16th June 11
Posted in Canneshttp://www.vimeo.com/21571373
With Cannes just a few days away it’s time to wish bon chance to all those striving for Lions. We’ll be keeping our eyes on the progress of all the Young Lions and our fingers crossed for the UK representatives in the Cyber category, BBH London’s Diego Oliveira and Caio Gianella, whose Unicef Wrapping Project is shown above.
2nd June 11
Last Saturday during coverage of the Champions League Final, BBH released our first 3D advert for Audi. Guest author Davud Karbasssioun, BBH Head of Film explains why this was the right technology for the right brand.
Over the last two years you would have had to be holed up on Pandora not to know that 3D was making a serious comeback. Some experts insist that film’s transition to 3D is as pivotal as the adoption of sound or the move to full colour. I’m not sure it really is that ‘black and white’…
More recently 3D has been used as a gimmick to add novelty to films rather than enhance their storytelling power, which hasn’t done the 3D brand any favours. Cynics would argue 3D is Hollywood’s answer to piracy, their way of ensuring bums on seats in an age of free sharing and piracy.
Either way the platform is here for all advertisers to embrace. Channels are desperately trying to get everyone to watch everything in 3D and all the electronics brands are falling over themselves to convince us that those brand new HD LCD’s we’d just invested in needed to be replaced with new 3D TVs.
But if brands are going to embrace 3D they must learn from the mistakes Hollywood is making and do it by respecting the technology. To me, Audi’s recent 2 ½ minute Le Mans film is a good example.
(The video above requires red/blue 3d glasses – for other options including plain old 2d, click on the 3D options button)
The ad features Audi Le Mans driver Allan McNish describing what it takes to win the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race. BBH Creative Directors Kevin Stark & Nick Kidney conceived the concept for the film after viewing a presentation by the charismatic McNish, describing the intensity, precision & endurance required to succeed in the race. From that moment on the brief was to dramatise that experience of the race as best they could using Allan’s own improvised narrative.
3D was never in the brief, in fact the guys specifically wanted to use 2D hand drawn art to give the film a simple, personal charm that matched the drivers personality. The idea of shooting Allan and making the film in 3D came later with Passion Pictures when it was clear that viewing the film though a stereoscopic lens would only further enhance the viewer’s engagement. Using both the Sky 3D broadcast of the Champions League final and the launch of the final Harry Potter installment in 3D are the perfect events to share it.
Anything that increases the creative spectrum is a great thing. 3D, if used appropriately and well, enhances the story. 3D, used badly, is terrible. Unfortunately, Hollywood is so desperate to generate hype to sell tickets that there is inevitably going to be overwhelming pressure from movie studios to push 3D in the hope that this will rescue the basic shortcoming of the film itself. That is the fundamental problem right now.
Wim Wenders’ film Pina is for me a rare example of 3D used beautifully. Here the 3D technology is used to open up a stage to give the Pina Bausch Dance Group the space to perform on, The results are as effective as they are beautiful (not sure it will challenge Hangover 2 at the Box office though).
Like Pina this Audi film is a rare example of helping dramatise an experience for the viewer that wouldn’t be as full an experience as in simple 2D. To me that’s how 3D technology should be used and how it will be most respected by the viewers, a win-win for brands.
Essentially the way I see it Audi are simply taking advantage of the 3D technology, or in German ‘Vorsprung durch 3D Technik.’
4th May 11
Posted in Location
“Nothing Propinks Like Propinquity” - Diamonds Are Forever, Ian Fleming
Last Thursday I cycled from work, popped into a speciality liquor store and stopped at a pub for a swift pint near my home. In case anyone was out and about and our paths intersected, I published my movements via twitter for the world to see. While I went on my way, my phone checked me automatically into places I spent more than 10 minutes in, boosting my Foursquare ranking. I also dropped my future self a couple of geocoded notes (a reminder about some shopping that I needed to do and directions to a friend’s house) which pinged up on my phone as I got into the approximate locations over the weekend.
I did these things using Geoloqi which was one of the most interesting things Labs saw at this year’s SXSW. And others seem to agree – last week Geoloqi won the Best Mobile App award at Appnation. So, with the current fuss about Apple’s collection of iphone generated geodata and the seemingly explosive growth of location based services, it seemed to be a good time to talk to Geoloqi’s co-founder, Amber Case about Geoloqi, location and cyborg anthropology.
Labs: Where did the idea for Geoloqi come from?
AC: I met my co-founder Aaron Parecki in 2009 a few days after he moved to Portland from Eugene. Someone at a networking event told me that I should meet “this guy who had been tracking his location every 5 seconds for the last year”. When I met him, I immediately became very excited. I’d been talking for years about so many of the systems that Aaron was actually building. Soon after that, Aaron and I began working on micro projects together. Later Aaron set me up with an automated check in system based on GPS coordinates. The system allowed me to check into locations without having to load an interface. This was about 2 years before any of the geosocial systems were readily available.
I was elated by the discovery that Aaron and I had been working on the same idea independently of each other for the past two years. After a while, we began to present on cool things people could do with persistent location data. The presentations had large audiences and people wanted to do cool things with location data as well. The only problem was that Aaron was using an old Windows mobile phone at the time to track GPS data, and I was using an old Boost Mobile feature phone. The iPhone was just barely capable of tracking GPS data and neither of us knew how to develop apps for the iPhone, but that would soon change as we dove head-first into figuring out how make what we called “non-visual augmented reality” accessible to those with regular mobile devices.
Labs: What is the short term development road map for Geoloqi?
AC: We plan to finish the iPhone app and build up the Android app to the same level. We’ll be making the apps and the website much easier to use and polishing them up. You can expect to see some significant improvements in the features we currently have available, and there will be some new features soon such as calendar integration and improvements to our Foursquare and Facebook integration. Our next feature will allow you to add email@example.com to meetings on your calendar. Fifteen minutes before a meeting you’ll get a message from Geoloqi asking if you’d like to share your location with the meeting attendees. If you say yes, your route will be shared with them, and if you arrive at the meeting before the scheduled meeting time, you’ll get points. It’s all about trying to reward timely behavior.
Labs: Where do you see Geoloqi as a product further down the line?
AC: I can’t tell you where we will be, but I can tell you where we’d like to be. We see Geoloqi as an essential, perhaps even invisible, part of everyday life. As a tool for ambient discovery that provides information that is relevant and useful, instead of jarring and irrelevant. Basically a customized experience that frees up one’s time to be more human.
Labs: In the week that Apple and Sony have had to answer questions about collection and storage of personal data, do you worry that services like Geoloqi encourage people to give too much of themselves away?
AC: I think that Geoloqi encourages people to be mindful of what they give away. It’s a default-private service with information that can be shared for limited periods of time with certain people. I think that Twitter and Facebook encourage and reward the sharing of information with others. I don’t think that sharing is a bad thing. I think it opens up opportunities to meet others with similar ideas and experiences. However, location is something that is more than just talking on the Internet. It is a very private thing and should be dealt with accordingly. The idea behind Geoloqi is that it is a private location-sharing service that allows one full control over their privacy. We built it out our own desire to share information in a controlled manner with others for limited periods of time.
Labs: You’ve just given up your day job to work full time on Geoloqi – was this a hard decision and what are the differences between working for a company and being a start-up?
AC: This was a decision I thought about a great deal. Leaving a stable job is a difficult thing, but I felt more constrained every day.To me being a startup is going after something that hasn’t been done right, or building something that brings joy or excitement into the lives of others. A lot of technology out there is broken. Technology in general is very difficult, and there are problems out there that are very difficult to solve. I think it is a very valiant thing to try to solve those problems.
Labs: I remember a quote which said that a technology won’t propagate unless it satisfies a human/social need – what human/social need do you think Geoloqi satisfies?
AC: The need to be human. The need for technology to get out of the way and let humans live their lives. Innovation in technology comes from reducing the time and space it takes to perform an action, or compress redundant actions in order to free up time. Computers used to be the size of gymnasiums. Now we have computers in our pockets, begging for attention. We’re constantly planning for our future selves. We look at Yelp! reviews to prepare our next culinary adventure. We want to guarantee that our future selves will have a good experience. We’re connecting to tons of people to do this, connecting to the collective wisdom of a data set that consists of many samples. The more samples, the more accurate the data set. Why ask one person when you can ask many?
We want to guarantee that our future selves will have a good experience.
A vehicle is a physical transportation device. There are limits to how small it can be made. But a computer is a mental transportation device. It need not be limited by tangibility. Because of this, it has the potential to fill up with data without the limits of a tangible object.
One’s location is valuable to another if and only if that location or person is socially relevant during that time period. The basic case here is the meeting. Person A and Person B need to meet each other, but GPS data is only shared between them when they have a scheduled meeting. When the meeting ends, the data wall closes off, giving them back their privacy, kind of like a wormhole of temporary transparency between two people. This solves the problem of extreme bouts of “checkin-ism”, as well as the issue of remaining privy to one’s whereabouts all the time. If more people were on the network, this sort of action would have to be taken. Negotiations of privacy and messages would have to be structured so as to prevent push and SMS notification exhaustion. When done correctly, the system is a valuable time saver that decreases anxiety, showing that technology is not inherently good or bad. It is design that is important. The key is to dissolve the interface – to get it out of the way and let humans live their lives. I talk about this in my TED talk.
Labs: Do you see a role for brands to use Geoloqi and what might this look like?
AC: There are four ways companies and brands can use Geoloqi. First, Geoloqi can be white-labeled so that its location capabilities can be used in applications. Second, the Geoloqi API can be used to bring location functionality into any existent application. For instance you could use Geoloqi to reward a user if they entered a store within a certain time period. Third, brands can make their own layers in the app that users can subscribe to. These three models allow Geoloqi to branch into many markets.
Finally, with the advent of the MapAttack! game, Geoloqi now has a gamification layer accessible to partners. Brands who are interested in leveraging Geoloqi for location-based interactive games are now capable of doing so. The key behind the brand use of Geoloqi is that it provides users a way to opt into rewards and services vs. just having advertising messages blasted at them. Location based recommendations and services, when done well, are something that helps one spend less time with technology and more time with reality. This is where advertising and marketing has to go in order to survive.
Labs: You describe yourself as a cyborg anthropologist – what does that really mean?
AC: A cyborg anthropologist studies the interaction between humans and technology and how technology affects culture. My thesis research was on cell phones and their technosocial sites of engagement. My research consisted of observing how thousands of people interacted with and through non-human objects. Mobile technology allows one to stand almost anywhere in the world, whisper something, and be heard elsewhere. These devices that live in our pockets need to be fed every night, and they make noises and require our attention. In only a few years these devices have become inexorably intertwined into the reality of our everyday lives. They offer us respite from the boredom of waiting in line and a way to keep in touch when no one is nearby, but they also paralyze many of us when they run out of batteries.
Mobile technology allows one to stand almost anywhere in the world, whisper something, and be heard elsewhere.
I’m fascinated with mobile devices for another reason – they are a bundle of sensors that we walk around with every day. That sensor data can be used to do very cool things, such as automatically turn on the lights in your house when you get home, or turn the lights off when you leave. This is because a phone can know when you’re within the region of space defined as “home” or not, and send a signal to your house to turn on or off the lights based on whether you are home or not.
Labs: What do you and Geoloqi need to succeed?
AC: We need to increase our ability to offer a good experience to our users and make things easier and easier to do. Right now we’ve barely been able to scratch the surface. My methodology for user experience design is something I call “superhuman design”. The idea is to make make the user feel like a superhuman. Flipboard does this incredibly well. The application offers rewards in greater proportion to the slightest interaction with the application. Geoloqi needs to be able to provide great value with minimal interaction. Information should be presented in a useful, non-invasive way to people without them having to seek it out. Technology should be an empowering experience, not an intimidating one.
Geoloqi are playing in an exciting area and one which is full of interesting problems in terms of technology, privacy and behavioural psychology. Our relationship to geography and location is undergoing fundamental change – it seems likely that a few years from now it will become impossible to get lost, except deliberately. As GPS enabled mobile computers become ubiquitous and an increasing number of services ask us for permission to store and broadcast our location we are going to need to think carefully about how easily we want to be found and who we are going to allow to do the finding.
(note: my iPhone has 25 apps that have requested its location in the last 24 hours)
This is all new, exciting and sometimes scary – sharing with friends, strangers, brands and the whole of the World Wide Web is something that needs to be carefully considered, both by users and by those who facilitate the sharing. The Geoloqi team are clearly aware of these issues and their default-private, timed-public model seems to us to be a considered balance between privacy and useful openness. We’ll be looking forward to seeing how the service develops and what comes from their Layer API.
Let us know what you think and tell us how much you’re happy to share and with who. And a big thank you to Amber and Aaron for their time – guaranteeing our future selves a good experience is a notion we’re happy to sign up to.
30th March 11
Posted in Shorty awards
18th March 11
Posted in sxsw
I’ll admit to being a little bit cynical (or ungracious, depending on how you want to look at it) at the prospect of SXSWi 2011. I’d been a couple of times before and, at my age, things are never as good as they used to be. But despite the poor quality of many of the panel sessions (too much reading, not enough arguing!), the corporate branding of most of downtown Austin and the overcrowding (attendance up 36% since last year) I came back from Texas feeling refreshed, inspired and engaged, for one simple reason;
SXSW reminded me how much I enjoy the company of geeks. Simply, for five days in spring Austin is the gathering point for geeks of all kind – app geeks, marketing geeks, book geeks, geolocation geeks, social media geeks – they’re all there, all involved and all itching to share their latest project, idea or thinking. Because, while there might be four group messaging apps and another four check-in services competing for attention everyone goes to ‘SouthBy’ because they are enthusiastic and because they want to participate in the new. SXSW is a live, real-time collaboration and all the better for it.
Personal highlights of five days in Austin include; plenty of instagram action; meeting ‘Cyborg Anthropologist’ Amber Case and learning about geoloqi; Bruce Sterling‘s angry State of the Union address, discovering some interfaces for geotemporal visualization and meeting my neighbour from Second Life in ‘meatspace’ for the first time since we met ‘inworld’ in 2007.
Plenty of other fine people have written up their own SXSW experiences; for a planning perspective @patsmc‘s take is here while @malbonster is on typically enthusiastic form here. Ogilvy generously sponsored the creation of visual notes of many of the sessions which can be downloaded from here and for a more flavourful impression of the SXSWi scene there is the obligatory Overheard at SXSWi tumblr.
So, if you like hanging out with geeks, Austin in March is the place to be (and it was great to meet so many good folk there). See you there in 2012.
1st March 11
So in 10 days we’ll be relocating the BBH Labs experience to Austin, Tx for the annual geek jamboree that is the South by SouthWest Interactive festival. I last attended three years ago, when I was an earnest book publisher and before advertising folk had descended in force and totally harshed the vibe, man.
This year I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of likeminds and seeing where, if anywhere, the paradigm has shifted and intend to follow @katylindemann‘s guidance of not going to see anything I already know anything about already, which makes for a pretty packed itinerary.
Given that the web based scheduler is, imho, ‘not very fun to use’ it might be that twitter or sitby.us prove to be more useful discovery tools for the good stuff, providing of course that wifi and/or 3G are in operation. We’ve hacked together a rough list (with agile development and rapid iterations built in!) using the web interface, the recently launched official app, an old fashioned contacts book (yes, friends and family are represented at SXSW) and have uploaded it to sitby.us where you can find it here.
Ping us if we’ve missed anything vital, if you want to hang out and, most importantly, to let me know where I should go for breakfast tacos now that Las Manitas has closed down!
See you there.
20th January 11
Posted in BBH Labs
We’ve mentioned before that we pick just 10 links we like the look of every week (provocative, challenging, useful and/or entertaining tend to be the order of the day) and send them to our friends at BBH around the world.
It’s heavily based on the @BBHLabs twitterstream across 7 days, but filleted, honed and whittled to a Top Ten for anyone who fancies a filter between them and the 24/7, 365 days a year drenching in data that is Twitter.
So here it is again. Feel free to pass on. As usual, ideas on making it more useful always welcome.
Comprehensive analysis of CityVille game mechanics - http://bit.ly/eN4GWq
If you’re in the Bay area, you only have a few days left to book Kevin Kelly to come and talk about What Technology Wants to your team - http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/
Interview with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia for the site’s 10th birthday - http://bit.ly/hfzDzB
29th November 10
Last Thursday (on Thanksgiving, if you are so inclined) the great and good and up-and-coming of London’s planning community gathered at the British Library for the APG/Campaign Battle of Big Thinking, an annual event that pits mind against mind for the chance to be crowned the Biggest Brain of All.
BBH London was well represented, with Peter Sells sharing thoughts on ‘The Fall of Capitalism, Bloody Revolution and the Destruction of Civil Society ….. And it’s Effect on KFC AM sales in the Tyne Tees Region” and winning his category in style. I apparently offered what was described as ‘an entertaining after-dinner speech’ on “What I have learned in 39 days in the advertising Business” and didn’t win my category which was won by an excellent pitch for a planner-owned product by PassionBrand. We’ll put these presentations up when the videos of the day become available.
But the star of the show and a very, very close runner up to the eventual overall winner was James Mitchell, who provoked and entertained the audience with his smart thinking and charming discourse on advertising, caring and storytelling.
So here is the extended remix of James’ talk – put on some headphones, hit play, enjoy and be provoked.
12th November 10
Posted in coding
Just as it is very easy to have an opinion about art without knowing how to draw, it’s very, very simple to talk knowledgeably about ‘digital’ without knowing anything about coding – the logic underlying every website and digital product we’ve ever used, tweeted about and, often, criticised.
So as part of Internet Week Europe and with Google Creative Labs we held a Coding for Dummies workshop which was an opportunity for 40 or so people to learn at the feet of some true coding ninjas and take their first, shaky steps along the path of geek enlightenment.
The afternoon didn’t finish with the class able to recreate We Feel Fine or launch an alternative blogging platform. But what it did was give everyone the confidence to go and have a look at a webpage’s source code and the beginnings of understanding why things on the web look and behave the way they do. A bunch of people can now go and play with code, launch a page onto the internet, tweak it, break it and maybe even fix it again.
Below are @tomux’s slides and at the end of them we’ve added a few of the pages that some of the dummies-no-longer created. We enjoyed ourselves so much (and still have so much to learn!) that we hope to do this again some time – keep an eye on our twitter for details.
We know code-fu.
10th November 10
For years we’ve been talking about and developing communications for the shortening attention spans of consumers. We are bombarded with statistics about the average dwell time on a web page (43 seconds according to Comscore) or the lifespan of a tweet which, if it isn’t retweeted within 60minutes, will never be, according to Sysomos.
Today, we’re ascending the slopes of Mount Sinai, the computer ready in our pockets and the promised land of ubiquitous always-on connection is on the horizon. But before we get there maybe there is a place for long-form communications to occupy us at those times where we can devote our attention to a piece of content but cannot easily surf away when our attention wanders.
Certainly the uptake of instapaper and its integration into all sorts of web and mobile apps suggests that people are saving more articles to read later and longreads recent revamp makes it even simpler to get long form textual content onto your mobile device.
So is the decline of attention as inexorable as previously thought? As well as video we are both producing and consuming more text than ever and today’s devices allow comfortable on the go reading of long-form narrative.
Time to consider whether a digital communications strategy needs to allow for both a wide, shallow spread and a long, deep dive.
Long live attention.