creating, experiencing, outdoor, praising

In Praise of Physicality: a shout out to SoulPancake for making me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside

a delightfully awesome idea via the delightfully awesome Upworthy

SoulPancake encouraged totally random people to shout out to people who have changed their lives. and they did. and SoulPancake made a video of it. and then I watched it. and I got thinking about all the awesome people who have changed my life. and now I feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

I love the pure physicality of this idea. it could so easily have been a digital execution; where it would certainly have had more scale, greater pass-on, less risk and a plethora of innovations and platforms to bring depth and meaning to the idea.

none of which it needs,

despite the fact that physicality has soooooo many downsides …

physicality makes things geographically limited. stuff can get broken or damaged. people have to overcome the huge fear of public embarrassment by taking part. which means loads of people won’t. you have to get the location right and people need to be there to watch all the stuff and what if you get the location wrong. or it could rain. or there could be a local planning regulation thing that you forgot to take account of. and only 322 people will see it. and people are busy, will they honestly engage with an over-sized microphone in a shopping mall?

none of which matters.

far from limiting the idea, the physicality of how people were encouraged to do this makes it all the more powerful … the physicality of the invitation, and the physicality of people’s shout-outs transform a cute idea into a powerful affirmation of relationships and connections and influences that make us who we are.

so here’s a shout out to SoulPancake … nice job.

featured image source


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…

creating, experiencing, outdoor, user-generating

Digital and OOH collide in Dublin: what happened when Playhouse and turned a buliding into a digital playground

Dancers from Playhouse on Vimeo.

so about to head for the weekend and XFactor but just picked this up on the twittersphere and thought it was a rather delightful thing to end the week on.  from the 24th of September until the 11th of October, Dublin's Liberty Hall is being transformed into a giant 50 metre, low resolution, TV screen.  the best bit – anyone can join in…  members of the public are being invited to create animations that will be displayed on the building as part of the project.

brilliant example of digital spaces and places being amplified in the real world.  echoes of the HBO project but with an added open invitation for anyone to showcase their creativity…

here's hoping that they're investing in amplifying it… desktop applications that show what's going on in real time, lots of YouTubeness, and perhaps some kind of digital book that captures and showcases the best examples.

more of this kind of thing please…  and if you want to get creating then click here.

copy-writing, creating, designing, outdoor, praising

Keep Calm and Carry On – the History of a Poster: and what brands should learn from the elegance and simplicity of its resonant slogan

Keep_calm_poster I popped into The Only Place for Pictures on Upper Street over the weekend and came across the history of the Keep Calm and Carry on poster that's been in and around for a while.  fascinating history and a reminder that simple, elegant copy writing can lodge long in the consciousness, finding new and evolved meanings over time…  what brands would give for slogans with this degree of resonance so long after its original inception.

I've copied the full text from the note in the shop below, enjoy…

in the spring of 1939, with war against Germany all but inevitable, the British Government's Ministry of Information commissioned a series of propaganda posters to be distributed throughout the country at the onset of hostilities.  it was feared that in the early months of the war Britain would be subjected to gas attacks, heavy bombing raids and even invasion.  the posters were intended to offer the public reassurances in the dark days which lay ahead.

the posters were required to be uniform in style and were to feature 'special and handsome' typeface making them difficult for the enemy to counterfeit.  the intent of the poster was to convey a message from the King to his people, to assure them that 'all necessary measures to defend the nation were being taken', and to stress an 'attitude of mind' rather than any specific aim.  on the eve of war which Britain was ill-equipped to fight, it was not possible to know what the nations's future aims and objectives would be.

at the end of August 1939 three designs went into production with an overall print budget of £20,600 for five million posters.  the first poster, of which over a million were printed, carried a slogan suggested by a civil servant names Waterfield.  using the crown of George VI as the only graphic device, the stark red and white poster read 'Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will bring us Victory'.  a similar poster, of which around 600,000 were issued, carried the slogan 'Freedom is in Peril'.  but the third design, of which over 2.5 million posters were printed, simply read 'Keep Calm and Carry On'.

the first two designs were distributed in September 1939 and immediately began to appear in shop windows, on railway platforms, and on advertising hoardings up and down the country.  but the 'Keep Calm' posters were held in reserve, intended for use only in times of crisis or invasion.  although some may have found their way onto Government office walls, the poster was never officially issued and so remained virtually unseen by the public – unseen, that is, until a rare copy turned up more than fifty years later in a box of old books bought in auction by Barter Books in Alnwick.

shop owners Stuart and mary manley liked the poster so much that they had it framed and placed near the till in Barter Books.  it quickly proved so popular with customers and attracted so many enquiries that in 2001 Stuart and Mary decided to print and sell a facsimile edition of their original poster which has since become a best-seller, both in the shop and via te internet.

the Ministry of Information commissioned numerous other propaganda posters for use on the home front during the Second World War.  some have become well-known and highly collectible, such as the acrtoonist Fougasse's 'careless Talk Costs Lives' series.  but ours has remained a secret until now.  unfortunately, we cannot acknowledge the individuals responsible for the 'Keep Calm' poster.  but it's a credit to those nameless artists that long after the war was won people everywhere are still finding reassurance in their distinctive and handsome design, an the very special 'attitude of mind' they managed to convey.

Primary source of information: Lewis, R.M., 'Undergraduate Thesis: The planning, design and reception of British home front propaganda posters of the Second World War'.  written April 1997.  accessed April 2007.

Barter Books, Alnwick Station, Northumberland NE66 2NP, England

Postscript: since the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster was rediscovered in Barter Books in 2000, it has become a national icon.  to read about the ongoing story of this remarkable survivor, click here.

engaging, outdoor, planning

The importance of maintaining the journey: how the Autism Trust started strong but lost me on the way

what a wonderful opening gambit.  saw the above poster yesterday in Stockwell.  no brand, no logo, just a message to Gordon Brown on a very public space…  very disruptive and very timely.  so far so brilliant.

so you call the number and you get a voicemail saying "hi this is Polly.  sorry I'm not around to take your call…"  here's where it starts to go wrong.  Pollie shouldn't be expecting me to call.  she should be expecting Gordon to call.  the message should be for him.  opportunity missed to keep the consistency of the consumer journey.

anyhoo you can leave a message or visit a website;, where you're greeted with the following screen…


the opening screen asks if I want to see more support for individuals with autism and their families?  well, no.  I'm following a trail of breadcrumbs left for the prime minister.  I'd be more than happy to invest time in learning more, but not when I don't know why I'm on a site for an autism charity.  opportunity #2 missed.

such a shame.  what should have been a brilliant bit of cause-related marketing is reduced to no more than a stunt.  a fraction more investment in the welcome page, combined with a whole lot more strategic join-up, could have created a consumer journey with more impetus than a, well, thing with lots of impetus.  instead, I fear lots of interested people are right now just getting lost on the way.


Going public: how Metro leverages the value of reputation in a networked society

Mediation caught the above poster on a recent trip to the north.  it was posted on the Tyne & Wear Metro system and lists publicly the individuals who have been fined for travelling on the Metro network without a valid ticket.

it's really a rather remarkable piece of communication; listing so publicly and so prominently the names of individuals convicted of a crime.  posting names up where friends, family and bosses can (as I'm sure the individuals included are all too aware) readily see them.  the BBC's License fee campaign of a few years ago may have put our postcodes on 48s but it didn't go as far as broadcasting names, ages and area of residence up for all to see in a public space.  they're even available for download on the internet (here if you're so inclined).

whilst it is, of course, a contemporary version of a very long-standing tradition of using public knowledge of a crime to shame an individual – a tradition that goes back to the public stocks of centuries earlier – the sheer publicity of it still surprises.

the culture of the UK has a very established sense of privacy.  it's not like that everywhere.  in Finland – as Rory Sutherland observes in a post on his BrandRepublic blog – your salary is a matter of public record that anyone can inquire about via return of text message.  here that information is something you'd probably only share with HR, the tax man and your partner (and sometimes, Mediation imagines, not the latter).

what this – the above poster – is about, is reputation.  in a digitally-networked society, the importance of your reputation is heightened.  how good or respected you are is in many ways a matter of record for the network.

increasingly however, as citizens contribute to the collective contents of a culture thru user-generated-content, reputation takes on a heightened meaning; reputation becomes a valued commodity.  as Eric Raymond observes in his Cathedral and Bazaar, in a gift culture, you don't get paid in money by producing something
scarce (content is abundant); rather you give things away but get paid in reputation.  this blog is a case in point.

the individuals in the above poster may have been fined on average £265, but the cost to their reputation in a networked society may come to be far greater.