The end of a lovely relationship?

So a while back I blogged about the latest G-Shock I had bought (the G-Shock X-Large Combi). I was so delighted to have found a white version of this fine watch available for delivery to the UK and initial thoughts were excellent.

Now though, less than 8 months on, I am returning the watch to Casio. The strap has deteriorated hugely, the resin peeling away and the casing/bezel has become discoloured and losing resin too. G-Shocks are highly regarded for their toughness, used by all sorts of people in rigorous situations. It seems however I have got a dud. See photos below of how badly the strap has peeled and the resin has been discoloured.

This is not my usual experience of Casio and indeed G-Shock however, having owned and loved many other models previously. I really hope Casio can either replace the strap and housing or swap over a brand new model under warranty. I have it all packaged up and ready to go in the post on Tuesday.

Keep your fingers crossed. I will keep you posted with progress. Here’s hoping it isn’t the end of a beautiful relationship.

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One Big Family

I first saw this advert a few weeks ago and half way through, was trying to work out what John Lewis, Waitrose or some other higher end brand was advertising? Was it summer food? Outdoor furniture? And then my jaw hits the floor. It’s KFC. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now go back and read who I thought it was for? Really? KFC in the same bracket? Well, apparently so. It’s a really classy advert and a world away from their previous offerings which felt pitched somewhere between Aldi and Argos.

This really is such a move away from the pre-conceived ideas about the KFC brand. I look forward to see where Bartle Bogle Hegarty take us next.

So here it is, in all it’s Middle Class chicken glory. KFC – So Good

(Music is Temple Cloud – One Big Family)

Halloween Costume Workshop

I was sent this and felt it was a great idea. It is open tonight and tomorrow night and may just be the answer to your Halloween Costume dilemma. It’s eco-friendly too and looks like it would be a lot of fun.  If you don’t fancy the queues outside Elliotts, why not give it a try.

Halloween Costume Workshop in upstairs of Vintage Shop, 78-80 Royal Avenue, Belfast.

  • Wed 27th October & Thursday 28th October for 2 hours each evening, 6pm – 8pm.
  • Entry will be completely free of charge to the public.
  • Call Claire on 90 237 268 to book a place or call in now!
  • Workshop co-ordinator: Lucy Smyth from Stitch

Lucy will bring dummies, machinery, all necessary haberdashery and books for both drawing inspiration from and drawing sketches in. Lucy will have a few simple samples made, and will advise each customer on what they can do with their purchases from the store to create some fabulously SCARY outfits!!

Lucy will help customers on their way and give helpful tips on re-styling what they may also have in the back of their wardrobes, or on re-using last year’s or maybe a friend’s garment. The key is to make the most of what customers have, and not going out and buying a new throw-away costume. This event is funded by DOE Rethink Waste Project – “Waste isn’t Scary”.

How to burst a bubble – 14th March 2000

10 years ago today, I sat with my colleagues at Ask Jeeves as the stock markets opened and Lastminute.com’s IPO finally took place. We had been anticipating this moment for weeks and the truth was that if Lastminute.com could make a successful launch on to the stock market, the Dot Com world would be a virtual land of milk and honey. We all had shares options in Ask Jeeves the success of Lastminute.com’s float would determine the potential of our own stocks.  

Lastminute.com

Brent and Martha - Our great hope

We had been in Emeryville, California for 3 months to learn the ropes and be immersed in the company culture, something we certainly got to grips with very quickly. Now back in London after our time away, we were sure we had the world at our feet and a potential fortune in our back pockets. This was looking like a golden time for us all. 

Ask Jeeves UK Team

Ask Jeeves UK Team

The atmosphere was electric as the opening bell rang but despite a strong opening day the price slipped south at an accelerated rate. Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman had ruined everything as far as we could see it – the chances of our options ever being worth anything seemed like a distant hope and with that, the Dot Com bubble had burst.  The NASDAQ had peaked 4 days earlier on the 10th March 2000 – the date now widely accepted as the turning point towards rapid deflation.

In true Ask Jeeves style though, the money didn’t dry up immediately, there were regular parties and Friday afternoon beer bashes in the “Chill Out Room”. One of these Friday afternoons moved to an evening in the Firkin pub below our offices before closing time came around and the decision to return to the office was made to drink the left over beer. Cue a scene of carnage – drinking, dancing, fighting and a sprinkling of inappropriate kissing. Imagine then the horror of your American VP of Operations walking through the door just as two grappling lesbians smash a large glass lamp in a drunken play fight.  

Not. A. Good. Look.  

What happened next though shocked everyone when said VP of Operations grabbed the nearest beer and started pogo-ing around the room to “Who Let the Dogs Out“! Yes, tonight, he was one of the boys! As the party faded and everyone drifted off home, we were left with the realisation that Saturday would have to be spent cleaning the office, mopping the beer stains and sweeping up the glass. Still, as moments go, it was the stuff of legend. One of many during my employment there.  

The parties continued but the fear in the digital sector in London was mounting with companies axing staff at a scary rate. Eventually, I arrived for work one morning to be called to an all hands meeting. Our global CEO was in town and looking a little shifty. This wouldn’t end well. He explained at length how the partnership with Carlton and Granada would need to change and that this would mean a variety of knock on effects throughout the company. As I looked around the room, I could see there were a lot of people missing. Whilst I had been invited to one meeting, about 30 people had been invited to another upstairs. With HR. The meetings continued and then like an incendiary, they finished and everyone was released. I sought out my team members, they told me they had been made redundant, along with nearly all of our Sales Team. Content and Sales – 2 rather key elements in our business model and now it was going to be a bigger struggle to make it work. As everyone scattered to quiet corners and local coffee shops to conduct their own post-mortems it was clear that no work was going to get done that day. The natural gravitation to the Firkin took place and as we sat drinking in the sun and considering our futures, it was clear this was the end of an era.  

My day ended with a sweat drenched tube ride home on one of the hottest days of the year. Anyone who knows the Northern Line will understand how deeply unpleasant this is. My only cheer came from a my wife who had just had an equally odd tube ride home (a story that involved using bunch of flowers to cover her modesty). As a I ate my Solero and walked down the Balham High Road in the late afternoon sun, I knew it was the beginning of the end. Our time in London was drawing to a close.

Nostalgia Marketing

Was prompted to write a post on Nostalgia Marketing after seeing RetroToGo‘s recent article on Fairy’s return to the old white bottle  to celebrate 50 years of squeaky clean plates and soft hands.

It really got me thinking about how many brands have revisited old packaging, adverts and slogans in the last couple of years. I have picked out a few, including my favourite of the bunch – Virgin Atlantic – below but feel free to add in any I have not included.

One I have left out is the Cadburys work (Gorilla/Airport/Wispa) in the last 2 years, which I happen to think was superb first time out but as soon as they re-edited the footage with a new soundtrack it just smacked of pure laziness and lost it’s edge.

What does it all mean for advertising creatives though? Have they dried up? Are they lazy? Are they merely following a trend? More importantly, does it work? Let me know your thoughts.

Fairy

Fairy Retro Poster

Fairy 50th Anniversary advertising

Virgin Atlantic

I simply adore this advert and this was a truly groundbreaking advert for me. Still makes me smile every time I see it.

Persil

M & S

And finally, the TV advert promoting guess what, TV advertising!

Thinkbox

Gaining some direction

The world is becoming a very lazy place to navigate, with Sat Nav becoming a commonplace feature on a lot of mobile handsets now – I do worry that the skill of being able to read a map is going to disappear. Whilst this may threaten the traditional names in navigation such as TomTom and Garmin it is opening up the possibilities of doing more with navigation and mapping both online and in a handheld format. And that has to be a good thing.

Geolocation services are springing up on more and more Apps and allowing people to interact more not only with their environment but also the people within it. A quick can of the “Nearby” function on Tweetie at any major event is a great way to gauge reaction and also see who is there!

I am very impressed with how Nokia have adopted the navigation and mapping services. They have made it part of the core functionality since the Nokia N80 and really got to grips with things with the Nokia N95, offering turn by turn voice navigation bundled with a lot of their contracts. It should be no surprise then that they were responsible for one of the world’s largest interactive installations recently in London. Check out the video below of their textable sign and integrated online campaign. It is beautifully executed and fabulously innovative.

Hyperlocal and the Social Universe

Had a very long and enjoyable meeting on hyperlocal news and social media today. We were joined by Josh Halliday from the rather impressive SR2Blog in Sunderland.

There is a huge amount written and spoken about hyperlocal news and how it should or shouldn’t be done but if you get a moment, you really should check out the SR2Blog site. Josh has built it from the ground up as a “labour of love” whilst studying for his journalism degree.

Young, talented, articulate and not afraid of a room full of suits, Josh is clearly going to end up having a major influence on the future of news consumption.

You can view his presentation from this afternoon below: