broadcasting, engaging, regulating, viewing

Here we go again: why brands should care whether or not viewers trust that their votes will count

the last few weeks have seen the spectre of viewer trust raise its head again, but unlike last year's Blue Peter name-the-cat debacle and Ant and Dec's Jiggygate affairs, recent events are far more opaque.

last time round, the cheating was obvious.  judgments were delivered and calls were made that clearly ignored the voice of viewers.  sanctions were duty handed out and much hand-wringing ensued.  everyone learned their lesson, got it off their collective chests at Edinburgh, and everything was OK again, right?

well no actually.  because the last few weeks have seen the voting viewer confidence undermined once more, again in the arena that is Saturday night event reality TV, and by both ITV and the BBC.

first up we had Dianagate courtesy of the X-factor.  to cut a long story short she let rip at a bonfire party, was ill, the producers gave her a get out of jail free card and Laura went out.  cue a call for the decision to be referred to Ofcom, a massive online petition to get Laura back in, and a mention in Parliament.

up next we had of course Sergeantgate on the BBC.  one of the biggest stories of last week saw the big guy pull out saying "The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far."  Sergeant hinted at the existence of pressure to go (from the BBC / judges / other contestants), The Daily Mail suggested that the reason was a P&O cruise that was beckoning, whilst Richard & Judy writing in the Express blamed his wife.

why does this matter?  why is this getting a post?  why can't we all just accept that it's just a TV show, get over it and all agree to get along?  and most importantly why should brands have any beef with all this?

because it's either reality TV or its not – if Sergeant winning isn't an option (in his or anyone else's mind) he shouldn't
be taking part in the first place; if we're going to ask the time and
money of viewers to participate then they have to believe that their
contribution will count.

because the principles of viewer interaction and contribution are too important to allow rules to be broken.  because the principle of 'have your say and the majority will determine the outcome' has got to be seen to be upheld.  and most of all because the difference between voting-viewer and contributer / co-creator is in name only…

in both the above cases we're asking people to engage with branded content.  similarly in both cases the decision of producers – to allow Diana to stay and to allow John to go – took the ability to control the outcome out of the hands of viewers and into the hands of producers.

brands should tread carefully where Saturday night producers seemingly don't fear to tread.  in a digital age that demands engagement and co-creation with brands thru media, brands (1) have to remain transparent and (2) have to be content for power – once devolved – to lie and remain with their consumers.

this is the reward for engagement; the quid pro quo for the time and energy of getting involved; consumer ROI if you like.  time will tell what the fall-out is for X-Factor and Strictly – but brands that fail to learn the lessons will find it less easy to waltz off in to the sunset with their credibility intact.


Robot Galaxy: because cool toys want to play both off and online

Aboard GALAXY I, you can create virtual Robots in the Arsenal, as well
as play games in the Training Deck and Battle Station. There are two
ways to build a Robot: 1) Virtually or 2) Modeled after your Robot
purchased at ROBOTGALAXY stores. You can also go to our e-store to purchase a Robot resembling your online avatar.

If you already own a SUPERSONIC FUEL CELL, connect your Robot's USB
cable to the computer before going online. Once connected, you can
either program your robot for the first time or receive new robot
downloads as your Robot advances in rank aboard GALAXY I.

Your Commander

is it me or is it every kids dream to get an email like this?  trendcentral has pointed us in the direction of a new offline / online / toy / game / story in the form of Robot Galaxy…  the trend central article explains it all better than I would:

"Not only are the
robots customized to each boy's specifications, but each one also has a
life online, offering boys a virtual world experience similar to those
so popular with tween girls, such as Webkinz and Club Penguin.

While at
the store, boys select from eight different robot characters from the
ROBOTGALAXY comic book series, subsequently building and "programming"
their choice as they wish. They then move on to a computer center,
known as the Lab, where the robots are connected to the online world
via USB cable; users then create an avatar for and register each in the
ONLINE GALAXY virtual world.

Once home, robot owners can play games
within the world and the higher the scores, the more light patterns,
sound effects, and phrases their physical robot will download."

so essentially… kids get to join up play in the real and online worlds, and get to share those experiences with other kids online.  social play in every sense.  but the best bit for me is that the advertising strategy is double genius.

one, it has consumer-to-consumer communication at it's heart.  kids will talk to other kids about this, and the fact that it's inherently competitive (blast those robots etc) means that there's always new communications to be had.

but the second bit of genius is how storytelling lies at the heart of the marketing strategy.  comics explain who the robots are and who they're battling, but as the project moves forward these will become free media to introduce new characters, models, ranges and stories.  stories that kids will want to engage with and then develop on their own terms both on and off line.  screwball scrabble was just never this cool.

engaging, integrating, praising, television, viewing

Don’t say, do: how HBO’s Voyeur showed the world how great a storyteller it is.

Jonny (thanks Jonny) pointed me in the direction of the above describing HBO's 2007 Voyeur activity, a campaign that won the Best Integrated Promotional Campaign at this year's Cannes.  great example of how brands should do rather than say.

advertising so often get's in the way…  we want people to think of us as great storytellers so let's make an ad about storytelling.  this campaign missed that cul-de-sac by a mile and instead created a campaign that immersed viewers in stories on their terms…  this was the objective from the start, this from the info on the above YouTube page:

"the campaign goal was to fortify HBO against increasing
competition by strengthening the brand's relationship with super-fans.
Incredibly engaged in all forms of media, they seek intelligent,
cutting-edge entertainment experiences. Super-fans recognize HBO as one
of the few brands that respects their intelligence. They don't just
watch HBO programs – they're completely involved and engaged before,
during and after a show.The creative task was to ignite this same level
of passion around the HBO brand itself

a website was of course integral, but mobiles, on-demand and blogs took the story much further.  for me though the best bit about this campaign was the outdoor projection.  we too often miss opportunities to use real spaces to bring campaigns to life…  context tells us that as content proliferates consumers prefer and expect real experiences (cost of recorded music coming down whilst live goes up etc)

innovative – digital-led – ways to take campaigns to the streets are too few and far between, but the reward is there for the brands that can integrate the physical and the digital so seamlessly and to the mutual benefit of each.

ad funded programming, advertising, branding, broadcasting, content creating, converging, engaging, gaming, innovating, internet, planning

From theory to practice: the challenge of planning Transmedia

Keith Arem's graphic novel Ascend, for which a game is currently in development

it's now been over two years since Faris bought transmedia planning to our attention in his post of the same name on TIGS.  the theory has been well expounded in the period since then; with

I'm sure that the idea of TP has cropped up in most media, comms and ad agencies by now…  it certainly has in Mediation's.  but we've yet to see – as far as I can make out – a significant campaign emerge based on TP principles.  the same is actually true of the entertainment industry; in an interview with Games TM magazine(edition 75), Henry Jenkins – the Godfather of TP – concedes that truly persuasive examples have yet to arrive.

they're doing better than us though.  transmedia planning should be everywhere by now.  the theory is familiar and is not only relatively unchallenged, but is offers the very solution to some of the biggest marketing challenges of the moment.  of its many advantages, the primary benefit has to be the extent to which it pays back on the time taken to consume it.  Jenkins goes on to observe that "regardless of the commercial motives behind it, transmedia entertainment done well also provides rewards for fans".

so why is getting the theory working in practice so difficult?  here's some starters for ten…

firstly, the financial investment required.  the reason the best examples of TM largely remain in the entertainment arena (the Matrix, Cloverfield, Heroes, Lost etc) because it takes a significant chunk of investment to develop and then create the content often required.  the commercial models for Fox or Paramount are set up to do this, the commercial models for marketeers often aren't.

but this is a bit of a cop out.  for the cost of making three 30 second ads you can certainly afford to make an episodic drama for online distribution.  and no it doesn't matter if it's not going to go on broadcast TV because those people who consume AV content online are exactly those people most likely to 'get' transmedia narratives…  this means of course that the media budgeting has to evolve just as much as the production pot.

no, the real issues in making TP happen lie much closer to home than 'we don't have the budget' territory.  they are twofold, the first of which is we're bound to the conventions of the media spaces we use.  in the Games TM article mentioned above, .  he observes that:

"if a project requires a 30-minute budget introduction, games can do that, but the medium could just as easily offer six high-budget five-hour episodes to revolutionise the story.  film and television are still limited by rigid series structures and minimum lengths".

advertisers on those channels are bound by those same conventions; conventions we as an industry – planners, buyers and media-owners (and indeed Ofcom) alike need to start challenging.  it's the limitations of the spot model that in many cases is preventing transmedia's breakthrough into broadcast channels; and as long as transmedia only exists online, it's unlikely to capture the imagination of marketeers or the budgets of FDs.

but the final barrier to making TM happen in brand comms is the closet to home of all.  Jenkins notes that TM experiences can "be a source of … frustration [for consumers] if it's inconsistent, undermines the coherence of the work, or promises insights it never delivers".  Arem's solution is simple: "have a good team of like-minded individuals around you … my philosophy for all of our projects is to have a core team to supervise all creative and technical aspects of the production.  the main focus of that team is to keep the story and assets consistent, and integrate them with the entire franchise".

I think you know where I'm going with this.  agency structures are lucky if they can do this internally let alone with other agencies, resulting in the presention of a joined up and unified transmedia solution to a client.  not only might different creative agencies have to work to one vision, but that vision has to be molded by the space planned by its media agency, and of course vice versa.

the reality is that as long as the conversation with a client only gets as far as "how big is the pack shot?", both agencies and clients will be bound to a dynamic that not only acts as a barrier to transmedia planning, but actively works against it emerging into the mainstream where it so surely deserves to belong.


Establishing a universal model for the Measurement of Brand Equity

or 'How Betsy and half a million amateur traders had fun calculating brand value for us all'


this is an article written for module four of the IPA's Excellence Diploma, it was originally written in February of 2008, prior to recent economic fluctuations.  further articles from the course can be found be clicking on the relevant categories link on the right.  endnotes are referenced in square parenthesis and listed at the end of the post.

Part One – because we’re
all talking in different tongues

Behold, the people is one, and they have all one
language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from
them, which they have imagined to do.  Go
to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand
one another's speech. [1]

Brand Equity is unique in the
marketing lexicon in that it is intangible. 
It’s therefore frustratingly difficult to know what marketing efforts to
improve brand equity are actually achieving. 
“CEOs … feel that they get
accountability for their investments in finance, production, IT, even
purchasing, but they don’t know what their marketing spending is achieving.”

Unlike business metrics such
as sales, or marketing metrics such as competitive advertising spend – brand
equity has no universally comparable [3] metric [4].

Tim Ambler categorises five
stages of sophistication in the assessment of marketing; from Unaware to
Scientific [5].  Different corporations regard themselves as
being at different stages of this evolution [6].  This highlights the key problem in the measurement
of brand equity; the lack of a consistent model of measurement.  To use a scientific analogy; we have no
paradigm to either support or refute by evidence and experiment; to quote Kuhn,
“there is no such thing as research in
the absence of any paradigm.”

The ideal is ‘Scientific’ [8] measurement, barriers to which are twofold. 
Firstly, few companies have access to sufficient data, both in terms of
number of metrics but moreover in the consistency of any data over time.  Secondly, the priorities of organisations –
and especially marketing departments – change over time, mitigating consistent
collection of metrics [9].  To confuse matters further, different
brand-owners and agencies adopt different models for measurement of Brand
Equity [10].

The current state of brand
measurement is therefore in many ways akin to the fate of the ancient citizens
of Babel who,
for having the ambition of building a tower to the heavens, were punished by the
removal of a universal language.  Brand
Equity measurement in the early part of the 21st Century suffers from
a confusing mix of models and methods; from our lack of a universal language.

Part Two – because we need
a tangible model for an intangible future

What the industry needs is a
benchmark which allows brands to consistently compare an agreed metric of brand
equity over time; against their competitive set, other categories and against
the market as a whole.

Given brand equity is “the sum of future cash flows driven by the
investments of today”
[11], how
could such a model be built?  Where else
has a model been devised to put a tangible metric on the future intangible value
of an asset?

The Undercover Economist Tim
Harford observes that “shares are called
shares for a reason; they give you a right to have a share in the profits of a
real company.”
[12]  Furthermore, in stock markets the value of
shares is significantly greater than the amount the value of those shares would
be worth if invested in a savings account. 
That is because the values of shares represent not the present value of
a company, but the future potential
profits of a company.

The description serves as
more than a passing allegory for brand equity. 
The stock market tracks future potential profits in the same way that
brand equity represents future potential profit.  The stock market is capable of evaluating
what is essentially an intangible value – what the market collectively deems the
future return on a stock to be.  In other
words, the share valuation model represented by stock market trading is the
perfect model for capturing, monitoring, reporting and comparing brand equities.
 As such…

I believe the IPA [13] should seize the initiative in brand measurement by creating a stock market for the trading of shares in brand equities.

Part Three – because
actions speak louder than words

The stock market model is appropriate
for a third crucial reason; stock markets are based not on claims by
individuals, but on the actual behaviours of individuals.

As Ambler observes, “the difficulty with brand equity is that it
cannot be measured directly … so we have to use proxies of three kinds: inputs,
intermediate measures and behaviour.”


Brand equity is the promise of
future sales – [4] in the diagram above – it is measured based on current inputs
[1] and actual behaviour [2].  What can’t
be measured directly is what’s in people’s heads [3].  It is for this reason that various and varied
proxies (such as attitudes or perceived quality) are used instead.  But these proxies are unreliable at best.

However humans are
consistently unreliable in expressing thoughts and feelings.  This is because thoughts are not distinct
from feelings; “Emotions constitute an
integrated element of the seemingly most rational decision-making.  Whenever thinking conflicts with emotions,
emotions win.”

Because brands – and
therefore brand equities – are emotionally underpinned in the brain, asking
people to talk about brands in a cognitive exercise is fundamentally flawed [16].

A model based on future
behaviour as opposed to present conscious recall would also capture some of the
lost equity predicted (and subsequently observed in research [17])
by Robert Heath’s Low Involvement processing model.

Ultimately, behaviour is widely considered to be the most reliable indicator of what we really think and feel.  being able to measure brand equity in the brain based on an individual's future behaviour would be the most reliable measure of all, and that's exactly what Betsy would achieve.

Part four – because the future us more easily viewed as history

The Brand Tracker of Sales
and Equity, BTSE [18] opened
for trading on November 3rd
2008 [19].  It listed the top 200 brands as measured by
marketing investment across 2007 [20].  Initial Brand Equity capitalisation – share
value – was set by an expanded model of the Equitrend survey [21];
which accounted for all of David Aaker’s Brand
Equity Ten [22]
metrics, each of which was weighted by relative importance to each other and
across categories by an IPA working group. 
Once trading opened, participants bought and sold BTSE shares of listed
brands according to how well they thought those brands would perform in the future.

The expanded Equitrend survey
continued to be conducted every month, with dividends paid accordingly to
shareholders.  If McDonalds’ brand value
went up relative to the previous survey, the brand was deemed to have made a
profit and dividends were paid accordingly [23].

The BTSE – like its
predecessor the FTSE – relied not on any individual getting the price right,
but on the trading floor as a whole getting it right…  As James Surowiecki articulated,
“the idea of the Wisdom of Crowds is not
that a group will always give you the right answer but that on average it will
consistently come up with a better answer than any individual could provide.”
  Humans are irrational, but “individual irrationality can add up to
collective rationality.” [24]

This was the key to BTSE’s
success.  By the end of 2009, over half a
million players were trading [25]
.  And they got good.  They were better than previous models because
rather than relying on a relatively few individuals correctly articulating
their emotional unconscious, they were using the sums of their knowledge,
impressions, intuitions, feelings and considerations to put a collective future
value on hundreds of brand equities.

BTSE was so accurate that by
the end of 2010 there was a proven correlation between the BTSE 100 Index [26]

and the equivalent FTSE share prices.  Marketing
investment, acknowledged and incorporated by BTSE’s traders, had a more
significant effect on share value than anyone could have predicted.  In 2011 the IPA’s BTSE brand equity valuation
was adopted as a key metric used by investment bankers.  The boards and FDs of corporations were soon
to follow.

The last word – what are
we waiting for?

In appreciating that the
stock exchange represents the perfect model for estimating brand equity, I
believe the IPA is in a unique position to create a parallel trading
model.  We each of us carry in our heads
at any given moment our own share portfolio of brand equities…  Let’s get trading.


Marketing and the Bottom Line
– Tim Ambler

The Undercover Economist –
Tim Harford

Marketing Genius – Peter Fisk

The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions – Kuhn

The Mental World of Brands:
Mind, Memory and Brand Success – Franzen and Bouwman

Brand New Brand Thinking –
Merry Baskin and Mar Earls (Editors)

The Wisdom of Crowds – James


Brain Science, That’s
Interesting, But What Do I Do About It? – David Penn


1. Genesis

2. Marketing and the CEO: Why CEOs are fed up with Marketing – Philip Kotler

3. Whilst
Brand Equity has no universal metric, recent consensus has been reached on the
accounting of intangible assets. 
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for the accounting of
intangible assets have standardised the articulation of intangibles on balance
sheets across the areas of Market (eg trademarks), Customer (eg databases),
Artistic (eg jingles), Contract (eg broadcast rights) and technology (eg

4. Metric
as defined as a standard of measurement that can be consistently applied and

5. The five stages outline the generalised process
through which most companies develop thinking about assessment of marketing,
and are 1. Unaware, 2. Financial, 3. Many Measures, 4. Market focus and 5.

6. Nestle
regarded them selves as being at the ‘Financial’ stage.  In this stage marketing assessment is made
purely on financial grounds, as opposed to the next ‘Many Measures’ stage, in
which a diversity of additional measures – such as customer-based metrics – are
used.  Centrica described their
organisation as being at this ‘Many Measures’ stage.  Duracell claimed to be moving from the ‘Many
Measures’ stage to the fourth stage; ‘Market Focus’.  In this stage the range of financial and non-financial
measures are consolidated into fewer more meaningful metrics, which are
presented to and assessed by the board.

7. Source:
Kuhn – The Structure of Scientific Revolutions p79

8. At
Ambler’s ‘Scientific’ stage; a “database
of past and current metrics, derivatives and diagnostics is mathematically
analysed to provide the shortest list of sensitive and predictive metrics. 
Source: Marketing and the Bottom Line –
Tim Ambler, p79

9. Both of
which are suggested by Tim Ambler in Marketing and the Bottom Line

10. Y&R’s BrandAsset Valuator and WPP’s BrandDynamics Pyramid are both well
documented models for the measurement of brand equity based on comprehensive
empirical research.

11. Marketing Genius – Peter Fisk p343

12. The
Undercover Economist – Tim Harford p144

13. The
role of the IPA is to serve the collective interests of IPA members; and in
particular to define, develop and maintain the highest possible standards of
professional practice within the business. 
Abridged from the ‘about’ section of IPA website

14. Source:
Marketing and the Bottom Line – Tim Ambler, p53

15. Source:
The Mental World of Brands: Mind, Memory and Brand Success – Franzen and

16. A fact underlined by Wendy Gordon when she observes
that compared to the results obtained when asking about brands cognitively “encouraging people to re-experience a brand
in memory provides a completely different set of information.
Wendy Gordon writing in Brand New Brand Thinking – edited by Merry Baskin and
Mar Earls

17. In his article Brain Science, That’s Interesting, But
What Do I Do About It?; David Penn notes that “from our analysis [advertising awareness] clearly does not tell the
full story … It’s clear that if we only base an assessment of effectiveness on
conscious recall, we potentially miss out on those who are positively affected
yet have no conscious recall of having seen it.”
  He also cites a campaign by Conquest research
for a retail client which indicated that a group who recognised and correctly
branded the ad, but were not aware of advertising, were as favourably disposed
toward the brand as those who were consciously aware of the campaign.

18. Or
Betsy as it affectionately came to be known

19. The
model adopted was not dissimilar to the BBC’s Celebdaq, in which players trade
shares in celebrities to compete for prizes. 
For more information visit

20. The top
200 brands had a combined advertising and direct marketing investment alone of
£2.6 bn – and together account for 24% of total 2007 advertising and DM

21. The
Equitrend survey from Total Research is a measure of brand equity based
directly on consumer perceptions.  It’s
annual survey of 2,000 respondents currently covers 700 brands.  Source: Brand Valution, a review of current
practice – David Haigh – IPA.

22. The US academic David Aaker has proposed a flexible approach to brand equity which he
calls the Brand Equity Ten.  It focuses
mainly on consumer-orientated measures of brand strength, although it also
looks at market orientated measures.  The
ten are: (1) price premium (2) satisfaction / loyalty (3) perceived quality (4)
leadership / popularity (5) perceived value (6) brand personality (7)
organisational associations (8) brand awareness (9) market share (10) market
price and distribution coverage.  Source:
Brand Valution, a review of current practice – David Haigh – IPA.

23. It’s
not inconceivable that dividends could be in actual sterling.  A levy of advertising and DM of only 0.01%
would – based on a £10.9bn total advertising and DM spend – generate over £1m
every year.  If such a levy had been in
place in 2007, the biggest single contributing brand would have been DFS, paying
just over £10,000 towards BTSE.  However
a cap on contributions could be considered.

24. Both
quotes from The Wisdom of Crowds – James Surowiecki.

25. Such
success is far from inconceivable.  World
of Warcraft currently has over 10m active subscribers worldwide, and Second
Life – the online role playing world has it’s own established currentcy.  According to the site “Rates fluctuate based on supply and demand, but over the last few years
they have remained fairly stable at approximately 250 Linden Dollars (L$) to
the US Dollar.”

26. The
collective index performance of the top 100 companies according to their brand
equity valuation


X Factor Tipping: results after weeks four and five

two weeks to update and what a couple of shockers they've been.  the week before last saw Austin go out after Daniel wasn't in the bottom two despite has murdering of Don't Leave Me This Way.  wrong, wrong wrong.  still, after week four Mediation was up 10 points to 60.

then this weekend saw the unbelievable as Laura went out when she was up against Ruth.  now there's no way should she have been in the bottom two, but the reality is that being behind that piano seemingly cost her…  the singing wasn't up to her usual standard and you're only as good as you last performance.  unless of course you're Daniel in which case you can put in a performance that wouldn't get you very much on SingStar and still apparently survive.

regular readers of X-Factor Tipping will recall that if one of the acts you nominate to stay is in the bottom two, 5 points are lost.  if
one of your nominated 'stay' acts is sent home 10 points walk out the door.  Mediation had (of course) Laura as one of it's acts to stay and so
lost 5 points and is now down to 55, with the results standing as follows:

1. Emma 80
2. Maria
2. Richard
4. Davey
4. Lizzy
4. Nicole
7. Nuala
7. Paul
7. Philip
7. Simon
11. Carole
11. David D
13. Mediation

13. Jason K
13. Jason W
13. Stu
17. Bree
17. Dale
19. Nick
20. Laura
20. Tom 35

it's not looking good people.  cheer however has been brought about by the storm of protest that has followed Laura's exit, and specifically the nature of said exit.  I don't think that there can be any doubt whatsoever that Louis' vote was tactical – he wanted one of the biggest threats to his one remaining act gone, so voted Laura off.  where, oh where is the justice?

it's especially pleasing to see our Culture Secretary Andy Burnham leading the charge.  in Parliament today he commented that whilst MPs "should resist that temptation to comment on editorial matters", (I'll remind him of that one day) he added that "the temptation is great in my case, having seen the wonderful
and talented Laura White very harshly voted off X Factor on Saturday"  …interesting times people, interesting times.

you can view the clip of Burnham's comments by clicking below…  enjoy.


branding, promoting

Red Cups have arrived: how Starbucks attach themselves to winter festivities

'White is out for the season' according to Starbucks who today roll-out their red cups across the land.  in store promotions as well as press campaign have been reminding us all that Gingerbread lattes et al will once again be available from today and for the duration of the season.

I don't want to like this, but you really can't help but admire the simple communication which not only taps into the very physical markers of darker nights and colder mornings, but also the emotional anticipation of the festive season to come.

as far as Chrimbo commerciality goes its right up there with Coca-Cola's trucks and the now (very quickly established) M&S effort.  and quite right too…  brands – whether you like it or not – are part of the Chrimbo spirit.  some brands are as emotionally connected to Christmas celebrations as the products they sell are to the physicality of it all.

it may just be a red cup, but the emotive place it comes from means much more.  it's a signal, a kick start, an announcement that holidays truly are coming…

cinema, experiencing

Surviving the BFI IMAX’s SAW marathon: why too much of something can be just as tough

it was the Spice Girls who observed that "too much of something is bad enough, but something's coming over me to make me wonder of too much of nothing is just as tough"  …well it's not.  you really can have too much of a good thing.  on Friday Mediation spent an all-night marathon in the company of Saw I thru V.  one night, two beers, three friends, four cans of Relentless and all five Saw movies in one sitting.

it all kicked off at 11pm on Friday night when Mediation and another 300 people gathered at the BFI IMAX near Waterloo.  the next nine hours of our collective lives was spent watching the five movies which collectively are the most successful horror series of all time.

whether I'm just getting too old for this or whether it came off of the back of a busy week, (or maybe it's because the fourth and fifth movies of the franchise are pants in comparison to the first three) it was tough old going.  I confess that my eyelids took over a short way into episode four but managed to rally to make it thru the silliness of the fifth …and shortly after 9am Mediation emerged blinking into the grey winter light of Saturday morning.

the whole thing is utterly ridiculous of course, but it has to be said there is a genuine buzz when consuming content in the company of others who love said content enough to miss a night's sleep to do so.  a buzz that is heightened – to a degree – by the venue and staff who do their damdest to keep the spirits up and the coffee flowing.

they could do more to make the experience more of, well, an experience – but for that that matter so could brands…  the evening was a great opportunity for an energy drink or vitamin supplement to do some sampling and attach themselves to the experience of the event.

so opportunity missed this time round, but don't worry – the next all-nighter is already planned for May, where the IMAX will be screening all three Lord of the Rings movies in one go.  now where did I leave my detachable Orc-ears?