Ferris Bueller was right, "If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." We all need to take time to stop and look around.
This is a blog about brands, technology, ads and ideas that I find interesting and would like to share.
This is one of the classic design images of the US Presidential Election.
It was designed by the famous/infamous Shephard Fairey, he of Andre the Giant (Obey Giant) fame. Its a great story - a limited print run of 350 sold out within minutes, Fairey then produced wild postings for Obama supporters to plaster across the US. He was promptly arrested.
How a country manages to be a Vogue top tip and also an Axis Of Evil is something that I will be able to report back on in a week or so. We are off to Syria and I am very very excited.
Crusader castles, roman ruined cities, souks, mosques and Middle Eastern food - all sounds good to me. OK so George Bush isn't a fan, but well you can't have everything!
The world seems to be utterly divided between those folks who tell me how Syria is on their travel wish list and are just as excited as I am by the prospect and those who give me like odd "what on earth are you thinking" kind of look.
Anyway, might be Twittering if the phone/internet works.
This is an utterly brilliant, beautiful book and I have already brought 3 copies for my present box to give as gifts to some lucky friends in the future.
Does everyone else know about LeCool expect for me?!?
If not they should!
This is a little taster of the beginning:
"WE CHOSE THIS CITY
We came here in a Transit, the rest of the band asleep on the flight cases in the back. We came here in a borrowed suit and our funeral tie to be interviewed for that big-money job in the city. We came to graffiti the trains at Willesden Junction one night, met some people, got a job in an art supplies shop and ripped up our return ticket. We came here because of Jeffrey Bernard, or Jazzy B, or Johnny Rotten. The myths are all true. Dragons stalk the city, the streets are paved with gold. There are angels in Peckham Rye and paradise is by way of Kensal Green. We're here because we choose to be. This is our London."
It had me from the very first page. It's poetry as well as a guidebook. It brings a lump to my throat.
Apart from the excellence of the copywriting, the design is incredible with each page having a fresh visual look and feel.
But it's the fact that they have cool unknown stuff to do and see in places like New Cross, Stoke Newington and Archway that is so great. It's real London. Messy, inspiring and unique.
I am a born and bred Londoner and pride myself on knowing the place inside out (although I don't really do West London for some inverted snobbery reason), anyway I got so many new top tips - The restaurant at the Indian YMCA, the CrossBones Graveyard in SE1, the Romanian restaurant in the Old Bailey, the private room at Princess Louise in High Holborn ("London's best pub? Could be.") and Unit C103 in Deptford's Creekside.
What a result for the team that Guy Murphy called the "digital misfits".
It was a good description of a rag-tag team and I mean that in a good way. I deliberately choose people who don't fit neatly, people who don't really have clear titles and have many different work "hats".
Sometimes I am Head of Digital Strategy, sometimes Head of Comms Planning, sometimes Planning Director, sometimes Planner. To be honest I am not really that bothered what I called so long as I can work on interesting briefs and do smart creative stuff.
I felt the same thing from the other team members I picked - Yusuf , Adil, Martin and Martin. All of them are flexible, creative thinkers who just enjoy solving problems.
The brief was a live one from Ian Armstrong, the main Honda client.
HONDA ARE LAUNCHING A NEW HYBRID IN 2009 - IT WILL SELL FOR AROUND £13K, TOYOTA PRIUS RETAILS FOR AROUND £17K. WHAT'S THE LAUNCH STRATEGY?
In the interests of Radical Transparency, this was our chain of though.
(some of the answers were immersed in the briefing pack, some we used intuition...)
1. How many cars do they need to sell? 10k 2. Is this a little or a lot? This is a lot - all Hybrid cars sold YTD are aprox 10K, across all car categories 3. Why could this be? There are issues, skepticism and confusion around the word "Hybrid" - is it really green, is it any good, isn't it a smug middle class type of purchase 4. What's so good about this car? Hybrids have very low running costs and are better for the environment due to lower immisions. 5. What's the current social and cultural context Its bloody awful economically and people are thinking less about "eco" and more about "eco-nomics" - their worlds are getting smaller so to speak. Its less about "we" and more about "me"
So, lets dial down the eco bit of this car - and focus more on the economics of the car.
Let's allow Toyota and the Prius to grow the hybrid market because we will get a good share of it due to our highly competitive price point and the good reliability of Hondas generally.
1. Where do we get share from? Let's attack the diesel market - its massive (119k c-class sold YTD) and we believe that this audience is a cost-conscious one, so it should be an easy sale.
2. What is the core thought at the heart of this strategy?
Let's start with the car itself and the technology within - - Product truth - a hybrid engine has two components, a fuel part and a battery part - one essentially "feeds" the other, so that it works on battery sometimes and fuel at other times. The energy isn't wasted, its transferred. - Audience truth - People are anxious about money and family fiances, people are concerned with wastage and conspicuous consumption - Brand truth - Honda is a company that wants society to "want them"
Our Solution - a Social Movement WASTE NOTHING
The car technology wastes nothing, society is moving to a waste nothing phase and Honda has social benefits at the heart of the company.
That's it really.
It was a huge amount of fun. The feedback about the day in general was really positive.
(and hello to Will, Belinda and others...) ps. There's an interesting Russell Davies POV on the downside of Fast Strategy over at his blog - for the record, I think that our team thought that the exercise of developing a strategy in a few hours was ( at least for us - enjoyable, eye-opening and entertaining), however we did all agree that while we did come to a strategic solution in the allocated time, we had no time to stress-test it, question it, pull it apart and ask any difficult questions, we just had to take a deep breath and go for it. And that probably doesn't give the client always the best solution....