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Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

There’s life within everything…

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Capri – the beautiful Italian island nestled in the Bay of Naples – has awesome signage. Really.

Amongst the film-set streets and beautiful people eating beautiful pasta, each corner gleams with glazed pottery signage hand crafted on the island.

House names, directions to hotels, maps, even the little notifier that tells the electricity board whatever it tells the electricity board about a street light is hand painted, in – for the most part – matching colour and style, and applied sensitively to the walls.

I love it. Which is why I took so many photos of them.

They enchanted me, they waved from each alley and cobbled path saying (figuratively) our quality matches that of our island, our beauty elevates everything around us to a consistent level of wonder and joy, while also saying (actually), 100m to Hotel La Minerva.

And it struck me, as I sauntered the steep sweeping pathways of Capri, that if the signage of a location, the basic nuts and bolts of required communication in a location, can create conversation and inspire excitement, then anything can.

Last week I moderated an event for Curve by Getty Images (who just happen to be one of our clients so, you know, check ‘em out). On the panel were the IOC, R/GA and Tumblr, along with Getty, each sharing their take on visual communication in social media. It was great (you can see it here to verify that for yourself), but one of the questions that piqued my interest was as follows (paraphrased somewhat): It’s easy for the Olympics to create awesome visual content, what about me?

Passion is at the heart of just about everything good that ever happens in this life. And communication by brands, organisations or individuals is no different. If you’re in a position to shout about what you do, then no matter the limitations, no matter the context, there’ll be something you can bring to life in a meaningful, engaging way. If the signs of Capri can warrant prolonged observation, then whatever you do can too.

Organised Acts of Kindness

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

We’re currently doing some very exciting work with East Village. If you’ve not heard of it, East Village will become London’s newest neighbourhood after the world’s best athletes vacate the current premises after the 2012 Games. It will become a living, breathing community – providing homes for thousands of people and a long lasting legacy for East London.

East Village is driven by three core values: more time, more space and more choice. We’ve used these as the inspiration behind our work, to develop engaging and interesting ways to evoke a sense of community, excitement and anticipation around East Village.

After an intense brainstorm late on a Friday afternoon, with the goal of encouraging people to talk about time, the team came up with a peach of an idea. We’d offer someone the chance to have their very own PA for a day.

Asking people on the East Village blog, London Living, just what they would do with ‘more time’, we awarded one lucky winner the services of yours truly for a whole day (absolutely free, I might add).

 

The aim here was to provide a personal and unique experience, giving the East Village brand a recognisable face and a human quality at the same time. Like a personalised random act of kindness, this was about us going that one step further for our client, and one leap further for our audience – and about taking something online, and making it happen offline.

I never really considered being ‘auctioned’ off as a prize to a member of the public as part of my first permanent career role, but I nonetheless looked forward to it with a lot of excitement (and a bit of trepidation).

It was with a nervous skip in my step that I went to meet Julia, an aspiring writer currently working in film, at 7am sharp (I know – an early start!) at the Shoreditch Grind, a lovely East London coffee house that sits next to the bustling roundabout by Old Street station.

It seemed Julia could not get over the novelty of the situation at hand; she’d clicked onto our blog, commented under a post, and now she had someone at her beck and call for the whole day. She thought it was a fantastic idea and said she’d dreamt of having a PA for years!

Having got thoroughly stuck into Julia’s mass of short stories, creative scripts and sonnets, editing and collating material as I went along, I spent the day organising her work into digestible prose. It definitely wasn’t light work!

Yet it was clear when the day came to a close that I’d really made Julia’s day that bit better. We know that 90% of recommendations come from face-to-face conversations. In this sense, Julia experienced the East Village ethos through a personal experience, and we amplified this message through proactive engagement with a member of our community.

 

It’s amazing what physical interaction can do, and Julia was full of praise for the concept and the execution.

I’d like to think Julia’s nascent opinion of East Village is now very much one of advocacy and that we’ve shown East Village is more than just London’s newest neighbourhood.


SOPA and the Wikipedia Blackout: Freedom vs. Protection

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Social media are all about the spread of information through networks of individuals. In other words, WOM: people talking.

But what happens when these conversations are curtailed, constricted and controlled?

There has been a fierce debate raging over the past few days – both online and offline – about the relative pros and cons of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in America, and it could have big implications for the future of the WOM industry – not to mention our everyday online lives.

The bill, originally presented to the United States House of Representatives in October 2011, is intended to pre-empt the problem of Internet piracy in the US by targeting sites that promote and enable the sharing of copyrighted material.

So far, so simple.

(Flickr: spaceninja)

But what SOPA and its sister bill PIPA (the Protect IP Act) have done is effectively turned a debate on piracy into a pitched battle between two cornerstones of Liberal ideology: free speech and free markets.

The disagreement pits Internet giants such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia against businesses such as television networks, record labels, book publishers and the film industry. The latter want to be able to protect their copyrighted material from illegal distribution over the Internet, while the former wish to enshrine the right of their users to upload and consume content according to their will (within certain legal parameters, of course).

Wikipedia has today shut down its English language services as part of a 24-hour protest to the bills, which it says could “fatally damage the free and open Internet”. Many other websites have followed suit.

So why does this matter to us?

Although the vast majority of law-abiding citizens agree that Internet piracy is A Bad Thing, many equally believe that it is not the place of government – any government – to control and restrict what  they can access on the Internet.

On the other hand, companies, brands and individuals who produce copyrighted material do not want to see their goods trafficked and bandied about (either on the internet or in the so-called ‘real world’) by others who are not them.

Which puts us somewhere in the middle.

As a word of mouth company, we are committed to the spread of information and ideas around the world. Equally, we are committed to our clients and their very real need to keep their goods and services protected from those who wish to abuse them. The question here, then, is whether the proposals put forward by SOPA and PIPA will help protect both agendas. This is a question that does not as yet have a clear answer.

What is clear is that by limiting the number and type of interactions a web user can experience, the checks and controls proposed by these bills may inadvertently stifle the sort of innovation and creativity that is such an integral part of the online world.

But then again, SOPA and PIPA have got people talking – and this itself may help drive change where it is most needed.

The Social Media Rollercoaster

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Round we go...Summer is coming and – between the torrential downpours – the sun will be shining once again.

Last weekend, while queueing up* for Adventure Island‘s RAGE rollercoaster on Southend Seafront, I began wondering how theme parks could use social media and further engender positive word of mouth.

And, it was after reading Joe’s post earlier this week around the Social Season Ticket, did I then decide to put my thoughts down on paper – so to speak.

To my mind, theme parks and attractions have a fantastic opportunity when it comes to social media. Standing in line amongst the other would-be screamers, my brain started buzzing. So much so, I made notes -

‘Wouldn’t it be cool if each main attraction at a major theme park had its own Twitter account broadcasting not only for ‘on brand’ messaging [ie: ‘Boo!’ for the haunted house] but also – and much more importantly – up to date queue time information. As a guide for the more socially-savvy guest, this service could prove invaluable.’

This is not an untouched area in this industry. Back in February, Alton Towers announced they were a launch partner for Facebook Deals here in the UK. According to their site:

“On Friday 18th February 2011, the Alton Towers Theme Park opened a day earlier than planned for the Half Term holiday, offering exclusive use for anyone who checked in with Facebook Deals on that day. Guests were able to enter the Theme Park with up to three friends, completely free. 100 lucky people will also claimed a hotel stay on the night of 18 February 2011, completely free!”

Very swish.

As with any industry, it really does depend on how much time and money theme parks want to invest in making this a success; is it a case of a simple Facebook promotion [Like ‘Thorpe Park’ on Facebook and get 10% off your ticket entry] or do you want to go the whole hog and have Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare integrated across every branded touch point [including your entrance ticket].

My advice?

As ever, choose an objective and stick to it -

  • Want to increase footfall?
    Great, run an online ticket promotion
  • Want to sell more gifts + toys?
    Offer Foursquare deals at specific stores across the park
  • Want to help control traffic around the park?
    Introduce ride-only Twitter accounts which tweet when the queues reach over an hour

One last idea from me -

Why don’t theme park ride photographs post straight to Facebook?

This is such an obvious and quick win. Photos get uploaded to Facebook, guests like the page and then are able to tag themselves post-visit. Ultimately, sharing branded experiences with their Facebook friends using branded photos.

It’s certainly better than forking out £8.00 for an old school photograph that you’ll probably get crumpled up on the way home…

All of that aside; as an avid theme park fan myself, if Twitter was used as an information service for each ride? I’d be there like a shot.

 

*Yes. This is how my brain works even on my day off

The web is watching you (well, me)

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

The web, it seems, is getting smarter.

If you’ve been traversing the interwebs in the same manner as I have these past few months then you may remember these smart little ads from Google, informing us that ad space will work harder.

They’re not wrong. It is.

A few weeks ago I had to travel up to Grantham to speak to one of our clients, MARS, about how to build social into one of their newest (and most exciting) ventures. To get there, it’s a short tube ride from our global headquarters in Piccadilly, up to Kings Cross, from there a train ride to Grantham, whereupon a 30min cab ride awaits to cart you to the the MARS PetCare HQ in Waltham.

Obviously, when making any public transport-based travel plans, militant scheduling is required. TheTrainline.com is useful in this instance as it covers every overground train schedule in the country. Note; all I did was check the times of the trains. My browser knows this, Google knows this and so therefore, the ad that Channel 4′s adspace chooses to serve me when I want to read about the British Comedy Awards knows also.

Contextual web-based advertising. It’s a wonderful thing. The mind races through a thousand thought processes;

Wow, that’s awesome. I should screengrab that for the blog. Contextual advertising, nice. Wait a minute, are they allowed to do that? Hmm, maybe I said they could do that when I ticked some random box.. maybe, just through visiting their site, I’ve already agreed to let them follow me around the web.. is this cookie based? It must be.. What other data am I pushing out daily?

What other data am I pushing out daily?

What other data am I pushing out daily?

And how can it be used?

This last thought in particular is one we’re going to be coming back to over the next few months here at 1000heads. Over the past year or so we’ve been doing a lot of work on conversation metrics, purchase journey mapping and ultimately, the real value that word of mouth can bring to any business, globally.

Combined, these three content streams can provide some very real data about how consumers like you and I go about our daily decision making processes; in the first instance it really is quite scary… but in the second, once all the data is locked down and independently verified – for brands at least – it can be very, very useful indeed.

As Google might say – ‘WATCH THIS SPACE’ for more on this… in the meantime, tickets to Grantham are only £9.

Who knew?

It's the way I tell 'em…

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

You remember Frank Carson right? Northern Irish comedian, star of Opportunity Knocks and uncle of Trevor Carson bright hope on the Northern Irish goalkeeping scene (currently under contract at Sunderland)? Of course you do. Then you’ll remember his catchphrase ‘It’s the way I tell ‘em’. And Frank was onto something there…

The way you receive a message is often just as important as the content of the message itself. Sometimes it’s more important.

If for example, you want to tell people you have a lawnmower for sale you could stick up a sign in the supermarket. But that isn’t very exciting.

You could dial it up a little then, by sticking your lawn mower on your front lawn with a nice hand painted sign. And that might turn a few heads.

Or you could hire a flock of sheep to crawl through the streets of London followed by a blimp with ‘You could have these sheep, or one lawnmower to keep your grass tidy – I know which one costs less in ongoing vet bills’ scrawled on the side. Same message, different methods.

Now, this is hardly startling stuff, marketers of all types are always looking for new ways to make their message to stand out. But what is often missing from the context, is any emotion. A sense of resonance that brings the content alive in a smart, and engaging way. Sure we can make the sign a different shape, or bigger, or project it on a building, or write it in the sky, or tattoo it on the knuckles of a bus driver, but unless that builds the message and becomes part of the interaction itself, we could be doing more.

A great example of this, is a neat little idea I picked up from Make Magazine…

When you leave a house, especially if you’ve lived there for a long time, it can be a little sad. Sometimes you might want to leave something behind, but not something too conspicuous. So how about a message hidden behind a light switch?

Imagine the moment: you’re doing a little DIY, it’s a lazy Sunday and it’s raining outside. You unscrew the light switch because you want to fit a new dimmer let’s say. As you take it off you see this text, and reading it, you discover the story of someone who lived there before you. Maybe recently, maybe many years ago. Now I don’t care what that message says, you’re going to read it. And you’re going to smile. And you’re going to talk about it.

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with more and more messages in more and more invasive ways, the discovery of something unexpected becomes all the more precious.

Now, it’s unlikely that Mega Corporation Ltd are going to start putting things on the back of light swtiches, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the media we use to promote messages from a much more emotional angle. Discovery, disruption, secrecy, personalisation and wit all have their part to play and when they collide the connection between the message and reader can go even deeper.

Have you seen any great examples of messages resonating in new and unusual ways? Do share in the comments…

It’s the way I tell ‘em…

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

You remember Frank Carson right? Northern Irish comedian, star of Opportunity Knocks and uncle of Trevor Carson bright hope on the Northern Irish goalkeeping scene (currently under contract at Sunderland)? Of course you do. Then you’ll remember his catchphrase ‘It’s the way I tell ‘em’. And Frank was onto something there…

The way you receive a message is often just as important as the content of the message itself. Sometimes it’s more important.

If for example, you want to tell people you have a lawnmower for sale you could stick up a sign in the supermarket. But that isn’t very exciting.

You could dial it up a little then, by sticking your lawn mower on your front lawn with a nice hand painted sign. And that might turn a few heads.

Or you could hire a flock of sheep to crawl through the streets of London followed by a blimp with ‘You could have these sheep, or one lawnmower to keep your grass tidy – I know which one costs less in ongoing vet bills’ scrawled on the side. Same message, different methods.

Now, this is hardly startling stuff, marketers of all types are always looking for new ways to make their message to stand out. But what is often missing from the context, is any emotion. A sense of resonance that brings the content alive in a smart, and engaging way. Sure we can make the sign a different shape, or bigger, or project it on a building, or write it in the sky, or tattoo it on the knuckles of a bus driver, but unless that builds the message and becomes part of the interaction itself, we could be doing more.

A great example of this, is a neat little idea I picked up from Make Magazine…

When you leave a house, especially if you’ve lived there for a long time, it can be a little sad. Sometimes you might want to leave something behind, but not something too conspicuous. So how about a message hidden behind a light switch?

Imagine the moment: you’re doing a little DIY, it’s a lazy Sunday and it’s raining outside. You unscrew the light switch because you want to fit a new dimmer let’s say. As you take it off you see this text, and reading it, you discover the story of someone who lived there before you. Maybe recently, maybe many years ago. Now I don’t care what that message says, you’re going to read it. And you’re going to smile. And you’re going to talk about it.

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with more and more messages in more and more invasive ways, the discovery of something unexpected becomes all the more precious.

Now, it’s unlikely that Mega Corporation Ltd are going to start putting things on the back of light swtiches, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the media we use to promote messages from a much more emotional angle. Discovery, disruption, secrecy, personalisation and wit all have their part to play and when they collide the connection between the message and reader can go even deeper.

Have you seen any great examples of messages resonating in new and unusual ways? Do share in the comments…

Things We Like #4

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

There are among the ‘heads a few connoisseurs of design and this is partly for them, it has typography and they love that stuff – Go Helvetica!

Redesigned and reloaded film/videogame posters aren’t that unusual, a quick search will bring up the great minimalist work of Jamie Bolton for example. So why feature the work of designer Jerod Gibson?

Well, because it’s conversational, in a way that has smarts. He’s taken things we know – the films. And combined them with other things we know – the quotes. The result is something new, interesting, desirable and worth talking about (well, it’s a thing I like anyway ;)

If indeed the work of Jerod (@jerodgibson) is your kind of desirable, you can find out more here. And not just in poster form, it’s also available on tees, jackets and as skins for laptops and phones. Right, I’m off to suggest we design a campaign around the Pinchers of Peril…

Flat pack inspiration

Monday, May 31st, 2010

I love Ikea Hacker.

I love it because it’s creative in a most industrious way.

I love it because it fuels my interest in getting the most out of a postage stamp sized London flat.

I love it because it lets you look at things in a different way.

Which is a good thing.

I wonder what Ikea think about the site and, for that matter, the movement? I’m sure they’re chuffed. As far as I know – research = ‘a bit of Googling’ – Ikea have never pushed the hacking phenomenon growing on their own doorstep (if you know different, I’d love to hear about it) but then they don’t have to. Every line they introduce just stokes the fires of inspiration for the hacking massive.

Which is a great thing.

Inspiring the fans of your products or services to do awesome things is something we’re big fans of at 1000heads. And it shouldn’t matter whether you’re Ikea, or Nokia or a local manufacturer of carpet catalogues – you can offer your customers a way to get involved if you want to. Carpet is a very versatile material in the right hands.

Have you seen any great examples of brands inspiring the masses?

Leaflets…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

They’re not particularly interesting, and nor, if I’m completely honest, are the people who hand them out. Some dress in funny outfits but they don’t attract a crowd, they certainly never have people clamouring to snatch the piece of low-end marketing collateral from their hand and most leaflets that are handed out end up in the bin or dropped on the floor very close to where they were handed out.

Men handing out leaflets certainly don’t have blog posts written about them, they don’t get videos on YouTube and they are not something you tell your friends about in the park later on.

Or are they?

These guys were promoting the Plaza shopping centre by dancing their way up and down Oxford Street in seemingly spontaneous (but amusing and well choreographed) routines handing out leaflets like the one below after every performance:

Plaza Leaflet 1 Plaza Leaflet 2

This certainly disrupted my Saturday afternoon and there was quite a crowd gathered when I ran into the dancing builders near Oxford Circus, I even videoed the dance and showed it to my friends later, many of them work near Oxford St and had heard about these guys already, so great offline WOM!

So this was a great way for Plaza to disrupt the act of handing out leaflets by making it more social then? Well almost…

The leaflets themselves are a bit dry, almost an anti-climax, there is nothing wrong with them but the dancing builders could have done something more fun and taken this idea much further, instead of a leaflet why not hand out some Plaza-branded builders hats or vests with the leaflet content printed on the inside, it would be great to walk along Oxford St to see all these people wandering along with yellow builders hats!

So it was good but could have been better then? Well almost… You see the first thing I notice when looking at the leaflet is a link to the Plaza’s Facebook page with the offer of free Pizza, great, I’ll take a look, only this page doesn’t work.

This is what I see:

Plaza FAIL

Oh dear…

This seems to be the primary purpose of the promotion; to drive traffic to this owned location that doesn’t exist!

The only site we could find (after some decent searching on our part), was this Plaza Oxford Street group page which, at the time of writing, only has two members!

It’s a shame as the dancing builders were great, I am sure they drove some decent footfall to the Plaza and created some great offline WOM, it’s a pity the follow through online was poor.

Anyone can make mistakes, but this kind of thing – now five days in and counting – is just plain silly.

When it comes to Facebook, we’d recommend taking a look at this deck we found on Slideshare for some handy pointers
:)