Honda shows Hyundai how it’s done

Most people who read this blog, follow me on Twitter or know me in real life remember the time I had a somewhat high-profile disagreement with Hyundai.

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BBC World News

For those who didn’t see it, Hyundai made a really badly-judged ad that showed someone trying to commit suicide in one of their cars, and failing because the car only emits water. As I commented at the time, there were many more creative and interesting ways to deliver this message without sucker-punching people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide, or showing them how to do it (there were details in the ad that would help people die effectively).

Honda – a brand I’ve worked on and have a huge soft spot for – have just come out with their answer to the water-emissions brief. And isn’t this just a world away from someone ending his life?

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Image and story via PSFK

 

Honda-branded bottled water, created entirely from the emissions of their FCX model.

Simple. Effective. And it didn’t make me cry.

Wasn’t so hard, was it?

The top 5 things to do in Nottingham

I recently moved back to my home city of Nottingham, which has been a bit of a strange experience after living in London for 6 years. But I’ve been lucky to find myself a job as Lead Copywriter at a brilliant ad agency, and after 6 months in the ‘ham, I’m finding out all the best things to do here. It’s a beautiful and historical city that people just don’t think to visit.

So here’s my top 5 list of things you must do, see and experience when you come and visit Nottingham. Which you should. (Drink with me optional).

1. Annie’s Burger Shack – more than 30 unbelievably creative and delicious burgers. They have vegan and veggie versions of everything, and some of the recipes are ridiculous. My top 3 Annie’s Burger Shack burgers:

Annie’s books up very very quickly, so book in advance or hope you get one of the walk-in seats.

2. Boilermaker. A bar that should probably be in Dalston. Very easy to miss on the grounds that it has no name and looks like a boiler shop. Go in, ignore the boilers on the wall, ask the person at the desk for a table for however many people and hope it’s not too busy – obviously Friday and Saturday nights are the most rammed. When you’re offered a table, go through the door to the right of the reception desk, which takes you into a bathroom – push the sink and you’re in the bar. The cocktails are predictably off-the-wall and served in various impressive ways – with popcorn, candy floss, and in a paper bag streaming with smoke, among others.The menu changes often but my current favourite is:

Boilermaker Nottingham Stay Puft cocktail

3. Pitcher & Piano. Yes, it’s a chain, but Nottingham has the best one. It’s in a converted church (mmm, sacrelicious). It sounds impressive, it looks good in pictures – but the reality is even better. This place will take your breath away. Do not miss.

Pitcher & Piano bar Nottingham

4. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub. One of the oldest and most famous pubs in the country, set in the side of a cliff with a Nottingham Castle on top. The castle is OK, but nothing special as castles go – the pub is awesome. Go in, order a drink at the bar and then go up the stairs to the room that is literally a little cave – it’s fairly easy to find and has gauntlets and swords on the wall. Drinking in a ancient cave is an experience no one should miss. Again, photo doesn’t do it justice.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem cave Nottingham

5. Wollaton Hall – this was Wayne Manor (Batman’s house) in The Dark Knight Rises. It’s also pretty beautiful and set in a huge park with free-roaming deer.

Between this and our local hero, I like to say that Nottingham has both Batman and Robin.

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5 awesome things about the new Twitter profile design

1. It shows the date you joined 

This will probably cause a flurry of one-upmanship when it first comes in. But it’s a great badge of honour for those of us who’ve been on the site for a while, and it gives something to measure the number of tweets against (30k tweets in a year = not good. 30k tweets in 7 years = fine).

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2. You can FINALLY filter out replies

Big, famous accounts have had this for a while:

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But the new profile lets everyone filter out replies:

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And it also has a nice, big button for seeing just photos and videos:

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These display in an enlarged, tiled layout that makes them easy to browse.

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3. Better tweets are bigger

When someone’s deciding whether to follow you, you want them to see your best stuff. Which is why it’s handy that tweets with higher engagement appear bigger on your feed:

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You can also pin a tweet to the top of your feed, so it appears above more recent posts. Again, big accounts have had this for a while, but it’s new to the rest of us:

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So if you’ve just written a blog post or you want more views on that awesome selfie you took last week, get pinning.

4. It’s easier to adjust the header image

It drives me nuts that you can’t zoom or scale a Facebook cover photo. Header images have become standard across Twitter, G+ and Facebook because they look good, but it’s still a very awkward size and shape to fill. Especially in the age of mobile photos.

Twitter’s new, bigger header image comes with options for repositioning and scaling:

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Image: ChipChick

Which goes some way to helping to fill such an awkwardly sized space. Expect Samsung to bring out a camera specifically for header images before long!

5. It’s annoyed everyone

I do enjoy how much moaning happens when anything changes on social media sites. Hey, people, this is the internet. It’s transient as hell. And you didn’t like the last design either, remember?

A random selection of Grumpy Cats (didn’t find a single positive comment):

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Love it or hate it, the design is rolling out now. You can see it in action on Weezer’s profile, or read the announcement here.

What do you think of New-New Twitter? I’m pretty happy with the extra features (especially ‘no replies’), but then I’m not a Grumpy Cat.

Two excellent new examples of sideways thinking

1. Taco Bell ‘I’m Ronald McDonald’

Brief: Stick it to McDonald’s.
Solution: Hire a bunch of real-life blokes called Ronald McDonald and get them to endorse our new product.

Brilliant.

(It’s not the first time this has been done – for instance, there was a Samsung campaign that got people called David Bailey to take photos with Samsung cameras. But this feels cleverer – I for one was tremendously disappointed to receive a ‘David Bailey print’ in the post that was a blurry photo of nothing by a nobody).

2. Wu-Tang Clan release one copy of their new album

Brief: How can we make loads of people want to buy our new album?
Solution: Only make one copy.

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Apparently, the Clan’s latest release ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ will be encased in a handcrafted silver-and-nickel box. Before it goes on sale, the multi-million dollar album will also go on tour through museums, galleries, and other art events.” (PSFK)

Hell, even I want to hear it now, and I wouldn’t call myself a Wu-Tang fan (though I do like fancy-pants silver boxes).

It’s not a new idea that restricted supply often means increased demand, and advertisers have used this before too (eg. when Burger King pretend-discontinued the Whopper), but I can’t even imagine how hard it was to convince high-level music marketing folks that making the album all-but-unavailable is the best way to sell it. Of course, it’s already making huge waves for Wu-Tang and I’d be very surprised if album sales weren’t significantly higher as a result.

Some excellent brain food there on both counts. Any more examples? Put ’em in the comments.

Why Facebook’s ‘Trending’ section is like that one really annoying friend

Troll-face

“So I saw Titanic at the weekend”
“Oh yeah? Is it good? I’m going tomorrow”
“Yeah, it’s not bad, I mean I knew Jack was going to die from the start, obviously…”
“FLARGH why would you tell me that?!”

(Apologies to anyone who was unaware of Jack’s demise, but come on).

Facebook now has a ‘Trending’ section. I’ve had it for a while but all the big sites just announced it, so I think it must have just finished rolling out to everyone.

It’s a useful section in that it makes you aware of big news stories and exciting developments in the world.

It’s a terrible section in that it instantly spoils major plotlines in popular shows.

It’s done this to me twice now. First, when Brian died in Family Guy, and now:

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See, I don’t watch Coronation Street, but Facebook doesn’t know that. For all Facebook knows, I’m a huge Corrie fan who recorded the big episode and hasn’t watched it yet. This story appeared within an hour of the episode ending – is that the statute of limitations on spoilers now?

I don’t believe the internet should be spoiler-free. In fact, someone once berated me for giving away the twist in a film from 1973 (Soylent Green – which has one of the best-known twists of all time) on Twitter. But I think it’s only fair that we get a few hours of breathing space – I’d never post “Well, Hayley’s popped her clogs” the same night the episode aired. I might subtly refer to how emotional the episode was, or how brilliantly-acted, but I’d never just give it away. If you’re wondering why I’m OK with revealing Hayley’s demise in this post, by the way, it’s because A) it’s been a day now and B) Facebook’s told everyone anyway.

You could argue that I’m very likely to see the same spoiler in a tweet or a friend’s Facebook status. Completely true. But in that case, it’s a person choosing to spoil it for me – being a dick, in other words – as opposed to a corporation. There was outcry when the Metro newspaper posted details of a Game of Thrones episode two days after it aired – now we don’t even get two hours?

I don’t disagree with the Trending section itself – I think it’s a good and useful thing, and I’ve discovered several stories through it. But Facebook, you’re not my spoiler-happy ‘friend’ from high school who thinks it’s hilarious to ruin it for everyone else. You’re a social network. Do you think you could at least manage a spoiler warning? A ‘click-through-at-your-peril’? Or, dare I suggest, a subtle summary that hints at the big reveal without beaning me in the face with it?

I thought Facebook might have something to say about this, so I clicked ‘Learn more’ on the Trending panel. Here’s what it told me:

trending

Oh Facebook. You are SO hard to love.

What the hell, Twitter? Why the block changes need to be reversed, now

Update: in one of the quickest backtracks ever, Twitter has reversed the changes (see their blog post here). We won! #RestoreTheBlock

The rest of the post will remain below as a record of what happened.

Today, Twitter made a small but incredibly significant change to the way blocking users works on the site. In their own words:

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The bit in blue is the really crucial part. Previously, blocking someone meant that they automatically unfollowed you, and if they went to your page, they couldn’t see any of your tweets, photos, videos, links – anything.

Now, since people with unprotected accounts (and I would argue that most people should have unprotected accounts on a social website) tweet publicly, you could get around someone blocking you by logging out and viewing their profile, viewing it in an incognito window, or even making a whole new account if you were bothered enough. People defending Twitter’s new block stance keep trotting this out as a reason why the change doesn’t matter.

BUT.

In my experience, most of the people dim enough to get themselves blocked by me were nowhere near smart enough to know that they could still see my tweets by logging out. And even if they did, it’s a lot more effort than your average troll is going to go to.

With the new policy, for the blockee, nothing changes when they get blocked. They can’t tell they’ve been blocked, they still see your tweets in their timeline, they can still retweet you and tweet at you – it’s just that you don’t see these in your Interactions column anymore.

I have to ask… what the hell, Twitter?

Have you never been harassed?
Have you never had a person obsess about you to the point that you wished you’d never met them?
Have you never wished someone would just. Go. Away?

One of the very best things about social media is the ability to make people disappear at will. That probably sounds a bit Stalin if you’ve never been hassled, but when you’ve had someone follow you for a long time, carefully amassing information that they can use to tear down everything you hold dear – you start to understand why the power behind that little ‘Block’ button meant so much. Even if it was only superficial, clicking that button felt like putting up a shield, and that feeling makes all the difference when you’re being targeted.

Here’s an example. Earlier this year, when my Hyundai blog post went viral, I got four blog comments from the same troll. From what he wrote, it was pretty clear he’d followed me on Twitter for a long time and knew a lot about me – although only things I’d been willing to share on the site.

So after reading about the suicide of my father and how an advert reminding me of it had moved me to tears, he wrote this:

You are a sick fuck for using your old man’s mental illness and subsequent suicide to coldly further your own career in advertising. Fortunately your book says more than “Boo hoo my dad is dead” whining, and your book says one thing: “I am a shit creative”

Fuck you and die you fat ginger cunt. No wonder you can’t get a job, or a boyfriend.

Yesterday, I could have blocked this person from seeing anything I wrote on Twitter ever again. Today, I can’t.

I can only assume the people who work at Twitter are lucky enough to never have been stalked, trolled, or harassed by strangers – or worse, people they knew – on the internet. I’ve long railed against the fact that you can’t block people on LinkedIn (a creepy ex-boyfriend still likes to look up my page every so often, and I can’t stop him) but this is actually worse. Twitter had that functionality, and chose to take it away.

Why would you do that? Who’s benefiting here? People who’ve been complete and utter tosspots to other human beings, and… that’s it. I fail to see how this in any way improves the service for non-trolls. Please, someone enlighten me.