Steve Ballmer talking, err, balls…

…at least, about his view on the future of advertising/content/media, all wrapped up in a nice little analogy about watching golf…

“It’s going to be harder and harder to tease apart what’s communications and what’s media because if I say I am watching a golf match and at the same time I see Tiger Woods’ golf ball I take my clicker, it points at it, it figures out that it is a Nike Elite, it says ‘Do you want to order a dozen balls for you and your friends?’. Advertising, commerce, community and content all kind of blend.”

See the video from the Washington Post here:

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Digital outdoor… good and bad

There’s some lovely 118 118 stuff up on the new(ish) ‘digital poster’ formats on the underground… it’s really nice because (it feels) like it’s been created specifically for the sites… really quick, up close, moving, engaging iterations of their latest strategy…


This one in particular made me laugh when I walked past it, enough so to make me stop, turn round, and wait for it to come up again to take the picture.

Comparing it to digital posters that are being tested on roadside ads, all they seem to be is digital extrapolations of static posters…


What’s the point of having digital outdoor opportunities if you are just going to use them as ‘cleaner poster sites’… push the boundaries, use the medium to its limits.


Dirt is Good. Depending on where the dirt is…

So, you’ll be familiar with the Persil/Omo “Dirt is good” campaign I guess…


Well, on the back of my international vs. local post the other day, I heard an interesting piece of anecdotal evidence about it today.

In India, it’s a great success… people have really embraced the ‘outdoor stuff is good for you kids, let them get dirty and enjoy themselves, and we’ll help care for their clothes’ message… send the kids out, let them get dirty.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, they’ve created a really nice little video interpretation of it to suit their culture… see it, read the translation and join the debate at Richard Huntington’s post on  it.

But in China, it’s a failure.  The ‘dirt is good’ philosophy really clashes with the current air pollution problems there apparently, so parents think that keeping their kids clean, and out of smoggy, dirty environments, is the way to keep the kids healthy… keeps the kids in, keep them clean.

So it’s an international strategy that doesn’t work everywhere but can work very well in some places.  So surely the best idea is to have local areas try it / interpret it / embrace or reject it based on their local knowledge?  Are all worldwide brand edicts like this destined to encounter at least some interpretative problems?


Fish where the fish are

So, you’ve got a new product that brings together two previously separate entities together in a new, exciting convergence development… or indeed you’ve whacked an oyster chip on a credit card…


So where do you go fishing for customers?  Where the two collide, most probably… seems logical, yes?  Well, kind of… are people rushing through tube stations really going to stop and listen to another credit card offer? 

Reminding people about the fact they can get a credit card with an Oyster in the environment where you can use the Oyster is fair enough, but trying to convert them to sign up there and then seems a bit a stretch…

Another reminder that the ‘where’ and the ‘what’ must work closely together… fishing with the wrong sort of bait in a pond full of fish still isn’t going to work that well…


International Brand of Mystery

I was out walking with Helen on the South Coast this weekend, which was (as usual) mentally refreshing… there‘s something about not thinking about any work or study that makes you idly think about some work stuff…

And it can be triggered by the simplest things; for instance, I appeared to be picking up the French version of the Orange network on my mobile phone, which when standing on the chalky white cliffs of Britain is an interesting juxtaposition.



Which is a nice metaphor for any of us who works on international brands; try as you might to keep the communications you do to one country, they will inevitably spill over into other countries around the world.

For instance, the BMW work in the UK for the 1 series isn’t the same as the work that BMW’s US agencies put out there… their sponsorship of the Onion TV for instance (which has stopped now, but any excuse to show The Onion…) was pretty different to the work seen in the UK




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Breaking News: Series Of Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot


However, whilst their sponsorship was on, The Onion TV was the subject of a two page celebration in the Guardian Guide… therefore pointing lots of people form the UK in the direction of BMW sponsored content.

So, should all ads be the same across all countries? Or just the communications that can be seen across these territories? But then how do you interpret local context, languages, social traditions and the like? And make each local client & agency team feel like they’re contributing valued work in their areas?<o:p> </o:p>

Tricky, isn’t it? I don’t know what the answer is (something around ‘global principles, locally interpretted’ perhaps…), but as more and more people cross international boundaries for their entertainment, it’s becoming vitally important.


Nostalgia; it's not what it used to be…

Sorry, an awful joke to start a post with.  And one no doubt you’ve heard before… just like some adverts you may have been seeing of late…


The first one I noticed was the cartoon Aquafresh family, which must have first aired in the early nineties at least.  And then today there was the Maynard’s wine gum one, with the stereotyped Scottish fella (Oh, how I can relate)…

…and there were another couple old ads that everyone had forgotten back on TV this year, though ironically I’ve now forgotten what they were.

But the point is, all these ads are embedded in my brain somewhere, and not only do they not have to grab my attention with a whole new ad, and not only do i think back with some degree of fondness on the ads, there’s also a client or two out there saving their pennies on making new ads, and reusing things they’ve invested a lot of money in before. 

Good for clients, good for media agencies, not so great for creative agencies… unless they get some sort of % points on the back end…

Anyway, here’s some that probably won’t be coming back… more’s the pity

…and a personal favourite

When did ad’s stop having weird/funny/bespoke songs?  Maybe the dying music industry can actually be put to good use after all…