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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.


requirements for social engagement February 28, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in brand experience, digital, social brand, social content, social media.
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I’ve shared before my views before that social media is just stuff and socialised brands can be contagious. More recently, the conversations we’ve been having with clients has been at a granular level; getting social media off the ground, making it work, benchmarking it and importantly, ongoing engagement with the brand connections. We’ve been using this to share our thoughts on engagement. Seems to be well received so thought I’d share here. It’s most likely an interim update to sharing our thoughts on our Socialising the Brand  programme. Your thoughts welcome.


2011 – a hope rather than a prediction January 12, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in #fail, 2011 predictions, Behaviour, Contagious, Cwora, digital, Ecelman Digital, Edelman Digital, Quora.

Usually about this time of the year the great and the good pass judgement on what will be this year’s shiny new things that we should all cut and paste into our client presentations and PR whoring look at me documentation. Yet again I have failed to do this but here’s a couple of great examples if you haven’t found them already.

One from Edelman Digital, one from Contagious and one from Microsoft Advertising.

All very interesting and useful. And Quora has already been fêted and slated to get the shiny box syndrome out of the way early.

No, rather than do any predictions this year, I have a hope.

And the hope is that we all behave more like gentlemen in 2011.

I’ve dropped down my level of participation in the online world of late partly because of workload and wanting to spend time without my phone in hand while doing things at home but also because I’ve been bored by the boorish behaviour.

You know the sort, ranting at everything and anything, shouting #fail!! at the earliest and slightest opportunity, talking about me, me and more me and indeed those proclaiming statements of such nonsense and expecting them to be taken seriously. I’m already hearing you say, “well, it’s free speech cockface, if you don’t like it, unfollow me.” Which I have or probably will soon. So there, ner.

I was particularly moved recently watching Jeremy Clarkson’s documentary on World War II – where a small group of British army chaps took on an almost impossible task to blow up whatever it was armed with courageousness, ingenuity and gentlemanly conduct. While this was moving enough, what got me was the passage where on trying to escape, a lone gunner on a doomed ship was holding his own against the might of the German army who were literally shelling him to death. When the soldier finally perished, his German aggressor was so taken by the spirit of the man that he made sure he contacted the British authorities to pass on his complete respect and awe of this man who had stood against them. The man was awarded a special honour. It is not known of what became of the German commander who made this gesture in the midst of fierce battle.

I doubt this would happen today. We are obsessed with ourselves. Whatever the business benefits and cultural shifts of openness and connectivity social media has delivered, it has also given us a narcissistic and self-indulgent culture. And one where ranting and raving is the norm. We would be more likely to tea-bag that soldier and TwitPic it than make an astounding human gesture.

So this year, let’s try and act more like gentlemen shall we? Do the digital version of holding the door open, helping a lady with a pram navigate the stairwells of the tube and standing patiently in the queue. We should do these in real life too. Obviously.

Image from the GapingVoid Gallery.

DCH download, september 2010 September 7, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, brand, DCH, digital, download, social media, thought leadership.
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We’ve done this over at DCH Towers. Over the coming year, we’ll be trying to create range of DCH Downloads highlighting the latest trends, interesting information and general stuff that we believe will make a difference to you and your brand.

In this DCH Download, we take a look at the changing way we use the interweb, Facebook’s entry into the geo-location wars, and the new way to make data interesting.

Let us know if you like it and what you’d like to see in a future editions – just email talk@dch.co.uk or get in touch with me here.

See more about DCH.

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nicholas.r.gill@gmail.com

cognitive surplus June 30, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in clay shirky, cognitive surplus, digital, rsa, social media, technology.

Last night I went to listen to the illustrious Clay Shirky give a free (yes, free!) talk on his new book, Cognitive Surplus, at the RSA in hot and sweaty London town. Although the sound wasn’t great, Clay’s words kept dropping out of my earshot at least, this is my simple summation of wtf Cognitive Surplus is and means.

Human beings have spare time (surplus). As the human race has grown, that means we have more spare time. Where once we just consumed things (TV especially), now a fraction of that spare time is being shifted from consumption into production and sharing (cognitive use of the surplus). And technology is helping us to turn this surplus into a force for change.

A simple illustration of this is wikipedia which Clay and his associates reckon took about 100 billion hours of time to create. All of it from Cognitive Surplus. This is but a tiny fraction of the entire consumption of US TV media in one weekend.

The cognitive surplus can be defined into three levels:

1. Communal – stuff for us all to enjoy, pretty light touch. Example here is lol cats. Funny, short attention but essentially harmless yet creating a community.

2. Public – helpful information open to participation. Example here is wikipedia.

3. Civic – where the surplus can make change happen through collective action. Example here is patients like me, a site where patients turn the tables on the traditionally and morally held view that an individual’s medical information should be held private and allows users to share their medication and effects openly with the intent to change the way the pharma and health industry operate through real, open information.

If you like the sound of this, get the book, listen to the podcast or watch the event again. (I am assuming the RSA will update their links when these become available).

You can also watch a TED talk about the same thing here:

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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.


Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nicholas.r.gill@gmail.com

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

Posted by nicholas gill in digital, digital advertising, social media, viral.

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.

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nicholas.r.gill@gmail.com

facebook privacy Vs ranting digerati May 19, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in digital, facebook, george nimeh, privacy, social media.

Oodles of tweets and posts recently about Facebook and privacy and how it’s basically the end of the world and we should all commit Facebook suicide because Mark Zuckerberg is basically evil and out to destroy and discredit all of us through covertly stealing every last minute detail of our lives and selling them to shady mafia organisations.

In my simplistic world, I see these things.

– Zuckerberg is only twelve years old. His company is still only six years old. They are still growing up. They will make mistakes.

– Every time Facebook updates anything there’s huge uproar across Twitter and the digital world for a few days and then we accept it and move on. This is especially true of their user interface updates which are appalling if you are someone with an IA bent or just frustrating until you get used to it if you’re a normal member of the human race.

– The pace at which they’ve grown and scaled and managed to avoid the fail whale that buggered Twitter and now FourSquare is pretty extraordinary. This pace of change has meant that they’re probably like a swan, looking serene on top of the water but paddling like buggery underneath to stay afloat. This paddling like buggery is where their privacy issues lie in my simplistic world. They’ve just built workarounds as the site has spawned out of control and expectation. They are a technology company, not a slick FMCG. They build code. Facebook is a utility. I don’t care that it has no personality or zing, I don’t buy their product. I use their service to connect with friends from today and from yesterday to stay in touch, be entertained and share random and hopefully funny stuff.

– And for god’s sake people, get a grip. You can change the privacy to only show what you want to who you want. And only a matter of time before they make it easier. Here’s a handy little tool to do just that. Yes it may be a ball-ache until they catch up with their growth but flouncing and deleting your account is pretty stupid. 500m users can’t be wrong. The vast majority of whom don’t actually give a crap and enjoy using Facebook day in, day out.

Summed up neatly by George Nimeh (aka @iboy):

“I think that, despite what the ‘digerati’ thinks/says, most folks think FB is fantastic. The numbers speak for themselves, no?”

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |nicholas.r.gill@gmail.com

blending of physical & digital – diesel cam & facebook May 18, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in diesel, digital, facebook, social media.
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While Facebook are currently receiving a lot of negative press about their privacy stuff, this example from Diesel shows why it’s such a compelling platform for people and brands and why it will endure beyond the bickering. And breaking out of a purely digital space makes it so much more interesting too, no?

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