tagged: poke

Behind the scenes of the Phone Fund Game

This week, we launched an ambitious project

“What if people could power some robotic teeth along a track, just by tweeting,” someone had suggested a few weeks prior. “To win a new phone!”
We confiscated their drugs and sent them home, but after the dust (and legal proceedings) settled, it didn’t actually sound like a bad idea. Just sounded  like a tricky one. One that required Ben at times to wear a HEAD LIGHT:

The brief to us was to generate awareness and interest in Orange’s ‘Phone Fund’, with which you can ‘chat your way to a new phone’ (the more minutes you use, the more cash Orange give you towards your next phone).

So the logic was fairly sound. There was just a little matter of making it a reality — and something people could understand and would actually do. As you can imagine, this involved things like this…

As those pictures suggest, there was some pretty serious robot action going on. Here’s a test run before the teeth were at full chatter capacity:

It’s times like this I can only stare in wonder at the talented people I work with. And at the people we partner with.

It’s risky, doing things like this. The journey from a concept that makes sense, to building it and making it work, to creating an end experience that people throw themselves into is not smooth (nor is it quite as linear as that description). But when it comes off it’s pretty satisfying.

Is it perfect? No. The perfectionists in us could pick holes all day. But it works. And more importantly, it’s ‘working’: it’s getting a hell of a lot more attention that a campaign around a phone fund should get. At the time of my writing this, people are playing the game at a rate of one person per second (which is actually low compared to times over the past few days). It’s making a fairly dry proposition extremely fun. Oh, and THERE ARE SOME ROBOTIC TEETH THAT YOU CAN MOVE AROUND A TRACK.

The interesting thing with ideas like this is that you can’t possibly guarantee to your client that it will work. Because it hasn’t been tried before (not by us, anyway). But the passion and nervous energy that flows into projects like this, I believe seeps through into the end experience. It looks and feels like it was made by people that put everything into it. Even in details that I don’t think are even visible on camera, like the Orange properties that populate the mini city-scape:

If you’re reading this before Saturday 28th April 2012, then you can have a play too. Just add #phonefundprizes to your tweet and you’re in. Enjoy!

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Looking for creative strategists

We’re looking for a creative strategist at the moment. 5+ years experience; a brilliant, creative, smart person. If you’re those things, plus have a great business mind, great ideas, are brilliant at all aspects of strategy and fluent in digital (awful phrase) then send an email to the address below with “Creative Strategist” in the subject. Please don’t contact me directly though.

I sent this image out yesterday (on valentines day). Was only a silly idea, but remarkably reached 40,762 people via a series of retweets. I thought some of you might find that interesting. Do we need recruiters any more? I’ll let you know ;)

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Metaphwoar! 2011 videos

We’ve just put the talks up from this year’s Metaphwoar! (exclamation mark mandatory) Here’s Peter Gasston talking about what a web developer does. You can watch more videos here.

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Metaphwoar! 2011

Internet Week Europe is nearly upon us again. And you’ll be pleased/confused to hear that metaphors are still sexy.

Tickets are now available and we’re at almost 50% capacity after just an hour, so if you’re in London on November 9th and want to come, you should reserve a ticket now: [email protected]

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Dead or Alive – Thoughts on zombies, ecosystems and meaningful connections

There’s lots of ecosystem talk at the moment. And for good reason: everything is interconnected. I remember last year, Nik Roope coming back from SXSW and telling me about a talk he saw from someone (name escapes me, sorry) from IDEO on systems thinking. He was quite drunk, so it was a bit slurry and loud, but it sounded interesting. Then I realised that I had also been talking about systems. I just hadn’t framed it that way yet. This year, Bud Caddell created a brilliant presentation on complex systems and a couple of weeks ago, I found out that Leigh Himel was at it four years earlier.

Systems thinking is a vital part of everything we do and it’s good so many people are batting ideas around. The danger is that the complexity of the subject matter acts as a barrier to action. Ironically, even complexity needs simple entry points in order to get people to embrace it. Luckily, I’m much better at simple than complex ;)

I put together a new deck for the APG in Barcelona, which I presented in April. I finally got round to tweaking it (it was a bit of a ramble) and I’ve stuck it on Slideshare. What it lacks in technological rigour, it makes up for in zombies:

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A benefit of ‘abusable’ ideas

Strategists like to talk about imperfection. Mostly for good reasons, occasionally because it sounds provocative. But there are definitely a host of arguments for making stuff that is malleable and, shall we say, abusable.

When we did Glastotag – a big-ol’ crowd picture that festival-goers could tag themselves in – a few people inevitably abused the system:

I’m pretty sure that Tony Sutton was not at the top of that pylon. But this abuse of the system is mostly a positive thing. It meant our audience extended beyond those that just wanted to play by the rules. If you give people tools, they’ll screw around with them to suit their own motivations. It’s inevitable. It’s also good.

This month, we launched Pin Me If You Can, a competition mechanic for travel company Contiki. In it users have to guess where locals are in South America and pin them on a map. And guess what:

In this case, I was slightly surprised so many people dropping their pins in the sea, given that there’s a holiday for grabs for a lucky guess (still up for grabs today if you’re interested). But, again, it’s largely positive. I’d like to introduce you to Lance…

Lance is a (made up) user that doesn’t give two craps about Contiki and thinks the whole idea is stupid. [sad face] His younger sister sends him the link but he’s uninterested. So he dumps Sherolin in the ocean and writes on his Facebook wall: “I drowned the bitch!” along with the link.

N.b. I don’t condone drowning or calling people bitches. I was in character.

In this instance, we reach even more people through Lance – even though he hated the idea – and there’s a chance a handful of them will be genuinely interested in the competition and the link may be shared even more. We never would have turned Lance into an advocate for the idea on our terms. Instead, he’s propagated it (I bet his didn’t use that word though) and passionately so, because he found a way to abuse it and make it his. There are lots of Lances out there and they’re useful.

We could have built the system so that it was impossible to dump people in the ocean, but that would be a bit like those stupid long sausage things you get in bowling alleys to keep you out of the gutters. No one wants that.

Make something rewarding enough and most people will use it the right way. But make it ‘abusable’ and more people will find their own way to spread it for you, even if they’re not true advocates. See Henry Jenkins’ thinking on Spreadability for a more interesting, less sweary explanation of this kind of thing.

By the way, if you pinned someone in the ocean by accident, you’re not Lance. You’re Susan. And Susan is an entirely different post.

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Turning negatives into positives

Last week we posted a playful recruitment ad for a copywriter and we’ve been blown away by the response. (15,000 search results and 792 tweets in just a few days) I won’t bang on about it because it’s unattractive, but in social media terms it ‘went mental’.

When things ‘go mental’, they energise you and I’m excited to read the entries (we have 35 already), but it could have been a very different story.

When we found out Laura was leaving us, it totally demotivated us. It had taken ages to find her. We had already created and built a bespoke ad, gone through 30 applications and interviewed 8 people (two of them twice). And then she left after about 5 weeks.

The idea of going through all that again destroyed us. Or almost did.

I’m a firm believer that the smartest way to deal with negatives is to turn them into positives and this experience has cemented that belief. Negative energy is still energy. The question is what do you do with it. It reminds me of improv comedy. The cardinal rule is to keep things moving forward. No matter what happens around you, you have to go with it (if someone tells you you’re a transvestite who is sexually aroused by ice cream, then you are!) If you fight against it you arrive at a standstill. And standstills are the most demotivating of all.

Instead we find ourselves energised by the enthusiasm people have shown and we will interview the next batch of copywriters invigorated and excited.

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Obama stole our writer

We found a great copywriter. Then she went to work for Obama. So we’re on the look out again.

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Are you egg number 2?

Below is a video from our recent Predict-a-chick Easter experiment, in which we challenged people to predict which easter eggs would hatch first. As you can see, egg number 2, Benedict was most enthusiastic to greet the world.

POKE is now looking for its own Benedict. We’re looking for a junior planner, who is ready to work on some very exciting stuff; who is smart, hungry, pro-active and possibly covered in feathers.

They should ideally have about a year’s experience. They should be super keen to learn, comfortable getting their hands dirty with research and enthusiastically support a senior planner. If that sounds like you, get in touch at [email protected] If it’s not you, I would appreciate any help you can give in spreading the word.

Yes, the chick metaphor is a bit weak. But, you know, I had a couple of drinks and it seemed like a good idea. It’ll give us something to talk about in the interview.

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About ‘abouts’

We just launched our new website. It’s a beautiful thing, designed and built by beautiful people – none of whom were me, just to excuse my apparent self-praising. You can read about the design over at Katie’s blog.

I was tasked with writing the ‘about’ page, which feels relevant to mention here because my personal philosophies tend, naturally, to be intertwined with Poke’s. It would be worrying if they didn’t.

Agency ‘about’ pages are tricky. They are at once both important and disposable. They have to say ‘something’, but can never say it all. They are adverts, which means they have been deliberated over, which means they can lack honesty and spontaneity. They need to show you ‘get it’, without drowning in the boredom of accepted truths. They should offer a point of difference, without resorting to gimmicks or jargon. They must reflect your credentials but also your culture. And above all they need to not sound like tosh.

This is what I wrote. I share it here in the absence of regular posts and because it’s all part of my general interest in getting things out of my brain and into discussion.

Inevitably, it will still sound like tosh to some people (I imagine our internal tosh-o-meters are all different) but hopefully it also tells a good, honest, interesting Poke prologue. The ‘full story’ is a longer chat over a cup of tea.

Anyway, nothing says ‘about’ better than the site itself. So maybe skip the about page altogether and just have a browse.

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