True Detective – Title Sequence

Posted on Nov 28, 2014

I’m finally getting round to watching True Detective, I’m only up to episode 3 so far, and really enjoying it. Suffering a little from all the hype I feel, and involving themes that seem to have been covered in some other recent films and tv shows. But I’m only at episode 3, so can’t judge it fully yet.

What I can comment on is the title sequence, which is really striking. It easily passes the test of ‘pause any frame and it looks like a beautiful image’. Seriously, I dare you to find a bad frame in the whole sequence, there isn’t one. Art of the Title has done a fantastic job of giving a very detailed breakdown of the sequence, and an interview with the Creative Director Patrick Clair.

So this is short and sweet – just a link to the sequence and some of my favourite frames from it:


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Links of the week – 25th November 2014

Posted on Nov 25, 2014

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Best Mind-Numbing Corporate Video Ever
Amazing example of some of the worst tropes in corporate case study/documentary films. Very well observed, and it helps that it’s very funny and not done in a spiteful way!

Best and Worst Christmas Adverts 2014 from AdTurds
AdTurds is a great blog ripping apart some of the worst ads you find on TV & Online. Here we’ve got all the Xmas ads that have come out recently in the UK, which is clearly now the UK’s version of the Superbowl ads phenomenon in the US.

A Brief History of Video Marketing on YouTube
A starters guide to how YouTube went from a video sharing platform to a serious platform for marketeers.

Twitter Strategy (& my response!)
A lot has been said about Twitter’s recent strategy statement, John Gruber makes two good points – it doesn’t even fit in a tweet and it’s just not clear what they actually want to do. It irritated me so much, I wrote a blog post about it, using the film Moneyball (the one with Brad Pitt & baseball – it’s very good) as a way to express how to build a foundation for a good strategy. I even have a go at writing Twitter’s strategy…

Remember Google Glass?
Google Glass has the unenviable task of having to look relevant at all costs – Sergey can’t even show up to an awards show not wearing a pair without the tech press jumping on him. Glass still has a way to go, it will be interesting to see how Google takes this to the next level.

Google on redesigning Android for version 5
Great piece with Android’s Vice President of Engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer, on Android’s Material Design. UI & UX is the way your users interact with your brand every day, if it falls by the wayside, say goodbye to your customer base.

Why isn’t Content in Twitter’s Strategy Statement?

Posted on Nov 23, 2014

Ever since I read Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt I was struck by how simply he would pull apart a strategy and call it ‘bad strategy’.

This quote stands out as the starting point to build a strategy:

If you fail to identify and analyze the obstacles, you don’t have a strategy. Instead, you have either a stretch goal, a budget, or a list of things you wish would happen.

It is critical to identify the real problem you face and this can be a challenge itself, especially if the leaders in the company can’t agree on what that problem is.

In the film Moneyball (2011), Brad Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, realises what the real problem is with his team, and has to force his insight upon his management to give them a real strategy.

This scene brilliantly shows what he’s up against, with everyone just going through the motions of ‘what they’ve always done’ to solve the problem of replacing three of their best players. The real problem is that they have a fraction of the Yankees budget so building a team the way that the Yankees would, results in just getting leftovers every single time.


Beane managed to push his strategy through, and they built an unlikely team.

After a slow start they went on to win 19 consecutive games, tying for the longest winning streak in American League history.

Beane had clarity over the real problem and knew he had to find a way to overcome it to compete with the wealthier and stronger teams.

That’s how to build a strategy.


Twitter’s Strategy

Reach the largest daily audience in the world by connecting everyone to their world via our information sharing and distribution platform products and be one of the top revenue generating Internet companies in the world.

This is not a strategy statement. It is a mixture of (muddled) vision and a loose financial goal of generating revenue (not even profit!). There’s strange grammar and it feels like a committee all had input into it.

Another quote from Rumelt’s book comes to mind:

Mistaking goals for strategy. Many bad strategies are just statements of desire rather than plans for overcoming obstacles.

Twitter’s statement is much more like a list of goals vs a clear strategy.

Good strategy works by focusing energy and resources on one, or a very few, pivotal objectives whose accomplishment will lead to a cascade of favorable outcomes.

Ben Thompson said on a podcast recently that Twitter’s strength is that it knows the interests and passions of people on the platform. As you (the user) curate your own list of people/companies/subjects to follow, this provides a bigger insight for Twitter’s advertisers than Google’s or Facebook’s. Why? Because Google, in a general sense, knows what you’re searching for. Facebook, also in a general sense, knows who your friends and family are and what you share/like with them. Twitter is about your interests. Interests are powerful as that’s what drives you. Searching about a nearby restaurant on Google, or Liking a picture of a friend’s baby is nothing compared to knowing what people (and subjects) you have chosen to follow and interact with in an always-on state.

Twitter has the potential then, to provide advertisers with much more valuable data of its user base and therefore offer better targeting, better ROI for its clients and become a very attractive proposition for marketeers.

I’m not in a position to know how technically Twitter can do this, I’m sure that is what they are doing on some level in the way they now serve ads. But by solving this, and making it work like magic for users and advertisers with parity, they’ll then start seeing dollar bills pour in.

Here’s my crack at Twitter’s strategy statement. As it tackles advertising head on, I admit it wouldn’t be the most public facing statement, but it’s not really for the public. It’s for people that work at Twitter and the shareholders.

Connect people to their passions and interests and serve them promoted content which is relevant, authentic and valuable.

It mentions content, advertising and it fits in a tweet. It shows awareness of the problem it has to overcome – to generate revenue (and ideally profit) and not piss off its user base.

It echoes what Google’s aim was with AdWords too, which was to have the paid advert be the BEST search result for the user. It wasn’t to be an interruption, it was to be the best and most valuable information you needed. This feels like the best strategy for advertising in general!
Whether it is entertaining, shocking, educational, informative – advertising which provides inherent value from its content and the relevance of when it was delivered to you, will make you click/view/purchase, make the brand generate a sale and generate revenue for the platform which connected these dots. It might even make you like the brand!

The strategy could also say “Treat our audience with the respect it deserves and only push tweets into their feed that feels authentic to them”.

It’s fascinating to think how great content from advertisers served to the right audience on Twitter’s platform could be the route to financial success. Getting advertisers and agencies to make the great content is the next challenge.

Know the problem. Make everyone aware of it. Then fix it.

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Kanye is insane

Posted on Nov 16, 2014

Caught this clip of Kanye going mad on Reddit last night. The Reddit comments were on fine form revealing some great piss takes and other classic clips of Kanye. Poor Sway.
 

 
The rantings of a madman, some standouts: “I am Shakespeare in the flesh! Walt Disney. Nike. Google […] Let me create more!”, “You ain’t got the answers!” (whilst Sway asked him the question), and “It ain’t Ralph level tho” (when dissing Sway’s attempt at a clothing line(!)).

Of course there’s a remix:

 

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This classic clip popped up too – Mike Myers does incredibly well, love the cut to Chris Tucker as they cut off Kanye early.
 

 

Alternative film posters

Posted on Nov 16, 2014

A few fan made film posters (curated from /r/MoviePosterPorn), impressively beautiful.

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How to make a corporate case study

Posted on Nov 15, 2014

Brilliant and spot on video exposing all the tricks of the trade in making a corporate case study. Sorry, customer story!



Via AdWeek

John Muir Forever

Posted on Nov 14, 2014

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Crazy idea that John Muir’s legacy is stupid.

To Christensen and others, however, Muir’s notion that immersing people in “universities of the wilderness” — such as Yosemite — sends the message that only awe-inspiring parks are worth saving, at the expense of smaller urban spaces.

Critics also say Muir’s vision of wilderness is rooted in economic privilege and the abundant leisure time of the upper class.

Gawker (surprisingly) fires back a great response.

Conservation of natural land is a gift that keeps on giving. Even if the poor of today are unable to enjoy our national parks, their children and grandchildren may be able to. The parks will still be there!

To the extent that John Muir’s legacy is the awareness of the importance of conserving natural lands, it is as relevant as ever. (Go to any beautiful natural area that is being rapidly developed into condos and chain stores if you have any doubts about that.) Preserving the legacy of John Muir is not dangerous. Abandoning it is.

Via Gawker
Photo by me

Too many cooks

Posted on Nov 8, 2014

Deliciously crazy credit sequence to a show that now needs to be made.

More info on Reddit