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14 posts from February 2013

27 February 2013

Social Consumerism or Sociomerism?

By Naresh Gupta, Bang in the Middle

What do you after you buy that uber-cool laptop that you had been eyeing for sometime? Open the pack, admire the computer, switch it on, log in and explore?

Not really, you actually take a snap of the packaging, upload it on social networking sites and enjoy the admiration! The admiration will peak, your social chatter will make you feel good about your buy, and only then will you sit back and enjoy the laptop you bought. In today’s ‘expectation economy’ where the consumers want to buy the best, they want to boast about it first. This is what I call Sociomerism.

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Gamification: A mobile tool to help big brands feel small

By Liz Wilson, CMW

For brands the path to the consumer has never been so vast and complex with 15 billion web impressions and £1bn spent online during one day in the run-up to last Christmas. Even for the festive season that’s a lot of clutter for brands to navigate through their communications strategy. On top of this, shoppers now expect more from brands and what they have to offer.

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20 February 2013

Transgender Trouble in Thailand for IKEA


IKEA had to issue an apology after a recent spot launched in Thailand drew criticism from transgender rights groups. Angry activists lambasted the global Swedish brand, claiming the advert, which depicts a transgender lady getting so excited at a bargain in the store that her voice drops a few octaves, much to the surprise to the surprise of her male companion, played on negative stereotypes and even violated the human rights of the transgender community of south-east Asia. The company have publicly apologised for the video, which aired on Youtube and to commuters on several of the country’s train networks, and issued a prompt response to the Thai Transgender Alliance, who made the original complaint. This sparked further complaints from the transgender community around the world, who poured scorn on what they saw as a demeaning, trivialising and offensive piece of advertising.

Behind the news:

The title of the ad translates approximately as “Forget To Keep Hidden” or “Forget To Deceive”, and was presumably intended to alert potential customers to the brand’s honesty and affordability in a light-hearted fashion, a fact they are keen to highlight in their carefully worded response. In Thailand, transgender females, known as Kathoeys or sometimes via the popularised anglicism ‘ladyboys’, are fully integrated and accepted members of society, with many leading successful careers in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries. They are far from obligated to a deviant or secret lifestyle, thus the uproar caused by the advert. This campaign was a little wide of the mark from IKEA, a brand – as history dictates – do not shy away from courting controversy with provocative ad campaigns. In most cases it is the traditional values of the right that are challenged, as with this brouhaha in the US back in 2007, rather than the liberal and inclusive values championed by an organisation such as the Thai TGA. But creative work designed to provoke and entertain is almost inevitably going to alienate some members of any given market – did they overstep the line here, or is it a storm in a Thai-cup?

19 February 2013

Tanlines - Not The Same

By Mike Woods, Framestore

The new Tanlines interactive promo by OKFocus is a clever mimic of Photoshop to allow the user to change layers, and even select the multitracks of the song itself.


15 February 2013

Design really is everything now

Week in venn design

It’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.

Jony Ive, SVP of Design, Apple

When Apple announced last fall that its own industrial design visionary Jony Ive would also take over software design for the company, UX designers around the world didn't know whether to celebrate or shudder. But it could be just the shot in the arm Apple needs to take its design leadership into the future. And it has big implications for all of us.

Apple has always been lauded for its beautiful and visionary hardware design. But the company's recent skirmishes with Samsung and other hardware manufacturers over who owns the rounded corner has only served to reinforce why hardware design is steadily becoming homogenous. There are only so many things you can do with a thin glass rectangle. Remember the first Motorola Razr? Sure you do, it was an iconic phone. Do you know what the current one looks like? Of course you don’t, it’s just another smartphone.

You can still get phones in different sizes, with rubberized frames, sporting the odd flip-down or pull-out keyboard. But as hardware evolves itself into invisibility we're well on our way to a time when the only thing that differentiates how something feels will be its software. Software design is what makes a page turn onscreen, it makes a TV respond to your voice, it makes an app feel homey and familiar like Apple's Calendar, and it makes an OS feel modern and fluid like Windows 8.

This is not lost on Ive and his team. While Apple hardware has more or less consistently surpassed competitors' designs, Apple's software isn't always best-in-class. As hardware becomes less important to why people purchase the devices they do, software takes on the burden of being the main differentiator. That's why you can expect to see more and more patent applications for things such as the scroll bounce. Unlike complex aluminum construction processes, interactions are easy to copy, integrate and ship into the next OS release.

Apple's competitors are also taking note. Microsoft, not known for spending a tremendous amount of time on interface innovation, has taken a huge bet on Windows 8 and its innovative Metro interface. Window 8's often stellar UI can quickly give way to what is essentially Windows Vista - but as a first step, it’s hugely ambitious, beautiful and mostly successful.

Meanwhile, Google continues to update its Android platform (with its somewhat contradictory Chrome OS platform in tow). The whimsical branding includes a friendly green robot and OS versions called Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich, which, along with its odd mishmash of UI elements, makes Android the least recognizable and least remarkable interface. Sure, it’s possibly the most versatile, and lives on the most affordable range of devices, but Google still seems to be cleaning up after giving headset manufacturers too many design freedoms early on, fragmenting its own operating system into various sub-groups. Still, Android is the leading smartphone platform, and will probably hold that lead for the foreseeable future.

While key players seem to be visually differentiating themselves, there still seems to be a consensus on the need to create cohesive, if not entirely identical, experiences across a wide spectrum of devices. Apple has slowly integrated some of its key iOS features back into MacOS. Google’s app suite has evolved to look homogenous across devices (even the ones that don't run Android). And Microsoft has, rather confidently, proclaimed that the Windows experience should carry across from table to desktop.

At Say Media we're fans of Device Agnosticism and an interface platform that will allow us to start crafting experiences that maintain their consistency, even when the context in which they are used differs wildly. Over the last two years, we have built and learned a tremendous amount and are facing similar challenges to anyone building interfaces for the post-PC era

This is a defining moment, where interfaces will feel as ubiquitous in our lives as the physical objects we use to interact with them are. We will interact with them constantly. They will literally cover our landscapes, live in our cars and living rooms, and become part of the architecture. They will affect the media we consume, the way we look at the world, and how we learn and communicate. These interfaces have a responsibility to make our lives easier, to make their presence wanted and beneficial, to be beautiful and, more often than not, to get out of the way. Here's to the Age of the User Interface.

Alex Schleifer is design and creative director for Say Media.

14 February 2013

Buddy or business? It's time for Facebook to come out one way or the other

Facebook is one of those global brands that has become the victim of its own success. A straw poll of Facebook-related headlines over any given month throws up a mixture of celebratory growth stories, alarming claims about privacy, and the usual one we all know and love about a teenager who throws a house party which is invaded by a thousand gatecrashers, ("It just got out of hand so fast, I didn't realise so many people would show up!" she said).

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Valentine’s Day: the art of making consumers fall in love with brands!

By Cream Editorial

February 14 isn’t just a day for couples to express their love for each other – the festival day for love is also a day when brands vie for consumer love and attention! On the occasion of Valentine’s Day, we pick out Cream Global’s hot five case studies where love is the X-factor that helps a brand find the sweet spot with its consumers. Here they are:

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12 February 2013

Things consumers never say about advertising

By Martin Harrison, Huge (part of SoDA)

One thing I have yet to hear a consumer say about advertising is, “Over time, it steadily positively reinforced a deeply held idea about how I’d like to be.” But then, I’ve yet to hear someone say, “I actively seek out facts that chime with my pre-defined point of view and ignore those that don’t”. That said, I haven’t really looked, I suppose.

Anyway, let me tell you a story about habit. Some years ago, I worked on the direct mail account for a large circulation weekly UK magazine. Our strategy was to drive sales through coupons; send out four/eight/twelve coupons and customers would duly redeem them, boosting circulation by 5-10%, depending on mailing volume. We had one mailing file that would redeem at 85%. 85%!

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  • Right Brain, Left Brain sums up the dichotomy of a media business that’s constantly battling with the challenge of delivering a profit and discovering new ways to communicate to consumers. The Cream editorial team combined with a dream team of industry pioneers from around the world share their expert opinions.

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