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Posts Tagged ‘London’

Is Twitter just too dangerous for footballers to use?

Posted Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Rather than considering the legal implications of the use of twitter and the recent revelation that Ryan Giggs was ‘outed’ on twitter, it made me consider instead whether footballers should be on twitter.

Enough has been said about Giggs, and no doubt it is a shame that a role model like he was actually hiding behind a string of laws to maintain his polished appearance. Whilst Giggs wasn’t on twitter, a number of his team mates are and they’re receiving varied reaction.

It must be a nightmare for managers, not only are they having to keep these twenty something millionaires squeaky clean but now they’re having to deal with social networking which is difficult to monitor and is allowing players to say what they want.
Rio Ferdinand, the pin up tweeter is probably the best example of a footballer using the platform to best and most productive effect. He is diplomatic and polite and whilst his heated discussions with Robbie Savage have become well known, they’re all in good jest. He refrains from criticising referees and does not use it to berate other players but instead encourages the likes of Jack Wilshire on his England debut.

Ronney on the other hand wasn’t so reserved recently when he told a fellow tweeter to come down to the training ground to ‘show him what he was made of’, not quite the interaction Ferguson would have advised. Wilshire and Babel have openly criticised referees, Wilshire calling them ‘inconsistent’ and Babel posting a photo of a referee in a Manchester United shirt.

Should footballers on twitter be banned? It has on the plus side brought fans closer to their idols, Ferdinand host a Q&A and Fabregas holds competitions via twitvid. But the likes of Bent ranting about a transfer just feeds the paper with new stories and gossip. Reporters must love Twitter, when for years they’ve been trying to access players, they’re now providing all the information they could dream of. On Kaka’s profile his mum posted news he was buying a property in London, fuelling rumours he was on the way to England- gold dust for papers.

Sure Twitter is a great source to connect with the people we watch every weekend, but it needs to be controlled. It’d be a shame if Ferguson removed Ferdinand but at the same time, the likes of Rooney need to be coached on what the effects of 140 characters can do. It seems this is the major failing, footballers don’t realise that people are listening and reading every comment. It’s as though they say what they want without any thought of consequence. It’s great having footballers on Twitter and it’d be a shame if we weren’t able to interact with them, but they need to implement some control and remember that as examples to young footballers, they need to be ‘tweety clean’ too.


Labour and Lib Dems make pitch to adland

Posted Thursday, May 6th, 2010

LONDONLabour and the Liberal Democrats both made a last-minute pitch for the votes of people working in the creative industries as the General Election drew to a close.

BrandRepublic, 6th May 2010

Gordon Brown issued a special Creative Britain manifesto, which pledged that a re-elected Labour government would continue to strengthen industries, including advertising, that were seen as world leaders. He said: “Around the world, Britain is seen as a thriving hub of creative talent.”

The document said Labour would clamp down on illegal online copyright infringement. “We will also ask the advertising industry to look at its rules to ensure sites which promote illegal content are not beneficiaries of advertising revenue,” it said.

Labour highlighted the Government’s pledge to ask Ofcom to investigate the UK broadcast advertising market to ensure existing rules are not harming broadcasters.

The Lib Dems published their plans to boost the creative industries, including small grants or loans for start-ups from a new “enterprise fund”.
Their report said: “We will also reform outdated media regulation on issues such as media ownership and advertising to enable commercial operators to maximise the potential of new platforms.”


Electric cars save cash for city drivers

Posted Friday, October 30th, 2009

 They may miss out on revving their engines at the lights, but urban drivers of electric cars can cut their emissions by two thirds and save up to £3,000 a year. Sound like a fair compromise?

BBC.co.uk, April 2008

Electric cars produce no exhaust fumes, minimal pollution and a third of the CO2 emissions of petrol engines. On top of that they’re tax free, immune to congestion charges, and a full ‘tank’ of fuel costs no more than a pint of milk.

So what’s the snag? Currently, limited range and recharging opportunities, and a lack of driving pizzazz. But could the next generation of electric vehicles change all that?

How does it work? Electric cars use a battery and electric motor to power the vehicle and are charged via a standard mains socket in your home, or at an increasing number of free outdoor charging bays. The average electric car does 60 miles on a single charge with a top speed of 40mph – while higher performance sports cars can do 150 miles and 130mph. There are currently over 100 electricity pumps in the UK – the majority of which are in London. But 250 new points are expected to be added this year across Britain.

How will it make a difference? 1. An electric car run on conventional electricity from a coal-fired generator produces a third of the emissions of a conventional petrol car (64g of CO2 per km compared to 176g CO2 per km) and just over half the emissions of a diesel or hybrid car (104g CO2/km). 2. You can save thousands of pounds a year in running costs
3. If you’re thinking electric car plus green electricity tariff equals carbon neutral transport, you might need to recalculate. green energy

What’s stopping me?
“Max speed, 40mph?” Electric cars are currently best suited to city driving because the average speed of traffic in London, for example, is notoriously just 10mph: 2mph slower than an Edwardian horse-drawn carriage.

“I’ve heard they aren’t safe” Electric cars are classified as ‘quadricycles‘ by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, so are subject to less stringent safety tests than cars. But one report estimates they are three times less likely than petrol cars to be involved in accidents. Insurers certainly think so – electric cars qualify for the lowest insurance category, group one, because (reckons the AA) their likelihood of getting into dangerous situations is much lower than that of conventional, high-speed cars.

“Won’t the battery go flat as soon as I get out of my road?” Current models manage an average of about 60 miles on a single charge so we can make our average daily commute of 17 miles more than three times between recharges, but out-of-town journeys are of course trickier. Upgrading to more expensive lithium-ion batteries can increase range significantly.

“I’d love to help the planet, but I can’t afford such fancy new technology” Actually, electric cars range in price between £8,900 and £17,000 and, based on the UK average of 10,000 miles a year, you could save £800 a year on fuel, £300 in car tax, up to £2,000 from congestion charges and free parking in London, and get cheap insurance too. On the other hand, the current generation of electric vehicles are unlikely to rack up that sort of mileage due to their limited range.

Fuel and maintenance costs are also about a third of the typical petrol car: about 6.5p per mile as opposed to 20p. Even with the cost of replacement batteries – about £1,500 every three to four years – electric motoring still costs only about 11p per mile.

What’s the debate?
Electric vehicles are exhaust free but critics say that they simply shift the point at which the emissions and pollution is generated to the power station. This is true (in fact, electricity generation accounts for a third of the UK’s climate impact) but power stations are more efficient at generating energy than cars, so emission reductions still hold. You may be tempted to switch your electricity tariff to green energy to reduce your driving emissions to near zero – but think twice before making the jump.

New research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in 2008 levels another, less serious, accusation at electric cars: they use more water than fossil fuelled cars. Vehicles running off electricity use about 17 times more water per mile than petrol vehicles because electricity production in power plants requires the withdrawal (and return) of surface water from nearby lakes and rivers. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that one million electric cars account for just 0.3% of the miles driven by light duty vehicles in the US.


Curtain twitchers, the CIA and the rise of Facebook

Posted Thursday, October 1st, 2009

New technology and old-fashioned curiosity have made social networking so hot that everyone is cashing in. Nico Macdonald helps you sort the tweets from the bots

 Design Council

If everyone felt like Jerry Seinfeld, Facebook wouldn’t exist. The comedian observed: “As an adult, it’s very hard to make a new friend. Whatever group you’ve got now, that’s who you’re going with. You’re not interviewing, you’re not looking at any people, you’re not interested in seeing any applications.”

Yet, for most of us, the social instinct is deeply ingrained. So deeply that, by the age of seven, research suggests, two thirds of American children have an imaginary friend. Technology has made it possible for us to connect with real friends in undreamt of ways. When Tom Coates, a staffer in a London office of Yahoo!, needed a break, he decided the best way to round up some company was to post this message on Twitter, a hip social networking service: “I need to go for a walk to clear my head. Yauatcha for macaroons anyone?”

Social networking is such a phenomenon that many employers – even the CIA – now have Facebook pages and use the site as a recruitment tool. The agency plans to launch its own staff social networking site called A-Space.

The wisdom of friends: the psychological argument for using social networking sites full of ‘people like us’ is compelling. But how long with the fashion last? And what do sites need to do to increase their reach?
Asking all your friends if they’d like to join you for lunch would once have been impractical. But sites like Facebook allow us to gossip and curtain-twitch online, be bored by someone else’s holiday snaps without visiting their house, plan a business meeting and accelerate the getting-to-know-you process. Instead of taking months to realise that a new acquaintance, like you, can quote Seinfeld scripts verbatim, you can join a group of like-minded souls in minutes.

New technology, old-fashioned curiosity and a dollop of ‘wisdom of friends’ psychology have made sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo immensely popular. A 2007 survey found that 48% of American teenagers online visit social networking sites at least once a day and 72% use them to make plans with friends. In the network age, computing power is in the hands of more people and is tackling new challenges. We’ve moved from using computers as work objects to the widespread use of computing-enabled things – laptops, mobile phones, games consoles – to manipulate emails, diary entries, instant messages, contact information, URLs and blogs wherever we are.

Social networking is driven by significant technical developments and rapid social change. The current fears for – and of – teenagers – may explain why they have become core users of social networking sites, spending more time at home on the internet. As a rule of thumb, for every hour we spend on the web, we typically spend 23.5 minutes less with friends and family.

The culture of fear and decreasing trust have made some wary of encounters with strangers and reluctant to embark on deep personal relationships. Surveys show that a record one in four Americans say they have no close friends at all. Many prefer ‘safer’ relationships mediated, to an extent, via a screen, where they can connect with a wider circle of friends in a non-committal fashion. Consumer trends analyst Linda Stone calls this “continuous partial attention”, adding: “To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognised and to matter.”

Cheaper travel and a more integrated global economy, where staff change jobs more often and are more likely to work abroad, have played their part too.

Keeping in contact, avoiding cowboy plumbers
The functions social networking best supports are, in a nutshell or seven:

Familiarisation and maintaining contacts. From status updates and edited profiles you build a rounded picture of an individual. People you know may share this with you – to varying degrees – if asked. Essentially, human knowledge is being connected by the network (rather than embedded in it – the goal of so many past computing visions).
Swapping, sharing and storing of ‘objects’ – photos, movies or songs – online. We can be told when something of interest has been uploaded.
Group discussion, which is moving to social networking sites. Contributors’ real names and pictures can be displayed and you can check their profile.
Finding and hiring skills. The self-employed already use sites like LinkedIn to get in touch with businesses and customers regardless of location.
Online or internet-enabled applications which allow us to manage tasks, meetings and diaries. You can, for instance, open up your diary to contacts.
Campaigning. You can network with people with the same ideology. But the likes of Facebook can’t, by themselves, reinvigorate the democratic process.
Searching the web. Social networking can reveal, filter, enhance or shape the data we find when searching. We can link, recommend or rate almost anything and form an opinion influenced by our knowledge of the contributor or the number of recommendations. In a world full of cowboy plumbers – or so reality TV shows would have us believe – we might be relieved to find one implicitly recommended because they’re linked to someone we know. Friends or contacts are acting as ‘trust engines’, and by answering, friends build their relationship with you and increase their kudos with others.
While Google focuses on computer science, engineering and performance, Yahoo! has focused on what Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product strategy, calls “better search through people”, buying bookmark-sharing tool del.icio.us and photo-sharing site Flickr and developing such services as Yahoo! Answers.

Junk mail, smart address books and over-engineering
Social networking sites need to improve. As Facebook’s personal profile – which includes favourite music, TV shows, films and books – is completed manually, it is of limited use and soon out of date. Profiles would be richer if they drew on actual activity, such as the music we buy or play. Artificial intelligence-based tools could help others access a user’s locally stored information. There is a risk of over-engineering, though. An element of a profile or relationship can be extracted or inferred but do we want to share it with everyone? Giving users visibility on – and control of – what they share is a design challenge. Already LinkedIn lets you ‘View my profile as others see it’.

Sites need to be accessible and to hand, as easy to use as a stapler. Modern mobiles and smart phones like the iPhone have feature-filled browsers. A site such as Jaiku offers a dedicated application for modern Nokia devices that identifies your geographic location to your circle of friends. You could have a smart address book that tells you if a contact you plan to call is busy or abroad. Giving physical form to such ideas is the Availabot, a pop-up figure that stands up on your desk when the contact it represents comes online and falls into a flaccid heap of despair when s/he goes away.

Exhaustion, Rupert Murdoch and evolutionary psychology
The subtlety of human relationships can’t be over-estimated. We finesse what we tell different people, even lie. There is a danger that concerns about privacy, and scares based on extraordinarily rare – but shocking – abuses of social networking tools, may deter people from using these sites. Worries over security, time wasting and other abuses has led employers to block access to Facebook.

On a practical level, there is a danger of exhaustion. Coates says: “The amount of sites using social networks is so substantial that [registration] is no longer something people will go through again for no obvious reason.” Sites could be integrated as an external service to other sites. If LibraryThing could access your Facebook profile, it could show you books your friends liked. Profiles could be abstracted so they can be ‘applied’ to any site or service. So far, this has had little success, but as social networking profiles are made easier to edit and when this approach presents a competitive advantage, the ‘abstract’ approach may flourish.

Rupert Murdoch’s strategy for MySpace raises another issue. MySpace plans to run a TV series about showbiz wannabes as it strives to persuade users to linger longer, so they can be targeted by ads. If these sites are not full of user- generated content but have content developed by professionals, does that extend their appeal or fatally undermine it? Facebook has announced it will start targeting ads based on user profiles. Will users be deterred by advertising or welcome it? Concerns about privacy have been heightened by Facebook’s plan to allow (user-controlled) elements of profiles to be indexed by Google.

Historically, human relationships have built over time from face-to-face encounters, in which we use body language and other cues to assess honesty. By contrast, the ease with which we can indicate friendship with social networking allows us to appear to have a cohort of friends. There is some science behind Seinfeld’s gag. Evolutionary psychology suggests we are hardwired to remember no more than 150 people. These smaller, more intensely focused groups have often been responsible for scientific, technical and intellectual breakthroughs. The trajectory of social networking is in our hands. Will we, as a society, take these services seriously – or be satisfied to play online with our new ‘friends’?


The power of branding: a practical guide

Posted Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

What do we mean by the word ‘brand’?

Design Council, updated 06 April 2009

The words brand and branding are thrown around liberally by all sorts of people in different contexts and with different meanings in mind, so it may help to start by asking ‘what exactly is a brand?’

The simplest answer is that a brand is a set of associations that a person (or group of people) makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation. These associations may be intentional – that is, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, for example – or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review for a new product might ‘harm’ the product manufacturer’s overall brand by placing negative associations in people’s minds.

To illustrate the idea, let’s take what is arguably the best-known product – or brand – in the world: Coca-Cola.

Although essentially just a soft drinks product, Coca-Cola the drink is eclipsed by the sheer might of Coca-Cola the brand. This phenomenon is best summed up by the following quote from a Coca-Cola executive:

‘If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.’

In a 2007 survey of the value of global brands by branding agency Interbrand, Coca-Cola‘s brand equity was valued at US$65.3bn, just under half the company’s true market value.

So what are these all-powerful associations? For Coca-Cola, typical perceptions might be that it is the original cola drink (‘The Real Thing’), that its recipe is secret and unsurpassed, that it’s all-American or maybe global, that it’s youthful, energetic, refreshing and so on. Visual associations might include the unmistakable red and white logo and corporate colours, or the unique shape and tint of the original glass bottles.

These are mostly positive brand associations, but there may be negative ones too. For example, Coca-Cola may be seen as unhealthy, or as a symbol of global ‘imperialism’ by American brands. What is seen as a positive association to some may be unpleasant to others and negative perceptions could become attached to a brand‘s identity even if the company strives to present a different character.

Of course, brands aren’t limited to the food and drink category. If a brand is just a set of associations then practically anything could be said to have a brand, even individuals – think Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay.

Ramsay’s own brand is so strong, in fact, that in 2007 he leant his weight to a major advertising campaign by Gordon’s Gin. He was chosen not just because of his name, but because his association with a sense of quality and exclusivity mirrors the drinks manufacturer’s own brand values.

Other high-profile examples of recognised brands include JCB, British Airways, Tate, Yahoo, The Big Issue or even London. From services to cities, products to publications, each carries a strong set of associations in the minds of a large number of people.

What is branding?

If a brand results from a set of associations and perceptions in people’s minds, then branding is an attempt to harness, generate, influence and control these associations to help the business perform better. Any organisation can benefit enormously by creating a brand that presents the company as distinctive, trusted, exciting, reliable or whichever attributes are appropriate to that business.

While absolute control over a brand is not possible due to outside influences, intelligent use of design, advertising, marketing, service proposition, corporate culture and so on can all really help to generate associations in people’s minds that will benefit the organisation. In different industry sectors the audiences, competitors, delivery and service aspects of branding may differ, but the basic principle of being clear about what you stand for always applies.

For the full article see: http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/en/About-Design/Business-Essentials/The-power-of-branding-a-practical-guide/


Claire Beale on Advertising: Whisper it, but it looks like we might survive

Posted Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

The Independent,  13th July 2009

Eavesdrop on any adland lunch table chat right now and you’ll find that confidence is creeping back onto the menu. We’ve hit recession‘s rock bottom and now we’re on the (slow) bounce. And it’s not just wishful thinking. We have facts.

OK… not facts exactly, but forecasts. And for an industry built on flimsy research, that’s good enough. A new report predicts that the ad industry will enjoy “mild global recovery” in 2010. Whisper it, but it looks like we might survive. Of course, this year will be a bloodbath. According to the new ZenithOptimedia study, worldwide advertising spend will slump by 8.5 per cent in 2009, and that’s worse than Zenith was predicting just a few months ago.

But the medium-term prognosis is better. By 2010 we’ll be revelling in a 1.6 per cent upturn. Yes, that’s 1.6 per cent against this year’s disastrous crash, but still we’re bottoming out. And 2011 is expected to be another 4.3 per cent up. It seems that although advertisers in the finance, automotive and business travel sectors slashed spend, retail and FMCG advertising (particularly at the value-for-money end of these markets) has held up better than expected.

But are we ready to capitalise on these first fragile signs of recovery?

Are we ready to remind the international advertising world that Britain is the place to come for first-class creative work, production facilities and strategic thinking? Some help driving that message home would be nice. Perhaps London‘s mayor Boris Johnson could take a lead from New York‘s Michael Bloomberg. Recognising the economic value of New York‘s communications businesses, he is on a mission to give his media industry all the help he can.

Here’s what Bloomberg‘s doing; listen up Boris. He’s launching a Media and Tech Fellowship to help fund new businesses and new innovations. Then he’s introducing tax exempt bonds to help companies invest in new technological, research and production facilities. He’s creating a New York City Media Lab to help the city’s businesses and universities collaborate on research and insight and to provide a space for lectures, debates and networking events.

There’s more. A new training programme will help equip people for jobs in new media, and in lower Manhattan, a building is being prepared as a centre for media freelancers, with workstations, conference space and news facilities. Bloomberg is now scouring the globe to encourage businesses in the communications industry to locate to New York.

It reminds me of a story I heard recently from a Canadian ad firm looking to expand into Europe. Should they choose Amsterdam or London for their HQ? In Amsterdam the city grandees threw a party to introduce the agency to other businesses there, prepared a bespoke start-up pack jammed with invaluable advice for a company new in town and pledged plenty of practical support if the agency decided to move in. The agency found no such welcome in London.

Amsterdam, you see, wants to be a global centre for creative excellence. So guess which city the agency chose for its European base, guess where it’s now creating jobs, spending money, making great advertising. Not London. Johnson’s office is apparently doing a sector analysis of all major industries in the capital so it can work out how best to support them. Hmm. And there have been a few mutterings from the Government about the need to push “Creative Britain“. But advertising and the wider creative industries need practical and financial support right now.

Britain is clinging to its reputation as one of the globe’s leading ad markets, and it’s still a hotbed of talent, innovation and creative excellence. But with our rivals upping their pitch, our grip is slipping. Without more government support, our little green shoots will remain just that while the world’s other leading ad markets invest their way to recovery.

Best in Show: Hula Hoops (Publicis)
Often the best ads are the ones that take a real brand truth and do something funny or surprising with it. Take Hula Hoops. Don’t deny you do that thing of putting them on your fingers.

Well, now Hula Hoops’ ad agency, Publicis, has launched a campaign showing people doing just that, and turning their Hoops into little puppets. In one ad these puppets are the Village People, dancing to YMCA, in another they are a DJ with a mixing deck. Make your own Hoop puppet film, post it on the website and try to win a trip to Hollywood. Or you could just eat them.


 
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