Been tagged by Dino in the on-going 'say 5 unknown-ish things about you' meme. So here goes.
Comics. How much money do I spend each week? I dread to think. And then, much to Jo's annoyance, I stick them in the loft in the vain hope that I will one day sell them and make all that money back (yeh right!). Anyway, this is one of my most valuable (1st McFarlane & 1st Venom)
I have a really broad taste in music. And I'm always happy to stand up for what I like. But folk music? And country? That's a failing I'm not quite so open about.
As an early teenager, I was fat...had rabbit teeth...and was a lot more ginger than I am now. Things change obviously ;-), But scarred for life, undoubtedly.
I'm a failed rock star. Really failed, given that I never learnt to play the guitar I got as a 17 year old. Rather sadly, it's still in the loft (you can always dream!), next to the comics...and next to the bass guitar I bought as a student after failing to master the 6 strings - 4 had to be easier (or not).
Otters make me cry. Can't explain this one, beyond being a sentimental softy. Maybe I was traumatised by Ring of Bright Water as a child. But they do it every time.
So who to tag next. Difficulty is finding 5 people who haven't been tagged already (as far as I'm aware), and who are likely to stumble across this post. I will go for...
Strange as it might seem, in this world of niche, personalised digital content, but Saturday early evening in the UK has become a hotbed of good old-fashioned, mass-viewing TV entertainment.
And you have to take sides. Are you for ITV's X Factor, which had its final on Saturday. Or are you for BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, which was at the semi final stage. The fact that I have absolutely no idea who won X Factor (and care even less) probably shows you where I stand. Our house is very much a Strictly house (and personal opinion - I thought it should have been Mark & Emma in the final, so showing you can't trust the great British public when it comes to voting - ah, the joys of democracy).
Where Strictly sees people you have actually heard of perform at and triumph in a genuinely difficult and highly technical activity, all X Factor manages to do (my view I know) is elevate a bunch of non-entities to a level of mediocrity that wouldn't look out of place in a karaoke bar.
Maybe it's because I'm a music snob, but it's all lowest common denominator MOR pop rubbish to me. And the pointlessness of X Factor is summed up perfectly by this theoretically positive comment by Sharon Osbourne (one of the show's judges) on last year's winner Shayne Ward (never heard of him or his music): "he has sold 2.5m records. But without winning the X Factor he wouldn't have sold one".
It's meant to be a justification of X-factor's value. But to me it perfectly captures why the show is such a waste of space. Genuine creativity and talent wins out (just look at Arctic Monkeys, Lilly Allan and all the other break-thru artists of recent years). It doesn't need the cheap publicity of peak time TV exposure to buy success.
Daisy is our cat. I love her dearly, and she is very much one of the family. But if at the best of times she's a little crazy, at Christmas she is completely deranged.
I don't know what it is about putting a great big tree covered in balls in the corner of the room (although when you put it like that...!!), but she just can't resist it. And on Saturday she managed to elevate her tree fixation to new levels by blowing up the lights. Joy. And we had people round for dinner.
Now as every good tree dresser knows, the lights are the first thing that goes on. This meant Sunday was spent with wire cutters, surgically removing the old lights, before carefully threading in the new ones. It was like performing open heart surgery.
Tree looks nice tho. And I still love Daisy. She's just banned from the lounge now for the festive duration.
We all want to build brand communities. Instinctively we know they are a good thing. But increasingly, ‘community’ (much like ‘user generated content’ or ‘virals’) is becoming just another weapon in the marketing armoury: often it's a case of 'we’re going to build a brand community' much as it would once have been 'we're going to make a 30” TV commercial'.
But community doesn’t work like this (in the same way that something won’t go viral just because you call it a viral). Community is organic, uncontrollable; it forms itself, and plays by it’s own rules. You can’t make a brand community form, just because you want one. You have to be a brand that’s worthy of a community forming around it.
Obviously, you can put the tools in place that help facilitate this. But you can't prescribe the form the community will take, how it will behave, even what it will say about you (much as you might like to be able to). You just have to let go and let it happen. And not worry about the consequences. If people say something ‘negative’ or are just ‘off brand’ the instinct is to clamp down and get all controlling. But this is the worse thing you can do, if true community is what you're after.
Learn from what people are saying and build on it: your brand isn’t set in stone for eternity (and if it is, it’s probably dead already); it is an on-going story, and like any good story it can have its twists, turns and plot developments (as long as they’re logical progressions).
Anyway, Modern Marketing has a really good post that looks at the nature of community and what it means for brands. Well worth a read. And it makes use of a good football example. Joga, Nike’s football ‘community’ site, looks great from the outside (and has some good content). But it was ultimately about trying to form community in Nike’s own (controlled) image. As such, after the world cup hype died down, and the big TV budgets wained, so did interest in the Joga community, despite all the glitz and glamour. In comparison, the post looks at Arseblog, one Arsenal fan's blog. This is a real and thriving 'amateur' community, now of a similar size to Joga.
This really does show that the best communities really do just happens because people want it to. And it's folksy, grassroots-ness that normally thrives (like community any where, real or virtual). The lesson for marketing? In the immortal words of Leon Hayward: don’t push it, don’t force it baby, let it happen naturally.
It's funny how things start. Earlier in the year I returned to the office, after walking across Oxford Circus, and thought 'what if?'. And that's how the People Project was born.
What if we made use of our in-house filming and editing capabilities (being an ad agency AND production company has its advantages)? What if we invited our next door neighbours, Jigsaw Research, to be involved? And what if we went out on the streets and just asked people questions?
It's that simple really. We plan to ask 10 or so questions at regular intervals across the year, keeping those questions broadly consistent. We're not pretending it's representative. And the questions aren't particularly deep. But we're hoping it will provide insight, maybe even inspiration, as well as allowing valuable comparisons over the time (and even a few laughs).
Anyway, you can check out three teasers below (putting them on Youtube seemed to be the easiest way to get them here), with more on the website. We're planning to do the next wave very soon, and hope to extend the same basic model to other cities.