SOCIAL MEDIA MADNESS FOR A MONDAY MORNING

I had a targeted email from Twitter this morning with a breakdown of some of the things which have been trending on the platform over the last week.

The news that the shoe brand Vans has launched a documentary series called Living off the Wall was interesting, and what you might expect for someone in my line of work:

adfreakBut goats balancing on a flexible steel ribbon?? Did everyone get that, or is just me?

Mind you, the video has had over 7 million hits so there must be people out there who enjoy that sort of thing. I do worry about the general public sometimes:

That’s what I love about social media – there’s something for everyone.

Although with only 16,000 YouTube hits for the 1st episode of the Vans documentary, I know exactly what I would be suggesting they do next … yup, goats in sneakers. Remember, you saw it here first.

A LITTLE BIT OF JOY

I had two days off this week, and this morning you’d think I was being punished for taking a break -  I was half an hour late because repairs to a collapsed manhole cover were over-running; and I opened my computer to find 412 unread emails waiting for me (I kid you not).

One of those days when your stress levels begin to rocket.

But luckily for me, Cadburys have come to the rescue courtesy of the one and only James Corden and my friends at Gravity Road.

This is part of the brand’s Joyville initiative, and after watching James in action, my day has just got a whole lot better:

There, maybe I should just delete those emails and have a leisurely breakfast instead. Enjoy your day!

 

ALWAYS WORTH MENTIONING AGAIN …

As someone who works in the wonderful world of advertising, I am very aware of the airbrushing and image manipulation which is considered standard practice within our industry.

airbrushingLast year I applauded Debenhams’ decision to stop the use of airbrushing in relation to the images the company uses.

But for every step taken by companies like Debenhams, there are still many, many out there who use photographs of bodies, particularly of women, that bear no resemblance to real life to sell their products.

So, here’s a reminder of just what goes on courtesy of Jean Kilbourne, the media campaigner:

Maybe by the time my daughter is my age, this practice will be forgotten. But until then, we should all keep beating that drum.

 

 

 

AN APPLE VIEW OF THE WORLD

There can’t be many of us now who don’t have some sort of gadget with the Apple logo on it. Indeed I’m sure we all know someone who’s entire world is run on Apple.

Just to make me feel old, the Apple Mac has just celebrated its 30th birthday. In 1984 it seemed incredibly modern – a space age piece of technology I coveted.

apple macApple promised to put this wonderful technology in the hands of the people, and I have to say, three decades on that seems to be pretty much the case.

To celebrate their birthday, the brand has made a short film shot on the day itself entirely on iPhones. Filmed in ten countries on five continents, the piece focuses on all the things people can do now with Apple products, from documenting an archaeological dig, to controlling robots and conducting an orchestra.

The company’s choice of platform also reflects how much has changed in the thirty years since Apple launched the Mac with its memorable 1984 Super Bowlcommercial. The two films could not be more different:

This time, rather than paying over the odds for airtime, Apple posted the film to YouTube and is relying on both social and traditional media to drive traffic to it.

How times have changed!

 

GET YOUR SKIS ON

As someone who has cried with fear on the nursery slopes, I’m not quite sure why I have always been slightly addicted to watching people risk life and limb in the freezing cold. I have to admit I am rather looking forward to the start of the Winter Olympics on Friday.

If you watch the news (rather pertinent given my post on Friday), you cannot have avoided the controversy surrounding this year’s Games which will be held in the Russian town of Sochi.

In a follow up to their 2012 Olympic sketch, UA clients Exploding Heads have produced an inspired film for the Winter Olympics which brilliantly reflects the issues surrounding this year’s event.

Here’s the official trailer for the Winter Lympics in all its glory:

 

 

 

THE NEWS ACCORDING TO ALAIN

I’m a big fan of Alain de Botton. Forget One Direction and Benedict Cumberbatch, every woman worth her salt (or man), should be beating a path to his door.

Alain may not have the manufactured voice of an angel, or the face of an otter, but he does possess the wonderful ability to distill and communicate the big ideas and questions which we face as a modern society.

And next week his latest book The News: A User’s Manual, is published by Hamish Hamilton. I haven’t read it yet but I am promised that it won’t disappoint, posing questions such as: why are disaster stories so often uplifting? What makes the love lives of celebrities so interesting? Why do we enjoy politicians being brought down? Why are upheavals in far-off lands often so… boring?

the-newsAlain believes that news has replaced religion as our source of guidance and authority. He also thinks there is far too much of it, and that we have become addicted and need to recognise its ill-effects. He hopes that his book will question a habit that appears to be a little too normal and harmless for our own good.

And to whet your appetite, there’s a website called the Philosophers’ Mail which gives you an experience of what the world could be like. Have a look, it’s brilliant:

http://www.philosophersmail.com/

So all you Directioners and Cumberbitches, why not join us Bottonists and make next week a thought-provoking one when, like me, you get your hands on The News.

SOMETHING FOR ALL YOU DR WHO FANS

As we all know, Peter Capaldi is the latest incarnation of Dr Who, the Time Lord who has been on our screens for over 50 years.

For those of you keenly anticipating the look for the next Time Lord, the waiting is over with the BBC releasing a picture which should satisfy all the show’s fans:

peter capaldiAs Peter said: “Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100% Rebel Time Lord.”

 

 

SOMETHING FOR YOUR JANUARY BLUES

How is everyone feeling this Friday? I’ve been told that this is supposed to have been the most depressing week of the year.

If you are feeling blue after days of rain, dark nights and post-Christmas weight gain, here is a cat who I think perfectly articulates our collective despondency:

Now, don’t you feel better?

And don’t you think YouTube is an amazing platform – over 8 million people have shared Henri’s pain …

WHO KNOWS ABOUT AMERICAN FOOTBALL?

I’m sure you are familiar with American football – we’ve all heard of the Super Bowl and are used to seeing men in weird padded suits with large helmets running about with what appears to be a rugby ball. What is actually going on, remains a complete mystery to me and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Anthony Richardson of the Exploding Heads has brilliantly captured our lack of knowledge about the game in his Bad British Commentary series on YouTube.

His latest offering, commentating on a game between Notre Dame and Alabama, went up a week ago, and has since garnered over 4 million hits. On the day he posted it, the video was the most-watched spot in the US.

What I like most is not just Anthony’s hilariously dry commentary, but also the comments underneath from irate fans who have failed to recognise that this is a comedy piece.

Here’s the spot in question:

I think you’ll agree it is a wonderful piece of work.

Exploding Heads are set to take 2014 by storm – have a look at the other sketches on their channel – I love this Olympics one which features not just Anthony, but his fellow Head Mark Davision and is directed by their third member Ben Tonge who has just joined the UA fold:

If you are a soccer fan, as the Americans would say, you can also watch the guys doing their talking heads sketches for ESPN:

The Winter Olympics are just around the corner, make sure to watch out for some amazing footage from the team …

 

 

 

 

DRONES FOR A WEDNESDAY MORNING

As I was rushing about this morning getting ready for work, my attention was caught by a piece on the news about what’s going on at this year’s LAMMA.

For those of you, like me, who have no idea what it is, I can tell you that LAMMA is Peterborough’s annual farm machinery show. Now I’m a country girl at heart, and the sight of some shiny agricultural vehicles piqued my interest.

ursulaBut as a lover of technology, what really caught my eye was an interview with a company who employ drones to help farmers increase their yields. I’ve always associated those sinister unmanned flying machines with conflict, and it was really interesting to see how the technology has been put to a completely different, peaceful use.

The guys from rather oddly-named Ursula are pioneering a new approach to precision agriculture by providing intelligence which will directly inform a farmer’s decision making. Apparently their advanced analysis algorithms combine Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), wide area aerial survey, satellite and agricultural data to deliver results that increase yield, optimise inputs and improve efficiency.

In layman’s terms that means the drone is equipped with sensors and cameras which enable visual inspection of a farmer’s land. Wavelengths are produced which contain information that can be related to yield, crop health, stress, and the identification of weeds and pest damage.

Project_URSULAThe potential to increase yield and production anywhere in the world must surely mean that this technology will be used to help in the fight again world hunger as well as Joe Bloggs in Yorkshire who wants to get a better broccoli crop.

Who’d have thought that farming could be so interesting!

 

REMEMBERING ROGER LLOYD-PACK

Yesterday was a sad day at UA when Maureen, Roger Lloyd-Pack‘s agent, broke the news that he had died on Wednesday night.

Roger-Lloyd-PackI loved Roger, he was one of those quiet, understated people who had a wonderful dry sense of humour and a great intellect.

The news is full of pictures and references to his roles in Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley, but those programmes show only one aspect of his range as an actor. Roger was not only a gifted comedian, he was also a brilliant classical performer who shone whenever he appeared on stage.

I remember Roger recording a piece of audio for his voicereel (on cassette in those days which shows just how long ago it was).

I’d asked him to choose an extract from a book he liked for the narrative piece and he read from Martin Amis’ The Information.

This is how it started: Cities at night, I feel, contain men who cry in their sleep and then say Nothing. It’s nothing. Just sad dreams. Or something like that…Swing low in your weep ship, with your tear scans and sob probes, and you would mark them. Women–and they can be wives, lovers, gaunt muses, fat nurses, obsessions, devourers, exes, nemeses–will wake and turn to these men and ask, with female need-to-know, “What is it?” And the men will say, “Nothing. No it isn’t anything really. Just sad dreams”.

Sadly I don’t think a copy of his voice reading this exists any more, but whenever I listened to it, I found it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck it was so good. And I can hear him now really clearly as I read the lines again.

RIP RLP x

 

A LITTLE BIT OF CULTURE

One of the things I like most about working at UA is just how interesting and knowledgeable our clients are. And I don’t mean knowledgeable about say acting or directing, but subjects which often bear no obvious relationship to their chosen profession.

Take Jack Hartnell for example. Jack is looked after by my lovely colleague Lisa Toogood. On the surface, he is part of a funny comedy sketch group called The Three Englishmen. You might have seen them in Edinburgh, or on BBC3 – they are very, very funny:

But Jack is no ordinary man. Running parallel to his comedy life, is a Visiting Lecturer position at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and a Teaching Fellow role at University College London, where to my joy he specialises in Medieval Art.

This year he will be taking up the Post-Doctoral Fellowship held between the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and the V&A in London. Luckily for me, he was on tap yesterday lunchtime to show me round the V&A’s Mediaeval and Renaissance galleries. If you haven’t been there already, beat a path to their glass door.

v&aLisa is very keen for Jack to utilise his amazing knowledge and make the move into presenting. Having been with him yesterday, I can see why. I’m a hardened museum-goer and a lover of the middle ages so I probably know enough to be boring. But with Jack at my side, a whole new world opened up, and in just an hour he changed all my preconceptions about the era. I could literally have spent all day glued to his side – accessible, charming and articulate, he was the perfect companion. candlestick

If we had him on our screens, you too could marvel at the large ornate candlestick you might have drifted past, or notice that the reclining knight on his tomb is carved in a way to emphasize his purpose and vigour. And resting at the bottom of depictions of the crucifix there is sometimes a skull to represent Adam.

If there is a broadcasting god, Jack should be on our screens because he could definitely be the David Attenborough of the history world. I have everything crossed we all get to share his brilliant ability to communicate …

THE FUTURE OF COOKING

I had one of those weekends where I spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking up a storm on our traditional 4 ring gas stove. Sadly this, and work, meant I missed the Consumer Electronics Show, (which is not really surprising given that it was held in Las Vegas).

If I had been there in the flesh I would have probably marvelled over Whirlpool’s latest gadget which would have completely changed my recent cooking experience.

The company unveiled an interactive touchscreen “cooktop” which displays recipes, Twitter and Facebook updates, news, weather, and much, much more using your smartphone or tablet. The cooktop can also display recipes next to your ingredients, pans, bowls, and cutting boards, which sees an end to sticky fingers on the iPad. And of course the device is voice controlled, allowing you to change the music streaming on your audio system and also keep tabs on different social media feeds.

cooktopNot sure how I feel about this – with all the distractions going on I’d be worried not only about burning food, but burning myself.Why would I need the news projected on the work surface? Maybe it’s useful for those recipes where you spend a lot of time just stirring.

The company’s vision is to produce a thin tablet-like device or mat that you could place on any surface. If you are keen I’m afraid it is going to be a while before you can get your hands on one of these, the technology is in active development but it is still five years away.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

Better get saving …

GREAT START TO 2014

Happy New Year everyone! I have to admit I enjoyed my time away from the routine of office life, especially given the fact I don’t live on the east side of America, or anywhere near the sea or a river.

Already nearly the middle of January as I type, and it looks like a busy start to the year for UA talent.

Film director Hong Khaou, screenwriter Jonathan Asser and actress Sophie Kennedy Clark were three of the eight people featured on The Guardian and Observer’s ‘Rising Stars of 2014′ film list.

liltingHong’s feature debut LILTING, charting a mother’s emotional journey to discover who her son was after his untimely death, stars Ben Whishaw and opens the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival next Thursday.

Jonathan’s debut feature STARRED UP, which tells the story of a young man’s struggles to survive as a young offender in adult jail, screened at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival and won him the Best British Newcomer Award at last year’s BFI London Film Festival.

Sophie starred in Stephen Frear’s critically acclaimed PHILOMENA, co-written by Jeff Pope, and will next appear in Lars Von Trier’s NYMPHOMANIAC.

Léa-SeydouxThe BAFTA’s are just over a month away and UA has four nominees: Lea Seydoux for the EE Rising Star Award (she is amazing in BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR), Jeff Pope Best Adapted Screenplay for PHILOMENA, Barry Ackroyd for Best Cinematography, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS and writer Sarah Woolner for Best British Animation, SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES. The Awards take place on February 16th so watch this space.

And here’s something to keep you occupied for 5 minutes: vote for your favourite UA stars on this year’s National Television Awards which are announced live on the 22nd January.

BroadchurchHow could you not cast your vote for the brilliant MICHELLE KEEGAN who is nominated for Best Serial Performance for her on-going role in Coronation Street as Tina McIntyre?

Plus hilarious DEREK is nominated for Best Comedy; BROADCHURCH directed by James Strong, featuring Olivia Colman, David Bradley and many more, is nominated for Best Drama. OLIVIA COLMAN herself is nominated for best TV Detective for her role in Broadchurch and AN IDIOT ABROAD is nominated for Best Factual Entertainment.

Better get voting!

 

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING OVER THE FESTIVE PERIOD

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, coping with the pre-Christmas madness which has taken root in my corner. But we’ve made it to our last day in the office, and I’m going to leave you with a festive round-up of all the programmes featuring UA clients you have to watch when slumped on the sofa after yet another enormous meal.

And rather pleasingly, my lovely colleagues have done all the hard work for me and produced said round-up.

So, here we go:

CHRISTMAS EVE at 8pm sees ITV pitting drama favourite MIDSOMER MURDERS (with Paul Blair, Elizabeth Berrington, James Murray and special guest-star Les Dennis) against HOLBY CITY on BBC1 which stars Camilla Arfwedson. Then at 9pm fans of the BAFTA winning LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX can tune-in for the series finale, starring Rachel Leskovac, while those in the mood for entertaining facts can switch to BBC2 for a festive QI:XL with panellist Alan Davies.  In the same 9pm slot, Channel 4 brings us THE IT CROWD SPECIAL: THE INTERNET IS COMING, starring the brilliant Katherine Parkinson, while Sky1 viewers are treated to a special episode of comedy drama TROLLIED, which stars Joel Fry, Jason Watkins, Jane Horrocks and a hilarious cameo from former Spice-Girl Geri Halliwell, followed at 10pm by panel-show A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: CHRISTMAS SPECIAL hosted by the multi-talented James Corden.

doctor whoOn CHRISTMAS DAY you can get your square eyes even squarer when BBC1 begins the evening schedule with a Christmas Special of CALL THE MIDWIFE at 6:15pm (starring Raymond Coulthard, Nancy Caroll. Ben Caplan and Sam Swainsbury), followed by an appointment-to-view episode of DOCTOR WHO where fans can finally see the new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, make his debut. Then at 8:30pm, ITV’s Christmas Day special of DOWNTON ABBEY hits our screens, featuring Tom Cullen and Kevin Doyle (with costumes designed by Caroline McCall) in the long-awaited conclusion to Series 4.

BOXING DAY on BBC1 kicks off its family viewing with the comedy special GANGSTA death comes to pemberleyGRANNY at 6:05pm, edited by Joe Randall-Cutler and featuring the on-screen talents of Rob Brydon and Jocelyn Jee Esien. At 8:15pm BBC1 premieres DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY which uses the setting and characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in a dark new tale of murder and emotional mayhem. It’s brought to life by production designer Grant Stewart Montgomery and stars Matthew Rhys opposite Anna Maxwell Martin as Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

If you are still on that sofa on NEW YEAR’S EVE, the schedule features a raft of comedy round-ups of the year, with ITV1′s A FUNNY OLD YEAR at 10:15pm hosted by Jason Manford and written by Stewart Williams. Channel 4 reflects on 2013 with ALAN CARR NEW YEAR SPECSTACULAR at 9pm, also written by Stewart Williams, and featuring James Corden as a guest on the gold sofa, followed at 11.05pm by 50 FUNNIEST MOMENTS 2013 voiced by Matt Berry and written this time by Stewart Williams with Tim Allsop to ring in the New Year!

NEW YEAR’S DAY on BBC1 brings the eagerly awaited return of SHERLOCK at 9pm, featuring Louise Brealey, and Rupert Graves, then at 10:15pm, BBC3 viewers can enjoy the last in the series of BACKCHAT, the Jack Whitehall talk-show.

With all of this, there is going to be no time to go outside and get a bit of exercise, but isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Have a jolly festive season everyone and see you in 2014 when we will all be back on that treadmill (literally in my case).

WHAT WERE WE ALL WATCHING ON YOUTUBE THIS YEAR?

YouTube has confirmed its place at the centre of our lives with the release of its list of the most popular videos for 2013.

At number one spot is a music video: The Fox, by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, which has been watched more than 278 million times. It shows the incredible reach of the platform – five years ago, none of us would have heard of Ylvis, let alone known they had a video we could watch.

The list is a shot across the bows to anyone who dismisses the significance of the internet!

My personal favourite is this film from Jean Claude van Damme, who abandoned his fabulous Coors activity for a jaw-dropping Volvo ride across the desert. It reached a whopping 59 million other people as well:

Mashable has an article with more about the 2013 list HERE if you are interested.

 

HARVEY NICHOLS TO THE RESCUE

Here I am after a prolonged absence, entirely due to an avalanche of work just when I thought things would start to slow down in the run up to Christmas.

Despite being chained to my desk, I have had to bear down on The Christmas List, which I used to wrestle into submission by mid-October. 2013 been far more tricky, hampered by my workload, and a refusal to accept that this year’s festive season appears to have started only a few short months after the last one.

With all my spare time spent shelling out money on presents at an alarming rate, I was delighted to see Harvey Nichols’ seasonal offering with the tagline “Sorry I spent it on myself”.

It is charming, witty, and like the Cadburys one I talked about recently, the perfect antidote to all things yule-related.

Here it is in all its glory:

Let the party season do its worst … I am feeling fortified!

OVERCOMING MY CAR COMMERCIAL PREJUDICE

As some of you may know, I’m not a big fan of the classic car commercial, having been known to dismiss the usual offerings as portentious. However, Toyota’s latest Japanese film for its Hybrid Harrier model has wowed me over.

I’m not biased, even with the presence of UA client Rob Knighton smouldering beautifully as the embodiment of the car.

On the Toyota website you can see the full, split screen version which is what I can only describe as gorgeous – filmic and intense, obviously just like the Toyota HH!

Annoyingly I can’t get the film in all its double glory onto the blog, but here is Rob doing his stuff on the “A-side”:

If you want to see the film in its entirety have a look HERE.

CONTROLLING THE HEAT

Has anyone else been taken by surprise by the sudden drop in temperature? I’m just not ready for the interminable tweaking of the central heating we always have to do in our house. We never seem to be able to get it right and it is either just too hot, or on the edge of arctic, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

But my days of shedding jumpers, or throwing them on with gay abandon, might just be over thanks to the excitingly named “Netatmo smartphone controlled thermostat” which has been designed by Philippe Starck.

netatmoThis is an intelligent smartphone-connected thermostat which controls heating remotely and reduces energy consumption. Very cleverly, the device adapts to its owner by observing their habits, monitoring sleeping patterns and periods of absence from home. It then automatically self‐regulates to provide a comfortable temperature tailored to the user’s daily routine, while simultaneously reducing energy consumption.

And there is something even better about this device: when you go away, or want to shake things up a bit, you can remotely control the temperature from the Netatmo app on your smartphone in order to save energy.

It looks beautiful, it’s simple to use and I want one. Currently retailing in the US for $240, I will apparently have to wait until next year before I can get my hot little hands on one.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to make do with the video (if you can’t speak French I’m sure you’ll get the gist):

 

 

SEEING GARY BARLOW IN A WHOLE NEW LIGHT

I’ve never been sure how I felt about Gary Barlow until now.

I don’t know whether you agree, but he’s always seemed so damn worthy. But now I’m having second thoughts.

Have a look at this:

It’s a great way to promote his new album called Since I Saw You Last, which comes out on the 25th November, and makes me see him in a whole new light. Shows just how successful the meerkats have become when someone like Gary Barlow considers an association with them as integral to any marketing campaign.

42 DAYS UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT …

I’m still thinking about pumpkins and apple crumble, but the advertising world is already well entrenched in the annual build up to Christmas.

The festive season is beginning to impinge on my consciousness despite my best efforts to ignore the sight of turkeys, paper hats and tables groaning with food (and the Co-op cream carton which seems so out of place at a party – “where’s the jug?” I ask myself every time I see it).

In amongst all this schmaltz Cadburys have come up with a brilliantly light-hearted offering for Dairy Milk which puts a smile on my face. With no poultry or sentimentality, it does its job and actually makes me look forward to Christmas.

Have a look and see if you agree with me:

And if you want to see that cream carton, here it is:

CONTENT TO MAKE YOU CRY

I have to thank Patrícia Weiss, Chairman & Founder of the Branded Content Marketing Association in South America for this.

Skype launched a new initiative called Stay Together a few months ago, asking people from around the world to tell the company how they use Skype to keep in touch.

As an example of great content, I haven’t seen anything so effective for a while. The stories are real and totally heart-wrenching. I found myself forgetting to be cynical and completely ignoring the fact that Skype is using these personal stories to sell their product!

It just shows that if the content is good enough, it transcends everything.

I defy you not to be moved by the story of Paige and Sarah who told their story to Skype as part of the campaign:

SOMETHING FOR THE DESK-BOUND AMONGST US

Here I am on Monday morning, ready to face roughly 40 hours chained to my desk before I can run about again at the weekend.

For those of you like me who battle shoulder aches, stiff necks and guilt at just how sedentary our lives are during the working week, I have discovered something which should help.

Twitter surfing this morning, I came upon an article on Mashable featuring great workstations. Low and behold, there in front of me was the answer to all my problems.

focal deskThe Locus Workstation is a standing desk. But not only a standing desk, it also has a specially designed seat which promotes a supported position between sitting and standing. Apparently this new active and engaged position helps maintain both energy and focus throughout the day.

focal seatThe desk is suitable for anyone between 4 feet 1 inch and 6 feet 8 inches, so fine for most of us.

It’s made in America and currently costs about £1,200 but I don’t think that is bad given the fact that (a) it should hopefully put and end to pain associated with immobility, and (b) must definitely increase productivity, something for all you employers out there.

An all round win, win situation don’t you think? And of course beautifully designed to boot. Let me know if you take the plunge and purchase one of these amazing objects (I will be very jealous).

COUNTDOWN TO THE HOBBIT

I’ve been off for a few days, but back at my desk now and couldn’t fail to notice that there’s a sneak peak of the next instalment of The Hobbit up on YouTube.

In just a couple of days it has notched up nearly 2 million views which shows you just how popular this wonderful epic story is.

As with all feature films now, the build up to the premiere is supported by a raft of targeted social media activity. Not only is the YouTube channel a focus for fans, the Facebook site has over 3.3 million likes, and the conversation about the sneak peak is all over Twitter.

If you haven’t watched it already, here’s the three minutes of Peter Jackson genius with UA clients Luke Evans and Richard Armitage to the fore:

Only a few more weeks folks!

 

 

 

 

 

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

jamie dornanIt’s official everyone, the wait is over …

UA client Jamie Dornan will be playing Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey.

The amount of hoo ha surrounding this role has been incredible, and a legion of women worldwide will be waiting impatiently for the film’s release.

Announced last night by author E L James it puts to rest weeks of speculation:

 

 

THINKING OF GOING TO ICELAND?

With half-term upon us and Christmas round the corner who else is thinking of escaping the impending mayhem? I find myself looking longingly at holiday deal websites wondering whether anyone would notice if I disappeared somewhere for a weekend on my own.

If you are lucky enough to have travel plans and they involve Iceland, then I am very envious.

Lovely Alex Zane has been working with Amex recently, jetting off to exciting short-haul locations in order to explore the culture from an insider’s point of view.

And we can have a sneak peak of his trip to Iceland. I don’t expect you thought about getting on a horse when going to Reykjavik, but maybe this will change your mind:

All Alex’s films will be up on Amex’s YouTube channel over the coming weeks so don’t forget to check in and get some tips.

You should see what he gets up to in Berlin …

WE LOVE OUR MOBILES

Is there anyone out there without a mobile phone? Anyone who still relies on the old landline or indeed phonebox?

I’m so sad my mobile goes with me EVERYWHERE. And that object, as thin as a crispbread, rather frighteningly contains my whole life on its sim card.

In fact I know I am not alone, because research from Weve, Vodafone, O2 and EE’s joint mobile marketing network has found that a massive 46% of 18-34 year olds say that mobile is their “first screen”.

Forget about fancy tablets and laptops, mobile is where it is at for the young people of Britain.

laptop phoneInterestingly, once the age-range is widened to include an older demographic (up to 55), then the PC and laptop come into their own, knocking mobiles into second place. Television lags behind whatever your age which doesn’t surprise me at all.

However, David Sear, the chief executive of Weve, believes that the oldies amongst us (I may be old, but I am a convert), will fall in love with mobiles as the roll out of smartphones increases.

He says: It’s about the adoption of new technology and there’s always a curve from the younger age group. The way consumers behave has really shifted – anybody who is now watching TV is actually listening to TV, and they are normally playing with their mobile device or following a story about the TV on social media.

Sound familiar?

 

PIRATICAL ANTICS ON A FRIDAY

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m rather glad to have reached Friday, it’s been a long old week. Annoyingly, my relief was tempered by the weather forecast this morning which is prophesying a miserable, damp weekend.

Here’s just the thing to take our minds off the negatives, and remind us that we have two days of fun and excitement ahead if we so choose. Ignore the cleaning, throw off your apron and get out in that rain!

This is the trailer for the first season of Black Sails which will burst onto our screens in darkest January, propelling us into the mad world of pirates and swashbuckling heroes, with Toby Stephens fighting at the helm.

Right, I’m off to find a cutlass …

 

YOUTH NO BAR TO THE MAN BOOKER

I know I’ve tweeted about it already, but I wanted to share the great news that last night, Caroline Dawnay’s client Eleanor Catton became the youngest person ever to win the Man Brooker prize.

Eleanor Catton-The LuminariesI have spent the last few weeks lost in the Hokitika of the 1860′s as Eleanor’s wonderful book The Luminaries completely took over my life.

At the tender age of 28, Eleanor has mastered a period voice akin to Dickens or Wilkie Collins. Her enormous narrative plunges you into a rip roaring, complicated and complex story full of dramatic secrets harboured by a whole array of vivid characters brought together by the New Zealand gold rush.

It’s one of those books you just can’t put down, and when I finally finished (it’s over 800 pages), I felt bereft.

The Luminaries is Eleanor’s second novel so the woman is obviously a genius – if you haven’t bought the book already I think you should rectify that situation immediately. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s Eleanor talking about it to give you an idea:

Brilliant!

FLU FIGHTING ON YOUTUBE

I saw a video on YouTube today which made me realise just how much the platform has become part of our lives. Creating content in order to communicate has become something we completely take for granted.

And the video that brought this home to me?

Believe it or not, a short film made by staff at the Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to encourage their colleagues to have a flu jab.

I know, it doesn’t sound very glamorous, but by using their YouTube channel, the hospital saw more than 600 staff vaccinated in just four days.

They started their flu jab call to arms on YouTube in 2011, but things really took off in 2012 with 71% of the workforce being immunised – their highest uptake ever, and their success this year is obvious.

I love the fact that a hospital has understood and embraced the concept of YouTube so effectively, putting a lot more tech-savvy brands to shame in the way they targeted their audience.

Here’s the film in all its glory:

If you worked with them wouldn’t you rush off with your shirt sleeve rolled up? I know I would …

 

 

 

DR DANCE

I was talking to our new agent Charlotte Robertson this morning, and I have to admit I have already fallen for one of her clients.

dr danceDr Peter Lovatt is a Reader in Psychology, and a Principal lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire where he heads the Dance Psychology Lab. He is also a trained dancer.

This may all sound very dry, but Peter Lovatt’s work is all about understanding how people feel when they dance.

When I saw the following clip from an appearance on the Graham Norton Show, I just knew that we are going to be seeing a lot more of Dr Dance, as Peter Lovatt is called, over the next few years:

Don’t you agree?

ART AS THERAPY

I’m very much looking forward to the weekend, I’ve got a day all to myself on Saturday and I intend to make the most of it!

The highlight of my day is going to be a solo trip to the Royal Academy’s Australia exhibition. I don’t know if you feel the same, but I love going to exhibitions on my own, there’s something incredibly satisfying about being able to respond emotionally to pictures without anyone else there to influence you. I always come away feeling better somehow.

This experience is obviously a common one, Alain de Botton (with John Armstrong), has just written a  book about the subject. And not only has he put pen to paper, he has also developed a website, and will be launching an app as a tool to use art as therapy.

Art as Therapy the book is going to be published next week (definitely going to be a must-have on my shelf), but in the meantime you can visit Alain’s website where you can take your worries and choose the category which best reflects them. For example, work, love or politics. You can then select the sentence which best describes said worry and you will see a handpicked piece of artwork, designed to offer you comfort.

alain de bottonI had a go earlier and the pictures are varied and really thought-provoking. Look for the beautiful white Chinese dish or the Van Utrecht still life.

You can experience art as therapy HERE, it’s definitely worth a visit I promise, and make sure you look out for the app after you buy the book!

 

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

I have not had a chance to draw breath this week, and I was thrown into a state of panic this morning when my colleague Kate told me that we only have a few weeks until Christmas.

I’m the sort of sadly organised person who aims to have all their Christmas shopping done and dusted by now. I walk around in a smug haze feeling sorry for everyone else in the run up to the festive season.

This year however, I have failed totally, I haven’t even thought about Christmas, let alone what on earth I’m going to give everyone.

Members of my family and friends, now is the time to leave this page if you happen to be reading it, and do something else because I have just found my first gift.

Jennifer Saunders has come to my rescue. She has written her memoirs and the book goes on sale today. It’s called Bonkers: My Life in Laughs and is full of riotous adventuresaccidentally enrolling on a teacher training course with a young Dawn French, bluffing her way to each BBC series, shooting Lulu, trading wild faxes with Joanna Lumley, touring India with Ruby Wax and Goldie Hawn for example).

There’s cancer, too, when she becomes ‘Brave Jen’. But her biggest battle is with the bane of her life: the Laws of Procrastination. As she admits, There has never been a Plan. Everything has been fairly random, happened by accident or just fallen into place. I’m off now, to do some sweeping …

Here’s Jennifer talking about Bonkers:

Right, all I need now is 20 minutes to rush out and buy the book and I can cross off a name on my Christmas list.

HOW CHICKENS HELPED MERCEDES

I’m not a big fan of the traditional car commercial, all that portentous music and sweeping landscapes to sell something who’s only purpose in life is to get you from A to B.

Luckily Mercedes have chosen to break the mold, and the luxury car manufacturer enlisted the help of a group of chickens to demonstrate its new ‘Magic Body Control‘ suspension system.

The new S-Class is the world’s first car capable of detecting road surface undulations in advance. If the road surface scan detects unevenness by means of the stereo camera in the windscreen, magic body control sets up the active suspension beforehand to deal with the situation and apparently, according to Mercedes, you feel like you are travelling on a magic carpet no less.

Cue the commercial full of overblown atmosphere and complicated special effects.

But very pleasingly, Mercedes have come up with something completely different, and it has taken the global community by storm with over 4 million hits in a week on YouTube already:

The chickens’ heads represent us in the car by the way ….

THE HOBBIT TRAILER IS HERE …

For all you Hobbit fans out there, the official trailer was released today. Starring Richard Armitage and Luke Evans, The Desolation of Smaug is the second film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy.

We have to wait for December to watch it in the cinema, but here’s a taste to whet your appetite:

Need I say more?

#CAUSE2013 UPDATE

Has anyone else been deep in Social Media Week London this week?

As you know, I went along to the All About the Cause event on Monday, hosted by All About the Idea. It was an informative, positive and very moving discussion which All About the Idea have crafted into a short film. Featuring UA client and vlogger supremo Gemma Tomlinson, it gives you a good idea of the debate if you weren’t able to follow it:

The social media community voted for the issue of male suicide/mental health and #CAUSE2013 have teamed up with with The Calm Zone charity @theCALMzone to launch the plan which will utilise social media as a force for good.

If you have a spare hour, the plan will be revealed at the launch event taking place at 2pm at the Registry this afternoon, again hosted by All About the Idea. And of course you will be able to follow everything on, yes, social media.

 

 

 

 

THE WRONG MANS TONIGHT!

Well I don’t know what you’re doing tonight, but I am definitely staying in to watch the first episode of The Wrong Mans at 9pm on BBC2.

The brainchild of UA comedy supremo James Corden and Mathew Baynton, The Wrong Mans stars the duo as two well-meaning idiots who become entangled in a hideous world of crime, conspiracy and corruption.

wrongmansDirected by Jim Field-Smith, the series also features a stellar cast including Dawn French, Dougray Scott, Dan Skinner, Jason Watkins, Jim Howick and Claire Lams.

If you are not convinced, watch the trailer, and I promise you will be closing the curtains and turning off your phone at 9pm:

 

#cause2013

In case you don’t know, it’s Social Media Week London all this week and I am going to have a hard time trying to fit in work with so much going on!

CAUSE2013

This afternoon I am off to The Registry to watch vlogger Gemma Tomlinson (known to her many thousands of fans as Gemsmaquillage), take part in All About the Cause, an initiative launched by All About the Idea to explore how social media can be a force for good.

All About the Cause gives us, the social media community, the chance to choose a cause and campaign for it. There is now a shortlist which you can see HERE. Make sure you cast your vote before 4pm today, using #CAUSE2013 followed by the cause e.g. #CAUSE2013 Mental Health, and let’s see if we can do some good during SMWLDN.

Something for the girls

I’ve had a rather manic time at work this week, but given my love of helpful tech devices, I have made it to Friday without any disasters or missed deadlines.

So as a techno fiend, I was interested to read the results of research undertaken by MediaCom which reveals that girls are more tech savvy than boys.

mediacomApparently girls between the ages of 8 and 16 have greater access to technology than boys, are more engaged with social media and their smartphones, are more likely to indulge in online shopping and are sophisticated enough to skip ads.

Whilst young females are out there communicating, boys’ use of technology is far more limited. A solitary life in front of a games console appears to be their lot.

I’m sure this data has already been picked up by brands, and we’ll be seeing more initiatives via social media targeting the girls amongst us.

The next thing I want to see is some research on the tech-savviness of older people. I think that’s a hugely underrated market – especially where women are concerned …

#youdunnit

Did anyone else decide that summer was definitely over at the weekend? As the rain lashed down on Sunday, my thoughts turned to the book I have on the go (Man Booker shortlisted The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, totally gripping and I urge you to rush out and buy it immediately if you haven’t done so already). One of the great things about horrible weather is being able to sit down in the warm and indulge in a good reading session.

And Specsavers have cleverly anticipated this by creating a new partnership with Penguin. In an extension of their association with all things literary, Specsavers are inviting crime thriller enthusiasts to help three top authors create a novella through social media.

youdunnitLaunched today, the #youdunnit partnership encourages crime fans to contribute characters’ names and personalities, locations, crimes and other narrative details through Facebook and Twitter to writers Nicci French,Tim Weaver, and debut author Alistair Gunn. Each of the novelists will then craft a story using the suggestions, and we can all read the results as e-books in mid-October.

Sounds rather daunting for the authors and Nicci French said: “we’re looking forward to seeing ideas from crime readers for the #Youdunnit experiment. To have much of the plotting taken out of our hands could be a blessing or a curse – time will tell”.
So, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a crime writer why not have a go and get suggesting?

KITE PATCH UPDATE

Something positive for a Friday … I don’t know if you remember, but in July I wrote about the Kite Patch, a new weapon being developed to combat the ever-advancing mosquito.

Kite Patch, an ieCrowd company, needed to raise $75,000 to field test the product in Uganda and had launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

Rather wonderfully, they have managed to completely smash their target, raising over $500,000 from more than 11,000 backers in just six weeks.

kite patchThe generosity of our global community means that the field test is now seven times larger. 150,000 rather than 20,000 Kite Patches will be sent to the most severely malaria-ridden areas of Uganda, to provide families with years of protection against mosquitoes.

Commenting on the conclusion of the Indiegogo campaign, Amro Albanna, ieCrowd’s Chairman and CEO, said: We are very proud of and grateful for the support we received from the crowd in this campaign. True to ieCrowd’s mission, we asked the crowd to support us in developing this world-changing technology, and they responded with overwhelming generosity, excitement, and optimism. In fact, the success of the Kite Patch campaign is a perfect example of the power of ieCrowd’s model. By working together, and by empowering the crowd, we can transform an innovative discovery into actual market-driven solutions.

Restores one’s faith in the human race doesn’t it?

Watch this space, as I’m determined to follow Kite Patch’s journey.

 

SONY ENTERTAINING US

I’m having a bit of a challenging time this month, not only am I on the end-of-summer diet, I’ve also given up alcohol for September. Day 12 and I need something to keep me occupied. My colleague Mel resorts to jigsaw puzzles for her annual January abstinence, but as it’s me, I feel I need something more modern, more digital.

Luckily Sony have come to my rescue with the help of Katherine Ryan.

I have written about The Takeout before, but this week’s episode is particularly good for my predicament with two films (Rush is definitely going to take my mind off the diet!), some music and a game that I can see will be totally addictive if I’m not careful.

See what I mean?

 

 

SOMETHING FOR THOSE OF US WHO LIVE IN HACKNEY

It’s Friday and I just had to share this with you. Starring UA client Philip McGinley How Not To Get Mugged perfectly encapsulates what it’s now like to live in the wonderful borough of Hackney.

Watch and marvel …

ABOUT TIME FOR THE WEEKEND

What’s happened to the weather everyone? I got up this morning, after our day of Mediterranean warmth yesterday, and had to find not only my umbrella, but a cardigan. Is summer over already?

If you are feeling slightly depressed by the passage of time as well as the grey day why not go to the cinema over the weekend and watch About Time. about timeIt’s the new film from Richard Curtis, and is the unashamedly romantic and optimistic story of Tim, who discovers at the age of 21 that he has a secret superpower: he can travel back in time to any point in his own past and correct his mistakes. He of course uses this power to woo the woman of his dreams, but it is not all plain sailing.

You can sit back, munch on the popcorn (unless you are on the end-of-summer diet like me) and watch UA clients Lydia Wilson, Will Merrick, Matilda Sturridge and Philip Voss, wearing lovely costumes by Verity Hawkes. Just the thing to cheer us all up.

Here’s the trailer to get you in the mood:

 

CELEBRITY MASTERCHEF

I am going to hold up my hands and admit that I have a MasterChef addiction. I can’t help it, I find myself glued to the screen for all the programmes co-hosted by brilliant Gregg Wallace – whether amateur, professional (with Monica Galetti) or celebrity.

At the moment I’m trying hard to have a life as the current series of Celebrity MasterChef is reaching its conclusion this week. My colleague Lisa has recently taken on Les Dennis who is of course battling on in the thick of things.

masterchefA keen cook, he told me that cooking for the food critics was one of the most frightening things he has ever done. If you missed the nerve-wracking episode you can watch it HERE.

And the nail biting continues tonight as Les and his three other finalists face two more challenges that test their creativity and precision. Firstly they must master the art of the afternoon tea at Number One Aldwych for a group of Pearly Kings and Queens, and then return to the MasterChef kitchen to showcase their skill with pastry.

Les refuses to tell who wins so I am just going to have keep watching until the bitter end!
Les Dennis Spamalot

If you fancy a trip to the theatre, you can also see Les in action as King Arthur in Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre in London. Tickets are on sale HERE.

Right, I’m off to whip up something light and delicious in the UA kitchen ….

INDEX AWARD WINNERS

The Danish Index Award is the biggest Award for design there is I think, with €500,000 in prize money.

The Award is split into five categories: body, work, home, community and play. An international jury of designers, thinkers, business people and curators select a group of finalists who are evaluated according to three criteria: form, impact and context. And each design also has to address large-scale challenges the world faces today and/or will face in the future.

The Awards were announced at the end of last week and feature five wonderful inventions. I was particularly pleased to see Raspberry Pi awarded the prize for the work category.

But how about the play award? An intelligent interactive highway designed by a team of Dutch designers took the prize.

They decided that road safety was all about the car rather than the road, and decided to develop a system which essentially creates roads that are socially conscious and interactive through the inclusion of light, energy and road signs which automatically adapt to various traffic situations.

For example,Dynamic Paint communicates with drivers about weather and traffic changes. When the temperature drops below freezing and the roads become slippery, the paint activates, covering the road with a dusting of bright cartoon snowflakes.

Smart-HighwaysSimilarly, a glow-in-the-dark paint reduces the need for additional road-side lighting. Charged in daylight, the glow-in-the-dark paint illuminates the contours of the road at night for up to 10 hours.

Brilliant! And the Dutch are trialling this technology now.

BACK TO SCHOOL WITH THE STORY OF THE JEWS

I’ve come back after a last minute trip to try and get some proper full-on sun and store up lots of vitamin D for the winter. And of course we are now in the last week before school starts and our house is full of talk about revision timetables, which books to buy and will the four year old shirts make it through one more year.

If you are in the same boat with your focus now firmly on education , I have just the thing to mark the start the autumn term.

UA client Simon Schama has spent what must be over two years writing and making a landmark five-part series for the BBC which explores the history of the Jews. simon schamaThe programme spans over four thousand years of history from the Ancient Israelites and the origins of the Hebrew Bible, to the lives of Jewish people in this century, looking at the impact they have have had in creating the world we live in today through culture, money, science and entertainment.

Simon has also written a book to accompany the series, which is available in the UK from the 12th September.

Fascinating stuff and it all starts this Sunday on BBC2 at 9pm. I, for one, will be glued to my set …

 

MUST-SEE TV TONIGHT: POACHING WARS WITH TOM HARDY

Tom Hardy is a man of many talents, and tonight you can watch him turn his hand to presenting in the first of a two-part hard hitting documentary about poaching.

tom hardyTom travelled to South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania aiming to uncover the truth about why poaching has reached crisis levels and to see for himself what can be done to stop the killing.

He is passionate about animal welfare: Like most of us I have a love for Africa’s magnificent animals. As a result I find it hard to stomach the poaching crisis sweeping the continent and pushing these amazing animals to the edge of extinction. Without doubt the rhino and the elephant are facing extinction well within our lifetime and the war on poaching is being lost. I’m making these documentaries because it’s something practical I can do to ask some questions that need to be asked.

Poaching Wars starts at 9pm on ITV and I think we should all be watching.

WHO DOESN’T TAKE YOUTUBE STARS SERIOUSLY NOW?

I’m always beating on about how YouTube vloggers are going to be the A-list superstars of the future, and the news that Michelle Phan (“who?” I hear you ask) is about to launch a make-up line with L’Oreal is grist to my evangelistic mill.

To those of you firmly rooted in the terrestrial world, Michelle is what I can only describe as a beauty guru phenomenon with over 4 1/2 million subscribers. She has created 266 videos with more than 765 million views since posting her first beauty tutorial on YouTube in 2007.

michelle phanHer make-up range will have 250 items and the label is called “em“. She told her legions of fans that all of your makeup related comments and feedback inspired us to create and formulate the products and colours.

Michelle also plans to open em’s  first shop in New York in October with further openings planned next year.

So if you don’t take YouTube seriously, now is most definitely the time to start.

Here’s Michelle in action:

MUPPETS!

I can’t help it, I’ve been a huge Muppets fan since the days of the Muppet Show in the 1970′s and age has not withered my love …

I therefore fell on the trailer for their next film Most Wanted which stars UA’s Ricky Gervais (lucky, lucky man) and with wonderful make-up design by Emma Scott. Sadly not out until next year so I will have to contain myself.

In the meantime, here’s that trailer: