Surviving January

TS Eliot famously said that April was the cruellest month, but I f*cking hate January.

I’ve been rushing around like a blue-arsed headless chicken-fly with its blue arse in flames and a blue-arsed-chicken-fly-eating alligator on roller blades having turned up instead of the fire brigade.

I’m gonna be in Campaign soon in the “My Desk” feature, which paints a ridiculously inaccurate picture of my existence, because the latter seems to be spent rushing from one meeting to another while trying to catch up on 200 unread emails on the Tube, while the former makes me look like a zen monk with a water-pistol fetish.

However, I did find time in the middle of this cold, crazy, bill-heavy, semi-suicidal month to look at my favourite creative review of last year, the one that Contagious puts out. Lots of good stuff in there, but here were some of my favourites -

1.Instagram’s app has been downloaded 14 million times. Not bad for a company with a staff of 6.

2. Patagonia’s campaign to reduce excess consumption included a resale website with eBay and a full page ad in the New York Times that just said “Do not buy this jacket”.

3.Swedish agency Akestam Holst did some amazing stuff including creating (for Pepsi’s “Refresh” campaign) a technology that allowed blind people to play football, using sound-picturing techniques first used on fighter planes.  Following in Pepsi’s footsteps, Argentinian lager brand Norte devised a way for drinkers to donate “good deed time” using bottle caps, that resulted in 50,000 minutes (34 days) of community action.

4. .Domino’s Pizza broadcast every comment sent in by customers – good AND bad – live on a billboard in Times Square, to promote their online pizza tracker system.

5. Burberry tweeted pictures of their new lines to fans BEFORE the clothes appeared on the runways at London Fashion Week. As Christopher Bailey  the brand’s brilliant CCO said, “we are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company”. That’s the future right there.

6. Raspberry Pi has started tackling Britain’s deplorable attitude to teaching coding in schools by bringing out low cost computers which specifically address this problem.

7. On a similar platform of helping people who aren’t “high net worth w*nkers”, StartX developed an SMS-based tool that helped people earning less than $40k a year to save, on average, $1.4k over 6 months. (Omo in Brazil did something similar, aiming a training programme at the country’s cleaning ladies, an oft-overlooked demographic who actually represent 19% of the country’s working women.)

8. Microsoft’s Kinect celebrated hacker culture by showcasing how people had repurposed the machine and turned the world into an R+D department. As Paul Kemp-Robertson said to me over lunch – “maybe Apple won’t be around in 10 years’ time, because you can’t take the back off an Apple.”

9.. EMI threw open their data to allow ordinary members of the public who can code to generate new ideas and new revenue – the API revolution starts here.

10. blablabLAB created amazing mini-statues of visitors to Barcelona’s Las Ramblas to highlight the possibilities of new 3-D printing techniques.

11. McCann Tel Aviv created a campaign that encouraged fast-food customers to believe they were cheating in a competition by easily hacking the promotion site -  netting a 20% rise in sales for Burgeranch.

12. Bjork’s Biophilia album just did amazing stuff with different platforms that everyone else will  copy one day.

13. Bluebrain released two location-aware albums – which matched the listener to different music depending on their GPS-tracked movements.

14. StarHub in Singapore released a Facebook app that matched music to your current mood.

15. Cheil Worldwide created the wonderful Tesco Home Plus interactive posters which effectively reproduced a supermarket on a subway wall in Korea.

16. Moda Operandi posted their entire fashion collection online and customers could pick what they wanted,  by-passing the normal process of heavy editing of collections by stores’ risk-averse fashion-buyers. The creative research revolution starts here.

17. Toy Toyota created a back-seat driving game for kids that mirrors the car’s journey and rewards them for copying mum or dad’s actions in the front seat.

18. Friskies created three iPad games to be played by cats. (The claws don’t scratch the screen, you’ll be pleased to know.)

All amazing stuff.

Bad news of the month was hearing about the death of Mary the legendary former tea-lady at TBWA, at 101 – which prompted a seemingly never-ending string of tributes on Facebook (started off by the amazing Antoinette de Lisser …)

I’m going to post my thoughts on that in my blog for London Loves Business … up soon …

But all you need to know right now is that she was lovely – and she used to think that Matt Gooden and Ben Walker were brothers.

  • Alastair Duncan

    February now mate, hope you made it in one piece.

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