I don’t hate advertising. I just like digital better.

Well I finally did it. I finished my list of “10 Reasons that Digital is Better than Advertising“. Which is a personal triumph. It’s the longest sustained thought of my blog so far. Even longer than my ranting about Virgin Media!

Even thought it’s a bit of a personal victory to finish this, I feel a bit like I’ve failed. One of the things I actively didn’t want to happen is that people felt I’ve got something against advertising . I don’t. But someone asked me at lunch the other day why I hate advertising so much. Therefore I didn’t make my point properly. I suppose it was an obvious failing in my titling, although I did try to point out in the intro that this was only for effect.

My lunch companion pointed out rightly that we’re all just doing the same kind of stuff. Basically doing things for brands to make people like them more. Which is very true.

So before the top 10 recap, let’s just be clear: I don’t hate advertising. I just prefer working in digital. And here are 10 reasons why:

  1. You don’t have to do advertising
  2. You can just do stuff
  3. Because you can ‘just do it’ a spirit of entrepreneurialism prevails
  4. Egos are marginally smaller
  5. TV isn’t all that good
  6. Maybe there’s less to lose?
  7. You don’t have to work somewhere with 5 old blokes’ names above the door
  8. Online Audiences
  9. I secretly want to be an inventor
  10. Working with a bunch of people who ‘get it’


BBH Wins Lynx Digital Account

An interesting ‘moment’ in online advertising. BBH win Lynx digital account. To my mind Dare have done some really amazing online advertising for Lynx (Feather and Blow to name but two), and I’m really surprised that the account has gone elsewhere (if the story is to be believed).

In principle I agree with this quote from the article:

John O’Keeffe, executive creative director of BBH London, said: “A couple of years ago, we might have been at a disadvantage in a pitch like this, simply for lack of having the digital craft skills in-house. We now have that capability: whereupon this, and any other digital pitch for that matter, comes down to the same question that decides any such process: who has the best idea?”

But at the same time I wonder if this is really true.

Is it always down to the best idea winning out? Not really. Do BBH have great ideas? Undoubtedly. Do they have outstanding ‘salespeople’? Almost certainly better then most digital agencies.

I’m not trying to put forward the case for ‘digital agencies’ (interesting how I’m now feeling more and more compelled to use inverted commas around various parts of the term digital agency) particularly. However, something I’ve noticed recently is that the nature of our clients is changing. Whereas previously we used to sell our ideas into digital people, we’re now increasingly up in front of a mixture of digital and advertising people.

The way in which you pitch your ideas to these two groups are massively different. Online people typically want to see more of the ‘how we’re going to do it’, where as advertising people take that stuff for granted. You see an idea, it gets made. They’ve never been through the pain of cross-browser testing a complicated website. And they don’t care how it gets done. And maybe that’s the way it should be (for advertising).

My prediction is that we’re going to see a fragmentation of how brands operate online, there’ll be a bunch of people competing to do online advertising. And a bunch of people doing ‘other stuff’.

I think I know where I’d rather be…

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Powder Your Nose in Style

I like this. A luxury private washroom on Oxford Street. Brilliantly named WC1 (well I liked it anyway!).

A glamorous urban sanctuary, WC1 is the world’s first one-million-pound powder room. It has been designed with impeccable hygiene and the pursuit of beauty in mind.

It’s more than just a loo, with a space to chill, high end beauty products and more. £5 for a relieving break from the city sounds like quite a lot, but I’ve been in situations where I’d definitely have paid double that before ;-)

via urbanjunkies

I’ve always thought this is exactly the kind of things that brands should get involved with. And lo and behold… Asi writes about Charmin’s New York loo.

F**K you and your Second Life ‘firsts’ you bunch of Adf**ks

I’m glad that someone with some heritage and history in Second Life has come out and said this: Second Life Herald: Gallery of Lies. And said it very loud. I’d have loved to have written this piece, but as my Second Life consists of about 2 hours of time over 6 months (and I work on the fringes of advertising) I’d have felt like a total charlatan saying it.

One of my favourite bits:

I would say it is a case of a bunch of desperate clueless fucktards trying to show how bleeding-edgy they are, and, given that SL is the bleeding-edgy flavor of the month, they are wraping themselves in the Linden cape of bleeding-edginess.

Read it and see what anger looks like.

Interestingly the crux of the issue is not about advertising or the corporatisation of Second Life as such, but seems to be about big ad agencies claiming the space as theirs, or at least making out that they are the innovators. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like shops and businesses and offices are actually OK, as long as they’re done right. But the message is, loud and clear, don’t claim that you invented this stuff.

advertiser helmet second lifeI’ve got a thought. Why aren’t advertisers, or people who are trying to ‘import’ brands from their First Life forced to wear some kind of huge advertising helmet? It’d protect them from rocks thrown by irate Second Lifers as well as marking them out as advertisers.

If only my 3d modeling skills were as hot as my illustrating skills ;-)

[EDIT] – I just spotted this follow up post: http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2006/10/uri_does_strump.html it’s much more reasoned and well argued, and the author has calmed down a lot. He makes some great points about the de-fantasisation of Second Life which I think is key.

Why would you want your Second Life to be just like your first? With the same brands using the same retail techniques, or spend time in the ‘bored rooms’ of big corporations. Why not meet on the deck of a pirate ship? Or in a treehouse full of penguins? Or watching underwater firework displays orchestrated by a gerbil that’s 3 stories high?

Uri concludes his piece:

In the end, I wonder if I should even care. Even as I write, Second Life residents are avoiding the new corporate builds like the plague (and who can blame them given the inferior content; do I want to drive a flying saucer or a Scion? Hmmm, that’s a tough one), and if large corporations want to pay Crayon good money for nothing, that’s fine by me. If the meat-space corporations successfully borg Second Life and suck the life out of it, we will just move on to another place, and the corporations and the PR firms will just have to breathlessly keep running after us, claiming their hollow “firsts,” while their arrogance fuels their ignorance, and they fall further and further behind.


logo.pngA response from the Agency.com camp regarding the Subway video. It’s basically saying: “we did it, we got people talking, that’s the whole point”.

I’m sure the debate will rage on around whether this is just a good piece of post-rationalisation and speedy ass-covering. Or a cunning master-plan that was in place from the start. (As an aside, if it’s the latter I think there’s a much better way of presenting this, a making of the behind the scenes video perhaps? Showing the point at which the decision was made to target the advertising community maybe?).

On their site ‘Jeff’ is quoted as saying:

“They made this for ad people to watch, think about, talk about, and spread. And that’s what we’re doing”.

But did they? I thought the whole point was that it was a video for a Subway client. Or is that all part of the subterfuge as well? Maybe they made a 5 minute boring ‘meet the team video’ and sent that to the client too? Along with a pitch based around:

“See how much noise we can generate with one video clip within the (online) advertising community, imagine how much noise we could make with 5 clips and a decent budget within the food eating community…”

If that’s the case then maybe they come out of this looking like genii…

But, based on the original premise (as we, the audience, were shown it): “we need to create a video for a client” (a private piece of communication), “let’s put it on youtube” (a very public communication channel). I think the naysayers were right to pound this tactic for it’s apparent naivety. (An interesting conversation starting tactic maybe?).

Whether they’re very right, or incredibly wrong I don’t regret being part of the spreading this meme. I called it as I saw it. I made the t-shirt, and I’ve either helped them look smart (or not). If I’ve been ‘duped’ into being part of this whole thing I’m glad, I’ve been a part of an ‘evolving, collaborative, dialogue driven online experiment’ – and that’s the kind of thing that we should all be doing. Whether I have or not, I guess is still the question.

The great thing about the web is that at some point the full story will come out. There will be winners, there will be losers, but as my P.E. teacher used to say “it’s the taking part that counts”.

In case it matters (and it probably doesn’t), the fact that the domain name ‘whenwerollwerollbig.com’ was bought yesterday doesn’t indicate all that much forward planning in terms of the meme ‘going viral’. But that might just all be part of the plot…

Oh, and I’m pretty sure that the line in the video (as pointed out to me by others) is ‘if we roll, we roll big’. So I corrected my t-shirt yesterday. On the site they feature the old shirt, with the erroneous line on the front. But their domain is “when we roll, we roll big”, so maybe my old t-shirt was right after all. Or maybe we’re all as confused as each other?!?

Ultimately whether this works or not depends on how you measure the value of conversations and noise. I’ve seen a few comments where people have said things like “it’s better that people are talking about you than not”, but I don’t buy that. And I can think of a few examples where brands would probably agree. Coke with their Desai water launch ‘conversations’ in the UK. The noise around Hoover and their Free Flights offer. The awareness driven by Mercedes and their rolling cars. These are much more serious examples than a pitch video on YouTube. But you get my point.
I’m going to stop now. This is way too meta for me.

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Bonfire Of The Brands

burning sneakers.jpgNeil Boorman (ex-editor of ex-Sleazenation, Shorditch Twat and other titles I’m sure) is writing a book called: Bonfire Of The Brands

As part of his experience he’s burning all of his branded goods in a big bonfire as part of re-evaluating his lifestyle. If you’re thinking ‘Oh no! Another Adbuster/No-Logoist’, don’t. You can tell that Neil has a lot of love for brands and that he’s going to find it quite hard to do this. In his own words:

Brands are wealth creators; they provide employment across the globe, and ultimately they make our lives infinitely more comfortable. So I have been keen to avoid the No Logo supporters’ calls to ‘bring it all down’. Yes, I am burning all my own branded possessions, and I will be attempting to live my new life brand-free, but the book is really an experiment to see if it is actually possible to disconnect from branded consumerism.

The blog he’s running is really interesting. His view of the world seems to be considered and realistic (in spite of wanting to burn £1,000s worth of stuff).

Burger King Gets Farked

Burger King FarkAdrants covers BK getting ‘Farked’ – an interesting story of a brand getting stacks of exposure though an online community running away with their ‘icon’ and co-opting it in their own way. The article kind of makes it sound as if BK had a hand in it.

I was chatting with Rob from B3ta.com about this earlier and he spoke to Drew from Fark who made it very clear that there was absolutely nothing commercial about the Farking at all.

I’m in the process of writing a bigger piece on brands and viral subversion – I’ll post it soon…