26th March 10
This post is adapted from an article written for Campaign magazine (25.03.10), available online at campaignlive.co.uk next week.
South by Southwest, or SXSW as it likes to be referred to, has celebrated emerging film and music for over two decades, but 2010 was the year the Interactive component of the conference shifted up a gear and gained critical mass. Last week around 15,000 people descended on the city of Austin in Texas for 5 days of neck-deep immersion in progressive digital culture.
Despite its mind-blowing scale, a few key themes emerged for us from SXSWi’s smorgasbord of panels and presentations. Read full post
19th March 10
“Designers are natural activists…taking responsibility for the consequences of what we design needs to be part of the value system of our industry, not a burden for a fringe group to take on. We have reached critical mass in terms of consciousness of the challenge; now we need to move from awareness to action.”
Valerie Casey profile, SXSWorld magazine 2010
Ideas that marry great design with real purpose make us sit up and take notice. So it is with A Developing Story, which we’ve been following since its launch at the end of last year.
ADS publishes news stories from developing countries with a clean & intuitive design that avoids all the worthier-than-thou clichés associated with the category. It also has a mindblowingly simple campaign at its core: to make the creative assets created for public awareness campaigns freely accessible across developing markets.
Makes perfect sense, right? A campaign that nonetheless needs all the support it can get if governments are to be persuaded to dump red tape and adopt what is in effect a Creative Commons approach across developing nations.
9th March 10
When we first heard about The International Exchange (TIE), we were immediately impressed and a little scared in equal measure. TIE is a rare and radical thing: a magical combination of social change and personal development, with a difference. This isn’t a series of talks in swanky conference centres: TIE puts you on the ground where you’re needed, testing everything you think you know about the communications industry along the way.
In a sentence, TIE marries the skills of an individual in the communications industry looking to be stretched professionally and personally, with a project in a developing country needing their time and skill (at this point in time TIE’s focus is Brazil). The experience is like no other, as people who’ve taken part so far testify:
Check out more case studies on TIE’s site: they are an inspiration and an education in equal measure.
We’re happy to say BBH has signed up to take part, so we caught up with Philippa White, TIE’s founder, to hear more about the idea. Read full post
22nd February 10
Posted in crowdsourcing
“The world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.” Yochai Benkler, Yale University, from The Wealth of Networks
Our collective interest in crowdsourcing (the creative and commercial opportunities and challenges it throws up) seems to be on an exponential curve only matched by the controversy and misunderstanding still surrounding the topic. Cue Rick Liebling’s eBook, Everyone is Illuminated, out today, a compendium of constructive thinking on the topic to date. As experiments in crowdsourcing start to unfold and the world waits to see just how sustainable it is a marketing tool, his primer aims to shed light on the whole area by gathering (in part crowdsourced, of course) insight and hands-on experience of crowd sourcing together in one handy place. We were happy to make a contribution to the eBook and caught up with Rick to tell us more about the project. Check out his introductory post here too.
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26th January 10
Posted in crowdsourcing
“New tools give life to new forms of action…eroding the institutional monopoly on large-scale coordination… We are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups.” Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, 2008
One of the things that caught our eye last year was a blogpost from Len Kendall sharing the plan for a simple, yet audacious lifestreaming project. Every day for 365 days, Len and co-founder Daniel Honigman were going to get a different person to write about their experience that day. If you will, a crowdsourced diary for 2010: the3six5 Project.
Just under a month in and c.250,000 site views later, the project is growing into something with real currency AND potentially long lasting value. Before we get into the interview with Len and Daniel, here are a few early thoughts on why we think the project is turning out to be so interesting. As always, we’d love to hear other points of view, so please let us know what you think.
1. Currency: the3six5 mashes up three communication themes – crowdsourcing, curation and lifestreaming – neatly in one idea. (At the same time it’s a simple journal. The combination is very seductive: it feels experimental and familiar at the same time).
2. Cultural value: if the entries continue in the vein set down so far, it’s a time capsule of intensely individual thoughts. One year seen through 365 different minds, gathered in one place.
3. As communication models go, a continuous, virtuous circle. Fresh, surprising content, which in turn its originators & their supporters want to promote and propagate.
4. Great content: none of the above would mean anything if the words didn’t leap off the page. And boy, do they. A lot of writers have taken Daniel & Len at their word and taken risks, others have brilliantly evoked the day and their state of mind, often to profound effect.
5. Success or failure depends on the community: The project has the chance to go wrong at any point, all it takes is a missed post. If we’re honest, that adds to the frisson around the project. It also proves yet again that crowdsourcing is no cop-out for the curators. As wonderful as everyone is, we suspect it can still feel like herding cats at times. As one of the contributors so far, I can also testify to a what-if-you-fail-to-come-up-with-anything? feeling in your gut as you sit down at the end of the day to write a post to an immovable deadline.
We caught up with Daniel and Len, to hear how it’s going so far from their perspective, as well as their hopes and expectations for the rest of the year.
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22nd January 10
Posted by Fran Hazeldine (@franhazeldine), Planning Director, BBH London
‘Myspace is dying’. How many times have you heard or read that in recent months? It’s not a hard conclusion to reach from recent visitor trends.
But speak to some of the guys here at BBH London and they’ll tell you a different story. For the past few months they’ve been working with our Myspace clients on the UK relaunch of Myspace Music. It’s a revolutionary platform for the stream and share generation, and they’ve created some really smart and engaging work to promote it. Will that be enough to kickstart a turnaround? Only time and data will tell. But it’s a good excuse to share some wider thoughts on the kind of work we get excited about at the London office.
The campaign started back in December, when 9 artists revealed the music they love in a series of interactive films showcasing the new music player. The idea was to bring fans closer to their favourite artists, reinforcing the core Myspace offer of music community.
Building on this idea, the team have created a new set of films starring Fiddy, Florence, Furtado – and you. Visitors to Myspace.com/fanvideo can create a playlist of videos, log in with Myspace ID or Facebook Connect, then sit back and watch as the artists take turns to make a personal dedication. If you’re feeling friendly, you can also give a load of your Myspace / Facebook pals the super-fan treatment.
Sure, most of us have seen personalised video apps before. But I do think the Fan Video app moves things on a bit. In fact, I think it’s made with three fresh ingredients that will be part of the mix in most of our best BBH London work this year.
1. LOVEABLE MAGIC
Agency types get very excited about whizzy new technologies. Apparently, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. And boy, do we love magic. It’s what our clients pay big bucks for. We spend countless hours trying to conjure up little bits of it. So when ACME Tech serves up another massive blob of ready-made magic there’s a rush to give it a branded twist. AR bog roll? Awesome!
Problem is, some of this pure techy magic is losing its allure. Out in the real world people are suffering innovation fatigue. They’ve seen a thousand tech firsts and the give-a-fuck bar is iPhone high. You can dress that bog roll up in in AR magic clothes, but it’s still just bog roll. Where’s the good stuff? The funny, emotional, cool stuff? What’s there to LOVE?
With the Myspace Fan Videos, the magic isn’t in the tech. It’s in the moment when 50 Cent hangs a picture of you on his wall, or Alicia Keys sings you a song. Sure the magic is tech-fuelled, but it’s the twisted cultural content, the playful reference to things I love or hate, that really makes it. Tech is the means, not a magical end in itself.
Tech magic is out. Loveable magic is in.
2. COLLABORATIVE CRAFT
One of the things we’ve become more and more sure of as an agency is that we can’t do everything. Not on our own, anyway. And certainly not to the ‘best in class’ standard our clients demand. We’ve got bags of creative talent in the building, but to make truly awesome, loveable magic, we need the help of great craftsmen from outside BBH. These aren’t just suppliers or production companies. They won’t settle for a white label. These are creative partners who respect the vision, shape the execution and share the credit.
I spoke to Dom Goldman, the BBH Creative Director on this project, and it was refreshing to hear him say that the Myspace Fan Videos couldn’t have been made without Pulse Films (who shot them), Absolute Post (who did the post production), and Domani Studios (who built the application). More importantly, they couldn’t have been made without genuine collaboration between that network of partners. Let’s call this process ‘collaborative craft’.
If you watch the Alicia video carefully, you can see the reflection of your Facebook profile pic in the glossy piano surface. That isn’t off-the-shelf tech. That’s collaborative craft. Dom’s creative team obsessed over those art directional details. Absolute advised on special filmic effects. And Domani coded away until they were subtlely, perfectly achieved.
3. SIMPLE SOCIAL
We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that people can’t wait to participate in marketing, and will happily jump through branded hoops.
Most personalisation apps I’ve used in the past have asked me to answer several questions or find and upload an image. Sharing has tended to mean entering lists of email addresses or choosing from lists of buttons. Those are pretty big demands at every step of the experience.
By focusing on the simple and specific request for your Facebook Connect login, the Myspace Fan Video app makes that experience faster, simpler and more spreadable (auto-post your fan video to newsfeed, batch-create fan videos for your friends). The use of Connect also amplifies the magic. You don’t know the app has scraped your Facebook profile image until you see it spinning round on David Guetta’s turntable.
Stepping back from the content, it’s just very cool to offer Facebook login for a Myspace promotion. That’s confident, user-centric behaviour. It makes my life a little more convenient. It says “we’re not trying to replace Facebook, we’re different”.
And isn’t that all Myspace need to say, really?
Check out the work here and let us know what you think:
20th January 10
Posted in mobile
Posted by Peter Sells (@sellsy), Head of Mobile, BBH London
Ed: We loved Peter’s winning talk on mobile for the UK APG’s Battle Of Big Thinking (#bobt) at the end of last year so much, we managed to persuade him give us a little more background to his thinking. For the slides and unmissable video of his presentation on the day, please go here.
24th December 09
2009 undoubtedly has been the year when the ‘crowd’ really came into its own. As the year drew to a close, it seemed like it might be a fun (okay, also possibly foolish) idea to attempt to create the world’s first crowd-curated holiday playlist.
Whilst I’d tinkered with this in fairly samizdat fashion at the end of November, the idea properly came to life when Maria Popova (@brainpicker) – the undisputed queen of online cultural curation and author of, amongst other things, Brain Pickings – got in touch. She suggested we create an audio tumblr together and see if we could find 31 people to curate one, great, vaguely seasonal track for every day in December.
So far, 24 days and around a 1000 plays later, it’s a fairly diverse collection of music and commentary: by turns happy, nostalgic, darkly funny, triumphant, moving, warm, sad and – if you ask us – all of it pretty downright wonderful.
We hope people have had as much fun as we have getting involved and watching it unfold. Maria and I will say thank you properly to everyone when the project completes at the end of the month, but in the meantime please keep checking out the site, listen to the smorgasbord of tracks we’ve had in so far and read what the curators have had to say about the music they’ve chosen.
For more about Taped Together, check it out here.
The full and final playlist will be made available as a download to anyone who’d like one, please check out the site for details at the end of this month.
Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone.
18th December 09http://www.vimeo.com/8217311
We were stopped in our tracks by this concept video from the design consultancy Berg for Bonnier R&D. There is a fluidity and beauty to the design that suggests a significant step forward from the first generation, ‘push button’ e-readers. We particularly liked the fact the prototype (which makes its debut around 1 minute in) suggests it has been designed to create a better reading experience, as opposed to recreating slavishly the experience of reading a magazine. Not that this has been ignored: Berg make the point that magazines still arrive in separate issues, for the simple reason that “people like the sense of completion at the end of each.”
You move through the magazine by scrolling articles placed side-by-side (they call it a ‘mountain range’) and whilst they were aiming to create a “a space for quiet reading. It’s pleasant to have an uncluttered space”, you can heat up the words and pics to share, comment, and to dig into supplementary material. It certainly seems a logical and neat way to resolve the oft-discussed need to balance our thirst for more, more, more information, with the requirement to concentrate on one thing from time to time.
If you’ve been following the fortunes of e-readers, none of this may sound particularly radical. The bit that’s impressive is the execution. And, in their own words, Bonnier are interested in “sparking a discussion around the digital reading experience in general, and digital reading platforms in particular.”
That discussion is certainly happening. Aside from the general rants and evangelism, there are more balanced points of view on the topic, not to mention an excellent follow-up post here from Tim Maly at Bookfuturism that examines the operational, production process piece missing (possibly inevitable at concept stage…) and why it’s important. Well worth the read. There’s clearly huge scope for development: our own Richard Schatzberger notes the multimedia opportunities haven’t been looked at deeply enough. “The move to magtabs will start to break down the barriers between web broadcast and print. Live news playing inside the article about the same subject, your friends opinions connected to the content, live audio conversations about the story as you read it (like being in a coffee shop and hearing everyone talk about an article in the times).”
Either way, we liked the concept and we look forward to seeing where Berg and Bonnier take it. One thing is for sure:
“Ebook readers will be completely different in 2020. And paperback books will in all likelihood still be very much around, and pretty much the same.” Comment from tcarmody on Bookfuturism’s “Nostalgic Myopia” post