Monday, August 31, 2009

Peperami Crowd Sourcing

In what may be seen as one of the biggest ad upsets of recent times, Unilever, the people behind Peperami, have made the decision to drop their Advertising Agency of 15 years, Lowe. Instead of using the traditional model of having an agency create your creative works, Unilever are handing over creative thinking to.... crowd sourcing.

So what is crowd sourcing I hear you ask?

Crowd Sourcing is not a new concept, either to adverting or Unilever, but it is a bold move to remove your agency of 15 years altogether. Crowd Sourcing is the concept of asking your fans / viewers / audience / customers to suggest or create you ads for you. Previous brands to use this approach have been Pringles and Doritos (Doritos Tribe). Both of which did so exceptionally well; both saving money and getting ads that ultimately blew everyone away.

In this instance, Peperami are launching a global search for their nexy big advertising concept through is an online creative community, that invites the public to submit ideas for the next press and television ads. In return the brand is putting up $10,000 (£6,000) for the best idea.

Noam Buchalter, marketing manager at Peperami, says: “We believe Peperami is a brand that deserves radical creative solutions and are confident taking our brief out to thousands rather than a small team of creatives will provide us with the best possible idea and take our advertising to the next level. It’s a test to see if it works for the brand with a long-term view to using it in future advertising. We are extremely thankful to Lowe for the brilliant work they achieved over the last two decades and are looking forward to seeing the ideas to take Lowe's legacy forward into the next era of Animal."

The one caveat is that the brand wants to retain their iconic Peperami Animal character. So with that point satisfied, the winning entry will be produced by Smartworks. Going forward Unilever have said that they have no plans to retain a full-time ad agency for the Peperami account in future.

The campaign went live last Friday (28th August) and will close on 23rd October.

Doritos Tribe

This user-created ad was produced by two 25-year-olds for the reported sum of £6.50.

The Pererami Animal

Sunday, August 30, 2009

IKEA and Vedana

During the week, what may seem like a seemingly insignificant event, swept across the web creating a huge amount of debate and coverage. IKEA changed their font.


IKEA's signature Futura font has been replaced by the Verdana. For the last 50 years, IKEA have been using IKEA Sans, a customized version of Futura. However, for their new 2010 catalogue, IKEA have made a switch to the Verdana typeface. As it turns out, fans and designers are extremely unhappy with the change. On Wednesday, design consultant Marius Ursache even went as far as to create an online petition to stop IKEA from changing the font. So why did IKEA make the change and why are their such strong feeling over this?

In an interview with the Swedish design magazine Cap & Design, IKEA’s Ivana Hrdlickova said that IKEA's central reason for changing fonts was to allow the company to use the same typeface in all countries it currently operates in. IKEA's previous font Futura did not allow for Asian characters. As Verdana was designed for the web, it allows the company’s image to remain consistent online and in print. Unfortunately, that's also the main reason for the backlash. Verdana was never intended as a print typeface and was created purely for use on screen. Microsoft invented the font for shipping with Internet Explorer 3 in 1996.

Here are a selection of a few comments that have been made:

Simon l'Anson, a creative director in London, said "it has open, wide letterforms with lots of space between characters to aid legibility at small sizes on screen," but "it doesn't exhibit any elegance or visual rhythm when set at large sizes. It's like taking the family sedan off-road. It will sort of work, but ultimately gets bogged down."

Carolyn Fraser, a letterpress printer from Australia, said Verdana is "dumbed down and overused."

"They went cheap," said designer Iancu Barbarasa. "Designers have always thought of Ikea as one of their own, so now, in a way, the design community feels betrayed."

The issue has gained such coverage that Time Magazine have even covered the story. So what do you think? Does this change really make a noticeable difference?

The fonts in question...

VW Dudeism

Volkswagen have just launched a new advertising campaign to highlight their support of independent cinema. Their first ad features a man who has been so inspired by the film 'The Big Lebowski' that he has created a religion around The Dude. He feels that Jeff Bridges character provides a teaching "that is just right for this time and place".

Does it seem strange that there's no VW cars featured anywhere in the ad?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Sol Revolution

- - - UP DATE - - -
The Sol Revolution venue has changed, it will now be on in The Odeon. Same line-up etc. Start time is 8.30pm.

The summer may be almost over but there's plenty of fun still to be had before you pull your winter coat of off its hibernation. Sol Beer is currently running a great campaign over on its Sunshine Revolution website. Just for the fun of it, Sol are hosting a free gig in Pygmalion and the Powerscourt Centre on the 16th of September. The line will see Super Extra Bonus Party, The Chapters, Kormac Live and Tucan take to the stage in an evening of fun and revelry.

But wait, I hear you cry, did you say free? I did indeed say free. Just pop over to the site and register your details. Hey presto, mission complete.

The Sol Revolution are also busy promoting the whole event over on Twitter and Facebook. So get following and add yourself as a fan. If you're looking for more info on Sol you can check out the International Beers site or Wikipedia.

The Story of Sol
As Sol legend has it, it all began on a brisk, sunny morning way back at the very end of the 19th centuary. The year was 1899, and in an old lost forgotten factory near Mexico City, named “El Salto del Agua”, a German master brewer chanced upon a brewing pot illuminated by a ray of sunlight, falling in through a dusty window. The brewer stopped in his tracks, captivated by golden ray beaming across the room, pulling his attention to the pot. He decided this new beer would be named “El Sol” (The Sun), and so Mexico's most famous beer was born. Since then Sol has become a popular beer sold around the world, served in its distinctive clear flint bottle always with a wedge of lime.

Here's also a funny little video about the classic Mexican cerveza...

Nokia and The Future

Historically Nokia have always been the leader in the mobile phone market. They have nearly always had the largest range of phones, and have catered for everyone's wants and needs from high-tech high-end smartphones to basic call and text handsets. Basically Nokia made a lot of really clever moves early on in the early days of the mobile boom. Not bad for a company who's primary business as rubber and lumber!

Then something happened. Something changed in the mobile market and Nokia started to lose that historic first choice preference and users started looking to other handsets. The best example of this is the US mobile market. The US mobile market is probably the largest mobile market in the west, and certainly the most important.

Most articles I've read lately would have you believe that Nokia's single major failing has nothing to do with handsets or technology. As a provider Nokia has a huge suite of mobile devices. Nokia is falling down in the US due to a failure to partner with the US mobile networks, and to be honest Nokia's relationship with US mobile networks is well documented. But there's more to it then that. People want smaller, smarter, faster and completely integrated devices. They don't want to have to carry a laptop, a phone, a music player, a camera, an organiser etc. They want to have a device that offers all of these things. Nokia, however, are still approaching their devices from the position of building phones.

The most exciting thing to come to the mobile market in some time, is with out doubt the iPhone. The most important thing to realise about the iPhone is that, contrary to what its name would have you believe, it is not in fact a phone at all. The iPhone is a mobile mini computer that offers the ability to make phone calls, among a host of features.

Building phones is what is truly holding Nokia back. So how will Nokia effect such a change? How will Nokia achieve their goal of becoming "the largest interactive media network in the world."

Nokia's campaigns over the last year have all aimed to grow social media presence, facilitated by conversation. Nokia want people to use their technology to express and broadcast themselves. To support this, Nokia launched a web service called Ovi. Ovi allows Nokia users to get apps like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo for their Nokia phone. While this is far more expansive for smartphones such as the Nokia N97, there are options for even the simplest handset. Nokia have also made major inroads to developing their music offering. Fast Company's article Nokia Rocks the World: The Phone King's Plan to Redefine Its Business gives an overview of Nokia's recent musical advance and the following interview...

So mission accomplished? An app platform in place, partnerships established, advertising ready, and a strategy thought out - Nokia stand poised to take over the world once and for all?

Well not quite. Unfortunately there is a lot of fine tuning still to do for Nokia to accomplish their goal. Nokia's platform, Ovi, is far from brilliant. It is unintuitive and lacks any sort of dynamicism. Coupled with this, the efforts that Nokia are making "to counter music piracy and offer an easy music access service", don't actually address the fact that people want to listen to music on a music player, not on a phone. This brings me back to the point that Nokia are failing to recognise exactly what their competition is really offering.

Once Nokia realise that they need to make more then just phones, they may stand a chance of regaining the premier position they once held for mobile devices.

Friday, August 28, 2009

In The Twittersphere

Two interesting things popped up in the news yesterday involving Twitter. The first is news of the confirmed launch of a new book entitled 'Twitter Wit'. 'Twitter Wit' is a compilation of the funniest tweets posted to the service - essentailly a round-up of all the daft things that have been Tweeted since the sites launch. This of course includes Tweets written by a number of famous Tweeters such as comedian Stephen Fry. One of Fry's featured Tweets "London city airport. Where form meets function. AND THEY HAVE A FIGHT", gives a good insight into the comic yet clever messages that the site has delivered.

The book, which has been written by Nick Douglas (founding editor of, has been fully endorsed by Twitter and even carries a foreword by the Twitter's co-founder Biz Stone. Stone commented that there was no financial arrangement with the publisher Harper Collins, but that they did love the book so much they bought copies for all their San Francisco employees.

Stone wrote on the company's blog: "The tweets [in 'Twitter Wit'] are irreverent, inappropriate, geeky, and pretty much hilarious. If you don't like one, you'll like the next."

As part of the books launch, Harper Collins have created a competition that challenges readers to perform one of five tweets featured in the book. Entrants will need to create a short video of their performance, with a winner being selected by Douglas. The prize is an iPod touch and a copy of the book.

In other news, another new publication (this time a website) pays tribute to Twitter. Woofer, which describes itself as a 'macroblogging' site allows users to boost their usual 140-character Tweets to gigantic 1,400-characters Woofs. Although Woofer is just a novelty site and openly bills itself as a homage to Twitter in the form of a Social Media experiment, it does already have 9,000 users.

The site itself looks almost identical to the Twitter homepage, with the exception of the huge 1,400 character countdown for your Woofs. Woofers (users) can send messages attributed to their Twitter names. Unlike Tweets, the site asks that Woofers "Be eloquent, use adverbs and DEA (don't ever abbreviate)."

The site does distinctly distance itself from Twitter, confirming a number of time that it has nothing to do with Twitter and even goes as far as to feature a link in the top navigation 'Is this Twitter?'. Clicking on this leads users to page that simply reads "No" in giant letters.

The site has been created by digital agency Join the Company.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top 50 UK/Irish Marketing Blogs

The following list has been compiled from the AdAge Power150 Blog List. Shown is the blog's position both within the British Isles and globally. All Blogs highlighted are especially worth visiting. I am also delighted to add that Digitology comes in at 42 on the list.

2Scotland42David Airey
4England65Econsultancy's Internet Marketing Blog
6England78Chris Garrett on New Media
7England90FreshNetworks Blog
8England98Nick Burcher
10England149Only Dead Fish
12England158Russell Davis
13England162We Are Social
14Ireland166Ad Operations Online
15England170This Is HERD
16England177Welcome to Optimism
19England198That Canadian Girl
21England208A PR Guy's Musings
22England21350-Plus Marketing
24England224SEOCO Blog
25England227Brand Strategy Magazine Blog
26Ireland232Krishna De's BizGrowth News
27England234Event Manager Blog
28England238London Calling
30England261Social Media Trader
31England262Technobabble 2.0
32England270UK Affiliate Marketing Blog
33England276Faster Future
34Scotland281Hobo UK SEO Company Blog
35England282Andrew R H Girdwood
37Ireland291Search Engine Marketing Blog
38England298How To Make My Blog
39England300Make Marketing History
40England310Interactive Marketing Trends
41England313Spinning Around
42Ireland314Digitology - The Digital Marketing Blog
43England327The Engaging Brand
44England330Modern Marketing
45England358Life Moves Pretty Fast
46England359Drew B's take on tech PR
47England366Liberate Media blog
48England369Apple Pie & Custard
49England394The Way of the Web
50England399Talent imitates, genius steals

this list is correct as of 2am 27th August 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The 5 Hottest Location-Based Apps

The guys over at Revolution have written a great post on the The 5 hottest location-based apps (so far). I have to say, each of these are spot on and I'd have to agree, seriously cool. If you're an iPhone user I hope you already have them but, if not, get over to the iTunes Store now!

1. Twitter
Twitter's location tags will let users view tweets by people in their city, neighbourhood or building or follow tweets from a particular event, concert or area of breaking news such as an earthquake zone. Small businesses could use the feature to target users in the immediate area offering deals and discounts.
Find out more

2. JustBought.It is a social shopping app that lets you share photos and tweet about great shopping deals as you find them. The service is also used by shoppers looking for bargains in a particular area, or to ask other users for shopping advice.

3. Wrrl v2.0
iPhone app Whrrl encourages users to combine photos, stories, and their location with the photos and stories of their friends to form a collective experience with greater depth than Twitter conversations and Facebook updates. You can see what's happening in your network, view your friends' updates on a map and add comments.
download Whrrl here

4. Wikinear
Wikinear figures out where you are and tells you the five most interesting locations near you using entries in Wikipedia and Google Maps. Useful when you're travelling or have moved to a new area and are keen to learn its history.

5. Yowza!
Founded by Heroes star Greg Grunberg, Yowza! Capitalises on our eagerness to save money in the recession, using your location to automatically find and download exclusive discount vouchers from a range of retailers. Although only available on the iPhone in the US, the app will eventually roll-out to the UK.

Censorship #FAIL

It wasn't so long ago that a number of NFL teams made the decision to stop their players from using Social Media (specifically Twitter). There is a fairly universal consensus that this is just nuts. Why would you feel the need to tell a professional football player that they weren't allowed to . I mean why stop there, why not ban them from using text messages? Well it would seem that college football can do them one better!

The NCAA's South Eastern Conference (a college football division) issued a new set of rules prohibiting fans from using any sort of Social Media at any game events - no Twitter feeds, no Facebook photos, no YouTube videos. The rules effectively banned Social Media from all its stadiums, prohibiting fans from recording video, audio or taking photographs. The policy was specifically designed to clamp down on bloggers and amateur sportswriters.

The official policy, which was released last Monday, set out that fans could not "produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the event."

As you can imagine there was swift and immediate outrage with hundreds of fans going straight to the web to discuss the madness of the decision.

Thankfully the SEC had not consider the implications and impact that such a policy would have on the professional media organisations who cover the SEC season and drive large amounts of revenue. Less then 24 hours later the SEC received a letter of protest from three of the largest of these organisations. Unsurprisingly, the policy was very quickly withdrawn. What may have come as a surprise was the SEC's apology.

The SEC posted the following Tweet (I know, Tweet!!): "To our Twitter fans, we have heard you. We're working on clarifications to our policy and should have something done soon."

An SEC spokesman also commented, saying "The intent of the policy was never to eliminate social media" adding, "Twitter fans, please share the great times you have at our stadiums with your friends. We probably took traditional media rights language and tried to apply it in a new media world."

That may be the only smart thing that has come out of all this - "We probably took traditional media rights language and tried to apply it in a new media world". If only others would learn this.

So the revised policy now reads "personal messages of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the event are acceptable." However, games still can't be recorded on video, but pictures are allowed to be taken for personal use.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cuil Real-Time Search

Over a year ago, on the 28th July 2008, Cuil went live. Surrounded by a lot of 'Google-killer' hype at the time, for many, Cuil's launch passed by virtually unnoticed. The 'Google-killer' tag that many attached to it was in fact incorrect, and Cuil was never going to be a 'Google-killer'. The major advantage that Cuil brought to the table was that it was managed and developed by former Google employees, Anna Patterson and Russell Power, and their CEO and co-founder, Tom Costello, had worked for IBM among others. This couple with the fact that Cuil boasted a larger index than any other search engine with over 120 billion web pages.

So over 12 months on, what is Cuil doing to gain ground on its rivals?

In what may be the smartest move the company has made to date, Cuil has announced the released of a real-time search feature, finally pushing it as a threatening alternative to Google, Facebook and Twitter. The advantage of real-time search is that you can instantly access what people are saying/thinking about live events as they unfold.

Cuil's new feature will generate a toolbar, indicating real-time results found. Through the toolbar, users can then explore a sample of results from news and blogs,with an indicator on each result showing the ‘hotness' of the topic. The toolbar can also be opened as a pop up box to act as a monitor on an ongoing basis.

Real-time search has been thrown around as the next big thing for a number of months, as both Facebook and Twitter continue to grow in leaps and bounds. The massive user bases that both services now attract may be enough to give them the edge in the race to create a truly real-time search engine that allows moment-by-moment trend analysis, but for now everything is still up to play for.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stop-Motion Lego

There's no marketing connected to this video what-so-ever, I just thought it was really, really sweet.

The Hunt for Gollum Movie

A close friend emailed this over to me yesterday, and to say I was impressed would be a serious understatement. Pretty much everyone loves the Lord of the Rings movies, and they have been the inspiration for many fan-based projects. Unfortunately most of these are usually extremely low budget, low production value endeavours.

This, however, is very, very different. “The Hunt for Gollum”, a movie made by the fans, is a $3000 project that looks as professionally made as many million dollar Hollywood blockbusters. Everything from the lighting to the special effects are extremely good. The script for the movie comes from the appendices of the Lord of the Rings books themselves, pieced together into a coherent movie by writer and director Chris Bouchard. Chris was also responsible for putting together the cast and crew. All filming and post production was done in the UK.

The story follows the Heir of Isildur; the "greatest huntsman and traveller in Middle Earth" as he sets out to find the creature Gollum. The creature must be found to discover the truth about the Ring, and to protect the future Ring-bearer.

The movie is 40 minutes long and available to watch online for free. I seriously recommend giving it a go.

Playhouse at Liberty Hall

This Wednesday is the launch event for something really special taking place in Dublin next month. As part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, present Playhouse at Liberty Hall. Playhouse will transform Dublin’s tallest building into a giant digital canvas for all of us to play with and animate our thoughts across the city skyline.

From the 24th of September until the 11th of October 2009, Dublin's Liberty Hall will become a 50 metre, low-res, digital screen powered by 100,000 low-energy LED lights that operate in full 24-bit colour. The LEDs have been installed across the 330 windows of the south and west faces of the building effectively turning each window into a pixel for the giant display. From Wednesday (26th August), members of the public will be able to download a special bit of software that allows you to create animations (with sound and music) and submit them to be broadcast on Liberty Hall.

The 100,000 LEDS in use are super-efficient, and the whole project has a tiny power consumption. During the project each floor of the installation will use less energy than a standard kettle. The narrow strip of LEDs are installed along each window frame with a small control box. These control boxes then connect to a central computer through the existing CAT5 network in the building, therefore avoiding any additional wiring.

Ahead of the project the folks over at The Bubble have produced a behind the scenes look at exactly how all of this will work. This exclusive footage from last Wednesday (19th August) shows the LED system being tested for the first time. John Callaghan and Julien Clancy can be thanked for this great footage. The music they have used is from Solen.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Social Media Addicts Association

Are you one of the millions of web users who just don't know when to stop poking, to quit Tweeting or to take a break from Facebook. Then the Social Media Addicts Association is just what you need. Run by former social media addicts who have had the strength and courage to admit to their problem, the SMAA will help you leave alone all those people you haven’t seen since college, and possibly never really got on with anyway!

To start with you will need to follow the 5 steps to kicking the habit:

  1. Admit you have a problem but don't tweet about it.
  2. Accept that you don't need upvotes to feel validated.
  3. Understand the risks of poking strangers.
  4. Repeat after me: "Twitter and alcohol don't mix".
  5. Don't go cold turkey! Just delete one friend a day.

The SMAA is the latest viral campaign from Sony VAIO.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Walking Dead

Checked my emails this afternoon and was seriously happy to find out that I am the lucky winner of a signed copy of 'The Walking Dead' from Venntertainment.

Rob Cumiskey, the man behind Ventertainment and a regular at, did a ‘Fantasy Bazaar – The Walking Dead Week’ last week to celebrate the release of the latest volume of The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. As part of his zombie week, Rob was given a signed copy of the release by Sub City Comics (@SubCityComics).

A massive thanks to Rob for the great week of posts, and the brilliant competition. Cheers dude!

A Truely Ice Cold Beer!

Budweiser has launched what may be the coldest beer in the world, and we in Ireland are the first people in Europe to enjoy it. Budweiser's new Ice Cold Bottle is a new innovative aluminium bottle that keeps your Budweiser colder for 17 minutes longer then any other beer bottle. Chilled in special fridges, called "chillchambers", Budweiser's Ice Cold Bottle is dropped to a very chilly -5°C without the beer actually freezing.

The eye-catching striking red bottles can be found through out the country in all your favourite bars and clubs, and have enjoyed a great summer start with at a host of cool gigs including both the U2 and Take That concerts.

Budweiser Brand Manager, Sarah Spain said “ Budweiser Ice Cold bottle is a completely new way to experience the ultimate in cold beer. We know beer drinkers love their beer served really chilled so we wanted to offer them the coldest beer possible, in a slick new aluminium bottle”.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Social Media Round Up

I was doing a some research today, updating a Social Media presentation, and I came across a great post by Jake Hird over on Jake scoured the web and collect 20 brilliant Social Media stats:

  • Social networks and blogs are the 4th most popular online activities online, including beating personal email. 67% of global users visit member communities and 10% of all time spent on the internet is on social media sites.
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth most populated place in the world. This means it easily beats the likes of Brazil, Russia and Japan in terms of size.
  • 80% of companies use, (or are planning to use), LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees during the course of this year. The site has just celebrated reaching its 45-millionth membership.
  • Around 64% of marketers are using social media for 5 hours or more each week during campaigns, with 39% using it for 10 or more hours per week.
  • It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners. Terrestrial TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users. The internet took four years to reach 50 million people... In less than nine months, Facebook added 100 million users.
  • Wikipedia currently has more than 13 million articles in more than 260 different languages. The site attracts over 60 million unique users a month and it’s often hotly debated that the information it contains is more reliable than any printed Encyclopaedia.
  • The most recent figure of blogs being indexed by Technorati currently stands at 133 million. The same report into the Blogosphere also revealed that on average, 900,000 blog posts are created within a single 24-hour period.
  • It’s been suggested that YouTube is likely to serve over 75 billion video streams to around 375 million unique visitors during this year.
  • The top three people on Twitter (Ashton Kutcher, Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears) have more combined followers than the entire population of Austria.
  • According to Socialnomics, if you were paid $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $156.23 per hour.
  • The online bookmarking service, Delicious, has more than five million users and over 150 million unique bookmarked URLs.
  • Since April this year, Twitter has been receiving around 20 million unique visitors to the site each month, according to some analytical sources.
  • Formed in 2004, Flickr now hosts more than 3.6 billion user images.
  • Universal McCann reports that 77% of all active internet users regularly read blogs.
As Jake points out, these stats are extremely impressive but the simple fact is that in the time it's taken to collect them and report on them, they are probably already out of date.

Data Visualisation: SMS Messages

I've posted before about Data Visualisation and this is one of the best I've seen. This is a video by Aaron Koblin from Google Creative Lab, showing a visualisation of SMS messages in Amsterdam on New Years Eve.

Hat tip to Tony Effik

Thursday, August 20, 2009


It seemed that for so long there were few practical, useful iPhone Apps available. iPhone users were stuck with gimmicky apps that did little except show off the iPhone's motion and graphic capabilities. Thankfully all that has changed and there are more and more really useful apps coming through the Apple iTunes Store.

iBurgh is a new app that not allows residents' of Pittsburgh (US) to lodge complaints straight through to the city with geo-tagged pictures of potholes, graffiti and other public maintenance issues. iBurgh is part of a new breed of app described by Pittsburgh councillors as "changing the democratic process", through "e-democracy".

The app utilises the iPhone's GPS functionality and lets users pinpoint their exact location on a map while also including a picture of what it is they want to notify about. Their complaint is then delivered directly to the city's 311, or helpline department, with a short description, and time and date.

iBurgh was developed by YinzCam, already famous in Pittsburgh for their impresses iPhone NHL applications, and is available for free download from iTunes.

Bill Peduto, a Pittsburgh city councilman, told the Pittsburgh Business Times: "We want to establish Pittsburgh as the home of e-democracy. Since the invention of the printing press, there really hasn't been a development that gives us the ability to change the democratic process. This is a way for government to be directly responsive to people, instead of waiting for complaints to pile up."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lance Armstrong Organises a Twitter-Cycle

Lance Armstrong, well known for his love of Twitter, surprised a lot of followers with a tweet last Sunday:

"Hey Glasgow, Scotland!! I'm coming your way tomorrow. Who wants to go for a bike ride??"

And with that the seven-time Tour de France winner invited his fans for an afternoon cycle in Paisley in Scotland. Little did Armstrong realise that his follow up tweet on Monday, "Hey Glasgow - ride's at 12 noon. Location tbd. Stay tuned! Still dialling it in. And yes, I have my raincoat!", would see over 200 fans turn up in Paisley outside the Ashtree House hotel (as well as a huge following on foot!).

Armstrong admitted he hadn't planned a route and just ended up cycling around the town for a couple of hours. After the tour, Armstrong thanked everyone there, saying "Thanks to everyone who turned up to ride in Paisley! I figured we'd have a nice ride for a dozen or so. But 100's came. Haha! Awesome!", adding, "And hope great was it that the Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree came out?? Legend."

Armstrong is a prolific Tweeterer and even went as as far during this year's Tour de France as to cut out all journalists and use Twitter for all his public addresses.

Samsung: Master the Power of the Angles

The latest Samsung online campaign for their ST550 and TL 225 cameras is definitely worth a look. Created by the folks at The Viral Factory, the campaign aims to highjlight Samsung's latest camera models, specifically targeted to the digital savvy, online youth market. Recent research conducted by Samsung showed that a huge percentage of photos are now ‘self-shots’ that people are uploading to their various online / Social Media profiles. With this in mind the camera incorporates an image screen on the front of the camera as well as the back.

The Viral Factory's film is directly inspired by the internet meme , which was all about revealing the truth behind people’s overly flattering profile pictures. Through a cool 'Hot Spot' YouTube video, users can view six different scenarios and characters, each of whom first showing their ‘good’ angle and then reveals the ugly truth. The six characters in question are a troupe of aliens and ghouls, all disguising their true identities for their Social Media profiles.

“The Samsung research revealed that a surprisingly high percentage of photos are ‘self-shots’, so it’s brilliantly obvious to have a screen on the front of the camera as well as the back,” said, Viral Factory founder, Ed Robinson. “These photos are mostly taken to be shared through social media, so our task was to find a relevant idea which spoke to this audience. The ‘Beware The Angles’ meme felt relevant to us, and we thought we could take it a bit further". He added, “Hopefully we demonstrate how even the most grotesque-looking of us can look sexy and cool by using the angles…And offer a couple of tips on how to make the most of the cheats yourself.”

Check out the videos here...

You can also see a video of the phone and its features here...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rocket Fuel Ad Network Arrives

Today saw the launch of Rocket Fuel, a new hybrid ad network founded by veterans from Yahoo!, DoubleClick, NetGravity, Epiphany and Unlike existing ad networks, Rocket Fuel bills itself as "the first intelligent ad serving technology platform that combines demographic, lifestyle, purchase intent and social data with its own suite of targeting algorithms, blended analytics and expert analysis to find active customers". The system automatically leverages internal and third-party data using its real-time Progressive Optimisation technique, allowing it to serve a suite of impressions with specific context to each advertiser's individual marketing objectives.

“We saw how important it was to let the data tell you which ad to show, so we let the data tell us what works and what is important. Instead of inflicting on customers thousands of targeting options, we figure out which options are working well and move inventory in that way.” says CEO George John. "Rocket Fuel was founded to disrupt online display advertising with a superior computational approach that blends smart decision making, creativity and science to predict consumer behavior. We understand the last thing the industry needs is just another ad network. It needs a smarter one."

"We believe there is a profound difference between reaching audiences and activating customers," said Richard Frankel, president and co-founder of Rocket Fuel Inc. "For us, it's about marrying many different types of data with advanced technology to create intelligent and dynamic campaigns that reach the people who will buy, blog, tweet or tell their friends about your product or brand. Our goal is to turn passive audiences into active consumers."

Frankel, shows how it works:

Although Rocket Fuel only launched today, it has undergone extensive testing during the last year and already boosts an impressive client list including major brands like Nike, Dell, Microsoft, and American Express. This combined with the capability of reaching 40 million people through 100 million ads per month, are sure to make it an attractive offering to advertisers. So the only question left to ask is do advertisers want another ad network? In my own experience I would say that it all comes down to one simple question; will Rocket Fuel out-perform other networks? If it does it will succeed.

Frankel and John, along with CTO Abhinav Gupta, are ex-Yahoo emplyees.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Following the huge success of V Australia and Virgin Atlantic's 4320:LA competition that I posted about in July, V Australia, with their agency Droga5, are throwing down a similar challenge to their American customers. In a bid to promote Australia as the ideal and affordable short break destination for Americans, V Australia are seeking 3 Americans to take a trip down-under and experience Sydney, while sending a Tweet every single minute of the 4320 minutes they are there!

In a similar fashion to the 4320:LA contest, there will be 2 stages. The first stage is a basic entry registration of entrant’s email address, full name, date of birth, and, most importantly, an answer to the question “Why should we choose you and two of your mates to take the ultimate challenge in Sydney?” in 140 characters or less (obviously). 3 preliminary winners will then be chosen by a panel of Virgin Blue judges to progress to the second stage based upon literary and creative merit of their answers.

The stage 2 will then see each of the preliminary winners select 2 friends to form their 'Team'. At that point each Team will be interviewed and evaluated on the following criteria:

  • the outgoing nature and personality of the Team Members
  • the number of Twitter followers each Team member has (if applicable)
  • how frequently each Team Member uses Twitter (if applicable)
From their, 1 Team will be selected to participate in the “4320 Minutes in Sydney” Challenge.

This kind of social media challenge is one of the first of its kind to be run in the US, being specifically driven through Twitter. The winners will be expected to undertake a once in a lifetime non-stop three day adventure swimming with sharks, enjoying beers at the Sydney Opera House and, of course, throwing a few shrimp on the 'barbie'. All the time Tweeting every minute of the adventure. Don't forget though, that's not even the prize. The prize, should the Team successfully complete their challenge each team member wins a 'Round the World' ticket with V Australia and Virgin Atlantic.

Jodi McKay, Minister for Tourism for New South Wales said "Recently NSW has had success using social media to entice technology savvy travellers to the State through targeted MySpace and Facebook campaigns. V Australia is moving with the times and seeking out new ways to communicate with travellers that will showcase our great City and State to potential visitors. It's great to partner with an industry provider that is thinking outside the box and embracing creativity and new media in their promotional activity."

The “4320 Minutes in Sydney” Challenge
The Team will take a trip to from Los Angeles to Sydney; including return flights from Sydney to Los Angeles, 3 nights full board accomodation at a 5-star accommodation, leaving Los Angeles on September 8, 2009 and return home on September 13, 2009.

While in Sydney, the Team will be required to send 1 Tweet per minute for a period of 72 hours. To do this they will be provided with a mobile phone capable of sending Twitter messages for the duration of the challenge.

If the Team completes the “4320 Minutes in Sydney” Challenge to the satisfaction of the Promoter and sends 1 Tweet per minute for a period of 72 hours, each Team Member will receive an ‘around the world’ economy airfare.

The Team will be filmed at all times while completing the “4320 Minutes in Sydney” Challenge.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Social Media Blues

"Here's a fun little hoedown about twitter, facebook, youtube, digg... and unrequited love."

Hey, it's Sunday!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Twitter And The NHS (#welovetheNHS)

I've read countless articles and listened to numerous people insist that Twitter is nothing more then a fad and, more importantly, that it has no real value to offer. As a Twitterer myself I am fairly aware of exactly what place Twitter holds and exactly how it can be effectively used by public and commercial endevours. In the past week Graham Linehan, writer and creater of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, may have done more than any other person to prove exactly what Twitter is capable of, and how one person can use it to really achieve something.

At the beginning of the week the 'We love the NHS' campaign burst onto Twitter. Linehan created the movement as a stand against recent claims about the NHS made by right wing supporters in the US, such as Glenn Beck of Fox News, hoping to stall and hinder Barack Obama's healthcare plans. The campaign has already attracted tens of thousands of users to pledge their support for the British health system, and received individual acknowledgement and support from Gordon Brown.

Brown tweeted "[the] NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death".

Sarah Brown, his wife, and a host of prolific Twitter users such as Stephen Fry and Dara O'Briain has also given their own support, reinforcing the place that national healthcare systems have. Linehan himself said "[that] One of the benefits of the internet in general and Twitter specifically is that, for the first time in history, humanity is able to have a global conversation. People like Beck used to be able to spout lies about other countries without any fear of people outside the USA listening in and correcting him. But everything's different now, and I thought that if we got ‘We love the NHS’ to become a trending topic, it might act as a counterweight against the lies of the American right, who are being particularly obnoxious at the moment."

Having said all this, what Linehan did was not without risk. Linehan said "I was a little bit worried that, because no health care system on earth is absolutely perfect, the trend might fill up with lots of negative stories. But to my amazement, the response was almost 100 per cent positive. There were, of course, people who weren't happy with their experiences, but there were so few that I was able to reply to those people and remind them that I wasn't saying the NHS was perfect, just that it was better than the US system."

The whole campaign was kick started with a pretty simple tweet: " #welovetheNHS". The link he posted sent his followers to an article that attempted to link Stephen Hawking to the failings of the NHS. The article #FAILED hugely when Hawking himself responded: "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS". Linehan followed up with another simple tweet, a request to "Please retweet all your NHS love using the hashtag #welovetheNHS".

As the campaign grew and grew, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan went on Glenn Beck's Fox News show to giving his support to Glen's attack on the NHS. Linehan retorted, saying "People in the UK are fiercely proud and protective of the NHS, and however much they moan and gripe about it, you attack it at your peril. I have a feeling that Daniel Hannan is about to find this out the hard way."

He followed this up, telling Channel 4 News, "The healthcare debate in the America has been hi-jacked by some very loud and obnoxious people who have a financial interest in keeping the status quo. They are being helped by some of the worst blow-hards you can imagine – Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly. There are raising the temperature of the debate to a dangerous level. Glenn Beck thinks he can spread lies and no-one will notice but it is a very connected world now. I think this show of support can provide ammunition for those people who are fighting back against the scare stories in America. Everyone has a story about the NHS helping them in some way. It's important to us, we may slag it off a lot but it's ours. The lesson for any future government who might want to mess with things is to step carefully – attack the NHS at your peril. If the American Right had not used such ridiculous arguments to get their point across it wouldn't have taken off like it did – but by saying things like Stephen Hawking wouldn't have lived under the NHS…it's like if you criticise your parents. You can do it – but if someone else does it you will murder them. There are a lot more shades to this subject than Fox News would have you believe. The most important thing to remember about the Right in America is that they hate Obama more than anything, the idea that he could be successful on his healthcare plans is not acceptable to them."

So where has all this led? What exactly has been achieved?

As it turns out the desire of the British public to defend the NHS against politically motivated criticism from the US is very strong. Tens of thousands of supportive tweets later, the full implication of what Linehan started have reached well beyond cyberspace. Tory leader David Cameron and the shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley have openly and publically criticised Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan. Cameron has called Hannan an "eccentric" whose views do not hold true with the party as a whole. Timothy Kirkhope, the leader of the Conservative group in Europe and Hannan's boss, has said that he would like to see Hannan disciplined for his comments of the NHS. Kirkhope confirmed that the chief whip in Brussels would give Hannan a "stern talking-to".

Ultimately Linehan has summed up the whole experience best, saying "[I think] Twitter is a useful tool for this kind of action. I very much enjoy debunking the opinions of Luddite broadsheet columnists such as Jackie Ashley [who attacked Twitter in the Guardian] who see fit to disparage the service even though they obviously have absolutely no idea what it is. Though I can sympathise with people like Jackie - it must be terrifying to see the world changing so quickly and have no idea what exactly those changes mean, especially when it's supposedly your job to be on top of things!"

He added: "With Twitter everyone is a broadcaster, in terms of their own life. A lot of people have criticised it for being superficial, but the more interesting the people on Twitter are, the more interesting the service is. Twitter stepped up to the plate over the NHS. Like in Iran, where it provided a human face for the protests there. I have been getting annoyed by think pieces in newspapers who criticised the service but don't really know how it works – they use their laptops predominantly as a light."

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