Thursday, 30 September 2010

Dear Father Christmas..

It's that time of year when children start working out what they want for Christmas. I know, I used to work in the toy industry.  Well grown-ups can have wish lists too, even if they're of the dream on rather than Amazon kind, and this is sure going on mine...

I've just seen this video for the Sony Ericsson Live-View: Everything the Pop-Swatch I had in 1990 (or thereabouts) did in gadget wearable versatility,  PLUS a load of cool Android capability thrown in. 
Geek happiness. Watch!

Fashion retail goes multi-media with YouTique by French Connection

French Connections' foray into the multi-media world tripped across my radar this morning.

They've created a "YouTique" (YouTube based  boutique) to show and tell their autumn collections and provide some sort of quasi-personal online personal shopping guide (i.e select the event / occasion you need to find an outfit for and it will return a personal shopper suggestion video).

So far so good, but it gets better, the videos are annotated with "buy" buttons that link you out to the French Connection website, which is the first time I've seen external linking on YouTube.
 There's already been lots of great examples of videos linking to other videos and using annotations well, notably the Boone Oakley non-website and one of my other favourites come from Berlei bras in Australia, but this is new functionality as far as I am aware.

I think this approach makes an awful lot of sense, multi-media showcasing of ranges is much more interesting than flat online-catalogue approaches, which is what Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and H&M amongst others have opted for via mobile Apps (read the reviews, pretty mixed!), and being able to close the purchase loop there and then is a no-brainer. I think there's an awful lot more French Connection could have done with it, but we'll award marks for trying, and for doing something new.

Via David Cushman's Faster Future blog I found this link to a social media audit of the UK Fashion retail scene which is quite interesting reading whilst I am on a Fashion theme. I also recently noted that Burberry were loaning out iPads at the new season previews with bespoke iPad apps on  allowing customers to order new season collection items there and then. Nice. Gucci were also using their iPad app to shout about live streaming their catwalks shows...

Rich fodder today, the subject of interesting things being done by fashion retailers:  Uniqlo have for a long time been the pace setters in exploiting technology to create interesting interactions between brand and consumer, such as their Lucky Switch activity making banner ads organically spreadable, increasing reach along the way. Whilst I was looking that link up recently to show someone I discovered that they publish this handy overview of lots of their cool Uniqlo activities.  Be inspired!

Meanwhile I'll be off to talk to my clients about how they can mash and adapt the YouTique approach and push it harder!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Bookworms: Dying out??

I've been what's commonly referred to as a "bookworm" since I was about 3.  

But I've never seen a real one :-)  I've enjoyed imagining what they look like though.

It's a lovely term for an avid and passionate reader. I've almost missed flights as I've had my nose stuck in a compelling book. I've lost sleep over books, elastic promises of "just one more chapter before I turn off the light". I've missed my station or bus stop because a story has been so compelling I've been lost to the real world around me.

Somehow reading then ended up being a large part of what I do for work. Yet like most people, most of what I read these days is on a screen. Big screen, small screen, in-between sized screen. I fret that bookworm is a term threatened by the onward march of technology. Up there with cassette as a term that generations below will wrinkle their brows and look puzzled over. Worms in tech terms fill me with fear and dread of the blue screen of death.

Yet for all my digital immigrant book nostalgia I welcome the ways that technology can amplify and add depth to narrative, making it compelling in new ways.  Stories exist in so many forms. Stories swapped over coffee or a beer amongst friends, choose your own adventure stories - in paper or game format, stories translated into videos and pictures, stories reviewed and recommended in new ways and by new people.  Multi-player / media online games are just another way people share and interact in or with stories.

My two recent favourites (back to wearing my work hat) are:

1) the Touching Stories App on the iPad - choose your own ending multi-media adventure & very funny in places. Just nice to see touch being explored as an interface.

2) The Tipp-Ex YouTube takeover / commercial from a few weeks back that gave you the ability to interact and be playful or silly and also dictate your own ending. I particularly liked that for the retro product using new channels.

You could then throw in good ole' Huck Finn which I've been reading on my iTouch for a while now. Old story, new distribution platform. New preferences of when and why I choose to engage with them. I'm also looking forward to having a play with the Story Patch app later. It's designed for kids but I'm imagining it will be like me learning to use Keynote (Mac Powerpoint equivalent) on the iPad -writing presentations when you are much more reliant on tactile manipulation makes you think about how you convey the key point in different ways. Challenge is good sometimes.

Smartphone, tablet, laptop, hardback, paperback - I just now have a whole series of reading choices in my repertoire. Some I'll learn to have different expectations of over time. I'm now a repertoire reader in more senses than one. It used to be just having a few different books on the go at once, maybe one in several languages for pleasure and a business related one for inspiration or challenge. Now it's about what I'm reading on what device. No doubt before long I'll be keeping it all in the cloud not locally and just pulling it down on whichever device is to hand.   

I'm not sure if I'll become known as a content-craving consumer or a starving scanner or by some other nomenclature in the future but I'm pretty sure that it won't have the charm of identifying myself as a bookworm. I'm also sure the world won't stop wanting to swap stories.  So here's a nice video from the IDEO gang on how they see the future of books... I think they just misjudged the title - it's the future of storytelling and information sharing.  Books are merely a specific format.

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Believe in Fairies bearing gifts...

Ok, brace yourselves, I admit that it's been a while since I believed in the tooth fairy.  Luckily I don't think I have any readers aged below 6. If I do, go and play outside immediately.  Fairies at the bottom of the garden however, are an entirely different matter.

Or at least they are very real for my brothers who live in Sydney, as Coke launched the Coke Machine Fairy project last week. It's a great example of brands experimenting with location to create brand / consumer involvement, and a nice build on the Coke Happiness vending machine work they've done over the last year.

The basic premise is this.. for a week, the Coke Machine Fairy will be dropping off a special prize-winning bottle of Coke per day  in various vending machines around the city.

They are announcing clues to the special bottle whereabouts via their FourSquare and  Twitter feeds... Checking in as they go leaving clues as to where they are headed and then having set up various Coke vending machines as locations on FourSquare.

  Then challenging people to find them, and shout out about having done so to claim their prize.

Nice!  I love this for several reasons:
  • It invites participation in a social gaming kinda way (and let's fact it life's one big game if you think about it)
  • It engenders a sense of time limited competition (who can get there first) and we're a react to deadline based race these days
  • It harnesses the power of (accessible) location based technology to give human interaction with the brand, 
  • It requires the winners to shout out about their involvement with the campaign = influential reach / spread of a brand message
 Oh, and just that little detail of contributing to the brand equity, reinforcing it's happiness work, cos everyone likes free stuff, even if they've had to do a little work for it.  :-)  You can bet your Aussie dollar that those who've won, or been beaten to it are telling their mates about it too.

Over the last few days I've seen the prizes claimed in anything between 4 and 12 minutes after they've been planted.  (click to enlarge)

How's that for direct response & the power of the hyper-local capability that so many of us carry in our pockets these days (i.e your mobile)?  Really nice to see a brand experimenting.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

If in doubt put a cat in it...

We all know that cats are a big traffic driver on the web. Lots of people love their feline friends and love to share pictures of them. And have been for a very long time now as this meme / timeline shows ;-)

Cat-lovers were recently in uproar across the web after some poor misguided soul put a cat in a wheelie bin, an act unfortunately caught on a personal cctv webcam, and footage of said act posted on YouTube. Today, a quick search on YouTube rustles up 457 results and the first 5 account for over 500k views. Nuts. In just over a week.  But I am not going to add fuel to the flames by linking or posting it. Instead I am going to link to the spoof Twitter feed some enterprising individual set up, which was wrong so wrong but mildly amusing, and has 29.5k followers as of today.

So, point proven cats drive traffic on the web.

Co-incidental perhaps then that one of my mates just sent me todays Dilbert comic strip:  (Posted as a screengrab as it'll change tomorrow)

(NOTE if you look at the image carefully they encourage you to mash and play!).  Back to the cat theme...

IKEA couldn't have dreamed of the random act by catbinlady occuring & nicely boosting searches for cats for them. Handily just as they were about to let 100 cats loose in one of their UK stores to create footage for a new ad to promote the launch of their new cat-alogue (forgive the pun, but surely someone had to have thought of that one??!).

If you want to watch the making of said cat-ercial click here(be warned it's 4 minutes), or you can just watch the finished result here  (1 minute) as for reasons best know to IKEA they've not made it embeddable, which is pretty poor etiquette these days.

Now for a little mashing of my own - take your IKEA UK's cat-ercial and mash it with IKEA Austria's approach to launching the new catalogue...

UPDATE: 27th Sept: Just found the updated cat-section of the Ikea website with some very amusing videos (she says with just a hint of cynicism) under the nav heading "pussy people". Be warned it's got VERY ANNOYING auto on music, so turn that off quick using the mute speaker icon bottom right.  They've also added a competition element whereby you can and match an item of furniture to a specific cat (presumably one that interacted with the item during the ad shoot) to win the item (not the cat), albeit you have to log in via Facebook to complete the competition process.  There's also the new cat-alogue which is indeed a picture of lots of Ikea products with cats sitting on/nearthem!

Monday, 13 September 2010

I want it now... seems to be fashionable this week

Last week Google beta launched Google Instant search, in short, search answers appearing as you typed your query, but more on that another day, even if its functionality will save me 5 seconds a search!!

Speed being one of the amazing things about the web, some quick off the mark smart cookie created a YouTube instant version, which is pretty impressive.

Have a play with the "unofficial" YouTube Instant here....

Meanwhile YouTube themselves, are about to kick off a two day beta test of Live Streaming, something that they've experimented with in the past with U2 concerts and cricket tests. They've hooked up with a few content partners and put together this rather nice looking widget so you can see what they are scheduling:

Friday, 10 September 2010

Fun Mashups: Time Travel via YouTube videos & Spotify Poems

 The amazing thing about the web is that there is such a diverse range of things already out there, inspired by creativity across the world (or sometimes the lack of it!), which in turn just fuels more creativity as people find ways of tweaking and repurposing content that exists elsewhere into something new. Inspire people and you don't even have to create things yourself!

So my two treasure finds of yesterday were...

A YouTube based time travel machine. Pick your category and a date, and before you know it you can be watching some footage from 1888! Or the Tango & Cash movie trailer from 1989.

I also rather liked  Spotify Poetry, compose your own poem using song titles via Spotify & then screengrab & share :-)  Quite fancy having a go at that one at some point.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Email happiness: Gmail now sorts your inbox :-)

Yay, last week Google announced the launch of Gmail priority and the beta's finally reached me.  Multiple Gmail accounts, used for personal and work stuff means a LOT of emails so now I can get the important stuff flagged up and reaching me first.

So we'll give it a whirl and see what happens. I'd have given it a go just for the sake of a nice combination of animation and soundtrack in the explanatory video!

I'll be interested to see if / how it works on my Android based phone too.