The “wow” starts when?

January 31, 2007

From Seth Godin’s blog, via the lovely Malthe


Apparently wow means ‘excitement, interest, or great pleasure’. Has it ever looked less like the "wow" starts here?!

And why the quotes Bill?



The computer behind the blog

January 26, 2007

Ian works in the building next door to where I work. He doesn’t know me, although I do know Simon and Tom who he works with.

Anyway, he’s doing a thing where bloggers post a picture to Flickr of the compauter they blog from. I did it, although I don’t usually do things like this.

Here’s my blogging computer – my work laptop, on itas docking station at work, with a sloppy Pret tuna sandwich in front of it.


And here’s the Flickr group with other people’s blogging computers.


A right pagga on Adliterate

January 23, 2007

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a debate about The Future of Planning (dah, dah, dahhhh) going on at the Adliterate blog.

It worth a read if you’re interested in that kind of thing (that kind of thing being having a job as a planner in a communications agency, I suppose). Here are my thoughts:

  • What a silly, self-important bunch we are. All we do is ‘come up with ideas for adverts’. Surely that should be fun eh?
  • I’m driven by self-doubt (and hence self-improvement), but some planners seem to have rock star levels of self-confidence in their views of the right way to do things.
  • For a job where I’m sure two of the required traits are good observations skills and understanding of nuance, some contributors seem to miss crucial earlier parries in the debate.
  • Aspiring young planners probably won’t make it beyond aspiration if they interrupt such an intense discussion with irrelevant ‘hey this is great what should I do to be like you’ type posts.

Sorry if this feels a bit snipey, I’m feeling a bit dark today – see my Moodjam for evidence.

Innocent’s puzzling new ad

January 20, 2007

The wonderful Innocent Drinks have got a new TV ad on air.

Now, personally, I don’t feel that the Peter-Gabriel-Sledgehammer-video aesthetic really captures what I feel the Innocent brand should feel like. But I’m hardly qualified to discuss that, and I’m sure they’re taking it in a new direction for very good reasons.

What I do find quite puzzling though is their strategy. The message of the ad seems to be ‘drink smoothies, not juice’, Their own research backs this up. So my questions are:

  • Is juice really the right target, given I’m not sure that the battle against fizzy drinks is over yet in the country at large?
  • Is juice really the right target, given you’re unlikely to stop even the most heath-concious people drinking it? Juice is nice. In the morning, I tend to buy a smoothie and a juice, because the juice is easier to drink.
  • Is juice really the right target, given Innocent themselves sell juice? Well, Juicy water. I’m sure they used to sell just juice.

I’d love to know what they’re up to.


January 12, 2007

Four days after ‘the biggest product launch in history’, I still keep walking past creative’s desks and notice them drooling over the iPhone demo.


‘For all us poor suckers that can’t wait’, have a iPhone ReadyMech – a ‘free, flatpack toys for you to print and build’.

Here’s my friend Mark Smith of the eponymously-named-with-a-twist Marksmith ‘using’ his. The poor deluded man:




A couple of iPhone questions I have:

  • Which mobile network will launch it in the UK? As far as I know, only Orange have a WiFi strategy in place, although I presume Virgin will have one soon. Plus, I imagine it will take some kind of network upgrade to support the visual voicemail. Who will be willing to make that kind of investment?
  • Will it actually be called iPhone in June? I think Steve could just be exploiting Cisco’s challenge for publicity, or fun. And the iPhone name kind of does the device a dis-service. After all the iPod isn’t called the iMusic. And you thought they might have learned their lesson on over-specific naming with iTunes – now with video.


How to make Web 2.0 graphics in PowerPoint

January 11, 2007

It started with the wet floor effect. It’s been on my mind a lot, because I’ve seen it everywhere recently. Not content with infecting every bit of Apple’s software and website, and pretty much every Web 2.0 site going, I’ve now seen it crop up in everything from ITV idents to ads for Lemar’s new album. If I had my act together more, I’d have captured some of its many diverse appearances, and made this a much more interesting post. But I didn’t. Too disorganised, too lazy.

Anyway, I was fooling around in PowerPoint recently, and decided that I wanted to do a wet floor. You know, as a pastiche. But I didn’t want to just use Photoshop to make a graphic for import, as that would be cheating. So I worked out how to do it:

  1. Insert the graphic that you will later want to reflect (Insert > Picture > From file)

  2. Duplicate it (Ctrl C then Ctrl V, or drag while holding Ctrl)

  3. Invert the duplicate (Open the Drawing toolbar, then choose Draw > Rotate or Flip > Flip Vertical)

  4. Line the duplicate up directly under the original.

  5. Draw a new rectangle, so it completely covers the duplicate graphic.
  6. Get rid of the rectangle border (Line colour > No line)

  7. Change the Fill colour, with a fill effect that is a horizontal gradient fill, with one colour (white), light-ish, from 20% transparency to 0% transparency.


Bingo. Your PowerPoint wet floor is complete. Not why not try other Web 2.0 cliché graphic effects…


Add a gradient background fill:

  1. Draw rectangle that fills the top half of the slide.
  2. Make the line colour ‘no line’.
  3. Change the fill colour, with a fill effect that is a horizontal gradient fill, with one colour (your choice; light ones work best), fully light, from 20% transparency to 0% transparency.
  4. Send the rectangle to the back in the order menu.
  5. Do this in the slide master to add the gradient to every page.

Make a Web 2.0 style ‘logo’:

  1. Draw a 16 pointed star (Drawing toolbar > Autoshape > Stars and banners > choose the star with ‘16’ in the centre.
  2. Reduce the depth of the points using the yellow grab box (visible when your star is selected).
  3. Make the line colour ‘no line’.
  4. Change the fill colour, with a fill effect that is a horizontal gradient fill, with one colour (your choice; bright colours like pink work best), light-ish, from 20% transparency to 0% transparency.
  5. Add your Web 2.0 brand name (Select your star > right click > Add text) (Lightsphere can help with your name)
  6. Change your font to white Arial – or Arial Rounded if you have it.
  7. Rotate your star to a jaunty angle – around 15° works for me. (Select star > Rotate with the green grab box).




Bad marketing stopped me buying a good product

January 11, 2007

I expected the Gilette Fusion razor to be shit.

I know I’m about 14 months late pointing out the uncanny way that The Onion predicted it in their seminal article ‘Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades’. But I’m sure that was part of setting my expectations. And I’m sure that the other part of that was their dreadful, patronising, stereotype-based marketing.

But here’s the funny thing. In desperation to find a way of shaving that didn’t randomly give me a horrible rash, in time for my wedding, I tried the Fusion. And it works. Really, really well. It looks pretty awful, feels only OK, but it shaves really smoothly with no rash at all. The silly single blade on the back is about as useful as the rubber tongue scraper on my toothbrush, but I suppose it was necessary to trump the Onion at their own game (‘6 blades!’).

So the reason I hadn’t tried Gilette’s new product earlier was because of their dreadful marketing, or satire inspired by their previously dreadful marketing. I might have tried the product earlier if I’d just discovered for myself, without interruption.

Let me say that again. Gillette’s marketing put me off buying a product that is perfect for me.

I’m all for brands being exclusive, as Mark Ritson advocates in this week’s Marketing. But surely excluding people in your target audience for whom your product was designed is going too far?


Why I was too busy to blog, part 3

November 17, 2006

Normal service will be resumed in 2007. 

Why I’ve been too busy to blog, part 2

November 17, 2006

I’m getting married in 2 weeks time, which is the second reason I’ve been too busy to blog: Literally (not in the footballer’s sense of the word – actually literally) every moment when I’ve not been working has been spent, well, working on the wedding event.

We’re getting married in church, and then the celebration is in a marquee in a field. So there is no wedding co-ordinator. They usually come with a venue, or you have to hire them independently at vast cost. So we thought we’d organise it ourselves – Jane’s a project manager after all. But what we didn’t factor in was the unprofessionalism of most of the companies you have to deal with.

The wedding service market (in the north-west of England at least) is a vivid illustration of supply and demand at work. There is far too much demand and not enough supply. Therefore many suppliers get away with offering a shoddy, overpriced service and there is often no alternative. (Unless you go seriously upmarket into the £50k price bracket, which seems an obscene amount to spend on a party.)

Thankfully along the way we’ve also found a few great people who have been very professional and helpful. I would thoroughly recommend:

I’m not going to spend any time shaming the less confidence inspiring companies… yet. Let’s see if they actually deliver on the day. I keep telling myself they will…

BTW, it’s interesting that the crap companies have crap websites, and the better ones really use the web well.

Wish me luck!

Why I’ve been too busy to blog, part 1

November 17, 2006

So, no posts for 4 months. Sorry.

I wonder how many lapsed (failed?) bloggers make apologetic posts like this after a lengthy period of absence? It feels a bit pathetic to be honest. I hate those ‘oh my god I’m sooo busy’ people who will never help you with anything. I try to be the kind of person who says yes to everything, but perhaps that’s why I ended up so busy. And in a battle between my blog and getting by in the real world, I’m afraid the real world had to win.

(What’s interesting is that my trickle of comments never dryed up. About three posts I’ve made here seem to persist in attracting a couple of readers. Perhaps I’ve over estimated the premium on currency with blogging?)

Anyway, so why have I been too busy?

Part 1 to the answer is that at Albion, the communications agency where I work, we are going through that victim-of-our-own-success period. We’ve quietly done some good work, which has built our reputation, and has led to us being handed lots of new business, and being asked to pitch for even more. Which is all fantastic, but it’s hard to find the time to find the good people who we need to help us do it all.

I’m sure we could have predicted this, planned for it, and found a better way through it. We’ve all been involved in growing agencies before. But we were all having too much fun actually doing the work to stop and think about it seriously enough.

As (another) aside, there doesn’t seem to be too much competition for 30-person strategic and creative agencies with serious people and good clients. We seem to keep on coming up against similar competition: Karmarama and Farm.

Anyway, here’s some of the stuff that’s been keeping me so busy:

So I’ve had plenty of good ideas for blog posts during the last 4 months, but really haven’t had the time to write them, because even my non-Albion time has been totally filled by another project – I’m getting married – see part 2 for details.

Hopefully in the New Year things will calm down a little, and I’ll be able to start to clear the backlog. (Hopefully I’ll get to go on some nice long train journeys too. For some reason I find trains the ideal place to write blog posts.)