Oct 152006

TOOH01Just sat here late on Saturday fine tuning some of those drafts I mentioned in the last post and an ad on SBS caught my attention. Some kind of scientist, feels ‘corporate video’esque’, stood over a dead naked body, bit weird, didn’t make sense in Aussie ad context (they are usually pretty opaque). Then it got weirder. He ripped off a crisp sized dry scab off the knee of the dead body and said something along the lines of “we have to innovate and try new things” then looked as if he was about to eat it! Just at the moment of ‘potentially’ putting it in his mouth, yuk!, a cliffhanger, a sudden cut to a “cross-ref” to go to http://www.humantesting.com.au/.

As I continued writing this and have the front of the ‘Human Testing’ site up a second ad comes on at the end of the break. This time there are subtle and in-your-face references to Tooheys Extra Lite beer in vision and voice over. Shame, I was looking forward to the quest of finding out what this is.

I continued to explore regardless and if you go to the site you will see a typical (for Alternate Reality Games/viral) spoof corporate/science/lab website in the domain of bio-experimentation. (Not sure why they all have that 10 years into the future DNA thing story foundation, yet are designed in a 50s Americana aesthetic?). Anyway the site is nice, feels like a parody of the corporate site itself. It is obviously Tooheys as that appears in the web browser top bar all the time, but the rest of the site trys to keep us in ‘human testing’, lab world – a few heavy ad references to the ‘beer’ hidden in files and books, small games etc:

“The Platinum testing facility was founded to study the totally normal, nothing to be concerned about yet somewhat unique properties of Tooheys Extra Dry Platinum. Current theories suggest that Platinum is a clean, crisp liquid (commonly referred to as a sub-genus of ‘beer’) that’s unusually refreshing…” and so on, not so subtle here then

TOOH02It is a flash website and feels like some of the prototypes we have been producing in LAMP for the past year – lost of scrolling real world representation, files, noticeboards, test tubes – in fact like a late 90s CD ROM. I was finding it hard to think of the a) Tooheys beer stuff to the b) human DNA testing as a cohesive narrative – the two are too different OR to close. Testing if you like the beer – a bit cheesy. The success of these depends on having something plausibly linkable and that can suspend disbelief. Perhaps beer and an export conspiracy, or the discovery of beer on a distant planet and a thousand others – better than the bio research thing. Also revealing more over time, so there is a growing buzz in the “what the heck is it” domain – rather than that immediate reveal. Like good sex, advertisers should consider foreplay occassionally 😉

But back to the impressive element, a positive thing from my perspective – this is the only ad I have seen on Australian TV in the past year or so that has MADE me go to a website. In true call to action, cross-media styley. Another blogger said he was informed via email, so their “access point” was more viral (as he puts it). Of course it looks like ‘they’ (the Amnesia part of AvenueA / Razorfish) may have been the ad agency behind this one back in mid-September, so still wondering about the timing of this? Anyone got any ideas, have I just missed the ‘call-to-actions’ over the past month? A forum feels very ‘staged’ here. Still trying something different, in Australia, well done the true team behind this. It beats the other Tooheys ad, an annoying CG washing machine fighting with the hover over a beer – swimming pool ad. There is very little out there at the moment about the Toohey cross-media viral ad in blog land and Googling only brings up a handful of refs. Depending on the timing, which must be partly current if a TV ad is running (always hard to tell where you are in the cycle), I am now part of the viral propagation. Which I don’t mind as in today’s cross-media universe we are all inextricably linked together – like it or not. Right back to the draft back-log…
Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

Nov 232005

Personalization, on-the-move. Reported by a few blogs and spotted by New Scientist it looks like the race has begun for location aware profiling – TiVo have put in a patent for “a mobile personalization system“. The patent synopsis

A multimedia mobile personalization system provides a remote control that detects a user’s electronic tag, e.g. an RFID tag. The remote control notifies a multimedia device of the user’s identity. The multimedia devices tailors it operations to the user’s preferences stored locally. Multimedia content such as broadcast or recorded television programs, music play lists, and the like could be sorted, displayed, or restricted, depending on the user identifier.

This is long overdue especially as TV-Anytime which I co-led (and who had TiVo in its ranks for a few years) talked about the importance of mobile profiles in its phase two work – why expect a hundred systems to learn your likes and dislikes when you could do it once and have compatibility. Indeed I wrote several articles and papers on it over the last 5 years, one here. But as in other very recent TiVo developments its TiVoToGo software (report by StarTribune) aimed at video iPod and PSP has got the backs up of the TV industry. Variety in it’s article “Peeved over TiVo” reports that TiVo who already has upset the TV industry for many years with their ad skipping capability have now upset them again because they are allowing viewers to easily capture TV programmes and get them mobile! Especially after the $1.99 per programme business model which looked set to start TV down a new road…

The pioneer of the digital video recording bizbiz called the move an “enhancement” of its TiVoToGo service, which allows users to transfer recorded shows to a PC. The new software, which will be released early next year, allows users to transfer these files to a portable player.
“We’re making it easy for consumers to enjoy the TV shows they want to watch right from their iPod or PSP,” said TiVo CEO and former NBC exec Tom Rogers. (snip)
The immediate impact of the service, which will be offered soon after the new year, would be to undercut ABC’s video-on-demand offering, through which users can buy episodes of “Lost” and other shows for $1.99 each to view on PCs or video iPods.
NBC and CBS recently began offering skeins on-demand for 99¢ through DirecTV and Comcast, respectively.

The boat is not yet tipped over but TiVo, Google and others are severly rocking it at the moment. Another article trying to capture the storms hitting the ‘video/tv’ industry at the moment is also captured in business week’s report End of TV article. Just like good journalism that thrives on good gossip generated by its TV stars on the way and then can’t wait to trash them to generate more readership, so TV seems to be the star at the moment. Everyone wants to toll it’s final bell, or at least be the first to suggest TV is over. I think just those who said film and radio was going to die in the late 40s, or how in early 2000’s VOD will kill off DVD film there may be some egg on faces. I for one suggest TV will simply evolve, become video delivered in a multitude of ways. TV will not die, simply the word we currently use for video delivered in a most inefficient way – schedule broadcast.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005