I love this idea. So simple, so nicely done, and a great use of YouTube. The problem was pretty simple (and one that I guess Orchestra’s around the world have…) How do you engage a younger audience in the delights of Classical Music? Using YouTube and some of the most iconic movie soundtracks of all time, the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra achieved a 40% increase in youth audiences for their new season of concerts. I love how this embraces YouTube as a communication tool, as much as a viewing platform to really bring home the point. It’s fun, it works and it strips away much of the pretension of Classical Music; which can only be a good thing…

Read More


I’m an unavowed fan of Forsman & Bodenfors. While remaning resolutely Swedish in their outlook, their philosophy and output blends digital nous with creative inventiveness and a focus on craft that is hard to beat anywhere in the world. But I find their most recent piece somewhat of a missed opportunity to build a fully integrated digital and film storytelling device. As much because the potential of this idea, is the equal of one of my favorite pieces of creative in the last few years (for the same client; Volvo.) North Kingdom’s ‘Cross Country Travels’ platform.

Leave The World Behind is a collaboration between Volvo and Swedish House Mafia. While not exactly over familiar with Swedish House Mafia’s oeuvre, it’s hard to ignore their international success and place at the center of the exploding EDM movement here in the United States. The collective has now split up to pursue other opportunities (by the sounds of it, Playing MSG to a bunch of bro’s isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – who knew?) Volvo saw an opportunity to create a campaign around this moment, imbuing it with a sense of grandeur and pathos not usually afforded to DJ’s & producers. It’s a smart bit of tactical strategic thinking, placing the brand at the center of a very contemporary piece of culture.

The resultant film – ‘Leave The World Behind’ is a beautifully realized piece that sees the three protagonists go their separate ways and follow their own paths, with help from Volvo’s luxury cars; all soundtracked by a spaced out version of the title track (One of their most famous songs and their ‘breakout’.) Sweden looks suitably epic and sparse, the cinematography giving the film an epic that befits the level of success they enjoyed. It’s part ad, part film, part music video, and it’s great.

But what lets this down is the digital experience. The website (www.leavetheworldbehind.com) has some really nice design touches, and feels immersive and overall well considered, but it also feels like a vessel for video itself, nothing more. It doesn’t contextulise their (or the brands’) story in any way. The journey that the Swedish House Mafia have been on is clearly one of a scale very few performers get to these days (whatever you think of their music.) And ties them closer to the brand than mere ‘Swedishness’. Their significance could be bought to life as a storytelling experience, augmented by avalanche of multimedia that exists around them. User generated and beyond. By ignoring their past in the main interactive piece, it lessens the impact of the film, and creates a disjointed effect. It lessens the drama that the film is trying to elicit. Which itself augments a weak call to action, which seems like a classic case of just sticking a hashtag on something and loosely gathering social sentiment. Whereas it should be generating the very nostalgia that the powers the myth and memory of the band.

You may ask why this is a problem. Well, I’m sure for many, it isn’t, and I might be picking on something disproportionally (which is not my intention.) But it highlights a problem that I’ve been investigating (see tomorrow’s blogpost for more…) of just sticking things ‘on’ the internet as opposed to building things ‘with’ the internet. By avoiding building a digital storytelling experience around this (albeit) beautiful film, we are robbed of the emotional resonance that an interactive, immersive digital experience could bring to the brand and band. What we are left with is an advert that happens to exist on the web, which is a missed opportunity all concerned.

(Via Creativity. )

Read More

I really really like what Goodby Silverstein and Wired have done here. Blending digital media, editorial creation with brand storytelling, the team have created ‘The Connective.’ A digital magazine designed and written in 48 hours. (Seemingly with A LOT of coffee and Red Bull powering it.) that helps articulate Cisco’s point of view on ‘The Internet of Everything’ and the $15.4 Trillion opportunity that implies. What’s interesting for me is how editorial content is weaved through a Cisco storytelling device. It works with something that I’ve been calling the ‘Semi Internet State’. Where our connected devices create disruptions in traditional media consumption, helping us live in a perpetual semi internet state. For brands, this means they must work with the flow of this to truly have an opportunity to connect and build equity in their message. As opposed to building bigger and noisier distractions.

This work fits exactly into the narrative of the ‘Semi Internet State.’ It is smart, timely and useful. I hope it gains some real traction and this is more than just a one off between these brands.

Read More

Milan Design Week is traditionally full of interesting and fascinating collaboration’s and experiments. My own experience of this was back in 2002. While still at Central Saint Martins, I got to experience ‘Grand Hotel Salone’, a hotel concept pairing famous architects’ with cities to re-imagine the future of the hotel experience. It was pretty full on; a lavish affair all round.

In 2013, as with everywhere else, digital creativity and innovation is at the heart of some of the experiments that help fuel the fair. Heineken, while not noted as a designer of furniture, launched a rather fascinating interactive concept for the future of the humble bottle.

In collaboration with Tribal DDB, they have launched ‘Ignite’. While not world’s first interactive bottle, (See Work Club x Strongbow’s RFID controlled bottle) Heineken’s version uses micro sensors and wireless networking technology to sense motion and lights up in response to sound and vision accordingly, or cued to respond to specific songs, or visual stimuli.

There’s a few things that pique my interest around this project. Firstly, I love the insights behind Ignite. How it takes possibly the most mundane experience of being in a bar or club, the (holding of) a bottle of beer and imbues it with energy and life that is in perfect sync with the club. It has the potential to turn the dormant bottle strewn in the corners of clubs into equally compelling spaces to interact with the music. It’s smart from Heineken’s perspective as if it works, the value of having the brand in your club rises exponentially.

I love how it stays true to one of the most relevant ideas knocking around the marketing-sphere at the moment. I’ve been particularly taken with a line that Russell Davies of the GDS (That’s Government Digital Service to you non-Brits) used when describing how the collective team arrived at some of their decisions for gov.uk (the recent UK ‘Design Of The Year’)

“The product is the service is the marketing”

The holistic relationship between these elements has not been summed up better IMHO. It’s so blazingly obvious, yet frustratingly and frequently elusive. It’s a line that opens up ample opportunities for new thinking around creating valuable experiences for Brands. It puts the infinite bandwidth of digital creativity right at it’s center. While I’m sure the mobile and innovation units at Tribal DDB (there’s a great blogpost on their process here) did not necessarily have this line in mind when they were concepting the idea, it’s sentiment lies at the heart of what makes this a great project. Yes, it’s an experiment, and an expensive one at that. But  you would like to think that even if just a sliver of of Heineken’s marketing budget was directed away from fatous endeavours like this (sorry W+K AMS) to developing and rolling out this idea en masse then many more people would be compelled to ‘Open Your World’ than currently do.

It’s worth thinking about.

(P.S. Let’s not talk about the awful Brostep soundtrack in the video above…)

Read More

In my return blogpost yesterday, I talked about the sort of projects that I wanted to cover. The one’s that fell through the cracks. With so much stuff constantly being pumped out onto social networks, it’s so easy to lose things that actually are quite relevant or interesting both for their successes and their failures. Especially if the ‘hive mind’ might have missed it.

I came across one of those examples last week. It made Adweek’s ‘Ad of The Day’ but other than that just seemed to drift into the void. Which is strange when you consider who was involved, but less so when you actually examine what this piece of work is meant to do.

Hudson Rouge, the WPP bespoke unit for Lincoln Motor Cars, teamed up with Beck and Radical Media’s Chris Milk (He of the Chrome Experiment’s fame,) to create an interactive ‘In the round’ performance of David Bowie’s (seemingly everywhere these days…) 1977 hit  ‘Sound & Vision’. At HelloAgain,  the user can switch between various cameras of the performance, including distorting them to create striking kaleidoscopic visual treats. Combined with a distinctive use of sound (Sound and Vision geddit?) that enhances the interactive experience no end, you would think this would be an absolute winner from the get go.

But, somehow, it just doesn’t all come together. Certainly as an Interactive piece, it’s just too clunky, with far too many moving parts, even though it was clearly a huge technical challenge. (Read this article over at Wired for the full run-down.) Then there’s the role of Lincoln the brand. Apart from the fact that someone has been spending too much time on fffound (check the ‘Hello Again’ pseudo Hipster Branding,) Lincoln feels exceptionally removed from the overall story they are trying to tell. Which means this just becomes a very expensive badging exercise. A great idea drowned in it’s sense of self importance. Which is a shame as the combination of art and technology on display here should really ramp up to something more.

However, judge for yourself… Becks version of Sound And Vision is rather stunning if nothing else.

Read More


It’s been a long while since I last blogged. After 4 years of almost constant blogging, with a few glitches in between, I just stopped. New job, a new life in the USA saw me take my eye off the ball. It happens.

Close to 6 months later, I find myself at the heart of a great digital agency, in a city teeming with digital talent and digital stories to tell and a country that spits out more of these innovations and inspirations than any other.

I was ‘on the fence’ on a renewing this relationship. (As that’s what it feels like). Going back to the Society of the Spectacle is more than just starting to write again. It’s (a soon to be) redesigned site, that reflects something new and intriguing, it’s also a thematic refocus.

A couple of events helped push me back onto the art of blogging. One was an email from a friend, out of the blue, short and sweet, that professed how much she enjoyed the blog. Nothing more, just a word of respect and encouragement. Last Saturday, someone else enquired where the blog had gone. How he had used the blog as a resource for himself, and shared the stuff I had written about with fellow colleagues. In short, what I blogged about had relevance and value to people.

Most of the time, blogging can feel like a selfish act – an isolated place. I never expected my blog to be anything other than a small slice of the creative and strategic world, a bit of a messy hybrid, hopefully getting some clicks and hopefully building a core little fanbase that used it. The Society of the Spectacle was no BBH Labs. But, something about blogging is still hugely therapeutic and cognitive. It allows both long form arguments and little slices of creativity to nestle side by side with each other and have helped shape my own thinking.

Turns out it was more than I anticipated. It was helping to serve people with ideas and thoughts that might have slipped through the cracks. The nature of social sharing these days means we can always see the biggest creative ideas around, but sometimes we miss the these ideas and projects that push and fuel the boundaries of creativity, technology and beyond. It’s the little hacks, the people playing about with things, that are fueling some of the most inspiring work around. If the blog helped formulate my own thinking on digital creativity and culture, I didn’t realize it helped others too, so maybe there is still a small space for something like the Society Of The Spectacle.

So here’s what this blog will be from now on: This is a blog that helps articulate how and where the internet is changing creativity and culture. Showcasing the things built by and for the internet. Not just the creative that goes on it. This as digital practitioners is now our biggest challenge, to help frame this understanding.

The Society of the Spectacle, is named after Guy Debord’s manifesto for the Situationists. Debord’s arguments centered on ‘detourment’. The involvement of “using spectacular images and language to disrupt the flow of the spectacle”. I’ve always felt that detourment is the Internet’s go to truth (just in less pretentious forms); it is the ultimate disruptor of our times. It lives by constant evolution and revolution. Our business (Advertising) is fundamentally changing as a result of it. These detourment lies at the heart of what I want to uncover and put out there for people to see and understand.

It’s time to live again by this mantra from the 1968 Paris Student Riots:

‘Under the paving stones, the beach’.


Thanks for joining me on this new trip.


Read More

Last month, Google debuted it’s new Chrome mobile browser. As with the desktop version of Chrome, it’s a significant upgrade, and gesturally very sympathetic to how people consume content on a mobile platform over a desktop. That might have been enough for a company such as Google. Instead, they’ve collaborated with the ever awesome B-Reel to create a mobile chrome experiment in the mold of The Wilderness Downtown and RO.ME. This time, for an artist I actually give a shit about.

‘The Bravest Man In The Universe’ is drawn straight from Soul legend Bobby Womack’s comeback album for XL of the same name. Produced by Damon Albarn and XL founder Richard Russell, it takes a similar approach to the one that worked so well for Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell and others. The stripped back, pathos laden ‘final’ album feel. While the album itself is excellent, it’s haunting title track is no doubt well served by the introduction of an interactive experience like this.

As you would expect from Google and B-Reel, this idea is executed to the highest standards, and shows off quite effectively how much great tech is underneath the Chrome Browser for mobile and tablet, with some nice little touches in terms of interaction (that work better at tablet size to be fair), and a visual flair that manages to counterpoint the tech points with retro influenced graphics.

While not as jaw-droppingly ‘new’ as  The Wilderness Downtown was, this is still a worth entry into the increasingly crowded market of interactive music videos.

(Desktop Link HERE_)

Read More