insights, ironies and idiosyncrasies in communication and design

from the wide, wide world and the world wide web

Sunday, 31 August 2008

No bunny.

When I visit Sony's HQ in Bangkok I might be looking at colourful posters of bunnies, but I'm asked to sit at an empty desk and to talk on a cheap office phone to a hollow foreign voice from a dusty storeroom somewhere possibly on the same compound. (This is just the second step in a multi-step process and it's obviously a fairly standard procedure I gather by the way no one bats an eyelid.) 

The point is that the experience leaves a far sharper imprint on my mind than any of Sony's ads. The two and a half hours I spend there increases my total life interface with the brand by about 700% – and now my overall experience with the brand is suddenly really not very good. The 12 minutes 27 seconds (over 33 years) I had spent being persuaded by their carefully crafted copy and impressed by their flash lifestyle layouts is all wasted. They are constantly begging me to listen to what they've got to say and when I finally turn up, they're not interested in having a conversation. They had a big chance to impress me and they blew it.

Every single interface that consumers (participants, citizens or whatever you want to call your target audience) have with the brand ought to be part of the 'product'. We should be in the business of unearthing authentic, unique and resonant insights and dramatizing our discoveries in terms of product and service (working with the client to make the very nature of what they do intrinsically more relevant) – so when the client spends millions of dollars (or baht) promising the world with brand communications, the brand experience lives up to the claims.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

A deep-seated problem.

More (very hard) evidence of ill thought out 'branding' – this time from the airline with the 'smooth as silk' strap line sponsoring truly uncomfortable (and totally underused) solid concrete benches in the Laoation capital of Vientiane. 

When will brand guardians cease to believe they can bludgeon their way into the public psyche with brazen, interruptive, pointless and soulless communications?

In simple terms, the problem with this piece of communication is that it says absolutely nothing.

THAI should have least snapped up something a bit softer – like the grass – but unfortunately Lao Telecom beat them to it, but kept the lush stuff off-limits to the public – perhaps, as a telecom company, wary of the maintenance involved. 

If only Laos Telecom were consistent with their choice of hosts though. This last iPhone snap in the set speaks volumes about the crappiness of their service and the stupidity of their media purchasing.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

S(h)in City.

As this beached taxi demonstrates, the popularity of Thaksin has not been totally obliterated by Chamlong and his mob. The livery of Frank's English plaything I have seen stuck on taxis, bikes and T-shirts several times in the Thai capital over the last couple of weeks or so. And in spite of his dwindling status as a 'fit and proper person' in the UK after skipping bail and fleeing Thailand, it appears that evil Shinawatra will aim to continue to bankroll City in some capacity – with or without his 800 million pounds of until-now frozen cash.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Don't judge a book by its cover. Or its trailer.

Douglas Coupland's Glove Pond has been top of my Youtube favorites for weeks and weeks now, but somehow (strangely as I'm both an avid reader and a fiend of the digital world) I've ignored the growing phenomenon of the book trailer – appreciating this particular piece of work simply on its merits as a superb bit of motion graphics.

My passion for beautifully designed covers (Tony Meeuwissen's cover for Waterhouse's Billy Liar and the design group Bently/Farell/Burnett's Evelyn Waugh covers for example) has caused me to add several more Penguins to my shelves recently – Seven Hundred Penguins to be precise. Mostly though this passion causes me anguish. 

I have over the years passed on a number of (especially secondhand) books when the cover wasn't to my liking and quite recently I took umbrage to the particularly nasty looking dust jacket of The New Rules Of Marketing & PR, ripping the cover off and leaving the book sitting there punished and bare. (The thing is unquestionably hideously art directed for a book that's supposed to be all about new media and communication.) 

My real issue though with the book cover is not with design, but with representation. Well written text is designed to trigger imagined worlds brimming with complex and colourful characters – all of which is extinguished (every time the book is picked up) by glossy, sacharine modern photography designed purely to shift the the text off the shelves.

I'll probably (mostly) have similar issues with book trailers but for right now I'm revelling in stuff like the Coupland spot – and the knowldege that until book trailers appear on book review pages and literary forums (if they haven't already) most titles will be preserved – as whether you view the trailer will be pretty much up to you. 

Via The Guardian's Media blog.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Dead on joker.

Just spotted this example of powerful and poignant communication on the blog of British advertising legend Dave Trott.

The same logic is of course at play with a slightly more famous funny man just as fond of elaborate pranks – though obviously with this second case it's the studios and not the star who stand to profit, from both the PR of the death and the Oscar if it is awarded to Ledger posthumously.