Spolier: Shorty Street really is shit

But you knew that already. Nice to see the folks at Grundy can take time out from making such *cough* quality *cough* shows like Shortland St and Dancing With The Stars to film a few fake cliffhangers to keep ’em guessing. I WISH this wasn’t a hoax – maybe then it’d be worth watching!*

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4IBV7Edu90]

*Shut up, Simonne!

Friday Funnies

Sorry kids, it’s been a hell of a week and I just haven’t had that blogging fever. Two posts of tenuous substance is below even my abysmal standards (although I swear I can go lower!). I promise to do better next week.

In the meantime, here’s a quick peek at the most popular search phrases that brought in this week’s crop of newbies. A few new ones this week, emphasised for your reading pleasure. Because – let’s face it – you are some lazy bastards.

one legged people
workplace diversity
“If you don’t swing, don’t ring.”
latest porn
you better watch out you better not cry
christmas advertisement – you better not
john wayne gacy jr
what makes a great viral video?
diversity workplace
sneezed on your breasts

I wonder who’s curing cancer and running the shuttle program at NASA while these fine, intelligent folks are reading my blog?

The trick to creating great viral video

Dan Ackerman Greenberg posted a great article to TechCrunch last week, sharing his insight into what makes a truely effective viral video. I like the article because it speaks to a lot of thinkgs I’d wondered recently about exploiting video sharing sites for publicity purposes.

**And before you all jump in and give me shit about siding with a spammer… Yes, I accept that a lot of what Dan talks about isn’t exactly ethical. As the saying goes, however, this ain’t show friends this is show business. Show me the money! Show me the money! Show me the money!

Sorry, must be having another one of them Jerry Maguire moments.

In terms of traffic generation, online video is a hugely underestimated opportunity. There is an entire industry dedicated to mastering the Google algorithm (for all its complexity), but promotion and dissemination of video content is still in its infancy by comparison. Given that contributors can assign their own tags and categories to video content (unlike web pages, which are assessed by the search engine and subjected to a veeeeeeeeeeeery complex classification algorithm), a little foresight and imagination can go a long way in terms of exposure and appeal.

Example: they’ve probably blocked this now, but about 6 months ago I got thousands of views on a stupid clip of my dog chasing a stick simply by applying the tags PORN SEX and NAKED when I uploaded it to YouTube. A rather inane experiment, I know, but you would get NOWHERE pulling that crap with traditional SEO.

Anyhoo, the article is a little long winded but I definitely recommend you make some time to take it all in. For those of you working on their next heart attack here’s the abridged version…

Secret #1: Not all viral videos are what they seem

2. Content is NOT King

Here are some guidelines we follow:

* Make it short
* Design for remixing
* Don’t make an outright ad
* Make it shocking
* Use fake headlines
* Appeal to sex

3. Core Strategy: Getting onto the “Most Viewed” page

So how do we get the first 50,000 views we need to get our videos onto the Most Viewed list?

* Blogs
* Forums
* MySpace
* Facebook
* Email lists
* Friends

4. Title Optimization

5. Thumbnail Optimization

6. Commenting: Having a conversation with yourself

7. Releasing all videos simultaneously

8. Strategic Tagging: Leading viewers down the rabbit hole

9. Metrics/Tracking: How we measure effectiveness

Have a great week!

A bad day at the office?

Note to self – do NOT park illegally in Parnell. The clip below was shot out of my office window this afternoon as our friendly neighbourhood towie made his rounds. I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for his… *erm* innovative approach, but I’d rather not know. This is just too damn funny as it is!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohuOaCg83Dk]

Stickin’ it to the man (ok, to the woman)

If it’s not completely obvious, this Electoral Finance Bill thing has really rubbed me the wrong way. If you read my blog on a regular basis, odds are you like what I have to say and/or the way I say it. The value (artistic or otherwise) of what I write is debateable, as evident by some of the hate mail I’ve received over the years, but if you dig beneath the fart jokes and ranting I believe that the dialogical act of blogging is a beaufiful expression of our (endangered) democratic freedom.

You’ve probably guessed by now that my own political leanings sit just a little to the right of Ghengis Khan’s. You either agree with me or you don’t, but that’s ok – I have a right to my beliefs, you have a right to your own, and we both have the freedom to try and sway each other with reasoned discourse and hopefully make the world a better place along the way.

Anyhoo, I’ve been thinking…

As much as there are many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many … *gasp!* many many many many many political idealogies out there that I disagree with, the one that pisses me off the most is the one that attacks the essense of democracy, the basest human right beyond the right to life itself – freedom of speech.

The Electoral Finance Bill was designed to restrict free expression of ideas by limiting the money that could be spent attempting to reach people. Ok fine. If you want to play that way, the gloves are off. Leave your checkbook at home. ‘Free’ speech it is.

As of January 1st 2008 I will publish any and all information (press releases, promotional videos, event invitations, policy statements etc) provided to me by any organisation hoping to influence the outcome of the general election. Send me your material or a link / RSS feed to your material (e.g. your video stuff really should be at YouTube etc) and I’ll do my damndest to make sure as many voters see it as possible. I’ll post it to my own blog, apply social bookmarks, email it to my friends, and I’ll also compile it into a custom ‘NZ elections’ RSS feed that I’ll encourage other bloggers to pick up.

Who’s with me?

ps. Don’t worry, kids – the fart jokes and ranting will still be here in abundance.

Big ups to the big man

Love him or hate him, you’ve gotta respect Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his personal blog*. He’s certainly not the most prolific poster, but he does appear to have at least grasped the basics:

  1. If you claim it’s a personal blog, write it yourself. People can smell bullshit, and I could show you dozens of examples where it’s completely obvious all posts have come out of the PR or Comms departments.
  2. Blogging is a dialogue. If you’re going to state your views you should be open to hear other people’s. I HATE blogs that don’t support comments, and don’t feel much better about those that moderate.

Are Ahmadinejad’s comments moderated? Let’s look at a few (my comments in paretheses)

I hate you. you are retarted. that simple mentally retarted – john jacobs, USA (USA? No shit!)

You are a terrible, despicable human being. You WILL be attacked by the US or Israel and will be destroyed! – Your Gone (a.k.a. I’m Illiterate), UK

How does it feel to be the most hated person on the planet? – Martha Washington, USA (‘the planet’, in this instance, no doubt meaning the city of Incest Alabama or whatever middle-of-nowhere slum is was that this chick was born in and never left)

Um… I think it’s safe to assume they’re not being moderated. So what do you think – reckon Bush or Clark would have the stones to give blogging a try?

Don’t ever forget – open democracy begins and ends with the free expression of ideas.

*I know I’ve mentioned this before. I just dropped in today to see if he was still posting. Sporadic at best, but I’m surprised and impressed to see it’s still on his radar.

Viva El Presidente!

Seriously, this is getting way out of hand. Peter Davis, the Prime Minister’s husband, has come out swinging against opponents of the Electoral Finance Bill this weekend, via a letter to the NZ Herald.

If passed, the controversial piece of legislation will introduce new rules governing what people can and cannot say during election time and how much money organisations and political parties can spend on campaigning. A scary thing for me is that the bill places no additional restrictions on government spending, which I firmly believe poses a far greater threat to democracy. I cannot for the life of me understand why an academic would support this bill. Seriously – why the hell would an academic support restrictions on freedom of speech?

Responding to rising criticism from opposition parties and recent protests throughout the country, Dr Davis stated:

The Electoral Finance Bill does not diminish ‘free’ speech. It restricts speech that is ‘purchased’ through advertising – and only in an environment that is electorally sensitive.”

Oh, that makes it ok then does it? There’s an old saying in human rights that “you either believe in freedom of speech, or you don’t”. The quote above makes Dr Davis’ position in the latter camp to be quite clear. He then attempts to justify it by inventing a fantastic distinction between ‘free’ and ‘purchased’ speech:

“I would be concerned if ‘free’ speech was being constrained but limits on the rights to ‘purchase’ speech are justified to protect our democracy from money politics, although I can see it might hurt the Herald’s bottom line.

What the fuck? It’s not the speech that’s being purchased, dickhead, it’s access to the audience. One man standing on a soap-box on a busy street can maybe reach a few hundred people a day. The reason paid advertising exists is to expand the message’s reach to those who don’t happen to be within earshot.

So let’s follow his argument through. The government has no issue whatsoever with opposing points of view – we can have as many of those as we like. What we’re not allowed to do is spend a little cash getting our message out. Well let me ask you this:

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s there to hear it, does it make any noise?

Whichever way you look at it, this bill exists for one purpose – to restrict access to information. You have to remember that freedom of speech goes both ways:

  1. The person with the idea or opinion has a right to voice it; and
  2. The rest of us have a right to hear new ideas and opinions

This insidious piece of legislation attempts to limit my right to voice my opinions, and YOUR right to hear what I have to say. That’s some really scary shit, kids.

To hear this diarrhetic sludge dribbling out of a respected academic is unconscionable. It’s embarrassing. It’s sad, pathetic, and incredibly disturbing. What’s more it makes me really mad. Fuck you, Peter Davis. Fuck you right in the ear. At its heart, academia is nothing without freedom of speech – paid or otherwise. If and when they find a cure for cancer, where would we be if they weren’t allowed to publicise it? Lying in the Oncology ward with our hair falling out, that’s where.

You are a disgrace to your profession Dr Davis. This isn’t about politics. This is about your public disregard for a basic human right, without which there would be no academia. You should resign immediately. If you don’t have the cojones to do so you should be sacked.

And yes, I accept that there is a certain irony in my recommending that Dr Davis be punished for stating his opinions, but you have to remember that with great freedom comes great responsibility. We should all be free to say whatever the hell we like, provided we’re also prepared to accept the consequences. There is no justifying Dr Davis’ comments. He has stated a belief that renders him incapable and unworthy of his job.

When pressed to justify the legislation, Helen Clark’s favourite response is to pick on the Exclusive Brethren. In the build-up to the last election the Brethren spend a fat wad of cash on anti-government and anti-Green Party advertising campaigns. According to Helen, such activities present a significant threat to democracy and should be regulated. But here’s the rub…

THE LAST ELECTION WAS INDEED BOUGHT, BUT IT WASN’T BOUGHT BY NATIONAL, ACT, OR THE EXCLUSIVE BRETHREN.

The last election (in fact, the last two elections) was bought by the Labour Party. And it wasn’t through advertising (although the multi-million dollar ‘policy campaigns’ must have helped) – it was bribery, plain and simple.

I graduated from university with a $35,000 student loan. Since then I have repaid approximately $30,000, leaving me with an outstanding balance of approcimately $32,000. That’s right sports fans – I’m pouring a ton of cash into this thing and am barely able to handle the compounding interest.

There are lots of voters like me out there, so last election Helen and Mike threw a lovely pre-election lolly scramble, making all student loans interest free for people living in New Zealand. Don’t you think the timing was a hell of a coincidence, coming up right before the election? Vote for us and we’ll write off the interest on your loan? (If it isn’t quite clear, the ruse didn’t work on me. But I know for a fact that thousands of current and former students voted Labour solely because of this bribe – what else would you call it?).

What about the election before that? Does ‘Working for Families’ ring any bells?

A friend of mine once told me that democracy was over the day poor people figured out that they could vote themselves money. This government has certainly cottoned on to that, and is doing everything in its power to keep the chips stacked in their favour.

So, a nice old rant above, but what’s my point? Simple:

The real threat to democracy in New Zealand does not lie with interested parties paying to share their beliefs and opinions. Hell, we should have more of that! The real threat is:

  1. Any attempt to curtail freedom of speech. The Electoral Finance Bill was designed with that in mind and it MUST be defeated.
  2. Pre-election lolly scrambles and ‘policy’ advertising. We see it every year before poll time, and it’s got to stop!

If we don’t nip this in the bud before things get truely out of hand, we’re only a stone’s throw from having Helen Clark as ‘President for Life’, strutting the halls in a military uniform a la Idi Amin to hails of ‘Viva El Presidente!’.

And by the way – while we’re all busy debating these (ableit important) issues, people are still murdering babies.

Have a nice week.

Notable Exceptions

I’d like to think it was obvious, but apparently I’ve managed to piss off some really good friends lately so maybe I’m too subtle for my own good. To clarify…

The observations leading to my recent ranting and raving about the shortcomings of digital agencies were based on my experiences looking for work in London at the start of the year, and on my return to Auckland last month.

Having spent nearly 5 years working at Marker, it was a complete nightmare finding an agency in London that was even worth talking to. There are hundreds if not thousands of digital agencies in that city, and of the dozens I had dealings with only one, Conchango, came even close to the level of professionalism, creativity and thought leadership I had come to know in my time at Marker. Conchango is without doubt the best agency in Europe, and I was very fortunate to be offered the chance to work there.

So I’ve been lucky enough to work with two world class agencies – why the ranting? Simple. Marker and Conchango are two notable exceptions in an industry plagued by mediocrity. Having worked with the best and once again set about seeing who’s around and what they’re up to, I don’t know which way to turn. I feel like an athlete who’s won Olympic gold at an early age – where do I go from here? Do I settle, and take a well-paying job in a mediocre agency? Or do I make some noise, shake things up and try to achieve some meaningful change in the industry and for our clients?

I choose the latter. I know it’s the right thing to do, and stand by everything I’ve written. But I do regret any possible inference that my comments may have been directed towards past colleagues or employers. Humble apologies etc.

MySpace and Facebook launch new Advertising products, why Hyper Targeting, Social Ads and rise of the “Fan-Sumer” matter to brands

As you may or may not know, Facebook and MySpace have both recently launched new advertising products. I haven’t taken the time as yet to look through these in detail and form my own conclusions, so will save that for a later post. In the meantime, for those of you who are wondering what this is all about and what this means to marketers, I highly recommend checking out Jeremiah Owyang’s blog**.

Both Facebook and MySpace have launched profile and network targeted advertising and marketing products. As they both use member interests and the communities which they are part of, trust continues to become key in adoption as information is passed along the network. The sheer size of MySpace’s member base, as well as the thriving local business membership will lead to success. Facebook, which brings a unique solution evolves advertisements to endorsements and encourages members to subscribe to a brand in what we are calling “Fan-Sumers” (an evolution of the consumer). As consumers share their affinities, brands can advertise using trusted social relationships. More>>>

**Recommended reading for anyone with even a passing interest in digital media. Copy this link and add it to your favourite RSS reader. Go on – you know you want to!