Crisps and Conversations

I’ve been a bit of a sceptic about interactivity and FMCGs. Most of the time they just create digital litter.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a big fan of crisps. But Walkers seem to be doing some peculiarly interesting things around conversations and their brands.

Firstly the brilliant ‘Do Us a Flavour’ campaign. (If you’ve not seen it, they’re getting people to submit new flavors of potato chips. If you submit the winning flavour you get £50k and a 1% share of the profits from the new flavour).

The site’s got a lot of shortcomings. It doesn’t handle duplicates at all well, and the searching isn’t up to scratch. But it obviously doesn’t matter that much to people: 130,000 pages of entries – 6 to a page – gives almost 800,000 flavours submitted. That’s bloody incredible.

But they deserve it. They’ve built the campaign around a great question. A superb conversation starter. I’ve ended up two or three times now in conversations where people have got really excited about coming up with interesting new and bizarre flavours of crisps. And debating what would actually sell. What’s likely to win. Etc. etc. etc.

It’s a brilliant user generated content idea becuase anyone can do it. You don’t have to have any technical skills whatsoever. It’s just about imagining something. And something that almost all of us will have an opinion on whether we’ve thought about it before or not.

Once the submissions round is over. They’re going to manufacture the judges favourite top 6 flavours and let the public choose which of them wins. Generating trial / sales and driving even more conversations. As a genuinely integrated campaign I think it’s quite brilliant.

And now they’ve re-launched Monster Munch crisps. But they’ve not made a new version. Instead they’ve reverted to the old one.

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What’s so clever about this is that they’ve tapped into a conversation that’s been going on for decades amongst crisp fanciers. Everyone knows that the old Monster Munch were bigger. They were ‘the biggest snack pennies can buy’. And they had really cool big monsters advertising them. It’s the kind of thing that pops up in those terrible ’50 reasons why things aren’t as good as they used to be’ nostalgiawank TV shows.

Anyway they’ve made them like they used to be again. And I love the ‘old’ flash on the top corner of the pack.

And if you’re wondering how big they are now. This is how big…

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Apparently there’s a new website coming soon too. I’m not holding out a lot of hope for it being the next brilliant thing online. If they follow the normal FMCG template it’ll be all about the monsters. Maybe some flims? Perhaps embeddable / sendable monsters? Monster games? I hope they do something really nice though. Building on what they’ve done so far.

And just in case you don’t remember the original Monster Munch monsters from the TV ads…

I Have A Podcast – Plus A New Mix

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My (ir)regular mixes are now available as a podcast through iTunes. Hooray.

And as an incentive to go and visit there’s a brand new mix up there today.

Tracklist:

  1. Hide and Seek – Imogen Heap
  2. Roter Platz (Original Mix) – Burger, Voigt
  3. (This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan (Superpitcher Kompakt Remix) – Dntel
  4. Cruise Control – Martin Buttrich
  5. Headphone Silence (Henrik Schwarz Remix / DF Noizy Edit) – Ane Brun
  6. Rock Saga – The Rice Twins
  7. Come Into My Life – Jurgen Paape Feat Alison Degbe
  8. The Feeling – Toby Tobias
  9. New Day – Kate Havnevik
  10. On My Own – Ulrich Schnauss
  11. The Sky Was Pink (Holden Mix) – Nathan Fake
  12. Man With The Red Face – Mark Knight, Funkagenda
  13. Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up (Ewan Pearson Remix) – Cortney Tidwell
  14. Killing for Love (Beatfanatic Remix) – José Gonzalez

Enjoy.

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.

Morris Dancing – Just Do It?

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Yesterday my life was changed. I saw street Morris Dancing. Well it was just ordinary Morris Dancing. But in the street. I’m sure there’s room for updating this old fashioned art – perhaps mashing it up with some rude drum and bass styles. Or something like that.

Actually it was just really good fun as it was. For about half an hour a small pocket of our local community had a bit of a laugh together with no pretensions of cool or age or anything. People just laughed and jumped around a bit.

Because of the role of Morris Dancing as a really important social glue. I think there’s a huge opportunity for the big global sportswear brands to get in on the act. I noticed that the Black Reebok Classic (or variants thereof) appears to be the shoe of choice of today’s Morris Man:

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However there was a clear competitive advantage shown by the guy wearing Nikes:

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That guy could be the Jordan of Morris Dancing – I kid you not!

If you want to see more pictures of men and sticks and small St George flags I’ve got a Flickr set here: http://flickr.com/photos/iaintait/sets/72157606153242104/.

Sophie and I even had a go. But thankfully there are no pictures. I hope.

14tracks.com – A New Boomkat Offering

I’ve whanged on about Boomkat before. They’re a great example of a niche e-commerce player – although I’m guessing they’re a pretty big niche player now. They sell music online – mainly electronic stuff – they started selling CDs and Vinyl and now their download site is getting pretty awesome too.

Their real strength has always been in their reviews and descriptions of the tracks – if I’d trust anyone in the world to get something right about a bit of electronic music it’d be these guys. It’s not easy writing fresh content around minimal-dub records that are all 12 minutes long and basically sound the same ;-)

They’ve just launched a new site which I really like. It’s called 14tracks.com and each week they editorially pick 14 tracks on a theme and batch them all up together and send out an email and update the site. You can then go and buy the playlist (or bits of it).

Why I like it:

What I don’t like:

  • It’s too expensive and there’s no discounts for buying lots.
  • There’s a couple of tricksy interfacey bits that are a bit yukky.

But what I really like is that it’s like going into a record shop full of really cool muso-DJ types and having them not treat you like a leper. Imagine that!

This time on 14 tracks: “14 tracks of narcotic House”
We just love the kind of slow and sultry House Music that’s been oozing out of the Berlin club scene in recent months. With its origin in the paralysed shuffle of Detroit’s Theo Parrish and Moodymann, this is the kind of music that’s in no rush to draw you in, often making use of deep basslines and crushed percussion to play tricks on the senses. There are direct parallels between these tracks and the more robust patterns that typify Dubstep, and with a woozy aesthetic that makes much of this music sound like it’s about to fall apart there are also direct links with the Wonky hip hop that’s making waves in 2008. Even if you’ve never been into club music, we reckon this is just about as evocative and heady as it gets…

The interesting bit

What’s interesting to me is that they’ve effectively created their own affiliate store. One that feels and behaves totally different from their main store.

I like the fact they’ve taken a bit of a punt on it. But it seems like a pretty logical thing to do. If you’ve got a bunch of people who understand their stock better than anyone else, why not let them repackage it and reformat it in a way that’s right for them and their friends/audience?

  • Why shouldn’t Amazon encourage their Rock buyers set up a site that sells tracks on a black background with lots of fire and frizzy hair on it.
  • Why shouldn’t TopShop encourage their Style Advisors to go and set up their own ‘rival’ sites that editorialise stuff in their own way?

What’s the worst that could happen? I suppose the sites could be shit and make the brand look stupid.

Interestingly 14 Tracks is getting a very mixed response in the comments. But people who like it will use it, and those who don’t won’t. It’d have to be really bloody awful to ever be damaging enough to put people off the Boomkat master brand.

Red Bull Music Academy – Brilliant

I’ve not really looked into the Red Bull Music Academy stuff before.

IT’S AMAZING.

There’s some brilliant video lectures and an awesome podcast. It’s like TED for cool music.

The lectures are full of heroic musical dudes from bunch of different genres. Tony Allen, Ron Trent, Arthur Baker, Prins Thomas, Dereck May, Superpitcher, Jazzanova, Radioslave, Recloose, Greg Wilson, Daniel Wang, Maurice Fulton, Alex Smoke, Kode 9, Mu-ziq, Mathew Jonson, Peter Hook, Dixon, Danny Krivit, Ewan Pearson and more.

Red Bull seem to be a brand that nails this kind of thing again and again. Nice one.

My Talk at Under The Influence

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.