Archive for the 'Traditional Media' Category


The City maketh the culture

If you’re very blunt cities are just a collection of buildings, roads and infrastructure where people happen to live and work; they’re essentially just a theatrical backdrop to the daily dramas of each individual’s life – but I like to think they’re more than that.

Cities aren’t just backdrops, they define cultures and movement, some much more so than others. For years certain cities have grabbed their denizens and shown them the lights, whether it be London, Berlin, Köln, New York, Paris or Florence the greatest artistic, political and cultural movements have sprung forth from the cities that spin their inhabitants like whirling dervishes into creative thought and action.

Take the naturalistic beauty of Florence; this is a city that has inspired generations of not just artists, but real masters. You think of Florence and you think of the whole Florentine School cabal which – amongst others – gave us Donatello, Botticelli, Masaccio and Michelangelo; and to this day artists flock to Florence to be inspired, to take in the winsome tuscan countryside, the exquisite architecture and the delicate palette of colours, smells and tastes that float through every Florentine street and piazza.

Or consider the roaring seething orgy that still is Berlin – through generations this city has inspired biting satire, political activism and an art scene that could only be described as brutally honest portrayals of the world around them. Politically this is the city that saw the rise of Communism and National Socialism in the 30s, during the cold war it saw political activism like nowhere else with a plethora of strong protest groups and even today real dissent and anti-government feeling ferments with activists still keeping Angela Merkel’s coalition quite firmly on its toes. Artistically, this political melting pot drives the art scene, from the vicious social commentary of George Grosz or Kathe Kollwitz to the glorious revelry in the debauchery of the cocaine fuelled metrosexual nightclubs as portrayed by Otto Dix; and more recently the free-wheeling poor but sexy Berlin as captured so marvellously in my opinion in the joyous canvases of Ann-Kristin Hamm.

London again twists its inhabitants, the driving ever-changing scene in London opens new doors every day; one person’s crap is another person’s treasure, from the decaying East End of the 1980   that inspired the mega-canvases of multi-cultural faces in Gilbert & Georges seminal work ‘Are you angry, or are you bored’ to the gawking polemic on Britain’s celebrity obsessed culture embodied so well in Damien Hirst’s ‘For the love of God’ (better known as the diamond encrusted skull). Over and over again London like Florence or Berlin has allowed a level of expression that no other city in its shadow could foster. It’s taken in the waifs and strays and given them a canvas to play with: and that – that – is why we love our cities.

Vivid London – it’s not just a name: it defines us, the city we’re based in hones our approach. Life should be Vivid, and London inspires us. It truly is a vivid city; the cultures, languages, art, theatre, cinema, architecture, the whole simmering mass is exciting to be in – and because of that creative thought thrives.


Video killed the….majority?

Considering that in the weeks before the election the Liberal Democrat Party were lagging severely behind both the then ruling Labour Party and the Conservative Party, it is almost shocking to discover that they are now sitting alongside the Conservative Party in a coalition government. This is despite the fact that they actually lost seats during this election campaign. Somehow Nick Clegg seems to have wormed his way into the nation’s hearts, but how? The answer, that antiquated form of entertainment…the television.

In the US, televised debates between political leaders before an election have been commonplace for many years, but the idea was only recently adopted in the UK. The reason for this was quite simple, the British people were bored and uninspired with their politics. During the 2005 general election, the public’s interest in politics was at an all time low, with less than half the population even bothering to vote. The situation had to be remedied.

So, to revitalise the general public’s interest in politics and rectify the situation, it was decided that for the 2010 general election three televised debates would be set up, each focussing on a key theme, domestic affairs, foreign affairs and economic affairs. To ensure fairness, they would include all three party leaders and be broadcast across the UK’s three major networks, ITV, Sky and the BBC.

As the person representing the party with the lowest majority, Nick Clegg had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So, where David Cameron and Gordon Brown were hesitant or unclear with their opinions, Nick Clegg took a different route, showing remarkable accessibility. Following the first debate, Clegg’s public profile increased enormously, and the Liberal Democrat’s position in the opinion polls skyrocketed, to the extent that some newspapers were predicting a Liberal Democrat victory.

However, as the other debates would show, support for Clegg would eventually wane as the other leaders arguments became stronger. Following the third and final debate, just a week before the election, it appeared that all three parties were within a hairs breath of each other. It was clear this was going to be down to the wire.

In the end, this resulted in a hung parliament, which resolved itself as the Conservative Party (who won the largest amount of seats) and the Liberal Democrats entered into coalition. The televised debates however, had been a massive success. They had succeeded in providing a platform for all the major parties to put their views across directly to the public. The close result bears testament to the fact that a much larger percentage of the UK’s population came out to vote in 2010. It appears the public’s political flame has been reignited, lets hope that continues.


Should news websites be free of charge?

Picking up a newspaper each morning gives you the most essential bits of information about what is happening in the world around you – keeping up with changes in economics, politics, society and culture. But the UK press is changing. With the evolvement of social media and the rising power of the internet it is getting harder for the newspapers to maintain their readership.

Nearly 80% of the UK population now have internet access and use it regularly. Of those, 16 million people use the internet through mobile devices – to update statuses on various social networks or to catch up with the latest news. Twitter and co. make it easy to see what’s happening throughout the world right now – how are the newspapers supposed to keep up?

Over the last decade the newspapers have been engaged in a price war. The Times is a case in point as it has been constantly battling with The Guardian for both price and readership. However, recently The Times bucked this trend by putting its cover price up to £1.00 during the week, £1.50 on saturdays and £2.00 for the Sunday Times.

Furthermore, The Times and its complementary Sunday paper have decided to be the first published papers to charge for their online services with a £2 fee per week from June. This may come as a shock to their readers, and questions are already being raised as to how this will affect readership and if the website will yield a profit.

So, increasing the price for the paper and announcing a pay-per-view arrangement on their website, all within a few months – the stakes are high for The Times. However, they might not have made the worst decision according to a study by Baba Shiv, a marketing professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He argues that prices are changing people’s experiences of a product and therefore the outcomes from consuming this product. Research has shown that people are mentally influenced by the price of a product. For example, Shiv has shown that ‘people who had paid a higher price for an energy drink, such as Red Bull, were able to solve more brain teasers than those who paid a discounted price for the same product.’ Are consumers being psychologically deceived by pricing? If so, how will it affect The Times?

It is well known that people are curious. It’s human nature. But users will ask what is so different about the website, what does it offer that others don’t? This curiosity will drive traffic to both sites during the first few days of launch. After they have experienced the digital presence they will be more likely to consider a repetitive purchase of that service.

One thing that will happen is that the changes will reposition the newspaper in the marketplace. The Times has been known as qualitative paper and it will continue to create qualitative content. It promises to increase the engagement of its online users by offering the opportunity to talk to staff, writers and experts to create deep and intelligent conversation.

Should others follow in The Times footsteps? Only time will tell, the battle of gaining and maintaining both paper and digital readership will continue to change the landscape of the UK press as we have known it.

Lisa Beck


Should websites monitor user-generated content more carefully?

Can users be offered a high level of artistic freedom?

Two Google executives have recently been sentenced in Italy for privacy violation – because of a video that one of their millions of users posted to the YouTube website. The video, which had millions of views, featured a boy with Down’s Syndrome being maliciously bullied by his classmates.

Because the video was available for a relatively long time, was featured prominently by the site, and received substantial attention from third parties, the Judge found it unlikely that the two executives had not seen it.

In light of this scandal, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a businessman who made his money in traditional broadcasting, has called for user-generated video sites to be regulated in a way that would kill their business model.

This gives the scandal an overtly political dimension. The threat of video-sharing websites to traditional media put them at odds with Italy’s media tycoons, of which Silvio Berlusconi is undoubtably the leading figure. Two for two for Mr Berlusconi against Google, it seems.

The judgement seems to imply that video-sharing sites like YouTube are liable for the content that their users upload. This could be a major problem for the industry moving forward. Examples like the recent crackdown in China show how quickly political influence can kill the foundations of the internet: the sharing of knowledge, openness and creative ideas.

Imagine for a moment the Internet with every sentence of text, every segment of video and every single image having to pass a regulatory test before going live. It wouldn’t be the internet we know today – and it would cease to be of much use. We expect our communication to be instant, how would we cope with this degree of lag?

The internet is, in essence, an open communications platform. If you kill the openness, you kill the communication, which in turn kills the platform.

People have always done ‘naughty’ things – but in the age of global connectivity, their indiscretions can be seen within a matter of seconds, the world over. Society has to adapt to deal with this development.

We can’t monitor the twenty-four hours worth of footage uploaded to YouTube each minute. The sensible solution is the current practice: relying on users to report unsuitable content as quickly as possible. If Google were as concerned about breaching an individual’s privacy as a company’s intellectual property, their executives may well have not faced sentencing.

There will continue to be ‘user-generated’ success stories: companies and people who use the web to reach out to each other. The failures will continue too – that lies in the nature of people. We need to change how we deal with them, and how we react to them, to ensure that the promise of the internet is not overshadowed by the darker sides of human nature.

Luisa Keuler


Product Placement – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It is undeniable the impact that Lady Gaga has had over the world in the past 12 months. From New York club kid to global superstar in a relatively short space of time; the woman packs out stadiums and receives diamond (yes, diamond) record sales on an almost weekly basis. She may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the Lady keeps going strong. This past week, the self appointed ‘Haus of Gaga’, with the help of acclaimed director Jonas Åkerlund, unveiled their latest music promo video. Entitled ‘Telephone’, the video features Lady Gaga and Beyonce launching a prison escape across the American desert.

Like most promo videos of the past decade, there is no lack of product placement. But as with most things Gaga, it isn’t done with any hint of subtlety. This is the product placement equivalent of a slap in the face.

On first count, there are 12 different (and blatant) examples of product placement. These range from the fake ‘Poison TV’ channel, all the way to the powerhouse of Diet Coke. These, of course, are the obvious examples. To the trained eye, this number will triple with the countless costume changes and accessories each character wears. But behind every example is a story — and be it good, bad or ugly — Gaga is presenting them all.

Firstly, the good. Some choices are purely business led, while others are ‘artistic vision’. Sometimes, the two can be the same thing. The characters wear Gaga’s own brand of earphones and listen to her past songs. There is also a huge focus on the (previously ailing) brand of Polaroid; a company, in which Gaga was recently named ‘Creative Director’. Although in your face, these placements just make sense.

But with the good, must come the bad. We are continually confronted with the Virgin Mobile logo; and featuring on a song called ‘Telephone’,this can only be a huge triumph for the brand. But when something is so obviously forced into the video – it’s clear that the logo could have been replaced by a higher bidder at the last moment and when Gaga uses a jail cell pay phone, rather than a Virgin mobile – the message isn’t exactly crystal clear.

Finally we come to the ugly – something Gaga is not afraid of. We see the prison guards log onto a dating website called ‘Plenty of Fish’. Upon further research, this is a real website. Enough said.

When it comes to music videos, Gaga is fast becoming the leader in the field. But with so many examples of product placement forced into one video, there are too many voices shouting for attention. None of the brands come across as being particularly memorable.

Be more memorable; stand out in the crowd. Learn from the video and don’t let Lady Gaga overshadow you. Why not say hello to Vivid today?

Andrew Beedle


The slow (and very painful) death of reality TV

Channel 4 today announced that it’s to replace Big Brother with a new programme centred around the lives of 10 urban types from Notting Hill. After over a decade of reality television, it’s come full circle and is now going to start looking inward on some of the people that probably live a few doors down from the people that have commissioned the tawdry public humiliations of the attention seeking few willing to be incarcerated in Big Brother’s TV dungeons in the first place.

Whether it be locked in a house in North London scratching your nether-regions or flapping about an airport, port, council office, cruise ship, pest control outfit, police car, garden centre or auction house where no good molehill can’t become a drama filled mountain. It’s been the same dull formula filling the gaps between the programmes people really want to watch for a few more years than most would care to think about. With the death of Big Brother, many of us happily assumed it’d be time for the formula to move on – clearly though, it’s not going to be the case.

The problem with the idea of following around 10 urban types from Notting Hill is that it’s already been done – in fiction and in fact – and we all know these are not going to be normal people, as normal people simply don’t put up with the intrusion of a television camera thrust into their life.

I’m expecting there to be a sprinkling of sloane-rangers, a trustafarian and perhaps a sprinkling of “real people” (and by that I mean people slightly poorer than the other people in the show – probably from above the Westway – as a commissioning friend of mine would say) and almost certainly, god forbid, a few media types. Regardless of their backgrounds however, there’s one thing that’s going to draw them all together; the undeniable knowledge that reality TV, rather than being exactly that, is nothing more than a launch pad to a career in the media.

The jig is up, it’s been up for a long time, it’s not reality, it’s an audition. The more extreme the shows have become, the more extreme the candidates they’ve attracted, and surely that can only lead to one conclusion – and that’s not better TV, it’s not even TV that attracts high ratings.

Over the last decade the audience share for ‘reality’ programming has soared, peaked and from a few years ago been in stuck in a steady nose-dive. The format is dying, especially when it’s compared against the talent show format, the natural home of the wide-eyed, attention seeking and the celebrity. Why humiliate yourself getting locked in a box when you can launch or relaunch your career learning to sing or dance, or indeed to become a novelty act because of your complete inability to do either, as a celebrity or a fame-hungry-member-of-the-public?

While no-one can question the world-beating dominance (presently) of British TV formats, that dominance won’t last forever – it’s time for new ideas, and new directions, and harking back to the same old, same old is only going to damage the reputation of the UK’s thriving media sector – so excuse me while I stifle my yawns, but surely it’s time to admit that we’ve all had enough of reality TV.


Tony Blair, He’s got it.

Tony Blair, love him or loathe him, you’ve got to give it to him that he’s still the slickest media operator in modern politics. I’d rate him higher than Barack Obama (who practically walked on water during his campaign) and even higher than David Cameron, who despite a good start is failing to find the balance between serious prime minister in waiting and head of the new fluffy Conservatives.

But what makes Blair such a smooth operator? It’s not that he’s natural at this, his manner, tone, measure and gesture have all been practised until they’ve become second nature. The key to his success has always been this ‘natural’ charm, his relaxed facial features allow him to form words in a clear pattern, his slight wry smile and flash of pearly whites gives him that cheeky trust, and most importantly his ability to mix Prime Minister (and now Statesman) with bloke-you’d-not-mind-sharing-a-pint-with.

The ability to communicate a message isn’t just for politicians, and good media training shouldn’t just be for the most pressured CEOs. It should be a fixture of any part of a business that faces the public or the press. The difference in style – regardless of whether it’s facing you directly or talking to you the customer through the press – is often stark.

An organisation that you feel is genuinely upset at itself because its service toward you has been unsatisfactory, but recognises that it is at fault and, most importantly, takes steps to rectify the situation versus a company that shoves you an unpersonalised note apologising for any inconvenience is huge.

Done well, a message communicated in a genuine fashion will console you and consolidate your faith in a brand. Done badly and it will damage the trust and credibility of the brand every time.

The bottom line in business or politics means that you often can’t take the views of every single customer into hand, and you’re never going to keep every single person happy, but it’s the tone and style of your message to them that counts. So work with your communications people to ensure that what you’re saying not only sounds genuine, but actually carries through to authentic business improvement. Your business will benefit, your brand will benefit and most importantly you’ll build customer trust.

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