Friday, October 27, 2006


Happiness is fast becoming the latest thing marketers promise to deliver. Coke is currently all about " Happiness in a bottle", provided of course that you're looking at things from the "Coke side of Life".

OK, I'm enough of a cynic to rise to that. I love to collect quotes and this is one of my favourites:

"Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular.
But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness."
- Robertson Davies

See, it does always come down to the value of the brand.

Google Bombing

The ability to manipulate the search engine’s results or "Google bombing" is reaching new heights as the mid term elections draw near.
A number of Republican candidates have been made targets in a sophisticated “Google bombing” campaign intended to game the search engine’s ranking algorithms. By flooding the Web with references to the candidates and repeatedly cross-linking to specific articles and sites on the Web, it is possible to take advantage of Google’s formula and force those articles to the top of the list of search results. The articles that rise to the top are, of course, the ones that show the candidate in the worst possible light.

It will be harder to manipulate results for searches of the name of a candidate who has already been widely covered in the news and widely discussed in the blogosphere, because so many links and so many pages already refer to that particular name. Search results on lesser-known candidates, with a smaller body of references and links, may be easier to change. The current bombing raid on Republican candidates is being led by Chris Bowers, a contributor at (Direct Democracy), a liberal group blog.

The efficacy of this tactic has been demonstrated in the past. Searching for “miserable failure,” for example, produced the official Web site of President Bush. Google bombing now seems poised to become a regular smear tactic in the arsenal of the opposition.

Google's faith in its system has produced a hands-off policy when it comes to correcting for the effects of Google bombs in the past. Over all, Google says, the integrity of the search product remains intact.
Writing in the company’s blog last year, Marissa Mayer, Google’s director of consumer Web products, suggested that pranks might be “distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.”

Still, some conservative blogs have condemned Mr. Bowers’s tactic. These include Outside the Beltway, which has called him “unscrupulous,” and Hot Air, which declared the effort “fascinatingly evil.” Chris Bowers' response it that he feels web users are sophisticated enough to know that search results are all "somewhat massaged", a statement which feels a little like he is negating the effects of the campaign he is working so hard to run. Granted, we all know that the average interenet search user won't go beyond the first page of results much less wonder how partisan they are. But it does feel a little like Wikepedia all over again - a really cool resource that's worth the "paper" it's printed on.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

if: Inspiration Festival identifies and explores the most noteworthy issues and trends of the day in an exclusive and engaging forum. Over a course of three days at extraordinary venues around the city, award-winning advertisers, media visionaries, business leaders, scientists, inventors, anthropologists and designers will explode the trends that are reshaping our culture, our economy, our work and our lives.

I was fortunate to be invited to IF and spent several days immersed in discussion on topics that ranged from Science as Culture, The Future of Connection and Creativity, to Global Business Opportunitites. A heady mix to be sure, with a tremendous mix of people. Many were creatives who were in town for the New York Festivals and the rest were a diverse collection of New Yorkers selected by Juliette Powell, the curatorial and inspirational mind behind IF.

For me the surprise bonus was being asked to fill in at the last moment for an absent speaker and to present with my dear friend Andrew Sispoidis. We talked about creativity and collaboration and ways that we as a creative community can use new tools to leverage our collective talents.

It was very refreshing to go to a conference that broke out of the usual mode and not only allowed for a free exchange of ideas but mandated that. I'm sure that there are many who were there who will join me in hoping that IF becomes a regular event in NY and will look forward to the next year.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Juice boxes for grown-ups

Winemakes can't seem to stop tinkering with packaging these days. Not too long ago wine in a box was synonymous with jug wines and what we like to think of as "complimentary heartburn and headache." Then came DTour, a collaboration between Dominique Lafon, (vigneron) Daniel Johnnes, (sommelier) and Daniel Boulud (chef). DTour is packaged in a tubular vacuum packed tube. And it's getting rave reviews.

In a rather misguided attempt to broaden wine's appeal and further loosen up the intimidation factor of wine, witness the next generation of wine packaging: The Juice box.

According to the vintners using this packaging "There are times when a full bottle of wine just won't do: at the beach and on the golf course, for example, where glass bottles aren't allowed."
They also hope to target the casual drinker who only wants one glass a night or the wine drinker who's spouse drinks beer.

Even if the wine selection did rise above Sutter Home which generally falls into the jug wine category, I can't see this taking the industry by storm. As American's appetite for premium wine continues to grow this seems like a swing and a miss and righfully so. I'll be waiting for the NY Post headlines about kids who mistakenly get Mommy's juice box in their lunch by mistake. If nothing else, it has the promise of some good comic relief.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Some interesting charts by Clement Mok, Global Director of Design Planning for Sapient. His take on Agency 1.0 vs Agency 2.0 shows the correlation between emerging/exisiting media and the state of marketing. What's most interesting to him is that this still seems to be news to some marketers.
The first chart is an overview of the evolution of agencies to adapt to the new landscape. The second is the underlying philosophy for each system.

The idea that the customer owns and builds the brands feels a little unrealistic. Certainly customers feel a great deal of "ownership" and loyalty to brands that they feel help to define their lifestyles but that brand had an identity before they discovered and adopted it.

This applies more to brands that have gone through an identity renaissance like Hush Puppies did when they were brought out of a 20 year slumber by people looking for something that was outside of the mainstream. The revamped image due to this new customer is a better example of customers driving brand identity.

So where does that leave the agency? Brand builders and stewards open to partnership with consumers? Ringleader or barker? The smart agencies won't engage in a power struggle with the passionate public but harnessing the power of consumer generated content has yet do be done in a way that makes it feel like a new model.

Charity Vending Machines

The "charity vending machine" made its debut in Japan this week, joining a long list of unorthodox devices that sell everything from insects to eggs.

Like many typical vending machines, the charity machine sells drinks, but it also deducts donations if the user wishes.
Devised by local volunteer group Miyagi Heartful Vendor (MHV) to raise donations for good causes, it is the first of its kind in Japan. MHV is a volunteer organization of representatives of local companies and welfare groups. The machine was made to order.
The prototype was installed on the Tohoku Fukushi University campus in Sendai's Aoba Ward. The university is known for its focus on welfare issues.

At first glance the vending machine appears just like any other. Above the coin slot, however, are two buttons: one for a 10-yen donation, the other for a 100-yen donation. When buying a drink, customers can push the buttons in combination to make a donation.
For example, if they push the 10-yen button twice, a total of 20 yen will be taken from the change as a donation.

They can also donate without buying a drink, or buy a drink without making a donation.

The money will go to the Miyagi prefectural branch of the Central Community Chest of Japan, which will distribute the funds to social welfare facilities and victims of natural disasters.

Bad Technology Statistics


of working Americans say they have no idea what an RSS feed is


say they do know what an RSS feed is


report that they actually subscribe to an RSS feed

So does this mean that this is a technology that is too complicated for the average user or is it simply not useful enough for people to adopt it? You might reasonably expect that the conveniences RSS feeds deliver, like notification of updates to a specific channel of content, would be enough to get most people over the technology hump.

There was lots of buzz about RSS feeds as the next wave in personalization but it seems clear that the average person is content to go from site to site to gather their information on the web. All of the sites that want to get their RSS use up so they can add Google AdSense into it and make a little money would be well served to make a persuasive pitch to their users and engage in a little demystification so that the vast majority has an idea of what they’re missing.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bonfire Of The Brands

Bonfire Of The Brands

In 1497 the Bonfire of the Vanities, courtesy of Girolamo Savonarola, consumed pornography, lewd pictures, pagan books, gaming tables, cosmetics, copies of Boccaccio's Decameron, and all the works of Ovid which could be found in Florence.

On September 17, 2006 Neil Boorman is going to burn all his branded goods in an attempt to re-evaluate his lifestyle.
Neil Boorman is a the consummate label whore. He is also a DJ, a writer for The Guardian, and founder of a satirical fanzine called The Shoreditch Twat.
On September 17 all of his shoes, clothes, designer bags, furniture and electronics will go into a massive bonfire and he will begin to live an "un-branded life". This blog is a diary of his journey towards a brand-free lifestyle complete with a countdown to the bonfire and the publishing of his book, hmmmmmm.

Is the whole thing just a publicity stunt to sell another book on brands and why they are or are not evil? Or is Neil Boorman really going to be able to live his life with nothing but a carefully de-branded iBook and stock his shelves with no-name hummus and non-branded plimsolls (running shoes)? Check his blog to see or follow the publicity storm as it unfolds.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I just came across an article on Theo Jansens and have become utterly fascinated by his work.
For the last ten years he has been creating "Strandbeesten", fantastical creatures that are able to walk powered only by the wind. These kinetic sculptures are made of plastic tubing, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, hose, tape and all sorts of other things which you might commonly find as detruitis on a beach which Jansens transformes into primordial looking creatures which step delicately along the beaches of Holland. His goal with the Beesten is to "put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so that they will live their own lives."

The creatures are constantly evolving as Jansens "breeds" the most successful ones into more complex creatures that can flap their wings,
discern abstacles in their path and even hammer themselves into the sand on sensing and approaching storm.
His work has been featured in a spot for BMW.


PikaPika means "twinkling" in Japanese and is also the name of an amazing project known as "the lightning doodle project".
They have created a series of animations all done with long exposures and edited together to create beautiful and whimsical scenes.

here's how they describe the process:
" We got all sorts of friends in different fields together to work on this project.
During the process,they got to know each other and discover new things. This is also about "communication".
People can meet new friends as they create a piece art very easy which brings every one happiness.
We spend a very enjoyable evening at the workshop and the party through this animation."

They have also produced a short film that was nominated in the Ottawa International Film Festival, enjoy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

How Stuff Works

Ever wondered why someone would make a false confession to a crime or why the sky is blue or how caffeine works?

HowStuffWorks is a revelation of discovery. It covers topics from the quotidien to the truly obscure in a style that makes it all very accessable. This is the perfect combination of practical tool and joyous time waster all in one.

More on cool

Fast Company has an interesting article on how large slow-moving companies are hiring small agencies and creative shops instead of the big holding company agencies to help them find the elusive factor of cool.
Some of the high points:
• The author sees this corporate outsourcing of cool as something sinister comparing it to farming out your soul. Perhaps a little alarmist.
• Technology made them to it.
• the only options left to uncool companies are to "Farm out what most makes you distinctive to a bunch of kids in Brooklyn--or do the hard work of figuring it out yourself."
The resulting chart on the history of cool is hilarious enough on it's own to merit inclusion here as an example of how important good information architecture really is.

Expoloding Color

Remember the Sony Bravia spot that featured thousands of brightly coloured balls bouncing down the hills of San Francisco?

Sony is following this up with a spot that features a high-rise building with various colors exploding from each floor. This time they're making a huge buzz about the spot - there is a site about the making of the spot before the spot has even been released.

There is even an amateur video of the spot being filmed on the web.

My Gallery at The Tate

The Tate Gallery has devised a new way of looking at their incredible collection with a range of themed 'Collections'. These suggest a number of personal journeys you could take, reflecting different moods and enthusiasms and reminding us of why we go to galleries in the first place - to find things that inspire and refresh us.
You can see some Collections that have already been curated from the artworks currently on show at Tate Britain - have a look at these and then why not create your own Collection?
Tate Britain displays British art from 1500 to today. You can create your Collection, print it as a leaflet, or send it to a friend.