May 17, 2007 by Colin
Twenty six years ago, I was wandering the streets of Hong Kong, setting off each Saturday on day-long meanders from the safety from my parent’s three bedroom apartment on Po Shan Do.
Located up in the Mid-levels on the island, our apartment building sat right beside a rather horrible landmark: a hillside full of concrete flumes and drains, put in place after a neighbouring construction site slid down the hillside after torrential rains.
Clutching my HK$15 allowance, I would make my way down the winding roads inside a relatively safe minibus. In those pre-SARS days, I thought nothing of the minibus driver rearing back and hocking out a giant loogie while waiting for the stoplight to change.
In the years since, a lot has changed. To put things in perspective, I left just as the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank building was being built – then the largest building in the colony. Now it’s one of many.
And there was no sign of the extensive network of escalators now in place. Polar inertia describes the magic carpets that help ease commuters on their way to work in the morning.
Pointer from Cityofsound.
[tags] Hong Kong, Po Shan Do, Escalators [/tags]
May 15, 2007 by Colin
I’ve watched this video a dozen times, and I can’t quite put my finger on what I find so unsettling. Here are some thoughts:
- Bob and Doug are essentially anti-commercial characters. Their down home persona was about stealing beers, not selling them
- There is no subtlety at all to the pitch. The video is covered in beer labels, and Bob and Doug virtually shout the brand name.
- The imagery from the original SCTV skits (Coleman stove, donuts, cases of beer) has been exaggerated in this remake. There’s a freaking layer cake of Boston Cremes there, for chrissakes!
- It’s not funny. Not at all.
- The original Bob and Doug clips were rambling and unstructured conversations about basic elements of the stereotypical Canadian experience. This new ad slams you over the head with the idea of B&D pushing stubbie bottles. It’s like Bob and Doug were possessed by slightly chubby middle-aged infomercial salesmen.
- UNIMAGINATIVE! UNIMAGINATIVE! Why not explore new angles for characters every Canadian over the age of 30 knows intimately? Play off their “experimental video” from Strange Brew! Or this stop action video using old sound clips and the B&D character dolls from MacFarlane.
IStudio seems to be behind the new video. I don’t understand what is viral about it. Is it because the video’s available on YouTube? There certainly aren’t any hooks for social media at the video’s home on the Brick website. It’s just 6 seconds too long of passing for a boringly traditional 30 second spot, normally seen just after Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada.
The Great White North does not find this amusing. It’s almost as bad as the revivification of Colonel Sanders.
For your further enjoyment: Bob and Doug’s Take Off, featuring Geddy Lee.
A cynic (like, say, me) might say that the new emphasis on Canadian heritage is a false front.
UPDATE: It seems that iStudio seems to be responsible only for the “seeding” of the video, not its creation.
[tags] Brick Beer, Istudio, Bob and Doug Mackenzie, stubbies, beer, retro [/tags]
May 15, 2007 by Colin
Lifted straight from a post by Steve Portigal, the principal in “a boutique firm that brings together user research, design and business strategy”. Read it. Live it.
1. Quit worrying about jargon
2. Think more broadly about which people you want to learn about
3. Garbage in, garbage out
4. Give other people the space to tell their stories
5. Follow up, and then follow up, and then follow up
6. Do you really want to use a survey? Probably not.
7. Collect and use natural language
8. Don’t forget that any research process with real live humans is hard
9. Breathe their air
10. Learning anything new requires rapport, and building rapport takes time
11. Finding insights requires pattern matching, creativity, synthesis
12. Personas are user-centered bullshit
13. Phil McKinney says “You’re probably not listening.”
14. Practice noticing stuff and telling stories
15. Do some improv
16. Embrace pop culture
17. Don’t forget about culture and social norms
[tags] Steve Portigal, user research, consumer research [/tags]
May 14, 2007 by Colin
Inside the fishbowl. Inside the beltway. Myopic. With blinkers on. Inside baseball. Sometimes pigheaded. Maybe a tad close-minded.
That’s slightly exaggerated, but Andrew Cracknell, formerly of Bates, makes the point that advertising agencies can sometimes lose track of the real people they’re trying to reach. The point stands for public relations types as well.
“… But I was always depressed at how, over the coffee and biscuits before a meeting, the agency and client people could chat together about their kids and holidays, Saturday’s match, their hopes and fears, and the instant the meeting started, revert to their rearranged postures that had so little to do with the real people they’d been just a few moments before.
Trying to stay slightly more on the edge of the cult, and getting more in touch with your real side, while being a little less dismissive of the man on the Clapham omnibus’ view of ads are all virtues I could have benefited from.” (Campaign, via TMCNet)
[tags] Clapham omnibus, fishbowl, beltway [/tags]
May 12, 2007 by Colin
Every office needs a mix of personalities. The strait-laced editor. The irreverent copywriter. The fastidious and ambitious junior manager. The intern with limitless imagination. The stunningly inventive creative. The guy just there to collect a paycheque to pay for his punk band’s gas bill.
Every office also needs a balance among all these personalities, so that work doesn’t become stiflingly boring, carnival sideshow unstable or completely anarchic.
Like Jayda, a clerk at American Apparel in Atlanta:
“What’s the strangest thing a customer ever said to you? This one guy told me I look like an anime dream girl.”
What’s one thing you most hope to accomplish in 2007? Get my ducks in a row so I can grow my business.
Or Stori, the server:
What’s your worst habit? Smoking and my foul mouth.
(from Creative Loafing’s Lust List 07)
That’s why I thought I liked the video from Connected Ventures (the folks who bring you College Humor and Busted Tees). Lip Dub – Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger
But you know what? I like the spirit behind a response video even more.
A comment from one of the folks from Connected Ventures:
“… me likey. I imagine you are living a life that’s somewhere in between a contemporary pornographer’s and vintage John Waters. If I had to pick a favorite moment, it would be the first shot of the guy with the Dan Akroyd shirt with his oversized lighter.”
[tags] Connected Ventures, Harvey Danger, Flagpole Sitta, office environment, workplace safety, morale [/tags]
May 10, 2007 by Colin
Sure. We all see the pictures. Poor Jessica Simpson, ripped apart on all the gossip sites. Frequent changes in hair colour. Unexplained fascination with muu-muu like dresses. Carnival clown lipstick. Grinding with Eva in Vegas. Avoiding photographers with John Mayer. Meanwhile, there’s Nick with Vanessa. Sigh.
Poor Jessica. How does she do it? How does she struggle through life faced with all this bad karma and incessant criticism?
By having the number one selling shoe in North America, that’s how. Here’s a quote that will knock your ankle socks off:
“…Vincent Camuto, chief executive officer of the Camuto Group, said he will ship close to three million pairs of Jessica Simpson branded shoes before the close of this year. Sources close to the company estimate the shoe line alone will bring in $225 million in retail sales in 2007 …” (WWD, sub req.)
And, as if you didn’t feel bad enough: the Olson twins made $40 million last year from their clothing lines (which are a billion dollar business).
[tags] Jessica Simpson, brand extension, shoes, fashion marketing [/tags]
May 9, 2007 by Colin
but I just realized that every piece of clothing I’m wearing came from an outlet shop … in a different province or state.
- Suede wingtips, from J.Crew.com (post-Christmas sale)
- Blue Patterned Shirt and Beige Chinos, from Chelsea Premimum Outlets, Waterloo, NY
- Watch from Miromar Outlets, Florida
- Belt from Chelsea Premium Outlets, Woodbury Common, NY
- Socks from Winners
Of course, there are some things I just will not scrimp for, like haircuts, for example.
May 8, 2007 by Colin
A walk through stencil art and graffiti in London.
A rough Graffiti Art Tour through London
El Chivo (including the photo up top) on Flickr.
Londonist has some El Chivo.
Banksy Maid with Sid Vicious add-on by Jef Aerosol;
Faile graffiti in London. And Copenhagen. And Tokyo.
Jef Aerosol’s Joe Strummer under Camden Bridge.
May 6, 2007 by Colin
Social media can really affect your career. There’s a point where experimentation becomes obsession, where habits become compulsions. And at that point, there’s frequently a loss of judgment or perspective. It’s like getting high on the social media crack.
- ill-considered postings on poorly thought-out ideas
- a scattershot comment trail across the blogosphere
- a remarkable ignorance of how long your words remain alive on the web
- confusing the volume of your posts for the quality of your analysis
- lashing out at higher ranked social media experts simply for trackbacks
- stealing your parent’s television set to pay for Flickr Pro
- Your friends network becomes more about numbers and less about connections
- You start making up words for trends only you have identified
- You mistake your six months as a blogger for six years as a professional in your field
- You seem to have forgotten how to qualify your opinions, or even how to use conditional verbs.
Index to the Chart:A: Leaving commentsB: Listening to podcastsC: Starting your own blogD: Speaking at social media unconferencesE: Gossip bloggingF: Intensive use of Facebook or MySpaceG: Posting on PornoTube
May 6, 2007 by Colin
Jeff Vrabel nails one of the things about Facebook (and every other friends network) that makes me uneasy.
“…This is my problem, though: that Facebook takes what used to be a shapeless process — making friends — and pours math into it, meaning that you can very easily, with a few mental calculations, compute how many friends you don’t have, particularly when compared with all the other popular people. I went to high school. Already done it.
[tags] Facebook, friends, high school, cliques [/tags]
May 3, 2007 by Colin
A handful of looks at urban text:
- Paul Shaw’s record of found typography across New York City. (New York Times)
- The hand drawn signs of the taquerias on Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn (Village Voice)
- New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual (1970) from Triborough
- joeclark’s amonthofsubways flickr set: a picture a day of signs in the Toronto Subway
- Chinatown rooftop colours from Joe’s nyc.
- London: A Life in Maps from the British Library
May 1, 2007 by Colin
The half-hearted clowns advertising discount roses, furniture sales, condo sales, and used car lots. Shedding bears and floppy eared dogs try to draw crowds to community fairs … They don’t have the moves to compete with the sign spinners featured in the Los Angeles Times today.
And like any niche industry trying to bootstrap into respectability, these guerrilla marketers come traffic cops are pushing a new name for the profession: “human directionals.” (wikipedia or myspace)
Not to say there isn’t hard work and natural skill involved.
“… Local spinners have cooked up hundreds of moves. There’s the Helicopter, in which a spinner does a backbend on one hand while spinning a sign above his head. In the Blender, a spinner twirls the sign behind his back. Spanking the Horse gets the most attention. The spinner puts the sign between his legs, slaps his own behind and giddy-ups. …
Aarrow keeps dozens of moves in a “trick-tionary,” which only a handful of people have seen, said co-founder Mike Kenny. The company records spinners’ movements and sends them in batches to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “We have to take our intellectual property pretty seriously,” he said …
The outdoor advertising industry still does not recognize sign spinning as a bona fide way of reaching consumers, much less an art form. It regards spinning as a form of guerrilla marketing that commercializes public space. “(LATimes)
Aarrow’s Devin Wade even knows the “infamous Bruce Lee” move. San Diego magazine said “Wade and his ilk are the consumer street division of Cirque du Soleil.”
“… “Traditional forms of advertising have decreased in effectiveness,” says Aarrow CEO Max Durovic. He ticks off old-media mainstays: radio jingles, billboards, TV commercials. “Today, you can’t reach the consumer like that. But if I can make eye contact with someone, and make that human spinteraction, it allows us to create a one-on-one advertising experience. For that split second, that ad is personalized for you.” (Las Vegas City Life)
Youtube has a video of Aarrow’s founders spinning and discussing the company’s origins.
And here’s a video of some sign spinning in Vegas.
And an NPR story on “human directionals.”
Wonder how much spinners make? One company has advertised on Craigslist and the rate is cited as $10 – $20 an hour. Some good spinners, though, can make up to $60 an hour.
Did anyone see the sign spinner on an episode of NCIS earlier this year? He was mercilessly mocked by the NCIS team. I wonder how much he made for that appearance…
[tags] sign spinners, human directionals, promotional, condo sales, guerrilla marketing [/tags]
April 30, 2007 by Colin
There’s an eerie similarity between the costumes and the dance moves in these two videos:
A clip from Raquel Welch’s 1970 TV special, Raquel!
h/tip to Crying All The Way to the Chip Shop
[tags] Raquel Welch, Beastie Boys, Intergalactic, Devo ripoff [/tags]
April 28, 2007 by Colin
Tag clouds. There’s your next content analysis tool. With Tagcrowd‘s “Alpha” service, you can easily analyze any text for recurring words and concepts. Obviously, tag clouds work best when applied to a large database: either a long speech or a quantity of smaller pieces.
It’s a useful tool to generate a first impression of a text or a presentation, but there are both advantages and drawbacks:
- favours messaging over content
- truly only measures repetition, not value, of words
- overlooks key phrases and themes
- doesn’t reflect logical or rhetorical progression of the text
- doesn’t provide clues about context or how the text was received
- shines a light on underlying tone (positive, negative, inspirational)
- helps you understand the emotion being communicated (strong, responsive, dedicated, things like that)
- provides a 50 word impression of the text and the intentions of its authors
- much cheaper than contracted media analysis, with a similar level of accuracy
Tag clouds are also helpful in comparing texts. Over at pollster.com, you can see an analysis of the speeches delivered by the Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday night.
The breakthrough of TagCrowd is the easy capability to develop a tag cloud from any text – online or off line. This is a practical application of 2.0 technology to our everyday work as communicators and marketers.
As more web apps and mashups can be applied to offline tasks, these forms of technology will be integrated into the everyday work of all communicators and marketers – not just by early adopters and the technically saavy.
[tags] tag could, textual analysis, media analysis, word association [/tags]
April 25, 2007 by Colin
The key to continuing customer loyalty is never stop delivering on your brand and product promise. Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and donut chain, knows this and delivers in spades.
The company’s regular Roll Up The Rim promotional campaign gives away thousands of prizes at outlets across Canada: cars, bbqs, free drinks, donuts and cash prizes are up for grabs. The campaign has become a pseudo-cultural event for many Canadians.
Winning codes can be found under the waxy rim of each paper coffee cup. (There’s even a custom tool for rolling the rim.)
This year, Tim Hortons has launched a custom Roll Up The Rim campaign designed specifically for the troops in Afghanistan. The cup design incorporates modern camouflage patterns, and the in-store promotional posters are in several international languages. 5 prizes of $1000 are available to be won, as well as caps, digital cameras and the usual donuts and coffee.
That’s a customized promotional campaign, built on the existing material, for ONLY ONE OUTLET.
This is a company that understands its brand and product promise – and knows it has to deliver this promise at every outlet.
Have you ever wondered what a combat zone coffee shop looks like? Take a look at this Canadian Forces Combat Camera footage shot by Sgt. Ed Whitmore (15 meg .mov)
Photo by Sgt. Roxanne Crowe, Canadian Forces Combat Camera.
Thanks to David Akin for the pointer.
[tags] Tim Hortons, Roll Up The Rim, Coffee Shop, Donuts [/tags]