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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

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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

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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BOO

Okay, so came across another innovative campaign involving a mobile handset manufacturer – this time Sony Ericsson, working with the creative people over at Iris. Brand Republic recently covered all the details – but a nice integrated campaign to generate some awareness for the launch of its latest Walkman phone on the 3 network. A video, where the viewer (who should receive an email inviting them to watch it) watches a relatively haunting (think it could have been dialled up in the fear factor stakes), suddendly finds themselves involved in the story and one step further then recieves a phone call, timed with the video. Nice.

 

As many have already pointed out, the recent Obama “no voter” video may go down as the greatest truly viral marketing video seen to date (at one time I was hearing reports it was going out to over 300,000 people a minute) and certainly will now inspire a wave of similar format videos. Hopefully  it will also inspire further innovations in this area (I’ve already had clients ask for a “video like that”) of greater audience engagement/involvement i.e. like including a name, or as in this case, involving a call to mobile.

 

The Obama video, and this Sony E one, and there are others, offer  a). a great way of capturing valuable audience data (improves the ROI) b). a ready/easy format for them spreading – as friends look to pass on the shock / surprise factor to their network by adding in their friends important contact details required to involve them in the video. It’s then the novel factor of being involved in the video/storyline that makes them truly viral. Obviously this won’t / can’t go on forever and soon this format will jump the shark (once the novelty has worn off) – but this should/will I’m sure only inspire more creativity in this field. What next I wonder ?

 

One of my biggest bugbears, and I know it’s one shared by many, is the client that wants, or the colleague that pitches, a viral video.  As we know this is a result/effect not a tactic. You can obviously try to create something that will be “popular” and if successful then go viral. I still find people/clients don’t always grasp this concept (and most importantly what it takes). Sitting down with them and showing them videos that have gone viral can be a good way of doing this – they’ll soon see that you need to create something that moves people – for someone to pass it on, you need to create a reaction i.e. shock, be totally original, be humorous, be spot on with the zeitgeist etc to really make something fly.

 

Anyway, rather selfishly this post has just given me a reason to link to Brendan’s recent post on some of the best virals ever – great post mate.

 

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