Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rackspace's Service Mentality

I came across Rackspace from a Seth Godin blog post about attitudes to customer service. So you visit Rackspace and the first thing you see is a live chat box "Welcome to Rackspace. I'm a live Sales Assistant. How may I help you today?". Whether you use the service or not, you certainly know (assume?) that you're going to be treated damn well by this company.

(p.s. I only got the pop-up window on my first visit to the site).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Uconic Plug


John Woollaston, an ex-colleague of mine, has set up Uconic. He receives photographs from customers and turns them into unique pieces of art. The photo you can see above is the painting I bought for my wife's birthday (here's the original photo). We're lovin' it. Good luck, John.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where Next For Car Advertisers?

It seems the advertising industry is up in arms about proposals to mandate the inclusion of 20% of an ad's space to messages about CO2.

Two comments from me...
1. Get over it adland. Find ways to advertise without buying adverts. I'd be surprised if the evil European Parliament can find ways to enforce the proposals on "word of mouth".

2. Help to change the debate away from purely being about a CO2 story. The myopic current worldview focussing purely on CO2 emissions needs to end. Instead, whole life impact needs to be considered (from extracting the raw materials to recycling). When studied through this lens, cars such as the oh-so-green Toyota Prius are not as shiny as you may have thought - although naturally there's counter arguments to this (news report looking at both sides, view of the Pacific Institute think-tank).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

High Time They Had A Website

Rob Mosley & Robbie Greatrex are young creative types who ditched their burgeoning careers at Proximity London to start up on their own. One of their latest projects is to come up with a website for their fledgling agency, Nonsense.

Rather than argue for months about the rights and wrongs, dithering and withering in the process, they've come up with a multi-media campaign (personal invites, facebook event, blog post etc.) to let the public decide. Check out the options & cast your vote at

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Animoto - DIY Mood / Brand Videos

I found Animoto this morning (via TIGS). It is perfect for the likes of me who have no video software talent whatsoever to make emotive content - spot on for brand presentations etc. Simply uploads some pics. Upload or choose some music. And hey presto.

Made this cutesy video of my little boy in no time at all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bubble 2.0

Here's a completely unsubstantiated thought that I'd love some opinion on. Perhaps even a little evidence here and there may help!

As far as I can tell, a major cause of the first dotcom crash was limited access to affordable, high-speed internet connection. There were lots of good ideas, but they couldn't scale because hardly anyone could experience them.

Research group of one here! I remember being all excited about new websites cropping up but soon settling to a repertoire of favourites. Websites kept turning up, but they didn't offer anything new or interesting - that leap of innovation, or rather the mass acceptance of that innovation, was seemingly impossible without corresponding availability of high speed internet connection (imagine the success of You Tube with a dial-up modem?).

Broadband (etc.) enabled bandwidth hungry applications to thrive - not only to exist but also to spread and grow. The ideas that existed pre-crash could now work. This brought us "web 2.0". Multi-media experiences and connectivity that we (at least most of us) couldn't have imagined with a dial-up modem.

But are we now experiencing a second glass-ceiling - where the ideas are starting to be better than the delivery to the (mass) end-user again? Most of the new websites I've seen recently seem to be (more-or-less) copycats with frills on - they are operating within the same framework as the existing sites, limited by the same end-user parameters.

I'm sure some VC is funding a new video sharing website , a new social networking site. But why? People have settled into their favourites - Google, Facebook, YouTube etc. and it will take a massive leap in functionality to get them to change. And I doubt that this leap is possible without a significant increase in readily available connection speed.

So potentially we're heading for another crash, or at least a levelling of innovation and investment. Any views?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Geology, My Mum & Web 2.0

My Mum has had a lifelong passion for rocks. She was one of those teachers who got infectiously over-excited about her subject. And with a little help from yours truly she's now doing great things with blogs & wikis!

One of the most exciting things she's doing is Earth Learning Idea. 2008 is The International Year of Planet Earth. And for this, she and some colleagues are producing simple geology-related activities with the intent of helping teachers to teach about the Earth.

The activities will be stored at the Earth Learning Idea wiki that she's created. There's an example activity posted here. The blog is being used to help spread the idea, announce publication of the activities and generally to tell people what's going on.

Earth Learning Idea has gone multi-national and intercontinental already. Selling to Google is the next milestone, well, sort of.

If you know anyone who would be interested in this, please forward the link on.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

PS3 Elegy

A disappointed gamer bemoans the quality of the PS3.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Plannerly Strolling

I saw an advert for the Green Chain on the train last night. I was amused to note that it is one of London's hyperbolically titled "strategic walking routes". How does one walk strategically? Perhaps they are routes reserved for planners to conjour magic about brands and customers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is Snoring Boring?

Does anyone know about variation in cultural attitudes to snoring?

In the UK there's nothing taboo about it and taking the proverbial out of snorers is fair game. I've not been able to track down any info about whether this varies by culture. Is snoring taboo in Japan? Is it a matter of great hilarity in Brazil? No idea.

Suggestions please!

Monday, June 25, 2007

How Would You Sell A Company?

Would you send an email to previous customers? Please see the email below that I just received - I bought one of these widgets roughly 3 years ago for about £5. Nice widget it is too.

Dear Sir/ Madam,

As a previous customer of, I thought you might be interested to know that the business is currently up for sale.

Since I have been in ownership of (April 2005), the business has seen impressive growth in both the retail and wholesale (bulk buy) sectors – the latter of which was entirely unexplored by the previous owner. I believe that there is a great deal of potential for further growth in both sides of the business, particularly the wholesale side. Importantly both the Smartwap and Syncwrap can be branded with an individual’s or company’s logo, name or website.

I believe that is a highly esteemed website with a very prolific domain name and strong reputation for customer service - as testified by our repeat customers.

I am aware of a few opportunities that have unfortunately not been taken advantage of due to time constraints and other responsibilities since I acquired the business. I am of the opinion that this makes it a very attractive opportunity for any individual or company willing to take a fresh view of the business and act on it.

There is a small portfolio of information about available to all those who express an interest. If you would like a copy, please send an email to the address given below and I will be more than happy to send you the details.

Best regards,

Faris Hamadeh

Weird. However, I did like my smartwrap, so I think I'll request the details. Watch this space.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Battle at Kruger

Finally something's prompted me to post! Herd behaviour at its finest...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Transparency Tyranny

This latest briefing from Trendwatching is arguably the most important trend of 2007. Please read it! As usual it's packed with good ideas and examples.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Google Your Way From New York To London

Here's some fine directions to get you from NY to London. Check out instruction 24.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I've just added Feedblitz email subscription to the blog. Just checking I've got my settings right!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Conundrum of Exclusivity

In the spirit of reviewing the content of one's moleskine, I found this quote from the gruesome "Haunted" by Chuck Palahniuk (he of Fight Club). This is from the chapter "Slumming, a story by Lady Baglady". The theme of this mini-story is how a group of ultra-rich try to find new kicks by becoming homeless for the night in order to lose their identity & the social trappings of their lifestyle.

"Mrs. Keyes's best friend, Elizabeth Ethbridge Fulton Whelps, "Inky", used to say there's only one "best" of anything. One night, Inky said, "when everyone can afford the best, the truth is, it does look a little - common."

How true. Burberry etc.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Information Revolution or Cynical Manipulation?

I recently spotted some ads on the tube for Information Revolution. The headline of the ad was something along the lines of "70% of internet traffic goes via one company" and then a simple url as mechanism to get involved (complete with authentic ".org" domain). Intrigued, I visited the site. After a little while it dawned on me that this is nothing to do with information protection, per se, but is a thinly disguised campaign by the search engine Ask Jeeves.

It's easy to see how Ask Jeeves arrived here. In the absence of (I assume) a solid reason to claim that they are different or better than Google, Ask Jeeves needed to find a new angle. There are many people concerned, if not deeply paranoid, about information protection and rightly so. However, the sinister behemoth being indicted here is Google, themselves usually associated with being a champion of free-thought, primarily by seriously challenging Microsoft. And that's where it falls flat for me. I guess it will make a few people think about the Google monopoly. But change an indoctrinated nation's search habit? Not convinced.

I'm not completely decided here - this campaign treads a fine line between being a genuine champion of the people and a cynical ploy to get attention by a desperate business. I'm erring towards the latter. Any views? Please vote!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Feeling flat?

Another thought-provoking post from Indexed.

Remember the possibilities. Remember when it was new. Remember when you cared.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Perceptual Power

My final year at University was spent studying Experimental Psychology. As part of this I studied how the eye & brain turns light rays into vision. It's pretty obvious when you think about it, but this quote from a lecturer made me sit back and think about just how cool the brain is.

"the light rays aren't coloured".

In other words, nothing in the world exists as we perceive it. Colour only exists in our head. The same applies to the other senses...there is no smell, just chemicals in the air, sounds are just bits of rhythmically moving air.

All marketing happens in that brain too - impacting on a complex associative network of memory and the cognitive processing of information.

Worth remembering when someone next uses the word "consumer" and talks about "doing marketing to someone".

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Free Cash from Mortgage Rip-offs

As announced here in The Times, British banks have been over-charging customers who have remortgaged over the last few years. I just called up Halifax and will be receiving a cheque for £40. Better than nothing.

If you've remortgaged make sure you get your money back - it's just a simple phone call away. If you prefer to write, you can download template letters from

Spread the word!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Images for Presentations

The Generator Blog features loads of fantastic tools for making interesting presentation visuals.

Thanks to the Plannersphere wiki for the link

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Squidoo - Marketing Inspiration

I've been updating my Marketing Inspiration Squidoo Lens over the last few days. It's still a bit limited, but hopefully improved. Comments & suggestions welcome. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Will it Blend?


I particularly like from the homepage:

"What kind of blenders are these?! The Total Blender that is used in the “Will it Blend” video series is the entry level blender for the Blendtec home product line. (You ought to see what Blendtec 20 amp commercial models will do…..)"

Tyranny of Recommendation

This Nemi cartoon was published in Metro on 19th February 2007. It highlights the power of recommendation, as used to good effect by the likes of Amazon. It's worth noting that the customer is not ecstatic in the final frame.

When Mass Media Buying Goes Wrong

Spotted this ad for spread betting on the way home from seeing my chum Mississippi MacDonald playing a set over at the Electroacoustic Club at The Slaughtered Lamb. Long copy ads at cross-track locations usually work well - people have time to read and generally do if they are interested. Farringdon is a good location for city types into this kind of thing. It's just a shame that this particular media location was across 2 tracks and the ad was in a minuscule font size.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

This is an intriguingly produced video about the evolution of the internet into the gloriously collaborative network that it is today. Some poignant comments towards the end about how the internet is changing the way we interact with the world - and how we need to rethink copyright, ethics, relationships etc.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Trendwatching - Trysumers

Because you'll all have signed up to the Trendwatching newsletter, you obviously won't need this link to the latest briefing. If you do, shame on you!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nothing Quite Like A Good Typo!

A banner ad for Alliance & Leicester proudly displayed at The Times website today.

How can anyone possibly miss that typo! Maybe one of those crafty compeittors (sic) meddled with the ad.

Insightful Heptagons

This is one of the most insightful things I've seen in ages. A really simple construct to show the effects of combining deadly sins in pairs. My favourite is Gluttony + Pride = fat men in speedos!

Reminds me a bit of the Nike "brief-o-matic" that you can find within this blog post from Pink Air.

Simple ways to get to interesting ideas must be the way forward!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

TFL & Good Service

Whilst I'm on the subject of TFL there's been something bugging me for ages. When you arrive at a London Underground station, you'll see a sign that looks something like this:

(Thanks to "Envoy" for the picture that I found here on Flickr.)

What gets my goat is that it's written entirely from TFL's perspective and has nothing whatsoever to do with the customer's experience. Quite often when I get on the train to experience my Good Service I see something like this...

(thanks to "Synthclarion" for the picture that I found here of Flickr.)

Now, in my opinion, that is not a good service. Just because the train is running on time and there aren't any signal failures for a change...

What Works Best. - Communications or Department Names?

Whilst out buying a sandwich today, I spied a group of yellow-bibbed Transport For London (TFL) workers and police taking people's details and fines for not paying fares on the bus. This was quite a commotion, presumably intended to be a show of strength that "we'll catch you if you're bad".

On the back of the TFL yellow-bibs were the words "Revenue Protection" which no doubt is the name of the department the employees were from. However, in the light of recent massive transport price increases I think this wording conveys a poor impression of TFL. It doesn't say "we need your fares to reinvest in the system so your journey gets better" it says "we must make profit". I'm sure this is a cue for many people to avoid paying fares (obviously not me as I am such an honest citizen).

How different it would be if the bibs instead displayed a message intended to impact customer behaviour or attitude. Even a less obviously profit oriented department name such as "Fare Dodge Squad" would be an improvement. Fare dodging is naughtiness to be reprimanded, whereas taking money from a corporate hell-bent on making profit at all costs is surely an objective that would encourage many.

Either way, I doubt this activity will change fare-dodgers' behaviour. They're fare dodgers after all and the thrill of getting away with it, as opposed to simply trying to avoid payment, seems to me to be half the point.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wii Create

Sorry for the pun, I couldn't help myself.

The Wii is a global success, despite its curious name. Nintendo realised that they couldn't and shouldn't try to take Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3 on head to head. Instead they have come up with a new way to interact with games - appealing to a softer breed of gamers. The success is commented on by Seth Godin here.

It's also a fine example of a product that has inspired users to create their own content. Not just the usual YouTube videos (this from Three Minds shows Wii being used in a cinema), but also Flickr groups, the really quite odd wiikitty website and the highly entertaining sites which show damage caused by wii-abuse - wiihaveaproblem and wiidamage (plus here's a T-shirt on a similar subject!).

An effect that I think will have come as a bit of a surprise is the beneficial effect on health. Several colleagues came back to work after Christmas complaining of stiff muscles from Wii gaming. This page describes how a guy monitored his loss of weight and body fat entirely due to Wii-ing. (Thanks to Three Minds for the link).

Create a remarkable product...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Presentation Lesson

True to form, Steve Jobs delivers the iPhone (the bottom QuickTime link focusses on the launch) to the public in an examplary way. Whether or not you give a proverbial about the technology, watch this from a presentation style point of view. His visuals always support what he says, never the other way round. He constantly repeats and summarises so the key information comes across clearly. He's well rehearsed. He uses humour appropriately.

If you like this, get to Presentation Zen sharpish.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Latest Trendwatching

Here's the monthly briefing from Trendwatching.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Rendezvous Mash-up

I was chatting with a colleague earlier today about "Mapvertising" (see here for Universal McCann's paper). We got talking about the various mash-ups which incorporate map information with other data such as pictures from Flickr. I got searching...

"Rendezvous" is the legendary film of a Ferrari driving through Paris at stupid speeds early one morning in the 70s. You can see it at Google Video and You Tube. Well worth a look.

Some kind person has taken the time to map the journey the car takes using Google Maps. You can see it here. Take the time to read the instructions in the top left or you could be in for a confusing ride! This is what the internet is made for!