Friday, 24 April 2009

Don’t like yours much

Simple recently asked Idealogy to come up with a campaign to promote the benefits of it’s products in fighting the signs of ageing, so we started thinking and bounced ideas around in one form or another for over 6 months.

From our initial ideas the project went through several iterations; we finally decided upon illustrating how someone with a poor quality lifestyle would age quicker and more harshly than someone with a healthier lifestyle. Simple products would obviously help this improvement too of course and we would promote the New Repair Anti-Wrinkle Range.

Then someone came up with the idea of showing a young, beautiful woman ageing (time-lapse style) from 25 to 75 very badly. We could do a quick rewind and then show the young woman ageing more ‘gracefully’. Some shock-factor tactics that we could use on the Simple website.

So about a month ago we started to put the piece together. The first thing to do was to cast two models who could feasibly be the same person at different ages of their life. Once chosen we arranged for them to attend a photo-shoot on the same day, enabling us to have the exact same lighting and feel for both.

Some additional Photoshop and a couple of pieces of animation software later it was looking pretty scary; a time-lapse video with 2 very different endings.

Initially the video was promoted through the national press (Heat magazine doing a massive article showing celebrities aged badly), health & beauty blogs and traditional PR via press contacts. Secondly, Simple’s quarterly email newsletter had a feature on it which also tied into a competition to win a photo of yourself aged. Then finally a version was seeded via a network of social media sites, blogs, forums and of course YouTube.

The Simple website itself had special landing pages that traffic was driven to and an interactive version of the video that allowed the user to pause the ageing process whilst reading skincare do’s and don’ts

First responses are good, with traffic up 800% on the first day of release and 1700% on the second and holding steady at 1700% on the third.

Take a look and tell us what you think – we’d love some feedback.

Posted by Paul Skinner

Friday, 17 April 2009

Carbon-neutrality? When you need to make decisions that take your environmental credentials forwards or backwards, being in neutral is not an option!

What, exactly, does this expression "carbon neutral" mean? There seems to be no viable definition – at least not in the very places you could arguably refer to as reference points. So, in desperation we turned to good old Wikipeadia which quoted “Being carbon neutral, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset”. Ummmmm!

In recent Google searches on the term, we also found a wide variety of ways the term was being used, and more than a few questionable claims. (Can you really fly carbon neutral on company jets, even if it's "more affordable than you think"?) Beyond that are questions about how companies are achieving their carbon neutrality – because not all commercial offsets are equal. Is planting a tree ever enough? Is a paperless environment a realistic objective?

And if a business, any business, has a carbon footprint, how does that equate with having a net carbon neutral profile? Doesn’t a footprint leave an impression, imply size and volume? You can see where this is heading can’t you?

In demonstrating our concern about all this -- and all companies that have made, or are thinking of making, some kind of carbon-neutral claim should consider this – as claims continue to grow in both self-importance, scope and popularity, the very value of our claims will diminish alongside the scale of our emissions (however we choose to measure them!). Getting our carbon ‘badge of honour’ becomes another me-too action for all but a handful of companies. At best, carbon neutral will be seen as de rigeur, no longer having any street value outside of the internal morale of the company itself.

That's okay. But beyond that is a much bigger issue: will carbon neutrality become just a cover-up for lack of real action? Are we heading blindly towards a torrent of opinion, backlash if you will, against companies making carbon-neutral claims without having taken the relevant steps to improve their energy efficiency and use only energy derived from clean, renewable resources? Like ISO and ‘Investors in People, is Carbon Neutrality going to become the next trap to sidestep when businesses are asked to defend their environmental position while tendering, partnering or regulated trading?

How much can a true SME possibly achieve? Is receiving a County Award as an environmental champion the beginning or the end of the process? Doing something, in our opinion, means that we are anything but neutral. We are able to make sensible but tangible decisions about our environmental impact – from turning computers off at night, to using long-life light bulbs, and from using recycled toilet paper (urgh!) to having so many recycled paper bins you can’t move – and these are all positive steps. But are they big enough? Persuading our clients and partners to give into their carbon-neutral inclinations is a much harder process, but in the absence of any real diktat from a government that seems mildly distracted at the moment, it’s an ideology worth embracing!

So we’ll continue to do the very best we can, while casting a wistful gaze at the word neutral and wondering why the real wordsmiths haven’t cracked that particular, yet valuable, nut. If I want to be neutral, I’ll park out the back and get a parking ticket from the traffic fascists. Thinking about changing our environmental gears from 2nd to 3rd, now that’s a question of timing and having attained the right speed. And, if moving at 3 mph means I can safely plant a tree as a way of saving the planet, then that’s win, win.

But how do we get back there to water it?

Posted by Simon Dover

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Is Dan Soutan an endangered species or simply a designer looking for a new environment ?

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Idealogy have recently adopted a small hairy creature that, as part of a fully developed conservation programme, is leaving it’s regional habitat and being moved to the more temperate southern coastal plains. His keepers hope that this change of environment and climate stability may encourage a more positive breeding culture, and, therefore further increase the chances of the survival of the genus.

The approach of this wing of the Dan Soutan Foundation goes beyond that of purely protecting Dan. Critically it also includes a recognition that the habitat for the Soutan must be unique in its richness of culture, biodiversity and crucial for local communities, who are as dependent on the habitat as Dan. In the medium to long term this will mean an increase in the number of Curry establishments in the Lymington area, easy access to a number of local, mature golf courses, the construction of a man-made range of hills and climbs to take advantage of Dan’s strange but well developed cycling skills, and his own personal queuing line in the key food, clothing and convenience shops in the region.

Conservation is more than protecting a species. It is about saving nature which includes us, 'the fifth ape'. The efforts of all of us to prevent global warming will be seen as a defining moment in history, for humanity's sake and for the health of the whole planet. Tropical forests, mountain biking, and less TV Soaps can play a significant role in guarding against this change. Idealogy will discuss more about our approach to the environment in future blog entries.

The Soutan will continue to make progress under the watchful eye of his keepers, who will continually monitor his ability to colour in with confidence, understand advanced, paper-based and digital communications concepts, integrate into his new social group and, as he develops as a senior designer, be cured of his poor dietary habits, in particular a passion for ‘Pot Noodle’. For more information about this intriguing species simply respond to the issues raised in this blog or leave a donation and speak to any one of his keepers – Paul Wright, Simon Johnson or Darryl Akerman.

Posted by Idealogy