Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Little Saino’s Stories, BA looks up, an ode to the selfie and this week’s bits and bytes

Little Stories, Big Difference: Often it’s little things that make a big difference. At Saino’s, those little things are often what customers don’t see, so we thought the best people to tell these stories would be our colleagues. Together with our Internal Comms and product teams, we worked with @SAS_Creative and @Green_Lions to create over twenty microfilms: all speaking to the value of values and all featuring our own colleagues. The first ten of these films are live now on our corporate site.

From reducing packaging, to homing bees, and tracing the origin of our bread – I really do think that these films go a long way in bringing our values and sustainability commitments to life in a customer friendly and playful way.

Meerkat moment: At this week’s Marketing huddle, @PoppyShute talked about the Coca Cola ‘Small Worlds Machine’ campaign. Poppy was kind enough to write a quick summary of Coke’s campaign:

This award winning online video campaign communicated the optimistic and feel-good message that what unites us is stronger than what sets us apart, and the result was an incredibly touching video that went viral on You Tube, with 2.4 million views to date. In March this year, Coca Cola set out to connect the people of India and Pakistan – communities only several hundred miles apart, but separated by decades of political tension and mutual hostility. Using state of the art, touch screen vending machines that acted as ‘live communication portals’ in Lahore (Pakistan) and New Delhi (India), they invited consumers to put their differences aside, complete an interactive task togehter, and share a simple moment of connection over a coke.

This is a great demonstration of a company using new technology to great effect, being locally relevant, and building brand values much bigger than just their product. Brace yourself to feel a bit teary.

#LookUp: A digital screen, live flight information and a wee clip of a nipper pointing up at the sky. Three rather simple elements that @British_Airways have brilliantly combined to deliver ever-changing billboards under the flight paths around Heathrow Airport. Such a powerful idea – after all, who hasn’t sat there looking at planes flying overhead and asked themselves the question: “I wonder where they’re going” (HT @G3Bowden).

Word of the year: “Selfie” has been named as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries. The official definition:

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary

The self-portrait has always been a part of art, Van Gogh created many self-portraits in the 1800s (he loved that straw hat) and when photography was invented, the obligatory mirror photo wasn’t too far behind (if Kubrick does it, it’s gotta be OK). Fast forward to today, and you’ve got Jon Snow Vining about the news

I’m sure that anybody with a camera has taken a self-portrait. Either with a front facing camera on a smartphone or the classic out-stretched-arm-click-and-hope snapshot. The Telegraph’s claim that ‘no man should ever be caught taking a selfie‘ is utterly daft and ignores years of art history.

Gratuitous use of one of my self-portraits in conjunction with some of the greats. I have no shame.

Perhaps it’s to do with the word ‘self-portrait’ bringing with it a certain level of artistic expectation. A selfie on the other hand feels more of the moment, more fleeting. The Oxford dictionary notes in its definition that a selfie is typically taken with a phone or webcam – by that logic, a photo taken with a proper camera is a ‘self-portrait’, not a selfie. Phew).

I suspect however that the problem with selfies is not so much their existence, but more about that most horrible of poses, the “duck-face” and those people that keep posting a new profile photo to Facebook every five minutes.

But then there’s a new horror on the horizon: The Sparrow Face.

A couple of guys a trend doesn’t make: Stalking the rich is a simple hobby nowadays with social media platforms allowing you instant access to celebs and their lives. The Mail has picked up on a “trend” where rich Arab who accessorise their obligatory super cars, powerboats and mansions with lions and cheetahs – photos of which are then posted to Instagram. Now, the images are no less bonkers and animal rights activists are bound to be up in arms about this, but what I love about this story is that The Mail shows a whole page of photos from two of these rich Arabs (HT @HelenRI).

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Simba ♥ ♥ #lion

A post shared by Humaid Abdulla Albuqaish (@humaidalbuqaish) on

Clever Hobbitses: Those chaps at Google have put out another one of their Google Experiments – a must see for any Tolkien and The Hobbit fans out there. An interactive map of Middle Earth, featuring characters and locations from the upcoming ‘The Desolation of Smaug. A taste in the video below (epic soundtrack included) and this way to Middle Earth (seems to work fine on Safari too).

Beware of who you follow: The Register gleefully pointed out this week that David Cameron’s Twitter account @Number10gov was following a high-class escort agency on the social network. Suspect that the social media manager who runs the Twitter channel received a bit of a bollocking (HT @a_little_wine).

Twitter motors on: They’ve launched a considerable revamp of their mobile app. Interestingly though, they seem to roll out slightly different versions to different groups of users, test which ones work best and then go with the most popular option. Techcrunch has some more on this agile, highly iterative and data-focused platform roll-out strategy.

Twitter this week also rolled out their Alerts feature to the UK. Rachel from @AllThingsIC has a brilliant round-up of what you need to know.

Videos of the week: My favourite film from a series of three that tell the story of Sainsbury’s relationships with some of their suppliers. The Cow Whisperer is about how our Dairy Development Group works with over 300 British dairy farmers to help them look after their cows and secure a long future for their British Farms.

What do you get when you cover The Beastie Boys’ ‘Girls’, construct a colossal machine out of girls’ toys and film it all in the style of ‘OK Go’s ‘Needing/Getting’. Over 6 million views on YouTube in just a few days for an ad by toy company GoldieBlox and perhaps a generation of girls that will grow up to be engineers.

And finally: Histagrams

Marmite Neglect, fake fans, the return of Bebo and this week’s bits and bytes

Marmite – you either love it, or you hate it: In keeping with the traditional response that this horrible, vile substance elicits – this new ad for Marmite showing Marmite welfare officers visiting houses to save jars of Marmite from neglect and find them a new home has had everyone talking.

Within a day of the ad airing, the Advertising Standards Authority received 250 complaints from viewers. Can’t say if these are 250 very bored/sad people with no sense of humour what so ever – or a very eager PR team writing mock complaints.

Case in point: a comment on the Guardian article about the many hundreds of complaints: “Exactly. 250 people need to get a life. I mean how dull and meaningless is your life when you get so annoyed you make the effort to complain about yeast?” (HT @stangreenan)

Anyway – on Thursday, after the complaint count reached 330, Unilever announced that it would donate £18,000 to the RSPCA as an apology to animal rights activists for spoofing the important work they do. Still, the ASA is looking into it and will announce next week if it is to launch a formal investigation.

I don’t know if the ASA’s involvement was planned or genuine. I would argue however that it has definitely worked in Marmite’s favour. Due to the the threat of the ad being banned, it’s been widely featured in the media and it was the talk of Twitter.

Source: Marmite

There are a few more elements to the campaign that haven’t been so readily discussed:

  • a promoted Tweet is encouraging people to head to the microsite/Marmite Facebook app and either donate their own jar or nominate possible foster families
  • a real-life Marmite Neglect team is touring the land, visiting people’s homes to see if there are any jars to be saved from neglect
  • along with the TV ad, there’s also a series of snapshots of kitchen cupboards, with long-neglected Marmite jars poking out from between the more popular cupboard staples
  • and on Marmite’s Youtube channel, there is an interview with a Trainee Marmite Rescue Officer who talks about the tools of the Marmite saving trade

Iceberg rescues Titanic: Huge news this week as out of nowhere, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surprised the worlds’ media by agreeing to buy the Washington Post for $250 million (to remind you, Instagram and Tumblr were recently acquired for $1 billion each).

Amongst the many breathless headlines, I thought Salon said it best with theirs: The iceberg just rescued the Titanic – and the rest of the piece is chock full of great info as well.

Meanwhile, @AllThingsIC pulled together a great post looking at how the news of the sale was communicated to WaPo staffers, including an all staff email that starts with ‘You’ll have heard the news’. While you can argue about the timing of the timings of the internal comms – ideally you’d want people inside the business to find out before the media – Bezos’ letter is a fantastic example of communicating change internally.

Fake fans: You may have caught the great piece on C4 Dispatches called “Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans“ about how some companies artificially inflate social media likes, fans and followers by buying them.

The doco shows how you’d go about building a fake community – one fake account at a time. Why any brand would invest money in this kind of approach instead of concentrating on listening to your customers, understanding and delivering against their needs, I do not know.

As @girllostincity puts it: “there are no short-cuts in building an audience. There is no ‘easy way’ to getting people to “like” you. It is a dangerous idea to think that by cheating people into thinking you’re popular (by recruiting fake people) that this will somehow transform into authentic popularity somewhere down the line.”

In response to the piece, @georgiahalston looks at how you should interpret the value of your social media following and – guess what! – the focus should be on quality (engagement, sentiment, sincerity of the audience) rather than quantity (likes, fans, followers, views). Over on Londoncalling, CEO of Kred @AndrewGrill provides thoughts on whether social media is in crisis.

Bebo’s back: I was at Aol when it acquired the social network Bebo. Aol didn’t really do much with it, it was sold to another Internet company who also didn’t really do much with it and finally it was sold to the original founder of Bebo, Michael Birch. Birch has just released a brilliant – and very NSFW – clip that harks back to the glory days when Bebo was the centre of the web (for you younger kids, this was after MySpace and waaay before Facebook) and arguably the single biggest repository of illustrated cock and balls ever. Yes. You read that correctly.

Shocking PR win for Apple: Fake iPhone chargers have been known to electrocute people, sometimes leading to victims falling into a coma or death. Apple have recognised that this issue could lead to considerable brand damage – not to mention questions about why their chargers are so danged expensive that there is a market for fakes in the first place, and, you know, dead people – and have announced a USB power adapter takeback program.

This will allow customers to bring their fake chargers to Apple and in receive an official Apple charger for half the price. Very, very clever stuff. Not only does it make them come off as the good guys, they’re driving sales on the back of it.

Tesco Watford: Hat’s off to the chaps at Tesco and Google Maps for producing this great walk through of the newly renovated Watford Extra. Pretty, sure, but I prefer a supermarket that understands the value of values.

Videos of the week: The Premier League is coming to US broadcaster NBC and they’ve produced a great little clip of Spurs and their new American manager’s first few days in the job

Messi wears a suit fitted with hundreds of LEDs to create some pretty trippy stuff in Adidas’ new ad for their space aged boots

You’ll watch what others tweet: Tweets about TV shows make people tune in to those TV shows, according to new data from Nielsen.

The new Facebook: If you’re super keen to try out the new Graph Search function on Facebook, all you need to do is change your language to ‘English US’.

And finally: Why it’s important to be able to tell the difference between airlines and airlanes.

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