Unknown Track – Unknown Artist

My iTunes just served me up a track called unknown by unknown. Lord knows how that got there ;-)

Trouble is, I really really like it. And it sounds like it could be from today, or it could be from any time in the last 25 years. It’s a kind of big spacey synthy disco number. I can’t help but think of Morgan Geist, Daniel Wang, Moroder and Metro Area. But I’ve got absolutely no idea where to start. I tried Shazam, but no joy.

This is my attempt to invoke the hive mind of muso-trainspotters. Come on then. What is it…?

What Advertising Can Learn From Radiohead

I wasn’t going to blog about the House of Cards video and it’s brilliant integration with Google and the geekosphere. I wasn’t going to blog it because everyone else has. It is bloody brilliant though. Yet another example of how Radiohead really understand the importance of context.

So I wasn’t going to post it, then I realised it’s a golden opportunity for me to share a presentation I did at the Online Marketing and Media Show last month. I got invited by NMA to talk on a Creative Directors Showcase thingy. Me, Flo from Dare, Sam from Lean Mean Fighting Machine and Dom from Glue all got to chat about things we’ve seen recently that we like. The other guys all did a great job and showed us lots of cool online / mobile advertising things.

Instead of doing it on something that I liked, I chose to do 5 minutes on Radiohead ;-)

Basically it’s all about how I don’t like Radiohead, but how, through being interesting and innovative, they’ve made me like the ‘idea’ of Radiohead. Imagine if normal brands could do that. Make you care about products you don’t even like that much. I reckon there’s stuff we can learn from the ‘head.

I tried to format it for online video as best as I could (I added some extra words so it can be followed without me speaking, and I put some music in it to stop it feeling too silent) – but I’m not good enough at that kind of thing to make all the timings quite right, so please forgive any bits that feel too slow or too fast.

I hope no-one minds that I used their footage in there. I specifically use the examples of:

I’ve just noticed that Radiohead are a bit shit at search engine optimisiation though. With page titles like this:

RA DIOHEA_D / HOU SE OF_C ARDS – Google Code

How is anyone supposed to find them. Like anyone will look for all those spaces and underscores ;-)

Admission: I really posted this because I had an odd experience in the pub on Tuesday night, a bloke approached me and asked if I’d done a presentation on Radiohead. He’d seem me do it. Live. I felt almost famous. For a second.

Creative Similarities?

On the David Elsewhere stuff Tim just commented:

I liked spike’s version from a year or two ago.

With a link to this video:

It’s a different thing doing a different job. But I can see how one would perhaps make you think of the other. For sure.

Now I’ve no idea if Tim’s comment is a thinly veiled jibe or just a simple statement. I don’t know Tim. Or his intentions, so it’s really hard to tell.

He could be saying:

YOU ARE THIEVING FUCKTARDS WHO HAVE NICKED THE IDEA OF USING A GUY WHO MOVES FUNNY AROUND AN URBAN ENVIRONMENT FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSES

Or he could just be saying that he really quite likes this video and there’s just something about it that reminds him of the above Spike Jonez directed ad from the year 2000. But there’s something about the use of the word ‘version’ that makes me think there’s a hint of jibeyness about it. Or I could be suffering from blog-comment paranoia…

Ah well.

But it does relate to something that happened to me earlier on today. I met up with some lovely creative chaps who I’ve known for a while. They wanted to chat about an idea for a project. It just so happened that we’d already done exactly the same thing 4 years ago on the internet. Like totally exactly the same. So we laughed about it and moved on to chatting about some other ideas instead.

But if they’d talked to someone else about it there would be an identical thing being conceived and made at this exact moment in time. And at some point in a month or two people would be saying: “Oh my god, they ripped off that thing from 4 years ago”. And I’d never have known any different, apart from the fact that I really like these guys and I know that they wouldn’t intentionally have done that. But in another time-space scenario I’d have probably been dead cynical about it. For sure.

The Tea Buddy shenanigans a few months ago is yet-another example of a similarish thing being spotted and jumped on.

Even the Orange Balloon Race got accused of being un-original (see first comment here) because someone else had made a Balloon Race Game that existed on the Internet before (in spite of the fact it was just a Balloon Race game that took place inside one bit of flash on one site on the Internet – which seems hugely different to me).

I guess I’m taking a long way round to say:

  • In our line of work there’s doesn’t appear to be enough ideas to go round – have we run out?
  • During development it’s really hard to do global due-diligence on a creative idea (and certainly to check on an execution or production technique).
  • However, once something is live on the internet it’s very easy for well connected and observant individuals to spot similarities in things
  • Or are (un)happy creative coincidences just a fact of life? (I just remembered this great site that groups together ads that have almost identical ideas and art direction)

It’s tough. And it’s only going to get worse as we get more connected and more people see more stuff that they can make more connections between.

I guess the only answer is to try to have seen everything in the world ever. Or perhaps the creative industries should try to set up a global panel of idea guardians who can check all concepts at an early stage and make sure they don’t remind them of something else?

But for what it’s worth, as far as I know, no-one involved in the making of the David Elsewhere stuff has ever seen that Spike Jonez ad (at least not that they’re admitting).

EDIT: I just remembered another thing! My brain must be working OK-ish tonight. This point made by James Cooper ex-of-Dare now of Anomaly NY on Scampblog.

2. Be original. Same rules apply to when all you lot who moan about whether Bravia or Guinness or John Lewis was original or not. Poke’s nice unlimited site looks a little like a Motorola site, our nice Bravia site looks a little like a Pioneer site. The point is it’s not such a leap to imagine that creative brains come up with the same things. An amount of copying goes on, but these things right themselves in the end. No one is going to make a serious career out of being unoriginal – apart from The Chemical Brothers. There are trends in digital in the same way there are in TV. If you really want to stick out then you have to do something different and we all know how hard that is these days.

Well said that man.

The full, excellent, post on ‘how to do digital’ is right here.