An article I wrote for The Drum following our change.org campaign for Sepp Blatter to resign
An article I wrote for The Drum following our change.org campaign for Sepp Blatter to resign
Article I wrote for Advertising Week on the brilliant new Adidas work
Swimming is like innovating.
“Get going, then get better”
Ever heard of that phrase? It’s a cliche’d sound bite describing innovation. Facebook wasn’t perfect from the off. Zuckerberg had an idea so he got going, he made it. Then he made it better.
My personal experience of swimming is weirdly analogous. Last weekend myself and 3 buds swam 3.6km from Hampton Court to Kingston Bridge, for ‘fun’ …
The first km hurt. Like, really hurt. I couldn’t breathe, I was getting kicked in the head, and my arms ached and throbbed. And then something magical happened. I settled down and got into the zone. My breathing regulated (or ‘Warren G’d’ as we say in the swimming world) and my rhythm appeared from nowhere. I got better.
And it always happens like that.
Which is why I feel swimming is like innovating. If you want to do it you just have to throw yourself in. And know it will probably be horrible and broken at first. The only consolation is the knowledge that if you work through it you’ll almost certainly get better. You’ll start enjoying and relishing it.
And you might even get to Kingston Bridge, Steve.
Natural Talent Discovernator.
This is my sister LJ. She has a super job at the LTA (that’s the Lawn Tennis Association, darling).
The best thing about this situation is she can book the courts at the centre of excellence for Free - and yours truly can rock up and pretend to be Rafa Nadal. Wallop!
I played LJ last week and wondered how she hasn’t ever taken up tennis. She’s a total natural at it. And yet she must have played less than 50 times in her life.
It reminds me of the Helen Glover story. The Olympic rowing gold medalist Helen Glover, who had never been in a rowing boat before 6 years ago. She answered an ad in the paper ‘looking for tall people to take up rowing’. And the rest Steve, is history.
It makes me wonder how many people out there have a natural ability, knack, or genetic characteristic that they don’t know about. Or maybe just the means? The reason why footballers are seen as working class is because the sport is totally accessible. The 'Lawn Tennis Association’ doesn’t exactly scream equality.
I’ve always felt this is a ripe area for a brand to own. I call it the NATURAL TALENT DISCOVERNATOR…
It’s a weekend event at a venue like Earls Court where you can go down and try out new sports. Sport scientists will measure your height, weight, lung capacity, wing span, dexterity etc etc - to see if you’re naturally predisposed for a particular sport. “Pole vault you say? I’d have never known.”
How great would that be!? No? Just me?…
Anyhow, if Nike start up the sport discovery franchise in the next year - you heard it here first.
I’m off to my weekly Chess Boxing class. Catch you later, Discovernator. X
This is me doing Stand-Up.
Thanks to our sadistic boss, @fraser201 - a clutch of us @hollerlondon planner folk have dipped our toes into comedy, in the aid of presentation training.
First and foremost Steve, yes it was terrifying. Fortunately, a likely gaggle of office chums ventured down to furnish us all with pity laughs. And so, it turned out to be one of the biggest buzzes I’ve ever had.
And now the adrenaline rush has subsided, I’ve noted 5 things for Planners, that I’ve learned from stand-up comedy…
1. The Story
You need to know your story. And how you get there. Stories twist and turn, they wander off on tangents, they have highs and lows, and reconcile, and they have resolutions.
2. Know your Punchlines
There’s an overt pressure in stand-up to be funny, constantly. It’s not just enough to crack three great gags a set - there needs to be a gag almost every line. Nothing is wasted. As in your presentation; every slide should have a point, a purpose. Every slide should get the room nodding, smiling or frowning with furious concentration. If on your slide, you can tell them something they’ve never seen or heard of before, or frame a problem in a completely new way - that’s the ideal. Those are your best punchlines, those are the gags you’ll be remembered for.
3. Loops and Tangents
A good routine is rarely linear. It spirals off and digresses, it makes space for analogy and metaphor and nostalgia, before returning seamlessly to your wily plot. Billy Connolly is great at this. And it’s a great tool for presentations. It’s not merely enough to state a fact, or an insight. People emotionally engage with your point only once you’ve made it relevant to their lives - do this through a story or shared experience, make a sporting analogy or humorous metaphor.
4. Embrace Interruption
In stand-up its unwise to talk through the audience laughter. Number one, you’re there to make em laugh so bloody relish it in the rare instances it happens! And number two, you just won’t look professional and polished if you try to bulldoze through. This is the same for presenting. If people in the room are interrupting to build on your strategy or ideas then let them. It’s a sign they like you Steve. Only continue once the excitement has subdued, try not to bulldoze through these rare moments.
5. Don’t be afraid of Silence
There are times in stand-up where you go a wee bit without a laugh (especially if you’re new at it!) - don’t fear this silence. If you acknowledge it by behaving more awkwardly or visibly flustered, only then will the audience start to feel uncomfortable (and not just for you, for themselves!) Just like presenting, you need to keep going. Smile. You own this shit. By carrying on through the silence you look assured. The audience can relax. “Thank god, he/she knows what he’s doing”
If you’ve read this far, I commend you Steve. For a post on comedy it has been decidedly un-hilarious. But hopefully helpful.
Thank you, I’ve been Pete Jackson, etc etc…
Went to see what’s left of it at the British Museum. It’s good. You should go, Steve.
Amongst the shockingly preserved artwork, jewellery, even people - a common theme seemed to emerge..
And that is, not much has changed in 964 years. People fought and fucked. People used material possessions to show off and establish their rung in society. People were religious and based much of their behaviour on this faith.
One of the great things about history is that it teaches us so much about (and puts into perspective) our behaviours, cognitions and desires in the present.
Faddishly used by digital marketers. Faddishly derided by digital marketers.
Why do we persist with them? Wily capitalising on your physical media spend, to drive towards your digital douchebaggery (not in my agency’s case of course, it’s all bonafide digital gold dust).
The thing is, no matter what you do, you’re never actually ever affecting the initial QR experience itself, which is a constant, and is crap. Really, really crap. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Mrs J (stylishly playing the role of QR poster girl in the image above)…
If you’re determined/ sad/ time rich enough to get to the end of this initial digital hill climb, the last thing you need is another convoluted, complicated and ultimately underwhelming journey on the other side of mount fucksticks. “Now I have to download an app? To play a game? To (possibly) win a holiday to Norwich? Get bent, <your brand> …”
Here’s a couple of pointers:
1. Tell people what that thing they’re going to get, is
2. Make that thing awesome
3. Make it easy
If you can’t do that, don’t do it. Stop wasting your money.
Rant over, and apologies to anyone from Norwich.
:) smiley face
I lost my iPhone 6 weeks ago.
It was rubbish.
I felt completely unplugged. Out of the loop. Every excruciating second I was missing out on brilliant digital (or didge) conversations. With my mates. With Holler (my agency, they’re pretty didge), and with the hundreds of clever chaps I’ve never met (twitter).
Not to mention ‘digital downtime’…
Digital Downtime (Jackson, P. 2012) is the automatic deference to your iPhone during micro-moments of inactivity. In non-wanky terms - when you have nothing to do; queuing for the Oyster card machine, waiting for a bus, whilst your breads in the toaster, etc. The classic example of this you’ll probably notice in the next 12 hours after reading this. In a pub, restaurant or cafe - when 2 people are together and one of them has to go to the toilet, the other will immediately partake in a little Digital Downtime.
I read somewhere that this automatic deference is biological. It’s addictive. Apparently, the little harmonious chime of a twitter mention, or a Facebook comment, or even an email - triggers a little hit of dopamine in our brains. The pleasure bit. The same bit that responds to nicotine.
Addictive. And it’ll take over your life if you let it.
The thing is, we think all this Digital Downtime is productive. We’re reading stuff, connecting with others, building our social profiles, what’s wrong with a little angry birds on the tube?
But it isn’t productive. It’s random. Scattergram. We’re patrolling the Internet like magpies perusing stuff that’s trending, or being shared. 'viral’ shiz yeah?
If we add up all those micro seconds of wasteful clicking and swiping, hours and days of our lives are being dedicated to nothing. Imagine if all that time was poured into something meaningful- an idea you’ve had? A goal, a target?
I’m not saying this can’t be achieved by smartphones. I’m writing this article on one, on a bus- that’s amazing. But surely addictive, repetitive perusal of twitter, FB and the like is time we could be spent thinking, reading something powerful, planning something amazing.
So put down your iPhone. Take a deep breath. What was that idea you had again?
I saw this yesterday on Bobby Solomon’s lovely blog…
If you’re into your anti-advertising stuff - I can recommend having a look at some of Robert Montgomery’s arresting, up in your grill, poetic billboards that have been on display at the KK Outlet in Hoxton..
And of course you can always read the bible on anti-marketing…
Obviously working in advertising I want to find counter-arguments to all of this quite frankly, persuasive and compelling cultural commentary - so I can sleep better :)
One viewpoint helping me on my way to do this is Dave Trott’s refreshingly honest and straight to the point, take on Banksy’s rant.. for want of a better word (above).
We do come uninvited into people’s lives.
If we can’t do that in an amusing, informative, fun way, we shouldn’t do it at all.
- Dave Trott
Some ad people make economic ‘excuses’ for advertising = “We’re helping to accelerate growth which is good for the economy”
Some daring ones say it can be a force for good = “Anti-smoking, anti-drink driving, anti-knife crime ads can help save lives”
Some even boldy say it has become a cherished part of culture = “People recall the iconic ads from their youth with fond memories”
But I like Dave’s take better than all of these. The brutal and frank realisation that we are uninvited guests in the lives of real people. Either we treat them with respect and amuse/ inform them and enrich their lives - or we are just a dark blotch on the landscape of a failing society.
Smoke and mirrors.
That’s my final conclusion on social media. And this thrilling story will testify to my doctrine, in a kind of crap trilogy type of way…
PART ONE: I did something: I went to Scotland. It was a nice trip, nothing special. A couple of days mosing about on farms and beaches with my cousin Allie visiting young spritely Scottish rellies, and old drunken ones. Nothing to write home about. Nothing significant.
PART TWO: I made my doing cinematic: This is a photo of Frankie the Foal. It’s a great photo taken with my oars ham (that’s awesome in a welsh accent) photography skills, with my very own fingers and eyes, and with technology that transforms my lazy aimless snapping into something nice looking. And like all nice looking photos, I can now cast back my memory with fondness and spectacles bulging with roses, to a moment in time that was no where near as epic as this photo may suggest to others, that weren’t there. Abbey Road is my favourite ever album cover. It’s floaty and simple and lovely. But bugger me the cameraman probably wasn’t that blown away with snapping 4 beardy Liverpudlians walking over a zebra crossing. That’s how photos work. That’s how films and documentaries work. That’s how media and TV and advertising works- we’re all chasing and aspiring to things and people and lifestyles that are sold in cinematic parcells with pretty bows on. And now through social media we’re selling our lives to each other.
PART THREE: I broadcasted my cinematic doing: So you know how stalkbook and twatter and instagran all let us be our own broadcasters, yeah? Well I did that. I actually did all of that, with this photo. Uploaded on instagran and shared immediately on the other 2 social wotsits. I now have to fess up, I did this to project myself in a certain way. I’m happy to do this because I know if you’re reading this you know you do it too (don’t lie to yourself Steve*). In one simple post it says, amongst others, 5 things about me:
1) I’m in Scotland so I’m doing something with my day off (I’m not a stay at home loser)
2) I’m in Scotland. On a farm (I’m outdoorsy)
3) I’m in scotland. On a farm. With a horse. (I like animals)
4) The photo is cool (I’m creative)
5) The photo is cool (therefore I’m cool (inception bracket: people who actually know me, know this not to be the case))
These are things I deem to be a positive reflection of me so I broadcast the sh£t out of this photo.END OF STORY.
WARNING OF UPCOMING WANKY PLANNERY TAKEOUT …and in an embarrassingly honest and roundabout way, that is social media, nowadays, in the oncoming era of smartphone apocalypse. People carefully creating and selecting cinematic snapshots of their experiences that in no way reflect truthfully on their actual lives, and broadcasting them to the digital world in order to influence their social standing, back in the ‘real’ world. I also need to point out this is not a bad thing. Reading this back now makes me feel slightly cynical but in essence it’s just an uncomfortable truth (not to be mistaken with Al Gore’s very successful Inconvenient Truth) - but it’s natural and it’s human and it’s how we work. Knowing this means as a marketing thingy person you have a nice shit test for all your social activity do dahs.. Just ask yourself “will my audience actually look cooler for sharing / clicking on / engaging with this?
If the answer is no. Don’t do it :)
*i don’t actually know any Steves. If your name happens to be Steve and you enjoyed that personal touch please email me ten pounds.
For years my old dears been making it. It’s the best ever. And I’m not saying that because I’m biased. I’m saying it because I’m biased and because it is really is.
One of my mum’s friends has asked her for the recipe, every year, for 20 years. Mum won’t tell. Why would she lose her USP in the competitive bakery micro community of leafy south west London? Well I’m outing her. The recipe is from the seminal 1960 version of the Martinborough cookbook. Martinborough is a town, a very tiny, homely town in New Zealand.
She won’t worry for 2 reasons. Firstly the housewives of east sheen are notorious in their hatred for barely noticed planning blogs. And secondly, no one is selling these cookbooks on eBay. Why am I telling you this? Because I think the secret and mystique behind things is brilliant. Often, like magic, better than knowing the actual truth. That the creamy, warming, delicious fudge from Mrs Jackson’s kitchen is actually just drawn from the tethered pages of an old kiwi cookbook. No fairy dust, no secret techniques. Just ingredients, added, in the right order, to other ingredients.
There definitely aren’t enough brands and advertisers doing this. Leaving gaps for people to wonder and gossip and dream. If you haven’t done so, google ‘Liquid Mountaineering’ and you’ll see how brands can do this frighteningly well.
Find them on Facebook. Find them on Twitter. Why? Why should we? Why not print a fan’s tweet instead and hero someone? Do something interesting or conversational that entices people in, instead of demanding that they seek you out?
Time will bend and blur what advertising is and where it lives, but whether it’s coming from the TV or masquerading in Facebook, or looking at you from the back of a label, the same rules still apply; shout at people and be ignored, provoke people and they might take notice.
Cue timeless quote… “The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad" Howard Luck Gossage.
Every advertisingy person goes on about them. How to sell ideas, how to sell brands. Do it in stories. Storytelling, it’s the way forward yeah? I’m a bit of a sceptic. I think there’s a time and a place for everything. Sure, a compelling story is very powerful. But I don’t want to know the trials and tribulations a big mac has suffered on it’s magical journey to my questionably clean tray.
But what about a product or brand AS a story? 120 (the bottle pictured) happens to be a very good wine, but I love the story behind it - 120 Chileans who led the country to independence against those conniving Spaniards in 1826. There’s a beautifully written prose to accompany on the back of the bottle. Something interesting and intellectual to consume for interesting and intellectual wine drinkers* *in my case the exception proves the rule :)
Broadcasters and advertisers are licking their lips.
Us people who buy stuff, are packing more rolls of media hours into our bulging suitcase of attention. What do you do whilst you’re watching the tele.. Stalking on Facebook? Showing off on Twitter? We tweet during shows because it feels like one big community event. Plus, Twitter is about attention seeking. Every tweet is bate cast into the big trout river of the Internet. Every retweet or @ response is a comforting bite on the rod. It’s affirming, a little dopamine hit of satisfaction. This is why broadcasters are rushing to encourage this behaviour, but so far it’s a bit clunky.
Promoting a hashtag at the start of a show is now a hygiene factor, but we know people are looking for tweet kudos (tweetos?) so why not encourage the thing at the heart of it, the attention seeking. The funniest tweet gets tickets to the show? Vote for the best tweet? Tweet debates? I’m confused as to why this hasn’t happened yet.
Are broadcasters and advertisers missing a trick? Or should Twitter be creating platforms for broadcasters to do all these cool things on? Maybe a 3rd party developer will sneak in and take advantage, like Electric Lab’s Zeebox. They’re developing things called Zeetags that let you delve deeper into programs, giving you more info and allowing you to buy stuff related to the show. Imagine clothes brands scrambling to throw money at this, so on X-Factor talentless person number 4 is tagged up to the max with shopping info. 2012 will be an interesting year for Twitter and TV.
You know when you’re 11 years old and you sign off a letter to your Nan with a spectacular yet completely unintended jolt of sarcasm?
Just me then…
I love finding things, old things, things I’ve made, things I’ve written. I don’t know why, it’s not nostalgia. There a strange undefinable buzz from staring in a mirror at your younger self.
This buzz, for want of a better word, underpins the stacks of nostalgia based branded apps on Facebook. Who were your first friends? Your first likes? The first time you checked in somewhere with Dave?!? There’s so much branded crap on Facebook. Which is why I have a soft spot for things that tap into the random, peculiar tit bits of human nature.
Ever been back in time?
I found this book that belonged to my grandad, the Story of Peter Pan. It was printed almost 100 years ago. The care and attention and beauty of it is startling.
There are 2 things I want to note: Number one. iPads. I totally get how amazing they must be for kids, and how it must make reading so frickin exciting. But I really really hope that it doesn’t spell the end of families handing down these beautiful, physical things. Number two. Can you see the music printed inside? This is so mothers and fathers could play the lullabies as they read to their kiddies. The publishers thought clearly and insightfully about how parents might want to use the book and designed it accordingly. This is User Experience design in action.
We so readily talk about the importance of ‘engagement’ and this is it. A beautifully designed tool shaped around natural human behaviour.
First of all you shouldn’t be wasting your time here, go to Mark Pollard’s blog. He writes about Planning with frightening honesty and simplicity.
But before you go, here’s a couple of things I noticed when I was a junior planner (n.b. I think its healthy to always consider yourself an up and comer)
Number One. Listen to people.
The most frustrating people in agencies are the ones who you don’t feel listen to anyone. You may have some brilliant, clever, wonderful insights and opinions - but be careful how you go about airing them. Listen first, build on people’s ideas, make people feel liked and useful - then find a polite way of introducing your ideas. If you have to butt in or digress, think about being apologetic.
Number Two. Muck in.
Let’s be honest. When you’re being paid real money to do a job where you deal in thinking and inspiration and ideas you’ve completely lucked out. So don’t take the piss. Don’t be that worthier-than-thou intellectual up in t'ivory tower. Muck in, do your plannery stuff but do much more if you can and be useful - write some copy, take notes, organise meeting rooms and lunches and cabs. Also think about how to turn your ideas and thinking into useful outputs - write presentations and show them to people, or send them to clients. Think of ideas for other brands and present them to your boss or someone in New business.
Number Three. Ask questions.
There’s a balance to be had here. The more wisdom you can suckle out of the brilliant people in your agency the better, but don’t be a pest about it. Keep a note of things you’d like to discuss and ask people politely for a catch up where you can go through your questions. And then there’s the internet. There’s a shed load of lovely, altruistic planners out there who’ve written posts on pretty much every problem.
Clearly there’s loads more secrets to navigating the tricky journey through plannerhood - you might notice though that the above three things all touch on humility. For me, advertising and ideas are a team game. If people dont buy into you, the game is that much harder.
Not as good as dolphin trainer, but it’s up there :) click the link to see the slideshow
Brilliantly filmed, perfect ragged post-work office blokey targeting, call-to-action, plenty of box-ticking pack shots. Absolutely love it.
I’ve stumbled across this Jim Jarmusch quote a few times, most recently over at Luis Miranda’s excellent Posterous site. I’ll have to be brutally honest, I don’t know who Jim Jarmusch is, but he’s a wise, wise man. Or a wily creative making poetic excuses for his thievery. Either way, its a lovely lovely quote.
Everytime I need inspiration on Creative Briefing I run, frantically, with tears rolling down my plannery cheeks, back to the same blog post…
Its this brilliant thread from the Russell Davies blog - a veritable treasure trove of ideas and innovation (for creative briefs and briefing) from some clever and sharing Planners. I’ve also recently stumbled upon this handy discussion thread in QUORA on Creative Brief writing.
After sifting through all the comments, I’ve noticed a few commonalities…
If you make stuff cheaper, people will buy more.
Thats better :)