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Showing posts from 2010

Why Design Matters

Semi Permanent is an event on the creative community's calendar that is not to be missed. This year I am going to give a general admission ticked to a student.

If you are studying design or a design related topic you can enter to win the ticket, which is worth $290.

How to enter
To enter, send me an essay on the topic of 'Why Design Matters'. Just a short essay - no more than 500 words. If you are more comfortable with images and visual communications then make an ad or a poster, as a PDF (up to A3 in size), if physical objects are your thing, make a visual of your concept that makes the point. I will publish entries online.

As far as rights go, entrants will retain all copyrights but by entering grant license to me to use or publish the work in any way to promote the promotion.

The Finalists will be those voted for in comments and then I will pick the winner from the finalists.

Visit the Semi Permanent Website

If you know a student who would appreciate the event…pass this o…

Why Banner Advertising should go down the gurgler

There is a monumental swirling mass of waterborne toxic plastic and debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It offers me a visual metaphor for the Internet, though of course the Internet is bigger.  We’ve developed an infinite ability to create crap and find a place to leave it so that we can conveniently ignore it, or selectively see what we want from amidst the mess.
Take advertising. It’s been elevated to an art form in many media; advertising is sometimes enjoyed more than the content it pays for. But online promotional activity is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch of the advertising business. Banners, buttons and ‘skyscrapers’ pollute content sites with their insistent flickering.

One of the problems with this form of advertising is that clicking a banner or button links you to another place on the web, and not always to a useful or nice place. So I stick with the content I sought out and ignore the siren calls of neurotic touts. Like many consumers I have developed banner b…

Don't you take me to 'Funky Town'

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Nestle in Australia have launched a promotion called Take Time Back with the Kit Kat Desk Jockey - who is working like a machine so you don't have to.

The concept is based on the idea of having a virtual assistant (I suppose to save you time - a tenuous connection to the long running position of 'Have a break, have a Kit Kat').

Visitors to the site request the assistant to perform tasks on their behalf. It's obviously not serious. The tasks include celebrating something Mexican style to which the assistant attacks a Pinata (in Kit Kat colours) with a rubber chicken - while wearing a sombrero - in Kit Kat colours.

The 'show' is live cast for four hours a day, with a highlight reel and interstitial promotion run the rest of the day. Viewer requests are shown in a stream below the video window. The requests are a little haphazard such as 'Could you get me a Wii' or 'Could I have a family pass to Taronga Zoo'. There is also a twitter feed and Facebo…

Design = Inventertainment

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I get a kick out of good design.

Not only from an intellectual point of view, but also on an emotional level.

I know I am not the first and certainly not the last person to fall in love with Apple products, for example. It's hard not to respond to something so well thought out that it just functions beautifully and is enrobed in a package that makes you feel pleasure. (I'm typing this on the keyboard of my MacBookPro, the one with the silky metallic keys. It's getting dark and the characters have lit up. It's a thoughtful, intuitive response to a problem. Even though my machine is a couple of years old and has been superseded I still enjoy my old work horse.


There are plenty of perfectly utilitarian products that execute a task exactly as they are intended to - a $2 tin opener does the job just fine. An OXO opener costs considerably more, but the pleasure you get from using it is correspondingly greater - even if you don't suffer from arthritis.

The same goes for …

The end of ad as spectacle

The meaning of the term 'media' has changed dramatically. Where it once meant the physical vehicle, the medium, by which information was conveyed - it now represents mediation between people and the world. How we view and understand the world is mediated by the media.

It might seem like a convoluted semantic argument but, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me and suggests some strategies for the future.

One of the fundamental planks of media has always been that of access. I can't know what is happening in the halls of power, because I am but a plebeian schlub. But Woodward and Bernstein do have access and they become my avatars under the great domes of democracy.

Now that media has become social and we plebs now have direct access to audiences, unmediated, disintermediated, wholus bolus and it means a tectonic shift in power has taken place. We the peeps…

Or has it?

Here's the thing. I may be a blogger…here, on Posterous, on Twitter, Idealog…but tha…

Where there's muck, there's brass

One of the most difficult tasks in marketing communications is developing promotional messages for your own company. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that we lack objectivity - the very objectivity that makes us valuable to our clients.

One of the temptations is to describe our business as something more complex or grandiose than it actually is. In conversations with the principals terms like 'paradigm shifting' seem to erupt with a curious regularity. Other buzzwords include 'engagement' slide in with the greasy ease of jargon du jour.

I'm inclined to think in terms of outcomes. Rather than waffle on about ourselves, doesn't it make sense to think in terms of what our customers want? Things that have real value - even if they are real simple?

The process of identifying the correct messages - how we meet underserved needs -has the secondary effect of forcing us to think about the kinds of product innovations are worth developing for our clients and prospects…

Old School Rules

A group of my colleagues attended the Clemenger Group's digital training academy last week. They returned to the agency abuzz with a 'noobs' appreciation of 'digital'. They've had their epiphany, their road to Damascus moment.
Finally.
No-one preaches like the converted.

Most of the work our firm has done over the years has been concentrated on developing properties that make highly efficient use of television. Most of the products we promote (last year 150 campaigns for some of the 90 of the world's biggest brands) respond well to promotion in our media properties (such as Family Health Diary, Eating Well and Discover. If you live in New Zealand and have never seen at least one of these I'll wager you don't watch very much television).
A 20% lift in sales is a modest result for our clients in most cases.

The market is beginning to shift though, and online video in particular is becoming an important tool that will be used by marketers to reach more nich…

Flying by the seat of your pants.

Air New Zealand has just launched new seating concepts, to be introduced on long-haul flights in November of this year.

The significance of the press event seemed to me to be less about the actual design of the seats—handsome and innovative as they are (and I think they will certainly impress the travelling public)—and more of a reinforcement of the significance of Air New Zealand itself to the New Zealand economy and our national identity.

Seats symbolise the airline business more so than wings or smiling cabin crew. Seats are the carrier’s inventory. An empty chair on an aircraft can’t be stored, repriced and sold at a later date. The complex inter-relationships of, not only seats sold, but also at what price margin is as significant as the variable cost of fuel and the cost of the funds (paid in US dollars). There are other factors, but these will determine how much profit or loss the business makes.

There are also functional requirements for convenient timetables, attractive desti…