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At W5, we’ve been thinking a lot about mobile phones lately. It’s a fascinating topic for research. The depth of the emotional and physical relationship between the user and the device is sometimes staggering. It makes me think of my own technophilia and wonder if the phantom rings and vibrations I feel are just feelings of love unrequited.

We love our phones, but do they love us back? The relationship tends to be one-sided. There is shockingly little research on the emotional insides of our mobile phones. We never ask “how are you feeling?” and thus we never know.

Matt Edgar took a boldly empathetic move in an Ignite Leeds presentation, speculating as to what our phones are actually thinking. It’s illuminating. Here’s the video:

 

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This collection of motion infographics from Bloomberg is pretty amazing. Each takes a single, complex issue and explains it using brief, animated infographic. Beyond simply being a visual expression of data, each video tells a story, leaving the viewer with a full understanding of the issue at hand. Granted, not everyone has the expertise (or budget) to employ motion infographics, but there are little lessons to be learned in each. Enjoy.

So what happens when you ask people to perform a simple task? Say something as easy as drawing a straight line? As the following video shows you get chaos.

A Sequence of Lines Traced by Five Hundred Individuals from clement valla on Vimeo.

It’s a very simple illustration, but it also shows how people will take an initiative and make it their own. It’s likely a telling indicator why so many top down social media strategies and activities don’t take off. It’s also a good illustration of how once a brand is born into the marketplace it takes on new life as consumers attach their own ideas.

“David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.”

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All of the great stuff from Old Spice got me whistling…

I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of advertising lately that is attempting to be green or to connect with consumers via social media or create community. Too often, my response has been “REALLY?” The idea is somewhat sound… give consumers what they want and like to get them more involved with your brand. Create some love.  I get it.  The problem is the execution.

Today on my way in, I heard a radio spot for a body groomer for men. The ad highlighted two things: 1) the company will plant a tree for each unit sold and 2) you can go to their website to create an avatar, a virtual shaved you. Honestly, what’s the point? They have a series of humorous videos to both explain the product benefits and drive interest, that makes sense to me.  But the social/green aspect feels out of place.

First, if your brand wants to go green, that’s great. But don’t greenwash. If you go green it needs to be related to your product. So if you plant trees but still use toxic chemicals or kill indigenous plants and birds to make your stuff, that’s no good. How could a body shaver go green? Maybe they could make the product more energy efficient or use a high percentage of recycled plastic in making it. Those would both be relevant. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Second, not every product needs or deserves a community. Using a viral video to highlight benefits, drive interest, etc. makes sense. If it’s cheap and you think it will have any impact, do it. The problem is do I really want to be in a community for a product like this? Do I need an avatar just for me? Does any guy really talk to their friends (or strangers for that matter) about grooming and how they look?  The answer is not really. So while you might think it’s great for your customers to talk to each other about your product or brand, you still need to understand if they’re actually going to do it.

I’ll give some brands like this credit though. They provided a few how-to videos to let guys escape embarrassment and learn about new ways of using the product on their own.

Green and social were new and interesting and have become “expected.” However, as with anything else in life, they’re only worth doing if you do them well.”

Google was in the news yesterday afternoon as they’ve added real-time search results. So now you get the latest Facebook and Twitter news along with CNN and other sources. While that’s cool, the other part of their announcements yesterday is even cooler.  For those of you with Android phones, you can now download Google Goggles. What is it? It’s a means of searching via images. So instead of typing, you take a picture of the object/business/art/brand/business card/etc. and Google returns results based on that.  Check out the video from the engineering team:

So far it’s been 75% to 85% correct for me, not bad for the first version of the software. One of the coolest and most useful things I’ve discovered so far is the ability to instantly capture information off of a business card and dump it into my Google Contacts. Very cool stuff and another point of differentiation for Android phones over other smartphones.

This week’s infographic is a short, animated film produced for Hellman’s “Eat Local, Eat Real” campaign. It beautifully integrates statistics and dancing dinner items to encourage Canadians to buy local. Really well done.