Monday, 29 September 2008

Hovis Through Time Advert

I saw the new Hovis advert for the first time this weekend and, I must say, thoroughly enjoyed it!

The full advert is over 2 minutes long and features a young boy pre-World War I (1912?) buying a loaf of bread from the Baker. During his run home we see him move through different time periods that include 2 wars, the 60s, the 80s and into modern times.

It is a very well structured ad that is simple and yet endearing. The "As Good Today As It's Always Been" is also very simple and sums the ad up quite well. See for yourself:

Hovis Advert Through Time

The Carphone Warehouse recently did a "Brief History of Communication" ad, that Rick Lamb wrote about, which also had an 'evolving over time' type theme. I hope that a few more companies will come up with some other interesting 'history-of' adverts as I find them quite engaging and entertaining whilst getting some of the nostalgic effect that the developers of the ads are presumably going after.

With people worrying about credit crunches, recessions and a lack of competent banks, the decision to take the focus off the uncertain future and go for the happy times in the past should turn out to be a good one.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Xbox 360 - Casual Gaming?

As the typical demographic of the console gamer is gradually changing (away from teenage boys to an older and mixed sex group), Xbox is about to release a series of ads in the USA based around trying to attract more casual gamers. This is the fastest growing market within the computer game industry, sparked by the success of the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft's Xbox 360 has thus far been the least attractive option to casual gamers of the available 3rd generation (or 7th generation by my count) consoles. The ease of the Wii's controller, and the multi-purpose system of the PS3 has left the Xbox 360 a console for the hardcore gamer.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Commercial

Whilst this ad might look impressive and points out the newly dropped price of the Xbox 360 system, I somehow feel they have missed out on attracting the casual gamers they are after.

A generalisation of the casual gamer would suggest that they are unaware of the games that actually out there to play. The adverts by Wii have consistently used families having fun playing certain games and making sure the viewer knows exactly what that game is (be it Wii Sports, Wii Fit, etc.). However, I do not believe that it is evident from this Xbox advert that the woman is in fact meant to be playing "Rock Band". There is no mention of the game itself and the "Live your Moment" slogan doesn't suggest casual gaming either. The clarity of the graphics is great, though, and it is starting to become a little clearer why this is due to be Xbox's largest/most expensive advertising campaign to date.

It would be good to see the follow up advertising to this campaign and see if they can possibly attract some of the curious casual gamers out there.

Monday, 22 September 2008

The Alpha Course

Earlier this month the first mainstream TV commercial for Christianity was shown on Channel 4 to advertise The Alpha Course. The Alpha Course is an organisation that is operating in over 7,000 UK Churches with the aim of introducing Christianity to a non-church going public.

These adverts have been followed up with a series of billboards that can be found around the capital, including this one at the busy Hammersmith Broadway junction (outside the Apollo Theatre):

Alpha Course Billboard
The Alpha Course Billboard at Hammersmith

Although this sort of organisation is of no interest to me (I find my scientific nature doesn't leave too much room for devout religious views about creation!), I can certainly see the benefits it can have on many people. After all, they are only going to help push the idea that people should be good to each, which is nice.

It is a little unfortunate, however, that somebody has gone to this billboard in Hammersmith and sprayed graffiti on it. I am not a fan of graffiti in the usual "Tags/Swear Words" approach, but can appreciate the more intelligent comments that people can make.

Although I do not currently have a picture of the mentioned alterations, I have attempted to recreate it with the power of the spray can option on Paint!

Alpha Course Billboard Grafitti
The graffiti on the Hammersmith Alpha Course Billboard - Click to make bigger
"If God did exist, what would you ask?"

I must admit that this did make me laugh. It reminds me slightly of the graffiti that can be found in certain areas of Oxford. In Oxford it is incredibly rare to find the tag type graffiti, but rather statements like:

  • "Love is subversive"

  • "There are no illegal immigrants, only illegal governments"

There is also a far amount written in French and Latin that I can never remember.

Another Way To Die - Full Song

Following the past few posts following the progress of the Quantum of Solace theme tune, "Another Way To Die", I thought it would be quite fitting to post the song in its entirety following the Internet release on Friday.

Here we go:

Alicia Keys (feat. Jack White) - Another Way To Die

Personally, I like the instrumental. I liked it on the Coca-Cola ad and I still like it now. However, I (like thousands of others it seems) have concerns over the vocals. Either Alicia Keys or Jack White singing on their own works very well, it just seems to be when they duet that it falls apart a bit! Comment have been made about how the song feels like "two tracks played over the top of each other" and I must say I agree!

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Jack White "Disappointed" with Coca-Cola

In a quick follow-up to my previous entry on the Coke Zero Zero 7 ad tie-in with Quantum of Solace, it appears as if Jack White isn't a very happy bunny(!).

It seems as if the music heard during the Coca-Cola Bond ad is in fact the instrumental section of the forthcoming Quantum of Solace theme tune "Another Way To Die" rather than a separate track made exclusively for Coca-Cola.

This statement was made by The White Stripes management team:
"Jack White was commissioned by Sony Pictures to write a theme song for the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace, not for Coca-Cola."
"Any other use of the song is based on decisions made by others, not by Jack White."

Although I do like the sound of the music in the Coke Ad, it is a shame that Sony Pictures allowed the highly anticipated theme tune to what shall be one of the biggest films of 2008 to be sampled and released before the film itself.

One of the biggest surprises in Casino Royale was the fantastic opening theme tune by Chris Cornell. Thanks to this ad it will now be virtually impossible to create the same level of surprise. I suppose the film itself will have to live up to the hype instead!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Coke Zero Zero 7 - Quantum of Solace Ad

Coca-Cola have released their new ad that ties in with the upcoming James Bond movie (Quantum of Solace - the direct sequel to the fantastic Casino Royale). The music has been written by The White Stripes' Jack White and gives us a little taster to the style of music that we should be expecting from the theme tune to Quantum of Solace. The theme song shall be a collaboration between Jack White and Alicia Keys (the first duetted James Bond theme song), entitled "Another Way To Die", and shall be released in tandem with the opening of Quantum of Solace on 31st October.

Check this out:

Coke Zero Zero 7 Ad

I think this is a very good ad that only helps build the excitement that Quantum of Solace is generating. With Casino Royale winning over virtually all critics and cinema-goers this sequel was guaranteed to be a box office success, regardless of whether the film itself is any good (as is true with many sequels). However, the hype surrounding Quantum of Solace is similar to the hype that surrounded The Dark Knight (another sequel to a re-launched movie franchise!), suggesting the film may actually turn out to excellent once again.

The ad makes all the necessary references to iconic James Bond opening credit moments:
  • View down the barrel of a gun - Check!

  • Silhouette of (potentially) attractive women - Check!

  • Aston Martin racing around - Check!

  • Silhouette of James Bond fighting - Check!

Although, that last one is less of a classic James Bond opening but a clear reference to the opening of Casino Royale (music by Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" - Yes I do, it's Chris!).

However, whilst still maintaining these important features, Coke have managed to throw in their own iconic Red, Black and White colours in a style that closely resembles the video to The White Stripes own single "Seven Nation Army". The Bottle itself is stylised in a very neat James Bond fashion which Nick Burcher reported a couple a couple of weeks ago.

The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

The Coke tie in with the release of Quantum of Solace is just the beginning of what will be a huge marketing campaign that I expect to see in the coming 6 weeks. With The Dark Knight pushing to break more box-office records (a re-release in cinemas and IMAX in January will help take it closer to Titanic's all time takings record and help with the Oscar awareness) studio bosses must be looking to recreate a lot of that film's success with QOS.

Just take a look at the trailer for yourself:

Quantum of Solace Trailer

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Hitachi - Get Perpendicular!

On Hitachi's website there is the most surreal video I have seen in a long time that explains how their perpendicular recording hard-drive works and enables an increased memory density. The video is below.

I am not sure what the technicians were on when they came up with this!

By 2009, Hitachi predicts that 345 Gbits/sq. in. would result in a two-terabyte (TB) 3.5-inch desktop drive, a 400-gigabyte (GB) 2.5-inch notebook drive or a 200-GB 1.8-inch drive2. We are already seeing plenty of the 1TB internal drives for well under £100 so it isn't exactly cutting edge stuff (the first working commercially available drives were produced back in 2005), and Seagate produced a 1.5TB drive in July. It will be interesting how far they will be able to take this technology before needing to change the foundations again. Even solid state drives are getting comparable in terms of storage capacity, with Intel only announcing yesterday two new 80GB High Speed SSD with read/write speed of 250/70 MB/s! Cool stuff.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Customize Google - Potential Death to Search?

I installed an add-on to Firefox today named Customize Google that is meant to help improve the Google experience. They have tried to push the benefits of the following:

  • Use Google Suggest (suggest words while you're typing)

  • Add links to competitors

  • Rewrite links to point straight to the images in Google Images

  • Removes image copying restrictions in Google Book Search

  • Secure Gmail and Google Calendar, switch to https

However, the features that most interested me was the ability to block all Google Ads from appearing within all Google products (be it Google Search, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Mail, etc!) and to stop any cookies or data being sent to Google Analytics. Initially, (I would imagine) this sort of feature would probably not have worried Google too much, as the number of people likely to use this add on would have been small (i.e. those that are more advanced Firefox users). However, with Firefox now pushing towards 20% of the global web users and Open Source software becoming increasingly popular, it is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. THe fact that no data is sent to Google would also be of great interest to those that are concerned about their privacy as they use the internet. This too is another area of internet user behaviour that has received a lot of media attention lately and causing increased interest in the casual internet using public.

In theory, if this were to become available on Internet Explorer and become widely used, then Google would be in some difficulty. Since almost 100% of Google's fortune comes from online advertising then if this revenue source were to dry up, then Google would have to radically change the way in which it operates.

The options to remove ads from search result pages and on the side of Google Mail would instantly reduce the volume of impressions and clicks that Google Adwords clients receive. This in turn, would have large impacts on the revenue/business that could be obtained through Search Marketing, which is one of the sources many companies are holding onto during this threat of recession.

Still, for the time being, those that are likely to take up this add-on feature are the type of web-savvy user that tends to avoid clicking Google Ads anyway, instead relying on their own knowledge and experience to seek out the information they are searching for.

I am yet to find out exactly the process by which the removal of ads happens. If impressions are recorded by Google but no ads are shown then this could have significant implications on an account's quality score, leading to increased Cost-per-Click to maintain a strong market position. Alternatively, if no impressions are recorded by Google, then the volumes would drop but the potential ROI and CPC should not be affected.

It would be interesting to hear Google's opinion on this add-on, especially as it could easily be adapted to work on Google's own Chrome Open Source Web Browser. For some reason, I doubt very much that Google would allow an add-on such as this to operate!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Google Chrome - The Open Source Web Browser

Google Chrome (the new open source web browser from the people that brought you...erm...Google!) is due to launch its Beta testing version today.

To explain the reasoning for producing this browser, Google have created a little comic strip that describes the benefits of the new browser.

By having separate processing blocks, it means that if one tab is taking ages to load due to an image, flash or java heavy web-page, rather than freezing the entire browser, it will simply freeze that one tab. This will allow users to continue to use the browser normally, without it crashing or restarting. Of course, this means that the browser itself will be much more memory hungry when you launch it, but if you tend to open dozens of tabs then the browser will use less memory in the long run. In fact, if things start to run slowly, the Chrome Task Manager will tell you exactly what web-pages and plug-in applications you have open and how much memory each one is taking up.

According to Google, there is going to be plenty of new features that will make the user experience much easier. For example, the "new tab" screen will display boxes of the 9 sites you visit the most and a button for each of the 3 terms you most commonly search for! Of course, those that are worried about their privacy can select to have Chrome run "incognito" so that any browsing done during that session is not recorded in your history and no personal details are recorded by the program. So you can buy a surprise gift for somebody and not worry that if they use the computer next they will see the page you bought the item from!

Whether Google will be able to take on the might of Internet Explorer will have to be seen. Firefox has certainly shown that a browser can make large dents in IE's monopoly if the product is genuinely better and more innovative. I will certainly be one of the people giving the new browser a try and shall report my findings. It is hard to say whether a product like this will appeal to simply the "advanced" internet user that tends to be using Firefox anyway, or whether this will actually have a greater market appeal, due to the Google brand behind it, and attract the more casual user that may be scared to try something they don't know much about.

Monday, 1 September 2008

24: Exile - The 24 Movie

24 is (in my opinion) one of the greatest TV shows ever. Due to the writers' strike earlier this year, it meant that season 7 of the show was postponed a year until January 2009.

Fortunately, by pushing the schedule so far back it has enabled the 24 production team to film a 2-hour TV movie (called 24:Exile) that will help fill the void until the new season starts.

(*Update - The TV movie name has since been changed to 24:Redemption and will be shown in the UK on Sky One on Monday 24th November 2008)

Check this video out!

24:Exile looks amazing and hopefully will continue the 24 rule (all odd seasons are the best seasons).

Filming was carried out in South Africa a couple of months back. They were originally due to film for 3 days before relocating back to California. However, somebody pointed out that the locations in California does not really look much like a fictional African country (Sangala anyone?) and would be hard to fake. So they continued to shoot there.

Expect 24:Exile to appear on Sky One late in November, with the extended version DVD out on December 1st in the UK.