Monday, April 30, 2012

Derby Day Politics

Why do I want United to win the derby tonight? Well it's partly because they are my local club now, partly because I admire their style of play, and partly for an unusual third reason... victory for City will be a victory for David Cameron and the principles of the Tory government.**

City is a team built on foreign money, using the Real Madrid Galacticos principle of buy the most expensive players you can find. Money over team spirit, over hard work and over passion. (I'm not saying the fans don't have passion of course)

You see, even Margaret Thatcher and all her miner hating, poor bashing, divisive horror was at least built on a principle of hard work. If you work hard you deserve to be rewarded. Cameron however lacks even that simple piece of morality, his work is based on 'the wealthy are deserving, the poor are not', which can also be taken as 'The South is deserving, the North is not'.

A City win backs that vacuum of principles, that money is good, that you can buy victory with inherited wealth, as opposed to the long term effort and hard work that personifies Manchester United, and used to be there at City too. The same moral black hole that stop lots of people from cheering for Chelsea, even as the only British team in Europe. It's why I will always want Barcalona to beat Real Madrid, even when Mourinho is their manager.

I don't begrudge the long suffering City supporters their day in the sun, I'd just prefer that day to come about through teamwork and determination, not through a transfer schedule that makes 15th Century land owners look considerate.

So just like Ed Milliband, United may not be perfect, but as long as it means stopping Cameron he can be 100% assured of my vote. Come on you reds.

(**Note - Please don't take this too seriously!)

Also - At work we have created a tweet derby day battle! Join in by using the hashtags #derbyred and #derbyblue - The live scoreboard is up on the CBJWT website here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Experience Gap

Helping out on New Business work has made me more aware than ever before about the Experience Gap, and just how damaging and silly it can be. This is something that I find a worrying number of tenders are including, and also something that agencies as employers can too often do themselves.

It starts with that moment where someone raises their hand and says "Whoever we pick probably should have worked for a company like us in the last few years". Cue a few nods and a clause in the tender.

Except what happens when everybody does it? You end up in a situation where agencies are trapped out of working on a particular sector by lack of experience, with no way of gaining that experience. I have literally seen in two years, 5 tenders in one sector ALL of which mandate recent experience. It turned out to be a sector we had done some great work on, but because it was a little too old it didn't count.

How ridiculous.

There must be a small  circle of agencies solely working on this one sector, with everyone else unable to get involved no matter how skilled. This misses out both on the talents of some great great agencies, as well as bypassing the fact that an agency without direct experience can offer a fresh viewpoint, and not be bogged down by convention.

It's very annoying, but we do the same. When I first looked to get into advertising, I met a guy at Grey during a graduate event, who told me I should become a planner. I asked him when they did graduate planning recruitment, the answer was "we don't"... and nor did anyone else.

So how do you get into a job when there are no real entry points? You have to get an agency to take a risk, and in the current climate that's an unlikely thing to convince a finance director to do.

Maybe there's an upside though, because it encourages people who want to get into our industry to be tenacious, to work hard and be sure they want the job; if you work in adland the odds are you damn well earned your place here. Sure as an industry we need to improve in many things, hire more risky people, be more racially and culturally representative, stop seeing people over 50 as past it... but I believe we'll get there, or else I'll be trying damn hard to change it.

Now if only we can get that minority of tender authors to see the value that an agency without direct experience can bring.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


A lot is said these days about the overuse of, mis-prescribed importance of, and death of (as a statistic) engagement. But like most terms, they are always right in some cases, and used badly too often. Engagement itself doesn't mean much on it's own, it's about how that engaged time makes you feel or what it makes you remember.

Now this new work from Tipp Ex is the very definition of engaging comms. It doesn't feel like ad comms at all, it has a silly central premise that gives you a small box and invites you to play around, and other than setting up the box it barely even mentions the product.

20 seconds isn't a score for measuring engagement, but 20 minutes spent playing with a brand produced activity? That's engagement in a context that is relevant.
There is little arguing with the finished product. A relatively low budget piece of work that drags you in and gives you content that makes you want to share it. No need to white-out that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Time to Entertain

Depending on your viewpoint, in-game purchasing has become a gigantic opportunity/pain in the backside with mobile games. Mostly I hate it, because you get huge percentages of new games that are no longer set up to provide a fun experience the whole way through, they are set up to drive revenue at the expense of gameplay.

A lot of parents are complaining about 'free' games that then bombard kids with requests to buy more too, while most regular gamers feel cheated by unfairly hard games that charge you for better cars, or games that make you pay for every single level, or use coins that are collected so sparingly it drives you to want to shortcut the process by buying. To me, and many others this process of sales over gameplay is wrong.

It's not like you buy a full game and pay for an expansion, it makes you feel tricked and like the developers are being deliberately dishonest and deceitful.

Part of this is the new culture of cheap games started by the iPhone and Android stores, people expecting that games should cost £2.99 and no more, regardless of how many people worked on it and how long for. This means that smaller developers often need to find extra finances. Though I maintain creating a great game will always benefit you more in the long run than creating a great in-game sales mechanic.

What this does say to me however, is that the opportunity for brands to develop and involve themselves with games has never been greater.

If you are a brand, you can develop a full, fun game as part of your budget that drives awareness, engagement and eventually sales. You can develop games to be FUN, not to drive in game purchases; which, if done well, could actually lead us to something new: brands creating games that are more fun than non-branded games.

The cheaper alternative of course is to do what we were talking about several years ago, sponsor these downloads and show the brand in a giving light. E.g.: This 200 coin pack has been bought for you by XXXX.

While many developers and publishers are trying to twist mobile gaming into a stream of shopping cart microtransactions, we can help our brands take the lead and provide real content that people will appreciate (where relevant, of course!).

Pic via Diemkay

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


You may have noticed it's been a bit quiet here the past few weeks, normal service shall resume shortly! Been very busy and enjoying Easter :)