cinema, public relating

Stepping up to the plate: the opportunity for brands to save a valuable part of Sydney’s media infastructure

Academy_twin running out of time, Paddington's Academy Twin theatre is under threat of closure, image courtesy Sydney Film School

the rise of the multiplex may have brought convenience to the cinema experience but it has done so at quite a cost; both in terms of the price to attend a cinema, but more importantly in the ability to see non-mainstream releases.  small independent cinema allows you to explore the long tail of movie making, to take a break from the populist output of mainstream studios and enjoy movies that challenge, provoke and stimulate.

and so its hard to see as anything but tragic the news today that the Academy Twin Cinema in
Paddington is to close after very nearly one hundred years.  there's full and comprehensive commentary of the announcement by Palace Cinemas courtesy of a post on Scott Henderson's Dark Habits blog.  the Sydney Morning Herald article can be viewed here.

but I can't help but think, and suggest, that there's a significant opportunity here.  brand after brand invests in cinema to reach and engage with audiences.  they do so because they view that audience as valuable – be it attitudinally, behaviourally or (though I don't like saying it) demographically – to their brand and marketing efforts.

take for example alcohol brands.  in 2009 – according to Nielsen – the alcohol category spent over $10m on cinema advertising in Australia, over 10% of total media spend in the category.  individual brands have made significant commitments to the channel; Chivas Regal invested $654k in cinema in 2009, Russian Standard vodka invested $344k and Smirnoff $250k.  in all cases the investment represented over 30% of each brands' total media spend – a significant commitment.

whilst the media landscape is evolving sometimes beyond recognition, the fundamental trilogy of components in many ways remains unchanged – the brand, the audience and the media space.  the tools and tactics may change but these pillars don't.  our trade and our skill is in advising brands where and how to invest to reach an audience.

and herein lies the opportunity.  is there a brand out there that wants to invest in a media space not just to reach an audience, but to save that very media space from extinction?  is there a brand in Australia with a commitment to cinema that goes as far as bringing a loved and cherished venue back from the brink.

the (not comprehensive) argument against.  (1) it represents a huge investment in a relatively small audience (2) it's a long-term commitment to a space that a marketing manager may want to move away from as marketing strategies change (3) its geographically limiting

the (not comprehensive) argument for. (1) it demonstrates an overcommitment to a valuable audience (2) it brings consistency to a marketing schedule (3) the potential PR value is huge

besides there's precedent…  O2 in the UK has made an unequivocal commitment to music by redeveloping the Millennium Dome into the O2, and similarly rebranding the music Academies.  the economic case for investing in a media space for the medium to long term must be able to be made.

so here's the call…  who wants to save a bit of media?  could any marketing managers or planners or strategists who think that a brand on which they work could help, please come forward…  your time has come…  and its running out.


Daring to be different: the disappearing art of large format poster painting

UP THERE from The Ritual Project on Vimeo.

interesting video from The Ritual Project about the disappearing art of large format poster painting.  in a world of two to four week posting cycles, where campaign after campaign comes then goes, there's much to be said about investing in this kind of permanence.  a presence that doesn't vanish as quickly as it appears; a commitment to a space, rather than a transient placement in it.

there's a whole load of reasons why this wouldn't be right when planning a campaign…  the time and effort to get planning permission, the fact that there'd only be one site, the production investment in man hours, the fact it couldn't quickly and easily be taken down if necessary, lack of MOVE / PostAR data…  to name just a few.

for all those reasons and more most brands wouldn't do it.

most brands.

I'd call that an opportunity if ever there was one…


Telling the difference between White and Wrong: why Google’s customisable homepage is a personalisation too far


it's strange how accustomed we become to the world…  here I am, comfortably confident in my ability – despite being old enough to remember Return of the Jedi at the Cinema first time round – to live and breathe as a digital native.  I'm down with the kids.  I'm adaptable.  I'm a fluid kind of guy.

only it turns out that I'm not.

above is what my Google search page now looks like.  it's like that because you can now customise it to have any picture you want as a background.  as Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience explains on a post, Google has always "enjoyed making your search experience more relevant, useful and fun through personalization" … this new feature … "brings a whole new level of personalization to Google by letting you add a favorite photo or image to the background of the Google homepage".

I don't like it.  I don't like it one bit.  to risk over-using a pun, it's just not white.

the white Google page is (was) important.  there was a clarity, a sharpness to the site that was an intrinsic part of Google's brand DNA; part of its engram – that collection of associations we all carry around in our heads that captures for each of us what a brand is, means, and does.  Google's white helped define that, but more than that, Google's white was iconic.

but this importance of Google's white seems to have been ignored by the organisation.  this it may come to regret.  personalisation and customisation are great, brilliant things.  but not always.

in an article in Intelligent Life a while back, Jonathan Meades' discussed the pervasiveness of the word 'iconic' from Jesus to Obama (via Marmite and Beckham).  a great article that I blogged about at the time.

Meades outlined four conditions necessary for something to be (or be perceived as) iconic.  condition four is immediacy of recognition.  common in objects – the Coca-Cola bottle, the Eiffel tower, Big Ben – but because of the demand of immutability less so in humans, unless they're dead of course.  Meades asks for "the visual equivalent of an unmistakable catchphrase, such as … David Owen's "When I was Foreign Secretary" or Andie McDowell's "Because I'm worth it" … if a catchphrase is a repetitive soundbite, then an icon is a strenuously rehearsed sightbite".

a strenuously rehearsed sightbite, that helps maketh the icon.  and Google just threw it out.

Meades goes on to describe how "in an age of ever-multiplying media outlets, with images disseminated ever more easily, there are ever more potential low-key idols … virtual villages will increasingly make icons of figures that are peculiar to them, just as real villages did in the distant past when the people in the next valley paid obeisance to an alien gamut of gods and totems.  the more the media grow, the less appropriate the prefix "mass".  the globalisation of localism and, beyond that, of atomisation will very likely mean that such niche characterisations as "a living legend among the vertical matrixing community" [or] "an iconic figure in Gremlin Pastures" can be made without leaden irony."

at the time I noted that its a fascinating observation: a long tail of idolism.  the fewer, globally recognised icons sitting alongside the famous-to-a-few icons of our immediate communities and social groups.  I asked if the always-on proximity and ubiquity of the stuff we connect ourselves to is making icons of the people and places around us?  whether the immediacy of a host of personal – and in this case personalised – icons, devalues the idea of an icon, or adds meaning and value to it?

Google may find out.  the hard way.

applicationing, creating, developing, evidencing

Walking the World Cup Talk: How is holding it’s own in the Age of Evidence by adding value to it’s World Cup-following readers

brilliant World Cup interactive infographic courtesy of Littlewood (or more specifically Littlewood's mate) hosted here…  I'm not going to pretend that I'm massively into the World Cup (I'll get excited when we play).  I am however going to pretend that I'm massively into infographics and how they can add value to how we absorb and engage with the world…

you can track the entire competition…


or just focus on the upcoming fixtures for your country…  etc etc etc…

the point, is that the site – – really takes it's football seriously…  and the investment in this little number is a great example of walking the talk, or as I like to put it, evidence-based marketing…

because whilst the application is a great way of navigating your way through the World Cup, its also a brilliant way of marketing…  marketing by the best, oldest, and arguably most effective method of communication…  yup, word of mouth (or in it's modern guise) word of mouse.

those of you paying attention will also notice that it's very social-friendly too…  the Like and Tweet buttons in the top right of the application currently show it having 32k and 5,414 advocacies (couldn't think of another word to go there) across Facebook and Twitter…

and that's a lot of connections and click throughs sparked, not by an ad saying 'Marca likes / does / loves football' but rather through the provision of a bit of evidence that proves it, whilst at the same time making the World Cup just that little bit better for its fans.  not a bad day's work for a media brand living in the age of evidence – and not a Rooney ad in sight.

applicationing, conversing, realtiming, sharing, social media-ising

Bringing the Reality of Deepwater Home: how is utilising GoogleMaps and RealTime data to fuel conversation and action


on April 20 an explosion on the BP operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed eleven crew members, sparking not only a significant environmental incident, but – increasingly – a new case study on how interested parties can bring pressure to bear on governments and organisations.

like The Guardian vs. Trafigura last year, the ongoing BP Deepwater Horizon situation is fueling emergent possibilities and rules of engagement on how different groups and organisations engage and influence each other, of which the above is a great example…

it's a GoogleMap of Sydney and the surrounding area, with the current extent of the Deepwater Oil spill super-imposed on top.  it makes real the extent of the spill, which – if it was here in Sydney – would stretch from Newcastle in the north to Wollongong in the south, and from far out to sea in the east to far beyond the blue mountains to the west.  it's all courtesy of the original page of which shows the extent of the spill in it's actual location.


it's interesting for three reasons.  one, it's built and powered by (pretty much) RealTime data.  we can see the situation as it is now, rather than retrospectively or projected.  the site explains how the data is collected…

"The data used to create the spill image comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA releases a daily report detailing where the spill is going to be within the next 24 hours. They do this by collecting data from a number of sources, including satellite imagery and reports by trained observers who have made helicopter flights back and forth across the potentially affected areas. This data is entered into several leading computer models by NOAA oceanographers along with information about currents and winds in the gulf." source

the second point of interest is how the site is intrinsically social.  of course all of the web is social now, but everything about the site is designed to make it adoptable and sharable, with functionality that encourages just that.

finally, it's such an elegant idea.  too often we fail to grasp the reality of a situation because it's too remote, too incomprehensible, is too short on credibility, or because its difficult to relate to.  this simple and elegant idea takes all of that square on, making the spill as relatable as it can be, in as credible a way as can be imagined.  whilst all the time fueling personalised ugc to propel the issue into conversations from which it may have otherwise been absent.

the casebook on how governments, BP, the media and the public interacted and influenced each other throughout the Deepwater incident is yet to be written, but I suspect that when it is, will have had a part to play.

creating, making, marketing, planning, publishing, sampling

More than a Calling Card: how Daemon Group is creating collateral fit for the Age of Evidence

the cover of Daemon Group's calling card; THINK 02 Issue 2

you meet a lot of people in this business, most of whom leave you with a warm feeling, a couple of action points that you promise to yourself you'll do, and a business card.  no so the Daemon Group, the day after a meeting with whom, I received a magazine designed, written and produced by the agency.

it's a collection of thoughts and analysis of everything from design concepts to social issues, taking in behaviour and international reportage on the way…  and it's a pretty great read.

Think_Daemon_social-article the stats on social, just one of several articles on the changing communications landscape

the idea of a more personal calling card isn't necessarily new; moo have been providing the best of ways to personalise and add character to your 'keep in touch' collateral…  nor is the idea of the company magazine…

but what stand's Daemon Group's effort apart is the sheer commitment to quality…  the quality of the not only thinking, writing, and production, but also the quality of contact…  the magazine was delivered fresh to my desk the morning after my meeting with Richard, the group's chief executive.  the commitment to following up the meeting with me was matched only by the commitment to the collateral delivered.

the two big implications for brands and the planning of marketing communications are clear.  one, invest in quality collateral…  don't say you're passionate about what you do, have collateral that proves it.  don't gesticulate on the quality of your thinking, have collateral that demonstrates it…  buying media space that tells people how good / fast / impressive / [insert USP here] you are, is for a time now long gone by…

we live in the age of evidence.

claims, counter claims, and statements no longer cut it.  in the age of evidence it's what you do that counts, what you produce that get's noticed.  in the age of evidence reputations are built on what you craft and deliver to make your case to the world.

the second implication for brands is to have good, considered connections planning.  the too-often used phrase that means, simply, to have a plan for how you create and manage connections with people.  Daemon Group's magazine means nothing to me whilst it's sat on their Chief Executive's coffee table.  how much of what a brand actually does remains locked up?  hidden behind policy doors and content management gates.  brands that love their collateral set it free, fueling connections with people…

because that's what the best communications planning, at it's core, is…  what evidence can we create that proves the truth about what our brand is and represents; and how can we ensure that the right people encounter that evidence in relevant and meaningful ways?

I'm grateful that in a complicated world, which sometimes seems to move faster than I can keep up, a magazine landed on my desk to remind me how elegantly simple it all really is.  the challenge isn't to keep up with a changing communications landscape; the challenge is to remember that you can.

oh, and there's an article on Mr Potato Head too – who doesn't love that…