I saw this ad on telly today and was totally blown away. My first reaction was “wooooah, that looks awesome” (in the voice of my inner 6 year old). Then my inner Daily Mail reader kicked in and was all like “oh my god, teaching kids to splatter bugs is raising a nation of serial killers, no wonder this country is going to the dogs”.
When you look deeper into the product it really is gross – you can make the bugs, inject eggs or guts into their bodies and squash the shit out of them (or buy a bug grinder if you want to crush them like a pro). Link to the whole creepy crawler range.
I still can’t decide whether it’s good gross or bad gross. I think I’m coming down on the side of bad…
In under 24 hours I’ve noticed these 2 ads for what I suppose are Google’s nearest competitors in a bunch of things.
First this Yahoo! ad.
Now I’m not crazy about the chick with the Social Media Tattoos. I’ve seen her around a bit and I find her a little bit, um, contrived. Especially when you put her outdoors in the middle of Tattoo-town (Portland, OR).
But then as I walked closer to the ad I noticed…
Holy shit, it’s hand painted!
At the very least this deserves an A for effort. Even if the ad is a bit horrible.
Then, this morning, I noticed this Microsoft Bing ad for the Portland Foodcarts Map.
You can view the map here: http://www.bing.com/foodcarts. The site takes a while to load and it’s not the best experience ever (and it only works in some browsers – not Chrome). But they have gone and made a theoretically useful map of Portland Food Carts. So again, A for effort.
Here’s the talk I did at Iris’ excellent Under the Influence day. It’s basically about digital experiences and magic and how the two are interconnected.
Hope it’s OK – from my perspective I think it wanders a bit at the end (I sort of ran out of preparation time). As usual I can’t bear to watch it in order to tell if it’s rubbish or not. I need to get over my fear of seeing and hearing myself, it makes it impossible to do anything on YouTube or the like.
I wish I’d got to see more of the day’s other talks but I was busy writing my presentation and doing other work. But now thanks to the magical internet and the generosity of Iris I can see them all online. Hooray.
This is all going to seem a little strange. Why on earth would anyone want to remix a presentation in such a fashion?
Well it’s a funny story you see. I was mucking around with some basic VJing software. It’s a thing called Quartonian that can take a folder full of images and do crazy stuff with them (using Quartz Composer on the Mac if you’re geekily inclined).
Anyway I tried it out with some holiday snaps and it was a bit odd. The images were all a bit too, well, holiday like. I wanted some pictures that had a more thought out narrative. So I thought why not stick a presentation through the VJing software? I didn’t want to use a client presentation so this is what came to hand.
[If you want to do such a thing, and why wouldn’t you? It’s really very simple – just export your presentation out of Keynote or Powerpoint as a series of JPEGs, then point Quartonian at the folder – you’re away! I turned it back into video using Snapz Pro to screen capture the output]
I’ve been doing some bits and pieces of awards judging for various folk this year. It’s all been interesting so far.
The one I’m most worried about is the D&AD Viral Category. I’m the chairman of the jury and I’m guessing that there’s going to be loads of debate around ‘what is viral?’. There always is at this kind of thing. There’s also going to be loads of fighting about whether specific things are or aren’t viral. Is a TV ad that went viral ‘a viral’? Is something that got passed round because it was really beautiful a viral? Does a viral have to have a farting squirrel in it?
I used to be of the opinion that you couldn’t really judge something as being viral or not unless you actually know whether it did or didn’t become viral. In which case you’d need to know the results. And how they’d managed to achieve the results. For example if a video has been seen 3,123,826 times, but they’d achieved that purely through paid media I’d have said ‘not viral’. Conversely if a clip was great, but had only been seen by 5 people I’d also have said ‘not viral’.
Basically the old me would have said something is viral only if it has been seen by a disproportionately high percentage of its target audience purely as a result of peer distribution (email, blogs, forums, mobile pass on, IM, etc.).
But now I’ve chilled out a bit ;-)
Having looked at 100s of supposedly viral things (I say supposedly only because they’ve been submitted into viral categories in awards) I think one has to be a bit more relaxed about the definition of viral. I’m not sure I can exactly describe what I mean here. But I’m going to give it a go.
I guess I’ve started judging stuff based on:
Has this thing been conceived and created with a set of qualities that might make it ‘viral’ to its target audience. And is it actually any good.
Quite often when discussing work in a creative forum you’ll find that people don’t want to talk about things like target audiences or results. But when you’re talking about something peer distributed those two things absolutely have to be considered. Don’t they? There’s still far too much viral stuff that relies on bad knob-gags and nudity even though it’s totally inappropriate for the brand and the audience (and don’t get me wrong I love a good knob-gag, in the right setting).
Anyway as you can see the whole debate gets very wordy and waffly and ultimately tied up in its own entrails.
So as I was trundling off to sleep last night I set myself a challenge. Could I come up with 5 words to describe whether or not something is viral. The three I can remember are:
I was watching TV last night and an ad came on for continuing education. It’s one with fingers walking around the place. The ad was OK. I didn’t really pay much attention. But at the end of the ad the call to action was – “search for EMA online”. Not visit direct.gov.uk/ema or what you’d normally get, but just search for EMA online.
So I tried it. And it worked.
On Google both top natural search listing and the sponsored link would have taken me to the right place. On Live search and Yahoo.com the right link was the sponsored top link as well as being number 2 in natural search (not perfect, but good enough).
Then a couple of minutes later I stumbled on this article (via: BoingBoing) about how in Japanese advertising the use of search terms in posters is really kicking off. I quite like how they’re integrating a search box with a suggested search term into their ads.
It does seem like a potentially smart way to go now that most of the short and memorable domain names with any meaning have been scooped up. But making sure you’ve got the right people looking after your search engine optimisiation / marketing stuff is EVEN more important than it was yesterday.
It came with a hand-written comp slip that was written just to me. They’d spelled my name right and everything.
But the thing that made it super-special is that it was a total surprise. They’d gone out and done all the legwork themselves. They hadn’t emailed me to ask what my postal address was. They’d gone and figured it all out on their own.
So when it arrived it was a genuine moment of surprise and delight. (In case you’re not a jaded industry hack ‘surprise and delight’ is pretty much the thing that everyone talks about doing to make their customers like them better).
Cynically you might say that they’re just trying to get some more publicity. And maybe they are. But you know what, I don’t care. I’ve got a shiny mug and some splendid tea (it is really good by the way).
Things to learn from this: nice, charming, personal, relevant, free stuff, shiny things, no effort from me.