The Grey Blog

Winning Hearts And Minds
August 5, 2008, 9:29 am
Filed under: Serious

Probably at most business-hungry agencies you end up with many more projects and potential projects than there are hours to spread around.

Amidst all the noise, getting the best work out on your project can often mean a shit-fight for hearts and minds. Like a mini brand battle to compete with all the other briefs within the company. You have to help people want to work on yours – a great brief (always nice), an interesting briefing, a constant drip-feed of new colour and snippets of information, stories, convincing product demos, some time in the pub, new approaches, tussles with the client for a bigger creative opportunity, a day out, the chance to talk to fans spilling enthusiasm… not being a dick, not being the client’s bitch, not overly interfering…

I think this sort of guardian-of-project-karma is a big part of a planner’s role within the agency. We should be trying to create an environment where good ideas can happen and where everyone’s motivated to produce their best work.


Training Crows
July 9, 2008, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

TEDtalks: The amazing intelligence of crows

I love the idea that things we think of as pests could be turned to our advantage. I’m hoping someone, somewhere is already training a team of litter-collecting crows.

Vinyl Rising (Part 2)
June 20, 2008, 8:46 am
Filed under: Serious

The figures are in (and it all started with a typo):

LP sales up 36% between ’06 and ’07. CD sales down 17%.

Here’s the original post: Vinyl Rising

Verbs Not Nouns And Social Networks
June 12, 2008, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Serious

At the risk of this blog turning into a monthly quotes page, this is good from Eric Schmidt:

People feel ok with ads about what you are doing but not about who you are.

Not sure if those are his exact words (they’re from CNET) but I like the economy. I don’t think it was specifically with reference to social networks, but it sums up the privacy problems with their advertising models pretty nicely.

It reminds me of the design mantra to think in terms of verbs, not nouns – in this case how we use social networks rather than what we reveal about ourselves. I’m sure they’re on it, but perhaps the answer for social networks’ advertising models is to make them more about the verb stage – building profiles, sending messages, making plans… socialising. The noun stuff – demographic data from profiles – might help sell the advertising but it doesn’t seem to be the answer.

On The Bigger Picture
May 17, 2008, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Serious

Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950), Architect.

[Quote via CITY OF SOUND… a few times.]

Make A Brand A Movement
April 9, 2008, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Serious

Should brands try to be more like movements?

In a busy world, we look for whatever shortcuts we can to help make the best choices. If something’s popular… well, we’ll tend to assume that’s for a good reason and straightaway, we’re likely to give it more interest.

So it’s not so much what brands say that’s important, as how much we think they’re liked by others. (And that’s increasingly easy to find out.)

That leaves a couple of things for brands to do, I reckon.

  • First… just make themselves loved.
  • But also, make sure we know they’re loved. Surface signs of success, usage, give us stuff to talk about, give fans more platforms to be heard, make the brand feel energetic, give it some intensity, momentum…

Sell The Weekly
April 3, 2008, 11:55 am
Filed under: Serious

That’s this week’s patchwork edition of the Amsterdam Weekly. As you can see, they didn’t sell it all (41% if you can read the bottom right bit).

[Bit of background – they’ve lost an investor – they’re struggling for money – they’re selling blocks of the paper to readers to raise awareness and a bit of cash.]

It’s a sad situation and I hope they pull through. But what’s good about all this is the way they’re connecting with readers. Assuming they make it, anyone who’s helped out will feel a lot more involved with the paper.

That’s their product really – for readers and advertisers – an active community at an intersection of cultures. The more they can do to bring the community to life and connect readers, the better their chances of a future.

  • So they’ve set up a blog – now people can comment on and discuss the stories
  • They’re asking readers for contributions
  • They’re crediting those who do (in the back of the paper)
  • And they’re throwing a party for them

It feels like a big part of their future lies online where there are so many ways to give their community some life. But not just online. In the short term at least, they need to make their campaign as visible as possible. Everywhere. Draw on whatever good will they can to get free badges, stickers, signs… anything so that readers can show their support for the paper.

The acuteness of the problem is something else to communicate. They’re not asking for help forever. Just the next month, to get them through a sticky cash flow period. People need to act now. Then the Weekly can go about safeguarding their own future.

A half-readable paper like this week’s may not be the best sign that they’re going to make it – and people need to believe that they will. (Does it remind anyone else a bit of Back To The Future – like the paper’s being rubbed out?) But perhaps a ‘vanishing’ edition is just the sort of thing that’s going to stir more people into action.

Fingers-crossed for them.

You can help by buying up some blocks in the paper, which I’m going to do now.

[Oh, and got my name in this week’s edition. Woo hoo! I was part of the advertising discussion about how to help save them.]