So. That RAAK ‘logo’. Or all 12,288 of them.


We had a challenge, you see.
We needed to get RAAK up and running as soon as possible. After we finished our inaugural CanEUhearme project, we had new jobs coming in. And jobs require setting up a proper company. And proper companies require a proper logo.
But we couldn’t wait a few weeks/months on developing a full brand identity and spend lots of time (and money) on a full website design. We needed to get going now. So we decided to get a little creative.
Rather than tap into our network of designers or crowd-source amongst the design community (like BBH Labs did when they started up), we decided to go one step further. We would plug into the crowds big-time.

How did we do it? (more…)

An article today caught my eye. It attempts to remove some of the misconceptions of so called black hat SEO practices.

Black hat is a term widely used in technology to denote the bad guys. I.e., the harmful and malicious virus writer, the bad hacker (as opposed to the good ones), the spammer (spamming is always morally wrong in my book).

The article says:

Ever since the mid 90s when the term “search engine optimization” or SEO gradually became all the rage, a major part of the debate on what is proper or effective search marketing has been dominated in many quarters by absurdly moralistic overtones. In the early times it was all about “ethical” or “unethical” SEO. More recently, SEO is generally being seen in terms of “white hat” (aka “ethical”) and “black hat” (aka “unethical”) approaches towards search. Of course, as its really all about rankings, traffic and conversions in the first place, you might be pardoned for thinking that most of this chatter is actually quite silly and totally beside the point. After all, search engine optimization is essentially a technical, not a moral or ethical issue. (my emphasis)

It is amazing how such obviously smart people can say such ill considered things.

I took time to comment on their post and I include it here. (more…)

“Looking for a shit hot Ning programmer”

That is how RAAK first came to hear about the MTV project for the European Union: through a Twitter message.

RAAK's CanEUHearme

>> The brief

MTV was tasked by the European Union (EU) to increase awareness about the upcoming EU elections amongst young people. And energise them to take part.
The core idea was built around ‘The Shout’, giving young people the chance to make their voice heard. This would be done through 3 events, a tv campaign and an online presence.
To achieve these objectives online, the EU wanted to build a bespoke social network where young people could interact around a common European-ness.

Importantly we were only six weeks away from the launch date.

At RAAK we have done quite a lot of thinking about how we can help our clients and partners. And what we need to be to be able to help our clients.

“We need to rethink our role as intermediaries between the companies we represent, authorities, and ultimately the communities that determine our place in the market.”
- Brian Solis on the state of PR

We don’t call ourselves an agency, we call ourselves a plug-in.

Wikitude - Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is the new buzz word it seems. The technology itself has been around for a while, but all these nerds (they’re not nerds? yes they are nerds) are starting to use it to make amazing applications. So it’s getting interesting for a non-techie like me.

The ones that are getting me interested are mobile services like Wikitude and Layar. They are basically applications that, using the phone’s camera, recognise where you are and tell you what what’s around you. A very useful little tool and I presume it will allow people and businesses to add descriptions, making it both social and commercially viable. And as the new iPhone comes with a built-in compass, I’m sure these applications won’t just be limited to the Android phone for long.

On the gimmicky side, you have things like the BMW Z4 interactive 3D game. Gimmicky, yes. Pointless, yes. But as my friend here in the studio just said: “That’s something my dad would love!”. So it’s yet another tool in the box for brands to raise awareness and to get people to create their own content.
Although the app only seems to allow you to export the final result as a still and not show the whole process, like the video this smart chap made.
Still, the BMW tv ad is a little crap, even if it was just for not pointing people to the game.

UPDATE: I forgot that @philtidy mentioned last week that the US Postal service was using AR too to let people measure which box they need for their parcels. Nice.

WHERE is new ethical fashion retailer founded by Lawrence Warren. WHERE needed an online presence and was also toying with the idea of having their own shop. In other words an additional direct route to market, via an ecommerce solution.

RAAK was very excited to work with an ethical brand like WHERE. The authenticity and ability to cut out middlemen than new media technologies provide made them an ideal choice for addressing WHERE’s business needs.

We built an integrated blog and shop. And we then trained WHERE on how to interact with their potential customers using their blog. AND we also trained WHERE in the use of Twitter to promote their blog, shop and products.

Central to WHERE’s brand identity is the idea that one should be aware of the location the products are produced.

We built that into the WHERE blog. All posts can be categorised with the location of where products were produced.

But princely the blog serves the purpose of talking about the brand and what the company does with prospective customers.

This includes posts about the whole production process, including moodboards, production facilities, but also anything that tickles WHERE’s fancy. In other words the blog gives the WHERE brand a personality.

We continue to work with WHERE to improve their blog and social media strategy and you can follow WHERE on Twitter.

This was the last project at Pixelspew. While we were talking about convergence and the changing world of advertising, TBWA contacted us because they really wanted to work with director/animator/artist/all-round genius Han Hoogerbrugge. Which gave us the chance to get our teeth into a proper tv ad! Oh the irony…

Pros: It was nice to see that everybody was open to creative ideas. TBWA even stimulated Han to apply his usual weirdness. In the past, commercial clients have said that before and then rapidly changed their minds, but these guys were actually disappointed with our  initial thoughts. They were too ‘normal’.
Still, we had to balance the more ambitious requests from the creatives (“can he jump across the bed, then do a somersault”?) with the key message of the spot. We wanted to keep the message clear and not stuff 100 ideas in 20 seconds and not let interesting visuals take the attention away from the core text. We think we did fairly well. And the tone of voice was nicely continued in the web animations, produced by Else.
Kyriad was very happy with it, which is always a good sign.

Trivia: I couldn’t help but crack up when we went to TBWA’s Paris office and saw all the Cannes Lions awards etc prominently on display. Very old-school.

Cons: It’s still a tv ad and some animated web banners, isn’t it? So it did feel like a lot of time and effort for possibly-not-that-much result.
From an awareness point of view, I’m sure it worked ok. But with Raak, we’d love to talk directly to the client and explore other routes to back up that increased brand awareness with a Twitter campaign or a website or …

The World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum

I was asked to create a strategy and practical functional specification for WELCOM.

WELCOM was the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) rather brilliant idea to build a social network for their members.

Why was it such a good idea?

It was a good idea because the World Economic Forum is an organisation that is joined by its members (and some pay thousands for the privilege) precisely because they get to hob knob  with the other members, who also happen to be the worlds most powerful people. And, not only to they get to meet, they get to do so in private and on a social level that other international events don’t provide.

So the basic idea was sound. In theory it should be no problem to build a workable social network. But what should the functionality of this social network look like? Do Bill Gates get to ‘poke’ Tony Blair?

I approached fascinating project by looking at the WEF structure, and interviewing staff and its members.

The key question to my mind was this? Why do a very diverse set of really important people, that are time poor, interact with each other and how might new digital media help this?

I brainstormed the possible needs and goals of WEF members with members and staff and used use cases to create the functional specifications.

Key to the proposals was a personal activity feed a la Facebook, now standard in Social Networks.

Read about WELCOM on Techcrunch.

We’d already been brainstorming with the team at Ben & Jerry on how to get that elusive ‘MTV audience’ interested in a pretty serious message. Then we got the call that they wanted to ‘go viral’. The objective was to raise more awareness about the campaign and get more people to send in their application videos.

Rather than do the usual, dull melting-iceberg approach, we approached it with a bit more rock ‘n roll attitude. B&J immediately realised the potential of a girl smashing up a big 4×4. It worked a treat.

What we learned: At the time, our knowledge of seeding was limited. We recommended to the client to use a major seeding company, but budget restrictions meant that didn’t happen. So if this project would happen right now, we wouldn’t just come up with the concept, but also suggest an overall social media approach to distribute the message more efficiently.

And it served its purpose internally. Through internal show-and-tell conferences, it managed to get other countries interested in the Climate Change College and the UK team at some point planned it to use it as a cinema ad.