BeWILDerwood – The last few days of the season

I was over at BeWILDerwood yesterday on the last Friday of half term and their last day where they were expecting a great crowd before they close for the season on Sunday.

There were 1600 people in and an amazing atmosphere. The night before BeWILDerwood had been awarded the title of the best large attraction in the East of England, beating Duxford Air Museum and Woburn Safari Park at the regional Enjoy England for Excellence Awards.

All of us on the broken bridge

Having spent time there when it was that busy. I’m not surprised. The children were having a great time, swinging and whooping in the woods and the Twiggle Team had put on free lantern making sessions for all, leading to a giant lantern parade through the woods as the light fell.

The crowds are on to make your own lantern

It was a magical procession, with well over 500 people parading happily through a totally unlit woods on their way home. They were lead by a giant lantern bat called Snagglefang.

DoodleTic leads the lantern procession with Snagglefang the Lantern Bat

It seems so simple to get children to play again and for their parents to play with them, yet many get it so wrong. BeWILDerwood proves it can be done beautifully and elegantly and without breaking the bank. Seven of us ate and drank at lunch for £32 and we ate well, with the biggest hot dog I have ever seen, made from a beautifully tasty award winning Norfolk sausage. It was as good as if you’d barbecued it yourself, having made the effort to get lovely ingredients first.

The slides were brilliant too and you can see from the face of young Charlie here, quite how much fun he’s having.

Charlie at speed on the Slippery Slope

I know I’m biased because we’ve been involved in BeWILDerwood from the outset, but to see the way that my kids played and our friends kids played and how they all slept on the way home, it was an absolutely brilliant day out for very many families. I love this place, my kids love this place and my friends all love this place and I’m not surprised it’s been recognised as the best in the east!

Bring on the new season.

And how cool does it look at night?

BeWILDerwood at night
BeWILDerwood at night
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The new logo for Burnley seems to have caused a bit of a stir

Burnley have bought a new ‘logo’ that isn’t really a logo but a clever rotating computer graphic. And it seems to have caused a bit of a stir judging by 70+ comments within a day of being shown on the Under Consideration website.

The new Burnley 'logo' made from some old bits of Atari graphics
The new Burnley 'logo' made from some old bits of Atari graphics

I personally like it but do find it amazingly disturbing that Coun Gordon Birtwistle, leader of Burnley Council admitted that they had to beat off stiff competition to use the logo!. What? A bidding war for a logo that is being touted about?

He said ‘it signifies the town’s “intertwining” qualities’ Did he really? Or did the designer say this in a huge piece of post rationalisation?

Surely a graphic device has to represent it’s people. It has to be embedded and probably even designed within its community. Using clip art for logos isn’t new, it’s a massive retrograde step. All credit to the people who got interested parties to compete to use their icon.

Is it a nice piece? Yes, I think so.

Does it represent Burnley? Err no. It can’t it wasn’t designed for them, it was designed to sell, not to meet and exceed a brief.

 

Yell Hell – Will Yellow Pages Evolve or die?

A big pile of Yellow Pages, festering in a window

Yellow pages used to be one of those businesses that you relied upon to provide calls that lead to sales. They were at the top of their game, the top of their market and charged accordingly. We had many of our clients paying £600 plus for a tiny quarter column and in a single section. They were unionised so we had to provide flat artwork, with an NGA stamp on the back of it far later than anyone else in the industry.

It was worth the hassle though because it worked.

But now I’m sure that it doesn’t.

Yellow Pages started in 1966 as a supplement to the Brighton telephone book and spiralled upwards from there. In 2008, they produced 104 different regional copies and distributed them free to 28.4 million UK homes.

My new 2010 copy arrived on Thursday last week and was left on my doorstep. I looked at it for a day or so and then emptied into the recycling bin without even unwrapping it. I’m not alone. Every single person I have asked has done the same, so the advertisers money is literally being thrown away.

And that’s because the brand hasn’t evolved anywhere near fast enough to remain relevant. It’s currently swamped under a debt of £3.8bn and had an underlying loss of over £1bn last year. So why is it still insisting we need these doorstop directories and why are advertisers still paying to be unseen?

I can only conclude that if they are losing that much money, they are either paying too much to print them, too much to distribute them or their advertising revenue has fallen to a level a long way below breakeven. So they need to implement a massive and structural change to remain relevant to an audience that is behaving very differently to those that were around in 1966.

In 1993 they ran one of the most famous TV commercials ever, but surely poor Mr Hartley could now just buy it on Ebay or a specialist book finding site online.

192.com are running an e-petition (which is a thinly disguised advertising campaign) to get you to sign up to say ‘no’ to printed directories. In these environmentally conscious days, they have a point and I for one can’t remember an occasion when I turned to the Yellow pages for the search I needed.

A blatant promotional e-petition from 192.com to get rid of Yellow Pages directories
A blatant promotional e-petition from 192.com to get rid of Yellow Pages directories - click the pic to vote yourself

The figures from Google show that 87% of all online activity begins with a search and they handle over 7 billion searches in any given month. According to Wikipedia, who reference Nielsen and other independent studies, they have a very slim percentage of Internet searches.

And their online version Yell, is a bit rubbish. It’s no better than any other internet search as it doesn’t come with a recommendation like Facebook and even Twitter can provide and it doesn’t allow you to feed back as to what you thought of the suppliers using something like Feefo so we can begin to trust those who advertise and tell the cowboy from the craftsman.

It’s very easy for me to have a pop at someone like Yell when they are down and on their way out, but for them to not evolve, is signing their own death warrant. There’s a slightly different logo on the Yell site (whoopee) but it is in effect, exactly the same product as when they launched it to the market – before Google were any form of force – in 1996.

There is such a strong theme emerging in my thoughts that any business now will have to be different in a few years time, that it worries me how many more of these classic institutions are going to go the same way.

Woolworths did, Waterford Wedgwood did and Yellow Pages probably will, so who’s next?

Evolve or die, because this generation isn’t like previous generations and the next one will be different again.

Thanks to Sue Tortoise for her Yellow Pages image. You can see more of her lovely natural work here. She seems to work more in the field of nature and all things flora and fauna, so it was a surprise to find this image amongst her collection. Anyway, thanks Sue.

Back to the future – The rebirth of DeLorean?

According to Piston Heads, the DeLorean may be on its way back. As a sort of merger between the brand name of DeLorean and the engineering of the Pontiac Solstice. There have been some sketches released that point to a cool looking new sports coupe.

You can see the DeLorean Motor Company here. They’re already more up to date than they were in that you can even follow them on Twitter. To add some credence to this story, you can also sign up for updates of the New DeLorean Solstice website here. I’m all signed up already.

The new Delorean?
The new DeLorean?
The new Delorean from the rear?
The new DeLorean from the rear?

On the surface, you would imagine that this is another disaster on the scale of the original DeLorean build, where the final product didn’t even get close to the huge hype that surrounded it. For a brand owner, this was a classic case of overpromising and seriously under delivering.

After John DeLorean was accused (and subsequently released on grounds of entrapment by federal agents) for drug trafficking in 1982, the business declared bankruptcy but the name lived on through various enthusiastic amateurs, but really came to the fore as the star of the 1985 film ‘Back to the Future’.

DeLorean’s background had been with Pontiac, having developed the Pontiac GTO, so there is a form of brand connection, even if the characters are now totally different.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have always loved the idea of the DeLorean. Maybe because it was always doomed or maybe as it was such a good case study of getting it wrong and the product was just sooooo bad, but I think this has a chance of being a winner.

Delorean_DMC12 - All gull wing doors and stainless steel - But with a Renault engine hmmmm
DeLorean DMC12 - All gull wing doors and stainless steel - Chassis work by Lotus Engineering but with a Renault engine hmmmm

The film portrayal of the DeLorean has given it so much romantic kudos with no realistic chance of owning one. I am sure there will be loads of us old enough to have grown up with the films, who would simply love to be able to tell people that we drive a DeLorean.

I think the name alone is good enough to get people to take notice. The world PR would be incredible. If they allow the spec to stay high and the build and design to be impeccable and up to the world class standards that drivers now expect, there will be potential buyers queuing up to own one.

Good luck, we’re watching very closely.

How Augmented Reality can begin to shape the way people are trained

If this video is to be believed, then BMW are beginning to use Augmented Reality in training their mechanics to repair and maintain their cars. I think this undermines the skill of a good time served technician and effectively ‘deskills’ the entire role to be one putting of your magic glasses and doing what you’re told. You can see it being used in wage negotiations to have an excuse to take on younger, less experienced operatives. It can turn a reasonable fitter into a master mechanic at a stroke. It even tells them what size spanner to take out of the toolbox and where that tricky screw you can never find is located.

Until something goes wrong that is, at which point the experienced person would be called straight back in to sort out the computer.

There is no doubt that it is very clever though and you can imagine it starting to be introduced into more mainstream training over the next few years. If you need to show someone how to do something, why not show them exactly, whilst they are actually on the job itself.

A brilliant Augmented reality demo by GE

I am in no way sure that I understand the point of this demo at all, but it’s very clever technology and the biggest companies in the world are starting to experiment with it.

Why not have a look at the GE page and try it for yourself. I did and it is amazing. Print the grid out here and then open the browser here. You’ll need to allow it to access your webcam. For me it worked perfectly in Firefox, but wouldn’t fire up in safari.

My very own GE wind farm created in my very own office - amazing
My very own GE wind farm created in my very own office - amazing

If the likes of GE are finding ways to embrace the power that is coming from augmented reality, I say again, as I did here and here, you’d better start thinking about how it fits into your brand.

I was at the DBA Awards last night and…

We won a gold award for our work with BeWILDerwood. For a little agency like ours, this is amazing for it to be recognised by the very top people in our industry and beyond. The awards are given for the effectiveness of the work, rather than just how good it looks. It’s always been our target to get one or two, so for our first to be a gold is just fabulous.

But we had to win, because Simon Egan from BeWILDerwood had his awards suit on. It looks suspiciously like the one he wore here.

Simon and Mich in the cab - as you can see, Simon has his award suit on
Simon and Mich in the cab - as you can see, Simon has his award suit on

We met our good friends from Hemisphere who won a Silver award for their work with Manchester Central Convention Complex.

Our good friends from Hemisphere
Our good friends from Hemisphere

And then after all the celebrating was over, we went back to the hotel, where I noticed that Simon Egan talks with his hands more when he has had a few drinks. This is a snapshot of one such conversation.

Simon gesticulating - Part One
Simon gesticulating - Part One
Simon gesticulating - Part Two
Simon gesticulating - Part Two
Simon gesticulating - Part Three
Simon gesticulating - Part Three

As you can see, I have my pint and a whisky and ginger in front of me too. I’m not sure from the way I feel today that I should have had that last one.

Here comes reality – augmented reality

if this isn’t the future of how we look for and buy houses, I’m a Dutchman. Oh, this is a Dutch company, but with great technology and one that is sure to translate somehow into our augmented reality future.

The key question for a branding agency and one that we should all be considering is how do we make our brands not only look good, but feel good (and on brand) in this augmented reality environment?

And then to prove it’s going to be as much about meeting and engaging with others, here’s even more proof from the people at Layar.

Why social media matters?

The Luddites, fighting against change that was happening anyway
The Luddites, fighting against change that was happening anyway

There are two growing schools of thought with regard to social media.

School 1 – lets call them the Luddites
This social media lark isn’t for me. I am an estate agent, I sell widgets, I sell whatever. It’s all about wanky celebrities telling you what they’ve had for lunch isn’t it? Facebook is a load of teenagers that want to share their pointless pictures and get off with each other on the web, without meting each other and Google domaniates the search world and always will.

And there’s school 2
Lets call them sensible people, who understand that change is happening and happening fast. Those who don’t change will not survive. It’s a plain and simple fact.

I’ll steal a Charles Handy quote from my mate Tim Garratt’s ‘Adapt or Whither’ Blogpost here.

“If you boil water and drop a frog in it – it jumps out immediately. However, if you put that frog in a pot of cold water and slowly heat it, the frog adapts its body temperature to that of the water until at 100 degrees centigrade it boils alive”

It is a case of adapt or die. Those who don’t notice the change soon enough, will be left behind so completely, they will die.

Who would want to move into the printed media world right now?

Which is likely to grow fastest – printed or online media?

So I’ll give you some examples.

1. WordPress
They now provide more powerful and open source Content Management Systems (CMS) than almost anything else out there and it’s practically free. Their business plan is about selling small additional enhancements to many people for very little. We feel no pain in dealing with them and as I have shown here, they offer better customer service than anyone else in the CMS market anyway.

So traditional CMS is dead within the next few months or years. That’s a big or even huge market wiped out at a stroke. There were some bigger companies paying over £1m for a big CMS with less usbilty than WordPress offers now.

2. Traditional newspaper models
When Alexander Lebedev’s bought the London Evening Standard, according to the Guardian he paid £1. The Daily Mail & General Trust which owned the paper could see the writing on the wall in the paid regional daily newspaper sector and got out before the losses became too big. He has now switched it to a free model, so provides a great free product that has a chance of survival if it can grow its circulation again.

They were killed by their own Metro product distributed free in the mornings. They were damaged before this by us just getting out of the habit of reading papers and taking our news via all of the other media channels now open to us.

Evening papers are dependent on advertising revenue and with falling circulations, they couldn’t even attract the advertisers who are ALL switching to the more easily accountable online advertising routes.

There is still, without doubt a market for printed material, but it’s evolving fast and moving into niches rather than the mainstream. This was discussed in more detail here.

3. Printed books
I just didn’t get the point of e-books. I can’t say i’m going to own one anytime soon. I am an avid reader and I love printed books. My house and office is full of them. I love their smell their feel and the thought of sitting down to relax for a good read.

But there is a generation that doesn’t get it. Why would you carry hundreds of bulky books, when you can get them all on one good e-reader or Kindle?

And this is my point.

Its a generational change.

This generation are different. Like we as a generation are completely different to the generation before us. It’s called evolution.

It won’t happen overnight.

But it will happen.

This next generation won’t buy books, newspapers and they will not seek out products. Products will seek out them.

They will meet people on the Internet, like we met them at work, school, the pub or even out shopping.

Facebook is sure to add peer to peer video very soon and with over 300 million users already and growing fast, it will dwarf Skype and most other peer to peer communication tools. But it has a very young user base that will grow up knowing only this as their main tool to talk.

They will socialise online, as for many it will have become too expensive to get out and about. With retirement ages being raised across the world, to pay for our living longer, many of us will not be able to get about, unless we grow wheels.

It changes everything.

The world will be a different place and we need to recognise and act on this now.

This next generation will live in their convenient world of augmented reality and any brand owner who doesn’t see this can just hop into this nice cold pan of water I have waiting over here, whilst the world applies the heat.

Updated

Thanks to Tim Garratt for even more information on this.  He has pointed me towards an article in the London Times here which says that even the British legal system is having to change to reflect how the next generation behave. They are simply not used to sitting and listening and can only interact with an online interface. Help!

Updated again

This is a great YouTube video I picked up from the brilliant writers at Bitterwallet. It seems to back up what i’ve said above but is perhaps the first demonstration by the publishers that whatever the delivery method, people still value the content. I’m sure their right on this but if they’re not careful ad don’t adapt to these new delivery methods fast enough, the whole world will have moved on, before they even notice. And as Nobby pointed out in the comments below the article, in the very cleverly worded text, they cheated and at 1:23 added in a extra ‘of’ to the text so it makes sense when you read it backwards.

Dedication’s what you need

When I was little, I was really quite into the Record Breakers programme as hosted by Roy Castle. Even before this I would read the Guinness Book of Records for hours on end. I was delighted to see on TV last night in the beautifully filmed and produced ‘Last Chance to See’ That Stephen Fry was the same. He said that he could recall great reams of facts about odd records. I blame my rather ‘statto’ like nature on Record Breakers and the big Guinness Book.

But my clearest memory came from Roy Castle himself, when he told you if you want to be a record breaker, you need dedication. It doesn’t happen by accident – apart from of course to Vesna Vulović who holds the world record for falling out of a plane that she was working on as an air stewardess, at the highest altitude and surviving, when it exploded at 33,000 feet over Czechoslovakia on my 6th birthday back in 1972. I would imagine she had a small cake to celebrate too.

But like Roy Castle advises, we have a client who is totally dedicated to what he’s doing and wants to tell the world. Lee English of Nottingham Hoods basketball team describes himself as someone who has never done that much with his life before now, but has set up a new team from scratch and is playing this new team in the National League – Quite successfully too.

He’s brought a team of lads together and has worked and worked and worked with them to build his team and he should be exceptionally proud of what he has achieved through sheer dedication. He’s avery vocal coach and they are listening and learning.

But now he’s really raised the bar and had the Nottingham Hoods logo tattooed onto his arm as a reminder of what’s important and to show how much what he is doing means to him. You can see him getting the tattoo done here. It’s a real first for us as we’ve never had one of our logos tattooed anywhere.

His Granny is disgusted apparently, but I say he’s gonna be a record breaker, because he absolutely has the dedication. Roy Castle would be, and Lee’s Granny should be, very proud indeed.