Snowclones are the new adverts

There is such a thing as overdoing it. Too much of a good thing. Repetition doesn’t necessary mean that it will be easier to understand. On the contrary, the Ariel Excel Gel tv ad made me work hard to understand what they were trying to say.

Too many instances of ‘x is the new y’ made my brain have to concerntrate and process which is a shame since after all the concerntration, I did actually manage to process that it was actually a really good environmentally friendly idea.

According to good ole wikipedia, these instances of ‘x is the new y’ are called snowclones. I did notice on the last few renditions that voice content had changed & the number of snowclones decreased…phew…am less tired now…


Don’t start your pitch with agency creds

….Think about it…If you were a client & an agency were coming in to pitch for work for you, the key question on your mind,as a client would be  ‘What can this agency do for me?’.

Why oh why then, do so many agencies insist on beginning their pitch with a series of creds – logo’s galore on powerpoint of all the clients they’ve worked with before? Creds isn’t the key question in the client’s minds…they’ve already asked you in haven’t they?

So if you are an agency, tell the potential client what you can do for them. They want to know what you can do for them. Then if need be, back this up with creds. Let the work do the taking & take the lead – these are the passion bringers. Let the creds to their job at the end of convincing…if they need to;)

Shop shop shopping: Fashion & retail

1] – global fashion community where folk can vote and upload images of themselves wearing Uniqlo

2] Google’s Mobile Search Lets You Find Businesses That Are Open Right Now

3] Payvment Brings A Social, Virtual Shopping Mall To Facebook  

4] The Fashion Industry Embraces And Becomes Digital Media

5] Ralph Lauren Launches Highly Interactive iPad App To Promote Sportswear Line

Hope this week yields fruit galore for all! J

Guest Post: G Mappage from Henry Bilson

1] Google Galleries
Teaming up with some of the world’s most famous galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Modern in London, Google has used their street view technology to take you on virtual tours.
The company says it will “enable people to discover and view 1,061 artworks online in extraordinary detail”. Visitors to can zoom in to more than 1,000 works and see details that would be hard to make out in a gallery itself. Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, said that “Viewers will see details and explore the painting in a way that hasn’t been possible before.” He added that it would let “institutions work in partnership to reach out globally to new audiences”.

 2] Red Bull Street Art View
With the buzz of Google Art Project that invites web users to explore galleries virtually online, to take people on a virtual journey along city blocks in a number of cities.
The enterprise, created by agency Loducca (Sao Paulo), is a gallery of graffiti works by both renowned and emerging graffiti artists. Users are encouraged to enrich the collection by submitting new street art pieces on the list (to date, only works on the street of the USA, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and a couple of other areas can be added). The procedure is simple; find the graffiti in the city with the Street View icon, choose the best angle to view it, and then click the submit button.

 3] On Piste
Not content with getting you close to great works of art, Google street view also intends to bring the mountainside to life on your laptop. Zermatt ski resort, Switzerland has recently been chosen as the first European outing for the special panoramic capturing snowmobile.
First tried out in Whistler, Canada the snowmobile will map out the runs in the resort and upload them to street view. Zermatt was chosen amongst 30 other resorts, and received 2,800 votes. Zermatt Tourism thinks the new service will be a useful addition to the existing webcams.“Our visitors who are already familiar with the pistes can enjoy them even when they aren’t holidaying here, and potential visitors can see what they are like,” said Zweifel Matthias Meyer, spokesman for Google Switzerland, enthused about the winning destination in a press release.

Thank you Mr Bilson; hope you’re enjoying your placement time here at good ole’ Republic getting stuck into a bit of Planning, Strategy, IA and Measuring & EvaluationJ


Understanding scrolling behaviour & the fold

Useful for explaining the concept of the fold to clients…
The industry has been too-ing and fro-ing over the end of the screen aka the fold.
There were arguments for keeping all content above the common dominator fold based on the perception that users were lazy and didn’t scroll. However, as the years have gone on, our understanding of user behaviour, user attention, design, and channels has developed.

The general consensus currently is that:
Users do scroll and will scroll should the content above the fold get their attention.

This doesn’t mean that all content needs to be squeezed on above a line on their screen. Rather it means that the first item of content/piece of functionality needs to be attention grabbing and relevant.

This site does a brilliant job of explaining why:

And this site does the job of backing up why attention grabbing above the fold is important:

Don’t skim read and assume form the title that what the study is saying is that all content should be above a fold; rather it is compounding the argument that the content above the fold should be relevant and follow the marketing principles of AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) as users follow the page down.

Other reasons that help understand the function and principle of the fold are as follows:
1] Different people use different screen sizes
2] Users have learnt to scroll
3] The fold is less important because more people are using a common screen size
4] The most important content goes at the top anyway. That’s common sense
5] Scroll bars are fine if you make it clear that there is something there
6] Tool bars take up space so a screen size is not reflective of its actual display area
7] It may be better to have a sensible scrolling page than to have the users click on many pages
8] Horizontal scrolls are also increasingly in use
9] We’re already making assumptions about users and what screen they are viewing on – what about viewing sites on mobiles
10] Visual hierarchy is what matters
11] Html 5 can do amazing things using the concept of scrolling e.g. and brands are embracing this 

Other useful links – circa 1997 which shows how old the argument is – are:
Blasting the myth of the fold
Unfolding the fold
Web conventions we could do away with

A selection of PM tools for Agencies

A couple of months ago, I met with Client Services and Project Management (PM) to discuss the consideration of potential PM tools that would help improve efficiency and efficacy of the agency-client relationship that is borne and concreted upon as we work on our our client projects.

I started by identifying the pain points that client services and project management felt existed throughout the life cycle of a project; these included:

1] Documentation and version control between client-agency too-ing and fro-ing
2] Multiple rounds of feedback and drip-fed feedback
3] Sign off to allow progression from one project stage to the next – internal and external
4] Expectation management as a consequence of visuals/scamps/ideas
5] Reference back to verbal conversations/feedback/requirements – he said, she said syndrome
6] Awareness and sensitivity of client reputation

Due to the nature of agencies and the way in which they work, our needs are different from the needs of larger, somewhat corporate companies who tend to use massive solutions such asMicrosoft Project, Matchware MindView, Project Kickstart, RationalPlan Multi Project and Basecamp.

But based on the pain points identified, I had a trawl and found a collection of PM tools currently on the market that may be suitable for an agency such as ours; these include:

1] PBworks Introduces Agency Edition for Advertising, PR, Marketing, and Design Agencies

“Agencies can use PBworks Agency Edition to:
Create a social environment for internal teams and external clients to collaborate more creatively

Manage complex client projects by coordinating activities and providing greater transparency to clients and management
Connect a geographically distributed team with shared online workspaces, integrated chat, and web-based conference calling
Enable a repeatable creative process by standardizing processes and workflows
Maintain a searchable knowledgebase of past work and best practice
Control access and privacy settings on per page/file/video basis and change them as needed during the course of the project”

2] Workamajig®
“…understands the creative firm. Not that we walk around the office without our shoes on kind of understanding. No. More like understanding that traffic wants seamless web-based project management, account service needs templates for quicker job setups, accounting longs for easy-to-find electronic statements and creatives, well, they just need to do their web-based timesheets and expense reports. And that’s why we developed Workamajig®, the leading web-based project management software for the creative design industry. By the way, did we mention we were 100% Mac Friendly?
What is it?
As web-based job tracking and integrated project management software, Workamajig® streamlines entire ad agencies and creative firms, from new business and sales leads to staffing and creative execution, and all the way through a project’s cycle to accounting and financial reporting. It makes your business make sense.

Who is it for?
Anyone that does anything in a creative ad agency or creative firm, in-house marketing department or group. Or even an aggregate, for those that are fancy or in reach of a thesaurus. Since Workamajig® is customizable for different companies and those companies different employees and tasks, it becomes the perfect project management solution.”

3] Designed for the advertising, interactive and design industries, Streamtime
“…enables complete traffic and production management, signaling an end to job bags and hand-generated invoices and timesheets.
From the accounts team to designers, both at their desk and, using Streamtime’s iPhone application, on the road, Streamtime maximises workflow, taking productivity and creativity to new levels…”

4] Synergist has been developed as a complete job bag system for creative agencies
“Whether you’re a design agency, advertising agency, pr agency or full service agency, Synergist offers the functionality you need in a modern interface that can be accessed by Mac, PC or Web Browser.
Synergist is a proven agency software solution for improving the efficiency with which you handle all day to day activities including enquiries, estimating, timesheets, purchasing, expenses, billing and reporting. In addition the CRM functionality automates the creation and capture of all client communications including email, giving you a single repository for all job / client related information.
Our experience in the design agency / marcoms environment goes back over 15 years giving us extensive knowledge of agency software implementations. Client feedback from over 10,000 creative users ensures Synergist has the proven features you require to manage your jobs efficiently, whilst leaving you time to focus on creativity. “ 

5] Useful PM tools lists

Mobiletastic! Facebook SIM, PS Android, wristwatch gear

1] Gemalto creates SIM card that brings Facebook to feature phones
“Gemalto, a Dutch digital security company, has announced Facebook for SIM at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company’s software development team has effectively shrunk Facebook down so that it fits onto a standard SIM card, enabling anyone with a GSM phone to enjoy the service even if without a data plan. In fact, the company is claiming the Facebook application is compatible with 100 percent of SIM-compliant mobile phones. As a result, it works on prepaid as well as on subscription-based mobile plans.”

2] Further to McLovins Oct 2010 PlayStation android phone rumours, turns out its true as unveiled at the Mobile World Congress
“The Xperia Play is an Android phone where the slide-out keyboard has been replaced by slide-out PlayStation controls for easy gaming. Yesterday, Sony announced the Xperia Play would be available sometime this spring worldwide; in the U.S. it will be carried on Verizon. Some 50 games, many of them classics from the PlayStation One, will be ready at launch, according to Sony Ericcson. You’ll be able to buy them through a virtual PlayStation store, accessed via the Android Marketplace.”

3] The Wristwatch Looks For a New Use
…”newly commissioned freshman don’t use wristwatches. In fact, the wristwatch is so alien to this group of late teens, that even the mere action of pointing to a wrist to ask someone the time is akin to speaking an unfamiliar foreign language. (They use mobile phones and laptops to tell the time.)
Equipped with this knowledge, we could be led to believe that the wristwatch’s time is almost up and that this piece of technology is destined for the same graveyard as vinyl records or the horse-drawn carriage.
Not so fast. A number or companies are hoping to offer a new product that can take over the real estate of the wrist, and although these devices can tell the time, they can also go above and beyond the old stemwinder your grandfather likely owned.”
NY Times 

Have a lovely rest of week and fingers cross that Machine Watson doesn’t whoop Man’s arse in the final round of Jeopardy tonight.