Droga 5’s recent full page ad in The Australian confirmed what we all already knew. Despite telling everyone who’ll listen that ‘the old agency model is broken’, most people in advertising still prefer the idea of a Sterling Cooper-style long lunch to a four-hour workshop on cross-media integration.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Except that according to the BBC’s Adam Curtis, the reality of sixties adland was actually a bit less glamorous than Don Draper and co would lead us to believe.
Spot the difference
On his blog ‘The Medium and The Message’, Adam’s posted a fascinating, if slightly dreary, documentary about the 1969 Christmas party of London ad agency Davidson Pearce Berry and Tuck.
26 year old Media Director Allan Rich is pure gold – he puts an upper limit of ten minutes on festive socialising and shuns alcohol for a cheeky glass of bitter lemon.
Attempting to clear some of my Christmas shopping on Amazon, I noticed a rather curious new section under my personal recommendations – English Cuisine Bestsellers.
Currently sitting at number one is a family size consignment of Scampi Fries. It’s great that an artificially flavoured wheat-based snack has been recognised as a leader in the world of English cuisine. Other top sellers include Cheese Moments, catering packs of PG Tips and Buxton Still Water. Who’s buying this stuff?
When much of the internet seems dedicated to earnest posts detailing ’10 ways to double your blog traffic in five minutes’, it’s refreshing to hear an example of someone whose online popularity was completely accidental.
Gregory Levey’s article on The Nervous Breakdown (thanks to Big C for this) explains how he created a Facebook group to promote his book “Shut Up, I’m Talking”, a memoir about his time as a speechwriter for the Israeli government.
Levey saw his Facebook fans grow from about a hundred friends and family to over 750,000 – significantly more than better known authors such as JK Rowling (95,000) and Dan Brown (499,000).
The source of this new found popularity? Unfortunately for Levey, it wasn’t an explosion of interest in his book. Rather, it was his choice of title:
Even though the fan page shows the book’s cover and its synopsis, and informs visitors that it was published by Simon & Schuster, the vast majority of these supposed “fans” were somehow totally unaware that it was referring to a book at all. They had simply joined because they were fans of the phrase “Shut Up, I’m Talking.”
They were the sort of people, I soon discovered, who were also fans of such inane but popular Facebook fan pages as “Punching Things” and “I hate it when I get fingerprints all over my phone.” But each time one of them would become a fan of Shut Up, I’m Talking, their circle of Facebook friends would blindly do the same – causing its frighteningly viral spread.
If Levey were to message his 750,000 fans via Facebook, he’d surely pick up some extra sales. However, given that few expressed any interest in middle eastern politics, his conversion rate would probably be fairly low.
Levey’s experience is a great example of how, contrary to the claims of viral agencies and e-book peddlers, building a following can be a pretty unpredictable affair. Furthermore, a successful online community has more to do with quality than quantity.
On the plus side, the popularity of Levey’s Facebook group highlights how readily people identify with an insight that rings true – however trivial it might seem. In fact, maybe we’re all missing a trick – sounds like the smart money’s in fingerprint-resistant mobile phone covers…
If you live in the UK you may have already seen this, but I thought it was too good to ignore…
Last week I stumbled across this superb Google Street View image capturing an audacious seagull making a quick getaway after stealing a chip in John Street, Brighton.
As a former Brighton resident, I think it provides a great insight into what it’s like to live there. If you were to scroll round to the right you’d notice that the theft occurred right outside Brighton Police Station – I assume the police were too busy dishing out ASBOs to intervene…
For more of Street View’s accidental heroes check out this collection from the Huffington Post.
UPDATE 14/05/2010: Interestingly Google (under pressure from Brighton & Hove City Council?) seem to have photoshopped out the offending seagull from StreetView, so I’ve replaced it with a screenshot.
UPDATE 18/12/09: Get your free Flavors.me invite code here:
Just go to flavors.me/signup and enter invite code ‘nextlevelideas’ to try it out for yourself.
In the spirit of seamless segues, I’m kicking off the new blog design by mentioning a forthcoming social media enterprise that is also all about the content – Flavors.me.
Currently in beta, Flavors.me is a surprisingly simple way to create a homepage bringing together all the stuff you’ve created on blogs and social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Last.fm etc.
Other than the Americanised spelling, what stands out about Flavors.me is its Apple-inspired design philosophy. The antithesis of MySpace, its strict but stylish templates ensure a consistent look and feel and keep the emphasis firmly on showcasing content from elsewhere. While sites like FriendFeed have covered similar ground, flavors has a greater emphasis on creating a personal web presence than simply aggregating feeds.
Does anyone really need yet another social media presence? Maybe not. But if you’re looking to create a simple homepage or microsite that easily integrates Twitter, Flickr etc, Flavors.me is worth checking out.
Like many people with a blog, I don’t update it as much as I’d like.
Recently I’ve been trying to convince myself that this was not a result of my own laziness. Rather, I concluded that my previous image-led, magazine-style design was better suited to long-form articles than short posts and links. Predictably, this realisation resulted not in hard-hitting features but deliberation and inactivity.
The obvious conclusion was to go back to basics and redesign the blog. So here it is, hopefully with the help of Thesis, unmissable regular content will become the norm.