Monday, December 14, 2009

Mozilla Project - The uncut story

I had seen the documentary, courtesy Andy Baio, many months back. I had even tweeted about it. I stumbled upon this again yesterday. It was at once gripping and moving. I thought if something has that effect even after a period of time, it would be worthwhile sharing it.

Mozilla is an inspiring story and proof that a cause that is at once altruistic and game-changing can bring people together against heavy odds. And win. Sit back and enjoy the documentary.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If everything is the same, where on earth is creativity?

Couple of days back I dropped by a friend’s place. He is a super-geek working for an IT MNC. He was watching India hammer Sri Lanka in the third cricket test match along with his colleagues. This being an unusual event, India hammering Sri Lanka that is, the decibel levels were way above normal. The only time the noise levels dipped a little was during the commercial break. That was when they recharged their batteries with some beer and by letting off steam against any easy target that came their way. The easy target happened to be ads that was aired with annoyingly high frequency on the screen.
My friend, whose sense of humour could be measured in nanobytes, thought he will add to the fun. He mentioned to his inebriated colleagues that until recent past I was an adman and that I was largely responsible for rendering large sections of India catatonic with the ads I had created. It is true, the catatonic part.
These blokes, whose mouths were in a race with their respective bladders for loss of control, decided to play judge and jury by putting me on the dock on behalf of the entire ad industry. They started grilling me about all things advertising. They wanted to know how commercials were made, monies, impact and so on. These were the kind of questions, many of which, even the most knowledgeable ad and marketing bloke would have found daunting. But then they were dealing with me and my bullshit factory with years of practice was on an overdrive. I laid it on thick by describing research, positioning, scripts, storyboard, producers, budgets etc. When I finished my speech, there was the kind of silence wherein you could even hear an ant fart.
Then one of them burped and said with his tongue rolling out-of-control, “whyyy ish everytheeng shame?” (Translation: Why the f*ck does everything look the same?)
It was true. In a short span of time we saw ads for different brands in the same categories all looking the same. The only ad that was interesting and memorable was the Vodafone series. Continuing my role as a defendant, I gave them a corny answer for this obvious lack of differentiation amongst ads. I said something to the effect that “different people can have the same creative idea”. It was very evident that I was desperately scrapping the bottom of my bullshit barrel and that it was time to make a quiet exit.
Fortunately, the discussion took an interesting turn. They turned their attention to the tech industry and started debating as to how software and other tech stuff did not differ from one company to another. Interestingly, the word they used was ‘mimic’. Then the discussion moved to cars. One bloke said that he had recently purchased a Honda City and that he found very little difference between various car models when he did the homework for buying a car. In fact, the debate only brought to light the fact there were little difference between various products and brands.
Therefore the question, “If everything is the same, where on earth is creativity?”  
I found the answer in this interesting post in Fast Company, courtesy Ana Andjelic. It says:
Their key insight is that creative ideas can only spread if they're actually adopted by others. Too much creativity, and there's not enough imitation--ideas die on the vine, because there are so many of them and few ever catch fire. For good ideas to spread, there's an optimal balance to be reached between creating and imitating.
The figure by some gobbledygook magic is that only 30% create and the rest imitate. In my opinion that is a very optimistic figure. In the case of ad industry it is likely to be much lower. Even the scam ads seem to ‘mimic’ one another.
In a different and lighter vein, John Dodds says in a post on big ideas that “probably only fire and alcohol could be classified as a big idea and the rest debatable”. I concur. I might have included the wheel to the list. I am not fussy, though.
So folks, if you copy you are in good (and large) company. So set forth and copy. If you do copy, be smart enough not to get caught. And if you do get caught, be smart enough not to get caught with a bunch of drunks. If you copy, get caught and find yourself in the company of drunks, be kind enough to buy them a round of drinks. Cheers!

(Image courtesy: Olivander)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top 10 I wish I had written this

This is the sixth edition. The posts are not in any order of priority. Hope you like them as much as I did. More importantly, I request you to continue to direct me to more such awesome posts.

This is a very short post but with a deep meaning. Simply put, he asks us ‘to do’ and then to talk

‘Unlearn the old, embrace the new, experiment like mad and fail fast’ is the way Edward signs off. Amen

If you attempt to innovate, take pride that you are doing it with ‘blatant disregard for your narrow self interest plus it is great fun’ as the author rightly says in this sobering post

It is the age of conversation and everyone advices you to join it. Yet, when the CEO of Barbarian Group, one of the hottest interactive agencies asks you not to, there must be a damn good reason

‘Interactivity’ is a much abused word. This post is a breath of fresh of air as it urges us to look at ‘interactivity’ in the most sensible way

A simple fact that soaps were the first to pioneer ‘branded entertainment’ and that we can learn from them while creating the same for the online space is missed by us

There is a lesson for brands to from the continued success of Hollywood in spite of strong threats ranging from television to the current ‘digital’ landscape

After creative, strategist is the coolest thing in the agency business. This post is a reality check on what you need to have to be one

An authentic experience is one that is ‘honest and unique even if it is bad’. And the author goes on to say that ‘designing experiences’ may not be true

‘Digital networks are the new nation state’ is what Clay wants us to think (and live). Made me definitely think, though

(Image courtesy: Olivender)