'Reindeer sleigh, come our way, HO HO HO, cherry nose, cap on head, suit that's red, special night, beard that's white, must be Santa...'
Never has a children's christmas ditty been delivered with such...erm...menace.
Have yourselves a merry little Christmas.
I'll be back battling mediocrity after the break.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The cynic in me wonders if this is exploitative bullshit, but on the other hand the continued imprisonment of elected Burmese President Aung San Suu Kyi is an issue that needs any exposure as it can get, virtually ignored as it is by western governments, so we will give Chrysler the benefit of the doubt for the meantime.
I'm loving everything about the Scottish independent brewery BrewDog.
The style, the brand, the philosophy, the disruption, the attitude.
There is nothing mediocre about these guys.
Our beers are in no way commercial or mainstream.
We do not merely aspire to the proclaimed heady heights of conformity through neutrality and blandness.
We are unique and individual.
With beers named 77 Lager, Trashy Blonde, Punk IPA and Hardcore IPA what's not to love?
Last month they also launched the strongest beer in the world, the Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
Weighing in at an ABV of 32%, BrewDog’s ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin’ beats the previous record of 31% held by German beer brand Schorschbraer.
And with their offshoot label punkdog they can offer personalised labelled beers.
Also through the Equity for Punks share scheme, they are looking for 10,000 fans to become part of the journey.
The web-ness was created by Aberdeen agency Hampton Associates, good work chaps.
I shall be cracking open a couple of Punk IPA's in your honour over the festives.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Poor X Factor winner Joe McElderry, robbed of his moment in the Christmas spotlight by a bunch of grungers from more than a decade past.
Gentle pretty thing
Who only had one spring
You bravely faced the world
Ready for anything
One cannot argue with the numbers:
X Factor with around 4 months of prime time telly pulling in 19million for the final show and uncalculable mainstream media coverage via daytime tv, newspapers etc rustled up 450,000 sales of Bambi’s ditty.
The Rage Against The Machine's 'fan' driven ‘campaign’ built up initially on Facebook with around 750,000 sign-ups where around 500,000 followed through with their 79p. In any marketing-speak; as a conversion rate it looks good.
What’s also interesting is that the X Factor itself had a sizeable social media backchannel through the duration, particularly real-time commentary on Twitter.
The idea to subvert the Christmas chart spread like wildfire because it adhered to some of the basic principles of ‘viral-ness’.
1 - It was easy to understand – buy the track within a certain time frame, if enough people do it, it will achieve it’s goal.
2 - It polarised opinion – You are eitheir ‘for’ or ‘against’ the idea.
3 - It was easy to participate – there was only a couple of things to do, pass on the idea and buy the song.
4 - It’s all about me – The participants have to WANT it to spread, participation makes a social statement about ME (I’m about proper music vs manufactured pop).
Meanwhile every Tom, Dick, Harry and Social Media Expert jumps on the Rage ‘victory’ as being vindication and proof of the corresponding ‘victory’ of social media over broadcast media ‘marketing’.
While it’s another case study in the continuing shift in control from broadcaster/brand to the users - and both wee Joe and RATM playing the role of social objects in a groundswell - from a music perspective it’s a bit depressing.
I made my peace with the X Factor some months ago once I realised it had nothing whatsoever to do with music.
As in life, in that for there to be good there must be corresponding evil, so also for there to be music there must be anti-music.
When I was a nipper we had a saying about Top of the Pops – ‘every Thursday until you die’. Tip of the Poops died out first, but the likes of X Factor are it’s natural replacement.
The Top 40 was the last bastion of the TOTP era, this latest subversion is surely one of the final nails in it’s coffin.
But If I were a Rage fan I’d be a bit miffed at ‘my band’ being reduced to mere spectacle, The biggest selling song of the year, yet any meaning reduced to it’s ‘symbolic’ interplay as a social device in a cod-situationist spoof.
The irony, of course, being that a 5th consecutive Christmas number one from the Cowell stable is not much of a story. This weeks events made sure that X Factor was still newsworthy.
So what happens next?
Bambi will surely be number one next week as – in another irony – the social media ‘campaign’ fireworks burst and go dark.
And we look forward to another 51 weeks of corporate hip hop, sanitised r’n'b, careerist pop and wishy-washy do-gooder rock at the top of the charts.
Which no proper music fan pays attention to anyway.
In 1977 when the Sex Pistols released their single ‘God Save the Queen’ it entered the UK chart at number one . That week the top 40 was the the Top 39 as the chart publishers refused to even list the song that had polarised a nation in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee week.
But then, you knew I was going to dig that one out...
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Unbelievably it's 30 years ago this week since the Clash released their 'difficult' 3rd album London Calling. Still the greatest of all time IMHO.
I can still remember legging it down to The Other Record Shop in Aberdeen after school - fiver in hand - to buy it.
The Clash were famously in debt to CBS for many years due to the fan friendly price point.
A fiver for a double LP in 1979 was commercial suicide for a band relying on major label funding for recording, production, manufacturing and distribution.
Whereas now a band can give the music away for free and make more money, without compromising the connection with true fans.
The Clash were, of course, masters of branding.
Not marketing tricks (they often failed at that) - but having a single, ownable brand idea and sticking with it, building the story (or myth)at every touchpoint, but having an inclusive story that the audience could feel ownership of.
I'm reminded of Tom Peters' top 5 brand questions.
1 - WHO are YOU?
2 - WHY are YOU here?
3 - How are YOU UNIQUE?
4 - How can YOU make a DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE?
5 - WHO CARES about you?
This Jon Savage nugget easily answered all of those questions.
'The first thing that needs to be said is that the Clash’s legend is deserved. After the middle of 1977, when the Sex Pistols became remote, stalled in outrage, the Clash became the leading UK punk rock group: it fell to them to articulate, advise (for that was in their nature) and galvanise the energies of a new and rapidly growing rock community. Like the Sex Pistols, their ambitions went beyond music: they aimed to dramatise a city – London – and a country in crisis. As their name baldly stated, they were programmed for confrontation, contradiction and conflict – and they got all three in spades.'
Below is a Mick's 'hilarious' take on what constitutes a 'sell-out'.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
What if you could apply web style 'spam filtering' to your physical letterbox?
I've summarised the decription from springwise.
'Users simply tell SendSocial the Twitter ID or email address of the person they'd like to send a letter or package.
SendSocial then sends a request to the intended recipient to get their approval.
Only if that person agrees to accept the delivery does SendSocial get their address details; it does not, however, share that information with the person on the sending end.
The sender, meanwhile, is then informed that the mailing can proceed.'
Again demonstrating web behaviour transference into the physical world, and the trend towards consumers taking control and protecting of their own data.
Is this the start of an evolution of direct mail?
HT to Litmanlive via Twitter.
What could be more engaging at Christmas - after dinner and the Queens speech, of course - than having all the family gather round with a glass of sherry and play a game of Guess Poo. The classic 'flip and find the faces' game, is now the classic 'flip and find the faeces' game.
I confidently predict that this will be the number two christmas game this year.
Created by QuinkyArt
HT and finders fee to Alec East
Saturday, December 05, 2009
I thought everyone was up to speed with the 'digital comb-over' thing coined the other week by Jeremiah Owyang?
'Many companies are entering the social/green/community space, with hopes of impressing customers, yet despite their best intentions, they could come across as inauthentic, and be damaging their own brand.'
The new marketing and social-everything is a committment to changing the way stuff is done. (Im)permanently. Not a badge to stick on when it suits or a few buzzwords to ping around.
You have to mean it, man. Or else you're just a part timer.
It's fine to fake it until you make it, but to just fake it will fool no-one.
'They play their records very loud - They pogo in the bedroom - In front of the mirror - But only when their mum's gone out'
'Here they come - La la la la laaa la - La la la la laaa la - The part time punks'
I wanted to illustrate this with a vid of said tune by The Television Personalities but there's not one on You Tube.
I did, however, find this version by a cool multi-instrumentalist 8 year old kid called Dennis.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Golf legend and (it has to be pointed out) style icon, Gary Player famously said, in response to a call from the crowd speculating that his near perfect drive was a lucky shot, 'yeah, and the more i practice the luckier I get'.
The interesting thing about that quote is how - in the pressure situation of a masters golf tournament - GP felt relaxed enough to respond in a cool way with some style and wit.
No-one got a 4 wood wrapped round their neck.
Why is it some people seem to be more lucky than others?
Perhaps it's skill rather than pure chance.
Richard Wiseman in this old article from the Telegraph certainly subscribes to that view.
'My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.'
In a nutshell the key to good fortune is about relaxation, being open to the unexpected, trusting your gut and being alert to opportunities as they arise.
As a youngster I let many opportunities pass by, principally due to being erm, let's say 'distracted'. As i've got older and more mindful I'm finding that my 'luck' has tended to improve.
Here's Wisemans 3 techniques to develop which will maximise good fortune:
1 - Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition when making a choice, whereas lucky people tend to respect hunches. Lucky people are interested in how they both think and feel about the various options, rather than simply looking at the rational side of the situation. I think this helps them because gut feelings act as an alarm bell - a reason to consider a decision carefully.
2 - Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine. They tend to take the same route to and from work and talk to the same types of people at parties. In contrast, many lucky people try to introduce variety into their lives. For example, one person described how he thought of a colour before arriving at a party and then introduced
himself to people wearing that colour. This kind of behaviour boosts the likelihood of chance opportunities by introducing variety.
3 - Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune. They imagine how things could have been worse. In one interview, a lucky volunteer arrived with his leg in a plaster cast and described how he had fallen down a flight of stairs. I asked him whether he still felt lucky and he cheerfully explained that he felt luckier than before. As he pointed out, he could have broken his neck.
Props to Buddhajones.
He's Jesus of Cool, Nick the Knife and the Abominable Showman amongst other things.
A bit of Wednesday love to the (relatively) unsung godfather of punk, Nick Lowe.
Producer of The Feelgoods, The Damned, Elvis Costello and many more, plus one of the finest songwriters this country has seen.
He earned the nickname 'Basher' from his production style:
'bash it out now, tart it up later'
A methodology I continue to apply to much of my work, to this day.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
If, like me, you've been glamoured by the HBO series 'True Blood' (I'm mid-way through season2) you'll be pleased to know that the blood substitute drink, Tru Blood, 'enjoyed' by the more 'mainstreaming' vampires is also available as a logical brand extension for humans.
I love the drinkaware-esque cautionary line 'HBO reminds Vampires to drink responsibly'.
Sadly, not available in the UK yet :(
'Bill, you were just licking blood out of my head. I don't think it gets much more personal than that.'
If this post seems to flow effortlessly with serenity and peace it's because I'm writing using Ommwriter, a text processing application created by creative agency Herraiz Soto & Co.
You will never go back to Word after using this...
What they say:
'Ommwriter is a humble attempt to recapture what technology has snatched away from us: our capacity to concentrate.
Ommwriter is a simple text processor that firmly believes in making writing a pleasure once again, reinvindicating the close relationship between writer and paper. The more intimate the relation, the smoother the flow of inspiration.'
Check it in the vid.