philip slade

Introducing PathWW

Since August last year The House Worldwide has been nurturing a new London based Shopping Marketing agency called Path. Set up to service Champagne Laurent-Perrier’s global duty free business. Within a few months of launch the Path team were also responsible for causing a media storm in Ireland on behalf of The British Pregnancy Advisory Service. A simple ad idea that generated the top 5 trending terms over a weekend. 2014 kicked off in the most spectacular of styles with this fledgling shop being appointed by the UK’s largest retailer, Argos, to look after their multi-million pound Own Brands business. For more &

Talking in pictures

I do admit to feeling overburdened by the volume of images on my various devices, wondering of their real worth or life expectations. -having lost a device packed with images, and felt utter terror of loss for a few days soon. I was fine and the images were as if they had never been. So maybe the worth I attached was only because I come from pre-digital days, and that a image detox is not a bad thing from time to time 

David Shariatmadari talks in The Guardian about the urge for a photo detox

'...Previous generations seem to have been more aware of the sense of false security that images can provide – portrait paintings were often accompanied by a memento mori – often a well-placed skull signified that death was inescapable. The selfie lacks this handy feature. As we happily snap away, are we are engaged in a kind of mass denial? Things can be preserved, we seem to be saying, perfectly, digitally, and for ever....'

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We know where you live.

Location based apps have been much covered by the media of late. So it was with great interest that a recent Forrester research paper appears to have been used by sections of the media to play down the importance of location based services (LBS)

 I am one of those who takes the opposing view.

  • Location based apps, few people currently using them but;
  • Will be a key media channel for personalised marketing because;
  • 64% of UK pop has a social media profile of which a quarter access via there mobile
  • Hugely important for the development of augmented reality
  • Key for brands to experiment and understand now

I think location based apps are REALLY important. I think brands that get into and understand LBS now will have a clear march on those that don’t. The best analogy I found was looking at the stats on Facebook take up. The early days of Facebook was dominated by a manly male, degree educated, slightly geeky audience. Currently the users of LBS services like Foursquare fall directly into this category.

Most services are predominantly American like; Foursquare, Gowalla, MyTown, Brightkite, Loopt Foursquare as I said has a fair amount of UK users.

Stickybits I have written about before. Brilliant idea, waiting for a brand to have fun with it.

The technology of LBS services is not perfect (yet) only a few apps are available (yet) and only a few people in London, let alone the UK use it (yet) But thundering over the horizon is the prospect of a Facebook embedded location aware service that would reward users with points/status/prizes. Once launched this would see an avalanche of brands attempting, without really understanding, location based marketing.

The current small, London based audience, for LBS offers brands an amazing test bed of consumers eager to try out such functionality. What better way to hone the techniques of LBS and evaluate its effectiveness? Rather than going for broke in a very public way on mass-market platform like Facebook.

There are the beginnings of some pretty smart analysis tools like Perspectives from Awareness because the data is so rich I would expect many more, graphically gorgeous tools to emerge.

LBS offers international brands opportunities for loyalty schemes to directly migrate to peoples mobiles, but there is so much more to LBS than a Nectar card on steroids

LBS can deliver fun and information for consumers plus genuine relevant engagement for brands. What I am waiting for is my mobile to spring into life and do the following, simply by the geo-position of where I am standing

While in bar A being offered a drink by bar B due to crowds where I am. Plus because I have a loyalty bonus at bar C the offer relates to a drink I like. Then a taxi company offering a deal at closing time to take me to a particular club, which I had chosen to go to by the number and type of people already there. (also I’d checked the musical tastes of those people) When at the club being offered a discounted entry because I had been to a rival previously.

Then again, simply in a new restaurant being able to see what everyone else has ordered and what other restaurants they’ve been to before.

Yes, I am a closet cartography fan

Stephen Walker: Island LondonThis is a real 'oh wow' project. Not least for; 'how the hell does anyone have the time to do that?'

Jaw droopingly detailed hand drawn map of London as an island. down to events and personal experiences seen street by street. You can even find your own house or local kebab shop. This as a layer on Googles Maps/Street view linked to an augmented reality phone app would be really amazing. That's my house!

Yes the ipad is noteworthy

- also fun, exciting and intriguing. Looking at what it can do brought out so many thoughts about its possibilities, most of which were not in the apps on show this week. I am sure that if Apple are right and this is a new category of device then the true worth of it will come when designers stop designing for a big iTouch and start thinking about New from New - motion and action process's. 

I feel mapping and tutorials are key human interactions for a digital device like this. Should also be noted that with all Apple first gen' products there are teething issues, at least two of the demo models i used this week had 'issues'

After a couple of days playing I like the size and hand feel of the device. The controls are almost familiar with a small amount of learning, (mind you zero time spent reading any instructions) You feel a certain joy with the interface because it just keeps doing things for you!Philip Slade & t7F London on an iPad

Getting out what you put in.

Seems obvious, but the clear issue with under performing digital campaigns is analogue thinking. Social networks suit a continuum of stuff rather than a big burst of noise. Again you would have thought obvious, but the nature of a consumers interaction with chums online puts a premium on regular, relevant content, that does not bore.

Highlighted by Alan Mitchell of The harsh realties of Social Media in a nutshell. Full presentation by Bart De Waele below.  

  1. Nobody reads your blog
  2. Your Twitterstream is boring
  3. Your Facebook fan page is empty
  4. Your new social network site isn’t used
  5. Your great idea doesn’t go viral
  6. Your users do not generate content
  7. Your employees do not help

This is the reason I get so excited about innovation, its unplanned, unexpected and often ludicrously funny

re-Chatroulette. There is a huge storm of Daily Mail style angst building about this site. (it twins random web cams, with hilarious results) Including a Newsnight debate that came across as a Chris Morris/Brass Eye style parody. But in all this outrage about the morals of the country. I really think these commentator's are missing the point. Tim Malbon of Made by Many summed it up best I thought;

"...It was brilliant to be reminded of how subversive and mad the Web is. In our increasingly settled, sanitised and locked down Web era Chatroulette is a timely warning to us all that we must hold on to the crazy stuff, because what it really represents is the Internet’s culture of freedom and culture of innovation..."

News sites currently awash with stats on this, but From Read Write Web has a neat set of quotes= In December 2009, Chatroulette had 500 users. Today, just four months later, the site sees 1.5 million daily visitors. That statistic alone is enough to inspire investors to beat down the door of its creator, Russian high school student Andrey Ternovskiy. "the purest form" of the Internet and its userbase, and "a great way to kill time," one of the most common uses of the social web. (Muhammad Saleem, authority on engineering virality) "I've frequently described it as a box of game pieces with no rules. Users are invited to create any kind of experience they choose given a simple set of constraints. It's inherently viral, addictive, imaginative and essentially human"

Change is good

I feel energised by change. Doing the same as before has never held great appeal, even when you are not quite sure where change is going to take you. What you do know is that its going to be different and maybe involve a bit of work getting things right. Yesterdays launch of the Apple iPad is very much a case in point. The web is teetering on melt down so many people are expressing there opinions as to its potential success or failure. There are some extreme Luddite comments filling the forums, pick any, or start HERE with the Twitter stats. Even if against all the odds it does turn out to be a turkey -this century's Newton. The fact is they tried, Apple have taken a huge step in thinking. It is this ambition for change that I so like. Sure version 2 or 3 of the iPad are going to be way better, and the price will be half its current $800, particularly the school friendly Wi-Fi only $499 version.

Yes I am a Mac fan and I can't wait to use one, But more than any of that what I feel invigorated by is that here are a bunch of people for whom the option of a better Netbook or Kindle was never going to be good enough. Change is good.

Neat debates currently rolling.

Two ongoing debates have caught my eye at present. The first relates to my last post below. The air brushed David Cameron. Not only is the web now awash with versions of it, but you can now download your own poster builder app HERE. Brand Republic have a good discussion on the subject HERE. Not least becasue the Labour Party appears to have adopted one of them as an official poster HERE - a really new move in UK politics.

Next, the Pepsi; Super Bowl Vs Social networks campaign. Some very good thoughts and ideas about measurement (or lack of it) HERE. Plus quite a few neat asides about brand building with fuzzy logic.

An election of commuincation

I know I get excited by the smallest things, but the up coming general election in the UK is really going to be something. Not for all the reasons of potential regime change, but the cascade of communications. The very nature of the state of politics in the UK at present means fractural opinions are being considered.

The main parties being so frighten of an original or different view. Even mainstream press are considering the whitterings of the nuttiest blogger as light relief from the blandness of central office party line. I quite warm to Gordan Browns inept PR skills, his advisors attempt to lighten his image are so ham fisted its got to be some kind of massive double bluff, surely he can't really be that way? If David Cameron does become PM at least we should get some decent satire from the left at last. Those of us who remember how good comedy was under the last Conservative government know that really British humour only works when we moan about stuff, as for music,  protest and anger songs have only ever worked under the Tories.

Social networks. The lack of American style fund raising will probably mean we won't see the cleverness of the Obama style social network activity. I would be surprised however if we don't see some pretty heavy weight SEO spending. What Obama did with Fox news misinformation so Labour should do with Cameron's media chums, However and its a big however. The modern Labour party is a world away from common sense and logical actions.


The early rounds of tit for tat ads are shaping up nicely. I do hope we'll see more of this. The ones shown on this page are all from the excellent Beau Bo D'Or


The power of

(I orginally posted a version of this on t7F blog) have tracked how their December 2009 predication briefing for 2010 has been picked up and spread around the world. Following the ripples bended or morphed by global cultural and social conventions. This is a great illustration of the power of  good content. I am amazed at how many brand owners still don’t see the opportunity this presents. The letting go of your stuff. Allowing it to be past on, customised and reapplied. More importantly is the creation of content specifically designed to be passed on. Content that has an open end, that demands comment or addition. It is the Lego theory of marketing. 

kidbrick@flickr.comClosed worlds are becoming fewer and fewer. Thinking that your new campaign is just a Lego starter set with the customer in charge of a huge box of extra bricks should be the 2010 attitude

Everything aimed via mobile devices needs to have this element built in. The Apple iPhone App store would be nothing without this type of thinking. Toady’s launch of the Nexus One from Google should herald a widening of the idea of endless stories.

In Management Today, Tom Savigar of The Future Laboratory covers a similar area but applied to social media technologies. he labels this ‘Free range’

Everything a brand puts out is just a stage in that products narrative, if it has value users will take it on. The obvious flaw being thin or dull content that sits motionless. Be interesting and your customers will be interested.

A year of change, no more paper POS

There is alot to get excited about in 2010. Leaving aside the forthcoming: iSlate, Winter Olympics, General Election and World Cup. The world of marketing communications is facing so many cool opportunities.

Take booze (if the last two weeks were not enough) iPhone apps are showing the way to a whole new way of communicating the subject. With permission based services, pretty soon most drinkers will be able to be spoken to at point of purchase, whether ontrade or off. I keep banging about augmented reality, the over laying of digital information with real world locations. But this and other developments in location based services will change everything by 2012.

The trick is for brands to offer consumers real value and not rush into AR or Apps just because its new. The Stella Artois bar finder is a good example of a top idea rushed out far too soon. Some where between the richness of content in Diageo's malt matcher crossed with the AR capabilities of William Grants Spirit Shelf would be very neat. Especially if you could add social functionalty like a twitter finder or bar capacity into the mix. The app market changes by the day so all links to itunes/blackberry/Nokia app stores.

What's intriguing is once a consumer starts using the application and agreeing to hear and see what a brand has to say (in exchange for further content) Thats when paper POS really becomes redundant. I really like the Smirnoff backed Time Out guide to London as an example of the early days of this technique. 

For the drinks industry with all its legal and social issues. These new channels offer real detailed segmentation. The fact the NHS have a rather neat consumption tracker app is also a sign this channel will be key.

Another bit on Augmented Reality

I gave a series of talks about augmented reality just before Christmas. The BBC have just published a neat round up of a few coming innovations in this area.  The key point in all this talk of a brave new world of AR tech is that ownership of devices that can handle AR is still very small and wont break the 50% barrier untill well into 2011. The forthcoming iSlate from Apple and GPS enable digital cameras will broaden the base of users away from just phones. That said any brand owner not taking note of these developments is being very foolish.

"...AR is a technology that allows data from the web to be overlaid on a view of the physical world.

Although a relatively small sector at the moment, analyst firm Juniper Research predicts that AR will generate incomes of $732m (£653m) by 2014..." - Jane Wakefield BBC

I still feel that creatively we are only just scratching the surface of what AR can really do. There is a real challenge to agencies and brands alike to fully come to terms with the concept of virtual and real worlds overlaying each other.

The Prostate Cancer Charity

Ok so it did take the best part of a month to get going but the Mo has arrived! Pictures HERE.

This really itchy and frankly low rent porn star look is all in the interests of a very good cause, raising funds for The Prostate Cancer Charity. Last year over £14 Million was raised from 173,000 Mo growing men.

Hopefully you will find time to sponsor me as well. Link to my Mo page HERE.

Either way, happy Monday to you all (its just stopped raining)

The current debate on the usefulness of social media summed up in three documents.

Pretty neat set of papers summing up key view points on brand Facebook. Ranging from 'Ban it, close it off' to  'We're not using it enough' Great to see a debate underwritten by such urgency from both sides to do something now. What everyone agrees is not having a Facebook policy is the biggest crime of the year.

1. Why ALL bosses should copy me and ban Facebook from the workplace’ by Theo Paphitis (published in The Mail Online - where else?)

2. "...innovative business leaders should be looking to introduce ‘Facebook’-like create a more collaborative and efficient workplace.." Dr Norman Lewis on

3. "What the f**k is social media? -one year later" Marta Kagan of Espresso (13 million views on slideshare inside a month of these slides below)

This is gonna be huge

Augmented Reality (AR) applications launch on the iPhone.

While I have spent years getting excited by the possibilities of mobile apps like semapedia, (unlike most of my clients, who dispite my best efforts, passed on the opportunities). Now with the launch of a raft of genuine AR apps Like this from DiscoverAnywhere there appears to be a real case for commercial use. While it is true the actual audience of iPhone & Android users is really small compared with total universe of mobile (cell) phones, in time this should be the standard for 'whats that?' questions in the street. The answer being you aim your phone at the object and heh presto the phone overlays a label telling price, location, availability or simply its name.

Very interesting that Amazons tech division A9 have brought Snaptell, which basically puts Amazons prices and availability information over the top of any item you see in a shop, (currently only works in the US)

Like most people I often emerge from a station and ponder where is? (the nearest bar) having an interactive live map to overlay reality is a fantastic bit of black magic to delight. This last bit, is in my opinion, the key to any new techs ability to succeed, is it a joy to use and do you want to tell you mates about it?

Just look at the footage below of the trial AR feature, yes you really do have to shake the phone three times for it to show the hidden button, how charming is that? -there is also a neat London Bus AR demo HERE from Presselite. The Next Web has a bit about a live tweeter layer which could see even more tourists actually being hit by buses (while tweeting), the guys at Presslite had us tracking.