Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The falls of Ripponden

When I moved back up to Yorkshire, all my friends in the South laughed about the weather. Ove the last few weeks we've had lots of it.

Went for a little walk the other day and was greeted by lots of water trying to escape...

Defintiely no drought here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The unsynthesised manifold.

A bit ago I wrote about how do we see lots (can't fiigure out how to shortcut you to it, but click on November if you fancy). Germaine Greer cites Emmanuel Kant. as the originator, and talks far more intelligently than I ever could.

The unsynthesised manifold is now a phrase I will try and get into every conversation or interview I have on marketing and media.

Her article also got me thinking about galleries and the hanging of art. Surely, as marketing people we're trying to achieve the same thing, but we talk about "cutting through", and "getting under the radar". Modern media allows us to rethink these old statements. We can create times and places where customers are more receptive, or have less competition for their attention. Its less about cutting through and more about relevance, less about jumping up and down all the time, and more about enticing, engaging in dialogue and dragging yourself out of the unsynthesised manifold. (see, I did it).

Tesco's genetic code

Richard Dawkins has written of a day when you'll be able to read a persons genetic code, and retrospectively work out the environment they lived in, what they looked like etc. You'll read their story from their genes.

When I was walking round Tesco's it struck me that there's probably a parallel in market research. Lots gets done into what people think of brands, why they choose what they choose, how they interact.

Take my shopping trolley. Look at the choices there:

Organic veg
Bread making flour
Tescos hand wash
Head and shoulders
British apples
Spanish oranges

Some own brand stuff, some branded goods. A strange mixture of choices, brand interactions and historical purchasing decisions.

You could probably infer masses about my psychological state and what's important to me. You could probably figure out what I watched on TV, and which brands I thought were good and which bad, where I'd choose to bank and what car I'd drive, how much I earned and where I lived. You'd definitely know what I considered to be good value, and how value built up in my mind.

The average set of weekly transactions from my computer would probably tell you more about me than 2 hours with an expensive psychiatrist. Roll in my shopping list and you'd know more about me than my wife.

If a few brands in the UK pooled their research resources, we bunged it all into a computer (how hard can it be, a few ones and zeros) we'll all be rich beyond our wildest dreams. Who's with me?

And before you ask, I don't know why the picture is on its side. I've tried everything and now I've had enough.

Saturday, December 2, 2006


A little run in the hils today. Given it wasn't raining for the first time in weeks, I took some pictures whenever I was tired...

Top one is the water running over the dam - no water shortage in Yorkshire.

Sorry about the colour on the second, I'm blaming cameraphones

A day to raise a smile on anyone.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The sunset

Planning work at home this afternoon.

Its been a crap week for a number of reasons, but, when making a cup of tea, this cheered me up.

How do you choose when its all brilliant

Whoever said, "don't judge a book by its cover" evidently hadn't spent any time in libraries with Hannah.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Aren't pens great

Working on a new project. Which is nice.
Anyway, too much was swishing around my small brain to just start typing, which is what I normally do. So I took the revolutionary step of taking a piece of paper and a pen and splurging.

How liberating.

Anyway, next step is to look at it tomorrow and see if anything still makes sense.

Check out Comrade Mao, can't say as I really understand what he's on about, but it seems apt for the post.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bah Humbug

Went shopping to get my daughter a bike at the end of today.

Sometimes when you go Christmas shopping you are metaphorically warmed by the glow of roast chestnuts and mulled wine. Today was not one of those occasions.

I felt mugged.

All retailers should be forced to visit Selfridges and Manchester's Christmas market. Shopping should be fun, make you smile and give you a glow.

Go to the lovely Howies. Who are so Christmassy they gave my wife her early buyer discount on my presents even though she forgot to put the code in. Its easy really.

Monday, November 27, 2006

This afternoon I watched surfing on the telly whilst feeding my son.
Who said freelance marketing is mad busy or mad boring. I've had a brilliant time.
People actually get paid to travel the world, hang out in their shorts, chat with girls in bikinis, surf a bit, then drink beer and do it again.
The bbc got me thinking.
(Don't worry this isn't a "in 10 years we'll all watch TV in the back of teaspoons, being served tea by nanobot teapots" post)

Those clever professional surfers realised the world was changing. 10 years ago they went to venues which attracted lots of people, they may not have had good surf, but the punters showed up. Now, niche audiences are accessible through the internet and multichannel TV. And when you look at the niche on a global perspective, its a big niche. So they've a saleable media property, can own some of their distribution, and get to travel to less crowded places, with better surf and better filled bikinis.

Red Bull have gone even madder. And now we're straying into brands owning content, Nike's take is a bit more mass in its approach, but still part of the same thing.

Either way, they've hit on stuff which has massive appeal to a small group of people, however its inspiring/sexy/cool enough for lots of people to want to watch.

The great thing for brands is that they don't have to make money from the happening. If they did the accountancy would make it a nightmare. The bad thing is, that, by trying to do cool stuff with a brand that might not be cool, you run the risk of being fleeced by a bloke with dreadlocks, who ships his mates off to Fiji for a jolly. You get nothing from it.

So the challenge - lets come up with content ownership ideas for uncool things. I'm decorating at the moment, so paint sounds like a good place to start. (If the ideas good, we'll go 50/50, and I'm happy to debate whether emulsion can be called cool.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

you're old you're old you're old you're old

Thanks to Reef for the title.

I was watching The Police at Hatfield College in '79 last night. Firstly, it was Friday night, and I was at home watching a gig on telly. A multitude of wrongness in one statement.
Then I watched the crowd getting into Sting (who was wearing a zip accessorised pair of overalls - the end of the '70s), and I realised that they're all in their 50s now. Those wild youths are now bankers, binmen, bored housewives and bad marketing executives ( or brilliant, who am I to comment, just needed another b).
Anyway it made me realise that whilst I still buy music, and listen to it all the time there's something missing.
Once I would have gone without food to hear Prince breaking wind, or stopped at home for hours listening to the Stone Roses. Now, I buy the Arctic Monkeys and think "Yeah that's good". Which piece of the jigsaw went missing in 16 years?

I guess now I'm receiving culture, I'm not helping to build it. You rely on the web, the Times Saturday Supplement or Q Magazine rather than your mates who went to the gig last week. You're no longer on the inside (I probably never was, but its nice to dream).

People like me (and perhaps you) still like to kid ourselves we're up to date with what's going on. But lets be honest, we're looking at a street where we no longer live.

It'd be a shame to miss out though, wouldn't it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

the fiveness of five

We were watching my daughter play with some buttons yesterday. She sat there, happily counting.
As she got to 3, things started to sound a bit fuzzy, she could rationalise the word 3 with a number of buttons, 4 was a bit complicated, the word and the buttons were right, but it seemed less certain. 5 was still happening, but all certainty was gone.

"Ah" said my Dad, the former teacher "she can't get the fiveness of five".

When you're a kid, everythings fascinating, and you're piecing together a picture of the world. The big things come in small numbers - 1 me, 2 parents, 3 satsumas - all very important. After that there's just "loads". 5 is loads, and therefore whilst it exists, its not part of your world view.

You could carry on this post in a number of different directions, but I like the idea that kids are happy with simplicity.

Probably true for adults as well.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

How do you see lots?

A take on an old subject...

I've been reading a book by Richard Dawkins - Unweaving the Rainbow. Some really interesting stuff about how we see, which I will now paraphrase badly.

Apparently, your brain cannot physically cope with all of the image that's in front of your eye. There's just too much going on, so in effect it creates a virtual reality model of the world around you. The bits that actually get uploaded to the brain are things that you're interested in, or that are moving, or that represent a threat.

So, as you're walking down the street your brain creates a picture of the street from initial signals from the eye, then leaves that alone and overlays it with new interesting stuff. You'll get lots of signals and updates about the car that's about to run you over, or, the fact that there's a coffee shop on the corner and you're thirsty. The rest of the model is just left alone, it gets moved around as you move, but your eye doesn't actually send signals about the dull bits. You "see" what you want or need to"see", the rest is a brain generated 3d picture.


I've sat in countless meetings where we've talked about getting under the radar with advertising. Put this in context with the thoughts above, and you realise how ridiculous the statement is. 99.9% of whats surrounding us is treated a background stuff - we aren't even acknowledging it. The only way brands get noticed is to say interesting things in interesting ways when customers are ready to be interested.

Frankly that's enough work, here's a photo of Kate going fast on her bike. What's she actually seeing? I'd say lots, which is probably why she's happy afterwards.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A great website...

... is on one.

I linked to this page on purpose.
How many companies who make a product would then invite customers to have an environmental debate on their manufacturing choices.
How many companies would use their shop as a place for customers to post their thoughts and pictures.
How many companies wouldn't get all stressed when customers talk about "the competition" on the forums they host.

Its the future.

I could go on about building brands online, understanding your customers, interactive marketing. But I won't because it'd be dull.

Buy On-one products now. (Hows that for promotion)
If you like road stuff, same people same quality gear.

Why here, why now?

Since I left my last job (Hi everyone at 3), its hard to stay in touch. I'm one for random conversations, and now I'm working as a freelance marketing monkey, I've not got enough people to talk about stuff with.

Plus, I've been talking with a bunch of people about the web and whilst at a meeting with Alistair and Jonathan today was shamed into starting typing...