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Archive for February, 2008

oh dear…

February 28, 2008 3 comments

Read that in Netimperative this morning: CheapFlights runs fantasy viral.

“Enjoy Your Flight”, plays on the idea that your dream holiday commences from the moment you board the plane.

The player is invited to choose between either a steward or stewardess to host them during the flight. From there, the journey takes off into video animation where the user interacts with a range of in-flight activities. There is also a risqué element involved, but only by choice upon rolling over the “fantasy” button.

“We wanted to engage with a younger audience by using a top creative agency and harnessing the power of social media and popular video sites like Kontraband,” says Joseph Sikorsky, Marketing Director for Cheapflights.

The result is so crap I’m literally lost for words. No insight, really badly executed, don’t get me started on the cliches… Yes, they will get some views, because they made a deal with Kontraband.

But the main question is in the world of the Internet, where free porn is everywhere, why on earth would I want to see some poorly done soft-porn? It’s not even funny or entertaining. And certainly makes sure I will never ever book a flight on cheapflight!

But this quote really caught my eyes from Richard Spalding, Kontraband’s MD:

“we expect the views to exceed all expectations “.

I love Kontraband though. It still is one of the best website to launch a viral with.

Seth Godin on the future of the music business

February 26, 2008 2 comments

I think that’s one of the best presentation I’ve ever seen.

Tricky situation he was in. Trying to get the music industry to move in the right direction. Difficult not to be too confrontational or too brave for their liking.

Lots to be stolen from. Especially the way he sets the context without offending anyone, by getting them to laugh at themselves.

And he manages to pull it together superbly, thanks to his genius and humour.

It’s an hour long, but well woth it. (UPDATE: unfortunately, Seth has taken it down for the moment. It will hopefully be back soon)

But if you haven’t got the time, the main ideas are written down here. It’s as clever as it gets.

Bank of Ireland

February 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Has produced some of the best banking ad I have ever seen. No seriously.

Watch them and let’s talk.

I like everything about them. The idea of using some of Irish fairy tales creatures as potential banking customers is very original. The executions demand your attention and definitely cut through. The attention to details make you want to watch it again. There is something incredibly clever about the way the creatures appear very human and have problems related to their creatures background. The dragon has a big treasure but doesn’t know what to do with it, the elve is hardworking, but only at the beginning ofher career and could do with a bit of help…

There’s something utterly funny about them as well, making them every more brilliant.

I love it.

Well done to Irish BBDO, Company Films and Glassworks for that breath of fresh air in an industry that much needed it.

Originally spotted on Feedhere.

Ikea – Turning product showcase into compelling content

February 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Ikea, thanks to Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors (click to see their portfolio, it’s impressive), has made a name for itself by beautiful and interactive product showcase, winning gongs and galore along the way.

It started with the 360 degrees exploration of the dream kitchen. Here’s the last and third installement:

Then, the more obscure exploration of closets

But what was lacking, despite the hypnotic beauty of the visuals, was, erm, an idea… Which has now being taken care of.

Introducing the bedroom experience:

From FB’s website:

You need a quiet place

In this campaign IKEA invites you to look at your bedroom in a new way. Not just as a room to sleep in, but also as an oasis of calm where you can read, relax and recharge after a hectic day full of work and household chores.

On site you can experience four different rooms and check them out from three different angles.

Basically, it’s an extension of the 360 still pictures of the Dream Kitchen to different angles video, but it still works absolutely fine. But they have created mini films before reflecting in 10 seconds the stress accumulated throughout the day, until you can finally… relax in your bedroom.

So Kudos for the agency and the client for delivering these beautiful online experiences that actually make you want to go to the store.

It’s very interesting to see how they turned what would be a boring product showcase into mini stories and extremely compelling content.

Virals – No one knows anything

February 20, 2008 15 comments

All virals are Black Swan. Or, why the use of past references and case studies might make you less likely to come up with the next big viral phenomenon.

I’m talking here, of course, about the ubber-virals. The ones that have been seen by millions of people, that everyone talked about, that have changed pop culture and have redefined the way we do advertising.

I’m not restricting my thoughts to online virals as now, any piece of communication can become viral – the internet is just the facilitator.

I’m also not just talking about ‘advertising’ virals, but phenomenons that have ended up being virals (Chocolate Rain, Mentos and Diet Coke, Blairwitch…).

There are only very few real virals every year. The subservient chicken, Kylie’s Agent Provocateur video, John West Salmon, the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment are a few examples of that.

What do they all have in common? They were totally unexpected, and their success is near impossible to intentionally reproduce. We’ve all analysed their success and come up with pretty solid arguments as to why they were so successful. Yet no one seems to have found the right formula to reproduce this kind of phenomenon.

But let’s go back to the Black Swan theory from Taleb’s new book:

What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes.

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

And here’s his argument summarised (whole article on Moneyweek here):

Taleb argues that humans are ‘hard wired’ to see the world through the lens of the ‘Platonic fallacy.’

We look for structure where there is none and comprehension where none is possible.

Such people are condemed to live in the realm of ‘Mediocristan’. There, their understanding will be conditioned by “Platonified economists with their phoney bell-curve-based equations”.

More, they will constantly fool themselves with the “narrative fallacy” – the human drive to impose a post hoc explanation on even the most shocking events.

Let’s come back to the last point. The “narrative fallacy”. Which is, how humans beings like to find patterns where none exist, trying to make sense of the unexpectable.

If you were to ask 10 advertising gurus why the subservient chicken was so successful, you’d probably get 10 different points of view. The surprise, the innovative use of the technology, the awkwardness, the comic factor… All making for a pretty sound explanation of why this one piece of work, out of hundreds of thousands, had achieved such a grand scale success.

Yet, for all these explanations, no one seems to be able to use this knowledge to recreate similar effects.

Being able to understand and analyse great virals is in no way a factor in predicting whether a piece of communication will go viral, let alone trying to manufacture another one.

I will go further than that. I actually think it’s counter-intuitive. As soon as you have some big principles as to why communication have turned out to be great virals, you are even less likely to come up with the next one.

As I said, all the virals listed above had one point in common. Their success was totally unexpected. You could not predict that, overnight, kids around the world would start popping Mentos into Diet Coke bottles following an online video. It’s easy to post-rationalise why they did. But it in no way guarantees that you will be able to come back with the next one (especially if you are one of the two brands involved).

Some agencies or really talented people have a better feel for what will is likely to become viral. But they are just doing better work than the rest. No one has found a formula to consistently turn communication into virals. Crispin Porter and Bogusky have never been able to reproduce another viral of the scale of the Subservient Chicken. The Viral Factory has not done something as successful as the Trojan Olympics. (And I’m happy to be proved wrong), Fallon will find it hard to come up with something as hugely popular as the bouncing balls or the drumming gorilla.

There is a big difference between great work, getting numbers and people talking, and highly successful virals. Yes, having some principles help us get to better work, but not to amazing work. It is only 0.01% of communication that has a major impact on our industry and on our audience’s lives.

So when trying to turn a communication into the next big viral, don’t just look at what has been successful in the past: it will give no indicators of what will be in the future and will make you less likely to achieve it. You need to be brave and look into other areas, new directions, outside of advertising. Don’t try to predict success by comparing it with the 10 most successful virals, it just won’t work.

By looking at past examples, you are going to make contrived work that is never going to be any better than the originals you were looking at. You’ve put yourself into the wrong frame of mind. Therefore it won’t be surprising. Or unexpected. This behaviour could not have led to the drumming gorilla or balls, because they broke every single rule of what people thought a good viral was made of.

Which explains why it’s so easy to post-rationalise why something went viral (by retrospectively applying a pattern to it) yet so completely impossible to recreate one.

Mr Rude will be French & smelly

February 13, 2008 3 comments

(Image from the Sun)

Nothing to see with advertising, but sometimes you come accross something that leaves you speechless. I used to love the Mister Men. I had them all when I was little.

But come on! Why so much hatred? Did one of the creators have his girlfriend cheating on him with a French dude? Is that a cheap shot at revenge?

Are French people the only target that is still considered as politically correct to poke fun out?

A Five spokesman said: “The fact Mr Rude has a French accent is meant to be light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek, and no offence to the French.”

The character even invites children to pull his finger – and then breaks wind.

Let’s remember the target audience here:

“Mr Men is a comedy show for four to seven-year-olds.

It’s true that kids nowaday are a lot more mature than they were in my time and I’m sure a 4 year old will be able to understand the subtelty and the second degree of it all, and that it’s in no way a real representation of how French people really are (ahem).

But they were apparently right to do so, they have a very good excuse indeed:

The show’s makers Chorion said the English view of the French as impolite was well-known.

Alright then! That’s ok to be a little racist, but only if everyone thinks the same. I guess Mr Drunk, Mr Chav and Miss Asbo would have been harder to market.

Categories: random Tags: , ,

Getting to better ideas – #2

February 12, 2008 4 comments

Philosophy.

Just this word used to make me run scared. I almost failed high school because of it.

But now I’m coming back to it with new eyes and maturity (hysterical laughing) and I’m now starting to realise what an important tool it can be in a planning and creative toolkit.

We are always looking for fresh point of views on what a brand can say. And it becomes harder and harder to find interesting things to say on very generic territories, when your products don’t really have anything that stands out.

I came accross Guy Debord’s work recently, most notably the ‘detournement’ (I’m ashamed to admit it, being French) and thought it was fascinating.

Here’s a good definition for it, taken from BeyondTV:

Detournement is the subversion, devaluation and re-use of present and past cultural production, destroying its message while hijacking its impact.

Comics, ads, movies, ‘fine art’ or even city spaces are manipulated and placed in new and radical contexts (one contemporary example is ‘adbusting’ or ‘subvertising’ and culture-jamming).

Paris. May, 1968: the SI (Situationalist International) successfully fed the revolutionary spirit by subverting popular comics in posters and flyers.

Detournement is most commonly associated with the Situationalists, whose ideas and spirit inspired the near spontaneous revolution in France in 1968. Situationists envisioned a society on the foundations of creativity, pleasure and free play where people actively participated in the reconstruction of every moment in life.

By encouraging people to detourne their own everyday-roles, ‘spectacular lifestyle’ and seize control over their own lived space through the creation of unique situations, the SI hoped to achieve a way towards Utopia by functioning as the trigger to a grand anti-spectacular revolution by the people.

The Situationists were not the kind of people who thought the only right thing to do was just to sit down peacefully and wait for a revolution to pop up in a distant future. Instead they recognised the idea of doing something immediately and reinvent everyday life here and now as necessary.

Art was considered central in the deconstruction as well as reconstruction of society. Paintings, sculptures and such were considered ‘spectacular phenomenons’. Instead of transforming everyday life to art, it remained an entity separated from everyday life or just another type of commodity.

Situationist ‘art’ emphasised more on human interaction and the ‘art’ of creating new spaces and forms of communication. Arguing that our perception of the world is closely related to the structure of the society, the prime task was to liberate people’s everyday-life from the narrow-minded discourse provided from the spectacle. If ordinary citizens were given a widened and more creative perception of what our world was capable of becoming the structure of society would change.

It surprised me how modern these thoughts still sound and how relevant to our digital society they are. The situationalists thought that people should regain control of the media by participating and creating their own content…

There is a lot to be stolen and re-adapted from them. This philosphy has strongly inspired Adbusters for example. I loved how Guy Debord had put sandpaper on the cover of his book, the society of spectacle, so ir would destroy other books in a library. I believe there insights can be used to create advertising that is more intelligent and subtle, that challenge people perceptions. That uses provocation but in a positive way.

Modern philosophy is very readable and still very thought provoking. For interesting point of views on what a ‘home’ means to people, ‘the architecture of happiness, by Alain De Botton is a must read. (Especially read it if you work for Ikea). Providing inspirational insights on why human beings desperatly try to make a house a home. Actually I would recommend most of his books, just for general culture.

Before embarking on a brainstorming for a new client, I would strongly recommend quickly going through what philosophers have been talking about on your subjects… The relationship with a home, technology, what makes us happy… It will be worth it.