Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017 – Double Video Feature [Ep. 34 & 35]

I never took the time to post last year’s two videos from Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017 in March last year. It was a fantastic event, where I met so many new people, and got to hang out with loads of old friends.

The first video is a summary of the event, and the second, an interview with the brilliant Karie Westermann, who taught the two-handed colourwork class I attended.

After two years in attendance, I’ve decided not to go to EYF this year.

I have plans to attend a character design and art event later this year instead. I’ll most likely post a vlog of the event too. And who knows, I might start posting videos semi-regularly again!

In the meantime, I decided to revive the blog as my personal space to post some of the new projects I’ve been working on; a mix of drawing, watercolour, airbrushing, and so much other stuff… More on that later 🙂

Immortalising the Alfred logo in Minecraft

In recent months, we’ve printed the Alfred logo on stickers, handy little keyboard brushes and we’ve made our own bowler hats to wear at SXSW Interactive in March.

Yet, I think this trumps them all; Alfred user and good friend Zettt created a giant bowler hat in Minecraft and shows it off on video. Even as a Glitch early adopter, I don’t quite “get” Minecraft but the walkthrough is hilarious nonetheless.

I have to admit, I never imagined I’d see our Alfred logo immortalised this way 🙂

For Zettt’s whole post, check out his Mac OS X Tumblr.

Where creativity comes from

It’s Friday, you’ve been giving it the beans all week, working that little brain of yours to the bone (figuratively, let’s hope). You need a boost for that last mile before this evening’s G&T while watching mindless TV (or maybe your evening is more exciting than mine…)

Don’t tell everyone, but I’ve found one of the best sources of creative juices out there…

Alright, fine, it’s a campaign for the South West Regional Development Agency, created by Rubber Republic. It arrived in my inbox last week, with a subject line containing “Viral Campaign”*, so it was within an inch of getting deleted without a second look. Being the end of the day, I was looking for distraction, so I had a look at the video, to find myself delighted by how silly it turned out to be. I love organisations with a sense of humour, and this one’s just wonderfully twisted.

I wonder what would happen if you squeezed Silicon Fen/Cambridge creatives? You’d probably get a CAMRA-approved fermented beverage that knocks your socks off. 😉

[* On the “Viral Campaign” note, I hope agencies will realise that, while it’s fine to call it a viral campaign on your marketing strategy plan internally, a video doesn’t go viral until the viewers make it so. Create something fantastic, give people the tools to share it easily, but don’t tell us it’s a viral. That’s for us to decide.]

My Omni and me

A few weeks ago, Andrew and I wanted to get a couple of beanbags so that we could slouch right in front of the TV to play Lego Indiana Jones (which was a rocking game, btw!). We ended up ordering a couple of pear shaped brown leatherette bean bags.

But by some most bizarre coincidence, two days later, via fellow blogger Tom, Andrew from Sumo Lounge offered to send me a monster-sized Sumo Omni beanbag. It was delivered to the office, leaving most of my work colleagues puzzled when I shoved this big blue bag into the back of my tiny car. (we usually carpool with a friend, but that day, he walked home…)

So this is what it’s like these days in the Pepperrell lounge. A husband, two cats, and a big momma of a mmmm… cozy beanbag.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Tech World 2008 = Hip Hop 1985

Gary Vaynerchuk, for those who don’t yet know him, is the guy behind, in front and all around Wine Library TV. He’s a raving looney, a totally loveable geek but most of all, a rough diamond of community relations amongst the world of overly polished marketing bullshit. He says things as they are and has marked me enough during SXSWi this year that I’ve got a couple of things he’s said up on my board of inspirational quotes in the office. (Thank you Gary, genuinely!)

He also agreed with me that making your own wine is a bad idea, mmmkay dad?

PS – I want my own WLTV sweatband bracelet thinger!

Star Wars story told by a 3 year old

Because I know you all miss my posts while I have no Internet access at home due to the house move, I’ll provide you with comic relief in the form of some of YouTube’s cream of the crop.

Everyone loves Star Wars. Everyone loves kids. Everyone loves YouTube. (sort of.)

Let it snow!

Just a short video of the snow today. Lovely big snowflakes falling softly while we’re comfortably sitting indoors.

The Secret Strategies Behind Many 'Viral' Videos or why Dan Ackerman Greenberg is an idiot

[Disclaimer: I realise the last thing I should be doing is giving this guy more visibility and mentions on the web, but his original article, as well as his follow-up REALLY rubbed me up the wrong way and I need to vent it out.]

When I took on my first marketing role, some years ago now, I quickly realised that the term marketing, like sales came with a lot of negative baggage. Since then, I’ve met enough marketers who fit the awful cliché to see why the name has been sullied for good.

I’ve made it my personal goal to never, ever fit in with the stereotype of the marketer who is willing to lie, cheat and sell his firstborn child for the sake of hitting some haphazard target numbers set by a boss in an executive leather chair in a clinical office boardroom. I want marketing to be about a great product and an honest passion for the community to whom it brings a solution to a problem. I only want to work for company directors who have visions I can agree with, and marketing managers who have their heart and their ethics in the right place. Call me idealistic or naïve, but that’s how this girl rolls.

This morning, I came across a TechCrunch guest post by a guy called Dan who claims his viral video marketing agency can take average videos and shoot them into the viral fame sphere. He candidly starts with this introduction:

“Have you ever watched a video with 100,000 views on YouTube and thought to yourself: “How the hell did that video get so many views?” Chances are pretty good that this didn’t happen naturally, but rather that some company worked hard to make it happen – some company like mine.”

Now, I’m not new to paid blog posts, fake forum users and spam comments encouraging users to go view videos. I know very well how much money some companies will pay to get some of that hard-to-get attention time from viewers. In fact, I’ve been asked in the past to take part in every single one of these types of grey-area tactics, and have held my position. The Internet is polluted enough as it is, I won’t be adding to the spam that goes around by lowering myself to talking to myself on a public forum, pretending to be some teeny bopper who loves whatever product I’m asked to market.

What rubs me the wrong way is the apparent pride with which Dan talks about his agency, while knowing very well that what he’s doing is a. ethically wrong, b. taking the lazy route, c. quite likely to one day blow up in his face.

In his follow-up post, Dan apologises for the tone he took in his article and does a 180 degrees on his claims of spam tactics. His attempt at saving face with the sudden claim that he does not spam or manipulate people is pathetic and pretty damn weak.

There are two scenarios that could’ve led Dan to require that second mea culpa post:

  • Either he does use dirty tactics and was a bit too honest, which makes him a moron for not foreseeing how others, with more ethics than him, would be incensed and angered by his post. If he can’t foresee consequences this obvious, do you really want him marketing your product?
  • Or he’s being a gusty bastard and did this specifically to get a rise out of people for the sake of some publicity, spicing his article with a few sensationalistic techniques he doesn’t necessarily always use. If that’s the case, he’s still an idiot for claiming to use frankly spammy techniques.

Either way, Dan, it still makes you an ethically-twisted little shit.

Unlike me, Ian Delaney doesn’t get his knickers in a twist, and focuses on the positives in Dan’s post, and highlights the things we can learn from successful viral videos.

  • Make it short: 15-30 seconds is ideal; break down long stories into bite-sized clips
  • Design for remixing: create a video that is simple enough to be remixed over and over again by others. Ex: “Dramatic Hamster”
  • Don’t make an outright ad: if a video feels like an ad, viewers won’t share it unless it’s really amazing. Ex: Sony Bravia
  • Make it shocking: give a viewer no choice but to investigate further. Ex: “UFO Haiti”
  • Use fake headlines: make the viewer say, “Holy shit, did that actually happen?!” Ex: “Stolen Nascar”
  • Appeal to sex: if all else fails, hire the most attractive women available to be in the video. Ex: “Yoga 4 Dudes”

So while there’s a bit to learn from Dan’s posts, I just hope everyone remembers that there are plenty of ethical, community-centered and honest people in the marketing world who will agree that dodgy spamming and paid links just isn’t fair play. While dirty tricks might work short-term, you can’t build a community through it, and in the long run, that’s what matters.