July 14, 2010

App for iPad - A great example



This seems like a wonderful example of the possibilities of the iPad - Kraft's rich application that educates young parents and children about healtful eating. And promotes the brand at the same time.

June 05, 2010

Customers are partners in creating marketing messages

View more presentations from Graham Brown.
Graham Brown has a very valid point when he says that customers are no longer the destination of our marketing messages. There is no longer a 'they' and 'we'. In today's world, customers are partners in the production of marketing messages.

So are you (yes you ad agency, you digital communication expert) still telling stories about your brand or are you helping your customers tell theirs?

June 04, 2010

What would Google TV mean for website design and development?



First off, it means that the community aspect of TV viewing and the search-is-king, personal aspect of the Internet is coming together. On the face of it, it might seem like the slapping together of paradoxes - privacy and the lack of it. Chalk and cheese. But only time will tell for sure.

Meanwhile, what does it mean for us in website design and development?

Primarily, like all things new, it would mean cutting out the frills and ambiguity and being simple. The frills can come later as a process of evolution.

Content will still be king

But instead of an individual centric build, you will have to consider how groups might use your website or application. You will have to consider how individuals could use your site or apps in a living room setting.

On a practical level, TV screens are wider than computer screens and the colours look different. So you will have to incorporate TV standards into your website. Highly saturated and very bright colors might not be the order of the day. You would also need to consider text - make it readable from a distance. And sound would be an integral part of the whole experience.

Simplicity will rule!

Successful TV interfaces are simple in both concept and design. Very simple in fact. You will have to see how well you can integrate habits people have developed on the web into those developed on TV. So the first thing that goes out would be abstract icons. Next would be vertical scrolling.

Navigation will have to be as easy as on TV

Users will quickly abandon a screen whose navigation frustrates them. Apart from a QWERTY keyboard, Google TV navigation would mostly be limited to up, down, left, right, and enter. (It's all about simplicity and a bit of familiarity, remember?) Users would surely be looking for interactions that are fast and easy to do - at a distance, with one hand, in the dark.

One would have to know how to take advantage of the widescreen. TV screens and computer screens differ in canvas size, aspect ratio, safe areas, resolution, cropping, and pixel shape.

There's also text size and presentation, sound (appropriate to the living room environment), handling of crashes and errors, coding and other details one needs to consider.

Read all about it here. FAQs are here.

But consider the prospect: Web developers can start taking advantage of the big TV screen. Yup! Google TV will bring developers into the living room!

June 03, 2010

Quick facts about Internet2 - the next gen network


  • The incubator for many of the emerging technologies shaping the future is known as Internet2.
  • Internet2 is a not a single network, but a consortium of hundreds of high-speed networks linked by fiber optic backbones.
  • The network transmits data at speeds up to 2.4 gigabits per second - 45,000 times faster than a 56 Kbps modem.
  • This next-generation network went online in February, 1999, linking a number of universities around the world.
More information here and here.
 
Follow Internet2 on Twitter: http://twitter.com/internet2

June 01, 2010

May 17, 2010

A hit no longer...


The Friday Morning Meetings aren't being appreciated as much now. Attendance had dwindled. The meeting itself has been postponed thrice because of workloads and when we do have one... there aren't enough people around. Are we meeting next week?

May 11, 2010

This is still relevant, even if you are not a student now

Luke Sullivan from Mediastash.tv on Vimeo.


So listen up. This is an hour-long speech by Luke Sullivan to students of the Miami Ad School. Warning: beep words included. As Luke himself says: "Where I got such a potty mouth is a mystery to me, because my Mom, she’s just as nice a lady as you could care to meet." That apart, this is a must-listen. So take an hour off. It could be one of your most productive hours in recent times.

April 26, 2010

April 21, 2010

Rage at No.7


A Google search prompt for the word 'rage' lists Rage Communications at number seven. Try it yourself.

April 19, 2010

Action buttons: Why you should stick to the familiar


A rose by any other name smells just as sweet, huh? No Shakespeare. Not always in the online world. It only leads to rolling eyes, arched eyebrows and perhaps a dip in visits.

How often do we come across requests for mandatory tabs and buttons to be worded differently? Often you'd say. And so the request, for instance, would be for the 'Apply Now' button to be worded differently but say the same thing! The list doesn't stop there. In such times, what if you could gently put out a reminder that the buttons on TV remotes for example are labeled just the way they were labeled when TVs first came with remotes?

Play has always been 'Play', not 'Frolic'. Have you seen a TV / DVD remote with a Frolic button? Or a 'Catnap' button instead of a 'Pause' button? A 'Stimulate' button instead of a 'Power' button?

Know why? Because it’s used by mothers and grandmothers. Little children even. Now, even a little child understands 'Play' and 'Power' and even 'Pause'. And when he has finally broken his remote and his momma has gotten him a new one he looks for the 'Power' button not the 'Stimulate' button on his new remote.

So is the case online, except in deserving instances, especially in the case of themed, niche-audience websites where the construct of the website itself demands it.

Otherwise, it's best to remain plain vanilla and concentrate on the over all user experience. It’s experiences and a certain amount of familiarity with the nuts and bolts that get you repeat visits. The biggest example is Google. They're rumoured to be contemplating changes to their home page. But what's the bet that the Google Search button will remain the Google Search button? That the I'm Feeling Lucky button will remain just the same? Because Google knows that familiarity is part of the Google experience. If it's variety they want, the Google logo does the entertaining with seasonal and situational themes.

Listen to the post here:

April 15, 2010

Are you briefing your digital creative team wrong?

Courtsey Dominik Van Jan.
That depends on how you approach your creative brief. If you are writing it from an advertising perspective, it could just be that you are.

In a world where most consumer interactions are rapidly taking place in complex digital ecosystems, consumers engage with brands on a much more intimate level. Digital is not just another communications channel anymore that can serve as a message carrier. Digital finally is an environment where customers experience, consume, create, play with, re-purpose, re-format, share content, etc.

Yet, most creative briefs ignore digital's ubiquitous nature and mix it with the other, less interactive media. How did we get into this situation? By sticking to the guns we know and creating briefs for advertising, rather than looking at the potential of digital and writing creative briefs for experiences.

In order to create digital marketing that works, we need to build relevant scenarios, situations and experiences for consumers and have them discover a message in a—more or less—guided way. Take for example the simple but effective Fedex Launch a Package.

Doing digital briefing right requires that planners know about user interests, needs and most importantly behaviors in a variety of online and mobile media, as well as understanding the technical potential of the medium in order to be able to move from a communications / advertising brief to an experience / discovery brief. Social media, adds an additional layer to building digital experiences, which, too, needs to be considered in a creative brief. 
Read the whole post here.

The Twitter Song

Really! A song about Twitter. Now that tells us just how much Twitter has changed our lives. Or does it? While you decide on that one, here's the vid. Can you imagine, this song is also available as an iTunes download?

April 06, 2010

How to fill in the holes in your idea. But first fill in the blank below Art Director or Copywriter.


Did you pause for a moment? Did you smile? Were you about to turn away disgusted? That's because the blank above is open to suggestive interpretation.

This is how open to interpretation your idea is when you don't fill in all the holes in it or don't fully explore all the avenues your idea can travel.

So the cardinal rule to rejection-proof your idea before you rush it to your client or your higher up is this: send it around the agency for an 'opinion walk'. Remember that you are not looking for praise here. You are merely getting a second opinion so that you can iron out any wrinkles that you didn't notice. The trick is to send it to people who will be objective. That could include your pantry-help, if he fits the bill.

But take it around to see how it's being received. You'll suddenly see a hole in your idea where there was none apparent before. Better that Mr. Objective spot it than your client or higher up, right?

April 05, 2010

Should you make that factory visit? Should you not?


It was Bill Bernbach who said “the magic is in the product.”

He was of the staunch opinion that you’ve got to live with your product, be steeped in it and get saturated with it. Simply put he was insisting on a visit to the factory, to begin with.

Visit the factory, given a chance, and experience the product. Ask all the questions you are itching to ask. Yes, even the silly ones; for it’s the silly questions that often turn out to be selling points because in that silly moment you are actually airing the customers mind.

And never mind if you are not minding your own business with the questioning. It’s only so that you can help them make more of those products! You’re here to help. So ask and read every bit. Get steeped in the product.

As a copywriter or art director, your grasp of the client’s product has to be as good as your Account Manager’s. Seriously. It’ll pay off well.

No it won’t!

O-oh! Here comes conflict.

You are not paid to think like the client. He is already doing that. Why should you do it on his time and money?

You are being paid for your outsider’s perspective. So don’t ever, ever take the factory tour. You need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes instead, you need to voice his reality – the customer doesn’t care what happens on the factory floor. All the customer wants to know is what’s in it for him. All he wants to know is what the product will do for him.

Which side of the argument do you buy?

April 04, 2010

March 30, 2010

How to become that ideas man. Or make a fair beginning.


Just how many of these things have you done? Or done lately?
- Read a cook book
- Volunteer at an orphanage
- Try a hand at pottery
- Assist a child with her homework
- Try your hand at interior design
- Go out on a photo walk
- Go out bug hunting
- Make a comic book
- Make wine
- Spend time at a mechanic's
- Go on a trek
- Watch Cartoon Network
- Visit your SPCA
- Play make-believe

You get the drift, don't you? You can make your own list of things to do that immerse you in varied experiences. Because it's these experiences that are the fertile soil for ideas to germinate.

So what will you begin with? A trek? Reading a cook book? Or something not on this list?

March 26, 2010

Mo's Wakow


And so we watched a few commercials

Because Yuvaraj who was to make a presentation on Flash Papers couldn't make it for the meeting. We watched a few Super Bowl commercials and found out that the latest round of commercials aired during the 2009 event were no match to the great commercials we've seen earlier. Or maybe expectations are way too high. Everybody expects an 'Apple 1984'. Either way it was a good start to a Friday. Yuvaraj will be presenting the week after Easter.

March 25, 2010

Is this how you make a great product placement in the digital world?



Absolut Vodka recently premiered a documentary about Jay-Z. The film focuses on the rapper and his September 11 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.

If you notice, the product placement in this 15-minutes long video is subtle. In agency terms, the word Absolut appears twice on the video. Then towards the end, the rapper and his entourage are seen celebrating with Absolut Vodka - not in an in-your-face way, but in a very natural way. So natural that you'd almost miss it. The Absolut bottle is shown for just a split second on a tray. And this is at the very end of the 15 minute video, a couple of minutes before the credits start to roll.

Clearly, this one is targeted at the fans of Jay-Z, a huge base at that. And the video is unmistakably fan centric, not advertiser/product centric. But Absolut comes through shining bright. This must be one of the best product placements in a long, long while. One worth emulating?

March 24, 2010

Does turning off comments, stop a conversation build up?

Apparently not as Apple found out. The official version of the Apple iPad ad - Meet iPad - that was released on Apple's Youtube channel had comments disabled. But that didn't stop a conversation building around copies of the ad.

What does this tell us?

In very plain language, it tells us that in the public domain of an increasingly digital world where everyone shares everything, you cannot control or channel conversation about your brand. In other words, turning off comments on your blog or channel does not put a stop to a conversation building up around your brand. Especially if it's an icon brand. Or a cult brand for that matter.

How fast can a cake disappear?

Very, very fast. Gone-in-60-seconds-fast as we discovered at Ahila's farewell.

Now you see it. Now you don't.

March 22, 2010

Rin ya Tide? Which one washes the whitest?



Not many television viewers had missed the Rin vs Tide advertisement that aired for almost a week recently. And each must have asked themselves one or all of the questions below:

1. Is such direct and explicit comparison legal?
2. Is such comparison good strategy?
3. Is such advertising ethical?

Legality:
The law is very clear. And it upholds that advertisements cannot compare brands without supportive evidence of concrete and verifiable facts and statistically valid data. If we don't see this advertisement on TV anymore is it because the advertiser did not have the above said data and because the law did take notice of the fact and brought out the whip? This brings us to the second point.

Strategy:
Was this circus a good enough strategy? Or was it juvenile and myopic? Did the advertisement increase numbers for the advertiser and dent numbers for the competitor? Did it tilt the market in favour of the advertiser? Only time and actual numbers at the end of the quarter will tell. But doesn't the whole exercise leave a sour taste in the mouth? Is that good for the brand in the long run? When Pepsi loudly proclaimed "There's nothing official about it", that was good strategy even though it was a frontal attack on Coca Cola without provocation. How does the current scenario even compare? And what would be the fallout?

Ethics:
The purpose of any advertisement is to establish the superiority of a brand and thereby influence consumer choice. But is such overt and explicit comparison morally and ethically correct?

The answer is obvious on all three counts. The advertiser scores in the negative.

Yet, all said and done, the desired outcome might well be met. So post the advertisement, which detergent washes the whitest? Rin or Tide?

March 19, 2010

March 17, 2010

One banner please!


Ideas don't come off the rack. So how do you cope, when the demand is for off-the-rack creatives?

Answer: You don't cope. Because 'cope' itself means compromise, in this case.

And compromise means, you give lesser. Your skills are portrayed in poor light. The client is forced to pay for stale, derivative creative. The creative hardly performs because it can hardly stand out to grab attention. The agency gets a black eye. And gives you one in return.

Now here's the worst part of all this chain reaction. It all started with YOU deciding to cope. Cope with the brief timeline to execute the creative. Cope with the lack of a proper brief. Cope with everything not conducive to produce a good piece of result-oriented creative. But cope you did. And a black eye you did get.

Honestly, if your job were on the line would you display this get by mentality? If you just answered in the negative, from now on, treat each brief as the last one you'd be working on if it didn't deliver positively startling results.

March 15, 2010

How can you bring down the death rate of a viral?


Last week, we'd suggested that perhaps the way to handle a ‘viral’ when you're plainly told to make one is to follow the pulse of the people like movie makers do. And then some.

So what do movie makers do?

- They base their story on a sentiment they can tap over and over again. It could be feelings of tenderness, sadness, nostalgia, euphoria, unadulterated joy, personal experiences, physical feelings, secrets, power, triumph...

- They give it a totally different take - reverent (The Godfather), irreverent (Life is Beautiful), inspiring (Gladiator), light hearted (Click)...

- Then put their heart and soul into making the best movie in all aspects - script, direction, cast, camera, lighting, music, editing...

- And for all this they take their time. At least for the successful ones. Time to better. Time to redo bits. Time to chop off the irrelevant. Time to tighten the story. Time to re-enact.

- It hits the screen only when everything is hunky-dory. And when it's had a pre-screening where the audience reaction is carefully monitored and acted upon.

- Oh... and the name of the movie doesn't appear permanently on screen in some ostensibly unobtrusive corner.

- You don't get occasional pop ups on screen to remind you that the movie is made by a certain studio. The studio actually downplays itself, but for the dazzling special effects animation of its logo, right at the beginning. And a whisper of a logo at the end when the credits have rolled by.

- You are not reminded overtly of the numerous successful movies that the studio has made.

- Instead, every genuine attempt is made to convey a single message as lucidly and powerfully as possible.

- Once the Saturday movie is over Judy gushes about it to her friends, she blogs about it. And the first thing she asks on a Monday morning is "Have you seen.... (enter movie title here). Judy drives her friends to the studio. Her friends drive their friends and family and so on.

Tada! A viral!

Could this be done for a viral, to actually make it go viral and serve its sole purpose of being? Is this a possible way to reduce the appalling death rate of a viral?

March 12, 2010

Can you make me a viral please!

Virals. Those chimera digital properties that create a life of their own once they capture our imagination, was the topic of debate or rather Bhavna's topic for her presentation today.

After the usual wrestle with the laptop, which we're all used to by now, we came to the conclusion that:

Virals are not made. As in, you can only hope to create something viral, something that people would appreciate. (For that matter, would it be right to know the pulse of the people and feed that pulse like a film producer or director does, so that one is surer of the viral effect of a viral? This calls for another post.)

Virals must never look like advertisements, which is why most so-called viral marketing efforts fall flat on their phoney faces.

Virals must be endearing, it must make you laugh or it must inspire you or make you go 'wow'. It must be worth another watch and another.

Virals can be anything. A movie clip. A parody animation. A letter. A photograph. It can be just about anything.



And then Bhavna pulled a plug giving us a black screen to stare at till it was up again after which we went through examples of virals. And more virals.

Read another post about virals here.

March 09, 2010

March 08, 2010

How can one be font-blind?

We were talking about fonts and character last week. (Something which quite a few designers take lightly.) So here's a quick visual tour of what's out there and the magic you can conjure up with the right font. We're using the humble Paint - Microsoft Paint Version 5.1 - here.


There! If a non-designer can opt for so many delicious, crunchy, munchy fonts on Paint, imagine what a designer can do if only he or she would step out to explore the fascinating world of fonts and type and not turn a blind eye to font detailing! As this blog has always maintained, a good start would be a visit to this movie posters portal.

March 03, 2010

Are you a passionate advertising creative?

That's a tough question for most. Because 'passion' isn't a very definable quality. Or rather there are various levels of passion. I know this guy who was so passionate about cricket that he used to mumble cricket in his dreams. And quite loudly at that. Do you dream copy? Do you dream design? Then that's extreme passion. But let's talk about passion on a more manageable, down-to-your-workday level.

Imagery:
Are you a designer who goes in for the very first image that appears in search? Or do you search high and low until you arrive at the perfect image for your design? (In these times of ready online image availability, we're talking about image search online here). If you're the latter, you're passionate. And you don't need this post to tell you that you are.

Briefs:
Do you insist on a written brief before you start a project, be it design or copy or both? Do you insist on having a clear picture of where you are going? In which case you have added to your 'passion' quotient. Briefs are your stage. You don't want to sweat it out on stage, move for elaborate move, only to find out that you are playing to the wrong audience or an empty auditorium, do you?

Copy:
If you are a copywriter, do you quickly string together a few sentences that you get off your desk? Or do you spend time putting together the right words, rather the PERFECT words, reading and re-reading what you wrote out loud, to get a feel of how it sounds. And further, do you let it lie for a while, a day or two if possible and revisit it to fine tune, before you are happy to let it off your desk? If you are the latter, no one would doubt your passion.

If you're a designer, do you take time out to actually read the copy and even sit with the Copywriter to find out what she had in mind while putting words to paper? If you feel that the direction or presentation can be better, do you let the copywriter know? Or would you rather cut and paste copy onto your layout including the directions put in by the copywriter and not visit it ever again? If you're the former, you're passionate. Oh yes, you are. If you're the latter, God help you.

Research:
Do you do a significant amount of research before you give concrete shape to your ideas - talking to people, searching the web, visiting libraries, trying out the product or service yourself, visiting the factories, showrooms? Or do you shun all forms of research, even the laziest kind, and just rely on what your Client Service and their brief tells you? If you just nodded for the former, you pass the passion test.

Doodle:
Do you doodle before you commit your idea to a fresh PhotoShop page? Do you commit to paper first? Do you own a scribble pad? Is the scribble pad your best friend? Vigorous nods for all these questions? Excellent! You may pat your passionate shoulder and congratulate yourself because, sadly, doodling is a dying art and consequently so is finesse in layouts. (Since this is the subject of a book and not just a post, or a post within a post, let's just leave it at that).

Writing long hand:
And writing drafts. Do you write long hand? If you notice, writing longhand and then transferring it to a Word Document itself significantly improves the out put because you are actually keying in your second draft. Drafts give you the scope for improvement, tremendous improvement. You agree? Ah! Your passion is showing.

Alignment and proportion:
Are you very particular about alignment and proportion in your creative output? Do you keep working at your layout till you get your proportions right? Do you move around elements in your creative to give them the perfect placement where they can 'shine in all glory'? You do? Let no one tell you that you're not passionate.

Colour:
Do you love experimenting with colour? Do you pour over magazines on interior design, painting and photography to understand nuances of colour or simply to find new combinations you have never tried before? And actually try them out at the next opportunity? Only someone passionate would do that.

Fonts:
Do you believe that fonts speak their own language? That each font has a personality? That fonts can be sad, cheerful, frightening, firm and a lot more? And for that very reason, they should be selected carefully? Bravo! That's passion!

March 01, 2010

Mo's Wakow!


A quick meeting after much waiting








St. Ennui is still in reign or so it appears from the thin attendance the Friday Morning Meeting has been getting in 2010. Are we due for a change in format of the meeting? Is it percieved that this particular meeting is a mere waste of time? Is it largely felt that there are better things to do at that particular hour than attend a sterile meeting on a Friday morning?

Guesses and more guesses.

Meanwhile, we had another thinly attended meeting preceeded by a thirty minute wait in.

January 25, 2010

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!


Do you hear Rudolph and Snowman singing for you? No? Come closer. You still don't? Ok. That was clumsy. But that is the last frame of our corporate Christmas card. It comes with no less wishes and good cheer... Merry Christmas everyone!

And wish you all a very happy holiday season.

December 23, 2009

Jingle Bells Indian Ishtyle

Jaideep sent this by mail a few days ago when we were ideating for the Rage X'mas card. This one's brilliant really. But you decide that...

December 21, 2009

Fear of bad ideas


Another brilliant post from Seth Godin. This one would resonate well with anyone in the ideas business.
A few people are afraid of good ideas, ideas that make a difference or contribute in some way. Good ideas bring change, that's frightening.

But many people are petrified of bad ideas. Ideas that make us look stupid or waste time or money or create some sort of backlash.

The problem is that you can't have good ideas unless you're willing to generate a lot of bad ones. Painters, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers, chiropractors, accountants--we all fail far more than we succeed. We fail at closing a sale or playing a note. We fail at an idea for a series of paintings or the theme for a trade show booth.

But we succeed far more often than people who have no ideas at all.

Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, "none."

And there, you see, is the problem.

December 18, 2009

What should brands be in this Age of Conversation?


Social media is the rage, not just because it's a current trend. Oh no. Not to the serious players. What must your personality be in this digital word-of-mouth environment that we call social media? Here's an interesting summation by Peter Friedman of LiveWorld.

He exhorts us to ask a few questions to clear the air before we make the plunge. Would sound more like Ogilvy-era gospel, but it's so much more relevant now.

1. If you met your brand at a party, how would you describe it?
2. What voice should your brand speak in?
3. From within your company, who would be a good archetype for that voice?
4. Is your brand more likely to engage in conversation or help others do the same?
5. If you could invite your customers over, what would you do together?
6. What social causes do you care about?

December 15, 2009

Raining...


Been raining almost all day. And the week has just begun. BBC Weather tells us it will be raining all week, Sunday even!

December 14, 2009

Really! Is Flash THAT Easy?

After a couple of aborted attempts to get the Friday Morning Meeting going we finally had a presentation. Actually, Sornavel's presentation almost did not happen when the laptop we use regularly turned stubborn and acted up. But what had us that morning was a line in the presentation that went - flash does not require programming skills and is easy to learn.

Hrump!

That line is deceptive. Besides, the presentation was tepid and that's being kind. Only the copywriters would have learnt a thing or two while it was a case of re-inventing the wheel for the others.

Question: Should topics for presentation be so shallow as to be easy to wade through without much thought being put into it? Surely not. So why aren't we more careful in choosing topics? Next week we discuss the 10 best flash websites so far, so we've been told. Is that a good, healthy topic that all can learn from? Perhaps.

What's a Viral? This is a Viral!


Teuxdeux.com is a viral.

Why so? Because the moment this author chanced on it and got familiar with it, the URL went out to almost 30 people by mail. And a hell of a lot more via Twitter.

This is vintage viral:
-- It's simple, way too simple to understand and built with insight.
-- It's interactive in the sense that you want to immediately check out the bells and whistles of this piece and find out more. In this case there' isn't very much to find out by the very nature of this website.
-- It makes a difference to you, even if it only brings on a smile. In this case, it's way more than a smile. Try it here.
-- You know for sure that a lot more people other than yourself would genuinely appreciate it.
-- You like the fact that a majority of the people you intend to send this to will be getting it for the first time.

There you have it. A viral!

December 09, 2009

December 04, 2009

We didn't have a presentation... But we met all the same

"Noooo!"

"You don't understand a 'no'? Ok. Talk to the hand then... and let me finish up on the phone while you do". Or so says Shobhana when this photographer passed by on his way to the conference room to take a tepid shot of a TV. His idea of representing a 'no meeting'.


We didn't have a presentation this time since we didn't have a laptop, the usual one being unavailable. But we did have a little session on the importance of catching up in this fast changing digital world.

This was last week.

We didn't meet today either as the presenter wasn't available. So we meet next week. One wonders who would read a post about not having a meeting. If by chance you did, would you leave a comment too? Just a smiley would do.