Sunday, December 17, 2006

A closer look at the online music revolution

An article in this week's Guardian Technology supplement discusses the impact of the internet on both top-down and bottom-up music distribution. Taking pride of place on the cover of the supplement is a stunning graphic that shows how various parties, including the search behemoth Google, the social-network MySpace, and the online retailer, are connected via user clickstreams (The sites with the most upstream clicks are centralised, with bigger nodes):

Both the article and the graphic were inspired by a Heather Hopkins blog post for, which included additional graphics looking at the downstream clicks from Myspace and Bebo:

Whilst the detail in these graphics may be difficult to discern (visit the links in Heather's blog for full-size versions), the general message is clear: existing models for music distribution and promotion have been turned upside down and shaken about as Diginative music lovers increasingly seek to explore their passion through the medium of online community. The learnings for music marketers - and marketers of all high interest goods, which are, by definition, likely to be the subject of community discussion - are profound and multitudinous. I'll have a think about them and report back!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Honda Asimo

Depressingly, for any marketer who doesn't work at Wieden and Kennedy London, it looks like Honda have done it again with their latest brand campaign starring the uber-cute Asimo robot.

Asimo (A Study In MObility) is the focus of a 20 year Honda research project. He's also the perfect embodiment of The Power of Dreams - Honda's inspirational mantra - and the warm technology idea that defines the Japanese car manufacturer's brand strategy.

W&K introduced the campaign on Monday with a post on their agency blog. On the same day, Asimo attracted attention in the Guardian and Independent media supplements. This pre-TVC publicity echoes that of the recent Sony Bravia 'Paint' ad, which was widely reported in the press. Like Sony, Honda are hoping to leverage web-based viral marketing with 6 short films released at over the course of this week for streaming and download. The films will also be available as video podcasts from the iTunes music store. Here's the first of them, entitled 'Who is Asimo?':

Creating hype around the premiere of a TVC is an interesting piece of channel strategy. The PR and online activity is designed to elevate the commercial to appointment-to-view TV status, which is perhaps appropriate for a blockbuster brand ad. Trainspotters will recall that Chanel employed similar tactics for the launch of Baz Luhrman's £18m perfume ad starring Nicole Kidman, which debuted in the first ad break of Moulin Rouge - a specially orchestrated media context. The Chanel ad's Hollywood credentials and relentless PR even earned it the right to a Peter Bradshaw review and a place in TV listings publications.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ogilvy Maven Network - Youtube and Flickr groups

As part of Ogilvy's pitch for a global vodka brand, I creating a mood film about a typical vodka night out. The result is a little rough around the edges, but hey, so is the average vodka night out in London.


You can see more films by like-minded types from Ogilvy offices in Paris, Milan, Warsaw and Mexico City at the Ogilvy Maven Network youtube group.

There's also an Ogilvy Maven Network Flickr group, where global members have shared photos and comments about cultural sampling in their cities. (Cultural sampling was a trend we explored in the pitch - it's kind of a mixture of two other behavioural trends, Transuming and Authenti-seeking, both of which are discussed on

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nike's Hybridization viral series

The mash-up megatrend is particularly prevalent amongst young consumers empowered by their early experience of digital technology, which tends to facillitate customisation and breadth of choice. Diginatives don't want THIS or THAT, they want THIT - note the instant cult-status of any web 2.0 mash-up.

Nike Labs new mash-up initiative explores the idea of Hybridization - a creatively rich concept if ever there was one; as evidenced by a bloggable and downloadable three episode viral series which explores the notion though the medium of uber-cute animation:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Warner Music opens up to Youtubers

Arstechnica reports that Warner Music is set to offer youtubers the freedom of its back catalogue.

Distibuting official music videos via youtube is a brave step. Allowing consumers to soundtrack their home-made video with Warner's premium audio content is a flea-like leap into the unknown.

But, like fortune, Diginatives favour the brave (and adore the flea-like). When a youtube user integrates a Warner artist's music into his or her creation, that artist will become a contributor, or even a co-creator. The positive experience of creating that content will, in part, be a positive experience of the artist's brand, and that brand will forever be associated with a moment of inspiration, creativity and pride. Not bad for zero work, plus a pay cheque and a bit of free advertising every time the video is viewed!

Of course there is the risk of Warner's music being included in, and associated with, some truly awful and amateurish content. Worse still, it is only a matter of time before an artist is the target of a vicious video polemic to which he or she provides the soundtrack. But this is the nature of web 2.0: consumers are in the driving seat, and brands can either buckle up and enjoy the ride, or readjust their blinkers and keep walking... until a similarly vicious blog post bounces them into the gutter.

Dueting with Zune

A couple of cute Zune films are available here. Both communicate the idea of dueting, which is what Microsoft are calling Zune's wireless sharing functionality.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wireless and portable is the future, but what about the present?

The future of peer-to-peer communication and content-sharing is wireless and portable. Or so thinks Sony and Microsoft, if their forthcoming devices are anything to go by.

According to widespread rumour, Microsoft's iPod killer, the Zune, which is due for release later this year, will allow users to share downloaded music via a wireless connection. Sharing here equates to borrowing, as transferred tunes will need to be purchased from an itunes-esque music store within 24 hours for the borrower to enjoy permanent playback.

Meanwhile, Sony's newly released Mylo, whose title is a cringe-worthy acronymn of My Life Online, has an impressive range of wireless communication options. After selecting a friend from a list of avatars, a Mylo user can converse using either Yahoo's or Google's email or instant messaging applications. Alternatively, he or she can make free VOIP calls using Skype software. If that's not enough, a full HTML web browser with innovative zoom functionality can provide access to social networking websites like Myspace. In order to utilise these features, Mylo users must first locate a WiFi hotspot where they can access a wireless broadband internet connection - thankfully, a further application provided by JiWire is on hand to help them find one nearby. In addition to online wireless capability, the Mylo allows for offline wireless text-based communication with in-range friends, and Zune-style music sharing.

So, that's what Zune and Mylo can do. But is it what the Diginative masses, and not merely the innovators and early adopters, want to do?

I'm not entirely convinced. With regards to the Sony Mylo, mobile phones cater perfectly well for functional on-the-go communication needs with voice calls and SMS. They are surely too ubiquitous and too convenient to be usurped by a new and relatively bulky device such as the Mylo. Moreover, Mylo requires users to get off-the-go and find a Wi Fi hotspot, which kind of defeats the object of a device intended for functional on-the-go communication.

But what about recreational communication? Is the prospect of Diginatives sat in WiFi-enabled cafes chatting via Yahoo messenger, Gmail, Skype or Myspace a plausible one? Again, I'm not convinced. Sitting in front of a hi-tech PC in the comfort of your own bedroom is one thing, but sitting in front of a handheld device with limited functionality in a busy cafe is quite another. Until the advent of city-wide WiFi zones, it seems unlikely that millions of young people will choose ultra-public spaces to service their online communication needs.

The Zune/Mylo music sharing initiative is perhaps more plausible. Whilst mobile phones allow for basic mobile communication, they are limited in their ability to send and receive content. The consumer demand for simple download-swapping in a playground/common room/pub scenario has not yet been met.

So, will these devices be a hit or a miss with Diginatives? In the case of Mylo, I think it's functionality is one-step ahead of current wireless infrastructure. In the case of Zune, the signs are more promising, although talk of Apple-style coercion relating to the use of Microsoft's proprietary WMA music format is worrying. Consumer needs, and not the bottom line, will surely need to be prioritised if Zune is to challenge its iPod and 3G handset rivals in the mobile music player market.

Monetising Myspace music

On 05 September The Guardian reported that Myspace is planning to shortcut record labels by giving artists the chance to sell their music direct to consumers via the popular social-networking site.

Whereas previous generations of artists required agents, managers and labels to publish and promote their music, it seems likely that the content-generating generation will relish the opportunity to take control of their artistic destiny.

Online infrastructure has empowered people in many ways. It has enabled them to wrestle back control of their media consumption from broadcasters, to engage in small-scale commerce without overheads, to express uncensored opinion as citizen journalists. Diginative Myspace artists who have grown-up with these new powers and freedoms will surely relish the opportunity to apply eBay and Adwords-taught marketing methods to their own creative product.

Record labels everywhere should be afraid. Very afraid. The chace to vastly increase their share of sales revenue will be too good for many up-and-coming bands to resist.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

BBC Musicubes

BBC Musicubes is a pretty cool slice of interactive content for the MTV Overdrive generation. Users can create a visual expression of their musical DNA using the constructor tool, and then link/blog it wherever they like.

Check out my Musicube here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lynx Cleans-up with Towelboy and Manwash

Lynx have created lots of great destination websites for their target audience of young, red-blooded males in recent years.

Their latest one - created to promote Lynx Boost shower gel - is a veritable smorgasboard of interactive delights inspired by Towelboy, the Lynx Boost brand ambassador who starred in the recent TV ad, and Manwash, the Lynx Boost roadshow that's currently touring Britain.

Highlights include:

- A multimedia blog on the homepage that's featured photos, videos, emoticons and mobile backgrounds in recent weeks
- A Manwash roadshow locator tool
- Links to specially created Myspace profiles for each of Towelboy's female friends
- A Towelboy game called 'Snakecharmer', featuring a secret lingerie level accessed by clicking and holding the mouse over the Lynx Boost bottle

All of the above have been made easily linkable and bloggable, which is probably why they're whizzing round the web as virals!

Interesting to note that what might be considered an unsophisticated target audience are reached by Lynx using exotic online content. Whilst well-to-do Digital Immigrants tend to be more cultured when it comes to traditional media, it's Diginatives, regardless of social class, that best understand and appreciate the new digital media.

Here's an exampler video of Towelboy's antics:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Snakes on a...

The hype surrounding camp horror flick Snakes on a Plane (SOAP) has reached fever pitch ahead of the film's global release on August 18.

The various online manifestations of this hype are of particular interest to Diginative. First up is the official website, which offers SOAP addicts:

- Streaming of two trailors and a music video
- Images and desktop icons for download
- Video and audio clips for inclusion in fansites, blogs, etc.
- A soundtrack listening point
- A SOAP fan sweepstake, with merchandise and a deluxe private screening up for grabs
- A VERY cool tool that allows fans to customise their Myspace page with various SOAP skins

Rather than trying in vain to control SOAP hype, New Line Cinema have fully embraced early enthusiasm for their soon-to-be cult movie. In addition to the features listed above, the official site includes a Fan Site of the Week section, linking latecomers to a selection of the fan-generated content that exists on the web.

The pick of the SOAP fan sites is, which celebrates the film's no-nonsense title. A competition was hosted by the site to find the best SOAP spoof, with contestants asked to submit a short film based on a randomly generated Animal on a Vehicle combination. The competition is now closed, but all entries are still available to view here. Diginative recommends the hilarious Tarantula on a Hovercraft, Pig on a Segway and Llama on a Train.

Recognising the role of citizen publicists is worthy of praise, but New Line Cinema deserve special credit for literally taking on board the script suggestions of early-adopters. In order not to disappoint the emergent fanbase, the studio re-shot several scenes from SOAP to upgrade the horror and incorporate the popular "muthafuckin' snakes..." quote, which as Wikipedia notes, was actually first used in a spoof trailor for the film that appeared on the net in late 2005.

Curiously, Wikipedia also reports that the phrase 'snakes on a plane' has entered the blogging vernacular as an alternative to 'shit happens' or 'oh well, what'cha gonna do?'. It seems that SOAP has permeated Diginative culture to its very core. And all before a single critic has had the chance to pass judgement on the film!

In summary, SOAP is the ultimate web 2.0 marketing phenomenon, complete with massive interactivity and user-generation. It's also a textbook example of a Gladwellian social epidemic, spreading virally by passionate diginative connectors.

I leave you with a clip from the film and the immortal words of Mr Samuel L Jackson:

"I've had it with the muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane"

Digital Immigrant speaks out

Guardian and Sunday Times commentator Simon Jenkins, an archetype digital immigrant, offers his view on the history of conversation and its status in the digital world.

Ironically, Jenkins is himself reluctant to converse on the matter - he never replies to bloggers' comments posted on the Guardian's Comment is Free blogsite.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The IPTV generation

Web-based IPTV is an ideal medium for reaching Diginatives. Here's some interesting channels with an obvious youth bias:

E-music television is an interactive music video channel that allows you to view videos on demand and/or choose up to 5 videos a day for inclusion in the live stream.

MTV Overdrive offers short-format music, film and entertainment content on-demand, and it's updated daily.

Converse Made By You is hidden away in the Content section of the Converse website. It's worth searching out, though, as the product is completely unique: user-generated 24 second films inspired by the classic Chuck Taylor All-Star shoe.

Digital life

From today's Technology Guardian...

A YouGov survey of more than 15000 people has found that the average internet user spends 23 hours a week or 50 days a year online.

If 8 hours sleep a night are factored into that measure, then by my calculations Digital Natives are growing up in a world where they can expect to spend around 20% of their lives connected to the interweb.

On the subject of YouGov, check out their Mobile Life Report 2006 to see how growing up with mobile phones is impacting on the lives of Diginatives.

More from Mark Prensky

For those that enjoyed Mark Prensky's essay, here's another essay that he wrote in 2001, which provides scientific support for the digital native/digital immigrant distinction.

And here's his 2004 follow-up to Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, which is entitled 'The Emerging Online Life of the Digital Native'.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Check out this diginative's eye view of ambient marketing - a warning shot to marketers who think they can own the streets:

Welcome to Diginative!

As a startpoint, it might be useful to analyse the concept that inspired this eponymous blog. What is a so-called 'digital native' and where did the term come from?

Marc Prensky's 2001 essay entitled 'Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants' is considered to be the first use of the term - essential background reading for anyone interested in marketing to digi-savvy young consumers.