Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

21st September 2018

Interesting piece from Wired, on how frugal healthcare innovation in developing countries may show us a way out of a crisis. Could the NHS learn a thing or two from India’s healthcare innovators?Amazon is now number three in online ads (passing Microsoft) and closing in on Google and Facebook.

Future Today Institute’s, 2019 Trend Report For Journalism, Media & Technology. Over 155 pages of predictions and provocations, with highlights including – ‘the end of traditional smartphones’, ‘AI as the third era of computing’, ‘mixed reality, entering the mainstream’ and ‘Blockchain as a significant driver of change’.

Still with the blockchain, the Fourth Industrial Revolution For The Earth Report, from PWC, ‘highlights opportunities to solve the world’s most pressing environmental challenges by harnessing technological innovations.’ ‘If harnessed in the right way, blockchain has significant potential to enable a move to cleaner and more resource-preserving decentralised solutions,  unlock natural capital and empower communities.

A recent Vimeo ‘Pick of the Week’ – ‘Neuroscientist Anil Seth explains how what we perceive isn’t an accurate reflection of a real, externally existing world. In fact, perception and hallucination are based on similar processes—they are our brain’s interpretation of myriad inputs. His groundbreaking research provides fascinating insight into what this means for storytelling.  Consciousness and Creation: The Neuroscience of Perception’. 

Netflix’s shocking public activation for Altered Carbon, was the year’s most innovative media plan. It’s not every day that one comes across a human body encased in plastic at a public bus stop.

Our present era is one in which the heart of culture is blowing hard upon a coal of fear, and the fascination is everywhere. By popular consent, horror has been experiencing what critics feel obliged to label a ‘golden age’.

Welcome to the Age Of Horror. From The Guardian. ‘As we delegate technology more responsibility to diagnose illness or identify suspects, we must regulate it. We hold people with power to account.

Why not algorithms?’ Google’s latest AI experiment makes GIFs by watching you move. The experiment called Move Mirror, matches your pose with a catalogue of 80,000 photos. Useless? Possibly, but it’s also pretty cool. 

An installation at the London Design Festival – Google’s Trafalgar Square Lion uses AI to generate a crowdsourced poem.

And finally, a short film about an introvert and how his time alone makes him a better friend. In collaboration with Alain de Botton for The School Of Life. ‘Unless we are alone, we feel at risk of forgetting who we are.’

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

14th September 2018

Larry Page was a no-show. ‘The co-founder and de facto leader of Google is famous for his wild bets on airborne taxis and space elevators, but he apparently couldn’t make the flight to Washington, D.C. where Page had been called to testify on Capitol Hill…His semi-retirement, perhaps coloured by his health issues, conjures visions of a frail and aging luminary.‘…And with a slightly more reverential perspective, Campaign rounds up 10 of Google’s creative marketing highlights, to mark the tech giant’s 20th anniversary. 

‘Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer’s bow. It’s become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference. Akimbo is a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what’s happening and choosing to do something. The culture is real, but it can be changed. You can bend it.’ Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin.

Very nice. From Trend Watching. 25 innovations to inspire your team. The State Of Play. 

Google’s new site helps travellers find things to do in 20 cities. It’s called Touring Bird, and it’s the latest product from the company’s Area 120 division. The site lists attractions, activities, and tips for 20 major cities…and in addition to useful information about each place of interest, you’ll also find options to book a seat or gain admission.

Mentioning this as it is such great news, after a long battle with developers. The London Marathon Charitable Trust has awarded a £200,000 grant to the Southbank Undercroft Transformation Project to help protect and expand the Skate Space on the Southbank in London, often cited as the birthplace of British skateboarding.
Looks like a really interesting and of course hugely worthwhile initiative. About 100 dementia sufferers in Britain will take part in government-backed trials, using virtual reality to help recall lost memories. Virtue is the firm behind the technology.

A particularly pertinent discussion in the current context. From The New Yorker –
Astra Taylor’s new documentary asks “What is Democracy?” ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other ones’.

Always interesting, checking in with the reports from JWT Intelligence. Their Sept report looks at – health apps, immersive art, eco-friendly packaging, mobile hotels rooms and soft masculinity. 

A young Londoner meets his hero, boxing champion Anthony Joshua, in a documentary about the power of coaching, the first long-form film from Lucozade Sport. The nine-minute film, “The next move,” launched on Tuesday (11 September) ahead of Joshua’s Wembley challenger fight against Alexander Povetkin on 22 September. Created by Grey London, it continues Lucozade Sport’s “Made To Move” campaign, which aims to get one million people moving by 2020.

The live feed from Frying Pan Tower, a decommissioned Coast Guard station some 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina, is down after Hurricane Florence hit. Here’s a clip from before the feed went down.

They sure know how to throw a party. Highlights of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s 70th Birthday celebrations.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This |Week

8th September 2018

‘The world is being flooded with technology designed to monitor our emotions. Amazon’s Alexa is one of many virtual assistants that detect tone and timbre of voice in order to better understand commands. CCTV cameras can track faces through public space, and supposedly detect criminals before they commit crimes. Autonomous cars will one day be able to spot when drivers get road rage, and take control of the wheel. But there’s a problem. While the technology is cutting-edge, it’s using an outdated scientific concept stating that all humans, everywhere, experience six basic emotions, and that we each express those emotions in the same way. By building a world filled with gadgets and surveillance systems that take this model as gospel, this obsolete view of emotion could end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as a vast range of human expressions around the world are forced into a narrow set of definable, machine-readable boxes.’

Adweek on why Nike’s 30th anniversary ad featuring Colin KaepernickIs a worthwhile risk despite the, inevitable, social media backlash. As the debate rages around whether it’s an inspired piece of purpose-led branding bravery, or a cynical monetisation of resistance, Creative Week suggests there should be one area of calm agreement – the writing is brilliant. This is the film causing all the commotion. Dream Crazy.

Awesome case study resource from @juliancole of BBDO – Latest Brand Actions Library contains 200+ examples of innovative advertising from 2018 (HT to @andygreenhouse).


From Fast Company. Amazon, Airbnb, and Asos are all investing in this one simple design idea. Service Design has revolutionised our lives. Here are 15 principles for getting it right, as illustrated by some of the world’s most prominent companies.

Two interesting upcoming exhibitions that are worth a gander. From the V&A, this could be a good one to get the kids into a gallery/museum – ‘In a landmark exhibition dedicated to video games, the V&A is uncovering the behind-the-scenes design of some of the most groundbreaking titles of the last decade.’ and I Object: the British Museum celebrates everyday items of dissent. Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has picked out over 100 unassuming objects from the British Museum collection, dating from 1300 BC to 2016 – all of which share the common goal of sticking it to the man.’

A new book by writer Emily Gosling, offers insights into the working practices of 56 of the world’s greatest creative thinkers, past and present. Including, Wes Anderson, Wolfgang Tillmans and Grace Jones. Great Minds Don’t Think Alike.

Ever since the ’60s, the recording industry emphasised the album over the single. By the ’80s, they were milking as many hits as possible from an album to convince you to buy it—from Thriller to Hysteria. But in the ’90s, labels changed tactics and tried to kill retail singles—promoting hits to radio that you could only buy on full-length albums. This is how the music industry tried to kill the single and in the process brought their own industry to its knees.

Nice idea from Visit Flanders. The perfect destination to enjoy the Flemish Masters in all their glory – is denouncing artistic censorship on social media platforms in a playful manner. At the Rubens House, ‘nudity viewers’ with a Facebook account are being blocked from viewing nudity by a group of “social media police agents”.

Experience a beautiful timelapse journey through the landscapes of the Dolomites.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

2nd August 2018

This is a long TED video piece, but well worth the time. This is the review from Forbes – ‘Unlike anything I had seen before. Part performance, part lecture (and parody) it was like watching a live TED meets ‘Black Mirror’ Live special. Terrifying as it was refreshingly original.’  Some of the lines in the talk include – ‘What if we re-imagined what it means to build a society based on personal brand reach’… ‘to explore the ocean of uncharted influence and put dystopia at the heart of all society…and ‘you will love brands or die trying….’ Is this where we are heading, or indeed where some of us already are? 

Marketers around the world are banking on microinfluencers. Except in China, where macroinfluencers still dominate. ‘People connect with microinfluencers because of their authenticity and honest perspective…They feel as if they are a person just like them. And with authenticity at the core of what brands desire, they’ve started looking more toward smaller influencers with higher engagement rates.’

This Japanese company believes that renting space on armpits is thenext great ad frontier. Advertising keeps getting wackier. 

Phone and internet use: the number of mobile calls drops for first time ever. This Ofcom report has not collated figures for chat apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger; but one might argue that this is not a big issue, as many milennials are unlikely to be using these channels to talk to each other. 

From @Adweek. Colors resonate with consumers on a subconscious level. here is how brands can leverage this in strategies. They need to fit your audience and also your niche market. 

From the Outline. ‘Dr. Seuss’ forgotten anti-war book made him an enemy of the right. The Butter Battle Book spoke powerfully against the hacks behind the military-industrial complex — and for that, it was pilloried.’

This campaign shows how your plastic straws suck the life out of ocean animals. Greenpeace Canada makes its point with stark imagery.

Intel is sending drones to help repair sections of the Great Wall of China, allowing for quicker, more efficient fixes to fragile areas.

This AI driven robot hand spent a ‘hundred’ years teaching itself to rotate a cube.

This is the moment a massive retaining wall fails. A wall at a construction site in Istanbul gave way earlier this week, leading to a major collapse.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

28th July 2018

‘How will the stories we tell ourselves about who we are change when there’s a lifetime of photographic evidence? From Outline, My Job Is To Remember’. 

What Makes A Good Idea? From D&AD. Arif Haq is a Partner of Freud Communications and in his talk at D&AD Festival 2018, he reveals his unique creative process and shares his journey from business and brand development to being part of the creative team. (registration may be necessary).

New from the Royal Society of Arts. RSA Animate’s little sister – RSA Minimates is a new series of information-packed mini animations, all under 2 mins in length – perfect for the time-poor, ideas-hungry viewer. In this first ever RSA Minimate, bestselling author and sleep scientist Matthew Walker argues that we are sleepwalking into the greatest public health crisis of our time.

Rory Sutherland’s view is that targeted messaging is only one piece of the communications puzzle. ‘Tech companies have tricked advertisers into thinking that message delivery is the be-all and end-all, but we must not forget about creativity and human interaction.’

Tim Harford, on the secret to happiness, after the robot takeover. 

A Chinese music-video app is making We Chat sweat. This bar chart showing app downloads across Q1 2018, makes for surprising reading. 

‘The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.’ It is omnipresent, in every private room and public space, right up until the end of the book, when it is ‘still pouring forth its tale of prisoners and booty and slaughter even after Smith has resigned himself to its rule. Orwell knew: we willingly buy the screens that are used against us.’

Some of you may be enjoying the wonderful BBC Proms season, in the Royal Albert Hall, and other venues. It’s hot in there at the moment and even hotter for the conductors waving their arms around. But what are they doing exactly, and why? 

Missing the wonderful Peaky Blinders? Can’t wait till the next series? This from Creative Review, will be right up your street – ‘Music is often used to heighten a sense of drama on TV but in Peaky Blinders, it has a slightly different function. The soundtrack is a window into the mind of Tommy – a tortured ex-soldier with a sensitive side who appears to be suffering from PTSD after fighting in the trenches during World War One.’

A woman tries to waterski barefoot, gets launched Into the stratosphere.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

21st July

From Hyper Island. ‘You’ll talk about this tomorrow – Changes of Tomorrow’. Including – What is human?, East vs West, Machines, and Educating vs. Learning.

Still with East vs. West, this is a really interesting piece from The Economist. ‘The last reason to watch this unfolding battle is geopolitical. America and China are vying for digital supremacy. The fight between their tech champions in other markets will inevitably have political overtones. Chinese technology is sold by firms that will work with the authorities. That may tip the scales in their favour in countries with less democratic regimes. Online data provides the fuel for artificial intelligence; deciding if they flow into Chinese computing clouds or American ones could have consequences for how dependent countries become on one superpower. The battle between the FAANGs and the BATs is a commercial one. But its outcome could put…countries in one camp or the other, increasing the risk that the world eventually splits into two techno-blocs.’

‘IGTV launched last month as a vertical video version of YouTube, with users able to upload pre-recorded video up to 10 minutes long – or up to an hour for the coveted influentials and those with large followings. Every Instagram user has their own IGTV channel to post this content. For a generation increasingly eschewing linear TV for digital streaming options, it’s yet another way to consume and create video. With a new platform comes the recurring decision for skeptical publishers: How much should they care? And in the case of a new platform from Facebook, there’s every reason to be wary.​’

Fabulous commercial for the Reykjavik Marathon. “You Better Run” is dense, engaging work that features 13 locations in the country and a frenetic string of cinematic Easter eggs, leaving it to viewers to sort out all the references. Some of the classics include North by Northwest, Sleeping Beauty, The Graduate and Goodfellas.

‘Memes cross your feed aggressively. They arrive without a “Share Now” or “Please RT” call to action. They make their way across the internet to your brain because they’re designed to travel.’ This is how brands can use memes to connect with consumers in a new way.

Do you do much business internationally? Struggle with making sure people from around the world have a synchronised start time for a conference call? You should try living on an island in the middle of the Pacific. This video explains some of the many, little known time zones and the sometimes obscure reasons for their positioning.

From The Guardian – ‘ Ever wonder why women shown shaving on TV adverts are already completely hairless? Breaking with decades of tradition, Billie, a US razor company, depicted women actually removing their body hair. This is the first women’s shaving ad, EVER, to feature body hair.

What silicon valley companies can learn from Standard Oil, US Steel and the East India Company.

Love this. A designer turns Neymar’s dramatic World Cup falls into a free font.

We claim not to be watching but we all really are. This is how producers manipulate Love Island to make the best storylines.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

14th July 2018

‘Abundant capital, rapid change, and growing sophistication are the key characteristics of China’s Internet landscape. So, too, is the guiding hand of the central government’. This is why China’s internet is bigger….and different. 

On 7 July Nesta’s FutureFest kicked off in London’s Tobacco Dock for two days of discussions, debates, performances and immersive experiences exploring alternative futures and innovative solutions to the challenges that lie ahead. See here some of the highlights from the festival.

The Economist on Netflix, the one FAANG technology stock that may be headed for a happy Hollywood ending. ‘Alone among the giants, Netflix is a clear exception to a mix of soaring share prices and suspicion. Since its founding in 1997, the company has morphed from a DVD-rental service to a streaming-video upstart to the world’s first global TV powerhouse’.

The danger with ‘Deep Fakes’ – videos in which one person’s face is stitched onto another person’s body. ‘Rather predictably, the technology has already been used to generate a number of counterfeit celebrity… videos. But the method could also be used to create a clip of a politician saying or doing something outrageous.’

From Eye For Travel . ‘Sports travel was named as the fastest growing sector in global tourism by the World Tourism Organisation. The sector is expected to rise over 40% between now and 2021.’ 

“I am an artistic transvestite, an artistic parent, but that doesn’t stop me from being the transvestite that I was from when I was a teenager fetishising about certain sorts of female roles. I still like to dress up as a housewife sometimes peddling into town, walking around the shops.’ Never a dull moment with the wonderful Grayson Perry, here interviewed prior to the opening of Frockaholic: Grads, Grayson and Gorgeous Dresses exhibition at McCann London.

From the sometimes edgy but often entertaining Urban Dictionary, a recent ‘word of the day’ : ‘Tweetplomacy’ – a noun, using social media sites such as Twitter to manage foreign relations and conduct diplomatic discussions publicly – e.g : ‘the new President’s tweetplomacy may be transparent domestically, but it could also ruffle feathers abroad…..’

15, Comic-Con 2018 panels to be excited for. Including The Predator, Doctor Who, Breaking Bad Reunion and Call of Duty Zombies. 

From the always intriguing and innovating (friend of The Filter) @stevexoh – ‘Sound Of Silence’. ‘Sound of Silence is a downloadable pause.  An experimental podcast that records the silence that arises between two people. Each episode is less than 3 minutes in length, features a special guest and 2 minutes of shared silence recorded face to face in a variety of spaces.’

A really nice piece and change in strategic direction from Dollar Shave Club. ‘The cornerstone of the campaign is a three minute, 39-second-long video that sees a number of men (and women) going about their own getting ready routines, each of their bathrooms positioned on a soundstage, massive overhead lights flicking on and off throughout —with Sammy Davis Jr.’s classic tune “I’ve Gotta Be Me” playing in the background.’

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

7th July 2018

I attended Nesta UK’s #FutureFest yesterday, including great sessions with Nick Clegg, Nicola Sturgeon, and Annie Mac. More on this next week, but thought I’d share this image of an installation at the event – ‘Disability-free life expectancy, by region, across the UK’. The highest and lowest ages are at the bottom of the chart. 

Dave Trott on where advertising is going wrong. ‘Media isn’t about the number of impressions you make. Media is about the power of the impression you make’. 

In the field of political advertising, this video piece is pretty inspirational. ‘My whole life has been about opening, pushing, and sometimes kicking through every door in my way. Ready for a Congress that opens doors for Americans instead of slamming them in our faces? Vote MJ Hegar for Texas.

From Aeon – The Deep Roots of Writing. ‘This…narrative needs villains, and writing serves this purpose brilliantly because it’s the tool of power that makes subjects. The state is a recording, registering, and measuring machine,… and a coercive machine that makes lists of names, levies taxes, rations food, raises armies, and writes rules. Without writing…. there could be no state – and without the state, there could be no writing.’

After a bit of inspiration? Here are 46 stimulating sites that can provide intellectual refreshment, in under 10 minutes a day.

‘Everyone’s big possessions — your car, your house — should be up for auction all the time. I would put a price on my car — say, £5,000. It would go into a searchable public register, and if you thought the price was attractive, you could buy it. Having named the price, I would have no right to refuse.’ Tim Harford on the progressive case for auctions for everything.

‘Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.’ Frankenstein author Mary Shelley on Creativity.

In the age of video, wonderful to see that simple, static images still have the capability of powerful effect. Here are 14 eye-catching campaigns from Cannes. (Adweek subscription may be necessary)

‘Islands represent freedom, independence, and creativity. They appear and disappear over time, according to weather events, water flow and intervention by people. Islands have an enduring and often romantic appeal. Being closer to nature, at the mercy of the elements and somewhere as distinctive as an island makes us feel alive.’  This is ‘London Islands’ a rather lovely new book from the wonderful Carl Goesteam.

Since the invention of plastic, we’ve become completely dependent on it. How much is our dependence harming the world? This is the problem with plastic (a nine-minute animated video).

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

30th June 2018

“We and many other media companies will go from trying to find the silver bullet narrative of the future of advertising and being a services company now, to admitting that we will be a diverse business. We’re going to sell many different things. The ad business of the future will be dominated by the platforms…. branded content as a stand-alone line of business is going to go away.” NYT’s head of ads Sebastian Tomich: ‘The role of the publisher is to sell ideas.’ 

Mediacom reflects on selected trends and learnings that stood out at this years Cannes Lions – Gender, technology and transformation, Diversity, and Trust. Still in Cannes, an AI-fueled rendition of a never-delivered John F. Kennedy speech won the Grand Prix for ‘Creative Data’. The project, created by Irish agency Rothco for the Times of London, used artificial intelligence to stitch Kennedy’s voice into the speech he had been set to deliver on the day he was killed in Dallas.

Issues with trust and associated ‘reputational malfunctions’ have been in the press a good deal over the last few weeks and months. Here is my piece that picks up on this and looks at the related threats and opportunities affecting marketers – The End of Reputations? – Marketing In a World of Distrust and Misinformation.

Although I couldn’t make it, the Firestarters Event at Google HQ last week, looked like a cracker. ‘Learning From The Innovators’, – ‘featured people who have actually been at the coal face of innovation with clients, think about the implications of how innovation is changing, and what this could mean for the role of agencies.

‘Early in the morning of June 6, 1944, in the darkest days of WWII, 156,000 troops prepared to storm the beaches of Normandy. To improve the odds, Uncle Sam had equipped the men well. Among other things, each carried an M-1 Garand rifle, a first-aid pouch, a watch, and K-rations. And while casualties would be heavy that day, the Army also tucked a specific item into the men’s haversacks that would come in handy to those who made it off the beach: a Michelin travel guide to coastal France.’ Here is the story of how two brothers revolutionised the Automotive and Travel industries, two sectors that hitherto they had had no experience in.

SpinLaunch Inc., just received $40million to build a space catapult – ‘rather than using propellants like kerosene and liquid oxygen to ignite a fire under a rocket, SpinLaunch plans to get a rocket spinning in a circle at up to 5,000 miles per hour and then let it go…..’ ; and still in space…this is how many people we would need to send to Proxima Centauri (6,300 years away) to ensure that someone gets there.

Adweek’s Creative 100. A list worth dipping into, with representatives from Agencies, Celebrities, Directors, Editors, and Artists. 

From Oath: ‘Travel brands are increasingly transforming into “experience platforms” and with this shift, the concept of the consumer lifecycle is changing. ‘ From this category, this is how Princess Cruises keeps its focus on top-deck customer experience.

‘I was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on my first-day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island’ – here is Nat Geo’s Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest 2018.  Still with Nat Geo, this insightful piece from (friend of The Filter) Brand Learning is work a look – How National Geographic is creating a modern marketing machine.

This is rather fun. ‘Despite dating from millennia ago, Sisyphus and his eternal plight, Narcissus and his lethal vanity, and Midas and his deadly golden touch are still familiar stories today – these clever graphicvignettes communicate the timeless simplicity of the Greek myths.’ And here, a similarly engaging graphic approach ‘Hand of God’ celebrates eleven unforgettable moments of football history – reduced to their essentials. 

And finally – a 10 minute time-lapse of a 30-day nautical journey including the Red Sea — Gulf of Aden — Indian Ocean — Colombo — Malacca Strait — Singapore — South East China Sea — and Hong Kong. Best experienced with the music turned up and if you are looking for storms, check in at 4.09.