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Postcards from the beach – 2017 edition December 12, 2017

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, digital advertising, influencers, silicon beach, social media, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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At the end of September, I spent two days by the beach listening, learning and starting to live again. Curated by the self-styled most selfish event organiser in the world, Matt Desmier, Silicon Beach is a complete mystery. You have some idea of some of the speakers but no idea when they talk, what they will talk about or indeed what may happen.

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I went last year and was completely smitten with the format compared to the typical bloviation from other conferences so had high hopes. Hopes that were fulfilled. And then some. And while I wrote some digital postcards last year to some people who really stood out for me, I wrote some actual postcards this time.

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You may have got one in the post. There are still one or two who haven’t even got one yet because it really has been impossible to find the addresses of some people; easier to find an address in Montenegro than Marylebone. But let’s get back to the beach…

Matt makes a thing of there being no theme, just people he wants to listen to and learn form. And that seems to be good advice for life in general, let alone a conference.

But there was a theme for me.

To get on and do things.

Because time is short. Because we’ve been hoodwinked that timesheets are the most important thing in advertising. That the colour by numbers dumbing down of creativity by Facebook et al is the temple we should all be praying at because they dominate over 2/3 of the internet.

That actually, we should be more rebellious in our behaviour and intent. Because life is short. As Billy Connolly once observed,  you should be anarchic and put stink bombs under the rim of the toilet or cling film over the porcelain on train journeys because…

“Do these things. You’ll improve your life no end.”

A theme that really came alive and punched you in the face with Chris Barez-Brown’s talk right at the end with him sharing that you spend 80% of your life on auto pilot with a need to Wake Up!

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A theme that Paul Armstrong showed in high-speed fashion (I may have to buy his book to try and remember what he speed-talked through) with his tiny square of paper showing you what little time you have left to do something.

A theme that Scarlett Montanaro recognised and that advertising wasn’t fuelling and did her own thing. Being the dependable back-up and timesheets are not the reason we got into advertising. Scarlett encouraged everyone to spend at least 20% of their time at work working on side projects or things you really give a shit about. Because while the industry still requires you to be chained to a desk for hours on end, you may as well be productive and doing stuff you like and can make a difference rather than endlessly staring at social media.

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A theme that came up with Sally, with Victoria and with Vanja about attention, sleepwalking, doing the same thing. We think we know our problems inside out, but history shows that sometimes the excuses we make are preventing progress (or survival). When we say ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ or ‘that’s just how it is / has to be’ there’s a danger in complacency, and that the competition will overcome that challenge first.

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Where advertising has become colouring by numbers to feed the digital machines of Facebook and Google. Where our short-termist, instant gains culture has created an obsession with quantifiable metrics. We need to embrace the chaos (Bo Hellberg) that we seem to process out of everything in search of efficiency. Chaos is the part of every story where the magic happens, and it’s the same with work. We can start with data, but it should never form the whole solution. If we want to affect real change, we must change our centre of gravity from chasing data to embracing chaos.

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And put penis’ on 20 foot presentation screens. Because life is too short. Do these things, they’ll improve your life no end.

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That we over-complicate, we spend time on the wrong things and that we need to wake up, do things that matter and do things that excite us. To think without the restrictions growing up places on us (Richard Gerver).

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To demonstrate our value, we’re overcomplicating things and obscuring potential solutions. Embrace the clocks and clouds in life as Matt Ballantine would say.  Clocks work in a very specific way and require expertise to make them work and carry out a necessary task. Clouds are intangible, transient and ever changing – this is where we should experiment, not knowing the exact value of the activity going in.

Be inspired, be braver (Dave McQueen) and think about what our own legacy may be. Don’t follow the herd (Up Your Elvis as Chris B-B would say, a nod back to Mark Earls from last year there too).

And in a dystopian manner, I loved Marcus’ ‘The Passing’ to bits. I say talk,  it was art. Beautifully conceived and delivered. Truly stand out. But also terrifyingly believable following on from several of the talks about the rise of the influencers.  The man is a genius. Read the Forbes review if you don’t believe me. I hope he does get a book deal.

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It’s hard to really tell you more. I have lots more notes. I have lots more actions and ideas. And in a way, that’s the joy of Silicon Beach. You really should be there to experience it. To try and do a post about it really doesn’t do it that much justice but I have tried.

Do these things. It’ll improve your life no end.

See you on the beach in 2018.

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Digital vs Traditional: what works best for you? December 16, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, digital, digital advertising, Team Eleven, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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Latest thought piece in Marketing Business Forum on digital and traditional marketing.

Print circulation numbers are down. On-demand and streaming services – sans un-skippable ads – are on the up. So what’s a marketer to do? Ditch the dinosaur channels and throw the entire budget at Larry, Sergey, Zuck and their contemporaries? Targeting, re-targeting and the ‘viral’ promise are all reasons to believe digital and social now reign supreme for the modern marketer, but in this we neglect to acknowledge the in real life (IRL) experiences and halting moments that also drive word of mouth and brand consideration – online or otherwise. So before you do throw everything at the digital plan, please ponder the following…

Magic in the mundane

If you haven’t heard the term ‘mindfulness’ this year then you’ve probably been living underneath the proverbial rock (and who would blame you in these turbulent times). It’s a reaction to our age of hedonism and the breakneck speed at which we’ve been living our lives, and like most trends, this desire to slow down and simplify is being reflected in publishing and advertising. In April this year, Ronseal decided to take a risk with a live TV spot which offered Channel 4’s Gogglebox audience three minutes of the unthinkable – watching actual fence paint dry. It was an inspired and effective product demonstration that earned them a trending spot on social media.

Stop the press

The digital evolution of the print industry is representative of the consumer’s move to more accessible, tailored and instant news without the barrage of irrelevant print ads. Despite the declining print figures, some brands still have the foresight to take advantage of reactive placements in bulk circulations, which often hit a captive, educated audience of commuters who will be reading cover to cover. Norwegian struck an extremely timely note in September this year following the news of Brad and Angelina’s break up, with a stark but cuttingly comic ad promoting their LA price promotion. The result: a viral campaign that puts it firmly in the hall of fame with Oreo’s ‘dunk in the dark’.

The great outdoors

Out-of-home and experiential marketing are truly challenging media. Bus wraps are hardly remarkable and being chased by a sampler at Waterloo while you try to catch your train isn’t entirely conducive to positive brand perception. The Economist challenges that notion. The publisher is infamous for its minimalist and innovative OOH creative, but it turned its hand to an unsettling on-the-ground activation in 2015 which was rebooted in the US this year. ‘High-protein’ is the new “on trend” claim for the food industry, and The Economists’ ice cream samplers achieved theirs by adding insects, the new proposed solution for the global food crisis which it covered in a ‘future of food’ feature. The campaign generated significant online press coverage and was branded ‘eye-catching genius’ by Business Insider.

The learning? Search for new value in formats that have become hackneyed and contrived. Opportunities to reach a cynical populace using these traditional methods still remain and can be extremely successful for the creative and confident marketer. Whether you’re aiming for ‘disrupt’ ‘be bold’ or ‘surprise and delight’ don’t miss the simple proposition with cut-through messaging that’s right in front of you.

when digital got in the way April 7, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, automotive, digital, digital advertising.
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This time last year I had a strange desire. No, not that you dirty minded pervs. No, a desire for throbbing engines, helmets and leather. Yes, I wanted a motorbike. Part practicality – I could save a chunk of cash by parking at a different train station – and part just because I’m heading into the dreaded 4 and 0. Not yet though. And then it all went away. Overnight. And it’s been taken over by another desire.

For a massive 4×4. Partly because any moment now we will have child no. 2 but also because I enjoy driving big cars. I enjoyed immensely driving the humoungous 8-seat Dodge Durango while on holiday in Florida a couple of years back – except when you went round a corner. We have corners in Europe.

So I should be frothing at the mouth at this new partnership from Microsoft and Ford for the all new C-MAX. I know the old C-MAX from my previous life on the Ford of Europe account (I didn’t work on it btw). It was the bastard child. Nobody liked it. The Focus and the Mondeo looked down on it and the S-MAX showed how versatility and all those other things can be put together in a great driving package. Some time down the track it’s been re-born. And here’s where my current desires fit in. I perceived the C-MAX as crap. Then I saw the telly ad. It looked nice. And what’s this? It has 7 seats! Woo hoo. We NEED 7 seats. (I know we will have 2 sproglies but have you EVER tried fitting your mum/mother-in-law in between 2 car seats in a V50? No? It just won’t go. So 7 seats are now officially tick box requirements for our next automobile.)

And then I completely forgot about it. And then I saw this tie up with MSN. Partnering with MSN gives you lots of good content, instant access to a gazillion people and a whopping amount of digital platforms on which to share the product love. It’s got lots of nice technology content, men things, stuff that men will like, manly stuff and things that are loosely related to the technology and men things about the car. I didn’t read any of that though because I watched Tiff Needell driving the car. The production quality was horrific which is inexcusable for a brand like Ford. And the car was DIRTY! I almost fainted. But the film content was good. I had no idea it had Active Parking. Which would terrify me at first in the same way Stop-Start mechanisms do. I am paranoid the bastard won’t start again. I couldn’t get as excited as Tiff at the automatic boot release though. I would get more excited at an automatic boot close as you get on premium motors from Germany. No more slamming. I even smiled knowingly as Tiff flashed his headlights in a retro Top Gear over-taking manouvre on the Oxfordshire back roads where it was filmed.

But where are the 7 seats, Tiff? WHERE? Nothing. Not even a nod to say “for those who want extra versaility there’s a 7 seat version.” So I had to jump ship to the microsite. Which seems to have no reason to live as it’s same content as the main site. And discover it’s called the Grand C-MAX. And try and find the video for that. And it was a bit rubbish. And then I looked at the prices and thought ouch! And then I figured I could get a decent used XC-90 for the same amount of cash and enjoy it more. Because it’s bigger. And it’s what we wanted all along. And they have some lovely films of Sweden. For the first time in ages I felt let down by digital because it got in the way.

some stuff and things that caught my eye June 28, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in adidas match tracker, brand, digital, digital advertising, iab europe, klout, lego, notepad, psfk future of retail, social media, twitter, yahoo!, you tube.
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Some people ask what’s the point of Twitter? For me it’s part information source, part staying in touch with friends and colleagues and part sharing bits of my life. I’ve found these things of late, I thought you might like them too…

Your handwriting as a font.

Notepad – a virtual piece of paper in the cloud.

You Tube video editing – from their labs, now it’s easier to trim off the crap bits, add titles and stuff all using the interweb. I may have to go back and sort some of mine.

And here’s Yahoo!’s labs.

Klout have updated their Twitter influence score system. Here’s mine. Apparently I’m only Casual – perhaps because I’ve refrained from spamming the airwaves this past week. And here’s a nice post about it.

IAB Europe white paper on brand advertising and digital.

How Lego connect their fan network.

The PSFK future of retail report.

A lovely presentation on new business opportunities in retail.

The Adidas match tracker. Experience footy games like a geek.

And then there’s this topical re-imagining of the England football badge.

Enjoy.

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omg what happened and what should I do? June 14, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in digital, digital advertising, social media, viral.
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Free ebooks are ten a penny but this one caught my eye because:

– someone I trust tweeted about it

– the content looked pretty awesome and interesting & it has a fun title

– the content has many questions that a lot of clients and peers still have so always useful fodder

– it looked pretty cool

– and you can get a free download by paying with a tweet – the social payment system. I’ve not come across this before and is a great “forced viral” tactic that plays on the notion of “value exchange” that we all bang on about. Share the love and we’ll give you something for nothing. If only I could have changed the tweet content to make it less salesy but hey.

I haven’t read it yet – that’s what train journeys are for but chime in with any thoughts.

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memories matter & a droopy problem – using digital to promote health issues October 6, 2009

Posted by nicholas gill in Aardman, Alzheimer's disease, digital, digital advertising, Domain London, Erectile Dysfunction, Pharma, Profero, video, viral, you tube.
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Two new campaigns I wanted to share for the same reason: using digital to raise awareness and action of two serious health issues by doing something interesting.

Memories Matter

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Do you have a favourite memory? Something that you always look back on and smile? Domain have just launched a new campaign for the Alzheimer’s Research Trust including a microsite which stores peoples’ memories forever. The site demonstrates that without more funding for research into dementia, this is what we stand to lose. Sadly, dementia set to double within a generation. The site is a blend of real people and celeb memories including Terry Pratchett (the world’s most “famous” sufferer of Alzheimer’s) and others including Michael Parkinson, Felicity Kendall, Patrick Moore, Gordon Brown and loads more.  When you read some, you’ll laugh out loud. Read others and you’ll be quite choked. So many people, so many very personal memories.

This is quite close to my heart as my grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s and it’s so heart breaking to see the inevitable decline from a once strong and clever man through the comedy moments of losing his glasses and they’re on top of his head all the time & deciding to flush tea towels down the toilet instead of the washing machine; to living in a different time period where he recognized nobody and nothing around him and the fear and anger this created inside him. Worse still was the decline in his health through the disease, the tension it caused in his relationships with his wife of over 50 years, his daughter and the inter-family relationships that are hard-wired into that bond. Sadly the mental decline and the need for constant care saw him spend his latter days in a care home where it was so painful to see someone you love literally wilt away.

Alzheimer’s is not a sexy charity in the way Cancer Research or stuff for kids is but it’s a cruel disease robbing people of their memories and ultimately their lives. Please support this campaign. Well done, Catch.

A hard Story About a Soft Subject

In Bed

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Obviously this isn’t one I’m familiar with but a wonderful take on a serious issue – erectile dysfunction. Profero have teamed up with Aardman films to create a series of short films about Dennis and his journey from Droop to Don Juan for Bayer-Schering pharma. In England, we’re very bad at admitting any health problem – unlike our American friends who appear to hold in high esteem their physical and psychological problems and will happily tell you all and the drugs their taking too. Over here, we just ignore it and hope it will go away. Not so easy when it’s a condition that affects millions of men over 40. I particularly like the disengaging tone and the way the truths of the problem come through (no pun intended) by being entertaining and engaging. In this overly-cluttered advertising world, doing something interesting is the only way to get noticed. This has it spades. Thanks to Nick Clarke for sharing.

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digtial wtf version 2 December 4, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in digital, digital advertising, social networks, web 2.0.
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An updated version of this deck (September 2009) can be found here.

Here’s the deck I presented earlier today to the students at Southampton Solent University. An updated version of the original Digital WTF with new examples and changed front end. Deck can be downloaded from slideshare. Links to all elements below. Let me know any comments.

David Lynch on the iPhone

My Barack Obama

Nike Running

Nike Boot Camp

Nike Photo ID

Orange unlimited

Orange Balloonacy

My Starbucks Idea

Dove Evolution

Flora Healthy Hearts

Volkswagen site TV ad

Volkswagen night driving

American Express Members Project

Vodafone Live Guy

Anti-social networking

Foster’s Scuba

Subservient Chicken

Diesel Heidies

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i like live guy November 24, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in active branding, blog, brand experience, Dare, digital advertising, facebook, picasa, social media, social networks, twitter, vodafone live guy, web 2.0, website, you tube.
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This is Vodafone Live Guy. Live Guy is visiting 11 cities (well, he’s visited a few last week but I was just OOO for too long to write this) until the end of this week. Each day he’s giving away a Dell pooter. How do you get your paws on one? Find him using all types of web 2.0 wondery-ness. Why do I like this so much and why will it enter my new fangled version of Digital WTF?

1. It’s a great demonstration of a product proposition. Vodafone Live gets you and your pooter live wherever you want to. Rather than a-n-other web site, page, banner ad etc. telling you this, Dare (yes, them again.) created Live Guy to dramatise the live-ness of Live and bring the proposition alive up and down this great nation.

2. It’s beyond the site. It’s a blog, it’s a twitter feed, it’s a you tube channel, it’s a facebook love fest and it’s a picasa picture party with a Google mash-up twist. Multi-channel, multiple touch points. Experience Live Guy how you want. My preference was Twitter and that’s where I found out about him first and enjoy his regular ramblings.

3. Live Guy speaks. In the interweb world we espouse two way communication as the new currency. Interact with your audience. And Live Guy does. I asked him a silly question, he gave me a sensible answer. Made me very happy.

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4. It’s not just a blah competition. It’s involving and engaging and there’s 11 chances to win the Dell pooter. Say goodbye to the dull registration form kids.

I could go on but I want to get this out before it’s over. Go find him.

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anti-social networking September 25, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in brand experience, content, digital advertising, facebook, user generated content, web 2.0.
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Great Facebook application for the new film How to Lose Friends and Alienate People about journalist Toby Young’s adventures in NYC with Vanity Fair. The book was very funny so I hope the film does it justice.

Deface your friends, un-friend them, cheat at scrabble and lots of other things to undermine social networking. First Facebook app I’ve got excited about in a while. Sorry, Emily 😉

Reach out and touch me:

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digital kids September 23, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in brand experience, digital, digital advertising, kids.
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Digital is not something that children have had to get used to; it’s always been there. They stay online longer than adults, more likely to access the web form different locations and devices, undertake a phenomenal range of activities and adapt to new trends and technology with consummate ease. And with over three quarters of UK children accessing the web from home or school regularly, the opportunities for brands to interact, engage and influence with them are massive. But for brands, the opportunities need to be leveraged in an appropriate and unobtrusive manner.

Brands targeting younger children have a dual audience of the child and the parent; the former to engage and the latter to gain approval and provide reassurance. This needs careful balance so you don’t lose the fun element and over-do the barriers to entry to ensure parental consent.

From a child’s perspective, sites need to engage them on the same level as you’d approach any child project. The difference with digital is that it can be so much more immersive and deep than many other channels. Tonally, the site needs to use words and images that make the site feel like it’s their world, not their parents. Tactile, graphically-driven interfaces draw more interest and usage. Friendly characters or cartoons encourage identification and interaction. Interactive games deliver education and skill enhancement. Kids love being part of clubs and delivering competitions is a no-brainer, especially if the prizes are in the “I want one of those” categories.

Kids want personalization and self-expression. Custom avatars, virtual worlds, profiles and badges are hugely popular: witness the core functionality of the Wii-mii on the Nintendo Wii as a demonstration of tapping into the personalisation trend.

The ability to interact within a community is also key. For younger children this is typically their local community: school friends, streets. For older kids the global community is their playground.

Children don’t just access the web through a hard-wired computer at home anymore. Mobile penetration and usage is high in this age group and will only continue as technology becomes more pervasive and cost-efficient. They also use other devices to communicate and browse including hand-held games so brands need to decode usage and ensure their digital presence can be re-purposed and re-packaged seamlessly to become device-agnostic.

From a parents perspective, they need to be re-assured that what their kids are doing online is safe, educational and fun.

Reach out and touch me:

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