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John Walters

Just read an enjoyable article about John Peel’s producer and general wit John Walters. He spent many years bringing interesting, new arts to the masses, best summed up in his wonderful stated aim,

To give the public what they didn’t know they wanted

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Noel Gallagher on brand engagement (kinda)

Interesting observation from the ever-readable Noel Gallagher in this month’s Word magazine.

He postulates his theory that Oasis benefitted from a time when it took tangible effort from fans to get the band experience. There was no transient, half-hearted clicking of links – people had to really invest their time and effort. That engendered loyalty and camaraderie.

Just like bands, the over-supply of distractions and ease of switching attention means it’s harder than ever for brands to get famous and stay relevant. Being distinct and trying hard to give genuine value are the best ways to go Supersonic.


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Thank you Steve

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The crisis in crisis management

Like everyone else, I’ve been beguiled by the unfolding hacking drama at News International.

It’s been well discussed that it took the confluence of tenacious, brilliant reporting from the Guardian with the amplifying power of social media to really land the killer blows.

One thing that’s really struck me, though, is the impact of social media on crisis management PR.

NI took the understandable step (eventually) of publishing an apology last weekend in all the nationals, followed by “and now let’s put it right” the day after. These are classic steps in the crisis management playbook.

However, are they relevant any more? Within moments of the apology being published, it’d been dissected, remixed, lampooned and re-broadcast by the Twittersphere – undermining its power markedly.

Traditional crisis management has relied on a scarcity of the ability to broadcast. I.e. get your message on tv/in the papers and that’ll drown out dissenters.

Not any more.

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Ten principles of good design

This list of Dieter Rams design principles is eternal. I expect that the work of Apple’s Jonathan Ive would stand up well to this test. Picture the iMac/iPod/iPhone as you read down it.

I’m reminded of that wonderful aphorism about design being complete not when there’s nothing left to add, but when there’s nothing left to take away.

Vitsœ’s designer, Dieter Rams. Photograph by Abisag Tüllmann

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Facebook just became the Mayor of Location

…but they need to avoid news feed pollution. It was already pretty grating seeing too many Foursquare check-ins. Now that’s going to step up another order of magnitude.

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Amazing Johnny Walker advert

This extraordinary ad/short film from Diageo makes for compelling viewing. Aside from the green screen magic (presumably?) and great choice of actor in Robert Carlyle, it is notable for two other reasons:

  • Use of story
    Appreciation of stories is hard-wired into our beings, and this is a good yarn with arcs, conflict, ambition and resolution. We’re being fed a brand story, but in such an engaging way that we accept it.
  • Breaking media format
    They’ve made an ad that is six and a half minutes long. Up until recently, such a length would have been laughably prohibitive, and indeed the days of 60 or even 90 second spectaculars seemed to be on the wane. But of course nowadays, good content spreads on digital channels where media cost is free and not constrained by programming breaks or convention.

thanks to the excellent Word magazine for the spot

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Connected thinking

It’s smart of Pret to offer free wi-fi, but it’s smarter still to puncture the dryness of the message with witty, on-brand support copy

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How to make a virtue out of a potential negative

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On your bike

This video of Danny MacAskill doing bike stunts in Edinburgh is utterly jaw-dropping. Had it been a cinema ad for a sports brand, or an energy drink, it would have been a worldwide smash.

But of course, it is anyway. And we all made it so. It’s freshness and audacity screams out to be shared.

Big brands have lost the advantage they once had on finding, sanitising and packaging youth culture for us. A big budget and well-researched ad concept is no match for authenticity and peer recommendation.