Tag: Uncategorized

Summertime and the TV is shitty

I recently returned from holiday, a wonderful 2 weeks in the pissing rain in a tent in Wales. After all that I was dying to sit down and have a few hours watching TV before going back to work and back to winter, it represented my last few hours of genuine freedom.

Imagine my disappointment then when I found my Sky+ pretty much empty. All my series linked programmes had finished and apparently been replaced with Big Brother and interminable re-runs of CSI. I know that viewing is expected to go down in the summer, but if you assume that no-one is going to watch and so don’t put any decent programming on then you’ll be proved right. Please spare a thought for those of us who don’t get to spend 8 weeks on holiday and still would like to watch something of value of an evening.

Even worse – because I had to watch Live TV, suddenly I had to watch the ads as well. by the end of two hours of TV I was ready to gouge out my own eyeballs with a rusty spoon. Two hours of summer commercial TV = 20 minutes of the most half arsed, generic, bland 30″ spots that it has been my misfortune to see. I guess I was being punished because a number of them were government campaigns that I’d actually been responsible for planning.

Anyway my point is that crap programming = crap advertising = no-one pays any attention to anything. Surely this is an opportunity for a brave broadcaster to buck the trend and bring out some great content just for the Summer. Yes people might be away, but at any given time there will still be 80% of the available audience just gasping for a breath of fresh broadcasting air. It would be a perfect sponsorship opportunity as it would allow a brand to be associated with the best thing on TV at people’s favourite time of year.

Someone please? I’ll sponsor it!

fluffy addiction

In a previous post I lamented the overuse of violence in videogames as a substitute for innovation and inspiration. http://ginjaninjamedia.blogspot.com/2007/10/killer-applications.html

This little beauty however is the most violence free possible game and is frankly a little gem. I guess it demonstrates how the gaming world is expanding rapidly away from teenage boys towards older women and pretty much everyone.

Love it – have a go!


Orisinal have been around for a while now creating some of the most beautiful casual games on the web and they still haven’t gone commercial, I don’t understand how it works – anyone with insight let me know.

Dirt is Good – Mums are evil tyrants

There’s been quite a lot of commentary on the latest Persil ad (Robot boy) and I’ve been trying to work out why this one just doesn’t work as well for me as previous iterations and I think I’ve worked it out. Here’s my thinking – for what it is worth

You don’t need me to tell you that the “Dirt is Good” campaign is constantly held up as the epitome of a great “Big Idea”. It shows a true empathy with mums and positions Persil as a brand that helps you be a great mum bringing up happy kids. That’s about as emotionally engaging as advertising gets and has delivered huge levels of equity to the Persil brand.

The Robot boy ad should just be a continuation of that campaign, (which has been interpreted around the world with great effect, highlighting the fundamental human truth in the insight) so why do I come away feeling worse about Persil?

I think what has happened is that in this ad Persil has moved from the role of partner and confidant to Preacher and critic. The broad message “Getting dirty and having fun is what being a kid is all about, and Persil means that the dirt doesn’t matter” stays the same, but the subtext has changed.

In the original “It’s not Dirt” campaign the subtext was “You’re a good mum and like to make sure your kids are happy and that means letting them get dirty from time to time. We feel the same and have made a product that means you don’t have to worry about the dirt and can enjoy the results.” The emotional take-out is one of being care-free and happy in the knowledge that you’re doing the best by your kid.

In this new execution the subtext that I’m taking out is “If you don’t let your child get dirty you’re a bad mum because it won’t ever learn to have fun and be a proper child. Keeping your child too clean will turn your child into a social recluse without any personality. Unless you use Persil you’re a bad mum”

Or even more extreme “Preventing your child from getting dirty is tantamount to child abuse as you are taking away their fundamental human freedoms” The emotional take out here is guilt that you’re not able to let your child play out as much as you would like because of all the dangers facing them today.

The line “every child has the right to be a child” echoes campaigns such as this from Global Water

Or this one from UNICEF

Obviously Persil aren’t suggesting that mums who don’t let their kids get dirty are on a level with nations putting guns and bombs in the hands of children or governments providing typhoid infected drinking water, but using this kind of language gives rise to those sorts of feelings.

Persil have to remember what they actually do well – They get clothes clean. The original “dirt is good” campaign connected Persil with all the positive emotions of having a reliable detergent to clean your kids’ clothes and they had an absolute right to take that territory. However this new campaign places Persil in a role of social commentator, preaching to mothers about how to be good mums as if it were all about clean clothes. They do not have the right to do this and I think it backfires on them

Early Ad-funded content by Budweiser

Just randomly stumbled across a Temperance website with lots of songs from the Temperance movement of 1905.


I particularly liked this song though which seems to have been commissioned by Budweiser –

Talk about the shade of the sheltering palms
Praise the bamboo tree and it’s wide spreading charms
There’s a little bush that grows right here in town
You know it’s name it has won such renown
Often with my sweetheart just after the play
To this little place then my footsteps will stray
If she hesitates when she looks at the sign
Softly I whisper, “Now Sue, don’t decline….”

Rave about the place where you swells go to dine
Picture you and me with our sandwich and stein
Underneath the bush where the good fellows meet
Life seems worth living, our joy is complete
If you’re sad at heart take a trip there tonight
You’ll forget your woe and your eyes will grow bright.
There you’ll surely find me with my sweetheart, Sue.
Come down this evening, I’ll introduce you.

Come, come, come and make eyes with me
Under the Anheuser Bush
Come come drink some Budwise with me
Under the Anheuser Bush
Hear the old German Band
Just let me hold your hand YAH!
Do, do come and have a stein or two
Under the Anheuser Bush!

I bet Budweiser (or any other brewer for that matter)wish that they could still use themes like this in their advertising.

Update – Just found a clip of the original song. http://bestwebs.com/vaudeville/nindex.html – Enjoy

Killer Applications

I describe myself as a gaming enthusiast, saw when I saw that they are actually going to launch a study into the effect of violence in games (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7034179.stm), I felt that I had to contribute to the discussion

This piece will cover two main points

1) Actually yes – there is an overuse of gratuitous violence in videogames

2) It’s just not a problem – chill out!

You won’t hear this very often from gamers, but I actually do think that there is an over-reliance on violence to sell video games. I don’t say this in a prudish, reactionary way, as I quite enjoy killing a few aliens and beating up a few comedy villains in my spare time but I just think that relatively poor games find a bigger market than they otherwise would just because they promise a certain level of violence. Violence in games has often been used to replace imagination, innovation, ingenuity and style. This is especially the case since graphical capabilities have increased the visual impact of that violence and so augmented their ability to shock.
This isn’t to say that violence in games is at odds with all innovation and quality- (the excellent Bioshock is an example of an almost perfectly balanced shooter although the 18 certificate is appropriate due to some relatively disturbing scenes ) – but in games like Manhunt 2 “ultra violence” does seem to have been the complete raison d’etre and that is lazy games development if you ask me. They can’t even claim some kind of tenuous artistic merit in trying to address shocking issues as they did all that in Manhunt 1, which itself wasn’t a particularly great game.

My next comment was going to be that there are loads of great games over the years that haven’t used violence at all, but if you exclude sports licences and racing sims, I struggle to find many games that don’t use violence in some way. There are a few notable exceptions – Tetris, Breakout, Theme Park… but then I started to struggle. I thought “Lemmings! brilliant game, no violence in that” but then I remembered the best bit of the game – when you got stuck and couldn’t get the Lemmings out there was always the hilarious “Nuke” option, and plenty of people took it. What about Super Mario, or Sonic then? but that involves jumping on the heads of small animals, how is that not encouraging violence?

Seriously though, games and sports by their very nature tap into a natural human competitive desire to win and since the dawn of civilisation games have existed as a metaphor for conflict and as an expression of how we have evolved beyond physical violence as a way of life.

This is a positive thing – by enacting conflicts through the medium of game we neutralise the need to enact it in real life.

No-one suggests that Chess Grand Masters or fans of Risk are actually frustrated warmongers. Videogames are fundamentally no different, so why do we suggest that players of these games are likely to run off and kill at the first opportunity
So there you go, the presence of violence in videogames is something that is inevitable as the next evolution in the centuries’ old development of games. It represents a fantasy world that we have no intention of entering for real, but which highlights how far from our brutish ancestry we have evolved. It is not something to be feared or banned but frankly if games developers fail to find other hooks into their products, consumers will quickly become bored and that may be the driver that sees a wider variety of gaming genres that do not rely on gratuitous violence. In the meantime I’m going to keep killing aliens with a giant rocket launcher cos it’s fun!
P.S This doesn’t cover the issue of age-based certifications. Some games are clearly not intended for children and are clearly labelled as such. It is clear that these certificates are being ignored by sales staff and parents and this is a problem. However it is not the fault of the game itself, but a wider issue to be addressed by legislation.

End of Facebook comments

OK, I hit 200 friends on Facebook yesterday. Initial I was pretty chuffed, but then I felt slightly embarrassed at actually being bothered about how many people have electronically linked to me on a website. I think this is the last time I’ll talk about Facebook on here. It’s pretty old news now anyway.

Just a couple of things

1) Please stop “zombie punching”/”vampire biting”/rating/ hugging me. Seriously, it’s boring
2) Friends Circle is great. check it out
3) I can explain that picture, it’s not how it looks



How did Facebook get in our faces like this?

My main reason for starting this blog was to try to give an opinion of new media developments that are rooted both in my media industry experience combined with a first hand experience of the media in question. Well it is a testament to the power of Facebook that in just a week I’m truly in a position to give an in depth account of the Facebook experience.

Within 1 week I have done the following

Found over 65 people on Facebook that I consider to be friends – that’s actual friends rather than “Friends”.

Posted a number of different albums of favourite photos

Found myself tagged on 7 different people’s albums

Discussed Facebook etiquette with complete strangers

I could go on, my point is that Facebook is so easy to use and so instantly accessible that in the space of a week it has become part of my daily habits and conversations

This should be a simple hygeine factor, but a number of websites like this in the past have not lived up to early promise. Whether it is glacial upload times, or multiple levels of registration/ complicated programmes to download, there are often two or three too many hurdles to overcome which deter the average user.

Facebook keeps it simple – registration can be as easy as inputting your name, e-mail address and picking a password if that is all you want to do.

So that’s getting you registered covered, the really genius thing about Facebook is how it keeps you using it time after time.

By way of introduction, about 3 months ago I registered on MySpace (and my next project will be to go back and explore properly) but once I had done it I simply couldn’t work out what to do next. I had a page with a photo on it and that was it. I haven’t been back in three months

When I logged onto Facebook though, the difference was remarkable. As soon as I arrived I had three requests already waiting to be my friend, I also got e-mails telling me that friends of mine had pictures of me on their pages – Before I was on Facebook I was on Facebook!! That meant that I instantly had something to do as soon as I arrived, which in turn meant that I very quickly started to build up a base of friends which then meant that I started to get a constant stream of news of things that they were all up to.

And that is the magic of Facebook – it gets it’s users to infect each other with the addiction of more usage. Just when you think you’re about to get bored of it you get a request for friendship from someone you haven’t heard of in ages, but are really chuffed to hear from, or someone puts up a terrible photo of you when you were at school, or invites you to join a campaign to protest against bloc voting in the Eurovision Song Contest. It can be very personal, surprising, intriguing and even emotionally engaging. It’s organic and viral in the true sense of the word and unlike a typical “viral” e-mail which will fade away once we’ve all become immune through exposure, Facebook gets you to keep reinfecting each other with a new strain of the virus.

Finally there is the completely inclusive nature of Facebook – I’m nearly 30 and really thought I was too old for this “social networking” scene, but I get here and find that I’m one of the last of my friends to do so. Making personal connections in this way seems to be a pretty much universal desire and Facebook seems to have the potential to span a wide variety of backgrounds, ages and cultures.

That’s it for now on Facebook. Next week I’m going to re-visit MySpace and see if it makes any more sense this time.

Thanks for reading.

Oh the agonising joy of Facebook

OK, it happened. I said I’d do it and I did, I am after all a man of my word. I finally joined Facebook. I have resisted for a very long time now, but it was all in the name of research after all.

Things I expect to happen next:

Dan will spend approximately 3 hours a day checking his Wall for funny anecdotes etc from people who are his “friends”

Dan will spend approximately another 3 hours a day writing supposedly witty things on other people’s Walls in the hope that they might come back and write on mine and make me look popular.

Dan will lose his job when his employers find out that the expensive laptop they bought him has only been used to manage his Facebook account for the past two weeks.

Dan will start to refer to himself in the third person as that’s how he is used to writing his Status updates. Hmmmm.

On the plus side, I have really enjoyed catching up with people that I haven’t spoken to in ages. My career in media has taken me through a number of different roles and I’ve made a number of good friends, but I can be quite slack at keeping in touch, and Facebook really has helped me to rectify that.

On the other hand, there are some people who I would quite happily never speak to again, who I have felt obliged to accept as a “friend” just so I didn’t hurt their digital feelings.

My biggest gripe is that Facebook is seriously addictive. In my last post I mentioned that I’d noticed a marked similarity between facebook and smoking, although at that time I had only had direct experience of the latter, but now that I can talk from experience I can safely say that I was right. If anything, compared to smoking, Facebook is more addictive and more detrimental to your mental health.

Just like cigarettes, you visit facebook even if you don’t really want to, just out of habit.

Just like cigarettes, you can make surprsing new friends when you visit facebook.

Just like cigarettes, it gives you instant social currency with people you would otherwise have nothing in common with.

Just like cigarettes, it makes you smell and turns your teeth yellow. OK, that last one is only true if you spend a bit too long on Facebook, but you get the point.

OK, if you’ve joined the realms of “the book” (as it was coolly described to me today” then you’ll probably know all this already. What I need to do is get to grips with “why?”. What is it about Facebook that has made it such a success where previous iterations of this concept (Friendster etc) failed to hit the mainstream in such dramatic fashion?

I’ve got some ideas, but I think I need to investigate more, so I’ll leave that for my next posting.

Till then have fun.