new year, new home…

So I have decided to blow the dust of the blog, and to start afresh in 2013.

My blog now has a new home; you’ll be able to find me over at http://www.justinwestcott.com

see you there.

Justin

Jux.com

An interesting new blogging platform – Jux.com - has caputred my eye recently. Launched a few months ago it promises to be:

… the best showcase for your content. It’s great for blogging, portfolios, events, travel and whatever you’re thinking right now. Full-screen and immersive, with no columns or blogrolls. Your pictures and words fill the page edge-to-edge: memorable, beautiful, distraction-free.

I’ve had a good look around the site and have played around with it a bit. It looks to be a great site for sharing hi-res photos (with text) and really does a great job of making things look good. This is definitely the USP – no templates to follow but rather your image/idea is the heart of the post.

To me it seems to be a more visual version of a Tumblr site – and that would probably how I would consider using it.

I can see Jux.com being a great platform for brands to partner with and certainly would be a great platform for small boutique style retailers to use in conjunction with (potentially in place of) a website. It’s free, easy to use and the results are excellent.

One to watch. I’m having a think about how I might do something with it.

Perhaps a food blog – been meaning to do one of those for a while.

For a more detailed first review of Jux.com and it’s capabilities i recommend reading this post.  As this posts shows, it’s fairly easy to also use Jux.com to create items that can then be embedded into more traditional blog platforms (if you wish).

YouTube: A hot bed of creativity & inspiration

YouTube isn’t all cats falling into toilets and babies biting fingers. Fact.

I have, I’ve realized, been spending an increasing amount of time within this channel as a source of inspiration for my own client work and personal interest (I’m learning to master Final Cut Pro). There is a strong core of professional-level individuals (and indeed some professional-YouTubers) producing a steady stream of high-quality content.

Names like FreddieW, ShayCarl and Final Cut King might not be “house-hold” names yet, but they do represent the changing world we live in. They have now become celebrities within the community receiving millions of views for each clip they post and as a result, I’m sure, making a healthy living out of their creativity and skills (in video production, editing, sfx and I’d argue comedy/script writing).

The “amateur” really is taking over and getting an increasing recognition from mainstream studios (film & TV) and marketers alike (when you have a global audience in the millions people take note). There certainly is enough content on YouTube to keep me entertained for hours (I find it’s a veritable rabbit hole of positive distractions). As a result, I’m certainly spending less time consuming regular TV, and even for that matter online TV.

With regards to creativity and influencing your own ideas in shaping consumer campaigns I would suggest YouTube has to be your first port of call for inspiration today. Search for the brand you’re working with – see what people are already saying/doing in relation to the brand, I think you’d sometimes be surprised. Also have a search specifically to the market you’re operating in – you’ll discover; I’m sure, a local director or YouTube star who has influence and audience within the market. Also have a look at the most-watched films for that week/month – a great barometer for current tastes/trends and what people want to watch. I’m sure from a few minutes of YouTube surfing you’ll generate a number of ideas of thoughts to inspire you’re thinking.

Here are just a few examples of some of the best video shorts I’ve seen on YouTube recently, and a great advertisement for the genuine creativity (and skill) of these amateurs/semi-professional film makers:

FreddieW – who produces a quality clip every week – has John Favreau guest star in a clip this week (clearly supported by Cowboy’s vs. Aliens film launch):

http://www.youtube.com/user/freddiew#p/a/u/1/8HZPb7ulu08

I also thought this piece from FreddieW was awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/user/freddiew?blend=1&ob=5#p/c/627F181E0CB37E19/1/8HZPb7ulu08

Essentialism

I’ve had a hectic few months of late and have really neglected to look at Ted for a while. This has in the past been a popular lunchtime destination for me – sandwich in hand, earphones in & an interesting and provocative talk to view in a bite-sized format. Ted is great.

Anyway, I managed to have a lunch break today and watched a thoroughly entertaining and informative talk from Paul Bloom; entitled “The Origins of Pleasure”. A well put together presentation of history, sociology, physiology and psychology in how humans derive pleasure. A key point of discussion was why do we (humans) find greater pleasure from a real painting than from a fake, or why we deem more pleasure from knowing a performance is from someone famous/recognized than someone that isn’t but playing to the same standard etc. In essence the what is it about our psyche that puts so much of  an importance on origin/authenticity/celebrity/effort behind the product/item/person etc.

Yes, a degree of status or snobbery comes into play, but Paul argues that actually all Humans are natural born essentialists. Meaning that our feelings of pleasure go beyond how we feel, see or hear something but rather our responses our conditioned on our belief of what it really is, where it came from, how it got there, what it’s made up etc. This, he argues, governs not just how we think about things but also how we react to them. Or as he states – Pleasure is Deep (that beliefs play a huge part in all forms of pleasure).

Food for thought, I feel, when thinking about the creative process. Brand as we all know, plays an important part – indeed within the context of this discussion it is a key part of the essentialism behind a product. It’s the added/hidden value that our minds put into play. A Gucci handbag might look identical to one from H&M; have the same function; a similar quality of materials – but the value of the brand is paramount and something a consumer would happily pay significantly more for. To the point in Paul’s talk “how do you get kids to like/enjoy carrots & Milk”? The answer – well you tell them it comes from McDonalds – as children perceive McDonalds as creating tasty food.

However, we don’t all get to work for products/services/events associated with strong brands or indeed when you’re launching a new brand you don’t have the luxury of this perceived essentialism value to it. Yet the learning’s from this philosophy should be applied; and this goes to the heart of what we do – creating the story behind the product; a good story should create this sense of essentialism/value to the consumer. As Paul Bloom outlines in his talk; back-story; origin, details of the creative process, illustrating the effort, putting a human face and showing a real person, highlighting a uniqueness are all areas/items that the human mind is predisposed to attach value to and therefore should be thought through in creating the story.

Interesting I thought – worth the 16mins to view.

Where do good ideas come from?

So Google+ has made me realise how much I actually blogging in long-form and has made me realise that Twitter has perhaps made me lazy. So I’m going to start writing again and thought rather than start a fresh channel that I’ll breathe some life into this blog.

I’m going to focus my content on all things related to creativity, as this is where my passion lies.

So as a start, I thought I’d share this fantastic video – thanks to @willoconnor for the tip-off.

Steven Johnson, puts together a very creative presentation outlining his view on where good ideas come from. Stating the importance of outside influence & sharing in order to reach a true great idea. Many of the worlds greatest thinkers, thought best when ideas were discussed in public and shared.

As Steven puts it “when hunches collide”.

Some takeaways/thoughts on how this thinking can impact the way we work in PR:

- Work in teams when thinking; great ideas can come from anywhere in the industry
- Brainstorms work; share the thought process as ideas are best when co-created/co-developed
- Adapt other ideas; innovate/re-use/adapt don’t always feel the pressure to invent
- Read, read, read; to the previous point inspiration can come from anywhere and your good idea could perhaps turn into a great idea by adapting something that has been done before/or in another industry

Stuck in the middle?

Read an interesting article on trendhunter yesterday, giving an early head’s up on a trend to watch – of aspirational media tempting readers in with credit crunch related cover stories i.e. the likes of Vogue, Bazaar and Elle with very un-Vogue like cover headers such as “affordable luxuries” and “reality chic”. Evidently this seems to be a first for such stories to appear on the cover of these magazines – as generally they look to appeal to audiences that would have no problem spending £1,000 or more on an item of clothing. But the credit crunch is hurting all.

Anyway, this reminded me of some of the comments from Ben Hammersley (editor for the new Wired Uk) made at a talk he gave a few weeks back which i’ve been mulling over. I wasn’t there in person but my colleague Luke Mackay was kind enough to share notes. In that meeting Ben pointed to two key trends for 2009 he’d identified, one of which was “The Dividing”.

This he identified as a split that was occurring between luxury and disposable markets as the “middle-ground” has fallen away. In essence over time, and through 2009 he would see the two spectrums polarising with everything else between these polarities falling by the wayside. This is a trend he’d identified across all industries from fashion to television, to retail to publishing. He noted specifically within the publishing the fact that magazines that, if not thriving, are surviving at either end of the price spectrum from 75p at one end and at the other magazines, often imported, at costs of up to and sometimes beyond £8. Magazines in the middle are suffering and falling away i.e. be cheap or be expensive – don’t be affordable, or average on price.

Ben went on to add that this isn’t about social or economic politics or class or about how much time you spend making something. Both groups are not mutually exclusive for example people can, and will, shop in both Prada and Primark. In each case they know what they’re getting. Ben went on to explain that this trend was seen before in the 1930’s and said that the effect of an “intellectual recession” could be seen as a cause for this “divide”, certainly within publishing.

 

His recommendation for business – choose your battle, belong to one end of the spectrum and don’t try to be all things to all people. Companies that go for the middle, will fall by the wayside, just as the middle ground has been. Ben used examples of Marks & Spencer’s and Gap as brands that had suffered at the hands of trying to operate in the middle.

I found this quite interesting, and I’m not sure I agree entirely (possibly as I didn’t hear it firs t hand). My “gut” and my “head” would tell me that in these times that the opposite might take place – in essence an “un-dividing”, as prices become cheaper (just check the deflation going on now), peoples spending reduces, the higher end brands/outlets/publishers in-particular would naturally look at ways to appealing to wider audiences (as their market shrinks, or seems to shrink) by reducing prices, releasing lower-end ranges etc.

But anyway, certainly will be interesting to see if Ben’s thoughts for 2009 pan-out – if so, the move by the likes of Vogue could be detrimental to its long term success or, could set the magazine off in a brand new direction.

 

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not in the UK (or my tongue)…

It’s an old one I know – but came across it again today (via trendhunter). But thought I’d post it as I still can’t believe the campaign. It’s the Coke Zero launch campaign that ran in Brazil in Feb this year; it’s brave, it’s crazy and it would never (i don’t think) be something the brand would do in the UK.

To help launch the brand in the country; the local agency Espalhe Marketing de Guerrilha - developed a true guerilla activity. Focusing on the “no difference in taste” message, Coke focused on the “tongue” as a key point of creative (see the TV ad spots). To make this live and breath offline, the agency worked with Coke to sponsor piercing parlors in key cities; and offered to pay for all tongue piercings. However, the catch was all piercings had to be made with the Coke Zero bottle top stud and their picture taken and uploaded to an online community of fellow pierced Brazilians. The result – an army of mobile advertisers and brand ambassadors (well until their parents spotted it).

 

coke

Cracking, yet crazy, idea…

 

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