Friday, 22 August 2008

Earn as you go

Orange has come up with a really nice social enterprise idea - do a spot of volunteer work and you get free tickets to exclusive gigs. The initiative is being run by Orange RockCorps, an off-shoot the brand describes as a "pro-social music production company". The idea behind RockCorps is to encourage consumers to give back to their community - 4 hours volunteer work in return for sought-after entertainment, such as Busta Rhymes at the Albert Hall next month.

What's most interesting I think, is this idea of having to earn something, rather than pay for it. This seems so relevant to the music industry and being a fan - why can't your loyalty and passion for an artist or band be valued as much as your cold hard cash or at least warrant special privileges? (I know this happens to some degree but surely not enough). 

It's new business models and ways of engaging consumers like this that will help the music industry sort itself out. The initiative has been running successfully in the US and apparently 35% of those who volunteer develop a habit for it. 

Image courtesy of Google images

Brand Play

Collyn and I were talking about the idea of 'brand play'. Just as we have 'brand essence' and 'brand personality', it seems there is an emerging integral role for brand play where brands create experiences for consumers that are designed to create pure delight, surprise and playful interaction. This taps into a concept I've been talking about known as 'the delighter', a term used in the hotel industry to describe the serendipitous moments engineered for guests.

The importance of play to our creativity and wellbeing is starting to be better understood and as a result, the role of play is being elevated culturally.  I think we're due for a Childhood Renaissance, but that's another story.

At first, brand play may seem out of context or a novelty, but before long it could become as standardised as CSR (how wonderful would it be to receive brand play briefs). Digital brands will be very good at it but I also think it's a key role for the corporates - I can imagine McDonald's creating 'pop-up' bouncy castles with Carston Holler or something. 

Artists, happiness economists and interaction designers will be integral to brand play. I love this example spotted on Priyanka's blog of a project by artist Bruno Taylor, who has taken to hijacking public spaces and injecting a dollop of much-needed fun, such as a swing in a bus stop. 

Images courtesy of Google images; Pixelsumo

Monday, 18 August 2008

A pair of strategists

It seems lots of us are thinking about planner pairs. Have a read of this on Priyanka's blog

Friday, 15 August 2008

Society is becoming autistic

My Mum said this to me the other day, 'Society is becoming autistic'. (We love psycho-babble in my family). She's really into something called 'Human Givens' (a form of psychotherapy) and read in a journal recently that extreme environmental conditions (i.e. Eastern European orphanages/British care homes) can trigger Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism (remember Rain Man? Incidentally, Dustin Hoffman is my Mum's favourite actor).

My Mum - or Debbie as she is more widely known - and a number of Human Givens practitioners seem to think that we are becoming more susceptible to conditions such as autism because as a society we are losing emotional intelligence. 

They partly attribute this to our co-dependence on technology which is lessening face-to-face interactions. MIT social scientist and psychologist Sherry Turkle agrees that this - what she calls 'tech-tethering' is having a detrimental effect on our interpersonal relationships, independence and soft skills.


Thursday, 14 August 2008

City Boys

There was something in one of those free papers that litter the tube and stop me reading proper books the other day about how city boys have found a way round fumbling for their Oyster cards and instead, are hacking into them and inserting the chips into their watches for effortless swiping.

Instead of seizing this as a new merchandise opportunity or something, Transport for London are branding it "vandalism". This just highlights how some companies still think they can and should dictate to consumers how they should use their products, rather than observing how consumers are using their products and adapting to this (or better still, making them flexible and intuitive in the first place). 

I think the city boys have a point, and although they're responsible for the spread of All Bar One and contrasting shirts with white collars and cuffs, this could actually prove to be a useful, lucrative mass market product innovation.

Personally, I don't wear a watch (an Hermes Cape Cod would be nice and a future classic I think) but why not offer to implant handbags, mobile phones, even at some point I imagine, consumer's wrists?

People crushes & The Nose

Recently, I've been having what I call 'People crushes' upon meeting new people and instantly hitting it off/becoming in awe of them. I definitely had this with Ivan Pollard. And with Collyn, my new collaborator. And just tonight, perfume expert Catherine Mitchell. 

Catherine was hosting a talk called 'The Nose' as part of the Barbican's wonderful Viktor & Rolf season. She offered interesting analysis of what makes a hit scent. She gave CK One as an example - a unisex, neutral scent for a generation plagued by AIDS in which advertising clearly made a vital contribution.

In Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre, there's an excerpt where author Dana Thomas interviews the great nose (what a lovely job title) Jacques Polges and he bemoans the fact clients are always asking him to create a 'classic' perfume. He says classics can't be designed, it's about the magic that happens when you create something consumers didn't know they desired.

This is bringing back the olfactory backdrop of my youth. The Body Shop's White Musk anyone? Or Ananya? Bloody Dewberry and Fuzzy Peach? Buying soaps and "smellies". Classic, British 14-year-old girl smells, add a splash of Frizz-Ease and unwashed P.E. kit and I could almost be back at Waingel's Copse. 

I almost forgot Impulse. I adored the old Impulse ads. Deodorant was aspirational. Impulse made me think of being a grown-up, sassy 19-year-old. There is something about idealising particular ages when you're a teenage girl, particularly the odd numbers - 15, 17, and 19.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Planner pairs

Why don't planners work in pairs? Like copywriters and art directors and many other creative partnerships - from Viktor & Rolf to Ant N Dec. I've been thinking about this the last couple of weeks since I met my new work partner, Collyn. She's a visual planner - she does pictures, I do words, to put it simply. We're good enough on our own, but together we feel rather formidable.

Mark Hadfield, the Geordie planning genius, has been thinking about this too and may be writing an article on the subject. 

I met Andy Lear, head of planning at Publicis today, and asked his opinion. He said he has worked for agencies where comms planners work in pairs with account planners. He thinks it's a great strategy, the only problem is it's expensive, who pays?

My Big Fat Greek Nose

I was at my flatmate's house in the country last weekend and we got talking about noses and what's the ideal shape. Amy, who works as a PR for Topshop and is the most stylish person I know, piped up with, 'The new nose is straight and Grecian'. It was hilariously impressive knowledge.

Nose jobs are a bit 80s but transforming your body based on fashion trends is a completely feasible concept. Remember the J-Lo butt implant phase?

(If you don't know Amy, you've probably actually seen her in G2 modelling Ray-Bans or on talking about how to wear peg-shaped trousers or something.)