Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

What are the best songs to get you going when you need to think/be inspired/knock out a Powerpoint?

Here’s a collaborative Spotify playlist to accumulate the favourite tracks of Planners around the world (or at least where there’s Spotify).

It’s still in the early stages, so please add a few tracks, but as it’s all anonymous those guilty pleasures will hopefully soon start to mount up!

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Things that have inspired me during 2009:

Ikea Facebook

Take something everyone does (yet hate when others do it to them) and give people free stuff for doing it. This got the Ikea store in Malmo plenty of publicity via peoples Facebook walls. It also allowed them to then make a case study video for YouTube so everyone who thought it was a great idea can share it and say how great they thought the idea was:

Augmented Reality Cereal Box by Nestle

Something a lot of marketers are interested in, but few have found a way to actually make much use of. This made the idea of augmented reality becoming something fun and entertaining.

Credit should also go to ‘Bright dancing’ by Talk Talk. A use of AR and light graffiti to make something that got the audience of X-Factor engaging with the brand.

Pepsi rebranded Pecsi in Argentina

After discovering that Argentinians pronounce Pepsi as ‘Pecsi’, the brand went about adjusting its name to fit with the culture in the country. Check out the case study in the link below:


This was another case of Pepsi demonstrating cultural awareness across different regions. At a recent talk by Raj Patel about his new book ‘the value of nothing’ he discussed the launch of Coke and Pepsi in India, where both brands entered the market at the same time. Coke used their worldwide ad of the polar bears enjoying a coke while on an iceberg. Pepsi on the other hand produced an ad featuring Bollywood stars, especially for the Indian audience. According to Raj, most Indians had no idea what a polar bear was and how it related to India in any way, while Pepsi apparently got everyone on board (though it helps when the other guy gets it so wrong!).

Dixons Underground Posters

Dixons British take on the ‘very popular in the US’ brand bashing approach. I liked these just because they demonstrate how effective good copy can be.

Whopper Sacrifice

I’ve found Facebook apps to be more of an annoyance than an inspiration this year, but there was one that really made me take notice. The Whopper Sacrifice. After downloading the app, the user selected 10 Facebook friends they were willing to lose in exchange for a free Whopper at Burger King. The people you sacrificed received a wall post informing them that the friendship had been sacrificed in preference of a free Whopper. People making something viral in exchange for food.

Unfortunately Facebook didn’t see it the same way as everyone else. So after just over a week, the app itself was sacrificed due to it breaking the Facebook privacy policy. It had sacrificed 233,906 friendships during the time it was live.


An obvious one maybe, but it’s a constant source of inspiration. I’ve only come across TED this year, and consequently I’ve been catching up with some of the great ideas of the past. My favourite talks this year have been Sixth Sense, Rory Sutherland and the single use syringe. See the latest Sixth Sense presentation below:

John Lewis’ Christmas ad

Because it sells a feeling rather than specific products. It just feels right.


Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics – http://liesdamnedliesstatistics.com/

I enjoyed News from the Herd, and I enjoy Lies Damned Lies and Statistics, a great blog for keeping up with digital stats and culture. Credit to Dirk Singer for keeping up such a consistent standard!

I Am the Client – http://iamtheclient.blogspot.com/

An amazing character behind this blog. An alternate look at the world of advertising. Comical genius.

Film & TV

Where the Wild Things Are – I haven’t even seen the film yet, as it was only released in the UK in mid-December, so you may wonder why I mention it as one of the most inspiring things this year. Well, it’s because of the trailer.

It was enough to make me fall in love with the style of this film, especially as it featured an acoustic version of ‘Wake Up’ by Arcade Fire (I’m gutted to find out this track isn’t in the film itself…cruel!).

Writing this part has made me realise how few films I actually watch. I saw Cocktail for the first time and quite enjoyed it …is that alright?


10 track that I may have over played during 2009:

1. Miike Snow – Animal

2. Phoenix – 1901

3. Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

4. Matt & Kim – Daylight

5. Passion Pit – Moths Wings

6. Ladyhawk – S.T.H.D. (note, this is not Ladyhawke!)

7. Filthy Dukes – Nonsense in the Dark

8. Fight Like Apes – Jake Summers

9. Harlem Shakes – Strictly Game

10. Delphic – Counterpoint

As is often the case with these lists, I think I’ve only been able to really remember the last 6 months, so I may well have missed a lot of things from the first half of the year.

Anyway…that’s the last year of inspiration done, nearly time for some 2010 inspiration.

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My posts from a few months ago were pushing for Spotify to get their service mobile. Now with the announcement that Apple have (quite surprisingly) given the thumbs up to the Spotify iPhone app & todays release of the smartphone app, I thought I would also add my thumbs up to what could be the strongest argument for the ‘Freemium’ business model so far.

The app is only going to be available to those who have signed up to the premium service, charged at £9.99 a month. Prior to the apps launch that monthly fee meant you avoided interruptions from Jonathan or any of the insightful tit bits from the idiots who have decided to call Spotify’s voicemail. It also occasionally got you access to musical content a little earlier than the non premium user. Not great value for money, unless you really hate Jonathan.

However, one watch of this promo for the iPhone app should be enough to get you excited (if you like music that is).

Offline access to your playlists, streaming available via 3G as well as wi-fi and all the search functionality of its desktop equivalent. It’s looking like a great little package that I believe could become the most profitable app in the iTunes store so far. Are you sure you’ve not shot yourself in the foot here Apple?

No, this will drive smart phone sales once established as cloud content becomes widely accepted. The worry of not being able to play the music on an iPod will disappear and the mass market will turn to mobile devices that support the cloud content they use on their computers. Had Apple turned down the Spotify app, it would have left the Google Android platform to be the sole mobile OS offering Spotifys mobile application, resulting in Google having a great argument for choosing Android over the iPhone. Now that would have been Apple shooting itself in the foot!

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Sometimes you just need to know when to cut ties with a message that isn’t right…other times companies absolutely bottle it when they find that their ad brings a little negative attention towards their brand.

Recently Microsoft decided to drop their IE8 ad featuring Dean Cain (formerly of TV’s Superman series) due to public pressure, so I decided to put together a top 5 of ad’s which were pulled by the brand for a variety of reasons, some being real face palm moments. So let’s get on with it:

1 -Microsoft IE8 & Vomiting

Dropped because of public pressure, the ad features a couple at breakfast, the man leaves the computer and his wife views the history to see a web page that causes her to vomit numerous times. The point being how IE8 can cover up your internet history. The ad only ran online but negative feedback caused Microsoft to decide to remove the ad from all it’s online media channels. Dodgy internet histories links in nicely to…

2 – HP Touchsmart & the Gary Glitter Royalties

When you use the song “Do You Want To Touch Me”, written and originally performed by convicted paedophile  Gary Glitter for an advert about a computer (Glitter was caught via images found on his hard drive when he took his PC in for repair at a well known computer retailer) and the ad is going to provide that person with £100,000 in royalties; no PR guy can save you.

3 – Heinz Deli Mayo & The Gay Kiss

Pulled after “consumer research found it had failed in its attempt to be humourous and offended people on all sides”.  Heinz also apologised for their “misplaced attempt at humour”. Talk about shooting down the creatives!

4 – Snickers & Speed Walking

Apparently the speed walker indicates a gay man and was seen as being rather offensive to the homosexual population, but not that of the UK where the ad was broadcast (in total 2 complaints were received by the ASA), but in the US where an open letter of complaint was published by an advertising industry title to the agency’s American parent company. The ad was pulled by Mars after 2 weeks on air. Surprisingly the Heinz and Snickers ad’s are actually by the same agency (AMV BBDO).

5 – Phones4U & The Scout Master


Phones 4 U found out in April ’09 that print ad’s can be just as offensive as video with their take on the Scout Master. The ad depicts the Scout Master as a friendless bore who isn’t popular enough for a Phones4U contract. The ad drew a formal letter from the Scouts Association who apparently received a “deluge” of complaints from its members. The Scouts have even had to put out their own print ad to try and repair the image formed by Phones4U’s depiction of the Scouts. Clearly no expense was spared:


Phones4U quickly acted to pull the ad but unfortunately for them, they had already placed some in monthly publications which at that time were still in the process of going to print.

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pandora radio iphone app

A while ago I put together my case for how Spotify could revitalise the music industry. So far the stats supporting that are gradually growing, but it’s yet to prove as spectacular as I anticipated, something that Daniel Ek the co-founder of Spotify has put down to the current economic climate.

At the time of writing I noted how the service was looking to develop a mobile version of the program for use on platforms such as smartfones and primarily the iPhone, something that is yet to develop since, and something that I believe has held the service back.

Now I’m gonna jump across the pond. The USA, where an equivalent service called Pandora is making some serious waves in the way music is purchased. Pandora is a similar application to Spotify, an on demand internet streaming “radio” service  where the majority of it’s revenue is generated by advertising. However, it has also started making credible income via affiliate links to buy the tracks via iTunes and Amazon.com.

Spotify has also started doing this, however, they link to the 7digital service, far from the market leader in music downloads. They also fail to provide click-able links next to the track listing, instead they require the user to right click on the track and follow the path to “download”, hardly the most user friendly process. So far we have 2 ways to improve Spotify’s affiliate service, firstly involve the market leaders iTunes and Amazon, and secondly make it fool proof.

Finally the third and most important point…make it mobile. Mr Ek confirmed at the Great Escape music conference in Brighton that the mobile aspect of Spotify is something they are looking to roll out soon, however, we heard that a few months back as well. The reason it will be so important for the service is again evident in the case of Pandora. Pandora recently reported that 20% of its affiliate sales came from users going through the Pandora iPhone application to the iTunes iPhone application to purchase their songs. If that doesn’t seem that significant a figure, just have a little review of the hypotheticals the Washington Post are throwing around in regard to how much potential revenue Pandora may be generating from continued growth of the service in comparison to the whole music industry. All this from an app on a phone which has realistically only experienced a limited uptake in terms of the complete mobile phone market.

Mr Ek has also expressed a desire to charge for the mobile applications of Spotify, I can understand why, it’ll be a popular app, why not make some cash from the initial download. It will be interesting to see if the key to maximising revenue from the service is from getting the highest uptake and going via affiliate sales like Pandora, or charging for the service and hoping everything else will fall into place from what is likely to be a smaller user base.

However, I would advise keeping the option of a monthly fee for ad free mobile music streaming. If I was going to pick up on one complaint that seems to be common from Pandora’s users, it has been the lack of an option to pay a subscription fee to get rid of the ad’s on both the mobile and standard version of the service.

So if Spotify want to go about overcoming the current economic climate the key appears to be getting the service mobile asap and in the simplest guise.

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A nice creative ad for Loewe Sound that is currently being broadcast on German television. Views on this video will certainly increase dramatically in coming weeks as it has great viral potential and I predict we’ll be seeing a few parodies in the near future.

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Turn it Up to 11!

Store front

A very clever store front design proving that an innovative approach can allow small businesses to gain exposure without  having to throw cash around.

The shop is an independant in Southampton, England that has hit the front page on Digg after being posted on Flickr. Go Web 2.0!

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