I’m an entertainment guru you know!

I was interviewed for an article in the Publican magazine the other day and they have published with myself being listed as an ‘Entertainment guru’.

I’ve never been a guru before, so as you can imagine, i’m pretty excited by the whole thing, even if everyone I know is taking the p**s out of me mercilessly.


I'm an entertainment guru you know!
I'm an entertainment guru you know!

Joking apart though, the Publican do a brilliant digital edition, which you can browse through almost as well as the magazine itself. You can see the whole issue here.


Brilliant ‘wide boy ‘ tactics used by Red Bull

Monster Energy - Who sponsor events and behave in a way that is perhaps even less subtle than Red Bull
Monster Energy - Who sponsor events and behave in a way that is perhaps even less subtle than Red Bull

In an article in the Publican Magazine published yesterday 09/11/09, Wetherspoons, the Pub operator accused Red Bull of ‘Wide Boy’ tactics in trying to get their drink back into their pubs.

Last month, Wetherspoons, had delisted Red Bull in all of its 783 pubs and replaced it with Monster Energy. This brand is one of those ones that has come out of nowhere by sponsoring all sorts of monster truck and drag bike events.

What Red Bull have been doing is sending in students, with a can of Red Bull up their jumper who were then briefed to say they had to do it because they didn’t like the taste of Monster Energy. For me, this is exactly the sort of subversive and slightly naughty idea that you would expect from Red Bull and despite the fact that they have now been caught, I say good luck to them.

In a taste test, both Monster and Red Bull would come out as a bit horrid and sugary and more like a cough medicine than a drink, so it is more about the image than the taste. The only reason that I can see that Red Bull has been delisted is for purely commercial reasons. They have been given a better margin or a bigger incentive to stock Monster, who are obviously trying to ‘buy’ their way into the Wetherspoons estate. If this isn’t wide boy tactics, I don’t know what is.

Two minutes to change your brand behaviour

The old ways of working are changing forever. I’m reading Seth Godin’s Purple Cow at the moment, which I know I should have read already, but I never quite got around to it before now. Sorry.

The long and short of the book seems to be that ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll no longer get what you always got’.

We don’t respond to print advertising anymore. We interact with each other online and we often come into contact with brands online. We don’t just want products that work, we want brands that make us feel good about ourselves, help us bed into our particular tribe we have identified we want to be part of and speak to us in a relevant voice.

All this, and at the same time, listening to what we have to say, because we the customer owns a brand these days, not the company who may own the production.

This short video sums it up beautifully. You have two minutes to change the way your brand behaves. Use them wisely.

Sixth sense ‘Minority Report’ user interface in the real world

In the 2002 film Minority Report, with Tom Cruise, We see the most amazing example of a totally intuitive interactive user interface. Here’s a clip for you to remind yourself of what a clever film it was and how quickly ideas that are being posed, are now being delivered.

I remember watching it at the time, thinking how incredible it would be if we all started relating to our embedded computer systems like this. It’s as though the boundary between reality and computer is being continually blurred.

But now this new TED lecture from Pattie Maes at MIT Media Lab, Fluid Interfaces Group (what a cool title that is!), shows that this virtual or even augmented reality is almost achievable now.

It starts off a bit slowly, but then you can hear the crowd gasping at what is possible. From something as simple as your own hand becoming a keypad, to your own shopping preferences being overlaid onto available shopping products.

She even references Minority Report and then goes on to prove that they can deliver it today, for about the same price as a conventional mobile phone!

I am looking at the brands we work with and thinking what endless possibilities this delivers and what endless problems we now have to overcome to allow them to speak with a common voice on yet another platform in which they operate.

The M1 is 50 today

Happy birthday the M1. I’ve spent many a long hour in your company and you’ve always been very good to me. When I was commuting to work in Kilmarnock from Nottingham, I used to drive with you up to Leeds and then join the A1 north. When I head south, it’s still you I choose over the A1 every time.

When it was built and opened in 1959 it didn’t go very far and ran from St Albans (J5) to crick (J18). Over the years it has been lengthened to its current 193 mile length, linking London to Leeds.

The M1, when it opened in all it's three lane glory back in 1959 - note the lack of crash barriers and even speed limits!
The M1, when it opened in all it's three lane glory back in 1959 - note the lack of crash barriers and even speed limits!

So is the M1 a brand? And if it is, what does it stand for?

I think, when it first opened, it stood for freedom. It was the first truly joined up bit of quick road. Yes, it was a year later than the Preston bypass (now part of the M6) but it actually joined places rather than just went around them.

If there is a north/south divide in the UK, then the gap is closed by the M1. Life at the top is very different to life at the bottom. Leeds is a great city that is evolving into a fabulous cosmopolitan place to live and work, but it ain’t no London and never will be.

It’s seen many historical events too, from the Kegworth Air disaster in 1989 where its accessibility probably saved many lives, to the Buncefield Oil depot fire in 2005, which you can still see the aftermath of today.

It was closed on September 6 1997 to allow the funeral procession of Diana, Princess of Wales to drive from London to Althorp, Northamptonshire. They even allowed pedestrians to line the road to pass on their respects.

But like any 50 year old brand, the M1 has continued to evolve to stay relevant to it’s audience of road users. It’s being widened all over the place and is still a quick route for the north/south commute – at least most of the time anyway.

I am, perhaps slightly weirdly, an M1 fan.

Anyway, happy birthday M1. And any more.

And a late PS. According to the BBC, there is a musical called ‘Watford Gap – the Musical’ that is being launched at the services today too. I’m sure that will be absolutely brilliant!