Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
An exciting moment today, we got approval from Apple on the ipad version of the Twelevision app.
In all likelyhood it will be in the store for download in the next few days.
It's been a big team effort from a number of people but special personal props to Tommy McCubbin and Chris Kerr. Linchpins.
'Don't associate with bad friends,
Don't associate with the low,
Associate with admirable friends,
Associate with the best.'
- The Dhammapada
'People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information.
They want faith — faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell…
Once people make your story their story, you have tapped into the powerful force of faith.'
Author, The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and
Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling
In a curious case of synchronicity I said the first line of this quotation in a talk I gave recently about branding and advertising. It wasn't planned, it just popped into my head as i was talking.
Afterwards I wrote it down, it seemed like a good one.
One I would use again.
I thought i'd made it up. Turns out I hadn't.
Annette Simmons coined it some time ago.
I noted to a colleague 'I wish I'd said that'
He replied 'You will..'
Monday, March 28, 2011
If we agree that Facebook is fast becoming the new clutter then it's not surprising to see more and more take up of almost single-purpose niche social networking tools, as has been an emerging trend in recent times.
The scene goes small, kinda thing.
The one I'm liking at the moment is Soundtracking.
Yes, it's another check-in style tool, you check-in with the music you are listening to or experiencing.
With features that allow you to:
- check-in to the tune playing on your ipod/iphone
- identify and find the music you are hearing with search and auto-ID if it's playing somewhere ambiently
- tag your soundtrack at a location
- integration with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
As I write this i'm #soundtracking 'Coma Girl' by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
In his new tome Poke The Box, Seth Godin includes some more riffs on what he describes as the forces for mediocrity, a recurrent theme if you are familiar with the last few books.
By way of a recap...
'Remarkable visions and genuine insight are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. Products, services, career paths... whatever it is, the forces for mediocrity will align to stop you, forgiving no errors and never backing down until it's over.'
In Poke The Box Seth points out that it is often quite easy to rally the toops or get a task-force together to fix things that are clearly broken.
What's not so easy is to get people to fix things that are mediocre.
Because mediocre things are basically ok, functional, and there's nothing fundamentally obviously broken it's easy to let them go.
But obviously it's a massive missed opportunity to settle for ok.
And this applies to any business or endeavour big or small.
Here's a real-life example.
Last weekend they had a Family Festival near where we live, down the bay, south-east of Melbourne.
It was pretty good overall, I'm not complaining.
Bands played, food stalls, wine, salsa dancing, you know the drill.
It took over the whole park area by the beach. The sun was out, a nice close to the summer.
For the kids there were a number of fairground type rides, one of which was a little steam train ride in the style of Thomas the Tank Engine.
On around my 4th circuit (my wee boy is Thomas daft so it was a big draw) I started thinking about the experience. I couldn't help it, sorry.
The engine part of the train was vaguely Thomas-like. It was tatty, but blue with the number 1 on the side. Enough to be basically recognisable.
It pulled four basic carriages which the kids sat on, and did several rounds of a circular track.
There was a bored looking fella 'driving' wearing jeans and a jacket with his official festival worker pass.
If he could be arsed he rang the bell occasionally.
For the 2-3 year olds this was probable an acceptable experience.
How much better it would have been though if the bored driver had looked interested.
If he had worn an engineers uniform. A hat.
If he had rung the bell and shouted 'all aboard'?
If the ticket guy had been dressed like the Fat Controller?
A few props from Sodor Island?
How about a lick of paint on the engine, and a proper Thomas style face (It had a vague face dribbled on in paint that must have taken 2 minutes).
The parents were all happy enough to pay $4 a pop for the kids to go on it but I guarantee not one person went away from the Festival saying what a great ride the Thomas train was.
Not one parent will be calling them up to book the train ride for their own kids party.
(They had no business cards, leaflet or even a sign with their website address anyway, so it's moot)
A massive missed opportunity. All that attention but doing nothing with it.
There's a difference between the notion of minimum viable product and just mediocre.
MVP strips away the unnecessary, the superfluous stuff that doesn't add any value.
Mediocre looks for the minimum you can get away with.
Better to be a really useful engine.
Friday, March 18, 2011
From time to time I meet students, first jobbers and the like looking to make their way into the advertising world.
Why they come to me me for career advice is probably questionable, bearing in mind my chequered history but if there's anything I can impart of value it's along the lines of 'look at what i did, NOW DON'T DO THAT'.
Thankfully, I now have a get out of jail card to hand, in the form of Guy Kawasaki's new book Enchantment.
If you are familiar with Guy's previous works, Art of The Start and Reality Check in particular, then the concepts are broadly similar.
In typical GK self depreciation style he once remarked that he had written 9 business books, or perhaps written one business book nine times...
Enchantment is a kind of Greatest Hits, if you like.
But with exclusive bonus tracks and remixes.
Obviously Guy's key area of experience and expertise is in the Silicon Valley tech thing but Enchantment is the rare case of a 'business' book that's relevant for just about any person in any business anywhere.
In a nutshell the book is structured around ten or so key take-aways, each with a chapter, essential nuggets for anyone who wants to influence others, win them over and get them to buy in to an idea or project.
Likability, trustworthiness, having a cause, how to overcome resistance, enchanting your boss, enchanting your employees and, of course, the obilgatory practical application of social technologies to achieve those goals, are among them.
I was fortunate enough to receive a draft copy of the original manuscript a few months back to hack and return. Suffice to say there was very little I would have changed. I made the sum total of one edit and returned it.
It must have been a good edit though as he left it in...
There's no bull-shitake in the text, it's highly readable and entertaining, infused with Guy's own personality and wit, and peppered with other real-life examples of Enchantment in practice from other guest contributors.
In essence it's simply a tome of uncommon sense. One gets an experience of almost remembering things that have been buried away in the back of your mind that are brought back to the surface as the pages turn.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
In musicianly quarters the search for the lost chord is the mythological, and often narcotic-fuelled mystic mission into the rock'n'roll void in search of the trancendental moment of infinite oneness between man/woman and instrument.
In fact, one of the first known recordings of any music was the song 'The Lost Chord' by Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) - composed in 1877 - and recorded in 1888 for Thomas Edison in order that he could demonstrate his invention, the Phonograph (nowadays known as an ipod).
Sullivan himself was invited to one of these early playbacks and was reported to have remarked:
'I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the result of this evening's experiments: astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much *hideous and bad music may be put on record forever. But all the same I think it is the most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced, and I congratulate you with all my heart on this wonderful discovery.'
*Not only a great composor but also a great visionary, predicting there the emergence of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber many years hence.
A long winded introduction to Greplin, a personal search engine that will index your personal streams (gmail, facebook, twitter, linkedin etc) and allow you to search for long forgotten nuggets from your own social canon.
So the lost tweet from 2007 is lost no more.
It linked all perplexèd meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.
I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost [tweet] divine,
Which came from the soul of the [twitter],
And entered into mine.
adapted from The Lost Chord, Arthur Sullivan 1877
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Call me old fashioned, but this put-down line often heard in the halls of advertising makes no no sense to me.
Your strategy is showing?
Surely that's the point of the communication.
Showing the strategy shows the reason why.
The strategy should be clear to see.
What if we changed the word strategy to purpose or philosophy?
If the brand has nothing of value to impart, stands for nothing, and nothing to say about anything other than itself then there probably is a case for not showing your strategy.
Principally because there is no strategy.
In that case you probably are relying on hoodwinking your customer or some other subterfuge.
In all other cases, i would suggest your strategy/philosophy/purpose is your STORY.
And that's the idea being advertised.
So show it.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Back in August, we discussed the notion of appointment to tweet, and how tools like Twitter were turning out to be an unlikely savior of live scheduled broadcast television.
- Enhancing the ‘scheduled’ viewing experience making it more entertaining to watch ‘live’
- Making it interactive and social on a many-to-many basis
- Connecting fans with other fans
Imagine if there was an app that helped you choose which channel and programme to watch based on the conversations happening around it?
A twitter based TV guide which showed you what was on right now, and who was talking about it?
While there are numerous apps that let you check-in to shows or movies, imagine if it worked on a hyper-local basis, using the actual TV guide for your area based on what was being talked about right now.
Channel surfing then becomes about finding the conversations not just the content.
Well, very soon you will.
Twelevision is coming to an app store near you in the next few weeks.
Australia only for the first wee while, then everywhere.
For updates from SXSW, where we have representatives pimping, follow @twelevision on Twitter.
You can also join us on Facebook, please do.
Or have a look at the demo vid in super HD on the Twelevision website.
The revolution will be twelevised.
Please let me know what you think.
I'll be pimping this to death, and telling the story over the next few weeks.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
There's an old post on the @madebymany blog which discusses the possibilities of applying elements of Agile Software Development Methodology to 'agency' process.
Or un-process, if you like.
Their bent is obviously towards the more digital end of the spectrum but the thinking happily applies across the whole communications agency caboodle.
[Planning gets it in the neck]
'The obsession that so many planners have with identifying those 1-2"insights" is a constant source of bemusement. I don't know where the practice of boiling down sacred diamonds (almost mystical in nature) stems from, but it seems ridiculous..'
I've pondered this too for some time. Probably trying to boil my own sacred diamond.
In fact, they have distilled the thinking into a four step 'manifesto' a la the Agile Software development creed.
1 - Collaboration & conversation over strategy decks & documentation
2 - Simplicity of purpose over 'sacred' consumer insights
3 - Testing hypotheses over long-winded research & deduction
4 - Responding to change over following a plan
I'm buying all of the above but would probably argue that there is one insight that definitely does matter.
And one which benefits from remaining un-changed and un-iterated.
This is the brand insight.
And it alludes to, and expands upon point 2 of the above.
What is this brand for?
The following paraphrases Umair Haque in chapter 6 of The New Capitalist Manifesto.
[note: jeez, how many manifesto's can i have in one post?]
How does this brand/company and their product/service have a tangible, meaningful and eduring positive impact on people, communities and society?
How does it make us fitter, healthier, smarter and better connected?
What value does it create?
What is the dramatic difference it makes?
Crack that insight and decisions about what to DO and COMMUNICATE are easy.
One insight to rule them all?
That's the diamond that needs boiling down.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
It's more often than not that those micro-interactions - the small details - are the things that add the flavour to an experience.
The tiny bits. The nice-to-haves. The little hidden extras.
The extra 1% that makes it different and/or remarkable.
The extra 1% that the others don't do.
The sparkle that separates the merely very good from the awesome.
The things you are likely to pass along.
That's why this little function on the ipod (the O) that you are given to guide you round the awesome MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart tickled me.
Want the full critic-friendly details on a particular exhibit?
Hit the ArtWank button, obviously.
It could have just read 'info' and been ok.
[note: Delicate flowers who are likely to be offended by colourful language would be advised to steer clear of the subterranean underworld that is MONA.
There's plenty more and bigger confrontational material contained within.
Wee-wee and poo being recurring themes to name but two.]
MONA is the pet project of Tasmanian businessman David Walsh who commissioned architects Fender Katsalidis to design the museum, then filled the space with his own personal collection.
A mathematician by trade, Walsh made part of his fortune gambling (he cracked a formula that worked over and over) and built MONA on the site of the Moorilla Winery, which he also owns.
His fingerprints are all over that too, Moorilla also produce there own craft beers with the tagline 'not for bogans'.