I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Small Things That Make the Difference

The Small Things That Make the Difference: "

I’m visiting a mix on SoundCloud (this one if you care).

The top of the page looks like this:


Then I start playing the mix, and look what happens to my tab:


Spot it? If not let me make it clear…


SoundCloud have always been very good at attention to UX detail and this might seem like just a tiny little thing. But it’s actually really very good. It means that you can spot in a multitude of tabs which one is playing. Love it a lot.


Roundtables #csdam – Pricing the Value of an Idea

Roundtables #csdam – Pricing the Value of an Idea: "

For the last couple of years we are facing an increasing pressure on rates. We are talking about hourly rates. Because that’s how we usually bill our work: On an hourly basis.

Let’s face it: There are now two pitches to win a client.

The first pitch is to the marketing team. That’s where the ideas count, the way they are executed into the different channels, how well they solve our clients problem.

Before we pop open the bottle of Champaign to celebrate our victory we are introduced to the procurement team. They have a totally different agenda. They want to buy our work as cheaply as possible. Just like a batch of screws or a set of notebooks. Comparing us to “other suppliers”, comparing the rate cards. The idea itself, the originality of our work, the quality and speed we deliver it – it’s all ignored (usually).

But the idea is the DNA of the campaign. It can be born in long ours of hard labor, it can just pop up during your morning bath – but it can then travel across the globe, be the talk of town and make the brand using it stronger and more competitive. Can you charge this on an hourly basis? Not really. It would undervalue the value created.

During our discussion we figured: When a “photographer” takes a picture for a campaign (i.e. a flower) he’s paid for the picture and the time it takes to shoot it (plus the material). Plus he charges a buyout. And that’s usually for just a year and for a specific region. If the picture should be used longer, you have to pay more. Not a fortune, but an extra charge. And if you chose to not only use it in country A but also in country B that’s also an extra charge.

If the same picture is taken by the Art Director of an agency (i.e. to make it quick – we always need to make things quick) it belongs to the client. He may use it as often and as broadly as he might chose. At least in 99% of the cases and contracts I know.

This is taken for granted – but is it fair?

In the past we as agencies did not argue on that situation because we were paid fairly on an hourly basis covering the “other” costs and allowing us to make money. But with the rate card pricing eroding further every year (because we are expected to produce cheaper every year, just like a machine – but we are humans and employ humans and no machines) this equation does not add up anymore.

So maybe we have to come up with a model where we charge for the idea itself. And for the fact that a client wants to use it. Making it clear for how long and for what area. Maybe even for what channel. If other creative industries can do it, why can’t we?

But most of all, we need to generate an appreciation for the idea itself. That it’s worthy to pay for an idea. Not for the amount of hours it takes to develop the idea. But for the idea as such. How about a campaign to communicate the value of the idea?

In the end we know: Some will charge little. Some will charge a lot. Maybe depending on the amount spent around the initial idea. Or the number of channels it spans or the timeframe it may be used. But at least we would charge for it. Separately. To give the idea itself some value back again.



Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Mindshare & LG utilize interaction to engage consumers about 3-D TV

Mindshare & LG utilize interaction to engage consumers about 3-D TV: "Disclosure: This is, pretty obviously, client work I was involved with, but I think its an interesting option to talk about how interactivity can be leveraged for education and consumer involvement. Hopefully a bit of follow-up at the end of the campaign might give some insight on where this tech is going. As usual, opinions stated on the site are my own and not the assumed position of either "

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Love That Gilles Peterson!

Love That Gilles Peterson!: "

Global music mastermind Gilles Peterson is a force to be reckoned with. Discover unchartered musical territory in his wonderful 'Worldwide international' Mix.



Sunday, 28 November 2010

SMI’s shopping apps review: Part II

SMI’s shopping apps review: Part II: "

‘Tis the season for launching new mobile retail applications. Here is the second installment of our shopping apps review, a look at some of the latest entries that are trying to change the way you tackle your holiday splurge.

Before we get to the latest batch, just a reminder that our first write-up of the latest retail shopping apps can be found here. Okay, on to the newbies:

1) Best Buy UK Facebook Shop

In the last few days, the technology retailer’s UK branch has opened up a social window shopping “tab” on its Facebook page. Here users can browse thousands of items directly on the fan page, talk about them and share them with their friends at the click of a button. Customer service is also integrated, and it appears Bust Buy has a full-time team answering questions on the site.

Revolutionary? For social shopping, we’ll have to say yes. One of the first companies to combine shopping with Facebook was Levi’s back in April when it integrated the “Like” button directly into its retail site. Best Buy’s move is just taking it to the next level so that users never have to leave Facebook to share their latest gadgets wish list. The downside? Users cannot purchase items they see directly on the Facebook page but instead have to follow the link back to the Best Buy retailers website.

Platforms and release dates: Facebook – November 16

Final Word: Excellent idea for more convenient social shopping. It even works on Facebook mobile. Next stop: making the page global and allowing direct purchases.

2) Tesco Grocery App

The UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, has released a store-specific shopping app that allows customers to scan items, from home or in the store, to receive detailed product information and to purchase them directly from the phone. The iPhone camera is used as the barcode scanner. Any product in Tesco’s inventory can be scanned and ordered for home delivery through a direct payment system. Clubcard points and eCoupons come built-in.

The idea isn’t anything new, though. The Grocery IQ app already allows for barcode scanning and grocery list organizing, and the Apples2Oranges app goes one step beyond and lets users scan and compare product features and prices at competing retailers. For product deliveries on-the-go, Peapod grocers app has been offering the service since September. Tesco, for now at least, has limited the app to the iPhone.

Platforms and Release Dates: iPhone – October 26

Final Word: Been there and done that, but it could prove useful for the army of Tesco iPhone users out there.

3) Hardees and Carl’s Jr. Happy Star Rewards App

The fast food chains (both owned by the same parent company, CKE Restaurants) will by year-end begin offering loyal burger-chompers special prizes at their 3,000 US locations. It works a lot like a loyalty card except you don’t have to tuck anything into your wallet — it comes on the iPhone or Android and has location-based check-in capability. When users check-in enough times at store locations they are given a chance to spin “The Wheel of Awesome” for food and special prizes, including airline tickets and Blu-ray players.

In effect, the app is just a retailer-specific version of Foursquare or Gowalla. While it seems like a good idea overall, it will mean users have to download another application that does pretty much the same thing as the big guys, but on a smaller scale. For Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fans this may not be a big deal, but the app might be limiting its user base at the starting gate. On the flip side, we wonder: could this be the death knell of the loyalty card?

Platforms and Release Dates: iPhone and Android – Near future (no date set)

Final Word: Big Hardee’s of Carl’s Jr. fan? At least spinning the “Wheel of Awesome” sounds pretty, erm, awesome.

4) ExxonMobil Fuel Finder

Just when you thought Big Oil couldn’t get an more uncool, one goes ahead and releases an ultimately useless iPhone app. It’s elementary. Using GPS tracking, the app brings up a map with all the Exxon gas stations (as they are known in the US; it’s Esco through much of Europe) in your immediate vicinity.

It’s not a terrible idea, but did you just miss that Shell station across the street while you were too busy trying to figure out how to get directions to the Exxon station? Checkmate. Apps like TripTik already provide a cross-company location service that also compare the prices at each station. The only new thing offered by the Exxon app is that it allows users to see if there’s a car wash at a particular Exxon station.

Platforms and Release Dates: iPhone – November 11

Final Word: Unless you work for Exxon, don’t bother.

SMI aims to run a mobile apps review once every two weeks in the run-up to Christmas. Please drop us a line if you have any suggestions.


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Greatest Ad Of All Time?

The Greatest Ad Of All Time?: "

According to Wikipedia advertising is:

a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to purchase or take some action upon products, ideals, or services. It includes the name of a product or service and how that product or service could benefit the consumer, to persuade a target market to purchase or to consume that particular brand.

By that, or any other definition, this is almost certainly the greatest ad of all time.

Click here to view the embedded video.

You know I’m right. You’ll hate yourself for admitting it, but you know it’s true.

It’s the dancing dog that does it.

PS - I’m not (entirely) joking.

Adverts image by Tim Lings on flickr


The True Size Of Africa

The True Size Of Africa: "

The True Size Of Africa

Brilliant infographic from Kai Krause (perhaps the Kai Krause?) to combat rampant ‘immappancy’

(Now corrected for map projection errors by marauding carto-nerds – thanks Manuela Schmidt)

I would perhaps twin it with these:

True Size Of USASee the image on its own

True Size Of AntarticaSee the image on its own

True Size Of AustraliaSee the image on its own

(Credits: USA – unknown, Antartica – NASA, Australia – unknown)

Related Posts:


Metaphwoar! videos are live

Metaphwoar! videos are live: "

We filmed it. You can watch all the videos HERE.

I can’t quite bring myself to post my intro video on my blog, but it does explain the whole thing, so you can watch that here. Not that you couldn’t have found it yourself. Shall I just keep linking to the same Vimeo album? OK then. Here’s a couple to warm you up:


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Best Circus Ever

Best Circus Ever: "


Award Nomination!

Award Nomination!: "
BT Digital Music Awards 2010

We've got some good news to share with you, dear reader!

BBC Introducing has been nominated in the Best Place To Discover Music category at the BT Digital Music Awards. The ceremony takes place at the Roundhouse in London on 30th September.

Also nominated in our category are NME, Drowned in Sound, Resident Advisor, iTunes and Guardian Music, with the winner being chosen via a public vote.

Elsewhere, the BBC's Glastonbury website has been nominated, as has 6 Music in the Best Place To Hear Music and Best Radio Show or Podcast categories.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Video: Darkstar – ‘Gold’

Video: Darkstar – ‘Gold’: "

Darkstar’s video for the lead single ‘Gold’ from October 18th release-dated Hyperdub debut North will come as a surprise to those like me who fell for the the gentle bump of ‘Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer’. The result is closer to Hot Chip if they actually made tunes in the dark and were a little bit depressed. The tune is actually a cover of The Human League’s ‘You Remind Me of Gold’. I like.

Darkstar – Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer


Monday, 4 October 2010

Let it ring

Let it ring: "

Award entries videos are something to be cautious about as they naturally tells you a certain story (of success) and I’m not sure how many people will give their friends mobile number away.

BUT this is still a very clever idea that should be further explored.


The UK Tax Gap Visualized

The UK Tax Gap Visualized: "

The Tax Gap Visualized - Information Is Beautiful The Tax Gap is the difference between tax collected and the potential tax out there.

In the UK, official figures put it at a massive £42bn ($65bn). But unofficial researchers claim it could be as much as £105bn ($164bn) or more.

Offshore tax havens. Clever avoidance tactics. Corporate evasion. See how it all stacks up in my latest visualisation for the Guardian Datablog.

See our organised data here: http://bit.ly/taxgap


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Expansion on “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies”

Expansion on “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies”: "

There’s a piece in today’s campaign that asks the question “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies” which I’ve been interviewed for and as it usually happens with these cases people are looking for conclusive black n’ white answers where there’s none so I just wanted to expand on a very narrow statement I am quoted for.

First, there is no such one thing as social media to relate to so any categorical question/answer/statement related to social media is very problematic. This point applies to the question “should social media be handled in-house or outsourced to agencies”. There are so many aspects to social media so there simply cannot be a black or white yes or no answer to this question.

Generally speaking still, you can narrow down ‘social media’ to three key areas for which you can ask the outsource vs. in-house question:

Community management:

This is the most relevant area for the question above. Managing your permanent presence online (your company blog, facebook page, Twitter account etc). There are 3 possible solutions here:

a) Done completely in-house – this is personally my preferred solution and there are enough examples out there from the awesome innocent people, Yorkshire Tea, Zappos and Dell, when a business takes the digital and social culture seriously and invest in internal resources it is much more cost effective but more importantly it says something about your brand. Being hands-on is always a good thing.

b) But sometimes internal processes, knowledge, structure and personnel simply wouldn’t allow for an in-house team. In this case a dedicated community manager(s) work along side the brand team but with ongoing guidance and direction from the agency that helped recruit and train this person. so it’s a 50-50 ownership and direction. I’ve done it with few clients and in many cases this is the only feasible solution and as close as you get to in-house.

c) In some cases brands are simply either too busy or too lazy to even care about social and for all they care as long as the job is done it can be a cleaning company that handle their spaces. They are happy with an intern in a social media agency to be their voice online. The results of this solution are usually (but not always) lame. Not my cuppa.

Creative development

This is the area that brand will need the help of their agencies just as they need them for any other creative direction whether it’s ATL, BTL or digital. For your social media oriented campaigns and so called ‘conversation starters’ clients with no in-house creative team definitely need a great creative agency to help them in this area.

And BTW on this point the Lean Mean Fighting / Coke case comes under this category and was just an unfortunate incident. It was a super awesome campaign that very very few brands could pull out in-house. Coke and others reaction was completely out of proportion IMHO

Monitoring, measurement and reporting

Again, no black and white answer. Some clients prefer to be hands-on, trained on the ongoing monitoring dashboard while some will want to pay for this service like they pay for any other research brief – both are completely reasonable and legitimate. Similarly campaign tracking and reporting will normally be done by the agency but can be shared by the client.

Any thoughts?


Friday, 3 September 2010

Why do 95.769% of Social Media Projects Fail? PLANNING!

Why do 95.769% of Social Media Projects Fail? PLANNING!: "

This question’s been doing the rounds this week, fuelled by this presentation by Brand Science Institute.

It could use a transcript, but the pictures are nice. And so are the majority of the statements it makes. Have a read.

For more on the same theme, see here, here and here.

Lots of Social Media projects fail. Here’s my opinion on the subject.

In C&M’s experience, failure to deliver value on Social Media projects is 95.769% down to the lack of an initial plan. (In other words, lots of things don’t succeed just because people haven’t thought ahead to what success ought to (or might) look like.)

Why? Because 95.6579% of the time Social Media is seen as free (as in free beer). Free to implement (on Facebook, Twitter, etc) and ostensibly free to run (Dave in marketing, Stephanie in PR, and John in Customer Services… they’ve all been twiddling for six months now but, heck, we’re struggling to make an ROI statement).

(NB: this is the basis of a common brief for us and one that we love – ‘We’ve been experimenting – with and without agency help, can you please help us fix it with an integrated plan…?’)

Plans usually happen because something costs money. If the boss needs persuading, then a list of objectives (aka a ‘business case’) is probably going to get created early on in the piece. And some research. And a plan. And perhaps some management meetings in-between.

Web sites, PR campaigns and lead generation activities succeed when they are well planned, budgeted and executed. If it cost £50,000 to create a Facebook page, most Facebook campaigns would also succeed …because they would need to come with a plan and a rough idea of cost and returns – and all of these things would be held to close scrutiny and consistent measurement by the right people.

So, create some objectives, produce a budget and then an accompanying brief (or – better – a plan). This way you’ll be 95.87645% more likely to succeed.

(NB: things may be a bit more nuanced than this but, hey, it’s a good start.)



The Obligatory Facebook Places Post

The Obligatory Facebook Places Post: "Last week saw the long rumoured launch of Facebook Places, the social giant’s entry into the much-hyped world of location [...]"

canadian convection

canadian convection: "

To get Americans to consider ‘vacationing’ in Canada, a digital installation was created in New York, surfacing comments/tweets and photography from travellers in real-time.

As a promotional concept, it’s almost very good. But has clear flaws. There are, though, lots of juicy ingredients to the thought and its execution that I feel compelled to discuss. Here’s the video:

The thing I like about it is not its use of ‘social media’. That would be a fairly meaningless statement. What I like is that it is trying to reduce the gap between the audience and the product’s actual value – the product being Canada. A lot of what I talk about in my Free Energy presentation concerns using existing forces (in this case, genuine vacation commentary) and bringing people closer to this authentic energy, rather than create new things (like an ad) that in some ways keeps people distanced from the actual thing itself.

If you buy into my heat transfer metaphor, this concept represents both ‘convection’ and ‘radiation’ value transfer. Convection, because it’s exploiting the currents of real conversation to transmit the value of Canada to others. But radiation, because the installation also needs to act as an ad, broadcasting conversations to people that would otherwise never be seen.

[You could also argue that by reducing the amount of mediation, it's also an attempt to get as close to 'conduction' value transfer as possible, without bringing actual physical chunks of Canada to the streets of New York. Although, not really.]

The execution falls down most – for me – in two places:

1. Too much faith has been put in ‘convection’. Passers by still need to be excited and seduced. The installation still has to act as an ad, ‘radiating’ the value/pleasure of Canada to people across the vacuum that sits between busy commuters and the wall of the installation. But no real effort has been put into aggregating and presenting the data in a really compelling way. It’s just… there. So as an ad, it’s not a good one.

2. Linked to point one, the second flaw is that even if a passer-by takes notice and interacts, will reading what a complete stranger thinks of the salad they’re having in Saskatoon really inspire them to visit? Personally, I don’t have any faith in a stranger’s recommendation of anything. I want to know what ‘people like me’ think of places.

I applaud the effort to bring people closer to the actual value of the thing being sold. But just because we can scrape live data really easily doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to do to make that engaging.

If the creators of this happen across this blog post, please don’t take offence. There are plenty of things I’ve done that I would criticise too. If nothing else, I think it’s a really interesting example that can fuel very useful conversations. Oh – and I’m a dick too ;)


Monday, 9 August 2010

Is it just me, or does this look like a UFC fight arena for babies?

Is it just me, or does this look like a UFC fight arena for babies?: "

Trying to find a way of temporarily containing 2 little people that doesn’t look like an actual cage is tough.


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Social Media Spend to Double This Year

Social Media Spend to Double This Year: "

The spirit of social media is enlivening industries, refreshing marketing, and humanizing businesses. While the steps to the social revolution are gradual, so are the budgets that fund innovation. Progress is underway however, and with every experiment and pilot program, we learn the answers to the questions that serve as the gateways to change.

Early experiments are sparked within various forward-looking divisions and funded by other resident or surrounding programs or departments. As social media permeates and socializes the frameworks of the modern businesses, finances and supporting resources will shift to advance expansion.

A recent study conducted by Duke University and the American Marketing Association documented the rise of hiring, budgets, and social media spend over next year.

According to the 2010 CMO Survey, on average, CMOs expect to increase marketing budgets by 5.9% citing social media as a crucial slice of the Internet marketing mix.

Brian Solis is a true thought leader, one of the few people who really do blog so that they can move the debate forward (I used to try to do this but don’t have time, so I just react to things now – sad, but true). This is one of his great posts, and while I do keep hearing about how social media is going to save the world – and, frankly, don’t believe it – he places it in perspective. That perspective is: social media, whether you like it or not, is growing in importance across the board. It fits the strategies of companies over the next year, and over the next five years. If you don’t believe me, read his post. Compelling stuff.

Filed under: socialmedia "

No More Heroes: The media, football and built in obsolescence

No More Heroes: The media, football and built in obsolescence: "

Today’s edition of the Sun features an exposé of Wayne Rooney’s recent night on the tiles as his team-mates “completed rigorous pre-season fitness tours”. It is a typically irked and excitable article, chipping away at the veneer of sporting heroism that has been liberally applied to Rooney and his sporting colleagues in the past.

The article is desperate to get people fulminating about spoilt football players in the wake of England’s World Cup flop, on the assumption that these football “legends” are heroes and idols for the nation’s kids who are betraying their legions of fans by going out and being normal. They are doing nothing of the sort.

British football has moved far too far away from the streets to be able to be seen as the people’s sport any more, and almost nothing of the millions being poured into people like Rooney’s pockets is coming back to the street to allow a new generation of great footballers to develop.

The media, however, still need to build these ordinary, fallible, serially overpaid people into heroes. However, whereas in the past they were built up to be perpetuated as idols (just look at the 1966 World Cup team, who shall forever be used as rods to beat the backs of any English footballers with even an ounce of talent), they are now being built up to be destroyed at the first sign of feet of clay.

The media need these modern footballers to behave badly, as the stories that sell papers are the soap operas, the tales of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. These are the stories that resonate most completely with the 21st century British public; they have been created only to be destroyed for the vicarious thrill of the tabloid- and website-reading masses.

The only extraordinary thing about Rooney is the amount of money he earns for being pretty good at striking a ball towards a net – in the usual run of things, this is a man who would be down the pub most weekends, having a laugh with his mates, not buying mansions. So next time you read an article full of outrage and disappointment, please remember that the media – be it tabloid- or web-based – thrives on badly behaved sports and TV stars and will do all that they can to manufacture the conditions in which said star can fail in style so they can keep on selling you papers.