collaborating, IPA|ED:three, Mediated

Clients versus Agencies Round One Results: Clients 1 – Agencies 0 … and why some independent mediation may be required


Clive Woodward … Coach supremo – it will make sense later on (pic via WalesOnline)

something of a war or words seems to have broken out on the pages of Adnews of late. on one hand we have David Morgan of Nestlé (let’s call him the ‘client’) and on the other a range of voices including Leigh terry of Omnicom Media Groupe, Travis Day of Vizeum and Peter Grenfell of VCCP (let’s call them the agencies).

here’s a few samples of the debate:

“We’re getting stuck in the middle, stuck in operations, stuck in process management … we’re spending so much time doing things that are not core to our trade of marketing, that it’s taken up our ability to do our trade of marketing. Today, our guys are managing eight, nine, 10 different agency groups – digital groups, media groups, creative groups, strategy groups. It takes up a lot of time to talk to them, coordinate them, project manage them.”

David Morgan, Nestlé director of corporate communications and marketing services, speaking at ADMA Conference two weeks ago

“Managing relationships is easier when agencies are treated as strategic partners … modern agencies of all disciplines are recognising this and pouring significant effort into ensuring that they have a partnership role with all clients; that they are trusted advisor and, most importantly that their reporting and admin are streamlined”

Travis Day, general manager of Vizeum Melbourne

“Agencies can be guilty of getting caught up in their own world … agencies need to open up and be more collaborative with each other. Creative agencies need to not be sniffy because they lead the strategy and media agencies need to not be sniffy because they hold all the money.”

Peter Grenfell, MD VCCP

it’s been an interesting debate not just because it comes at a time when tensions across a whole range of agency / client issues are coming to the fore – remuneration and transparency, the pitch merry-go-round and the protection and respect of IP, and most recently the time and agency effort spent on entering awards – but also because there doesn’t seem to be any kind of logical or constructive response or solution to Morgan’s assertion.

the frustrations on both sides or more than understandable. unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your POV) media went and fragmented. fact.

non of which is new news … back in 2008 I wrote a piece as part of my IPA Excellence Diploma (module three if you’re wondering) in response to the question: what approach should a client take in terms of who does communications planning on a brand? my observation at the time was that the agency response to “media fragmentation … has been twofold. Firstly, diversification into a multitude of different and varied operations; secondly, generalisation …historically all props had to do was scrummage; now they expect themselves to run, catch, pass and lift in the line-out too”

I know … I resorted to a sporting analogy, but bear with me.

I explored the idea that the players (agencies) on the pitch were now so diverse and the necessary roles so specialised that coordination was a full time job (the latter point was perhaps the very one that David Morgan was making at the ADMA conference that sparked this debate). it seemed to me at the time that there were to solutions, the client coordinates or the agencies do, and observed flaws with each:

“One, individual agencies can never know enough about other disciplines to ensure communications planning they derive consider every perspective. It’s like asking prop-forward to plan a game strategy incorporating the nuances of the role of fly-half; the knowledge required is too broad and getting broader all of the time.

Two, Buckminster Fuller’s principle: “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” (as quoted in John Grant’s After Image). A player will never take themselves off the pitch; the very concept that any one agency can comprehensively and without bias write comms planning that excludes themselves is fundamentally compromised.” (source)

I suggested that there was a third way. that some clients may want to employ a coach (and the sporting analogy is complete) who is neutral, independent and can coordinate and allocate roles and responsibilities for agencies whilst the client focuses on marketing and ultimately business objectives.

as Clive himself said:

“My role isn’t to do players’ jobs for them. My job is to ensure that every player performs to their potential and as part of a team”.

Clive Woodward, BBC Interview

that sound’s like exactly the kind of role we need to me.

it’s perhaps not entirely right for every client, and there are flaws – not least of which is that its another outsourced role and relationship for a client to manage; but its a constructive suggestion … and I can’t help but observe that some of the agency response to Morgan’s challenge is at best smart observation of the problem, and at worst a claim (bordering on a whine) that agencies aren’t respected enough as ‘strategic partners’.

I fear that statements like “Creative agencies need to not be sniffy because they lead the strategy” do less rather than more to win the respect of a client who posed a reasonable and clearly present issue to the agency community.

this round’s result: Clients 1 – Agencies 0

we explore this is a ton of depth on last week’s PHDcast which you can enjoy listening to here:

player not working? click here to listen on Audioboo

featured image is Clive Woodward (the coach, gettit) via WalesOnline

IPA|ED:three, planning

Clive Woodward. Why every client should have one.


“Integrated Communications are like weapons of mass destruction. Everyone knows they exist but no one has ever seen it done”
David Jones, writing in Contagious Magazine (Is your work Spongeworthy?)

“My role isn’t to do players’ jobs for them. My job is to ensure that every player
performs to their potential and as part of a team”.

Clive Woodward, BBC Interview

“A coach is not a teacher and does not necessarily know how to do things better than the coachee. A coach can observe patterns, set the stage for new actions and then work with the individual to put these new, more successful actions into place.” [1]

A whole new ball game

Media fragmentation; consumers with less time, little attention and no patience; an infinite amount of broadcast and on-demand content; digitisation rendering channels irrelevant [2]; technology to control and filter demanded content [3]…

The last decade has seen the emergence of a whole new ball game. The collective response of the communications industry has been twofold. Firstly, diversification into a multitude of different and varied operations [4]; secondly, generalisation …historically all props had to do was scrummage; now they expect themselves to run, catch, pass and lift in the lineout too!

With so many new players and such a new and more complicated ball game, how does a client – our bewildered [5] Chairperson – approach who decides tactics? Who does Communications Planning on a brand?

What’s the aim of the game?

What do we need someone to be in charge of? Jim Taylor defines Communications Planning
(CP) as [6]:

“The discipline of developing a holistic plan, across marketing and trade marketing functions … beyond simply selecting channels and allocating monies … defining the proposition … identifying the best consumers … creating a ‘big picture’ … weaving together every aspect of a brand’s communications” (Jim Taylor, Space Race).

Fundamentally CP is about uniting budgets, and subsequently allocating that unified budget across specialist disciplines, based on the extent to which each agency can deliver on their particular aspect of a holistic strategy; so CP is:

  • Establishing the match strategy
  • Deciding who – of the 22 man squad – is on the pitch at any one time
  • Ensuring that everyone plays as a coordinated team

Who’s in charge?

One of several different models is generally adopted. The client may opt to do it themselves, but clients are limited in what they can achieve without agencies [7]. The chairman has, at some point, to relinquish control to the team, generally via a lead or all-agency model [8]. However there are two key flaws to both.

One, individual agencies can never know enough about other disciplines to ensure CP they derive consider every perspective. It’s like asking prop-forward to plan a game strategy incorporating the nuances of the role of fly-half; the knowledge required is too broad and getting broader all of the time [9].

Two, Buckminster Fuller’s principle: “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” (as quoted in John Grant’s After Image). A player will never take
themselves off the pitch; the very concept that any one agency can comprehensively and without bias write CP that excludes themselves is fundamentally compromised.

A new Approach

Given this fact, its little wonder CP as a discipline hasn’t found momentum [10].

It’s time for a new approach…

The Chairperson lacks the resources to implement CP, but tasking any – or many – of the players to be in charge is flawed. Yet the pitch is packed with a team of talented and skilled individuals, many of whom excel in their individual positions. The client’s problem isn’t a lack of players; the client’s problem is lack of a structure to ensure that the positions all play as, and in the best interests of, a team.

What the chairperson needs …is a coach.

The Mantra of a Communications Planning Coach

  • Coach is not a communications planner; coach does not dictate a plan.
  • Coach facilitates the establishing of match strategy and negotiates who’s on the pitch at any given time.
  • Coach is independent and neutral.
  • Coach is ‘T-shaped’; with historical grounding in one area but with a broad extent of shallow knowledge across a range of disciplines.
  • Coach captures the Communications Plan without composing it.
  • Coach work alongside agencies, coordinating their collective input.
  • Coach is independent of execution, and remunerated by client based on an annual fee.
  • Coach comes from anywhere; from within the client, from an auditor, from a management consultant, or from agency holding companies.
  • Coach doesn’t set objectives but champions them once agreed.
  • Coach utilises a ‘Connections Wheel’ [1] ensuring no consumer touch point remains unexplored.
  • Coach’s success is measured by the collective success of the CP agencies.
  • Coach is mobile but operates a shared workspace available to all agencies.
  • Coach is gatekeeper to the unified budget.
  • Coach’s perspective is from the view of the entire team, thereby keeping an eye on competitor CP, as opposed to the most visible and measurable aspects of it.
  • Coach talks to the trade as well as consumer marketing.
  • Coach only expresses an opinion when they have to.
  • Coach highlights incongruities and abhors contradictions.
  • Coach maintains a position of independence by virtue of the fact that at no point will Coach ever step on the pitch; that’s the agencies’ territory; across which each position is free to play their own role by their own rules.

Letting go

Agencies – as players on the pitch – need to let go of CP; which won’t be easy. But release brings freedom to do what they each do best; to play and perform in the knowledge that they’ll have a dedicated resource ready and willing to involve them and incorporate their ideas and recommendations into CP.

By letting go, agencies win for themselves the freedom to play their own game as part of a wider culture in which ideas can come from anywhere, and are communicated to everywhere, to the benefit of everyone on their team.

Q: What approach should a client take in terms of who does communications planning on a brand?
A: Hire their team a Coach. Fast.


[1] quote from The Complete Guide to Coaching at Work (Perry Zeus & Suzanne Skiffington)

[2] Once content is digitised, not only it can exist in any digital channel, but move seamlessly across channels. It is this intrinsic that led William Gibson
to first comment that “The remix is the very nature of digital” – ie digitisation of data and content facilitates transformation – remixing – of that content.

[3] Example of on demand include RSS (Really Simple Syndication) which automatically relays content deemed relevant to the consumer, and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) – TV via broadband, which is currently seeing substantial investment by UK TV companies. To quote Rob Norman in his speech Do Different “In the final analysis the world has gone on demand. That puts it beyond our control”.

[4] And a lot of specialists there now are; WPP Group has 247 companies globally and 194 offices in the UK alone.  All companies relate to communications
services “Through our companies, WPP offers a comprehensive and, when appropriate, integrated range of communications services” source

[5] Reasons for clients outsourcing Communications Planning are varied and well documented. They can’t source quality talent, nor pay for them – their headcount doesn’t justify it. Nor can they justify the investment of purchasing and integrating all the systems and data they’d need to comprehensively implement CP internally, especially for what is essentially seen as a cost centre for the business. Plus they’d lack external benchmarks from other clients.

[6] It should be pointed out that there is still no agreed consensus on what the term actually means, tending to mean different things to different agencies and clients. The IPA defines it rather vaguely as “A holistic planning approach to engaging a brand’s audience to ensure greater effectiveness”.  Source: communication Strategy – A best practice guide to developing communication campaigns (IPA), but this could arguably apply to any disciple; to any player in the team

[7] A In a recent survey, 48% of Chairpersons stated their belief that they were best placed to be in charge of CP. Whereas 31% of clients hand over control
entirely – believing that one or more of their players are best placed to be incharge. 38% of clients and agencies prefer a lead-agency approach, with 50% preferring an all agency model (Source: A best practice guide to developing communication campaigns (IPA)

[8] 31% of clients hand over control entirely – believing that one or more of their players are best placed to be in charge. 38% of clients and agencies prefer a
lead-agency approach, with 50% preferring an all agency model (source: best practice guide – IPA)

[9] The requirements for Communications Planning set out by Jim Taylor’s in Space Race are multiple: “The discipline of developing a holistic plan, across marketing and trade marketing functions, that defines how a brand will communicate with consumers … beyond simply selecting channels and allocating monies … defining the proposition … identifying the best consumers … creating a ‘big picture’ … by weaving together every aspect of a brand’s communications”. It’s ambitious for a team of agencies let alone a single agency to accommodate each of these perspectives

[10] The lack of progress is noted by Tom Morton writing in Campaign; “Comms planning as a standalone department within agencies hasn’t
been a great success”
, one possible explanation is offered by John Grant in After Image who notes that “The in-fighting seems, if anything, to be pulling
some agencies and consultancies back from innovation, towards lowest common denominators”

[11] The Connections Wheel is a tool developed by TBWA, and described by Jean-Marie Dru in Beyond Disruption. I’m not suggesting that the Connections Wheel is the specific solution for every coach, but a tool that enables the Communications Planner Coach to ensure that all potential routes are covered
will be essential.

branding, content creating, IPA|ED:three, user-generating

This Way Up: Packaging to Grow

Packaging is the touch point that reaches every one of a
client’s existing customers, who are – as Julian Saunders notes – a client’s
most important audience; “The economics of winning a new customer versus
keeping an existing on is generally well known.  A healthy and mature service business should
get most of its business from existing customers”

This post is about how by adopting three behaviours a brand
can best use packaging as a communications channel to drive growth through
existing customers. Furthermore, I’ll
suggest how these three behaviours can be systemised and applied to the
majority of packaged brands in the form of a model for brand growth – packaging
to grow. 

Behaviour I – Adding Value In A World Of Abundance

The principle change over the last decade has been a shift
from media scarcity to media abundance – was the view expressed by Rory
Sutherland at a conference last year [2], something which also applies to
packaging media [3].  At the same time,
behavioural research shows that shoppers are becoming more selective – they
know what items they need and only go down those aisles [4].

In a world of abundance in which consumers know what they
want, brands must fight for the only scarce resource that remains –attention. Adding value through packaging is a key strategy
to get and maintain attention, ensuring consumers keep your brand in their
‘evoked set’ [5].

That’s why each winter bottles of Innocent smoothies wear hand-made
bobble hats. It’s why Abercrombie and
Fitch bags could be mistaken for posters [6], and it’s how the addition of
packaging (as opposed to download only) increased the retail value of
Radiohead’s recent ‘In Rainbows’ album more than nine-fold [7]. Value goes both ways.

Adding value (top down): Innocent Bobble hats, Radiohead’s
‘In Rainbows’ boxed set and A&F posterbags

By adding value, packaging promotes brand growth through
re-conversion, reinforcing the decision to purchase, and increasing future
propensity to repurchase.

Behaviour II – Getting Personal In A Consumer-Made World [8] first identified ‘customer-made’ in
2005. By allowing consumers to
co-create, brands not only tap into the collective intellectual capital of the
crowd, but give their existing consumers personalised reasons to repurchase.

That’s why Jones’s Water has thousands of different customer-designed
labels, and why Pepsi commissioned 35 new designs for its cans [9]. It’s why Heinz let’s you buy a bottle of
ketchup with your name on it, and why the design on Saks Fifth Avenue’s bags is
recombined in an infinite – and therefore unique – number of ways [10].

Personalisation and customisation (top down): Customised
labels courtesy of My Heinz, Jones Soda Co’s labels as co-created with
customers, Pentagram’s Saks Fifth Avenue bag (the original logo is recombined
into unique combinations)

By promoting customisation and personalisation, packaging
promotes brand growth by enticing the consumer back for more of the different;
a unique experience; increasing frequency of purchase.

Behaviour III – Stimulating Conversations In A Networked

“In the old paradigm … mass persuasion involved exposing
millions of consumers to commercial messages … in the new paradigm, the boot is
on the other foot … Target audiences are … a community of interconnected people
within which brand perceptions are shaped by multiple influences”
notes Will
Collin [11]. There exists legislation in
these networks; its Gladwell’s Law of the Few – which describes how
‘Connectors’ behave like social glue, spreading a message [12].

An LSE’s study into brand advocacy proved that the more
advocates a brand has, the higher the brand growth; in general, brands grow
four times faster with positive as opposed to negative word-of-mouth profiles
[13]. So it’s in a brand’s interests to
give its potential advocates – its consumers – reasons to start conversations.

That’s why first BBC2 and now Channel 4 invest buckets in
idents (programme packaging) that gets talked about, and why Nokia created
bespoke packaging that fitted through a letterbox if you told them you didn’t
need a new charger.

TV Packaging (top down): BBC2’s ‘Saw’, Channel 4’s ‘City’ and
‘Corn Field’

By stimulating conversations amongst its existing clients,
packaging promotes brand growth by introducing new consumers to a brand,
increasing penetration.

Packaging to Grow: A Model


Making it Happen

Case Study One: Powerade

Mission: grow volumes

  • Powerade could add value by printing specific gym programmes
    with expert trainer advice on the side of bottles.
  • They personalise packaging by encouraging consumers to
    suggest new programmes which are rotated on a 10 week basis; encouraging
    variation in gym routine [14] and generating sales through increased frequency
    of purchase.
  • Word on mouth is encouraged by displaying monthly challenges
    on in-gym vending machines; ‘challenge a friend to do the workout with you’.

Case Study Two: UKTV Food

Grow share of audience

  • In a digital world every niche station is fighting for
    share, and UKTV Food is no exception. They add value to idents (their packaging) by suggesting interesting new
    ingredients under the banner of; ‘Different Every Day’.
  • Customisation is delivered thru red-button – click on an
    ident for more information on an ingredient and how it can be incorporated into
    individual cooking regimes.
  • Partnering with Sainsbury’s and aligning UKTV Food’s
    ‘Different Every Day’ to the retailer’s ‘Try Something New today’ would see
    Sainsbury’s signpost in-store to the ingredient of the week; stimulating
    conversations via the most credible of corporate advocates.

Case Study three: Dulux

Consolidate market share

  • Dulux could add-value by attaching unique colour charts to
    their tins of paint, indicating – for future use – what items will match the
    new colour on the walls of Andy and Charlie’s room.
  • Behaviour two allows Andy and Charlie to create their own
    unique colour of paint, but rather than packaging it in a standard tins, they
    customise their own design and take the paint home in a bespoke tin.
  • Dulux then builds a social network group that allows
    customers to patent and publish their colours. This encourages Andy and Charlie to contact their friends, advising them
    that they can now order Andy and Charlie’s own patented Dulux colour for their
    own homes [15].


What you waiting for?

One model: three behaviours;

Add value, personalise, and stimulate conversations.

Use packaging to grow.

Sources and References

[1] Quotation from A market leader exclusive report: What is
really changing in Marketing Communications? (Julian Saunders). This crucial importance of existing customers
was reinforced in an influential piece of research by the LSE who identified
that “businesses seeking year-on-year growth may be overlooking their most
powerful growth-generating asset – existing clients, customers and consumers”

(Source: Advocacy drives growth – Exclusive research from the London School of
Economics reveals the benefits and pitfalls of word-of-mouth communication (LSE

[2] Delivering the Landmark Creative Campaign – a speech to
the IPA Outdoor’s Seeing Digital Conference (Rory Sutherland).

[3] This shift is reflected in the supermarket packaging
media; John Hagel has commented that “over time, more and more products entered
the market and shelf space became the scarce good (quoting John Hagel)

[4] Source: The In-store Environment. Research observed that whilst 30% of shoppers
demonstrated ‘selective’ shopping in 2003, by 2006 that figure had risen to
34%. Notably, this behaviour is
reflected online, where there are no isles; search engines make virtually all
customer orientation selective

[5] Source: The In-store Environment. Quoting from the same source: “The evoked set
is the group of products from which the shopper will make their final decision
… if categories or products do not appear in the evoked set, it is harder for
the merchandising and point of sale activity to differentiate a category or
product because it must enable both the conversion from visitor to shopper, and
from shopper to buyer”.

[6] Or art prints – depending on your perspective!

[7] When Radiohead’s ‘in rainbows’ was released in October
2007 as download only – unpackaged – the value was determined by consumers;
they could choose their own purchase price – the average price chosen to pay
was £3.88 (source). At the start of December 2007 the same
content was released in the form of a three-format discbox. The asking price for a product valued at
£3.88 with packaging? …£40.00.

[8] source … Quoting the site; "Get ready for
CUSTOMER-MADE: the phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and
experiences in close cooperation with consumers, tapping into their
intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in what actually
gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed"

[9] Early in 2007 Pepsi commissioned US design
company Arnell Group to develop 35 designs new designs for its cans, including
12 inch vinyls, gleaming hubcabs, swirling tattoos and 31 other pieces of
artwork drawing from different strands of youth culture – source.

[10] Whilst the bag – designed by Pentagram Design
technically didn’t have an infinite number of designs, more than several
trillion combinations gets it pretty much there.

[11] Quoting: Will Collin writing about the paradigm shift
in the communications industry in a Campaign supplement

[12] Source: The terms ‘Law of the Few’ and ‘Connectors’
were coined by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point.

[13] Source: Advocacy drives growth – Exclusive research
from the London School of Economics reveals the benefits and pitfalls of
word-of-mouth communication (LSE 2005)

[14] One of the key aspects of training is to change your
workout regularly. Varying the routine
not only avoids boredom but works different muscle groups preventing ‘plateauing’
in body-response. Different programmes
could be created – for example the strength-training work-out cardiovascular

[15] Their friends won’t, nobody would be seen dead with
someone else’s colour on their own wall. They’ll want their own unique colour, and they’ll know where to get it!

advertising, engaging, IPA|ED:three

Joining up the Dots

it’s in the second episode of ‘Alias’ that JJ Abrams first penned a reference to a random drink called Slusho.  the mention – which was to be followed later by cameo in Heroes – was the first of a sustained, ingenious and elaborate viral campaign to promote his next project, the movie Cloverfield.

in doing so, Abrams created more hype than could ever have been generated by broadcast comms.  but the approach has been more specific than that…  at no point was everything held together in one place…  to make sense of the clues, the dots had to be joined together; with seemingly random and stand-alone pieces of communication joining up; not in a script or on a schedule, but in the minds of consumers.  thats the kind of headspace that broadcast money can’t buy.

Abrams talked about his approach to all his projects – from Alias to Lost and now Cloverfield – at the always amazing TED last March (click here to watch it).  he talked about the idea of a ‘Mystery Box’, a $15 box he bought as a boy with the promise of $50 worth of magic inside.  it remains unopened.

to Abrams his unopened box “represents infinite possibility, hope and potential”, he notes that “I find myself drawn to infinite possibility and that sense of potential and I realise that mystery is the catalyst for the imagination … what are stories but mystery boxes?”  he describes how in TV the first act is called the teaser, it asks a fundamental question.  but as soon as it’s answered there’s another question; another Mystery Box, and another after that…

his point is that the intentional withholding of information is much more engaging than giving someone the whole story…  a lesson from which advertising could in many instances learn…

intrigue and the witholding of information in order to engage should more often be at the heart of a comms brief.  we more often need to let product intrinsics or resolution within the context of a TV script take a back seat.  we need to be creating more mystery boxes.  then using media to join the mystery boxes together…  a broadcast TV ad with a random link to a website.  which has a list of postcodes, each of which has a series of posters.  we shouldn’t be afraid of challenging our consumers…  what a individual can’t piece together a networked community of individuals can…

in comunications planning we’re too obsessed with giving consumers information, we need to start giving them some questions, some intrigue.  as Abrams says, “sometimes mystery is more important than knowledge”.

broadcasting, converging, internet, IPA|ED:three, planning, social networking, user-generating, viewing

Darth Vader and The Evolving Ecology of TV

I was shown the above – somewhat delightful – clip at a conference last week.  a subsequent forwarding on to a colleague reignited a question I gave pause for thought to a year ago when I asked what is TV?  the answer I came to then is the same answer that I stand by now…  that TV is the act of consuming aggregated audiovisual content.

I pointed out at the time that this definition implied that, should you run with it, YouTube is television.  and I believe it is.  in Dec  06 I wrote:

"the aggregation of TV requires content and distribution.  technology
has allowed citizens to produce the former, and the internet has
allowed them to do the latter.  we are all – should we wish to be –
content aggregators.  we are all budding broadcasters.  and a
generation is learning to watch TV aggregated by commercial entities as
well as fellow citizens."
mediation post Weds 6th December 06

an obvious question then in all of this is – who is to do the aggregation?  …commercial broadcasters or – via PVR on TV / subscriptions on YouTube / wall posts on Facebook – viewers themselves?  in negotiating the future of media and communications – the aim of this blog – we have to accept the inevitable conclusion that it is of course both.

in the evolving ecology of TV (in both the broad and narrowcasting sense) the question in not who aggregates, but who – at a given moment in time – we want to aggregate for us.  its a question of context…  Saturday evening on the sofa is very different to 30mins web surfing on a Friday lunchtime.  as a viewer, my individual needs vary massively over the course of a day or week.

commercial broadcasters and internet unilateralists continue to be at war over the issue of who aggregates.  the battle is pointless.  in the year since I wrote my original ‘what is TV’ post, commercial TV has been under what seems to be continuous fire, not from futurologists predicting their demise, but from a media who have witnessed compromise after compromise of viewer trust.

if broadcast TV thinks it needs to win a perceived war against the internet by cutting corners and taking shortcuts in order to be as popular as possible, then it is fundamentally flawed on two fronts.  one; there is no war – both commercial and viewer-aggregated TV are here to stay, and two; the role of commercial broadcasters in this new ecology is not compete with YouTube by being as popular as possible, but to inspire it by being as original as possible…

the role of broadcast TV is to be the source of original, intriguing, inventive, surprising and high-quality content.  content that demands to sit alongside it’s online counterparts.  as Stephen Poliakoff comments in today’s MediaGuardian, "if you commission it, the viewers do turn up."

…just as millions turned up to see Darth Vader in cinemas in Empire Strikes back in 1980 (and on TV and DVD ever since)  …and just as millions have turned up to see the clip at the top of this post.  together they’re a great example of this new relationship: content originally produced commercially by Fox and Lucasarts as high-quality content, remixed by DoomBlake for fun, as parody, as art.

both are entertaining, and both have their place in the new TV ecology.  it’s notable that DoomBlake’s recreative remix is  entertaining because of the original context as defined by Lucas’s commercial creative vision.  these content siblings need each other – one as source material, and the other as a way to stay contemporary in a changing world.

converging, gaming, IPA|ED:three

The Potential Watershed in the Mobile Media Stagnation

Mobileevolutionit one of the great wonders of the modern media world; why mainstream use of mobile phones for broadcast media consumption has never really been adopted – despite some very good reasons…

one; the mobile is ubiquitous.  there were well over two billion of them in the world by 2005 (source) and in the UK we have more mobile phones than people (source).

two; we’re very emotionally attached to our phones, as Ahonen and Moore observe in Communities Dominate Brands p129;

"a cellular phone is distinctly personal … this personal association creates a very powerful attachment … one very close to addiction … European cellular phone companies have coined a name for the new concept, called "reachability" … on the fixed line phones you call a place, on a cellular phone you call a person … reachability is the human need to feel connected … a passive continuous connectedness in case the important call arrives or event happens … reachability is the single most addictive aspect of a cellular phone"

three; it’s already a device we use (in albeit for some a limited capacity) for interaction with other (mainstream) media, as anyone who’s ever voted on a Simon Cowell show can testify.  whilst out on Friday night a friend sent a facebook message via his mobile – essentially disintermediating the phone network in the process.

four; unlike the internet, we’re willing to pay for stuff on our mobile phones.  a report cited by Dr Jaques Bughin in an essay for IDS’ volume ‘New Language for the New Medium of Television’ (see here for details) found that mobile users would be willing to pay between 5 to 10 euros a month (and up to 15 euros for month).

five; mobile phones have won every battle they’ve taken on. in 2001 global sales for camera phones numbered less than 2 million, with digital camera sales well over ten times that amount.  by 2002 camera phones were up to 18 million worldwide, 84 million by 2003.  and by 2004 digital phones outsold digital cameras by 4-1.  the rest is history.  a similar stories can be told for PDAs vs smart phones, and many more people play games on mobile phones than any other platform (source: Ahonen + Moore p49, 55, 68).

but for a combination of reasons – including-but-not-limited-to – lack of a standardised revenue model, downloading capacity and hardware and software limitations, media consumption on the mobile phone just hasn’t happened.

then last week the omnipresent Google – the highest-profile member of the Open Handset Alliance made an announcement.

the Android platform  is (arguably) Google’s answer to the i-phone.  but it is not – repeat – not, a phone.  its software.  software that is open to be developed by anyone – including advertisers and brands – who’d like to develop some.  the opportunities for brands are multiple and varied – TV access, gaming, retailing (eBay phone application to track your auctions anyone), or bespoke applications that allow consumers integrate and interest with broadcast advertising campaigns… in real time, whereever they are?!

Google have even put $10m up for grabs to those that develop the best applications.  as Google point out, the vast majority of stuff that will work on phones isn’t out there yet.  what’s new news is that creating that stuff just got a lot more accessible…  does it represent a watershed?  very possibly.

the mobile phone’s waited longer than it would have liked to become a mainstream media device, and now with Google’s backing, that ambition could soon – finally – become a reality.