Ten Stories From This Week

9th January 2021

‘We asked readers to tell us about the spots that have delighted, inspired and comforted them in a dark year. Here are 52, of more than 2,000 suggestions we received, to remind us that the world still awaits. From NYT (reg may be necessary)

The most Contagious report for 2020. Trends, campaigns and quotes.

This looks very cool and f.o.c. from Fluxx, friend of the Filter. A five day virtual festival ‘designed to help businesses and individuals set up for a successful 2021 and beyond.’ This is Work Re-imagined.

Interesting piece on then DC riots. ‘The really striking thing is that the rioters were creating content for social media. It’s where the power lies.’

From MIT. ‘Covid-19 patients who recovered from the disease still have robust immunity from the coronavirus eight months after infection, according to a new study. The study, published January 6 in Science. 

Prof Galloway’s person of the year and predictions for 2021. (spoiler alert, he hopes 2021 is going to be better than 2020…)

Be careful what you fish for. (1′ 20″) . And, be careful what you wish for, in this surreal South African Nike Ad (2′ 06″)

Immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of Ireland’s coast. ‘You stand upon a cliff, with the wind blowing in your face. See the gray sky above you and folding waves below. Now close your eyes and enjoy the light drizzle on your face, carried fast and cold by the sea wind. Breathe in slowly and deeply, and feel the invigorating sensation of inhaling fresh salty air….

‘Abi’s cinematic poetry film about her Black experience, was penned the day she found out about the death of George Floyd. An intimate portrait, vibrant, energetic and full of spirit. Being Black & 6Teen (4″31″).

Because we need some of this at the moment. Here are The Guardian readers’ : 10 funniest things (on the internet) this past year. 

Ten Stories From This Week

19th December 2020

From NYT. The Year In Pictures. ‘Certain years are so eventful they are regarded as pivotal in history, years when wars and slavery ended and deep generational fissures burst into the open — 1865, 1945 and 1968 among them. The year 2020 will certainly join this list. It will long be remembered and studied as a time when more than 1.5 million people globally died during a pandemic, racial unrest gripped the world, and democracy itself faced extraordinary tests.’ (reg may be necessary)

Little Black Book’s visual and video anatomy of 2020. ‘The scramble towards the end of 2020 is nearly over, so LBB takes a momentary breather to look back over the creative and production trends that no one was expecting back in January.’ 

From Planning Dirty. The Cogs of Marketing Effectiveness. ‘It is hard to grasp how all marketing metrics work together, the analogy of a wheel of cogs came to mind to explain the relationship between the different measurement elements. Some metrics you can move straight away but the big cogs will take more time to see change. The following is an explanation of the different cogs and how they all relate.’ And..also from Planning Dirty, here is a deck that provides scientific proof for Communications Planning.

The Year on TikTok: ‘Brands that inspired us.

A couple of decks from last week’s Most Contagious conference. 3 key themes from the two day event were – Embracing discomfort : The root of brand bravery; Having belief in your idea and product; and the pro’s and cons of brand activism. With specific reference to the travel and tourism sector – Travel Revolution looked at ‘5 ways technology will be a booster shot to revive travel’.

My piece with the Just Breathe Project this week – The Mindful Tourist.

From Thai Health and BBDO Bangkok. Covidman is funny but with a serious message about a different kind of pandemic (1’51”).

Tree.fm lets you listen in on forests around the world, at random. Escape, relax & preserve. 

Jumpei Mitsui, the youngest-ever Lego Certified Professional, has created a Lego version of Hokusai’s iconic woodblock print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The Great Wave is perhaps the most recognisable (and most covered) Japanese artwork in the world. Mitsui’s Lego rendering is composed of 50,000 pieces and took 400 hours to build.

Great fun. Create your own opera inspired song with Blob Opera – no music skills required. A machine learning experiment by David Li in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture

So…It’s the final newsletter of the year. Thank you all for opening, reading, sharing, and contributing for the last 52 weeks. It really means a lot to us. You’re all truly wonderful!
Hope you have a restful and enjoyable Christmas and wishing you the very best for 2021. Nick.  (The Filter will be back on 9th January)

Ten Stories From This Week

12th December

From MIT. ‘This graphic, released by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, shows the difference in covid-19 infection rates between the people in their trial who got a novel gene vaccine and the others who got a placebo. The volunteers who were given a shot of placebo appear as the blue line. The ones who got a vaccine are in red.

2021 Social Media Trends from Hubspot. ‘A Detailed Report To Drive Your Social Media Strategy Forward

From the the RSA. Seven ingredients of an idea. (3’35”)

From NYT. Hidden in Plain Sight: The Ghosts of Segregation. ‘Vestiges of racism and oppression, from bricked-over segregated entrances to the forgotten sites of racial violence, still permeate much of America’s built environment.’

The problematic fakery of Lil Miquela explained. An exploration of virtual influencers and realness. ‘Just as robots replaced the factory workers, and the drive-through workers were outsourced to India; those employed to yacht the world, drink fat burning smoothies and just be attractive, are getting furloughed too.. Stars – they are just like us.

How Are You Doing? Jason Kottke ran this infographic on a site of pandemic resources for Colorado healthcare workers that shows some typical responses to different levels of stress. ‘Using a chart like this can help you figure out where you are on the stress continuum (as long as you remember that everyone is different) and then seek out the proper kind of assistance.’

Dentsu’s Creative Trends Report 2021. Five themes that will coexist, combine and recombine to shape the future of creativity and technology. Including – the virtual experience economy, the real we, human contact-less, me myself and AI, and the urgency of ‘allyship’. This is the Brand New Normal.

Interesting and engaging infographic from Spotify. How sound shaped a year of resilience.

The Rest Of The World’s14 tech trends to watch in 2021.

A virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. A Concerto is a Conversation. (if you find time to watch, make sure you stay for the end credits) 13’32”.

Ten Stories From This Week

6th December 2020

Prof Scott Galloway, on The Great Dispersion. ‘The pandemic’s most enduring feature will be as an accelerant of existing trends. The trend that encapsulates the greatest reshuffling of stakeholder value in recent history is … the Great Dispersion. Similar to prior macro trends like globalisation and digitisation, it offers enormous opportunity, but also real threats…. Social media is a form of dispersion, enabling connections, competition and debate — the dispersal of community. It has also removed healthy friction (truth, science, editors) resulting in an afterburner for misinformation and conspiracy.’

Tom Whitwell’s annual ’52 things I learned this year’, is worth a read. This is No.4 – ‘If Apple AirPods was a standalone business (founded 2016, $12bn revenue, 125% growth, 30–50% margin). it would probably be the most valuable startup in the world.

Very interesting and digestible – WeTransfer’s Ideas Report. ‘The year is 2020, A pandemic has collided with the creative world. It’s time to make sense of it all.‘ (ht @here_forth)

@Faris on Burger King’s approach to advertising. ‘This is the essence of the strategic approach known as OODA [Observe, Orient, Decide, Act] which was developed on the battlefield. It looks like any strategic process to some degree but it’s predicated on the mandate to decide and act faster than your competitors. By getting ‘inside their OODA loop’ you paralyse them from acting because you keep changing the battlefield.’

‘From social media, to the global economy, to supply chains – our lives rest precariously on systems that have become so complex, and we have yielded so much of it to technologies and autonomous actors that no one totally comprehends it all. The modern world has finally become too complex for any of us to understand.’ 

How one video helped raise more than $70,000 for a good cause. ‘People kept asking me why a total stranger would travel 10 hours roundtrip to create a film for someone he doesn’t know,” said filmmaker Dan Lior. “The answer is that I knew I could help DeShawn out, so I did. It’s as simple as that.”

Physicists have found the “magic number” that shapes the universe. I regret to inform you that it is not 42.

Well, well. This is TikTok’s most-watched video of the yearBella Poarch’s tribute (?) to bad UK grime is weirdly hypnotic.

Italian singer Adriano Celentano released a song in the 70s with nonsense lyrics meant to sound like American English, apparently to prove Italians would like any English song. It was a hit. 

Great spoof on Christmas perfume ads (57″)

Ten Stories From This Week

29th November 2020

If you need a calming break from work this simple mindfulness site allows you to go stargazing, lie in a meadow, or explore a forest. (HT @neilperkin)

Bitcoin at $100,000 in 2021? Outrageous to some, a no-brainer for backers.

From Wired. The Ethics of Rebooting the Dead.The notion of resurrecting people as digital entities is becoming less hypothetical. But just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be.

Spotify are now experimenting with letting influencers post stories to introduce their playlists.

On a busy Monday afternoon in late October, a line of people in reflective vests stood on Happiness Avenue, in downtown Beijing. This was a performance staged by the artist Deng Yufeng, who was trying to demonstrate how difficult it was to dodge CCTV cameras in the Chinese capital.

From Time Out. Revealed: British accents are the world’s sexiest.

Wonderful. A couple in New Zealand shunned developers to give 900 hectares of pristine land to the nation.

For the launch of Anheuser Busch-Inbev’s new blonde beer Victoria, the strategy was to confront the competition head on. Victoria is ABI’s challenger brand to the world-famous Belgian beer Duvel, which means Devil in Flemish. So, the launch campaign offers ‘Victoria The Angel’, to challenge the devils and invite consumers to make a new choice. (47″)

From Creative Review. ‘Scarfolk’s dystopian travel guide is a fitting tribute to our turbulent times. Everyone’s favourite Orwellian time warp is hoping to capitalise on the boom in staycations with a printed guide to the area’s ‘outstanding unnatural brutality’.

Love this commercial take on the classic Singin’ in the Rain, from Burberry. They say – ‘It’s about that fearless spirit and imagination when pushing boundaries.‘ I’m not going to argue with that. (1″59″)

Ten Stories From This Week

21st November 2020

From NYT – What did Europe smell like centuries ago? Historians set out to recreate lost scents. A project announced this week and funded by the European Union will catalogue and recreate the scents of Europe from the 16th century to the early 20th century.

WARC on the six challenges facing brands in 2021 – and what to do about them.

Time Magazine’s Inventions of 2020. Categories include – Accessibility, AI, AR & VR, Beauty, Connectivity and many more…

NESTA’s 4 tests of good innovation

A 3 metre high refugee puppet is currently walking from Syria to UK. Good Chance Theatre are  dramatising the global refugee crisis with The Walk. And good luck, Amal. We look forward to welcoming you. (HT @davidpearlhere) (2’01”)

‘So Bradley created a keyboard shortcut that triggered a system reset without the memory tests. He never dreamed that the simple fix would make him a programming hero, someone who’d someday be hounded to autograph keyboards at conferences. And he didn’t foresee the command becoming such an integral part of the user experience. This is the history of CTRL + ALT + DELETE.

Tim Harford on the power of negative thinking. ‘The third advantage of thinking seriously about failure is that we may turn away from projects that are doomed from the outset. From the invasion of Iraq to the process of Brexit, seriously exploring the daunting prospect of disaster might have provoked the wise decision not to start in the first place.’

From Texas Monthly. ‘During the pandemic, Sam Waring put a sign in his yard: “If the Curtain’s Open, Give Us a Wave, Eh?” Passers by obliged. How I Became “The Guy Who Waves”.

Lovely. Rubens’ Cupid escapes his painting & flies around Brussels Airport, Thanks to projection mapping technology. (3’29)

Let’s be honest. We all do this on Zoom. 

Ten Stories From This Week

15th Novermber 2020

Nice piece from (friend of The Filter) Future Strategy ClubSurvival of the Fittest : The Post Covid Handbook. ‘There is no doubt that the Covid pandemic has brought a profound impact to the business world. Financially, the effect of the crisis has resulted in the prediction that a fifth of all small businesses will collapse in the UK. Although this is a bleak prophecy – as often happens in the aftermath of crises – a new period of creativity, inspiration and growth is to come. The Covid period has allowed firms to reflect on their business models and ensure they are fulfilling their founding purpose.

Quite something. This is the online Donald Trump Memorial Library. This may (or may not) be what you were expecting. 

From NYT – The evolving travel experience: virtual, actual and in between : Socially distanced craft classes, virtual tango lessons, a city tour accompanied by an avatar guide: how experience companies — which now include Amazon — are adapting to the pandemic.

The Dalai Lama has appealed to world leaders to take urgent action against climate change, warning of ecological destruction affecting the lives of billions and ruining the planet, including his birth country, Tibet. The Buddha would have been green.

From MIT – ‘One in five covid-19 patients are diagnosed with a mental illness within three months.’ Anxiety disorders, insomnia, and dementia were the most common diagnoses.

The John Lewis Christmas ad stars children, snowmen and hip-hop pigeons. The Covid edition of their annual TV advert, focuses on kindness rather than gift-giving.

photo series of brutalist apartment complexes in former Soviet states, and their inhabitants. (click to scroll)

‘Turkmenistan’s President gives his favourite dog a golden treat.’ President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov proclaimed his love for the Central Asian shepherd, by memorialising it in a 19-foot-high statue. A puppy, held by a young child, also made an appearance as Mr. Berdymukhammedov, an autocrat who rules over one of the world’s most repressive governments, watched with evident pride.(46″) (NYT, reg may be necessary).

Wonderful. Viral video of a ballerina with Alzheimer’s shows the vital role of music in memory, Music’s primal power for those living with dementia has inspired thousands of YouTube views of a clip of a former dancer.

On November 11, 1918 WWI ended. This recording, made available by the Imperial War Museum is the moment when the guns of World War I fell silent. (HT@neilperkin)

Finally, here is the Rolling Stones’ first live performance of “Sympathy For The Devil” — with a dancing John Lennon. (Piece is 8’48”, JL cutting a rug at 4’54”)

Ten Stories From This Week

8th November 2020

A More Resilient World? Detailed strategy deck (87 slides) for a post Covid world. Loads in here including –  Safety vs. Connection (p.16), Stoicism vs. Vulnerability (p.27), Individualism vs. Collectivism (p.36), Commercialism vs. Sustainability (p.43) ,Structure vs Fluidity (p.51), Growth vs. Degrowth (p.60), Closure vs. Reinvention (p.68) and Brand & Business Takeaways (p.75).

Where I’ll be buying my books moving forward. ‘Bookshop.org, which launched in the US earlier this year, has accelerated UK plans and goes online this week in partnership with more than 130 shops.’

Extraordinary example of data visualisation: This Voting Map – Land doesn’t vote, people do. Scroll down to see animation (HT @mitchwhitten ).

From Wunderman Thompson. ‘The future of sports promises a new era of opportunity for brands. 2020 saw professional sports brought to a standstill, with seasons interrupted and trophies hanging in the balance for months. But while sports have now resumed, nothing is the same. The ongoing challenge of combating the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive profound and rapid change in the world of sport.’

The Economist provide a weekly email explaining and demonstrating how their front cover image is chosen. An interesting examination of the week’s lead news story, brought to life visually. This week it is When Every Vote Counts.

A determined ballet dancer makes lockdown sparkle in this Amazon Christmas spot. The show must go on. 

I’m sure many of us will have been glued to streaming news channels over the last few days (and nights). Here, a presenter’s quick maths led to an extraordinary live TV moment.

From Aeon. ‘The need to touch’. The language of touch binds our minds and bodies to the broader social world. What happens when touch becomes taboo?

Presidential spiritual adviser Paula White led an impassioned prayer service in an effort to secure Trump’s re-election. You can see this here and (if you prefer) below that is a version with a cat dancing to an Eminem soundtrack. 

A racoon herding goats.

Ten Stories From This Week

31st October 2020

Some really interesting stuff here. COVID Innovations launched on 9 April 2020 to inspire businesses to innovate and help others during the COVID crisis. We built a database of ideas for you to run with: anything that could get your organisations going again, while also benefiting the societies and economies you’re part of’. Here are the key insights and learnings from reviewing over 1,000 COVID innovations.

From Contagious. Should your brand pick a side? How market share determines the impact of corporate political advocacy.

From Facebook IQ. Meet your Gen Z Community. Findings include : Create meaningful connections; Inspire purchase through values and Partner for success. HT @here_forth.

CCTV. The 12 most surveilled cities in the world. Eleven of these are in China. One isn’t.

Another great campaign from Burger King. ‘A few years ago, a particular clown got abruptly cancelled from his long-standing job at a certain hamburger chain. This Halloween he is back, at Burger King’s restrooms in Sweden. Summon him and you might be rewarded (45″). #cancelledclown.

Some jaw-dropping kite-flying skills on display here. Make sure you watch to the end to see the final one land. Whole piece 5’44” ; final landing at 4’55” – Romancing The Wind.

Various first words.

Great Christmas present option. A new book portrays striking locations from Lisbon to Alaska brimming with the great director’s aesthetic appeal. Where Wes Anderson films ‘accidentally’ come to life.

A couple of travel and tourism pieces. From Wanderlust. On Halloween, here are the 20 most haunted places in the world. From a ghostly castle in France to a paranormal pub in Britain, these ‘possessed’ destinations are guaranteed to spook even the most sceptical of travellers… and Kazakhstan has adopted Borat’s catchphrase in their new tourism campaign – ‘Very nice!’

Sean Connery sadly passed away today. What a great man. So many wonderful moments and films to remember. Across all of them, this is the moment that stands out for me, From The Untouchables  – ‘He pulls a knife you pull a gun, he sends one of yours to the hospital you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way and that’s how you get Capone’. (1’33”)

Ten Stories From This Week

24th October 2020

This comes as no surprise but great to see more research confirming it. ‘Listening to your heart might be the key to conquering anxiety.Neuroscience is revealing that the heart and body exert huge influence over the brain – and that connection could help autistic individuals better process their emotions ‘.

Lovely piece from Prof Galloway on ‘Life and Death’ in response to an email received, with this question – ‘Hi Professor Galloway, I am reaching out because I trust your opinion and would love your advice. I am 26 and have been building a career in digital marketing at a consumer products company.In January my dad was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer, and I have made the decision to move back home to be with him and my mom. I have been planning on continuing to work … but have this nagging feeling that it’s not worth it, and the extra money is not as valuable as full days with my family during this time.’

WARC is a great place to go for insights. Next week, it is free for one day. ‘Join us on Tuesday, October 27, for a free, one-day access to over 18,000+ award-winning case studies showcasing what’s worked before and why, the latest research from across the marketing industry and best practice from marketing thought leaders.’

From Culture Trip. A series of new audio experiences have been released with the aim of taking holidaymakers on journeys around the world. ‘As we face an uncertain period of travel restrictions, can these Sonic Escapes recreate the sensation of visiting different countries?

So Quibi (short form streaming service) is finally shutting down , and in the process, so goes nearly $2 billion in major Hollywood Investments. 

‘#Me Too, Act Too.’ Founder Tarana Burke, launches movement’s next chapter with a civic engagement platform (1′:01″)

As mentioned on a previous missive, the game, Among Us is hugely popular at the moment. Love this meme created in the game – a homage to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight.‘ (39″) (HT Miles Hammond) and apparently 400,000 are people watching AOC play the game on Twitch.

A photographer spends hours in the ocean capturing the different “moods” of waves.

New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin was allegedly caught ‘with his pants down’ during a company Zoom call. He’s not the first.

Couple of nice ads this week. Droga5 shows the world what it’s missing with Alexa’s voice technology (1′:23″) and Greenpeace brings monsters to the kitchen to shed light on the impact of the meat industry. Powerful stuff. (2′:12″)