musings, Review, Uncategorized

Transangelic

Ezra Furman The Lexington Tuesday 6th Feb 2018

“I know who your are, you are people  who are fast on social media. And The Industry”

Last night we were privileged, as guests of ‘the industry” to see Ezra Furman play up close and personal in the small but perfectly formed upstairs room at The Lexington.

I knew a bit about him, and was familiar with some great tunes courtesy of BBC 6 music, but thought it prudent to gen up a bit more, so basically did a bit of a YouTube search.

I found a couple of insightful interviews from last year so my expectations were well managed. In one he says that Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends had a mission, which they had achieved. To be a Punk, Soul, and Garage band. And be very fucking good. Tick tick tick tick.

So for the night we were treated with old familiar songs, and brand new ones from the album not yet out, of which Ezra told us he was “embarrassingly proud”. And rightly so.

From all the tracks, the standout ones for me were “I lost my innocence to a boy called Vincent”. And, slightly less cute, “Suck the blood from my wound”. But all were great.

He loves a Runaway Song. He doesn’t play on Friday nights.Part Pee Wee Herman, part Simon Amstell, all angst and talent, this troubled, gender fluid, nice Jewish boy rocked the joint. Smartly turned out in a black blazer and a snug fitting tea dress and pearls, he sang and played his little socks off. Actually from my sweet spot on a bench raised up from the main floor I couldn’t see his feet, so the socks is an expression, not a description.

The band, all in pristine white, worked ever so hard too. There was nearly an incident with the electric violin, involving a lack of 2 x AA batteries, but these were happily were magicked up by the crowd.

The nice chap to the right with his glock, maracas, sax and guitar was never ever idle.

Finishing up with numbers of his own like Love you So Bad and Lousy Connection, he also covered the works of some of our best-loved divas. Natural Woman (“a request from myself”) made us cry, and Hounds of Love was stonking, an homage from one crazy clever bitch to another.

Ezra’s serious issues, his anxiety and the fact he has mental problems, as he again mentioned in interview, are all apparent. He asked whether anyone else was feeling fear and loathing lately. He suggested that the whooping and cheers he got in response was a strange reaction. Which was fair. There was a lot of head in hands, and hand wringing. But he also said “it feels good to me”. Which was nice. Overall, he seemed to be having a fun time.

After nearly two hours of energy, rock and roll, musicianship and some excellent lyrics, he called it a night.

Transangelicism is term for a human being growing wings, and then growing into a angel. He told us his angel’s wing were made of tinfoil and cigarette butts.

I would add a touch of genius too.

Transangelic Exodus is out on Friday. Can’t wait.

 

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Advertising, Flim, jobs, musings, Produciton, Uncategorized

These Guys. Fully Fully Focused.

 Advertising and Diversity.

When I was growing up there were Quotas. Make  sure the agency has  a splash of colour, a spike of an exotic religion, and a couple of less able- bodied folk. How we loved to quote percentages. It was a requirement rather than a choice. To be seen to be doing the right fair thing, rather than believing in a world not just populated with public school toffs and or barrow boys.

Those days are gone, thank God, (or whoever you worship, no one is judging). We don’t  just have that nice-but –challenged chap being patronised in the Post Room (mostly there are no post rooms) .  Now some companies even have Diversity Monitors. Actually I don’t think they are called that, maybe Prefects? But it is now recognised that in order to have any relevance and traction, “widening the gene pool” is imperative for survival.

Advertising  chases Youth . Young people are cool, cheap, and full of verve and energy. They look good and they use social media.

But in this not-so-youthful-but-still-trying producer’s opinion,  we are scratching the surface of the potential out there.

Last week we went to an event hosted by Fully Focused. An actual youth led organisation, making relevant and important film.

These guys made me breathless with their talent and passion.

Without any effort or quota or monitor, they personify youth and diversity.

And so much more. The evening was a way to get their name out there, to create contacts and see what people in the film and media industries could do to help them. To gather support and show their wares.

A group of six likeable, nervous and articulate members shared their story, discussed what they had done and what they wanted to do. They told a tale of triumph in making their first film, Riot from Wrong, taking a difficult start and turning it into something important and spectacular. They showed trailers, and one immensely powerful film, Nadia. They  connected with the audience as a group, and as individuals. They gave us awesome stats – 52k followers and a stonking 6million views on their channel Million Youth Media. Every award they have ever entered they have won.

Later an experienced Film Producer, Melody from RSA, joined them. She said, and I completely get it, that she was really bricking it. Having seen what this band of under -25s could achieve, she felt she was not a match for them. She said lots, and of course was charming and inspiring, but the big message was that although the purpose of the night was to get us (“the grown ups”) to support them, (“the kids”), the truth is that the Film and Advertising industries need Fully Focused and whoever is equivalent out there, much more than they need us.

Don’t ever forget, these guys aren’t “connected”. They can’t afford to do middle class parent funded internships. They have little formal education. Remember that they have real hands on experience of film-making. With their own hands. Pause to think they have made powerful and  viewable content with budgets less that normally reserved for crew catering.

This needs to be recognised and celebrated.

If there aren’t specific roles, create them. If normal process doesn’t allow, change the process. Cut a swathe and connect. Pay real salaries and find funding. Seek out brands that could do with an injection of actual reality. Break creative boundaries. Recognise new potential. Come up with relevant Content. Collaborate. Employ.

For your first move, visit:https://www.fullyfocusedproductions.com

and contact: Leah@fullyfocusedproductions.com

Let’s move on and be the industry that most of us individuals want to be proud of.

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

This one is for you Mandy Saunders

This morning, fuelled by upset, I entered the dark hole of the photo box marked Work and Shoots. The first photo I picked up was of Mandy laughing. It was so unflattering I know Mandy would have been furious. So all text for now.

I feel a bit of a fraud writing this as I haven’t hung out with Mandy properly for a few years, but then, whether we like it or not, that is what happens with friends over time.

We just don’t see each enough when work and stuff gets in the way.

But there is always a connection. Except when there is not. We know we are always there for each other. Except when that is no longer true.

Mandy is gone forever. This is impossible to take in. It is ridiculous. Stupid Facebook for making us believe that are friends are always a click away. Turns out they are not.

But their spirit is.

Mandy’s spirit is so stupidly strong, her strength, her wit, her energy so unique and marvelous, her smile infectious. Who would dare to be negative with Mandy in the house? Moaning is for pussies, there is fun to be had.

When I was at Grey, for fifteen years, I always said it was like being in a new agency every few years. There would be a change of ECD  or an upheaval in Management, often enough to keep it fresh. Clients shifted, the office got re-jigged (who remembers the Coloured Floors, dear Lord). Imagine that for Mandy for twice as long. Including a proper move to Hatton Garden and a jolly, temporary, rebrand.to Valentstein and Fatt.

She was the one constant marvelous island of stability as the agency boiled and bubbled around her.

We were a proper team back in the day, the department was fierce. Mandy and I had an office without a door, so we chose to put up a cheap beaded curtain in the entrance. It was constantly tangled and terribly shabby, but it was in the spirit of Blue (back to the Colour Floors) so had to be tolerated.

My everlasting favourite Mandy quote was this:

“You see those girls with their big hair and white stilettos? They are just wannabe Essex girls. Not one of them knows where Liverpool Street station is” Of the 90s, it was a pre cursor to TOWIE.

She was an early adopter of a good cause, and who can forget her immortal words to the chairman in the lift when he asked her what her Red Ribbon stood for “Its for Aids. Aids Awareness. Its alright Rog, I ain’t got it”. Go for it Mand, make a suit feel awkward.

One of my memories is of she and I grappling with the Adcost system one Friday afternoon, she in pain from her kidneys but insisting that we get it sorted. Trouper as ever. Another producer coming in asking us where to get her glasses fixed, and a phone call letting us know there was a bomb exploded at the Admiral Duncan. I can’t shake that one, it still has a profound visceral feeling of sadness. From now on, unbearably so.

Rock DJ  has just come on the radio. A timely reminder of the time we were sitting by Robbie Williams in Soho House and Mandy was so beside herself that  she ended up in a puddle of excitement under the table calling home with the words “I may be some time”. As  I recall we then did a tour of parties just checking where he might be next. Never found him, obviously,  but giggled the night away.

Mandy should know that I still use the cookbook she bought me for my 50th (in the future!) Birthday. I don’t think I told her it is terrific for Soup recipes.

The night of my 40th (a little bit in the past) she arrived with tales of sniffer dogs on the overground and a thirst for champagne. We decided at some point to leave the party and join someone else’s. Why? Because it was hilarious. She did make sure I went back to my own guests eventually.

She told me, not so long ago, that sometimes when she had a thorny production problem she said to herself “What would Susie do?” Which was nice and flattering. And redundant.

I would like to think that Susie would have been as courageous, as positive and undeniably likeable  as Mandy was. As great a producer.  I would like to think that Susie did as good a job with her kids as Mandy had done with Mia (I suspect that I do get that one). I do know Susie would never dance as long and hard as Mandy at any party ever anywhere.

Mandy, my Mandy. You are a terrific soul. We are all the better, so very much better, to have had you in our lives. Robbie Williams, you missed out.

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Flim, Review, Uncategorized

T2 Day 2 – a very personal review

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Happy on our comfy sofa at the relatively new Everyman in Muswell Hill (there are an awful lot of them these days, aren’t there?) we were full of positive expectation when we went to see T2, Day2 after it came out.

There had been a bit of negative bleating, but we weren’t going to let that get in the way of a good time.

And we were not disappointed.

It is a marvelous film, highly entertaining, full of wit and pathos.

To compare it to the original is pointless.

It can’t exist with Trainspotting (T1?). It possibly could stand up on its own, but I am not sure how you would put that to the test. And anyway, it doesn’t have to. Pretty much anyone who has even the slightest inclination to see it will be full converse with the 20 year old shenanigans of Spud, Renton, Sick Boy and Begbie.

Once of the startling things about the original is how basically unlikeable all the leading cast are. And this theme continues in the follow up.
Horrid boys. Selfish, weak, unsympathetic. Devious, mean, violent, criminal  and gross.

And somehow we are engaged. It is not that we really care about them, but their story grips us and we go along for the ride.

Not a spoiler, but there are several moments in the film where really really bad things seem destined to happen. And although we are willing that all will be well, the reality is that even if and when something truly ghastly happens, there is a felling of “and so be it.”

There are great moments of levity, jokes even, as well as deep levels of horror.

For the Bowie lovers amongst us (everyone?) an almost imperceptible nod to the great man, subtly and perfectly done, a tiny sigh amongst the mostly charming nostalgia.

Danny Boyle is unquestionably a brilliant filmmaker. Through his lens, through his editing, through his sound design, we are kept enthralled. Strange flash backs, to T1 and before, all sit comfortably within the main narrative.

Personally I found the odd freeze frame uncomfortable and dated, but I am also aware that these are a nod to the original style and a touch ironic, so serve the overall piece well.

Such care is taken on the styling, of the wardrobe (especially the shoes) and the general atmosphere you can smell it. Edinburgh is a bit of a hero too, leading us to remark amongst ourselves “we really ought to go for a long weekend”. Again, an odd take out of something so essentially dark.

Spud gets his place in the sun, (reference daylight hours, but you have to see the film), the prison break story is preposterous, and the bonding of friendship is so twisted as to leave you wondering about what it means to be a mate.

And yet and yet.

Totally absorbed.

And the soundtrack. The wonderful wonderful soundtrack .

I am no longer music obsessive, these days opting more for an “I know what I like” attitude. Unlike my husband, whose forensic detailing of all things bands and gigs is still second to none, who kept swooningly  exclaiming “The Young Fathers!”

And yes indeed , this super cool contemporary band served as an excellent updating of what we all know is a seminal score.

A remix of Born Slippy was spot on, as was Lust for Life bringing us right back and forward and back again. Kudos of course to the great Iggy Pop.

There is a scene in a club of fucked up chaos and crowd singing to Radio Gaga. Anthemic and joyous and a slick reminder of the proper ages of our anti heroes.

Sure it was violent, and a bit silly, maudlin and unspeakable, and very nearly sentimental. But that is exactly what it should be.

Loved it.

 

 

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musings, Recipe, Uncategorized

At the Centre of it all

a personal reviewIMG_4013 (1).jpg. Kings Cross Theatre. 3rd November 2016

I told my friend I was going to Lazarus, the David Bowie Musical. She of course looked thrilled and excited for me. “Amazing” she said.

I retorted, “He’s not in it!”

We guffawed; there was some nervous laughter, and guilt. Too Soon? Of course, Too Soon. Certainly Too Soon for me. But the comedy timing was admirable.

The show is playing Kings Cross theatre, bang in the middle of the new thrilling and confusing, unfamiliar and rather jolly. Boulevard. The theatre, a purpose built shed structure, divided in two, one half showing The Tempest (which was Tempting) and the half other Lazarus.

The audience was as you would expect, well healed, nicely dressed, or Dressed Up, with a touch of fervor behind the eyes. Mostly middle aged, some young, a lot of cool and classy.

We are told that the performance is two hours long. No interval. You can leave but you may not be allowed back in (okay, not for 20mins or so). So this led to a “when do we pee” panic – could explain the fervor in the eyes.

As we settle in our seats, we see Michael C Hall wander on to stage and have a little lie down. This is twenty minutes before ShowTime. It is a little awkward. I feel for him, unless maybe it really is the best place for a power nap.

The premise is a loose sequel to Man Who Fell to Earth. Our alien is still trapped on earth, , not getting older, drinking gin, watching TV,  knowing that he can’t get home. He misses Mary-Lou and indeed it would have been nice to see Candy Clark.

The set is the apartment that Thomas Newton never leaves.

The physical propping consists of a rumpled bed and a fridge full of mother’s ruin.

At the back of the stage, the live band play displayed through glass windows.

Centre stage, a screen. Sometimes lots of screens. I thought I was over screens. But I am an idiot.

The projection and visual trickery is  incredible, impressive,  remarkable. I won’t  describe how it works so as not to spoil the surprise and awe. Also, I can’t find the words to get across quite how exhilarating.

I can say there is technical wizardly. The FX are seamless, delightful and surprising. The design is impeccable, the execution effortless. Virtual, physical, ever shifting. A feast for the eyes and ears. Lighting design to delight, that also does a job.

It was actually  raining on the roof which added some pretty special atmosphere.

The whole thing is Magic in a digital literate age.

I had read that this wasn’t the Mama Mia Greatest Hits genre of musical, that the story wasn’t a way to thread a load of songs together.

But it kind of was. Certainly the songs enhanced and punctuated the narrative.

Maybe it is just that Bowie’s oeuvre is so rich, all his songs can work to whatever storyline.

The opening track, the heartbreaking Lazarus, was beautifully performed. When it was released in back in sad Blackstar January, we all retrospectively understood it was about Bowie’s upcoming death. Johan Renck’s visuals enforced that. Now, not so sure.

Now it sounds like it was written specifically for Thomas Newton’s not-old age.

And that is another wonderful Bowie facet. Whatever he writes, you can find some significance that works for you at the time. Lyrics and mood appropriate and ready for anything.

“Kooks” targeted directly at you because you were a different kind of kid.

“Heroes” for our brave troupes.

“Laughing Gnome” a piece of ironic future proofing  theme for Alan Sugar.

“Sue” for me!

Predictably, all the songs were phenomenal. The new ones, the old ones reworked, the classics and the novelty. From a raucous All the Young Dudes to a charming Absolute Beginners. Changes , changed, all for the good.

Somehow all the vocalists captured Bowie’s tone. They never quite made the songs their own, but nor did they mimic. Clear and strong and meaningful. But it is a funny old thing, how singers on the stage take on that Musical style. It was subtle, but it was there, and made me wonder how they would fare on The Voice.

After we were introduced to a China Girl early on, I realised that the staging was littered with references and reverence. I probably missed quite a lot, but that didn’t spoil the ride. Good spotting for the uber hard-core fans, rather than me, kind of superfan, but soft-centred.

The story is a bit silly. The characters are fascinating and often confusing. The pace erratic. Great highs of engagement, sometimes not so much, and there is a proper ending.

Maybe if it wasn’t The Dame I might view the whole as a touch self-indulgent and beside itself. Perhaps I have buttons over my eyes and stardust in my sound and vision. But I don’t think so.

There is so much good and clever and original and slick and powerful and emotional and so damn interesting about it. There are some great moments of levity to stop it taking itself too seriously. The cast do it more than justice, the set design and execution is off the scale. And of course the music.

So I think it would stand alone on its own merits.

But undeniably,

At the Centre of it All is…

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musings, Review, Uncategorized

Bowie Buxton Bug BFI and cobbler Bob

Like rings in a tree trunk, you can generally age a fan by which part of Bowie’s career they are most obsessed with. I guessed Adam Buxton accurately at 46. This probably doesn’t work for anyone under 40 and is no way fool proof, but a harmless pursuit.adam-hoxton_1305291946_crop_550x424.jpg

Last week I had the privilege of watching Buxton do Bug on Bowie. I was sitting with ace cutter Miland, who got a shout out for his great work editing the opening compilation, showing Bowie through the ages rather spunkily.

Buxton Bounces on. We already know he is a Bowie obsessive. And he knows that we are. So he apologies for any offence he may cause, and for irreverence, but he knows, and we know, that otherwise this could all get to over emotional.

It transpires early that he is working to the wrong script. This is a shame as he had “written the absolute heck out of it”

So some charming chat while a dongle is produced and Version 3 is printed. And some bants with the audience. In particular a confident chap called Grant who apparently once followed Bowie into a Toy Shop before the bouncers got to him.

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The evening was full of fun facts, and a very personal, and some might say obscure, selection of videos and trivia. Film clips, BBC dramas, and of course Labyrinth.

It was a roller coaster of sadness and hilarity. And a fair bit of hero worship.

So many videos, all with correct reference and reverence to the Directors. From David Mallet in the early days to Johan Renck on Lazarus.

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Back in the day, David Mallet was repp-ed by a friend of mine to shoot commercials. It being the 80s there was a lot of lunch, and I met Mallet a few times, mostly of 5th Floor of Harvey Nics. I remember liking him, finding him really interesting, him being very kind and generous spirited. And me trying to be cool, and smart, and hardly referring to the Bowie videos at all, as if they didn’t matter to me. What I should have done is grab his arm and screamed “TELL ME EVERYTHING”. “INTRODUCE ME!” “GIVE ME SECRETS”. Oh my crass and wasted youth.giphy.gifI have heard a story about the shooting of Ashes to Ashes, not from anyone who would know but just as a juicy story, that a passing dog walker asked who was the cunt in the Pierrot costume. And thereafter that was how Bowie referred to himself on set. I could have asked Mallet about that, couldn’t I?!

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One of my personal deep things to say about Bowie is that there are no bad images of him. Even in his crazy unwell Cracked Actor Period, in ridiculous costumes, and even right at the end. He never looked unattractive. Annoyingly, the video for “Be My Wife” proved me wrong. Never mind.

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Like Adam Buxton, I spent too much time after January 11th surfing the internet, trawling for trivia, clicking on FB links and generally wallowing in anything Bowie Related. Unseen footage, pithy interviews, rare performances, nostaligia.

Buxton of course has turned this into an art form, and created something unique. Part Bug, Part documentary, all entertainment.

I would recommend you check out his youtube channel, where you can find anachingly funny Lego version of David and Angela in a spoof of the Good Life. The Bowies, as the Goods, are debating in their kitchen the next character after Ziggy. Should it be Cobbler Bob or Aladdin Sane?

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And a fabulous cartoon illustrating the recording of Warszawa with Eno, Bowie and CO- PRODUCER Tony Visconti all in boiling animated stick people.

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Buxton shared these and so much more. He performs his fandom in his own unique way. An eye watering song, a bit of Dad Dancing. There were moments of classic Bug-ness as we laughed uproariously and unkindly at comments from the mis-spelling, hardly articulating, misled, great unwashed Bowie Trolls. There were some corkers. Love, hate, bafflement.

The evening went on. We were lucky to have been at this early raw outing of the show. The next time it will be slicker.

It was frankly too long. It was unevenly paced. Self-indulgent. Quite repetitive. And bloody wonderful. I loved it.

Thank You Adam Buxton. Thank you Bug team. And again Thank You David Bowie. Let’s Dance.

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Advertising, Produciton, Review, Uncategorized

I have seen the Future

FOA Programme 1.jpgEvery year the APA hosts an afternoon of enlightening talks and presentations telling us about the Future Of Advertising. I have seen it Many Times.

It  is fun to look back  and see if the Future really did pan out as expected, what we sneered at, what terrified us, what is now laughable or everyday.

It is pretty much 50/50. Some techs came and went, certain things – oh God, I was there for a Facebook talk – are now completely our Present.

So now, what does 2016 have in store?

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We start with Ian Leslie. Ian wrote this article How Mad Men Lost their Way. And rather than read it out to us he shared it with us.

He ran through the history of advertising, from advertising being a branch of sales, morphing into the Age of Creativity, coming out into the Digital Age. And asked have we lost our way. He said many good things, one quote I liked was “Retargeting is Horrible”. I won’t go into massive detail, you can read the article, but I must say for me this was very seductive as the conclusion was that the 30 Second TV ad rocks.

If only we had the budgets….

A nice chap from Credos reminded us of our Advertising responsibilities. We need to present ourselves well and face up unpopular perceptions, like advertising to Kids (we actually have much more stringent rules than the rest of Europe) and Privacy. Data is both the new oil and the new asbestos.

He articulated that Advertising is not as attractive as it once was, (see Ian Leslie saying no one knows what we do anymore) and said that on 34% of people would recommend a job in advertising, which is lower than banking. 1 in 3 people now apologise for working in advertising (actually, it was probably always thus but for different reasons) and that 60% agree that our best years are behind us. Which is fine for the smug oldies but sad as sad for our emerging new talent.

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Along skipped Tom Rainsford from Giff Gaff. Tall, excellently bearded, happy with himself, he talked about his collaborative relationships with the people he works with. About being accountable for your advertising. Much of what he said was fair, good, great practice, but too me it felt a little glib. And although I do personally believe that as an industry we protect the wrong things, and maybe it is time for a shake up, I don’t feel comfortable with the APA condoning a system where the client does not have an ongoing relationship with an Agency. Much too discuss.

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Dan Phillips from MPC invited us to get on board the Millennial Falcon, which as puns go wasn’t bad. He rather brilliantly contradicted the first talk, but telling us that Millennials actively want to engage with brands. There is some truth in both bold statements. And Dan tells us the answer is Real Time. Technology has caught up and made this kind of engagement much more achievable than it was say at the time of the magnificent Old Spice Guy. He also used the term Frictionless Buying, which although exciting makes me a little twitchy.

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Those Coded Trees at the White House

 

Evan from Nexus Interactive Arts told us about Storytelling. About using your space, not just a “square rectangle”. There was some good stuff, including the incredible White House Christmas trees (although we had seen them before) and an animated film that changed depending on direction you were facing, how fast you were moving, where you were. Fascinating. Big Projects. A little remote.

 

We hung out with the VR guys in the break, experiencing the world, as they would like us to experience it. The word is 2016 is the year of VR. Space Storytelling begs to differ. I say there is room for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality but mostly for Real Reality.

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Here is Simon Gosling amongst VR

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Framestore at the SE

We sat back and watched a number of thrilling case studies in the IDEAS interactive showcase. The glorious Christmas trees,  visual sound with Samsung, a stunning piece of work at the stock exchange from Framestore, Gaz and Leccy – an impressive interactive cinema experience that deserved better character names, and an  APP that makes you pay per laugh.  A lot of it was very corporate and, yes, American, and   some were re-packaging themes we have explored before, but all good and valid and relevant.

Lots of nodding in the room as Felix Morgan tells us that it is proven that long-term brand growth is born out of more emotional ads. And we need to make not just attractive, but unrisky for clients.

He explains how to get rid of Focus Groups and bring in Biometrics. Kind of fascinating, maybe in hindsight a bit obvious, it is using what is inside your body to measure you response to ideas.

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Your sweat, your facial coding, your eye tracking.

Use this testing to De Risk Creative Bravery.

There had been alluding to Adblocking all afternoon. It was up to Mel Exon to talk to us about it properly. There was a fair bit of doom and gloom, but some positive insight to come out of it. The world must understand that without advertising funding there will be no good content unless you are prepared to pay for it. It is probably advertisers’ fault for putting up crap in the digital landfill (no one in the room, obviously). There is talk of paying to be whitewashed (which seems like a lot of money going to nobody who really needs it).

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We need to craft. We need to be aware of how we load ads and the space they take up.

And that was it. Back out into the still light night.

Tech. No tech. Super tech. Ideas Ideas Ideas. Crafting.

Looking forward to 2017. (Physically and metaphysically)

I am a Veteran of the Future

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