Wednesday, 23 September 2009

My first Prezi

Prezi has been on my radar to try out properly for months, I'd seen the videos and read about it but hadn't yet done a whole presentation. As for a lot of other people, Umair, Twitter's Jack Dorsey being a couple of them, I think the concept is definitely awesome.

I finally got round to spending a little bit of time playing with the free version today and created my very first Prezi, check it out here. Mine is still pretty linear here, but I'm telling a really (very) simple story here as it's a first test.

I feel it's a bit disconcerting to not have tools to place objects in certain places and have very limited fonts, colours and styles but that might just be the free version.

I'm interested in trying out the pro version, I think there are more features and functions; and I need to practice. Although really simple, the interface doesn't come naturally for some reason - could be I'm too used to a complicated system to create presentations.

I'm pretty inspired right now and thinking not only about presentations but perhaps some other stuff it could be used for, one of the logical ones could be storytelling in some way. I'm thinking of a project in particular I just had the idea for, I need to get moving on it...

I would be great to be able to embed Prezis in Slideshare, I don't know if that's possible yet..?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Banner feedback on Amazon

I might be slow for never having noticed, or perhaps it just proves the extent to which I generally ignore the usual online display advertising, but Amazon offers users the possibility to give feedback about the ads served on the site:

I was browsing for a few books, notably Leila Johnston's Enemy of Chaos (Leila talked about the book and read a passage of it at Interesting last week and it sounds excellent and hilarious) which is where I saw this HSBC ad.

A really simple and pretty boring flash animation in a rectangle MPU, just like countless other online ads.

Too many people still don't get that:

1. Taking a poster and turning it into an animated online display simply doesn't work. When the advertising industry started making ads on TV, they started shooting video for them. I doubt anybody thought broadcasting radio ads on TV would be a good idea. Same difference.

2. Online display advertising can be great if thought through, it really depends of the objectives of the activity. It can be as seemingly simple such as this Pringles ad that won several awards, or pretty extravagant like this Burger King ad (And it rarely happens but I saw this one and played through the game while browsing on The Onion, as opposed to seeing it on Bannerblog for example). They are rare occurrences, but these two examples are brilliant, fun, quirky, entertaining and memorable - all advertising should have at least some of those qualities.

So what does this mean? I like Amazon, have shopped with Amazon for years and will continue to do so. I'm really glad they care enough about their customers to ask their opinion about the ads served on their site when I'm visiting. They probably won't be able to do that much to improve the quality of the banner ads appearing there, but being able to send my feedback about the ad really made a difference to my shopping experience.

Result: I like Amazon even more and I'm even writing a whole post here about it. All of that because of a little 'Ad feedback' link.

But wait, who was advertising again? Oh yeah, HSBC. Could have been anyone. I didn't even get if the ad was specifically promoting something, but I assumed they would like me to open an account with them.

Well, as for a lot other banner ads out there, I would say this one was money wasted. And I'm not sure I want to entrust my money to a bank that's wasting theirs...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Advertising Panasonic TVs

As I posted a few days ago, I'm judging on a panel for the Panasonic Next Generation Talent and sent back my judging form back today.

In short, here are a few opinions I have included in there:

As I pointed out in my previous post, I don't understand why all the four contestants have concentrated on displaying a range of Panasonic products rather than the TV but then again if those were selected finalists, I guess that's what was wanted.

'A Panasonic advert by Romaine Reid' was the entry I thought was closest to a finished advert telling a nice story and showing pretty clearly what is being talked about. Though it also feels like it may lack originality at the same time, I like the idea of showing the HD qualities and relationship between the different products and they work all together.

I thought 'Electronic devices coming to lights via their on lights by Daniel Childs-Clarke' was the most interesting from a creative and visual point of view, there's something original and special about the way it looks and I like that. On the other hand, I feel it doesn't say much about the TV itself, or Panasonic and might be a strange way to show HD but there might be potential there.

These are the two finalists I selected for the next round of the competition, but I just wanted to add one more note about an idea and I what I thought was a good proposition that I liked from Steffan Harrison: Little things make the big picture happen. I feel it could be a rich creative territory to explore.

Congrats again to everyone participating and I'll be curious to see who wins over the next few days.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

I f*cking love One & Other

Such a shame, I had heard about the Antony Gormley's One & Other project a few times before it started and then once again in July, but somehow managed to pretty much avoid it over the past two months.

I got into it today watching the live stream and reading the blog and Twitter comments; and absolutely love it. It's freaking brilliant. Moving and awesome. It's late right now so I'll write some more about it within the next couple of days. In the meantime, I leave you with Clive_L who is on the Fourth Plinth right this minute, reading some Shakespeare out loud. Clive_L also plays the spoons pretty well.

Check it out! Such a shame I missed out on the draws to get on the plinth myself...

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Next Generation Talent: 09 Edition first impressions

I wrote about Next Generation Talent at the end of last year, a competition organised by Panasonic where students are given a brief to create an advert for one of their products. It was set during an event as a social media panel then, and I'm participating again this year though there's no event.

The task this year was to create an advert for the G10 Viera TV and with the 'Everything Matters' strapline. Four people have been preselected as finalists with TV ads that are available to view on a dedicated Youtube channel.

I have been asked to judge those four preselected finalists and send some feedback, it would be great to have your opinions about them as well.

I'm going to embed the videos here and write my first impressions about them. For anyone reading this who doesn't know me, I'm fairly direct and straightforward so I'll be writing in a similar fashion. Doesn't mean I'll be mean but it's just so you know it's not personal if ever you're offended by anything (Which could perhaps apply to the contestants). If ever you are, apologies in advance and please tell me in the comments.

To start with, congratulations to all the students participating and well done on the finalists for getting there. I'm guessing this is all extra-curricular stuff (Or maybe not..?), so kudos for getting involved.

One general impression telling me I need to check the complete brief the students had on is that I was told in the document sent to me that the advert is for the TV, but most of the finalists created an advert for a range of Panasonic products so I feel like I'm missing something.

One more thing I'm adding. My comments could be seen as harsh but they're really just my fairly raw first impressions. Also, I realise it's pretty tough to realise a full blown video / TV ad with what likely was limited time and resources - another congrats for that.

Entry from Paul Bryant, Loughborough University

I just watched it twice and read the snippet alongside the video. I don't get the flashing / stroboscoping blackness. It hurt my eyes. I think it might be some kind of first person blinking eye, or is it a cinema reel..? The author explains this is meant to be like an opticians examination with a phoropter. I understand the thought behind the explanation once I read it rather than when I saw the ad. From my perspective, I was lost after two seconds and ultimately this isn't an artwork and the business purpose of the ad seems lost too. I feel the flashing takes away from the stop motion animation behind which I think is unfortunate because it looks really nice otherwise.

I get the idea there's an evolution, today's equipment is better than yesterday's but what does that tell me about the product itself? Or about Panasonic? It feels like any TV could be in this spot and it would be the same thing.

Entry from Romaine Reid, Ravensbourne College

Nice. Really nice animation. There's a flow and a story told visually linking all the range of HD Panasonic products (But that's also where if it is supposed to advertise the TV in particular, then I don't get it).
On the other hand, it feels sort of done before and time again. It's concentrating on the products themselves, images and colours. Every competitor in the market has been saying that at some or another.

To most people, if they look the same, are about the same size and have a similar looking image quality, one TV is the same as another TV. Sure all the ads will tell us they have nice colours and images. What's different about this one?

Entry from David Childs-Clarke, Ravensbourne College

There's definitely a very particular and artistic visual style here that I personally like, so I'd say as an interpretation that's what differentiates this ad and by association, this product. That said and again, I'm not sure that's what is intended to be conveyed here and I don't even get it's an ad for a TV at all. Or any specific product, just generally about Panasonic perhaps.

Entry from Steffan Harrison, Ravensbourne College

Now wondering even more if students were asked specifically to focus on the products. The idea of focusing on the four colours of the Freesat logo is interesting but the task seems like it was about HD and Panasonic rather than Freesat. Wasn't it..? Actually what I like most is the intent written of showing the TV as a bigger whole than the elements associated with it (the other satellite products, camera, etc)

I'll write another post with a more thought through opinion in a couple of days.