Monday, July 30, 2007

Rhythm of Lines

I didn't really 'get' the new Audi A5 ads (TV and press) - not until I stumbled upon their interactive sibling, anyway.

'What's all this about lines?', I mused. I'm buying a car, not a drawing. Did the end product fail to live up to its sketchy conception? Did some hapless work experience kid delete the hours of racey autobahn footage I was expecting?

All became clear when the ever-fabulous FWA pointed me in the direction of Audi's Rhythm of Lines microsite - web destination du jour for July 26.

And now I'm completely sold on the whole lines/rhythm thing.

Imagine a high-brow, hi-tech hybrid of Line Rider and Moto Colours, and you're nearly there. Yes, it's all a bit arty farty. But that's OK, because you, me and everyone else with a broadband connection is invited to get arty and farty with it.

The impressive Papervision-built site allows visitors to create and share 4D (3 spatial dimensions + 1 temporal dimension) virtual sculptures out of nothing but coloured lines, and all whilst listening to the same sumptuous classical score that soundtracks the TV spot.

Once you're done creating your animated masterpiece you can take a picture of it from any conceivable angle and distance courtesy of more Papervision cleverness. Then - if hubris allows - you can submit it to the judgement of other visitors via the on-site exhibition, or your friends via a simple advocacy mechanism. Best of all, you can download your animation as a personalised screensaver. How cool is that? (Apparently not very.)

All this could take upwards of 15 minutes - not that you'll notice the passage of time.

This is the kind of immersive interactive experience that the web was made for. It's completely abstract, completely indulgent, but completely engaging.

Whether I could articulate and explain the Rhythm of Lines concept to someone else is doubtful, but I do now feel deeply attuned to its audio-visual aesthetic. (OK, so the making-of video hosted on the site kinda helped me in my quest for understanding).

Moreover, the sophistication of the idea and the fact that it took me a couple of gos to master my 4D sculpture technique only added to the satisfaction I felt upon departing the site.

Y'see, like any Diginative, I don't want everything on a plate. I don't want my daily dose of inspiration to be served up as a 30 or 60" slice of commerical rhetoric.

But give me a challenge; give me something tricky and techy to get my teeth into, and I'll happily defy my stereotype and give you back sizeable chunks of my time.

Now clearly, this car isn't aimed at the Diginative generation. And there has to be a question as to how many prospective A5 buyers will find the aforementioned 15 minutes in their Blackberry-burdened schedules to appreciate all that has to offer.

Let's hope lots of them do, because this web element of the campaign illuminates and elucidates the opaque press and TV executions that make up the media agency numbers. Without it, I'd still be wondering what all those lines are about.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Jack Penate - Spit at Stars

NME have been championing London's (re)emergent DIY scene since... well... since doing so seemed like it might shift more magazines than yet another Oasis feature.

Slated one month, feted the next - that's music journalism for ya folks.

But fair dos, in his interview with this week's front page pairing, Jack Penate and Kate Nash, NME journo Mark Beaumont has summed up the current youth/music zeitgeist rather nicely, albeit with reference to its commercial front-end:

'What the arrival of this four-headed [Jamie, Lily, Kate, Jack] flounce-pop beast the birth of a new breed of pop star - fun, frolicsome and (crucially) aspirational. Think about it - what does the media tell the spangly vested 10-year-olds singing into their hairbrushes these days? The pussycat Dolls tell them they'll never be a pop star because they're not anorexic/pretty/buxom enough. The X Factor tells them they'll never be a pop star because they'd have to beat four million people in a six-month contest to win the chance and even then you'll probably not sell enough and get dropped inside a year. And what do Jamie, Lily, Kate, and Jack tell the teary little dreamers? They tell them they can be a pop star - they merely need to pick up a guitar/PowerBook/sampler and play.'
These DIY pop stars are the vanguard of the Diginative generation. They've grown up with mobiles and MSN. They've graduated from the University of Myspace. And now they're plying their DIY trade in the big wide world beyond the little square screen.

If technology that scares the shit out of your parents has become a boring second nature, then boshing out a few notes and lyrics is hardly going to present much of a challenge.

Watch out for DIY Diginatives in the art, film, fashion and business worlds. Their fearless, entrepreneurial spirit knows no bounds.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Good old customer service

There's an age-old marketing mantra which says that a customer service problem (a fuck-up, to you and me) dealt with swiftly and satisfactorily can instantly morph into a customer service solution, leaving said customer happier than if he had never perceived a problem in the first place.

Well, it might be old, but that mantra still rings true. Especially in the digital age, where some e-businesses - but no customers - think that offering discounted prices and minor convenience entitles them to do away with customer service altogether.

Predictably, it was an old-school business - but one which has adapted very well to digital life - that today offered-up a great case study in customer service.

There's a postal strike in England and Wales this Friday. Which means my copy of The Economist won't be delivered as usual. But I don't mind, because someone called Yvonne Ossman sent me a signed email (lovely mix of the old and the digi) to pre-emptively explain the service interruption, and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Oh, and she managed to get a bit of cross-promotion for the website and the new audio service in there, too. (Neither of which I will have to pay for, as a subscriber.)

I think that's all rather brilliant. And yes, I do feel just that little bit more loyal and warm-fuzzy towards the Economist brand as a result.

Here's Yvonne's note (click to expand):

I know what you're thinking: Diginatives aren't allowed to read The Economist. Well, any company that can get a printed magazine, a web presence and a customer service policy as right as they do deserves everyone's patronage, regardless of technographic profile.

Three cheers (diggs?) for The Economist!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Diesel Cult and me

Just in case you give-a-shit, I'm now a 'Preacher' for Diesel Cult (get me), where I'll be mostly preaching about style, music, places and art.

Here's my Preacher profile. And here's my first and second articles. Please feel free to comment.

Oh, and apologies for such a blatant piece of cross-self-promotion. I'm a Diginative; cross-self-promotion is what I do.