Ed Balls

If you were advising Ed Balls on how to handle the gloriously silly, utterly pointless and very British Ed Balls meme, what would you tell him?

If he were to tweet “Ed Balls” today, entirely deadpan, people would love him.

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The power of understatement

I’ve read articles about the classic FedEx logo before, but this interview with the design team about the power of negative whitespace is worth a look.

The key to success was subtlety. When you’ve got a genuine bit of magic in your hands, don’t push it at people. Let it happen.

FedEx’s PR firm immediately wanted to supersize it. They wanted to make it obvious, fill it in with another color. They wanted to feature the arrow in other brand communications. They didn’t get it. It wasn’t about the arrow. An arrow isn’t even interesting to look at. It’s only because of the subtlety that it’s intriguing.

Google put on the best tech demo ever

Rather than mimicking Apple’s “gorgeous” style of demoing products (as Facebook and Microsoft do), Google yesterday played to their geek strengths and raised the bar sky high.

Google Glass could be thought of as as a.n.other of their barking tech adventures, but by bringing to life the magic of sharing what you’re seeing in this incredible, audacious way, they’ve opened a new frontier.

How long before Sportsmen and women are wearing descendents of Google Glass whilst playing their games? I can see Sky Sports gagging for this.

Noted

Nice touch: personalised notebooks at today’s Think Google event.

No big “come and get yours” sign, but subtle self discovery. I was the first person to arrive and it took me a few seconds to twig why so many names were on the bookshelf.

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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

Brand death by a thousand cuts

Brands don’t usually die because of some apocalyptic event/mistake (though it can happen), rather they suffer death by a thousand cuts, each of which seem innocuos enough, even sensible. But they chip away at the magic and by the time sales have suffered enough for someone to notice, the negative brand equity momentum has long become unstoppable.

This post by Seth Godin today summarises this point terrifically, where he explains the magical, intangible elements  that make for great marketing, and how easy it is to kill them. Referring to a great little restaurant, he says:

…it’s the hand-fitted gestalt of thousands of little decisions made by caring management out to make a difference. Usually, when a business like this gets bigger or turns into a chain, marketers make what feel like smart compromises. The MBAs collide with the mystical, and the place gets boring. “Why do we need 14 free salsas when we can get away with six?”

Amazon amazing

When I got two copies of this CD through the post, I groaned. Not because I had been a doofus in ordering twice, but because returning items is usually so painful.

So it was with delight that I got this message from Amazon when starting the Returns process. That’s customer service good enough for me to tell everyone in ear-shot in the office.

Turning a classic London bus into a mobile studio

One of the more unusual projects I’ve had to manage was the transformation of a classic (but battered) Routemaster bus into a fully-functioning mobile studio for outside broadcasts.

In late 2005 as those much loved icons of London had been decommissioned en masse, I’d dreamily floated the idea of turning one into a roaming studio. And yet, I was in unchartered waters when my boss said, “well, sort one out then”.

So it was on a rain-splattered day in December 2005 that I found myself handing over £8,000 and collecting RML 2573 from some Godforsaken windswept depot in South London. Showbiz indeed.

Here you can see the transformation in a series of rather shoddy shots, culminating in an appearance of the breakfast show team at Gray’s School in June 2006

Bonus detail for bus fans – the renovation was by Southeast Coachworks