Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fraser Digby's Washbag

This is an internet meme in the making.

Danny Baker presents the BBC 5Live Tuesday night football phone-in show 606. Unlike most football-phone ins this isn't full of fans ringing up to say how rubbish / great their team are; Danny Baker sets more arcane and amusing subjects like 'how did you miss seeing a goal' or 'instances of people wearing replica kits while abroad (& not watching football)'.

One week he was doing an item about 'what do you have that used to belong to a footballer', and one fan rang in with a tale about doing a backstage tour of Swindon. During the tour of the players' changing room he saw the washbag belonging to Fraser Digby, their goalkeeper, and managed to steal a tortoiseshell comb from it.

Danny Baker seized in this, declaring that 'Fraser Digby's washbag' was a very poetic phrase, and asked listeners to re-write popular songs around it.

In the weeks that have followed we've had versions of My Old Man's a Dustman, Eleanor Rigby, Changes, Sunny Afternoon (probably the most inventive - see it above) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Other songs in the pipeline include (apparently) All Along The Watchtower, The Ace of Spades and I Predict A Riot.

This clip shows the moment Fraser Digby came onto the show to help to sing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It shows radio at it's best, and how a great presenter can create something magical out of nothing. Well done for 5Live for putting it online, although apparently it's blocked for people outside the UK. You can also hear them by downloading the podcasts - search iTunes for '606'.

Wikipedia entry on Fraser Digby, now incorporating his bizarre new cult status here

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jeff Buckley for Christmas No. 1

This would be a great summation of the year in digital in the UK.

The TV show X Factor finished on Saturday, with the winner releasing a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and immediately making her dead cert to be the UK Christmas no. 1 single. (This is a big deal in the UK - there is a very long tradition of bands trying to be the Christmas number one, but in recent years it's been dominated by reality show winners).

There is now a movement, focussed on a Facebook group, to make Jeff Buckley's version the number one instead. This is easily possible, because Buckley's record company do not need to physically release it - digital sales count.

Buy it from iTunes here

In a year that Facebook has established a strong position in the UK psyche (everything has a Facebook group, every news story has led to activity on Facebook), this would be a very fitting outcome.

(I actually prefer the Leonard Cohen version, but a movement is a movement...)

Thanks to David Cushman for the tip off!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Digital Paper

One of my colleagues has just received a very innovative Christmas card from the Cowan Group.

It won't embed, but click here to see how it works.

Very good!

Brutal Legend

You have to admire the kind of genius behind this concept!

Brutal Legend (the 'Brutal' has an umlaut over the u) is the story of a humble roadie who works his way up to be a rock god (insert Noel Gallagher joke here), in a sort of Swords and Scorcery / Dungeons and Dragons setting. Presumably it'll be a mix of guitar playing like Guitar Hero, and a fighting game. The main character is played by Jack Black, just to tick a few more boxes.

I can't get access to the site, which means that there's either a technical fault, or you've got to be under 18 to enter!

More here: Fansite here:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Facebook Connect

I freely admit that I'm playing catch-up on this one. Facebook Connect is a new service from Facebook, currently in beta and only on a few sites. It allows you to log in to select sites with your Facebook ID, bypassing the standard site log in procedures, and then do social things like chat to friends also on the site. Sites using FC will also give more prominence to reviews from your own friends than people that you don't yet know.

One of the best examples of this in action is the new beta version of CitySearch, seen here. The site now shows reviews of bars etc from friends, giving the site more credibility (lots of local sites suffer from users posting unreliable reviews, either settling scores or boosting friends). Sadly when I logged in (the process is so easy) I couldn't find any reviews from Facebook friends, but here is an example of how it does work.

Other sites that have signed up include Hulu, Digg, TheInsider (also now live), CBS and Discovery.

Here's an excellent presentation from Razorfish looking at the potential of Facebook Connect (& other similar initiatives like MySpaceID and Google Friend Connect) on sites like Amazon, iTunes and iPhone games.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amazon's iPhone app - war declared on traditional retailers?

I was in the US in July, and while I was shopping at a couple of places, I saw a few things that I really liked (a book, two kids toys) but that I didn't want to buy and have to carry home. So I took photos with my phone, and added them to my Amazon basket when I got home. The shops didn't see what I was doing; one store, the museum shop at Moma in San Francisco specifically bans photography. I did feel a bit guilty while I was doing it, but I did buy other, smaller things in both shops.

Anyway... Amazon has now made this much easier by creating an iPhone app:

"Use Amazon Remembers to create a visual list of things you want to remember when you're out and about. Photos you take from the app are stored on both the Amazon app, and the site as reminders.

If the item you want to remember is a product, Amazon will try to find an item for sale like the one in the photo. If we do, we'll send you an email alert, and post the result along with the original photo."

This formalises what people have been doing for years, but you can imagine that retailers will be very annoyed. There are also lots of price comparison apps on the iPhone, letting people scan bar codes compare to prices in local stores and online.

Expect to see lots of signs banning taking photos and scanning in-store!

Thanks to the ArsTechnica & AdverLab for the tip!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Clerk Dogs - movie recommendations

Clerk Dogs is a site, currently in beta, that aims to solve the problem of movie recommendations.

Other services like Amazon make recommendations based on buying patterns - people who bought this also bought this - but that's not very good at recommending obscure or less mainstream stuff.

Clerk Dogs has asked a team of experts - mainly people who used to work in US video stores (hence the name) - to rate lots of movies based on a number of criteria, to produce what they call a DNA for each movie.

So - does it work? Here is a comparison with Amazon, using totally random selections:

Wall-E - Clerk Dogs recommends ET, Amazon recommends Kung Fu Panda
Annie Hall - Clerk Dogs recommends Manhattan, Amazon recommends The Graduate
Apocalypse Now - Clerk Dogs recommends Agurre, Wrath of God, Amazon recommends Platoon
Super Size Me - Clerk Dogs recommends Fast Food Nation, Amazon recommends Sicko
Titanic - Clerk Dogs recommends Pearl Harbour, Amazon also recommends Pearl Harbour

Pretty interesting! In some cases the recommendations are a bit obvious (a search for a Woody Allen seems to bring up another Woody Allen, a search for Spinal Tap brought up a pretty poor sequel), but in general they are more inspiring than Amazon's.

So far it's only in beta, and there are lots of films I like with no results, but It's definitely worth following.

Monday, December 08, 2008

We Are Sterling Cooper - Fans as stakeholders

You may have heard about the controversy about We Are Sterling Cooper earlier in the year, but if not, here is a summary:

- Fans of the TV show Mad Men started to set up twitter accounts purporting to be the characters, and started to interact with fans
- The show's producers/owners got very nervous, and persuaded twitter to remove the accounts
- Fans protested, and the accounts got re-instated
- One of the twitter users, Bud Cadell, set up the site We Are Sterling Cooper to collate all of the conversations around this, and discuss the issues

...& now Bud has released his report on what happened, and the implications for brands in the digital age. Many related what was happening to Fan Fiction, but Bud argues that it is more than that - it's about the whole relationship between fans and creators.

Bud makes the point that posting as a character on twitter is really no different than re-enacting favourite TV scenes in the office the day after, and that brands need to be aware that the audience also have a powerful stake.

As Bud concludes:

"Crowds will always congregate around a flame, but how long it burns and how it is carried into the rest of the world will rely on that relationship. Some writers already have different attitudes about their own creation. Michael Chabon, author of Kavalier & Clay, has said “I came to realize that everything I do is fan fiction. I think everything that we all do, all fiction, is fan fiction in that you are always inspired to write by things that you love. So much of writing for me is about finding a way to convey my own love of other writersʼ work.” If we begin to see all works as an extension of what has come before, we begin to appreciate something like Mad Men on Twitter for what it is, a story. It should be judged as a piece of entertainment and art; for how well it engages an audience and what it has to say about a changing world. We shouldnʼt threaten fans with legal notices and we shouldnʼt isolate them. We should cultivate the relationships weʼre either lucky or gifted to have and help them with their expression of their fandom. Brands should offer as much content in as many types to its audiences with the hope that they feel compelled to rearrange them and add novel elements to tell their own stories. We fight to insert ourselves in the conversations of real people, and that is exactly what happened with the Mad Men characters on Twitter. If we cling to this sense that we are the sole owner of creative work, weʼll continue to isolate that work from the actual world and the human beings we work to affect. In truth, we are all Sterling Cooper."

Head over to WASC to download it and read it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Digital Stats

Years ago (probably over ten years ago) while I was working for a media consultancy, I went to see a headhunter to talk about getting a new job.

During the interview I said something like "I very numerate, but also very literate - I'm interested in communication and media from both sides", to which he said "Yes, that is a problem, isn't it?" (exact quote).

No, it's not a problem, it's a good thing.

& so while I have this blog to cover adverts, virals and sites, I'm now starting a new Digital Stats blog.

The new blog will feature interesting and jaw dropping stats from the digital world. All stats will have a headline figure, a quote to show the figure in context, and a link to the original article.

So, for example:

10bn photos have been uploaded to Facebook

91% of UK mobile owners keep their phones within 3 feet, 24/7

& XBox 360 owners buy 3.8m music tracks a month

It's clearly not exhaustive, and while I may be accused of 'lies, damned lies and statistics' the blog is meant to provide small, memorable facts about how the world is becoming more and more digital.

The aim, as with Digital Examples, is to be able to post in less than 5 minutes, so that I can post often and regularly.

Go over and have a look!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

UPS Regifter

This is a nice idea from UPS. Taking a cue from Seinfeld, which coined the term 'regifter' to mean someone who would pass on unwanted presents they'd been given. (In the show Elaine gets annoyed when she discovers that a label maker she'd given to her then beau Tim Whatley was given by Whatley to Jerry.)

UPS Regifter allow you to upload a picture of something you've been given, and then send the pic on to friends. A good way of laughing at the inappropriate stuff you get given.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pete the Meat Puppet for Diesel

I have absolutely no idea what this is about - but it's very strange, and very compelling.

The Diesel site is now full of similarly grim and surreal films - for example this celebration video, and this motivational video.

More info here

Friday, November 28, 2008

Great takeover ad for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa on MSN

This is a great example of a really impactful ad.

Today only, on MSN in the UK (& possibly in other countries too) you can see this ad for the new Dreamworks movie Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

Click on the bar at the top of the rectangle, and the whole page slides across to show this page, allowing you to watch 3 video clips, play a game, and enter a competition.

Would love to see the effectiveness stats for this one!

This ad unit was created by Eyeblaster

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Criterion Collection Site

The Criterion Collection has an unrivalled reputation (in my house at least) for producing top quality DVDs, brimming with extras both on the discs and in the form of sleeve notes. I've got several of their titles, including Salesman (possibly my favourite film, see the pic at the top of the post), Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter (yes, I'm a Maysles freak), Hoop Dreams and Battle of Algiers. All discs are region 1 only, so you need a multi region player.

(Trivia fans may also want to know that Criterion effectively invented the Director's Commentary, including an additional audio track on their second laserdisc release, King Kong, in 1984)

Now they have a site to match. The new site is the sort of place than any film fan could spend hours in. They have:

Sections on themes (cult films, new German realism etc)
Profiles of key directors
Celebrity top 10s (inc Steve Buscemi, and Diablo Cody - a great place to go to get inspiration for what to see next)
Lots of merchandise
& best of all, if you live in the US, films to watch online.

There are currently 19 films available from Au Revoir Les Enfants to The Thief of Baghdad, each for $5. The best bit is that if you then want to buy the film on DVD or Blu-ray you get the $5 discounted from the purchase price.

Excellent - but when can we see the films online in the UK?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New adidas Football virals - Predator and F50 TuniT

There are 4 new films on YouTube to promote adidas Predator and F50 TuniT boots:

For example:



Check out all the films here.

Full disclosure - adidas is one of my agency's clients

Monday, November 24, 2008

Special Edition 'Hacienda' Kickers

This is a bit of an off-topic post, but I wanted to write about this to preserve it for posterity. Somehow the people in charge of protecting the heritage of the Hacienda in Manchester have given Kickers permission to make a licenced boot.

I don't associate Kickers with The Hacienda. I associate kickers with a kid in my class called Bozkurt, who, as soon as he had a part time job saved up to buy 2 pairs of kickers, one red and one silver. Each day he'd wear one pair to school, and sit the other pair on his desk. For about two years.

So do a 'Bozkurt' special edition, but not a Hacienda special edition. I can't see many pairs of Kickers being worn in the Hacienda, in any era.

For the record the blurb says:

"Be a part of this unique collaboration between Kickers and legendary Hacienda nightclub. Paying homage to iconography from the interior of the Manchester hot spot, these boots feature black and yellow chevrons on the in-sole, two-tone laces and FAC 51 emblem on the heel. The 88/08 print references 20 years of acid house, of which both the Hacienda and Kickers are an integral part. Made of leather and available in brown."

There's also a Buzzcocks special edition.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Buy Friends a Drink on Facebook

This is a neat new application. GetThemIn has developed an app that lets people buy drinks for their friends through Facebook.

You can buy anything from a single can to bottles of champagne and spirits. Friends get a voucher that they can take into a participating off-licence (inc Threshers).

My only complaint is the pricing - £1.99 for a 440ml can of Fosters, £6.49 for 4 330ml bottles of Heineken, or £14.99 for a 70cl bottle of Teachers? Pricey!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Social Networks & Mobile Internet Users

Just as search is generally the most popular desk-based internet application in most countries (& Google is generally the most popular site, with some exceptions), social networking is becming the key application for mobile internet users.

The latest report from Opera, makers of Opera Mini, the most popular mobile web browser in the world (their statement), shows that social networks are generally the top or near the top mobile web sites in all markets that they survey. (In fact if you read this blog, and you're interested in digital media, you should definitely sign up for the free monthly reports).

From the latest report, here are the top social networks for mobile internet users in each market, with the social network's overall position in brackets:

Russia - (1)
Indonesia - (1)
India - (2)
China - (5)
Ukraine - (1)
US - (2)
South Africa - (1)
UK - (3)
Poland - (1)
Egypt - (2)

So in 5 of the 10 markets featured, social networks are the top sites. Search is top in 4 (all Google), while in China the top site is Kong, a wap-only mobile portal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas Shopping 2008 - Here come the Vouchers

One of the recent Christmas trends has been discount shopping vouchers, virally spread. I've just been sent the first vouchers for 2008 Christmas UK in-store shopping. I'll list more as I spot them. But only if they offer decent levels of discount (i.e. nothing less than 25% off).

Threshers - 40% off on wine and champagne, offer ends 2nd December

The Gap - 30% off new collections, inc Gap Kids and Baby Gap, offer ends Sunday 30th November

Carnaby Street - 20% off in all of the shops, on Thursday 27th November 2008 from 5pm until 9pm (it'll be busy)

Pizza Express - Buy one pizza, get one free (inc takeaway), valid until 7th December (you'll need to eat if you're going round the shops)

More as they appear...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Google Voice Search for the iPhone

At the moment the iPhone and the Google phone are selling because they're cool and desirable bits of hardware. However I believe that in a few months there will be several killer apps that will be driving the sales - cool things that you can only do on an advanced phone that will make them must-haves for a bigger section of the population.

This is one such app - Google's voice search (free, of course).

It was launched a few days ago with this official video:

& here is one of many videos made by a happy user, showing what it can do:

Watch those phones fly off the shelves!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fuzzwich - Easy-To-Make Animations

Fuzzwich is a relatively new site that allows you to make simple animations, without having any actual animation skills.

This video explains how you do it

How to Minivid! from fuzzwich on Vimeo.

& this video is an example of a finished video:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google Flu Trends

This is a brilliant example of how search data reflects real life. is a philanthropic organisation, funded by Google, that uses the power of information and technology to address global problems.

The Flu tracker predicts patterns of searches to predict flu outbreaks in the US far earlier than traditional systems.

See it here, and see a video explanation here, with correlations based on pervious years here. This is an excellent project, and as I said a perfect real-world example of how search reflects real life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I feel that I should have been playing with Wordle years ago; never mind. Here, to catch up is the content of the blog as a Wordle word cloud. The bigger the word, the more the mentions, although it has only done it for the current page; it doesn't search through the archives.

The Future of Political Funding?

I've read a lot of analysis of why Barack Obama won last week's presidential election, and a lot of his success is put down to the way he managed to raise money from individual voters, rather than corporations. A lot of his campaign's activities in social media (Facebook pages, YouTube channels etc) were to recruit grassroots support and ask for donations. This meant that the Obama campaign was able to spend more money than the McCain campaign, and that the way he used the money was less restricted than if he had received larger amounts from a few corporate donors.

I also read the story about the Atheist Bus campaign in the UK. This campaign, in response to a pro-Christian bus campaign, raised money from individuals via the JustGiving charity site, to put a pro-atheist ad on one London bus. As it's turned out, the slogan ("There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life") caught the public's imagination so much that they exceeded their target within hours, and now, with nearly £120,000 in donations, the organisers plan to make the campaign national. The average donation is just over £10; over 800 people have donated (the charity can can claim the tax on the donation back if the donation comes from a UK taxpayer). The campaign is now also selling t-shirts with the slogan.

So why not do something like this for political campaigns? Ask people to design a slogan or a poster (heavily moderate this of course), set up a vote to select the best, and then raise money with the specific aim of running that poster. This way parties would raise money for campaigns (remember that many political posters only appear in one place, but generate lots of PR coverage), and could engage their supporters in a tangible way.

I expect that this will be done to some extent during the next British general election; can you imagine how many would have been willing to donate a tenner to see something like a 'Bliar' poster run across the country a few years ago?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nokia Unloader

This is a new campaign for the Nokia E Series. To emphasise how the phones make working easier, they allow you to upload a boring document for destruction.

The document I decided to destroy was a bit more visual than most - a picture quiz from my monthly pub quiz - watch as the paper gets tarred and feathered.

Very cool!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Cat Cabins for Cat Protection League

This is a neat way of getting people to give money to the UK charity the Cats Protection League.

They have introduced a new scheme to sponsor that they call Cat Cabins. Each Cat Cabin provides shelter for 129 cats; and by sponsoring at the full rate of £10 a month, donors get a regular email with a 'kit-e-mails' - mini video clips showing the cats enjoying themselves in their new homes.

A really good way of capitalising on the internet obsession with kitties!

US Election Digital Comparison

All you need to know - a comparison of the poll result with digital metrics, like blog mentions, site visits, time spent, and Facebook friends.
Measuring an Internet Election

Full chart and notes here

Full data set here

Social media not necessarily that effective then - or at least not on all voters (but likely to be influential on younger voters)...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Puppies! On a Webcam!

Or click here

What makes this (vaguely) relevant to this blog is that it's a great way of promoting the other channels on UStream.TV

Update: Except that it's not live 24/7 - currently just showing a slideshow. Boo.

Ben & Jerry's Free Ice Cream for Voters

Other companies are giving away free stuff to people who can prove they voted (see a full list here, including Starbucks and Krispy Kreme), but Ben & Jerry are the only ones who've made the effort to comprehensively organise it through Facebook.

Can we have some of this action for the next British election please?

Excel Music Video for AC/DC

This is a very neat idea. AC/DC have produced a video in 'glorious ExcelVision' for people who can't access YouTube at work. The viral comes in a 4MB attachment that you can forward, or that you can download here.

(Or you can watch it on YouTube here)

I really like the originality of this, and is in direct contrast to the digital luddite tendancies they show elsewhere - for example AC/DC are one of the few bands that do not allow their music to be sold on iTunes.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lewis Hamilton's Blackberry Storm

This is an example of how Vodafone use their sponsorship of Lewis Hamilton - he's the first person to use a new Blackberry Storm, and is shown here talking about it.

I found this from a paid search link on YouTube.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brilliant Personalised Viral from

I love this - a personalisable video for the MoveOn campaign in the US encouraging citizens to vote on November 4th.

You can personalise it to any name (except it shortens my surname to just 'C' - Calladine is clearly too long for the system).

One of the best bits of political communication I've ever seen.

Update - there's a ticker on the MoveOn site showing the number of videos sent. 8.7m so far, and moving fast!

SeeYourHotel - Search Hotels on a Map

Search gets more intuitive. Previously I've written about's visual search application, and now comes SeeYourHotel, via the always-reliable Springwise newsletter.

SeeYourHotel allows you to search by location, anywhere (as far as I can tell) that's covered by Google Maps.

Fill in a location (city name, area, street etc) and it will show you hotels and landmarks on the same map. You can then narrow down your search by setting a price range (in USD), or by Star.

Great work!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Templates for They Came From Upstairs

This is a really nice way of promoting a kids' film. Fox, the studio behind the new movie They Came From Upstairs, has produced these downloadable stencil templates for parents to do some pretty advanced pumpkin carving. Very good!

The film isn't out until July, but this is a great way to introduce the characters.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stephen Fry 2.0

This refresh to Stephen Fry's personal site is very welcome. Stephen is of course very geeky, and you can imagine him having fun specifying the different sections and so on to his builders. In fact I look forward to reading a Dork Talk column about it.

The new site is a repository for all of the different things that Stephen does - it covers his work for The Guardian, his videos, his twitter updates, his influences, a forum, a store, and - though not yet live - the new 'ClubFry' which will be a social network for his fans.

Have fun!

DoubleClick Rich Media Innovation Library

We had a meeting with DoubleClick earlier today, and they showed this this excellent gallery of the sorts of things you can do with their rich media ad serving. They've got examples of video, viral (inc widgets), live data feeds within ads, games, and bespoke ad units.

See it all here - but sadly there is no deep linking, so I can't direct you to any specific ones, and apparently they change the examples regularly.

It's a great place to spend an hour if you're looking for inspiration.

Friday, October 10, 2008


JungleSmash is an interesting new project by James Altucher, a Hedge Fund manager and finance writer.

JungleSmash is all about user generated video ads. They have chosen Crest toothpaste as a launch brand, and are offering $2000 for the best video someone can make about Crest. (They have no affiliation with Crest; they say they chose the brand because they like the toothpaste.)

Then, they'll choose another brand and so on.

I read about this on the Freakonomics blog. In the comments after the post a lot of people say that it's been done before, and of course it has, by the brands themselves, but not by disinterested outsiders.

It'll be interesting to see what the public come up with. So far it hasn't set the blogging world alight, as evidenced by these 8 posts to date, inclucing the original post on JungleSmash, but I have faith that some interesting films will be made.

(The issue of the low bounty is not necessarily an important one - Adam and Joe got an amazing response to their competition as detailed here earlier - as long as people think that it's fun.)

The real question for me is whether people are going to use their imagination, or just go along with existing advertising concepts for Crest. For example there is no shortage of lame rip offs of the British Hamlet ads of the 1970s & 1980s like this one here

Let's wait, with open minds, and see what JungleSmash turns up.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Google in 2001

As part of their 10th birthday celebrations, Google have made their old index of search results available so that you can search their database from 2001. (It seems that this is the oldest index still available - nowadays the idea of them wiping the old ones seems a bit like the BBC reusing the video tapes used to record artists like Jimi Hendrix on Top of The Pops in the 1960s)

Anyway... This is not as nerdy as it seems, because as Ferris Bueller pointed out, life moves pretty fast.

You can entertain yourself, but in 2001 the top result for...

...Paris Hilton was a hotel
...iPod was the Image Proof of Deposit Document Processing System
...MySpace was a data storage service that had suspended service
...Facebook was an internal database for Harvard
...Twitter was a nature page (link not working)
...Orkut was the blog of someone called Orkut
...Bebo was the home page of a musician called Bebo Norman
...Flickr was a random page on a tech blog was, a 'what's on' guide for Cleveland
...Firefox was a pretty random homepage
...Wordpress was a literary publishing company
...Piczo was an Epson printer
...& there were no results at all for YouTube!

Thanks to Nick Burcher's blog for the initial inspiration!

Update: Unfortunately the Google 2001 site is no longer live to play with. However the old sites are still live, so you can still see the top results. If you want a screen grab of the 'no results for YouTube' page email me!

One Star Reviews on Amazon

You've been able to see reviews by star rating on amazon for ages now, and lots of pleasure is to be had by look at either one star reviews of stuff that is generally accepted to be great, or five star reviews of stuff that is pretty lousy.

For example - there are 3 one star reviews for series 1 of The Wire:
"After seeing all the positive reviews I thought it would be a sure thing that this would be a good show... but how wrong could I be. The show is so slow paced, the actors are all one dimensional and every episode is like a repeat of the last with about 10 seconds of actual action. All this is topped off with language that is unnecessarily difficult to understand. Please don't waste your money like I did, the most I could stomach was 3 episodes.
24, prison break, lost and house are all far better than this garbage."

There are 4 one star reviews for Willam Boyd's novel Any Human Heart:
"I've tried hard to like this and ploughed by way to page 200 and something but have finally decided to knock it on the head. This is without a doubt the most boring book I've ever picked up, I don't care one jot about LMS or any other cardboard cut-out in this novel. It's deeply uninteresting and the constant references to famous people of the day are really irritating."

Happy browsing!

Monday, September 29, 2008

DM Boot Design Winner - the Problem with UGC

A few months ago I wrote about this competition for Dr Martens - users could design a boot, and the most popular (as voted by the public) would be made and sold in stores around the world.

The winners have now been announced - this one, as chosen by the panel of judges, and this one, as voted for by internet users.

A bit underwhlemed by the people's vote? This is what happened. Users on the forum site SomethingAwful decided that they wanted to win the competition, and asked forum users to vote for boot designs made by forum members every day. In the end all of the top 10 boots by public vote were made by forum members. This thread details what they did, and this post very articulately explains the point of the mission:

"The original idea was to win the contest with an awful boot, not an awesome one. This was in order to show Doc Martens that it's a bad idea to leave these decisions to the internet.

Obviously some of us think Snowboot is truly awesome, while others maintain that it's awful. Either way it's not the sort of boot that would've won without us, nor is it the sort of boot you'd actually expect to be properly marketable, so I think we did what we set out to do."

Shame. This is one of the problems with user generated content, and why completely open votes can be a bad idea. The way around this (& I hope that DM do this next year) is to have a panel produce a short-list of say 50 boots, and then ask people to vote on those, rather than let internet voting decide everything.

Update - they've now launched a t-shirt design competition here.

"The 50 designs with the most votes will be in with a chance.

A team from Journeys and Dr. Martens will pick the winner, plus 20 runners-up."

X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing on YouTube

This is a really good illustration of how YouTube is now used as catch up TV for people in the UK.

The two most popular Saturday night programmes at the moment are The X Factor (ITV) and Strictly Come Dancing (BBC). this morning on YouTube clips from these two shows make up 14 out of the top 20 clips; 11 for X Factor, and 3 for Strictly Come Dancing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Diesel XXX Viral

You have to admire this:

To commemorate Diesel's 30th (XXX - geddit?) anniversary.

Probably not safe for work, and likely to get taken down by YouTube, although *technically* it's all in the mind of the viewer.

This link is likely to stay live for longer

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Visual Search for

This is a great example of how visuals can be more intuitive than words in search.

The site takes you through several steps, asking you to choose the type of holiday (city, beach), activities you want to do (pictures of walking, galleries, sports events etc), types of hotel room, types of restaurant, how you want to feel, how many people are travelling, and so on.

It will then suggest hotels in a specific city, or even suggest places you should be travelling to.

Very neat example, and I'm sure soon many sites will be offering similar interfaces.

Wii WarioLand on YouTube

This won't work if I embed it - click here to see this excellent viral for Wii WarioLand

Update - it's global - Russian version is here (albeit in English)

Update - 2010 - The original Warioland can be seen in all its glory here

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Facebook Lexicon

I love the old Facebook Lexicon, and guess what, I'm pretty positive about the new updated version too.

The original Lexicon allowed you to look at the relative volume of mentions for different terms on people's Facebook 'Walls'. The new Lexicon allows you to look at lots of the granularity behind that data for key terms.

So far the list is pretty limited, and very US-centric (Obama, McCain, Baseball, Hockey , etc) and I expect that they'll be offering a paid service to marketers to look at custom lists.

The new Lexicon allows you at terms, or combinations of terms to see the demographics of the people using the terms, associations of different terms with the chosen term (e.g. Obama and Democrat), the Sentiment of the term (so what percent of mentions are positive), the pulse (what other things people write about), and Maps (US, UK & Canada only) of where the people writing about the terms live.

In this example we can see that for people percent of mentions of Obama or McCain that are positive over time:

& this one shows that sentiment for Palin has been falling since she entered the race (at a very high level), but is still above McCain:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul Songs

I like this promo for the new Oasis album Dig Out Your Soul.

A disc is covermounted on this week's NME magazine, with sheet music and song melodies for 4 tracks from the new album (or you can find them online here)

Rather than give away the songs for free the band want to hear the fans do their own versions, and upload them to this YouTube channel. So far the single, The Shock of The Lightning, is the most popular, presumably because the fans know what it's meant to sound like.

For example here is one version:

& here's someone doing 'Bag it Up':

Great competition - let's hope they get lots of entries.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New adidas Site

The site has had a nice little re-design, by colleagues in two Isobar companies, de-construct and Molecular.

The new look has lots of content areas. Globally the look is the same, but local offices determine the content that people in their country see.

As you can see from the pics, the content areas expand when you mouse over. Very nice!

Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Comedy

The Family Guy guy's new online cartoon site is now up and running, sponsored by Burger King.

I like how well it works, and also how the sponsorship idents are done in the same style as the show. Also the fact that it works in the UK, and they let you embed.

UPDATE - but I really hate how the embedding has the sound on as default, so that anyone coming to the main page of this blog gets blasted out by it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Icebreaker Baacode

I love this idea from the New Zealand outdoor clothing brand Icebreaker.

Each of their merino wool products (sweaters, t-shirts etc) now comes with its own 'Baacode' which you can use to look up exactly where the wool came from, right down to the sheep station. Then you can see a video of the station itself, and the farmers. There's a demo here.

Via the ever-reliable Springwise Newsletter.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Next Online - Won't Deliver to an Office Address

File under me having a rant...

Today I tried to buy something from the Next website, and had got through to the ordering process when they told me that they could not accept an office address for delivery.

I get all of my stuff delivered to work rather than having to worry about being at home when the delivery comes. This arrangement works well for me, works well for Amazon, and works well for almost every other company that I buy stuff from. But apparently Next will only deliver to a residential address. I'm assuming that they've been stiffed in the past by people and admittedly you can't do a credit check on someone's work address, but I can't be the only person to decide not to use them as a result.

Finally, when I emailed a complaint to them, I was told that they would respond to my email 'within 14 days'. What century are they living in?

Update: I've now had an email from them, and apparently the first delivery has to be to your home address, but after that you can nominate a branch of Next for the delivery to be made to, and then pick it up from there. Curiouser and curiouser (but still no good).

Monday, September 08, 2008

Keds Studio

A few months ago I wrote about the DM Boot Design competition, in which users could design a boot to be made by Dr Martens, but this, in my opionion is far better.

This new site by Keds allows users to design their own Keds, from 3 different shoe designs (or 2 more for kids), and then buy the finished shoe.

But there's more. Say you realise during the process that you're not actually very good at this, you can then buy other users' designs instead. Really nice idea, and the shoes, with all the personalisation and individual manufacture only cost $50 - $60 each.

It's all powered by Zazzle - who seem to specialise in allowing people to make one off designs, and even have a special licenced Disney collection. Very, very cool.

Photosynth by Microsoft Live Labs

Photosynth is a great new application from Microsoft Live Labs, and open for people to explore here.

You need to install it to see it, but it's well worth the effort. Photosynth combines static photos, using the parts that overlap to allow users to create a long landscape or a 3d view.

2 of my favourites:

The Grand Canal by Vaporetto

The Boxer

Monday, September 01, 2008

Google Android Winners

Last week Google announded the winners of its Android mobile application developers challenge.

Android is the open source mobile operating system that Google hopes will offer competition to the iPhone platform, but across multiple handsets. To get developers excited about it, they offered prizes for the best application ideas, and these winners have now been announced.

A few of the applications make you say 'Huh?", but many more sound very useful, including:

GoCart - scan a barcode on your phone, then find cheapest prices online and in local stores

Cab4Me - find a local cab, anywhere in the world. Order a cab anywhere with a single click

Wertago - find the hottest parties locally, and coordinate nights out with friends

The cliche with mobile is that w're always about 18 months away from take-off. But now with these, and the popularity of the iPhone we could really be getting there.

Complete list of winners here

Thursday, August 28, 2008

You know you're working in an agency when...

You get emails like this -

Dear everyone

Security have just rung – apparently there are approx 70 mini sunflowers in pocket gardens which have been delivered to us. If they are yours can you collect them?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dragon's Den and Paid Search

Dragon's Den is one of my favourite TV programmes. I think it's genuinely intelligent and entertaining, and while you get the occasional weak candidate on, most of the ideas that they feature are pretty strong. I really love it.

Given that it is currently the top performing programme on BBC 2, with 3.74m viewers in the week ending 10th August, why don't the companies featured use paid search?

Two cases in point.

Two weeks ago the site were on. They are a video recipe channel, but their drawback, and this is why they didn't get investment, was that their company name is one letter different to the longer established Yes, iFoods come up top on organic (free) search results, but why aren't they buying terms like 'video recipes'? Or iFood? No one else is buying these terms, so they would be very cheap.

In the last episode a guy was on with his invention Magic Pizza. Magic Pizza is a device you put under the middle of a pizza when you cook it, so that the middle sits higher in the oven to ensure that it's cooked right through. He got the investment - but the day after the programme was on you had to search in vain to find out any more about. All you got were links to people discussing his product on forums. So why not spend a few quid on the term 'Magic Pizza'? & why don't companies featured buy the term 'Dragon's Den'?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Adam and Joe's Song Wars - The Winner and the Runners Up

Not surprisingly the Lego one won, but check out the runners up - 5 of them are here

I can't think of any brands that have had such a high level of quality in a user generated content contest, and if anyone's looking for someone to make them a viral then this would be a good place to start looking.

As I said before, the level of quality is such a testiment to how well Adam and Joe inpired their fans.

PS - Stephen!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Handyman Know How

This is a great example of a well produced site.

Steve, who runs Handyman Know How, has collated all of the tips he knows and put them down on to one site in neatly sorted areas. Starting with the essential tools you will need, he then covers plumbing, electrics, decorating, and even fixing locks and other security devices.

So many of the sites I see have effectively borrowed ('aggegated') content from other sites, but it's great to see that this is all Steve's own work. It's the perfect place to start if you need to fix somethig nup around the house. (Must get that tap in the bathroom sorted...)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Website for Number 10

The British government have just re-launched the Number 10 website - see it here

(& in the spirit of web 2.0 I hope they don't mind me borrowing their picture)

For governmental websites its pretty cutting edge - lots of free resources have been added, collating the relatively long standing presences in YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter into one place.

It even has a 'BETA' sign up in the top right hand side. We like!

Via David Cushman's blog

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Adam and Joe's Songwars

The power of fans!

Adam and Joe, two British comedians, do a slot on their digital radio show called Songwars. Each of them writes a song to an agreed theme each week, and the listeners then vote on the best.

To promote a Songwars compilation appearing on iTunes, they announced this competition to listeners - make a video of Meatballs (Joe) or Jane's Brain (Adam), and put it up on YouTube.

It's a testiment to their popularlity that so many have been made (the prize is pretty meaningless - that's part of the joke) - and you can see many of them here.

(One of the perils of these sorts of competitions is that often very few people enter. I can think of one example - film yourself doing a silly dance and put it on YouTube - where there were less than 5 entries.)

I think my favourites are:


Jane's Brain

Oh - and this second Jane's Brain one, with lots of Adam & Joe in-jokes

PS - Stephen!

Monday, August 04, 2008

In with a bullet at no. 73

I've just seen the new rankings in the list of UK marketing blogs compiled from the AdAge 150, and, thanks to submitting this blog a few weeks ago, I'm at number 661 globally, equating to number 73 in the UK.

Thanks to SpinningAround for compiling the data!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Samsung - Follow Your Instinct

Here's a great example of a brand using YouTube Annotations.

Follow this very laddish story from Samsung here. Remember - the annotations don't work in embedded versions.

If you want to cheat go here.

Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good

I've just finished reading Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good, about the rise of social media companies in the US.

The book, written by Sarah Lacy, will be coming out in the UK officially on 15 September, re-titled for us as The Stories of Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, but why wait? You can buy the original in the UK already.

In fact the UK title is misleading, as Lacy focuses most on Max Levchin (PayPal and Slide), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Kevin Rose (Digg), presumably because the YouTube and MySpace guys were less able to talk openly.

No matter. The stories are excellent, the book flows, and you come out of it understanding what is different about these companies when compared to the original dotcoms of the late 1990s. For example you discover how much cheaper it is to start a company (Digg ran for the first few months on just $10,000, including creation of the site, and hosting), why Facebook is gaining traction over MySpace (it is constantly developing and adding new features; MySpace isn't), why many of these companies aren't that bothered about having an IPO (they would lose too much control, and frankly the owners aren't that interested in money), and also how incestuous the whole Web2.0 sector is (so many things link back to PayPal and Netscape).

I'm not sure that I agree with all the conclusions, and I still can't get as enthusiastic about as Max Levchin, the creator, but this is a very good book to read if you want to understand what is happening in digital media at the moment.

In fact I'd go further - it's one of the 4 books you need to read to understand the current digital media landscape. The 3 others are:

1 - Accidental Empires, by Robert X Cringely. Published in 1996, this explains the rise of personal computing, Microsoft and Apple.

2 - The New New Thing, by Michael Lewis. Published in 2000, this explains the rise of the internet and the browser wars, and introduces us to Jim Clark, and Marc Andreessen who also features prominently in Sarah Lacy's book. Oh - and Jim Clark is Chad Hurley of YouTube's father in law.

3 - The Search, by John Battelle. Published in 2006, this is all about Google and the database of intentions.

Read them!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dark Knight, Indiana Jones & Iron Man on Facebook Lexicon

I know that this doesn't prove anything, but I love this chart:

It shows the level of wall posts on Facebook containing references to the 3 movies with the biggest opening weekends in the US.

So we have Dark Knight getting the highest peak of buzz, then Indiana Jones, and marginally below that we have Iron Man.

& the figures for the US opening weekend revenues from BoxOfficeMojo show:

Dark Knight - $158m
Indiana Jones - $100m
Iron Man - $98m (marginally below Indiana Jones)

OK, not scientific proof, but a lovely little chart for a Friday afternoon.

Magnum Worship

I've belatedly realised why we're seeing so many 'flavour' ideas for drinks and FMCG brands online - it's that they've really only just started to use online in a big way, and flavours are a convenient hook to rally people around.

Anyway, today's comes from Australia, and is for Magnum.

In Magnum Worship you have to select a flavour to worship, choose your dance and so on. Very well done, with all the social network integration that you'd expect.

But there's more - hidden away (a bit) on the site is an 18+ section that shows you how to make cocktails with Magnums. Whoa!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nonesuch Records

I like this new site for the American record label Nonesuch

Nice to look at, but also very logically structured it lets you easily see their artists, buy music, and even see when people are on tour.

Nicely done, and you can read more about it here, on the site of the design agency, Sisu.

This soundtrack for The Wire keeps calling out for me, but I'm resisting for the time being...

BBC Desktop Monkey for The Olympics

In a similar vein to the last post, here is a desktop reader that the BBC have produced to keep people up to date with what's happening in The Olympics.

The BBC commissioned Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn from Gorillaz to produce some on screen idents for the games, based on the opera they had written called Monkey - Journey to the West.

These are now available to see online, plus to download for mobile, and as the widget.

We like!
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