30th July 09
“There are always at least two ways to tell a story”
Launched last month under their Puffin label, We Make Stories is the latest in a long line of digital publishing innovations masterminded by Jeremy Ettinghausen (@jeremyet), Penguin’s Digital Publisher. This is the second piece we’ve done in recent months looking at the publishing industry as a whole. Back in May we wrote about the transformational change going on at TMG in the UK (also check out the ever brilliant Nieman Lab for a far deeper examination of journalism in this respect). Why are we so interested in what’s going on here? In short, we’re witnessing a radical re-shaping of an industry we believe we can learn a lot from. An industry which – aside from its sheer cultural importance in the first place – has been experimenting with new creative & organisational solutions for some time now.
The launch of the new service from Penguin was a good excuse to catch up with Jeremy and find out what he’s learned from this and other past projects, as well as ask him to share his thoughts on the future of digital publishing, the struggle to monetise content & services online, the impact of the web on storytelling and finally, what role he sees for brands in this space. So just a couple of meaty topics then…
14th July 09
For a good while now we’ve been hearing about the death of the big idea (put that phrase into Google and see what you get back), but before the coffin gets nailed down once and for all, I’d like to check for life signs. Not so that we can limp on, clinging to an old familiar industry cliché, but to make sure we’re not systematically talking ourselves into killing off something that still has the power to bring tangible and intangible value to the brands we serve. Read full post
9th July 09
How many marketing campaigns can you name that are properly innovative, laudable in their intent (cheap to produce & for a good cause), blindingly simple to interact with and delivered with laugh out loud wit? Here at Labs at any rate we reckoned we would be pushed to name one. Then along comes something that completely blows us away, the brilliant i.Saw and its sister product, Papercut.
We first heard about the whole idea when our friends from BBH Asia Pacific got in touch. Inspired by mountains of uncollected pages on the printers in the office, they’d developed a unique, downloadable sound effect application of a chainsaw, designed to drive home a straightforward message: printing unnecessarily = killing trees.
Peter Callaghan, CD on the project, explains the brilliantly simple idea: “Papercut is a simple reminder of where paper comes from. When you press ‘print’, you’ll hear the roar of a chain saw. It is not to make you stop printing, just print less, using only what you need. Reminding people that printers run on trees.”
The next step was to orchestrate a campaign to encourage people to download the app. The team given that task, Noel Yeo and Shawn Loo, explained they were intrigued by the idea of creating a product, rather than a classic viral. And with that, the i.Saw was born. An entirely spoof creation, the i.Saw is a USB-powered chainsaw (the answer to all your office needs, natch) complete with its own lovingly created product page.
‘Pre-ordering’ the i.Saw on the site initially generated a classic, automated email response thanking you for your order. Now a banner informs us that pre-ordering is closed, click here to find out why… which takes you to some brief copy revealing the spoof and offering you the entirely free, downloadable sound effect app. Genius. Read full post
8th July 09
Posted in design
Mulling over the various excellent posts springing up on why there isn’t more great work in the digital space it struck me that one area rarely discussed is the fundamentally different definitions of what constitutes “great”.
Traditional agencies are instinctively drawn to disruptive work-work that stops the consumer in their tracks and forces them to pay attention. Digital specialists on the other hand are focussed on a smooth and seamless user experience. Ideas that disrupt this experience risk increasing bounce rates from a site for designers working to the 10 second stay-or-go “rule” . This tension between disruption and usability is so profound it’s hardly surprising that we struggle to find a common understanding of what great looks like, much less deliver it.
Traditional agencies in the digital space (and indeed traditional digital agencies) are easily seduced by the power of Flash and the wonders of animation; we want attention and spectacle but what happens next? Why should the user stay, what are we asking them to do and where should they go next? The campaign microsite is perhaps the prime expression of this tendency-as Iain Tate puts it, impressively punchily, in Campaign:
“No one cares about your bloody microsite. In 2009 the flashy high production value microsite is finally starting to feel irrelevant. Sites that seem to do everything, but deliver nothing.”
3rd July 09
Wow, we’ve all become over-exposed to the hype around augmented reality, but we’re starting to see applications emerging which genuinely seem to add value and utility, rather than just make you go “cool!”
We spotted this simple, still slightly rough-looking, but potentially amazing app for the iPhone, which works off the phone’s video function. Currently only available for the London Underground, and for those lucky enough to have a 3GS, but follow-up apps across broader geographies and platforms can’t be far behind.
When you load the app, holding it flat, all 13 lines of the London underground are displayed in coloured arrows. By tilting the phone upwards, you will see the nearest stations: what direction they are in relation to your location, how many kilometres and miles away they are and what tube lines they are on. If you continue to tilt the phone upwards, you will see stations further away, as stacked icons.
Geo applications and brand experience-based applications seem to be emerging as two of the most interesting playgrounds for AR – we’ve certainly started putting our heads together on a couple of the brands we work with. Watch this space.
(For some existing BBH work that uses AR, see BBH Asia-Pacific’s work for WWF).
Thanks to Tim Bradshaw (@Tim) for bringing this to our attention this morning.
2nd July 09
Posted in Uncategorized
It’s turning into an unexpected week of musical delights here at BBH Labs. After the success of BBH New York’s work on the new Oasis LP launch, awarded Titanium at Cannes last weekend, comes something equally close to home.
Just launched today is some work for the band Sour, directed and produced by Hal Kirkland, Masa Kawamura (BBH New York), & their buddies Magico Nakamura & Masayoshi Nakamura.
We caught up with Hal & Masa (in between all their awesome work on paying client briefs) & they explained how the project came together. We we’re particularly struck by the challenge of starting with a budget of $0. Makes you think differently.
The project initially had a few challenges. The first was the nonexistent budget. The second involved the inability of the directors to film the band members LIVE, due to the band living in Tokyo and the Directors living in New York. On top of this they had their day jobs at BBH to contend with.
Rather than hinder the ideas, this ironically provided the framework from which the idea was born. Webcams as a medium were chosen because these days everyone has seems to have one. Sour also had a relatively strong fan base that paid constant visits to their fan site.
A message was sent out from there to ask fans to volunteer for the new music video. The production was inundated with responses from people all over the world the most surprising being a fan from a small town in Portugal.
The next few months were spent choreographing the performance. This was primarily done by the directors literally acting out and filming every part themselves so as to a detailed animatic, that in-turn would make it easier for their friends online to follow.
Once that was buttoned down the filming of over 80 people began. The directors wanted the action to be created from timed choreography to give it a more realistic feel and to make it more human. Relying on editing alone would have taken away the charm and from the spectacle of the coordination of so many individuals.
In case you’re curious, the song is about discovering your own color or voice in this world. It speaks of embracing your individuality in order to embrace what the rest of the world has to offer. So the use of the webcam and the idea of capturing people’s individual expressions as they collaborate to make a greater whole, made a lot of sense. We love it – the perfect way to start a long, sunny Independence Day weekend.
Sour is a Japanese post-rock band formed in spring 2002 by hoshijima (gut guitar/voice), Sohey (eub/bass), KENNNNN (drums/toys). They have released 3 albums to date, and the track used in this video is called ‘Hibi no Neiro (Tone of Everyday)’ which is the lead single to their first mini album ‘Water Flavor EP’ released on July 24 2009. For more information about the band, please visit their website: http://sour-web.com/
Here are some previous music videos that Hal & Masa have done for them:
‘Hangetsu (Half Moon)’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMGSH0J0dUU
‘Omokage no Saki (Beyond your memory)’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vVWb1M_rQk
Masa Kawamura – email@example.com
Hal Kirkland – firstname.lastname@example.org
Magico Nakamura – email@example.com
30th June 09
Without doubt our find of the week (the year?) here at BBH Labs has been this staggeringly cool flash application, from a Singapore-based band called Concave Scream. I’d never heard of them, and now I can’t stop listening to them.
Created as a piece of marketing content for their new LP, ‘Soundtrack for a Book’, it consists of data visualizations of the front covers of 50 all-time classic books (think Moby Dick, Alice, Pollyanna, Last of the Mohicans), brought to life and mashed-up with the soundtracks from the new LP.
It is completely customizable & interactive. Each of the 50 books can be played with using controls at top right. You can add or accentuate colours, change rotation speed, create wallpapers, or simply opt for a more randomized effect. Go full screen for best effects (top right).
In a week when smart new ways to launch music have been recognized and awarded (for example, close to home, BBH NY’s launch of the new Oasis LP, a Titanium Lion winner in Cannes), this takes that to another level.
We’re certainly guilty of getting over-excited fairly frequently here at BBH Labs, but this is genuinely staggeringly good. Best of all, it’s utterly beautiful in a mesmerizing way, with the vocal-less music from the LP completely complementing the visuals.
The actual CD itself is a fairly well-designed piece of work too (see below).
“[Concave Scream] have a lot of naïve aggression and a dirty kind of
sound, which I think makes them a lot more credible than the other pop
acts which seem to be singing just for the sake of singing, with no real
point of view.”
- Malcolm McClaren, The Straits Times
For more info: www.concavescream.com
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
29th June 09
“Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should – and must – question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.”
(Dieter Rams, 1980 speech to Braun supervisory board, from his Design Museum profile)
There can’t be many more legendary & respected designers around today than Dieter Rams. For over 50 years Rams has been one of the most influential industrial designers around, producing elegant, stripped-down and flawlessly balanced everyday objects in such enduring forms that one is hard-pressed to identify a design of his that hasn’t stood the test of time.
In fact, if you own an iPod, iPhone, or iMac you almost certainly owe thanks to Dieter Rams for some of the look, feel and simplicity of these products. His influence is explicit in the work of Jonathan Ive at Apple, most literally, perhaps, in the design of the calculator on the iPhone, but in fact across almost the entire range of Apple products.
(For more, including Q&A with Rams, click below)
24th June 09
Wow, are we looking forward to seeing this film in full.
“RiP: A Remix Manifesto” – a film about remix and copyright culture. It explores copyright issues in the information age, where the media landscape is being profoundly transformed, and the distinction between producers and consumers is becoming blurred, to say the least.
This is the trailer and it’s uplifting, provocative, challenging and inspiring, all at the same time. Full of complex debates and clearly coming with a strong point of view on how those debates might be – must be – resolved (so not everyone will agree with this, by any means, but heh, that’s good right?).
Features contributions from Gilberto Gil, Laurence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, and many more. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing the awesome Lessig in action again: “There is no way to kill this technology, we can only criminalize its use” – Laurence Lessig.
Download the film in full, paying what you think it’s worth: http://www.ripremix.com/
Check their blog: http://www3.nfb.ca/webextension/rip-a-remix-manifesto/
Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/remixmanifesto
(Thanks to Marc Schiller – @marcdschiller – for the heads up)