic clue to get an exclusive pic, getting a One Direction term trending on Twitter, or making a paper model of the band members.

Here's the section of the One Direction site

Here's the Twitter

 This is a typical intro to a challenge

One challenge was to download & make paper dolls of the band members from patterns

An example

Then take fun pictures of them and upload to the Tumblr

(One Direction Paper Dolls - To download the templates, go to the 1DCP site, and then go to task 4 to see the dolls link (see pic above).  Use the arrows on the bottom to navigate to task 4.  Good luck, Tinkers!)

(OK then - Easter 2012 - in response to the comments on the blog I've now taken screenshots and here are the plans for all 5 dolls.  Be creative and enjoy yourselves!)

Harry Styles Paper Doll

Liam Payne Paper Doll

Louis Tomlinson Paper Doll

Niall Horan Paper Doll

Zayn Malik Paper Doll

(Slight update - 16-11-11 - fans have even made stop-motion films of the dolls)

(End of update)

The main action's happening through Twitter, and I think it says a lot about both how the young are using media, and how to engage through social media.

1 - Teens get Twitter.  It's easy to do, and it's free (as a marginal cost).  A friend recently got a smartphone on a contract with unlimited internet, unlimited texts & 100 minutes of talk time for £15 a month.  Blimey.  Twitter is perfect for kids to communicate, and these days so many of their heroes are on twitter.  In the case of One Direction the band is on Twitter (twitter is promoted more prominently than Facebook on their site) and the 5 individual members are on too and active users.  Furthermore, bands like One Direction are teaching their fans how to be expert Twitter users.  I read a book once where a female journalist said that she'd learnt how to organise people by planning trips to see David Cassidy when she was younger...  This is similar.

2 - Brands can use Twitter for engagement, but only when they are engaging in the first place.  Twitter wasn't used to launch the band, TV was.  But Twitter is used to keep the excitement and interest high.  In this case it's 5 teenagers, so there's no shortage of news to spread about them - what they're up to, where they've been, what they want for their birthdays, what they're watching on TV.  The challenge with brands on twitter is to be endlessly interesting - not how they can spend money to promote things that people probably aren't that interested in (Columbus are using the promoted trend today to promote a video that's 5 months old)

Hats off to whoever's running the One Direction marketing.  I'd love to see some case studies when they've shown that if you get it right kids do still buy music!
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