Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Communications Room is moving

I am now using wordpress so from now on you can find this blog here. Goodbye blogger, it's been emotional.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Digital Lethargy

Does digital make us lazy? Have we lost the urge just to do stuff or stand up and speak out for what we believe in? Does digital give us the chance to dabble in something but not actually see it through?

Well there have been a few things lately that have made me think about digital lethargy. The point in which a person’s interest or involvement online isn’t mobilised into something that arguably has a greater influence and/or effect (it's not a real post unless you have coined a term by the way). Perhaps it is political or merely something more fulfilling personally. Or maybe even a sale.

I criticise myself a lot for being too lazy. I have strong opinions about politics and the environment, but I don't really do anything about it. I rarely read the paper properly anymore. I use Facebook instead of making an effort to go and visit friends and family. I go on many cool branded sites but rarely buy the product or even think differently about it, at least not consciously. And of course posting too much about things other people have said or done rather the things I have done or think.

Noah and the guys from Zeus Jones have written this and this respectively about how digital habits are manifesting themselves in traditional forms of media consumption/behaviour, which is an interesting concept in itself. Although not related to digital, John Mcure of Reverend and the Makers fame also wrote this in the Guardian that touches on people doing sod all politically. I particularly like this paragraph.

“Yet a deafening silence prevails, save for on soft issues that don't require our leaders to remove the splinters of middle England's fences from their derrieres. Bono talking hungry Africans is a safe issue. He's a man they're happy to do business with, borrow some cool from. Everyone agrees we should act. Comic Relief, Sport Aid? No brainers. A far cry from the counterculture radicals who so affected our broad thinking during the late 60s or even during the punk era.”

So praise be to god my dying belief in mankind was saved when I went to my first APG event in Sydney and Sam McLean from the not for profit Getup.org.au gave us a presentation on how they use digital to mobilise people around specific issues such as the environment or the price of fuel for example.

Now I think Getup is awesome and it is genuinely more than just an online petition site, which lets face it is the most lazy form of activism. It has 280,000 members. People create content for their campaigns for free and people donate money to pay for the media spend and launch it as a TV ad. They even organise ‘Getogethers’ across Australia that do influence policies at varying levels. Getup are a great example of how digital can be used cost effectively to create grassroots interests and participation, but more importantly how they turn that interest into something potent by using ‘old media’.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Getup is responsible for the following movie. And if you want to donate towards the media spend you can do it here.

Now I’m sort of going off course a bit but I will maintain the ramble. The rub for me on this is ‘what does this essentially mean for brands?’ I often hear it said, particularly in the alcohol market, that their respective audiences aren’t online. Which isn’t true, but what is true is why should someone bother to gather, ‘online or offline’, anywhere other than a pub for a bottle of lager? And that is where digital agencies are failing. Why would any self respecting lager drinker bother to jump through these hoops just win a fridge or hear about all of their exciting news via email? Do they really care enough to do what is being asked of them?

This to me is the part that clients want us to answer and is imperative if digital agencies are to play a greater role from a brand leadership perspective. Rather than throwing stats at them that say 21 – 35 year olds lager drinkers now consume x amount of Internet hours compared to TV, therefore we must do something in digital. We must be showing them how we can use digital in a way that is relevant for people’s relationship with that specific brand. How can we snap them out of this lethargy and create communications that are more than just forwarding an email on to a friend, entering a competition or signing up to a petition against global warming? How can we mobilise the masses and not just those who are motivated enough to play with the latest communication just because it's cool and innovative? Perhaps there is a market for a digital, come experiential, come PR agency?

Monday, 30 June 2008

More on Meadows

I’m a big fan of Shane Meadows so when I arrived here missing home a bit, I was delighted to see that Somers Town was showing as part of the Sydney Film Festival. However when I read the festival’s programme and I found out it was funded by Eurostar and the brainchild of an advertising agency (namely Mother) I was intrigued to see where this was going to go. Thankfully it didn’t sell out as a piece of film and I thought it was brilliant.

I was quite surprised it didn’t do better at Cannes but perhaps you have to be from the UK to appreciate the piece or maybe the 'power of unbranding' rationale was too much for people to get their head around. I'm not sure about the phrase but I get what Nugent means. It's nice to see a client with some balls.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Billy Connolly on digital...

I have just finished reading Billy Connolly's biography, which has been written by his Aussie comedienne/psychologist wife Pamela Stephenson, and right at the end there is this quote from him on people that use the Internet or 'The Great Anorak in the Sky' as he calls it.

"You know why those people are on the Internet don't you? Because you wouldn't speak to them in the pub"

Harsh! Billy, there are PubCamp's going on don't you know!

PubCamp - The Web 2.0 Media Day from Sticky Advertising on Vimeo.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

How to raise levels of employment

I love the Australian government’s approach to reducing rates of unemployment. It’s quite simple really…they make morning TV that is so bad even the most mundane of professions will look appealing. Pretty much every channel will break out into these God awful infomercials that try and blend seamlessly into the show. They would make even the cheesiest of people cringe. Something tells me though that they may well do the job. The worst culprits are David and Kim. Check this bad boy out.

Man I miss Richard and Judy.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Playing catch up

It's been good catching with all the great work and thinking that has been going on since I have been away so here are just a few of my initial favourites.

First of all is Poke's work for Orange. It's up there with their 'Spot the Bull' work they did for them over the last two years. It really is the World's First Internet Balloon Race.

Then there is Leland's new blog on Transformation Design.

In Leland's words: "When businesses look at marketing, they focus on things like integration, brand measures and ROI. While these are important, we must respond to the fact that we are now in a situation where the recipients of marketing are, at best, numb to it or, at worst, revolting against it. We must put emphasis on designing new marketing activities that engage with people's behaviors, emotions and lifestyles in ways that help them and our clients.

To that end, design thinking and techniques can help us rethink marketing systems and structures and - possibly - redesign them from beginning to end around the "user." This is genius and right on the button in my opinion.

And also Noah Brier's Brand Tags project is neat along with it's supporting blog and battle mode. It would appear that Lego is the current brand to beat.

Trotters, the bowlo, nutbags and rednecks

So far I have had a nice introduction into Aussie life. In between meeting lots of clever planners, the ‘relos’ have kept me entertained showing me the best of down to earth Australian hospitality.

First of all there’s the ‘trotters’. The best way to describe it is a kind of horse, chariot style race around a speedway track. I know people used to race these years ago back home in Sussex but only on the roads (it is of course now banned). Fingers crossed the family’s horse, which is now in training, will be racing later this year. It’s actually all pretty exciting.

Then there is the legendary Bowlo aka St John’s Park Bowling Club. I have never seen anything like it before back home. Imagine combining a bookies, casino, arcade, bingo, restaurant, sports bar, cabaret, dance shows…and of course bowling, all under one roof, happening at the same time. Just to give you an idea of how busy it gets on a Friday the four story car park is completely rammed. But one of my favourite things they do is a free mini bus that picks you up and drops you home. Awesome no need for Des.

Image via

The last thing I’m enjoying is the sports banter although at the moment I’m trying to get my head round the all the 'football' codes and the rugby obsession. Last week a player called Willie Mason branded QSL fans ‘a bunch of nutbags and rednecks’. Can you imagine Frank Lampard calling Liverpool fans a bunch of lazy, thieving scallys. It might well be true but he would banned for weeks. I love their confidence and brutal, albeit politically incorrect honesty! However his team were then thumped 30 – 0. A perfect example of cocky Aussies, when will they learn?

I’m getting a good repertoire going which mostly involves playing dumb when it comes to their favourite sports. It consists of asking if they play rugby because they didn’t picked for the football (I refuse to call it soccer) team. Pretending that I know nothing about Union and asking how the Australian Rugby team has done in the last 2 world cups and finally claiming that cricket in England is only played by toffs. At least one good thing about being over here with England not playing in the Euros is I don’t have to stay up till 2am to watch them play.