Archive for July, 2008

All I want for Christmas…is a Rubik’s Cube

July 28, 2008

Hamleys has revealed what they predict will be the top Christmas sellers this year – retro toys. From a Monopoly board to a leather-clad rubik’s cube, the kids of 2008 are clamouring for a bit of our kidulthood.  And why not? The 80s were undoubtedly a great time to be a kid. We had Cabbage Patch Kids – and then Garbage Pail Kids glow worms, scalextrix, Teddy Ruxpin (okay, that one was a bit creepy) and Transformers – two toys for the price of one – quite possibly the best toy ever.  TV brought us classics like Grange Hill, Newsround, Dangermouse and Count Duckula. TV presenters weren’t fashion icons, they weren’t papped falling out of the latest London club after a few too many champagne mojitos. They sat in broom closets and talked to gophers or had mullets and ran the fun house.  And as for films, who could tire of watching Ghostbusters, Teenwolf or Back to the Future??  And now the noughties wants a piece of them too – from remaking our 80s cartoons into Hollywood mega-bucks blockbusters to filming sequels of our treasured classics like The Goonies and Indiana Jones, the 80s, long-denounced as one big mistake are finally back in fashion.  But one question, if the Rubik’s Cube is back, does that mean I can finally resurrect my Rick Astley album too?

The keys to successful viral marketing

July 25, 2008


One of the first stumbling-blocks that people encounter when talking about viral marketing is a confusion over what differentiates a viral campaign from mainstream marketing. True viral campaigns all share a number of key elements:


● They transmit themselves over existing communications networks


● They are self-replicating – just like a biological or computer virus


● The campaign can grow without your support (or control)


● The recipients pass on the marketing message voluntarily


Confusion also often results from the fact that viral campaigns can operate over a large number of different media: word of mouth, games, videos, eBooks, software, images, e-mail and even text messages.


So what makes a viral campaign become a great viral campaign?


1] You must ensure the viral is compatible with the values and personality of your brand and does not undermine the existing perception of it.


2] The viral must also be intrinsically relevant to the brand so that it cannot ‘shake off’ the brand’s message. An excellent example of this is Hotmail’s viral self-marketing on its own emails – users spread the viral as part and parcel with the free service.


3] Make sure that you have clearly mapped out the viral’s objective. Are you trying to build awareness, increase customer numbers, promote a specific event or do something else?


4] Your central concept for the viral has to stand out – it must be interesting, new and different. Ask yourself, why will people talk about this?


5] The viral must give the recipient something in return for spreading it. For example, a user passing on a funny viral expects to receive recognition and admiration from his friends for making them laugh.


6] It is important that your viral originates from a credible entity – i.e. it cannot blatantly come from an advertising or PR agency.


7] Identify individuals with a high social networking potential (SNP) and target them: for example, targeting prominent bloggers and pushing your product into the hands of leading consumers can be invaluable strategies.


8] Finally, you have ten to twenty seconds. Any longer and you will not be able to grab the audience’s attention. According to Jupiter Research’s latest European consumer survey, only 5% of the internet population has ever forwarded a marketing message.


And remember, it is extremely important to monitor the results of your viral – not least because your clients will want to know where their money went!


Of course, these media viruses can also spring up naturally… like the “dramatic gopher”…


Grammar Nazi: (Part three of a series)

July 21, 2008

It seems that our healthy obsession with grammar is shared around the globe. Check out this blog about a family of six travelling the world

Apparently bad grammar can kill:  


It can also stop you getting a girlfriend.  It’s amazing what you can find on the internet nowadays…





Grammar Nazi: (Part Two of a series)

July 18, 2008

Sound Advice

Sound Advice


This piece of sound family planning advice apparently came directly from the NHS.


Language is a funny thing, eh? Half the time it says things you didn’t mean to say. The other half it’s used to avoid saying the things you want to say…


“The future of the web”

July 8, 2008

Tim Berners Lee – the inventor of the internet – is in town for a conference on the Future of the Web and the people at Nesta – a body in charge of making the UK more innovative – have been polling attendees to the conference about what their hopes and fears for the internet are.

I love the top words in the hope category: democracy, open, social, disruption, radical… everything that I think that the internet should be, and sometimes fails to live up to. Having said that, I still am a massive internet fan and think that the advances over the last few years, months, weeks and days are truly revolutionising how we interact with each other. And that can only be a good thing if, like me, you’re a fan of change!

“You are the music while the music lasts” (T.S.Eliot)

July 7, 2008

Having recently discovered the joys of downloading an album from iTunes for a very reasonable £7.49 I am personally very smug about being able to access the latest music for half the cost of a CD when I was a teenager. (I remember when the cost of a CD equalled my monthly pocket money!) 

So smug, some might say, that I simply cannot understand the rationale behind those who are making such a song and dance about the BPI/Virgin Media illegal downloads campaign.  If people continue to steal music then yes, they should be ‘educated’.  And why not?


I applaud the fact that music is becoming more affordable, but I don’t necessarily expect it for free.  I believe that music downloads should be regulated, and yes, maybe I am just too conventional when it comes to this whole debate over privacy issues, but if you have nothing to hide, then why make such a fuss?!  “Thou doth protest too much….”?


Live Fat, Die Young…

July 7, 2008


Let’s face it, a lot of people in the world are fat. No, I’m not talking about the ones who could stand to loose a few pounds. I’m talking about people who are clinically obese; people who are stretching the physical limits of just how large you thought a human could be. People who are pushing their bodies to breaking point through sheer size alone.

It’s not surprising. Our society eats high fat, refined foods and many people exercise less than a narcoleptic sloth with a nasty case of glandular fever.

Actually, I was once trapped in the top floor of a club for two hours when a massively obese woman passed-out (from alcohol) in the stairwell. Five bouncers couldn’t move her. We had to await the emergency services and specialist lifting equipment.

Anyway, back to the point. Games.

Games have a reputation for being part of this growing problem. We already know they can cause migraines, back-strains and motion-sickness. And of course, sitting down for long periods of time doesn’t do anything for one’s physique.

But active games like Dance Dance Revolution, Eye Toy and Wii Fit are starting to change things. By making games more active and less static, the same addiction to the virtual environment can be used to combat poor fitness.



Other games out there are also trying to educate kids on the risks of an unhealthy diet: Fatworld, for example.

According to creators, Persuasive Games, “Fatworld is a video game about the politics of nutrition. The game’s goal is not to tell people what to eat or how to exercise, but to demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations. It’s one thing to explain that daily exercise and nutrition are important, but people, young and old, have a very hard time wrapping their heads around outcomes five, 10, 50 years away”.



Your avatar can select a starting weight and height and predispositions to medical problems like diabetes. You then have to select what and when you eat, what you avoid and whether you exercise. And the results of your choices are reflected in the size (and health) of your avatar.

So perhaps gaming is the future of combating obesity? The Wii certainly likes to tell kids they’re solidly built, even if they don’t want to hear it.

But it’s a Fat World, after all…

%d bloggers like this: