Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pixels at Dawn

Are we entering a new era of professional collaboration? Or do we face a creative showdown?

An interesting question and one this event organised by Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in association with d & ad set out to explore.

'Pixels at Dawn' took place last Tuesday night (November 17, 2009) at a huge venue called Rich Mix on Bethnal Green Road.

I went along to meet @pixandu and tackle some quick-fire briefs set by and worked on by folk across disciplines such as broadcast, advertising and design.

Why can't we all just work together? This event was a fun way of nudging us all to just that. So as soon as I arrived, I grabbed a free chair (after my free beer) and when the time came to start the first brief, I hooked up with the strangers next to me (this was the idea, plus @pixandu had to work late), Fan, Ed, Axel and a girl whose name I didn't catch because she was as quiet as a mouse.

I should also point out that while the crowd were working away on the briefs, so were the three groups of professionals from the following companies: BBC, Ogilvy, RDF, So TV, Six to Start, Kessels Kramer, Mint Digita, Somethin' Else and Puregrass Films.

You should also know that these teams were not made up of copywriters and art directors, although I think one team had a designer from Mint Digital (who incidently I had heard speak at Media140 London).

Brief one - Young at Heart - set by Joe Ferry, Virgin Atlantic Airways

Create a product, service or comms strategy that creates a brand idea to attract an aging population of flyers (over 60s). Communicate how we can benefit this group.

What the professionals came up with:

A whole bunch of crazy ideas, such as: Spend the inheritance, Relive the 60s, Branson's gang and even a Mile High Club, although I have no idea what this involved.

What we came up with:

Name and campaign TBC but the product is basically an over-60s club that you automatically get access to, for free, if you are, yes you've guessed it, over 60. So a bit like a bus pass, then. You get your own card but the main benefits are the, um, benefits. Here are a few that we thought of in the ten minutes or so:

Additional airmiles
Priority check-in
Priority seating near gate
Priority boarding
Over 60s toilet
Help with bags
In-flight TV and radio specifically for over 60s

You can go as crazy as you like. I wouldn't want to patronise this audience too much but I'm sure you can have some fun - the idea is supposed to be young at heart, after all, because of Virgin's younger image.

I should point out that one of the pro teams had the same idea as us. Perhaps other groups in the audience did as well. It wouldn't surprise me. It doesn't annoy me that other people had the same idea. I think it's one of the best. I think it provides a real product around which you can build all kinds of communications.

It was interesting that both our group and one of the pro groups also came up with the idea of allowing the over 60s to meet up online before they travelled, in case they wanted to meet up and chat - or maybe spark a little romance as one of the pro teams suggested.

So it was nice to see we had a digital element, although don't forget folks, the Interwebs (all six of them) are just media. It's the big idea that counts.

Brief two - Jedward - set by Graham Stuart, MD, SO Television

@iboy will like this one. The brief was to make Jedward musically credible, giving them a career beyond the past week.

Bit of a funny one, as I can't help feeling that there have been many manufactured acts down the years who couldn't sing. And that anyone could be made to sound tuneful in the studio. So why not Jedward? Because everyone knows they can't actually sing?

Like I say, not sure this has stopped a few people in the past. So wouldn't some producer simply work on them to make them sound ok?

Anyway, once we got over that intitial question, we had some fun. So did the pros. Here are some of their ideas:

Basically watch Jedward 24/7 and humiliate them in 000s of ways.
An experiment with the Royal College of Music to see if we can teach Jedward to sing (had this one)
Children's TV presenters (heard this one on twitter but I'm fucked if I'd want my child watching those two)
Sing Star off-key singing competition
Get Jedward to make a record in every country around the world.
Work with charities (had a version of this - see below)

Some of our ideas:

Yup, see if we can teach them to sing.
Get them to work with deaf kids.
Chucklevision II.
Ant and Dec and Jedward (where each on of Ant and Dec had to have a Jedward over each shoulder).

Brief three - New political party - set by Ben Casey, CD, The Chase

Piece together a set of attributes for a new kind of politician for a new political party. What might the party be called? How would you create the campaign to launch it?

Well time was short here but it was interesting to hear that so many different people had had such similar ideas. Here are some of ours:

All female party
Talented people only party
Not real people - like Gorillaz
Tell the truth party

And that was that. The MC went around the room getting the crowd's thoughts and ideas after we'd heard the pros present their work up on stage. Pretty impressive when you consider they'd had 10 minutes or so on each brief and were working with 2-3 other people they'd never met from different companies; different disciplines, even.

The future of collaboration? I hope so. And it was nice to catch up with Matt, Phillipe, Matt and Theresa from D&AD's autumn 2009 digital advertising workshop, too (Hello Rhiannon!) We even managed to get to work on a couple of the briefs together.

I'm not sure if there's going to be another PAD, but if there is I'll see you there.

PS. If you've ever read any of my previous posts, you might know I'm intrigued by Google, SEO and search rankings. So you'll forgive me for pointing out a little Google ranking wierdness relating to this particular post - I was ranking 8th on page one of Google for the term 'Pixels at Dawn', whilst I was still writing the post. I goddammed love the Interwebs. It's so goddammed fast. A bit like me on the draw (sound of ricocheting bullet.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peperami and Unilever have a crowdsourced* winner

Two winners, in fact.

Read Idea Bounty's interviews with them.

*Yes, it's semantics but is this crowdsourcing? Isn't the term supposed to refer to a common solution to which everyone adds? Check out the definition of the word and make up your own mind.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Have you had customer service this good?

Here's a customer service email I received from hungryhouse, an online takeaway service.

It's worth reading as an example of the kind of customer service we should all be getting.

In fact, this email probably goes above and beyond the call of duty as it's possible I made a mistake (although even if I did, what happened illustrates the importance of a landing page that echoes the offer you've just read.) You'll see what I mean in a minute.

OK so lets you order your takeaway online.

I'm not quite sure why it's better than calling up your local restaurant direct but I gave it a go on Friday because I happened to see a 10% offer RTed (that's retweeted for all you twitter haters - come on, keep up).

So I clicked the link and went through to Within seconds I'd found our local curry house that I was going to order from anyway, so I thought I'd try hungryhouse and save some money.

Trouble was, because I never saw a big button that said '10% discount', I had no way of knowing that I'd secured that deal. I don't know what my order usually costs and I was going to add it all up to see if I got the money off.

So I was left wondering whether I got the deal at all. And I thought I'd just paid exactly the same price for a longer service as it would take time to pass on the order to the restaurant.

Actually, we found the order go through immediately and I'd say ordering through hungryhouse was just as quick as calling the restaurant direct. I can even see the benefit of browsing the menu online (many local takeaways do not have a dedicated website), plus, hopefully, you won't get any Chinese whispers over the phone (no pun intended) and so hopefully, you won't get any mistakes.

Well, there's still room for human error, as I discovered when we were left naan-less and in posession of two, not one, mint yoghurts (I know, I know, how did we manage?)

However, I emailed hungryhouse and received an email back within an hour or two. Here it is:

Hi Hayes,

I'm really sorry to hear you had some trouble using our special offer tonight.
The discount is definitely up and running. Provided that you clicked on the link
and chose to pay by card, 10% of your order value should have been deducted.

I completely understand your frustration. Rest assured that I have passed your
information on to our IT team so they can investigate what went wrong.

As a gesture of apology for this disappointment, I would like to offer you
£2.00 off a future order with us - if you're willing to consider giving us
another chance to serve you better. To redeem this discount, you need to upgrade
to a member account at URL
- it only takes a few seconds and it's free! £2.00 will then be automatically
deducted from the next order you pay for by card. Please note however, that
unused credit automatically expires after 90 days.

This slightly more than covers the discount you should have received on your
order tonight.

Thanks for ordering at hungryhouse and for bringing this issue to our attention.
Once again, I'm really sorry for this incovenience. I hope you enjoy your meal
from 3 Spice and have a great weekend.

Kind regards,


Isn't that good? Hungryhouse - give it a go. And pray something goes wrong so you can get one of those lovely emails from Whitney.

PS. I even told hungryhouse about the missing naan in my feedback email, which comes soon after your food. Another email from Whitney, this time to tell me she'd credited my card the cost of the bread. What do you think of that, then?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All TV ads are shit

Or at least that's the way I felt watching the ad break during Dancing with the Devil last night on More4.

Did you see it? I think it was one of the most interesting docs I've ever seen. It got up close and personal with some of Rio's biggest drug lords. And whether you believed them or not, most of them said they'd like nothing better than to get out of the life - if only they had an alternative.

In addition to football, funk and samba, one alternative was the church, by the way. And that's how we got such incredible access to the traffickers - by following a pastor who used to sell drugs and carry guns himself.

So maybe any ads that broke up this amazing film would have seemed shite in comparison.

Only I got really down. Like actually questioning my whole career. Isn't advertising shit? Wasn't being a copywriter shit? Wasn't I shit?

Then this came on and my belief in advertising was restored:

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My headline for Twitter's first press ad

You can't read everything but you can read the people that do.

Or should that be 'people who do'?

Any grammar freaks in the house?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

7 rules of brainstorming

Like Wal, I've been in many brainstorming sessions.

And like Wal, I've never really been in any that ever seemed particularly effective.

I've read up on the subject before and I seem to remember a few tips on how long you should do it and how many people to involve - and yes, I do think it's important you set a few parameters - or rules.

Here are 7 rules of brainstorming from IDEO, the design and innovation consultants, courtesy of Wal at Hyper Island.