I must be drinking far too much this week, I keep confusing the Cannes mega-stars with our own MRM London superstars.

First up, I thought our head of Quality of Assurance, Marty Cunnington was presenting The Third Screen in the Debussy theatre.


It was in fact R/GA’s chairman Bob Greenberg. Got quality? No doubt about it.

Then after the MSN party, I mistook our CD Dave Birss, for Blake Irving, Microsoft, Exec VP Windows Live Platform.


The bloke that invented Windows Live, with the bloke that uses Windows Live. How cool is that?

On the lash and the look out for more.

Joining the participation debate

Hot off the press -Participation has become a fifth element in the classic marketing formula known as the Four Ps: product, pricing, placement and promotion, according to today’s Cannes Lions Daily. Delegates attending Tuesday’s MRM Worldwide seminar, The Age Of Participation, were given advice by Reuben Hendell and Alastair Duncan on how to harness that fifth element to engage consumers in brands. Continue reading “Joining the participation debate”

You Cannes not be serious!

The Direct Marketing industry has suddenly got very bad. At least that’s what you’d be forgiven for thinking after the Cannes Lions Direct awards.

Direct entries were up 8% (with around 1,680 entries) but Gold Lion awards were down an unbelievable 66%. Only nine Gold Lions were awarded in Direct (compared to 30 last year), which either means the industry has gone downhill fast in 12 months or that the judges were being very mean indeed.

The rumours around Cannes suggest the latter, with judges I spoke to reporting a lot of negativity in the judging process. So I suppose we should be happy to have made it onto the shortlist with our Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community campaign.

Continue reading “You Cannes not be serious!”

Gamers are a funny bunch

Hardcore video gamers are using all this technology we’ve been building since the 70s to make their own science fiction.

Anybody that’s played a recent video game on widesceen, wearing headphones, pumping out 125 frames per second at high definition, will full FX switched on, running on a quad-core with DirectX 10 videocard across a 10mbit pipe kind of knows what I am talking about.

The backdrop is as good as any Kubrick movie. People look like people. Everybody walks, runs and even falls over properly. Things are like, well… proper things. And you can be whoever you want to be. Really, anybody.

Gaming is so much fun that it is dominating the lives of millions of men – and a substantial percentage of women. At the last count there were 30 million dedicated gamers living in the UK, France and Germany alone. 1 in 5 takes gaming very seriously.

Gaming is mainstream-underground. It has a culture that is open to millions but keeps its edge by mashing-up the rave scene with hip-hop, skateboading and big dollop of Computer Club.

…and the first rule of Computer Club is? The party is on the Internet.

The problem is the Internet is like the school playgound.

So you need to get in with the cool gang if gamers are going to take you seriously. But being ‘in’ with the cool gang is not the easiest thing to do. Especially if you’re perceived as the specky kid, the greedy kid or worse your dad.

So perhaps the best approach is try to be the sweet shop owner. You’re cool because you have the nicest sweets. Haarah! Now just add a bit of Willy Wonka magic.

What are you waiting for? Want some of the action?

The Chinese got there first

This could have been written for Participation Marketing.

“Tell me and i’ll forget.
Show me and i’ll remember.
Involve me and i’ll understand.”

Chinese proverb

The Electrolux ‘Time manager’ experience

Patrick Chamberlin recently forwarded a link to an excellent article on user experience, as it relates to product design, by Peter Merholtz on

We in the UE world debate this kind of stuff all of time (and boy does time fly). Our standard mantra of ‘Put the user first’ is basically short-hand for ‘Understand the user’s context, his or her goals and ambitions and then distill this understanding into an experience strategy that can in turn be used as a yardstick for design’. Merholtz quotes Jesse James Garrett as saying that experience strategy is “a star to sail your ship by.”

Reading this article also got me thinking about a press advert I saw recently advertising Electrolux’s ‘Time manager’ washing machine.

Electrolux ‘Time manager’ washing machine advertisment

I was drawn to it by the headline:

We were thinking, you should set the time your machine wash takes, not the machine.

Intrigued I read on:

The new ‘Time Manager’ Washing Machine lets you decide how much time you have by setting the length of the wash cycle to the minute

“Great!” I thought, “consumer electronics comes of age and puts the user back ‘in control'”. But then I started a thinkin’…what problem does this functionality actually address? Continue reading “The Electrolux ‘Time manager’ experience”

The Machine is Us/ing us

The ubiquitous buzzword Web 2.0 means something different to everyone, from lickable logos to semantic markup to web-based startups who sell out for millions before they even launch. This vagueness means it’s inadvisable to even mention “Web two-oh” unless you explicitly define what you mean, as there’s no guarantee that the people you’re talking have the same definitions in mind. This can be especially difficult in discussions across multi-disciplinary teams, particularly those involving geeks like myself with a misplaced sense of ownership who are liable to take grievous offense from the term’s misuse. Happily as there is no consensus as to its meaning every use can be construed as a misuse.

Stepping away from the contentious semantics for a second: here’s a brilliant 5-minute video that outlines the current “two-oh” state of the web and it’s evolution from 1-to-many to many-to-many, from one-way publication to two-way participation. (Sound is very optional.)