Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Commercial: Against The Clock

Against The Clock - trailer from Tom Newman on Vimeo.

Can I draw your attention to the trailer for the documentary by my erstwhile colleague Tom Newman? Called Against The Clock, it tells the story of disabled drag car racer Nigel Holland, and on the basis of above I can't wait to see the finished doc.

Tom has a post over at his blog about putting the trailer, and the film, together.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Commercial: Steve Jobs on 'Think Different'

I won't make the obvious points about this clip - I mean what's left to be said about him, and what he's created?

Instead a challenge, a thought: when was the last time you saw a CEO talk about not just their brand, but also an ad campaign, like this, in such a concise yet inspirational fashion?

I can't think of an occasion. Can you?

(HT: Kim Joar Bekkelund)

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Listorama: Facebook status updates vol 19

BetaRish (is)...

is on the first of the go slow days

is taking it to the bridge

All the ones

is shaking off his country girl act

is busy. Honest

is watching rain that starts car alarms

is the engine driver

is wearing his harbourcoat

Beware the seductions of sociable machines

is licking windows

is wading in the water

keeps marching to a different beat

is colluding

has everything in its wrong place

is buying the sky

Why does getting better take so long

Let’s talk about a new solution

blesses cold, magnanimous, delicate, gauche, fanciful, stupid Englishmen

thought he’d have you by now

Sigh some more

Find me there

The words make everything

is a MacGuffin

is unmastered in the sweet science

is akin to kin

Spheres of wonder

A hunting we will go

can’t escape his biology

on the catastrophe of interjection

is a man of the world, haven’t you heard?

Science! It’s fresh and natural!

is thinking of carnets and snowdrops and other poetic subjects

Geography is destiny

is being

is holding you in his handsome fist

is all together

of dreams and delusions

is declaiming

has a prominent place within café society

is clapping

is playing with his hair well regularly

Destroy their hallucinations with our desires

Trough of insomnia

is working on improving his AQ (awww quotient)

is the spirit of Eden

is the guy who works down the chip shop and swears he’s Elvis

is capable

is too big to fail

is an engine of culture

All I want from you is the kicks you’ve given me


is silver-rushing

The trouble with me is just water under the bridge

is rocksteady

Please take one

Sun in my eyes

is having his sensibilities massaged by the soft kisses of a million disembodied taxpayers

is not the Great Cham

Hurry! Hurry! All is hurry!

And then we came to the beginning

Life is meals

is walking the walls

is eating time

I have ended up becoming me


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reportage: Forcefield

Because that's what even the most tangential encounter with anyone who can be deemed a celebrity - however remotely - is like. The room changes, somehow.

A first hand example. This morning I walked into my usual barbers for my usual weekly Turkish shave, and who was waiting there? A certain diminutive, fiery Scottish midfielder of a certain vintage, with a large manager / factotum / gofer / bodyman figure in attendance.

Now bearing in mind that this ex-footballer can be seen on television reasonably regularly, summarising matches, it was hardly a surprise that he was being fussed over (in a way that I should make clear was neither fawning or obsequious, because obviously I go to a place with great customer service; but even as a regular I could tell that the chaps had dialled it up just that one notch further than normal. That I had to wait an hour longer than usual I shall forgive.)

But what was unexpected was the ripples that were left after he'd left: a heightened sense of buzz, a general tremulousness, and a charming note in the visitors' book. Other evidence for this? My barber's normally calm hand slipped and nicked me ever so slightly. We looked at each other. And we both knew why.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Commercial: Of copywriting and poetry

A few weeks ago, Tom Albrighton of ABC Copywriting asked me for a few thoughts on how copywriting and poetry might be connected.

A few weeks later he emailed to say that, apologies, he couldn't use my thoughts, as his thoughts on the subject weren't going anywhere.

And then yesterday, this whopper of a post landed. It's deep, and wise, about the craft of writing, and I'm not just saying that because, in the end, Tom did manage to find a way to mention me.

If you write, it's well worth a few minutes of your day.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Some rules for having ideas

Written in haste, so forgive the various errors, but I have penned a short thing over at the TalkNYC forum about how to have ideas.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Commercial: A suggestion for revamping process at agencies

I know, I know, what could be duller, especially when everyone tells you that broadly, they now operate in the same way, with all the important people in the room at the same time, ideas coming from anywhere etcetera etcetera.

But something struck me in this write up of how Facebook gets to be like Facebook (answer: engineers are king):

resourcing for projects is purely voluntary.
- a PM lobbies group of engineers, tries to get them excited about their ideas. (my emphasis)
- Engineers decide which ones sound interesting to work on.
- Engineer talks to their manager, says “I’d like to work on these 5 things this week.”
- Engineering Manager mostly leaves engineers’ preferences alone, may sometimes ask that certain tasks get done first.
- Engineers handle entire feature themselves — front end javascript, backend database code, and everything in between. If they want help from a Designer (there are a limited staff of dedicated designers available), they need to get a Designer interested enough in their project to take it on. Same for Architect help. But in general, expectation is that engineers will handle everything they need themselves.

Now imagine if that model was applied to an agency. You get a brief, and instead of it being allocated to you on the basis of what your workload is like, who the creative director thinks will crack it best, whether your skillset is what's needed, an account manager effectively has to run an auction and get you excited enough to want to work on it.

So, in theory, best talent ends up wanting to work on the best briefs, because they can see the possibilities for it.

No doubt, something akin to this happens informally at many places already (and I'm not thinking of situations where people pull rank to get their hands on a brief they really want.)

It just struck me that too often, we rely on the work funnel to parcel out briefs (apologies for the metaphor cocktail there) as opposed to actually thinking about how we might actually best match talent to need.

Which is analogous to trying to design markets without price signals, for more on which have a gander at this. And this.


Commercial: The second internet

Yes, I know you thought that the '2.0' in Web 2.0 might have implied that any beastie lumbering under the name 'the second internet' might already be here.

But, no, apparently not, according to yet another breathless piece of research from another company that you hadn't heard of before, and will never hear of again.

Still I thought the principles they adumbrated, or rather the markings by which one might recognise this latest evolution in the digital zoo, were worth sharing, to whit:

- Platforms open their API to developers
- Continuous and rapid pace of innovation
- The company/brand must listen to the dialogue and participate with customers
- Customer contribution is a large percent of the value/experience
- Every customer has a personalized experience
- Social graph connections drive discovery rather than search

And I thought, substitute and/or stick in the word 'brand' into those, and you've got some pretty good rules for what your brand might need to do / become / evolve into, to become a 'platform', an idea whose time might finally be arriving.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Commercial: You are listening to

hollywood by kara brugman
hollywood, a photo by kara brugman on Flickr.

Tremendously late to this I know, but it is rather wonderful.

Take an epic photo, a restless ambient soundscape and a live police call feed. And, right there, you have the pulse of a city.

I'm still slightly amazed no-one's managed to knock one together for London yet.

I also thought it might be a great way to showcase any form of spoken word. Can you imagine radio ads, traditionally all squeaky and shouty and chatty and insane, against this sort of backdrop?

I think the juxtaposition would be stunning.