Click here to see our new ad for Mattessons Fridge Raiders.
So far, we've had a 100 or so complaints about scaring children (although, to me it seems no scarier than a lot of stuff I see on children's TV), which means it's now got a 19.30 restriction.
Which shows we're getting noticed...and talked about, if nothing else. But given the media landscape today, this is the name of the game. Nice, pleasant and neutral doesn't cut it any more: you've got to stimulate debate, and shouldn't shy away from polarising opinion (tho I should add that I don't think this is about being deliberately shocking creatively - this is a funny ad!!).
And with sales up well, well into double figures, it must be doing something right.
Postscript: there seems to be a lot of interest in the music. It's The Blue Wrath by I-Monster, and features in Shaun of the Dead
An little something you might be interested in having a look over. Love Your Dogs (may need free registration) comes courtesy of Booz Allen Hamilton, the management consultants. And their basic hypothesis is rather intriguing.
Looking at stock market performance over the last 30 years, they demonstrate the surprising and counter-intuitive conclusion that popular 'star' shares consistently under perform the market, whilst poorly regarded 'dog' shares consistently over perform (the so called 'Dogs of the Dow' theory). And yet people (including supposed experts) continue to invest in the 'stars'
Two reasons are given for this: 1) that past performance is all too often assumed to be an indicator of future performance - it isn't (which is also why purchase intention questions in research can be so misleading) and 2) that it is often harder, and more expensive, to get incremental value out of something that it is already performing well.
Based on these findings, they ask whether the same thinking can be applied to companies: do we over invest in 'star' businesses and brands, and under invest in, or divest ourselves of perceived 'dogs'? And would business performance improve if this policy was reversed?
They don't have any direct and systematic analysis to support this hypothesis. But it is an interesting and provocative idea. And maybe some positive proof is offered by the 'underperforming' brands big companies sell off, which come back to haunt them when new owners do a spot of investing.
Well, everyone seems to require a Myspace post at the moment.
Anyway, it does seem as if things are moving up a gear. Amateur hour for disgruntled teenagers may be on the verge of turning into something much more akin to a fully fledged mass, broadcast media.
An example: the new Morrissey album streaming in full, two weeks before launch.
Mainstream advertisers and agencies still seem unsure about this brave new world tho. But I think that's because most are viewing sites such as Myspace as advertising mediums: places for their ads to appear...which may be next to something a touch dubious...so we won't bother.
Instead tho, maybe we should be viewing this as a completely different model. This isn't about a new advertising medium, it's about you being in complete control of your environment and your message. Think branded content living up to all the hype, and you start to get the picture. You are freed from the old-fashioned, dinosaur-like media owners who have to be 'persuaded' (read paid) to take your content, and empowered to truly do your own thing.
In this new community-based world of Web 2.0, the brand is both the content provider and media owner.
Possibly scary for those with vested interested in old media models. And maybe some way off reaching critical mass. But this IS the future.
A new, interactive, multi-media, multi-platform game idea from the BBC. Jamie Kane, pop star, is dead. Or is he. You solve the mystery.
Don't know how many people do this kind of thing - it would be interesting to see the numbers. But it does seem like a good idea. And a great example of how digital technology can deliver really potent integration.
Given that it's the BBC, the only thing that seems to be missing is the accompanying TV show. Complete with lots of 'press the red button now' action.
May have seemed to much of a risk (and investment) I guess.
But does give an insight into a future where TV viewing becomes much more non-linear, with the viewer co-creating and managing their own experience of a programme, potentially across multiple platforms.
This is something that has drifted in and out of my orbit over the last 5 years or so. But now I have somewhere to put it.
Back in 1998, design guru Bruce Mau wrote his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.
All very wise. My favourite is no.14: 'cool is conservative fear dressed in black'. So whether you are doing design, advertising or whatever, maybe try some out today and see what happens.
1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth.
3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we've already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
17. ____________________. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you're separated from the rest of the world.
19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.
25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our "noodle."
28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits" is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'
31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea -- I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You'll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else ... but not words.
37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces -- what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference -- the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I've become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can't be free agents if we’re not free.
A bit of a follow up to my recent post on the social responsibility of brands. The other week, I read an article that talked about how the current generation of children and teens lacks any real role models, and the negative impact this was having on their social development. In describing this trend the writer coined what I thought was a rather good term: herosion.
For previous generations, heroes were untouchable, unknowable, and altogether somehow perfect, living in a world we could never be part of: which is why we listened to them; wanted to be like them. How very different things are now. The rise of the internet means we can know everything about anyone. Whether it is true or not. And what we don't find out for ourselves, we can guarantee the media or our mates will tell us about soon enough.
In many ways, this is a good thing - there are some truths about the people we look up to that it is important we know: role models should always be worthy of our respect, not just actors playing the role of respect worthiness. But at the same time, a lot of what an increasingly intrusive media informs us about is trivial at best; plain wrong at worst. The minor character flaws and failings that actually make us rounded, interesting individuals, and which shouldn't really effect someone's hero potential, are blown out of all proportion. And this drip feed of minor foibles soon add up. We end up trusting no one, even those we have no reason to doubt - because ‘they’ are all as bad as each other, aren’t they?
A cause or effect of this I don’t know (maybe both) but, in parallel to this hero erosion, it does now seem that the only quality our culture deems worthy of pursuit is superficial ‘fame’: taking Warhol’s 15 minutes to ludicrous, pointless extremes (I think what Andy had in mind was probably more like 15 minutes of genuine achievement of the kind he tried to cultivate at the Factory). But there is a fundamental problem with superficial fame, which is that it tends to be achieved by those who are, well, superficial (just watch Big Brother, the Apprentice, I’m a Celeb, Pop Idol etc. ad nauseam); people who have few qualities beyond their ability to be famous for being famous. All of which just reinforces the perception that our modern day ‘heroes’ have feet, and maybe whole bodies of clay. They are just like us (and it could be us), so why look up to them or respect them, when you can laugh at them or envy them (something the media is all too keen to remind of us).
But the fact remains that, psychologically and sociologically, heroes and role models are important to our development as people. Sometimes, we need others to point the way for us, when we can't see it for ourselves. And we need to respect them if we are to follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, all that Paris Hilton and her ilk are able to offer us are cautionary tales of the vacuous and famous. So what are the alternatives?
Strange as it may seem, but I wonder if this is where businesses and brands come in. Now, in our post-No-logo world, where the internet can tell us as much about the dark side of companies as it does the failings of celebs (and where these companies and the brands they promote are inextricably linked in a way which wasn’t the case before), this might seem a strange thing to say. Whether the corporate bullies (the oil companies spring to mind), the corrupt (see Enron et al) or the apparently ‘nice’ companies invading every aspect of our lives (Tesco, Microsoft, and now Google), all the business world seems to offer us is yet more evidence of the trust and respect erosion in our society.
But many businesses HAVE seen the writing on the wall. Maybe cynically some would say, or maybe not (the truth WILL come out - that's the whole point), but a new generation of businesses is emerging. Empowered by the internet, rather than caught out by it (Nike anyone), this new generation sees business as a partnership with consumers: rather than speak from the outside, they make sure they are rooted in the community they are want to engage with. And the best of them go a step further still, inviting consumers ‘into’ the company to be involved with the co-creation of the brands that unite them. Also, because they see their fortunes as so intrinsically linked to the lives of their consumers, these businesses seem to take their social responsibility seriously: that there is more to a successful business than making money. Time will tell whether it is all smoke and mirrors, but maybe this new generation of companies and brands can begin to fill the role model vacuum for a new generation of consumers.
For an ever increasing list of companies that seem to fit this bill (to greater or lesser extent) see the side bar to the left.