Archive for the 'technology' Category

Going down on mobile

It was one of those shadowy thoughts that’s given form by someone else’s words. Is it me or has mobile phone advertising gone off the rails? There’s a rant over at the-ad-pit about the new Orange ad. Watch it on his site.
I get the feeling that they have been getting odder or more pretentious – if I could be bothered I’d perform a search to determine whether this thought is true.
The problem is that the mobile companies don’t really seem sure how to pitch their wares. With handsets in the UK having reached total penetration years ago, we’re all familiar with them. Consumers have little inkling about where mobiles are headed. Unless they watch the Gadget Show, their perception of mobiles is one of gradual improvement. A new bell here. A new whistle there.
The mobile companies – handset manufacturers and network providers – are geared towards the implementation of really, really smart phones that’ll radically change the way we engage with media. PCs will decline and become obsolete as digital memory and comms capacity on mobiles multiply.
I think this is why we’re faced with some really vague advertising for this tech. The old 1-2-3-4 Orange ad heralded a revolution that, in retrospect, seems really mundane. But back then, it was relatively clear how our lives would be made easier.
The next great leap forward is happening in small shuffling steps. Describing the destination is impossible because we can’t predict the consequences of carrying so much power around in our pockets.

Your favourite gadget

ideadJack Finney’s 1950s zombie novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers is undergoing its fourth movie adaptation. Saturday’s Daily Telegraph while discussing the story in its Arts section, includes these choice words:

“The invasion… has crystallised in an image, and a word, that have, well, invaded our culture: “pod”. The alien seed-pods, concealed in our homes, drain the thoughts and memories and physical features from us when we fall asleep, then replace us – our original bodies are disposed of.”

Pic nicked from Flickr.

Nailing creativity

davinciTrying to make sense of a career in advertising outside of the three main disciplines (creative, strategic planning and account management) has been rather like navigating a boat while sailing solo in a storm, but without a chart, a compass or a strong stomach. Or a boat.

Like Vanessa Feltz during her manic writing-on-the-table episode on the first Celebrity Big Brother, advertising is the most paranoid of sectors. Never before have I seen so much navel-gazing and worrying about its relevance. And yet, so long as people continue to shag and buy stuff, the future of advertising is assured (if you want historical proof, then check out the story of the ancient prostitute in George Parker’s book “MadScam“, advertised on his blog). You just need to follow the smart money.
It doesn’t take a genius to see the goldfields are no longer found in old media, which is why any advertising inmate worth their salt needs to pay attention to new media and the opportunities offered by technology. This is why I vaulted over to two consecutive IPA events last week. The first was a 44 Club seminar “The Creative Product of The Future”, and the second was Google’s view of the “Changing face of the internet”.
The 44 Club talk was delivered by Amelia Torode and Steve Vranakis of VCCP, and I have been pondering it all week. The supporting blog provides some examples of very creative thinking from the early 20th century, a time before technology and mass consumerism threatened to turn us into sloths.
Leapfrogging advertising’s easy years – when a tiny number of TV channels reached nearly everyone – we have, in one respect, come full circle, in that advertisers have a greater need to exercise imagination to engage consumers by crossing media borders. Blanket TV advertising is so late 20th-century.
In fact, TV itself is decreasing in relevance if Google’s Dan Cobley is correct. The takeaway fact from his talk to the IPA was that everything ever stored digitally – music, video, the whole lot – everything you have ever watched – will fit on an iPod by 2020. Never mind that 20Gb iPod – in 13 years time you’ll be carrying around zillions of Terabytes in your pocket.
That was probably the only solid prediction to come from Google, which is rather chilling when you consider that the onetime golden child of the internet is now looking more and more like a big corporation gobbling up the real online entrepreneurs.
In fact, the sort of targets that Google is gobbling seem to fit VCCP’s observation about media fragmentation causing a focus on creativity. We do tend to lump all that internetty stuff together as one media, when really each fancy Web 2.0 widget and geegaw, if it works well, is capable of working on its own.
Ok, there are different ways of embedding YouTube into online content, but there are tons of people who browse YouTube raw, as will users of del.icio.us, Flickr and digg.
Today’s plasma and LCD TVs are glorified PC monitors; so merge TV watching, gaming, social networking et al, as well as the fancy things you’ll be sharing with your mobile and iPod…. is that one medium, or many?
Many of the clever young things are building things online and connecting to us in a plethora of ways. These online entrepreneurs give the rest of us a chance to create. I would venture that there are more people exploiting the opportunities to be creative now than a decade ago, although that’ll mean there’s an awful lot of rubbish out there (the equivalent of most of the channels between 110-300 and 700-900 on Sky, except that for each crap channel there must be 10,000 dreadful blogs and photo sets).
This means that the creators of advertising that work must be good, really good, to get the message through. I’ve noticed Experian ads popping into my Facebook newsfeed and I can honestly say that it totally pisses me off, because I didn’t expect it and I am not inclined to check my credit rating. I expect it on old media and even on blogs, but Facebook is almost like a new medium. We don’t like our new media time interrupted, so your advertising had better be more subtle, personalised and relevant. That takes creativity.

Browsing content with a dragon

tedI wish Brand Republic (register for free) would get their bloody website fixed. You never know when the thing’s going to slam a door in your face. A shame, because some of the new content’s pretty good, especially the blogs.
Charlie Hoult’s “Brand Karate” blog posted a link to this fascinating product demo. If, like me, you read a lot of printed documents and despair of the hassle of reading them as pdfs or scans, then you’ll appreciate the swankiness of this technology (based on something called Seadragon – no, I’ve not heard of it either).
Check out the advertiser-friendly zoom.
The site, “TED – Ideas worth spreading” hosting this demo has a truly intriguing collection of videos, and I’m going to spend some Big Brother time checking these out (especially the Richard Dawkins vids – he’s my pet subject at the mo).

Blurb from TED:

“TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds… The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).”


Self-important bit

baby
I’m Victor Houghton, a, er... something or other in one of the UK’s largest advertising agencies. My job title has a comma in it, which is embarrassing. I’m the chief finder-things-outer with a splash of trends who is lucky to work with all the major functions of the agency, even though I am most closely associated with strategic planning. Everything in this blog has most probably been stolen from other, infinitely more talented people, although the opinions are most definitely my own and not those of the agency.

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