reach out and touch(screen) Somebody

Have you ever had a moment when a text or call just isn’t personal, or immediate, enough? A time when you want to give a message in person but you just couldn’t be there?  Well step in quirky* filmmaker/performance artist Miranda July (with a little help from Miu Miu and stinkdigital) and her Somebody app.  Simply enter your message, and additional stage directions if you desire, and send to a fellow app downloader (a Somebody if you will) to track down the recipient and deliver your message in person. 

The video below shows the app, and Miranda, in all its staged glory.  It’s a bit long but you can skip through and check out a few of the scenarios.  You might not have thought you needed this app, but you do.  Or at least, I do.  It sounds completely mental, and it is, but it’s equally amazing.  It’s a fun, and clever, way to encourage real life interaction using a medium that usually replaces it.  I only wish I lived somewhere other Somebodies did.  So I make a call to you Londoners and big city dwellers, reach out and touch(screen) Somebody!

*I know she’s quirky because if secondary school drama classes taught me anything it’s that the curlier the hair, the quirkier the character.

Print Isn’t Dead – a magazine review

PIDcoverTitle : Print Isn’t Dead

Tagline : n/a but the title is kind of a tagline

Issue : 001

Price : £10 inc p+p

Cover : bold, simple, neon, typographic.  It’s really pretty great.  I have no idea what it’s called but the ‘i’ is dotted with one of the print calibration icons.  It’s a very nice, clever touch. Hard to describe but they’ve done something cool with the ‘n’t’.  Just look at it.  It’s there to the right.

Shelf appeal : think you can only buy it online but shelf appeal is high thanks to the stark neon cover

Layout and Design : very sharp with great use of white space and bold neon colours throughout.  It has a grid based design but never seems blocky.  It allows for an awful lot of stuff to be packed in without feeling forced.  The interview layout is particularly good, especially when compared with standard magazine interview layouts which can be dull and blocky and ultimately, off-putting.

Content : image and interview heavy which is fine by me especially when, as mentioned above, the interviews look so good.  There are quite a few spotlight style features with contact details (and sometimes not much more) about cool print mags and studios.  There’s a good breadth of topics but it feels quite shallow at times.  Very few features are longer than a page so it’s a great commute read.  It’s all based around prints and printing if that wasn’t clear.

Best Feature : being nosey and liking behind the scenes features the London print shop tours stood out to me.  I love seeing pictures of people just doing stuff, especially when it’s something they’re really engaged with.  Wish the feature on Mario Ferrari’s photobooth project was longer though, it likes like a really cool idea and could definitely have sustained a longer feature.

Best feature : the neon.  I think having neon print throughout was a stretch goal on Kickstarter (this mag started on Kickstarter fyi) and it was definitely a good shout.  Love me some neon.

Worst feature : the use of colour can make it difficult to read in parts.  I’m being fussy (really fussy) to point it out though because it only really happens on a page or two.

Rating : B+

PS : it smells like when you shuffle a new deck of Magic : The Gathering cards.  Was a bit of a weird nostalgia moment for me.

PPS : I don’t normally comment on price but it seems kind of expensive to me.  Not sure why I’m picking up on that, maybe because most of my magazines come through subscriptions or Stack these days.  It’s printed very well on thick card stock, and I assume you pay a premium for neon print, so I guess it’s worth it but the price would probably put me off buying it again.  Maybe I/you should think about it more as a concept, annual or resource because it’s not your standard magazine by any means.


more awkwardreviews here

a few of my favourite things (slogans)

A few weeks back I was asked what my favourite ad was and to make a short story long, I decided to turn it into a blog post/series.  It’s going to be nothing if not subjective because otherwise, what’s the point?  If you want to find the best/most awarded/most popular ads of their type then Google, my friend, is your friend.


As a follow up to the more obvious posts (TV, Print and Digital) I thought I’d mix things up a bit and share some some of my favourite slogans.  I’ll keep it short and sweet like the slogans themselves.  It’s nothing to do with laziness, honest.

Marmite – ‘love it or hate‘ – I just love how upfront and in your face this is.  I’m a huge fan of self-deprecating humour and this has it in spades.  There’s something admirable about knowing your weakness and something refreshingly brave about being so honest about it.  It’s a great way of disarming its detractors too, pointing out its flaw before they get the chance too.  Top work and something not many brands could get away with.  Honourable mention goes to Dr Pepper and his ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ mantra.  It’s close, but no cigar.

4oD – ‘for the shows you missed and the shows you miss‘ – I’m not sure if this really is a 4oD slogan or the order of ‘miss’ and ‘missed’ but I heard it once and it stuck with me.  I like wordplay/puns even more than I like self-deprecation and this is just plain brilliant use of the English language.  It’s almost too clever for it’s own good which is probably why it hasn’t taken off but I still love it.  A similarly clever dick slogan is Corsodyl’s ‘for people who spit blood when they brush their teeth’, which is equally hard to track down.

Nike – ‘Just do it‘ – This one does what it says on the tin (another top slogan) and just gets on with it.  It’s short.  It’s punchy.  It’s the answer to almost everything.  Better than that it’s the ‘call to action’ advertising types are always banging on about at in Campaign/on Twitter/at TED.  It’s basically BE STUPID (<3) only better.  If you can possibly believe that.

more from the series here

intern : a magazine review

Title : intern

Tagline : meet the talent, join the debate

Issue : issue two | Summer 2014

Price : £8

Cover : black and white headshot of an intern from picture feature inside.  I feel like I should know who he is, I mean, he’s a cover star, but I don’t think I’m supposed to.  Otherwise it’s all very polished and professional and looks very much like much like a high end fashion or lifestyle magazine.

Shelf appeal : it’s not very in your face which detracts from its shelf appeal.  Probably doesn’t matter much though as it will sell on concept alone.

Layout and Design : again, polished and professional and looks much like a high end fashion or lifestyle magazines.  I would love to say that these guys must be students of/interns in design,journalism and publishing and it shows.  The credits say otherwise and it looks like the magazine was designed and art directed out of house (by She Was Only since you didn’t ask). I’m not an intern (and not even able to work at the minute) but, intern, if you’re looking for someone with Photoshop/InDesign experience, hmu ;)

Content : huge range of content from interviews, articles, picture features and illustration.  Was surprised by the breadth, depth, and to be honest, quality of it all.  The interview with Jessica Walsh, of Sagmeister and Walsh is a particular scoop.  There’s even a great flowchart outlining the legality of internships.  It’s fun and entertaining, adding a practical touch without being too heavy handed.

Best Feature : so many good bits it’s hard to choose.  There are a few great picture features, Fashion’s Other Faces and Limbo, the former being a punch in the gut knowing how long some of the faces have been interning.  Cover star, Jordan, for example has been at Pause Magazine for a year.  Really hoping this is a sandwich year for his course and not the standard for aspiring magaziners.  There’s an interview with Adrian Shaughnessy which is even gut punchier and worth it for the harsh but fair(?) pull quote alone, ‘if after a year you are still only offered internships then something is wrong – either with your work or with the sort of people you are approaching’.

Best feature : it’s a very professional and polished affair and if the aim is too show off what interns can do it’s successful.  It’s incredible to think this magazine has been put together by people working around other jobs and placements.

Worst feature : it’s very professional and polished.  It’s personal taste but I would have liked to see it a bit more rough and ready.  A little angrier and maybe more political.  Saying that, being publicly angry and political about internships is a surefire way not to get an internship.  Also wish it was more frank and about where contributors intern, how long they’ve been there and whether or not they are paid.  For a magazine called intern, I’d like it to be more upfront and in my face with contributors’ intern status.

Rating : Four.5


more awkwardreviews here


Yesterday, 19th August 2014, marked the day of my first transplanniversary (the first anniversary of my bone marrow transplant).  I had big plans –  my first Nando’s in over a year, balloons and a stack of glazed donuts in place of a cake (numeral candle and everything). 

Unfortunately, I spent the bulk of the day trying not to throw up and being generally fatigued and bedridden.  This didn’t stop my lovely mother inviting everyone over to the house to celebrate in my honour.  I shall consider this my (her?) ‘Nero fiddling while Rome burned’ moment though I have no idea what that even means or would entail.  I just like know that I like saying/writing/typing ‘Nero fiddling while Rome burned’.

When I finally arose I opted for my first Chinese takeaway in over eighteen months, much against medical advice, and spent the night worrying I had food poisoning.  This also came with my first fortune cookie in over twenty something years (yes, that’s right, I have never, in my young adult life, had a fortune cookie).  Having snapped the crusty, pastry treat in twain I saw the fateful words ‘TOMORROW WILL BE A GOOD TO GET THINGS DONE.‘ which is definitely the universe telling me it’s ok to procrastinate and is was infinitely reassuring.  It looks like tomorrow (now today) is a good day to get Nando’s done too because I’m off out for a bit.  Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

PS I spent today wrangling with the bone marrow balloons and a stuffed toy to produce this picture.  I’m prouder of it than I probably should be but I still think it’s great.


PPS Night well and truly Marrowed


a few of my favourite things (digital)

I was recently asked what my favourite ad was and to make a short story long, I decided to turn it into a blog post/series.  It’s going to be nothing if not subjective because otherwise, what’s the point?  If you want to find the best/most awarded/most popular ads of their type then Google, my friend, is your friend.  A warning, Diesel’s BE STUPID is easily my favourite campaign of all time so even though I’m going to put together a post for each genre (and some made up ones of my own), be prepared to see variations on a Diesel theme quite a bit.


Of all the types of ads I should be most clued up on it’s Digital.  With all the time I spend online I should have an arsenal of well thought out critiques of and opinions on the all digital offerings but this is where I’m probably most biased.  As a Mozilla user (God knows why) I’ve missed out on properly experiencing things I should love like Build With Chrome, to name one.  The Wilderness Downtown and Take This Lollipop are both amazing but far too creepy for my liking.  That leaves the way for your favourite and mine, Diesel.  If you’re looking for other cool digital projects you can cut out the middle man/Google and go straight to B Reel and Stink Digital’s archives.  You won’t regret it.

As far as I know the Diesel 100 Lovers interactive catalogue cum music video was the first of its kind.  It’s an idea that’s since been often emulated/copied (depending on how kind you’re feeling) and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s a simple idea on the surface (with an impressive technical underbelly I’m sure) but exactly what you want when shopping for clothes – the ability to see them in action.  Sure, ASOS have their video catwalk but you want more than someone walking in a line.  You can hover over the dancers to find out more about them, and the clothes they’re wearing.  If you want you can, well, could, click through to shop the item online.  It’s a definite case of John Willshere’s ‘make things people want, don’t make people want things’ in action and it’s why it works and why I like it so much. The non-interactive video version is below but the lovely men and women at Stink Digital have archived the project for your pleasure.  Experience it in at its interactive glory here.

If that’s not enough, ASOS’s Urban Tour took it a step further showing the clothes on breakdancing models.  It’s also by Stink Digital and they’ve been nice enough to archive that too so you can play along.  Enjoy!

more from the series here

a few of my favourite things (TV)

I was asked recently what my favourite ad was and to make a short story long, I decided to turn it into a blog post/series.  It’s going to be nothing if not subjective because otherwise, what’s the point?  If you want to find the best/most awarded/most popular ads of their type then Google, my friend, is your friend.  A warning, Diesel’s BE STUPID is easily my favourite campaign of all time so even though I’m going to put together a post for each genre (and some made up ones of my own), be prepared to see variations on a Diesel theme quite a bit.


So having started with my favourite category, Print, I thought TV ads would be a great place to not quite start from.  They seem to be the type of ads people are most exposed to and might actually have some opinion on.  I get the feeling too that when people ask what your favourite ad is they’re expecting you to say something from TV.  It also gives you a break from DIESEL ads because they are too cool to make ads for the telly.  The ads below are pretty much joint favourites.  Some of the older Guinness ads are a close third, especially Surfer or Swimmer (though I wish it were in black and white).

(Arbitrarily) First up is Sony Vaio’s Balls (quiet in the back).  It’s a pretty obvious choice as it’s well known and well liked but I didn’t particularly like it when it first came out.  I don’t think I really ‘got it’ and the contrarian, and The Knife fan, in me objected to the song choice.  Since looking into it more for my first ad agency interview(s), which went terribly, thanks for asking, I fell in love with it.  As a production fan (there must be a better way to word that) I appreciated the filming/editing/direction which is so important for such a visual ad selling such a visual ad.  Then I came across a making of/behind the scenes video while doing some research.  It was so amazing to me because I genuinely love seeing how things are made.  I just cannot get enough of it.  I also love when people actually do things rather than relying on CGI and special effects.  Seeing it at normal speed it is pure carnage, pure beautiful carnage.  It’s crazy to think a shoot that involved riot shields for the camera people’s protection was edited into something so calming.

My second favourite is another popular one.  So popular I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say they don’t like it.  It’s become such a huge cultural phenomenon that for some (many?) people, myself included, the Christmas season hasn’t started until it has graced our screens. Yeah, it’s that Coke ad with the trucks and the singing.  It’s equally, but differently, cinematic than the Sony ad and just as calming.  It rams in so much Christmas that it should be unbearable but it’s just as sweet as the sugary brown syrup.   They’ve updated the concept in the past few years but it’s not quite the same.  Hopefully this is just the ad version of the New Coke/Coke Classic ‘fiasco’ and we’re see the old school ads back soon.

more from the series here