Helge lays down a seriously comprehensive overview of digital marketing (or post-digital marketing) – at 257 slides it’s long. But there’s something in there for every occasion. It’s when I see things like this that I realise there are people out there with brains that are almost too big.
Maybe it’s the medium of presentations, or maybe it’s because it’s Sunday, or maybe because I’m not smart enough, but it left my head in a bit of a spin.
His blog continues that trend: http://www.180360720.no/ go there and subscribe to his feed. At first I thought he had a silly URL, but it’s not, it was me being stupid 180 / 360 /720 makes total sense.
I really don’t want to have to write this post. But when even the Cyber Lions Jury Chairman is posting things like this, what’s a guy to do ;-)
There are traditional agencies (although they’re the least traditional of the traditional agencies obviously) who are doing incredibly well in awards like Cannes. But let’s not forget one simple thing. THESE ARE ADVERTISING AWARDS!!! Therefore it would seem totally outrageous to suggest that companies whose business is advertising won’t be able to do incredible work in that space. Of course they will. They can apply a bunch of the same principles you’ve always used. Add some executional smarts hired in from a production company and whomp, there it is. Awesome online advertising!
And that’s not to suggest that agencies like CP+B don’t have the capacity to do interesting things beyond traditional online advertising. Things like Whopper Sacrifice prove that they do with bloody bells on.
It’s obvious that the language of the past isn’t going to be the language of the future. And as everything becomes more digital these stupid old distinctions become pointless. And hey, perhaps pure-play digital agencies will become a thing of the past?
But I thought it was advertising that was meant to be fucked? So doesn’t that mean winning lots of advertising awards mean that you’re the most fucked of the fucked?
Sorry that’s my best playground insult battle-weapon launched ;-)
I wouldn’t write off the digital specialists just yet. There’s a bunch of things that we can make and do that are pretty damn exciting. And the fact that they’re increasingly not ‘advertising’ has to be interesting to some folks. Surely?
[Edit: just to clarify – I called Cannes an ‘advertising’ award because that’s how it’s perceived by most people – it’s entered by companies that do advertising for clients. Many of them are advertising agencies, no? It just so happens that a lot of stuff that’s getting awarded is progressive advertising.]
[Edit2: was also interesting to see how different juries would perceive work differently – because everyone has their own agenda. The same work would fare quite differently if it was entered in Design / Titanium / Cyber, for example Fiat Ecodrive appeals to some people in the Cyber Jury because they like to think they can design automobile functionality.]
I’ve no idea what the note above says. But I reckon it’s time we started thinking about Webmasters again.
I always wanted to be a Webmaster. It sounds so super powerful and cool. If a little geeky.
Anyway the more I think about what we do these days and the importance of social media (it’s amazing how much my fingers balk at having to type those two words side-by-side) the more I think that every site needs a webmaster. What I like about the term webmaster is that it implies that one person is the big boss. The master of the site. The person who speaks with the voice of the machine.
When you come across a brilliant site it so often feels like it comes through one person. Or at least there’s a very strong sense of singularity in the way it’s written and presented.
Webmasters would also, I’m sure, be good at Twitter, Facebook and all that stuff. They’re kind of like the Maitre D’ of the site. They’d know the regulars and keep them happy as well as getting new people involved. Looking after blogrolls as well as getting subscribers to an RSS feed.
Webmasters used to be the guys who knew a little about a lot. Not the deep techies but the person who could do updates and bits and pieces of code. The kinds of skills that would make your really good at customising widgets and blog bits.
Anyway next time you’re putting together a site don’t forget to think about who the webmaster is going to be :-)
In my continued judging of the One Show Interactive awards there’s one thing that’s really starting to stand out. Japanese agencies are doing some outstanding work right now.
Every year that I’ve been fortunate enough to judge international awards there’s always a couple of great examples of Japanese work. But the majority of the work that I’m painfully jealous of this year comes from Japan. Of course there’s great US, Swedish, British and Brazilian stuff – as usual. But there’s something noticeably special and standout about some of the Japanese stuff.
And here’s why I think that is…
Disclaimer: I’m making a bunch of assumptions and cultural generalisations here, sorry for any that are crude and inaccurate.
1. The work is polite
– Japanese stuff doesn’t shove itself on the Internet going: POW. LOOK AT ME. I AM THE BEST THING EVER! Culturally it’s subtle. It’s reserved. It’s aware of status and hierarchy. But at the same time it’s not all about the big ‘i am’.I’m sure I’ve whanged on about it before. But in a networked environment where we all have the same access to pixels and characters assuming that yours are somehow better than others’ is wrong wrong wrong. Your stuff has to earn its place in peoples eye-holes. It doesn’t have a god given right to be there. It feels like a lot of the Japanese work I love gets this.
2. The work isn’t driven by TV advertising
I’m not sure why. Hopefully someone can fill me in on this. But almost none of the great work feels like it’s tied in with TV campaigns. The awesome stuff has been considered digital-out. Rather than TV-in.That’s not to say that you can’t get awesome stuff starting with TV. It’s just that when the digital stuff feels like a follow-on rather than a lead there’s a quality about it you can really feel.
3. The work draws from a culture of games, comics and technology
Rather than drawing on cues from TV advertising it feels like Japanese designers are pulling from their really advanced cultures of:
Gaming – which gives the work a sense of fun, progressive engagement, hookiness, atmosphere, character development (and importantly not necessarily of human characters).
Comics – which drives oddness, playfulness and escape from reality.
Technology – obviously having a culture that’s proud of and excited by technology is going to put you in an interesting place when you’re developing for the digital space. Certainly it’s going to lead to more advanced stuff than a culture of basket-weavers. I think tied in with this is their ability to code amazing sites. Sites that are driven by technological wizardry but without feeling overly geeky. Or sometimes that do feel very geeky.
4. Advanced mobile and blogging cultures
It’s hard to pin down the exact numbers and percentages (I had a go but my researching skills are weak), but Japan undoubtedly has a hugely vibrant blogging scene with some surveys suggesting that there are more Japanese language blogs than English ones. And it’s always had a particularly strong mobile Internet for lots of reasons.
Both of these things have led to a particularly strong sense of personal media space. Something which I think a lot of agencies struggle with. They’re not thinking about peoples spaces they’re thinking about their sites, or media owners sites. And the rules are quite different.
Probably connected to point 4. But the notion of widgets (or blog parts as they’re called in Japan) is really strong and central to lots of the work. Many of the campaigns don’t feel like they have a big heavy base, they exist in lots of places that all connect together in a logical way. Which makes things feel progressive and smart as the world stands today.
There’s an attention to detail and a crispness about the digital craft that shines through in a lot of the work. I think this might be massively linked into (2) – so rather than trying to make everything look like TV ads it can look like brilliant and interesting digital stuff instead. I don’t think it’s a co-incidence that the incidence of bad green screen presenters is low…
7. Some of it is a bit strange
Often this makes it feel really fresh and it makes you work a bit harder, in a good way. The sense that there’s a little something that you don’t quite ‘get’ is something that I think has a peculiar attraction. A bit of Especially for geeks.
this is just cheating really. But it is something that I think helps Japanese work to win awards. It’s a strange combo of being slightly culturally exotic and the fact that their character set looks slightly exotic (and to a lot of peoples’ eyes quite beautiful). But this is only a supporting factor in the whole picture – otherwise the Chinese / Korean / Malaysian work would be shining through in the same way. And this year it isn’t.
9. They’re having fun with it
Simple as that. It feels like there’s a love for the work that’s going on. Like people are enjoying doing awesome stuff. And there’s no way you can fake that.
What’s the downside?
Their stuff can take a very long time to load outside of Japan.
Here’s some links to some of my favourite campaigns (again not saying that any of this is going to win – it’s just some incredible Japanese stuff that I’ve liked along the way)…
Some Standout Work From Japan
Here’s some stuff that illustrates some of the points above. Most of these links are to awards entry pages where you’ll get a bit of an introduction to the campaigns (although some of them are very much in Engrish)…
It’s a really deep and multi layered campaign that involves getting people creating things. I’m not sure I quite get all of it. But there’s something very cool about chunks of it.
Axe Chocoman Hunter
Axe Chocoman hunter. Takes the chocoman that we know from the ads and ramps it up into a massive promotion involving a character that travels from phone to phone. With a contest where the winner gets 1% of all Axe profits. It’s bonkers.
Tokyu Hands Mushi Battle
A kind of creative beetle battle for a craft / department store called Tokyu Hands. It’s not as crazily engaging as some of the other things it just feels very very cool.
Honda Edit Screen. This culminates in a screensaver – which I know is listed as one of my old 7 Deadly Sins of Digital. But I don’t care. This site is just super-cute and shows the extreme craft skills of some of the Japanese agencies. Even though most of the site is in a language I don’t understand the interface is straightforward, slick and amazing. It’s basically a massive multi-user artwork generator.
The Last Guy
It’s a campaign a bit like the Balloon Race we did for Orange, but it’s for a Playstation Game and it’s got Zombies in it roaming over the web. It’s kind of different because a lot of the interaction with the individual sites is done using screen grabs. But even so it knows how to lay out the game-space so the right bits of the page are walls, etc.
Click the switch below to turn Crackunit into a zombie game. Go on. Go on. I dare you…
Because of the big header graphic playing it here isn’t the best experience. But the game has had 6.6m plays. Which is totally insane.
Adidas Hello! Runners Map
And I think my favourite of all is this campaign for Adidas Running. They’ve got a tough challenge given the Nike+ thing that’s gone down. But they’ve pulled something amazing out of the bag. You create your running maps, so far so good. Then it uses Google Street View to show your run inside a widget which is FANTASTIC. Also what they’ve done with the whole mapping interface and Flash is a joy to behold.
So that’s some of the stuff that’s been making me excited about the scene in Japan. I hope you like some of it too.
In retrospect. Looking at the comments. With the benefit of hindsight. And having chatted with Sophie (and others). I think the long post from yesterday was perhaps too long and too connected. I think maybe it should have been 3 shorter posts instead.
I fear I’ve developed a kind of addiction to joining things up. A blogging symptom I think.
The 3 shorter posts should have been:
“Look, there’s lots of ads around with lots of people doing stuff together in a similar way”. Isn’t that a funny thing. Personally I like some of them. End post 1.
That T-Mobile ad. It’s everywhere. I’m not a hater. I don’t love it from a personal point of view. But I think it’s a good ‘big ad’ and my guess is that it works well against it’s target audience. End post 2. I’ve tried to set the record straight over at Adliterate. Where the rest of the comments prove that, if nothing else, the T-Mobile ad generates talk (in a good way).
I’m of the opinion that, in some cases, you can communicate connection and collaboration in a different, more engaged way. Something less showing and more doing. Less manufactured and more real. And that requires a different approach. And the people who are experts at doing the two approaches may well be different people. The skills required are very different. They should collaborate more. End post 3.
My last post has stirred up a bit of comment and debate. I thought it might. I tried to be as clear as I could in setting it out. So as not to create yet another us vs them debate. It feels like I failed.
I was trying to suggest that there are opportunities to DO connections and collaboration, not just TELL METAPHORICAL STORIES about them. Maybe I should simply have said that, and ended the post there.
In the comments David re-quoted the old favourite: ‘what was the last website that made you cry?’.
It’s not about websites making you cry.
If you want to be reductionist about it a website is ‘just’ a container. You can put whatever you want into it. If you want your website can be a massive high-budget emotionally-harrowing tear-inducing film in full-HD quality and surround sound. You can put words in it. You can put amazing music in it. You can put an interaction that changes your view of the world in it.
If you’ve not seen a website that makes you cry it just means people haven’t been putting the right stuff in websites. It’s not the fault of websites. The pipes are totally neutral when it comes to emotion.
I’m not going to make a bit of film content that’s going to make you cry. I can’t make films. I don’t know how to do it. The people who made the ads my original posts know how to make films. That much is clear. So it’s not my fault there’s no crying-making websites on the internet (if, controversially, you think there aren’t).
I blame the people who make stuff that can make you cry for not putting it on the web where you can see it.
Or maybe, if you want a website to make you cry, you should go and look for one? Maybe it’s your fault for not looking hard enough? Or Google’s fault for not indexing them properly when you search for ‘websites to make me cry’?
Unless of course there’s something fundamental in the nature of screens that means that they can’t convey emotion unless they’re connected to a TV signal or a DVD player. In which case I take back everything I’ve just said. And I totally blame the Internet (and computers) for being emotionally void.
There’s other answers to ‘websites that make you cry’ question too. But I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that personal messages can’t be emotionally rich, or devastating. I’m supposing that the commenter was referring to what brands can do to convey emotion / make you cry.
To state the bleeding obvious. It’s not about Film VS the Internet, it’s about Film AND the Internet. And getting on top of at the amazing opportunities that we have to tell stories AND create experiences that get people involved in a deeper way.
Amen brothers and sisters. Let’s collaborate and share, to make people cry online. Together.
Experts predict that, if current trends continue, by q4 2010 all advertising will feature groups of people making something big and impressive.
Recent examples of the genre are:
A big domino toppling thing,
a big, unfolded newspaper,
a ‘hand made’ internet,
a big picture,
an orchestra (forget for a minute that orchestras are made up of people collaborating and doing things together, this is an orchestra with a twist)
a big picnic,
Or milking a massive 80 foot udder. Actually that last one is a lie – or it might be a premonition.
I actually genuinely admire a number of these adverts. But put that aside for a couple of minutes…
Groups of people having fun together has always been good advertising fodder. We all want to be social and do fun stuff with our friends. It’s just that the groups featured in ads now have to be much bigger because technology has delivered us bigger groups of friends and contacts. In fact, everyone is now our friend, potentially.
As a technique it works especially well for brands that are about communication. Or socialising. Or simply not being on your own. Which is pretty much everyone. Apart from the Samaritans.
I guess it’s inevitable that we should end up with a bunch of not-dissimilar ads when everyone’s briefs contain words like sharing, or connection, or enablement. And given that infinite, always-on connections have changed the world in untold ways your brand would look a little out-of-touch if you didn’t at least nod to these things.
Then you’ve got the challenge of bringing things to life in 30s film. Which is far from easy. And let’s face it people outside, in the real world, doing something active is always going to be more visually interesting than the slightly dull reality.
Who wants to watch a bunch of people sat in their bedrooms, physically alone? Their only connection through wires? A girl sitting at her computer looks just like a girl sitting at her computer. She could be IMing her friend with an OMG because she’s unproved Fermat’s theorem, or because she just heard what Debbie said about Suzi. It’s the things that are in heads, on screens and coming down wires that are interesting and important. Not stuff a camera can easily capture.
293 people might be collaborating right now, on their computers, and be seconds away from ending climate change. But they’d look exactly the same as 293 people playing World of Warcraft. There would be no visual clues.
Which is, I guess, why advertising has to dial-up the excitement. To create quick, easy-to-grasp metaphors for collaboration and combined human effort.
But there’s a part of me that feels like the point gets overlooked for the sake of a nice colourful ad.
If you’ve ever actually been a part of something online, there’s something nice about the initial non-physicality. The fact that you’re not compelled to be a good looking, smiling stereotype that works as part of a human chain gang. You can be ugly, grumpy and totally asynchronous and still a hugely valuable part of the effort.
Every day millions of people experience comfort, pleasure, excitement, joy, anger, sadness, love, loss, hatred, passion, enlightenment, the horn and more. All online. All virtually. But this gets glossed over in ads. Because it’s not easy to represent in film. So we revert to metaphors of physical closeness and connection. Ideally in a sunny field. Which is kind of like the internet. In a way. Kinda.
That’s not to say that online relationships and collaborations don’t end up in real, solid, actual-world friendships and meetups. They do. But that typically comes later. And it’s more of a case of checking-in, sizing people up, and seeing how it goes. Not getting together to unfold a big newspaper.
But sometimes people do arrange to meet up with a large group of people to do something together. Sometimes it’s an incredibly useful and important thing, like a political rally. But sometimes it’s spontaneous and frivolous and pointless. And these latter things became known as flashmobs.
And now, inevitably, there’s an advert about a flashmob…
You can’t escape it. It’s on TransVision screens at all the London stations, escalator panels on the underground, the telly, and on the YouTubes (with a huge number of variants including the 2.41s mega-ad above). It’s pretty much everywhere. I’ve tried hiding from it. But it keeps on finding me.
Again. To be clear. I don’t dislike it as an advert.
But the truth is it couldn’t not have happened. It’s got the hip-but-not-too-hipness of flashmobs combined with looking just like one of ‘these ads’ should. And by creating this spectacular advert using choreography, trained dancers, etc. etc. etc. The ad becomes just an ad.
But it’s not surprising that they have to fake it, when an actual flashmob looks like this:
(I recorded this at the ‘Rick Rolling’ Flash Mob last year – I was not proud to be there)
Spot the differences:
98% observers – with absolutely no chance that any of the watchers are going to join in, they’re just watching
No audible music whatsoever
No one being quite sure what’s going on
A total lack of any kind of choreography
Just fades out when people get bored (very quickly)
30% observers dropping to 22% as a load of people spontaneously join in
Loud and jolly music to dance to
A core of people knowing what they’re doing and a bunch other people who get swept along
A wonderful moment in time
The one thing that they have in common is people filming / photographing it. And to give it credit the T-Mobile ‘event’ does a great job of continuing the illusion by getting a bunch of assorted ‘real’ people to talk about their experiences of the flashmob:
Enthusiastic folk who’ve just seen a TV ad being filmed + editing = magic! If you’d done it you would though wouldn’t you…
I don’t dislike any of the ads above. I think they do a nice job of capturing a feeling and a vision of collaboration. And of course I’m not suggesting that advertising has to reflect reality. Otherwise it wouldn’t be advertising anymore.
However, my suspicion is that we’re seeing adverts made by people who haven’t been collaborating deeply online. Who haven’t been a part of these things. Who don’t understand the subtle, emotional things that happen in online relationships and groups. Another part of the reason we end up with big, generic, broad-brush, advertising. Things that work, in general, for some of the population.
But maybe broadcast media isn’t the place to tell the (more) interesting, deeper stories. The stories that happen quietly, inside the wires, over the airwaves, through the devices and in people’s minds.
Perhaps stories of togetherness and collaboration are best told in places where people are together, collaborating. And perhaps they should be told in ways that reflect the brilliance, excitement and usefulness of what doing things together using tools and technologies – not metaphors – is actually all about.
Or maybe in those places it’s not about telling stories at all.