#Brexit #Bremain #Br-whatever. I am confused. I have been shouted at by various politicians and faceless experts about the state of my country for over 2 months, and I’m bored now. I’ll be pleased when this cloud of perplexity has lifted.
This is not going to be a post about how I think you should vote. I am only keen that you do.
What I have found interesting, however, is how the voters are expressing themselves online. I thought it might be a slightly refreshing view of the EU referendum. And as Instagram is a phase I’m going through right now, this is what I’ve noticed about how pictures, rather than words, have been developing for both #VoteLeave and #Remain campaigns.
The #VoteLeave campaign are notice-ably less creative in their executions than #Remain. Whilst the Remain campaign use beautiful photography, imaginative drawings and an intriguingly increasing use of food products, the Leave campaign have chosen to use photographs of tired old men and a brash overuse of the Union Jack. (The irony of course being that if we leave the EU, Scotland are likely to want to leave the UK, which would give Wales and Northern Ireland the right to follow closely after that… so the Union Jack would be no longer – we would be left with St. George’s Cross).
… And yes, that is Liz Hurley covering herself with a Union Jack pillow. I’m not quite sure what I think of it, either. I’m certainly struggling to understand the metaphor, if that was her intention.
I will always remember where I was this Friday night. Like where I was when I heard that Michael Jackson had died, or that the London 7.7 bombings had taken place. (Rather far apart from each other on the political scale of importance, granted.)
I heard the story unfurl over the radio on a 5 hour drive down to Cornwall. Ironically, considering it’s the worst attack on Paris since the 2nd world war, it was an incredibly wartime-like way to be delivered the news.
I will speak of the strength, unity and the beauty of the French national anthem being sung on the procession out of the Stade de France. I will also mention the speed at which the Canadian, US and UK leaders had responded with their messages of support.
But I’m also pleased to see the social networks doing their bit to help calm the situation. Mark Zuckerburg revealed this weekend that the Facebook Safety Check feature, which was originally launched only to deal with natural disasters, has been expanded to deal with terrorist attacks like this, allowing you to tell family and friends that you, and people you know, are ok.
As a global platform, and one of the main forms of communication I have with my overseas friends, I’m grateful for this. I’ve already found myself in the last month contacting people in Chile about the earthquake, in Bucharest about the fire… so this is a really great development, and arguably one of Facebook’s best ideas.
If you’ve heard of the podcast Serial, you may have noticed its existence spreading with the excitement of an underground movement. I heard about it once, and before the end of the fortnight, most of the office were sitting in desperation for the final episode to be released.
Podcasts until this point have completely passed me by. And similar to when you ‘discover’ a new band and therefore feel a part of its inception, I find myself feeling warm and fuzzy – and perhaps slightly defensive – about podcasts.
I think there could be a great opportunity here. They are a great way to communicate with people on their commute to work. That’s a time that I’m constantly, both as a commuter and an advertiser, trying to make better. Making the mundane and stressful a more pleasant experience.
They are also cheap to produce. Making it something that us media agencies could really get our hands on, as the big ad bods aren’t so fussed about it as they won’t make their massive commission.
And not just that. I’ve read that 64% of those who heard advertising through podcasts purchased that product. And it’s got a 2-3 times higher engagement rate than radio.
So I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet – but I’ll let you know. Via podcast.
For my 21st I was given a beautiful drawing by my Dad. It was a charcoal called ‘Girl in Thought’, by Charlie Mackesy. In fact he originally bought it for himself, but I fell in love with it so much that he gave it to me.
What drew me in to this picture is that the girl is either distraught, or elated. Her expression is one of intense emotion – you just can’t tell whether it’s positive or negative. You can’t see her face, only the way her body is. It’s that possibility of duality that I love. You can’t tell what she’s thinking, and in turn, it makes you think.
So it’s these moments – interesting moments, where you can’t tell what is going on in their heads – that I wanted to draw. Not standard life drawings of women sitting by a bowl of fruit. But moments when life has hit someone, and they have withdrawn in to themselves, completely unaware of the rest of the world around them. They are in their own head, and it makes you want to see what’s in there, too.
Our industry talks a lot of crap. There are the bullshit phrases that we consider acceptable – ‘dialling up’, and ‘up-weighting’ are some that you will catch me using with a flicker of self hatred.
But we also can’t speak properly when it comes to normal language, either. We have created a whole new language which no one understands but us.
Maybe we need this kind of separation to make our club feel exclusive and complex, because we aren’t in finance, or medicine, or law, or things that we know we don’t understand. So we therefore find it imperative to make sure no one understands us, either.
How we talk succeeds in taking the personality out of a person. Fantastic, I hear you cry, why would the ad industry need to understand people? They are just commodities to be sold to. Ok, so a tad over the top. But look at it this way – we group people into categories of target audiences which are referred to by letters and numbers. For people who are meant to really get under the skin of who we are targeting, its amazing that we refer to half of society as ‘ABC1s’.
Acronyms and jargon are annoying, but not being able to properly describe the people who we claim that we know so well has a massive sense of ludicrousy and irony. I was taught this week about the window test. If you were shouting out of the window at someone you wanted get the attention of someone, would you shout ‘AB Housewife with kid’? or would you shout ‘well dressed mum with the expensive looking buggy’? If we are to understand them, we need to know how to talk about them.
At the 2012 Most Contagious event last December we saw some great new products and some great speakers, the best of which I’ve collated below. Have a read – it’s a good way of stepping outside of our self-obsessed ad lives for a moment and looking at where it starts from – great ideas.
This company won 2 awards, and amazingly is run by a 22 year old engineer who is still at university. He definitely made me feel like I need to get a move on.
His USP is that the computer is the cheapest on the market – at $25 each. This means that computers can be shipped to under developing countries for an affordable price. Think of the possibilities!
For those of you who understand engineering – this is how the computer works:
This is a clean, brilliant and humorous take on condoms. The selling points are that they a) have no yucky things in their condoms (they are vegan friendly) and b) for every condom they sell, they give one to a developing country, as there is a global condom shortage. Condoms are normally sold as a very clinical product considering the emotion of the act involved. But this company puts the humour back in, with a great campaign called ‘Vagina Rules’. Ladies – What would you allow in your vagina?
Who gives a crap: the toilet paper that builds toilets
This is another company that is helping the world with a sense of humour. Who Gives A Crap give 50% of their profits to the developing world, as approximately 40% of the global population don’t have access to a clean toilet. As a result, a lot of people end up sick, often with a form of diarrhea-related disease. To raise the money they needed for capitla the CEO even sat on a toilet (and was filmed) until the money was raised. You can’t question the dedication.
Is a jeans company, but with a different USP. Their town in Wales used to make jeans, but it was shut down, and all the jobs were lost. To start making jeans again, and get the town’s jobs back, they had to think cleverly. They knew they weren’t able to undercut their competitors price-wise.
So they worked off the insight that jeans last a lifetime, and could tell great stories. Why not record the story of the jeans? So they invented the ‘history tag’ which allowed you to see the life story of that pair of jeans.
Here are some examples of companies that are stepping in where governments are failing:
(A telco service in Africa) looked at 2 facts; that mobile penetration exceeded infrastructure in Kenya, and that there is only 1 doctor for every 10,000 Kenyans. Realising that they were in a position to do something about connecting people and therefore making doctors more readily available, they set up a mobile doctor service allowing over the phone diagnoses and advice, which generates 2000 calls a day. A great example of using your power for good.
Coca Cola know that in Africa, coke is in every city. And it’s true, it is. You will find coke more easily than you will find water. But they also knew that there was a massive problem with medication to get to remote areas. To help get medication to places where they need it most, they shipped medication in coke crates – so the medication went where the coke went. Incredibly simple, but incredibly effective.
There were great talks on the day as well, which I think deserve a separate post. In the mean time if you want any more information on the day, go to