Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Heartbleed explained; Why you should never leave a journo hungry; Twitter’s new profile pages and this week’s bits and bytes

Less than 24 hours to go until the London Marathon – no better way to get my mind off the 26.2 miles that lie in wait than write my weekly bits and bytes.

This week I’m looking at the biggest threat to the Internet since the Y2K bug, how banning a journalist from a media dinner is a recipe for disaster, how Costa Coffee did a great job with engaging bloggers (but then forgot to tie that good work back into their social profiles), and the new Twitter profiles that will be coming to a screen near you.

Continue reading “Heartbleed explained; Why you should never leave a journo hungry; Twitter’s new profile pages and this week’s bits and bytes”

#ChristmasInADay, custom timelines in Twitter, JCVD’s epic split and this week’s bits and bytes

Christmas in a Day: I grew up with Christmas in the tropics, a plastic tree, a Nativity that we assembled every year. On Christmas Eve it’s always mum’s super-special, home-made salmon pate and deviled eggs and other tasty cold cuts before we all rip into our presents (yes, in Germany it’s the Christkind that brings the presents, and as with many things in Germany, the Christkind is efficient and delivers things a day before Santa gets around to homes in the UK).

Decorating the Christmas tree

I’ve had the pleasure of celebrating Christmas with @tomparker81 and his wonderful family – who introduced me to the wonders of a cheeky Baileys (or three) before Christmas lunch. Then there’s my lovely future in-laws who – year after year – look to get the biggest Christmas tree available. Last year, my brother came over to London from Berlin and we celebrated Christmas by watching some festive footie and heading off to the pub for a Christmas lunch.

The point I’m trying to make is that every family has their own tradition and way of celebrating Christmas and that is exactly what Sainsbury’s have highlighted in their stunning new TV campaign for the festive season, the film Christmas in a Day.

From the fantastic kid, to the radiator keys, to Twitter’s new favourite, Spreadsheet Man – these 3:30 minutes are full of laughs, giggles and right at the very end, it takes such an emotional turn that I still well up.

The full length film airs on 29 November on YouTube and who knows, it might become a Christmas tradition in some households across the country. If you can’t wait until then, there are some more trailers on Sainsbury’s Christmas hub and there’s a great blog post by @MarkJGiven on the story behind the campaign and how it came about.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 21.54.02

Right, right, right… what about the reaction then?

Monumental would be one way to describe it. I was lucky enough to be invited to AMV’s offices for a little launch party for the trailer’s first airing on ITV – taking up the entire ad break on Coronation Street.

It was brilliant to have a room full of chatty, happily knackered advertising, comms and marketing people from AMV, PHD, Blue Rubicon and Saino’s go quiet when the ad started – only then to hear them gasp, woop and cheer at the immediate and massive reaction to the trailer on Twitter.

A quick look at the Buzzgraph for mentions of “Sainsbury’s Christmas ad” shows that words such as “emotional”, “amazing”, “tears”, “crying”, “lovely” and “cute” are being used in combination with the clip.

There are also some rather high profile fans…

… but the star of the trailer however has to be Jonathan ‘Spreadsheet Man’ Proud who has clearly struck a chord with a lot of viewers:

Some people would be happy to have him over for Christmas

And it wasn’t long until people were calling for the actual spreadsheet

For those who are interested, The Telegraph’s @Steve_Hawkes has the details

The Co-op were very happy to have spotted some of their Christmas puds in the Spreadsheet Man bit – leading them to tweet our ad to over 30k of their followers.

The Saino’s response was relaxed…

… but Ian Burrel from the Indy said it best in his piece titled “Why Sainsbury’s featuring Co-op items is a triumph for Christmas adverts

“In the manipulative world of modern television – where content is so often subject to the brand police and the political spin doctors – it’s nice to know that the “real life” footage used in Sainsbury’s Christmas in a Daycommercial is just that.”

Proud to be a part of it

Some of the most powerful responses though have come from our own colleagues. Not only is their reaction overwhelmingly positive, but colleagues from around the country are saying how proud they are to be a part of Sainsbury’s. I think it’s a testament to Sainsbury’s Internal Comms team and to all those lucky few who were able to go along to Sainsbury’s annual colleague conference two months ago to be among the first in the company to see the footage and NOT SAY A WORD about it and that the story didn’t leak.

Bloggers – full disclosure: Last week, I wrote about why we work with bloggers at Sainsbury’s. Interesting then to see a post on the ASA’s website reminding bloggers of the advertising guidelines that “any blogger who is paid to write positive reviews or comments about a product or service that they must be up-front with their followers by making clear that it’s advertising.” Turns out the ASA has been receiving feedback from bloggers that some social media and PR companies are apparently offered them money to advertise on their behalf while encouraging them not to declare that they’re doing so.”

Who’s in trouble when this happens?

“Under the Advertising Code, although the blogger would be named as part of any ASA investigation into misleading advertising, ultimately the buck would stop with the advertiser. If a paid for entry on a blog wasn’t disclosed we would investigate the advertiser and hold them accountable.”

So, be good and encourage the bloggers you work with to clearly note what kind of incentive they received from you.

Custom Timelines: Storify took a deep breath this week when Twitter announced a new feature that allows you to build a Twitter feed  by picking certain Tweets. The interface is still very clunky and basic functions like sorting these so called custom timelines chronologically doesn’t yet work (or at least I couldn’t figure out how to do it) and it seems to only work via Tweetdeck – but, it’s a move in the right direction and one that I think will worry Storify (aka the social curator’s tool of choice).

So, what can you do with them? Well, the chaps at Twitter have pulled together a custom timeline of, yes, you guessed it, custom timelines!

How much does Twitter owe you? Time built a wee calculator that analyses your Twitter handle and determines how much Twitter owes you after their IPO (if you lived in imaginary fairyland then you might have a case – sadly, this is just a silly tool). Apparently I’m owed a meagre $134.

Twitter is a weird and wonderful place: Sometimes, the stars align and people come together and create something wonderful. Even if it was started by @TescoMobile, this is up there with best Twitter thread of the year (and yes, you need to open this link in your browser to appreciate why this is every social media manager’s dream).

Tumbling Tesco: Continuing on with the Tesco theme, this week sees two brilliant Tumblrs about Tesco. First there’s ‘Worst Place on Earth‘, a masterpiece of Comic Sans and ALL CAPS outrage at the horror that is the Tesco Express in Haggerston and then we have the direct opposite, a love letter to the St. Tropez of Tesco Express in North Poole.

New technology: A marvellous list by XKCD of simple answers to questions about how the next big technological development will impact our lives.

Source: XKCD

Video of the week: Jean Claude van Damme helps Volvo demonstrate the precision steering capabilities on their lorries by pulling off this epic split. And yes, it’s all real.

And finally: Meet @JohnLewis, the nicest, most patient man on Twitter (and no, he’s not a PR stunt, and yes, @JohnLewisRetail have responded).

Hacking Burger King, social content and this week’s bits and bytes

It’s finally happened. The awesome colleagues in Sainsbury’s Washington have pulled off a great version of the current Harlem Shake craze. Even better: it’s for Red Nose Day so watch it and donate!

The advertising campaign is dead – A must read article in the Harvard Business Review about how the campaign-based model of advertising, perfected over decades of one-way mass media, is headed for extinction. The Oreo moment at this year’s Superbowl is seen as just another reason why advertisers should act more like newsrooms, reacting to current events not only in real-time but with useful and appealing content. What to do? Create just the right piece of content at the right moment by bringing the day’s zeitgeist together with your brand ethos and your audience’s expectations.

Memories and brands – A fantastic and inspiring report by Franck Sarrazit, Global Director of TNS’s Brand & Communications practice about how we make memories and what that means for brands.

Bang with Friends – Remember the scene in ‘The Social Network’ where Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg hot-flipflops it back to his dorm to add the ‘Relationship status’ field to Facebook profile pages after realising that in real life, there’s no easy way to see if someone is available or not? Well, I can’t believe it’s taken this long, but there’s a new Facebook app called ‘Bang with Friends’ that takes things one step further. Boasting to have already generated 100,000 ‘hook ups’, the app allows you go through your friends and mark the ones you’d like to, well, bang. Unlike other Facebook apps, this one works in private, matching friends that have expressed a mutual interest in, you know, banging each other. Once matched, the two prospective friends with benefits are notified by email and go about their business…

Source: Bang with Friends

Meanwhile, people on Facebook are hiring fake girlfriends so that they can change their relationship status to ‘In a relationship’ and make their lives seem romantically complete – even if it’s just virtual. WTF.

Social content that works – An excellent presentation by @JeremyWaite from Adobe about the social media purpose pyramid – or why social media does six things really well: emotional messages (entertain, challenge, inspire) and rational messages (inform, solve, educate). Jeremy notes that understanding what motivates people to share is at the heart of every successful social marketing campaign.

You could argue though that there should be one more element to the social media purpose pyramid, one that LinkedIn capitalised on these last few weeks. Social media provide you the perfect platform to brag about how great you are. A simple enough email then from LinkedIn to their users congratulating them that they are one of the most viewed profiles on the network. That ego boost was gratefully accepted and shared by many LinkedIn users, resulting in over 80,000 tweets mentioning individual greatness. TechCrunch takes a closer look at the LinkedIn email campaign (HT @tomparker81).

The King is hacked – Another week, another Twitter disaster. This week it was Burger King’s account that got hacked (apparently their password was ‘Whopper123’) and while it did get them 30,000 new followers in one day, it probably wasn’t worth the hassle/brand damage. Of all the many articles, Gizmodo probably has the best summary, including the wonderfully smug tweet from McDonald’s saying they had nothing to do with the hack. The lesson is clear: use a strong password, change it regularly and don’t use the same password for all your accounts.

How to create a strong password? XKCD has the answer.

Source: xkcd

A quick side note on hacking – this interview on the BBC with Jeff Jarvis was supposed to feed into the usual media panic of ‘oh my God, we’re all getting hacked’. It doesn’t quite go to plan. You can almost hear the Facebook PR team cheering in the background…

Also: is the Beeb really that precious that it feels it needs to cut an interview short because the interviewee has used such vitriolic insults as “crap” and “BS”?

Creative CVs – Could you get your whole CV across in 6 seconds? Aspiring journalist Dawn Siff has published her CV on Vine. Other recent advances in CV formatting have brought us Philippe Dubost’s Amazon page and Sonya William’s eBay page. Meanwhile, Enterasys – a wireless network provider – is considering applicants for a six-figure senior social media position, but no paper résumés will be accepted. Instead, the company has decided to recruit solely via Twitter.

And finally: You had one job.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: