Thursday, 23 December 2010

Countdown to Santa

As I write this, the digital countdown clock shows that it is only 1 day, 21 hours, 12 mins and 06 secs until Santa arrives. And as exciting as that prospect still is, the adult in me needs some kind of proof. As the digital clock keeps tumbling (now 1 day, 21 hours, 8 mins and 11 secs – this is going to get boring!!!) it occurs to me that only the most sophisticated techniques and technology can perform such a task and my theory was proven when we found the NORAD Tracks Santa web-site.

Wow! I had no idea. Not only does it maintain the accurate assessment of Santa’s ETA down my chimney – and, as the song strongly argues, why doesn’t he ever get stuck? – but NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets. Fighter Jets? Fantastic, tell me more!

Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 intercept welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15 or the F-16 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph.

At time of writing, I still have no clue if every other nation with this capability keeps tabs on our favourite rotund red-faced gentleman this way. Or, for that matter, why they would want to keep it so secret when, year after year, they all do such a stonking job. Surely that’s something to shout about despite whether you’ve been naughty or nice!

So, with the clock now at 1 day, 20 hrs, 43 mins and 49 secs I retire to my festive holidays knowing that, unless the fighter jets get called away to defend the sovereignty of all Christian nations against those who feel that the birth of the Christ Child is an affront to their beliefs, my presents will be underneath the tree when I finally drag myself downstairs to the gift-frenzy that is the modern Christmas morning.

And that’s a comforting thought with a final time check at 1 day, 20 hrs, 39 mins and 32 secs!

Merry Christmas and thank you NORAD

Posted by Nick Hart

Friday, 17 December 2010

Fitness First goes mobile…a second time!

Fitness First was the first Idealogy client willing to experiment in the mobile arena way back in 2007/08; a long time before the rest of the market caught onto mobile applications.

The fast-growing Smartphone market of 09/10 and some significant analytical research by our digital team proved, beyond doubt, that a large proportion (10% and growing) of Fitness First’s online visitors came via a mobile device and current trends prove that this is only set to increase in 2011.

We approached them with a proposal to convert the most useful parts of their site into a mobile version, whilst still running it from one centralised source for easy administration. This solution, alongside a cost effective estimate with a strong ROI, made it relatively straightforward for them to give us the green light.

The actual project is fairly simple design-wise. Mobile sites need to be slick, responsive and easy-to-use while still emphasising the brand, so simplicity really is the key, as, to date, Smartphones still aren’t the fastest things in the world. Then the important considerations are good clean coding, testing and finally, speed to launch. This we duly achieved and the site is now live. If you visit on a mobile you’ll now be directed to the new mobile version of their site.

Posted by Simon Johnson

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Charlotte (ISP) Blake - the true Idealogy Service Provider

When your role encompasses everything financial and everything HR it's hard to find the time to add yet another dimension to the amazing service you offer your team. But for Charlotte Blake it's all in a day's work, this calender year closes with some of the finest information imparted to the Idealogy group... Which mince pies are worth your (paid by Charlotte) wages!

Upon the board on floor two is a table, listed are the major brands of mince pie, and threatened into participating are those nearest to Charlotte. Pies are eaten, daily, and scores marked out of 10. As Greggs took a day 1 position, the benchmark is set pretty high. Would you put money on Asda to top it??? Well it would be a safe bet as they're pulling two 9's out of the bag straight off. The rest of the board files in like a more exciting cousin to this years Formula 1 season as we charge forward past M&S, Mr Kipling and on towards Aldi and Waitrose.

So we'll be sure to keep you posted on full results but for now, see what you make of Charlotte's league table, and more worryingly, see what you make of Idealogy's combined waistline as the season nears!

Posted by Idealogy

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Charity begins at Christmas!

In this festive season, where excess is ‘de rigeur’, Idealogy has decided to breathe life into the sentiment that “it’s not the giving, it’s the thought that counts!” We spent a long time debating what we could do differently for our clients for Christmas 2010. In the end, our decision was to make charitable donations to 2 notable and admired organisations that Idealogy people have a huge personal indebtedness to; The Breast Cancer Campaign and The Alzheimer’s Society. We are proud to support both of these remarkable organisations and hope that all of our clients and partners identify with our position when the Christmas bundles don’t arrive.

May we take this opportunity to wish you a happy and peaceful festive season and all the very best for 2011 from all at Idealogy.

If you would like to make a donation please follow these links:

Posted by Idealogy

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Yuletide Jog

One of our largest clients, Fitness First, were recently tasked with a mission - 'to shape up the business world and create fitter office teams full of energy!' and so that meant that Idealogy were also tasked with a mission - 'to produce a dedicated Fitness First microsite with an individual look and feel that enabled members and non-members of Fitness First to quickly become involved in the 'Operation Shape Up' corporate campaign.'

Piece of cake… no, thinking about it, better make it a piece of fruit...

From a participants point of view there are 4 stages to Operation Shape Up:

Registration, Initial Assessment, Secondary Assessment and Results. You sign-up, select your preferred club and then:
1. Take the shape up assessment at the start
2. Workout at least 6 times over the next 3 weeks
3. Take the shape up assessment again
4. See the improved results

Whether the user has been to a Fitness First Club before or not doesn't matter; clever stuff going on in the background of the site takes care of that. Already a member? We recognise that email address, go to this page! So, your company has a corporate account with Fitness First? Right, go to this page. What do you mean you just want temporary membership for Operation Shape Up only? OK, go to this page.

The main thing is to get everybody motivated, quickly and seamlessly, with support not only from the allocated Personal Trainers at the respective clubs but via personalised data sheets that at various stages of the campaign are emailed to the users - The Shape Up Guide, Male and Female Score Cards, Visits Card, Company Results etc. This is in addition to users' personalised pages on the site itself, where scores given for each stage of the assessment need to be entered for later use and progress is tracked.

So, completed just in time for Christmas, the site looks set to provide a great tonic to festive over excess.

Posted by Paul Skinner

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Idealogy of Christmas

Of all the things we try to keep secrets about, the ritual of Secret Santa is probably the hardest to control. To be honest, it’s a bugger! (That’s one thing crossed off my Christmas list!)

It’s the complete opposite of Chinese Whispers – starting a rumour at one end of a line and seeing if it bears much resemblance to the original message when it gets to the last ‘listener’. With Secret Santa, you’re doomed! You (naively) trust a group of ‘responsible’ people to select a name from a hat, and then buy an anonymous gift. Which seems simple to that point, but then they have to keep it a secret when the gifts are handed out. Some hope! When the drink is flowing, tongues are loosened and people start to engage in hand-to-hand combat the moment a good present comes out of the box. It all gets a bit like an episode of Takeshi’s Castle….

So, let’s take it right back to basics. What do we understand about Christmas, individually and collectively? What does it mean? What are the cultural and historical contexts of Christmas in the UK, USA and the Rest of the World? Why is the meaning shaped by the social and cultural activities surrounding Christmas (watching Christmas films, television, listening or engaging with popular music and carols), its relationship to a set of basic values (the idealised construct of the family), social relationships (community), and the ways in which ideologies are used, mobilised and designed to influence, not least in times of conflict, terrorism and war.

A microcosm of all of this is the issue created by wanting to use ‘Merry Christmas’ when designing the office Christmas card. That’s a no-no! You simply can’t do it any more for fear of offending people who have only a ‘less-than-passing’ allegiance to a once proud and Western orientated Christian festival. Life can be so unfair!

And while we’re on about it, where did the names Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, Saint Nick and even Father Christmas all come from? You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth (A Few Good Men. 1992). Well, they are all based on ‘Christkindl’ or the Christ Child and take their origins from German folklore. Then each culture, even down to national and regional identities, adds it’s own layers of tradition, charm and even mystery – ‘you’d better get to bed Children, because Santa will know who’s been naughty or nice!’

From Charles Dickens' seminal tale, A Christmas Carol, Coca-Cola-nisation, Victorian cartoons and Christmas cards, to Dr Who, The Office, 'A Fairy Tale of New York', 'Happy Christmas (War is Over)', and such dystopian films as Jingle All the Way, The Nightmare Before Christmas and All I Want For Christmas, all add their unique characteristics.

Then there are the news stories that impact on, and some might say cloud, our views of this truly seasonal conceit – the Christmas Day Bomber, the Indonesian Tsunami, the global events that take the festive edge off of our pagan celebrations.

And then, of course, how does Christmas relate to social change, and how do recent events such as 9/11 and the continuing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, focus attention on traditional themes of community and family. Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture offer us all an opportunity to experience the world's most popular festival in our own way and, if we’re interested, understand what it means to the outsider, and often the disbeliever, looking in.

Which brings us neatly back to our problem with keeping secrets. It’s a 21st century phenomenon that means we are never more than a click away from a piece of news, a social network, a way to spend money or the latest drink sensation to hit the pubs.

So with that in mind, how are we supposed to keep anything secret under our big red hats?

Seasons Greetings from Idealogy

Posted by Simon Dover

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Drifting in for a pint at the local

Now here’s dangerous ground!  Mess with local tradition and it will drive you to drink!

Take a bastion of community life, a pub with huge local heritage and loyalty, named in a way that really does ‘do exactly what it says on the tin!”  Surround it with a centuries old regional custom, then try to persuade the new owners, the staff and the locals to change the name and refresh the customer experience.

As easy as falling off a horse? Not really…but a really brave project for all concerned; the only real trick we needed to pull off was to get it to work in the hearts and minds of all involved. So, with all that background, Idealogy’s Head of Client Services, Anna Ecuyer, set off to talk ‘rebrand’ to New Forest Hotels, the owners of The Beaulieu Road Inn, a local hostelry in the grounds of their Beaulieu Hotel, and a focus for New Forest life for many, many years. To quote one of the staff, “It’s obvious where it is, even if you don’t know the area”. It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic…but argue we did!

Following meetings with New Forest Hotel’s marketing team and an extensive round of local research, Idealogy found their ‘pewter mug’. The Beaulieu Road, and in particular the Beaulieu Road Railway Station, had for centuries been the focus of the New Forest Drift – the round up of local ponies to be wormed (ugh!), branded, tailed and often auctioned. Commoners who live within the bounds of the Forest own all the ponies and ownership rights are jealously guarded; passed down through generations of families. Then we discovered what we thought were a number of New Forest Pub Bands. The Agisters, who organise The Drift, and The Verderers, who employ The Agisters and who have complete control of all the stallions in the New Forest. At this point, we were in danger of uncovering a new episode from Lord Of The Rings, so we drew a line under the local history and turned for further insight to the local Beaulieu Road Inn patrons and the people responsible for managing the customer experience – the Pub staff.

And, as you’d expect, at first we met fairly stiff resistance to any form of change. Our joint research gave us some interesting options, including a proposed name change to The Drift Inn – simple, evocative and a perfect way to breathe new life and appeal into a hidden gem of the regional experience. 

Well, they said yes and a significant re-brand followed! Today, the Drift Inn team are responsible for bringing their new brand, newly refurbished pub (and menu) and indeed the experience itself to life, telling the story of The Drift and creating the atmosphere for patrons who, for so long, have been supporters of a regional stronghold.

Now that’s worth a glass of Old Thumper, don’t you think?


Posted by Anna Ecuyer

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Kenwood Triblade commercial

Q. What does it take to gain a 25% market share of the handblender market from a single run of TV commercials?
A. Idealogy, a studio, cameras, lights, a food stylist, an actress, set-builders, runners and a whole heap of sweet potato!

But when it came to seeing more of the action for the French market, it wasn't all as easy as soup.

Having created 2009's highly successful TV commercial for Kenwood in the UK, we were then asked to create a more in-depth vision for the French market (perhaps less trusting of Kenwood's '3 blades faster, 3 blades easier, 3 blades cleaner' claims). So the brief was - show more movement in the pan, and show the masher-attachment at it's best... easy right?

Well the old addage in TV is never work with children or animals and we can safely add food to this list too. You'd be amazed at how a pan full of pre-blended soup refuses to behave how you want it to, and that it takes 5 takes to 'see' the blending action (tip - add some dried herbs to the surface of the liquid). What's more, Kenwood's TriBlade hand-blender is SO powerful (700watts!) we had to fit it to a dimmer to slow the thing down so the cameras could capture the magic!

The finished version is here so you can see for yourself the outcome of a day and a half's planning, setting-up, filming and editing. This video's now gone off to French studios for the recording of it's voice over. We hope it sells as many units over there as it has here.

Posted by Nick Hart

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Nick Hart. He knew a man, who knew a man

There’s no other way of looking at this! Nick Hart has an enviable background! There – it’s been said. Deal with it!

For the two years prior to stepping aboard the good ship Idealogy, he spent his time marketing a SuperYacht Training School to customers across Europe, attending boat shows and disreputable crew parties in some of the most (and, very often the least) glamorous places. So, he’s survived a difficult period that saw the global recession affect even the ‘Uber-rich’, with a large number of owners laying their yachts up stern-to, bracing themselves for the economic storm. You didn’t need to be a financial analyst to work out what was going to happen to crew training, support budgets and investment in general.

SO, what’s the worst word that you can hear when you’re fairly sure what you’re going to hear next? It begins with ‘Red' and ends in ‘undancy’. And even though that word brought closure to a difficult period, the net result was that young Nick was out on his ear at possibly the worst time to be out on anything attached to your head.

The flip-side of that particular coin was that Nick was most definitely not the pessimistic sort, and he was pretty certain that one or other of those semi-intoxicated introductions would pay-off. So, he set about networking as if his career depended on it – which, of course, it did.

What followed was a period of freelance work to help launch a marine security service. What followed that was a conversation about whether the client knew anybody who might be looking to expand their team. "I know a man" came the swift response. "He’ll need some pestering but he’ll listen to you in the end". An initial chat didn’t prove too tricky, and Nick was convinced there was room for a relationship to blossom. Furthermore he was pretty convinced his new contact felt there could be a mutual opportunity.

The rest of the story reads like an episode from the Morecambe and Wise Show: -
Nick: James, do you need me?
James: No, call me in a week
Nick: James, do you need me?
James: No, call me in a week
Nick: James, do you need me?
James: No, call me in a week
Nick: James, do you need me?
James: No, call me in a week
Nick: James, do you need me?
James: No, call me in a week
Nick: James, do you need me?
James: Yes, you start on Monday

So there it is! Nick knew a man who knew a man. That man was called Harvey, and he knew James, and James needed a new chap to help with some work.

Job done!
Posted by Idealogy

Friday, 19 November 2010

Mark Zuckerberg says it's not email but it might just replace it…

…well he would do wouldn't he?

Facebook announced this week that they are working on the next generation of 'messaging systems'…which will have the address - comprising not just email but Facebook messages, SMS, other chat-based services and possibly VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol - like Skype) all in one place.

So what are the differences from regular email?  Well apparently there won't be any subject lines, CC or BCC for a start. All of your messages to someone will be shown as a single conversation, whether they were sent by instant messaging, email or text. Yes, but won't that just feel like instant messaging anyway?

If we're honest we can't quite envisage HOW it will feel just yet but it looks like we might do soon.

Posted by Paul Skinner

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Geek Mythology - Social Network review

“The value of a social network is defined not only by who’s on it, but by who’s excluded.” - Paul Saffo

Before I start I would like to point out that I’m really not a big social networker. Some may even say I’m a little social networker. Truth is I’m a simpler, more visceral creature who, call me old fashioned, enjoys socially engaging with people and real friends through conversation and the occasional letter. I’m not afraid to admit I even have notelets.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total digital dodger and yes I do have a Facebook page. I fit into the thirty-something category of men who enjoy the occasional COD Deathmatch with 10 year old American kids and has more DVDs and Blu-Rays than is both necessary or sanitary. No surprise then that I have a passion for film. In fact most of my online social activity is spent on movie blog pages such as and Harry Knowles’ brilliant I find this more engaging than throwing cyber sheep, virtually ‘poking’ someone or reading some twit’s tweet... but here I am, so now who’s the twit?

It is because of my fascination with all things cinematic that I was asked to write a piece about the film Social Network…which is brilliant by the way!

 Balancing a thin line between drama and comedy Social Network sees a solid return to form from director David Fincher after his visually stunning but somewhat flakey Benjamin Button. In it we follow the questionable inception and creation of Facebook. It’s ensemble cast includes Jesse Eisenburg (Adventureland and Zombieland) Andrew Garfield (brilliant Brit thesp who’s just signed to play the new Spiderman), Justin Timberlake (Black Snake Moan and apparently quite an accomplished singer. Who knew?!), Rooney Mara (soon to play Lisbeth Salander in Fincher's adaptation of the The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo Millennium Trilogy) and Armie Hammer, a revelation as both of the Winklevoss twins with the help of some astonishing digital trickery from Lola VFX (the technical wizards behind Brad Pitt's incredible transformation from 90 to 9 in Benjamin Button).

Based on Ben Mezrich’s non-fiction book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ and adapted into a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson's War and A Few Good Men) it is worth noting that no Facebook employees, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, were involved in the project.

Sorkin's script never misses a beat and is both engaging and informative from the off; like a Shakespearean Greek tragedy (or should that be Geek tragedy), this is history being retold for our entertainment. In this retelling the geeks are filled with elegant prose and sardonic wit. A far cry from the clicks and whistles I’m used to deciphering from the geek community.

In 2003 Harvard Undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg got dumped by his girlfriend, but rather than drink himself into a stupor he sat down at his computer and began working on his revenge masterpiece Facemash - a simple concept in which fellow female students were rated against each other. The site became an overnight viral success with 22,000 views in less than four hours that crashed the Harvard servers. This popularity inspired Zuckerberg to create a unique social networking experience and in a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. Six years and 500 million friends later, 26 year old Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history. But at what cost? His success leads to both personal and legal complications. As the film's tagline suggests, “You don’t make 500 millions friends without making a few enemies”.

Social Network explores the moment at which Facebook (originally Facemash and then TheFacebook before finally dropping the ‘the’) was conceived through the warring perspectives of the super-smart students who each claimed to be there at its inception. The film moves from the halls of Harvard to the cubicles of Palo Alto to capture the fledgling days of this culture-changing phenomenon, and the way in which it both pulled a group of young revolutionaries together and then split them apart.

In the midst of this chaos is Mark Zuckerberg, the brilliant Harvard student who conceived the website. Zuckerberg's spite and inability to socially interact (clearly a sign of Asperger’s syndrome but which is never fully explored) fuels his dogmatic determination to prove himself academically superior and for no other reason than because it would be ‘cool’. He never intended for his creation to make him a multi billionaire, only seeking the recognition not the wealth.

Then there are the Machiavellian Winklevoss twins Cameron and Tyler, identical twins and Harvard classmates who asserted that Zuckerberg stole their idea and then sued him for ownership of it. Initially briefing Zuckerberg with helping them programme their Harvard Connection website and inadvertently giving Zuckerberg the lightening bolt he needed for his creation. Zuckerberg never did complete their Harvard Connection website nor did he use any of the code they gave him. For the Winklevoss twins this was about power through popularity; how a social networking website could bolster their reputation, climb Harvard's elitist social hierarchy and move them out of the shadow created by their father. Zuckerberg now had that power but had no way of harnessing it.

Add Justin Timberlake's brilliant turn as the Napster creator Sean Parker who brought Facebook to Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists. Sean is a man driven by the financial rewards genius can generate, In one scene telling Zuckerberg of Roy Raymond, the man who in 1977 created Victoria’s Secret and sold the company five years later for $4 million. By the early 1990s the company had become Americas most successful lingerie retailer topping over $1 billion in revenue. In 1993 Roy Raymond committed suicide jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Finally there is the fresh faced Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg's once close friend and Harvard roomy who stumped up the $1000 cash Zuckerberg required to start his venture - as Facebook grows he becomes further ostracised from the business. His character is by far the one you most sympathise with but is ultimately the less interesting.

Each has his own narrative, his own version of the Facebook story in this multi-level portrait of 21st Century success - both the youthful fantasy of it and its finite realities as well.

You never really do get to bottom of the truth but in Fincher's and Sorkin's tale of geek mythology it never really matters. As the credits roll the Beatles track ‘Baby your a rich man’ asks the question “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?” - a question Zuckerberg could never truly answer and why would he, he’s from the logged in, left out generation that knows little of beauty and even less so of feeling.

In an industry where ideas are the heart of the business, what price do you put on a truly original idea? And is there really such a thing as an original idea?

The television, arguably one the 20th Centuries greatest technical achievements has changed the world forever in terms of the communication of thoughts and ideas to the masses. Though many consider the idea of the modern television to be the brainchild of John Logie Baird, it was actually down to the scientific breakthroughs of several luminary individuals. The beginnings of mechanical television can be traced back to the discovery of the photoconductivity of the element selenium by Willoughby Smith in 1873, the invention of a scanning disk by Paul Gottlieb Nipkov in 1884 and finally John Logie Baird’s demonstration of televised moving images in 1926.

What John Logie Baird was able to do was to bring that communication experience into the homes of the masses. Now a century later Zuckerberg has been able to bring his own communication experience into the dorms of every university in the western hemisphere and 500 million users globally. According to “If Facebook were a country, it would now be the 6th most populous in the world.”

Which I guess is kinda ‘cool’.


Posted by David Birch

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Friendly Fire

After trying for almost 2 years to get the business to take the process seriously, and following the installation of a state-of-the-art Fire Alarm system, today Idealogy broke their record for completing a Fire Drill. Everyone was safely recorded at the Muster Point in 1minute 13 seconds. Which is great, and well done to Karine for managing the whole event.

The really good news is that we beat our previous record by almost 2 hours. On that occasion several people didn’t show at the meeting point and several more slept through the alarm – which is why we had to replace the old Cow Bell; it wasn’t really working!

The Health & Safety Executive will be impressed and so will Hampshire Fire Brigade – at least we hope they will when we learn how to switch it off!

Earphones anyone?

Posted by Simon Dover

Monday, 15 November 2010

New content and new sets on Flickr

You'll be seeing not just new content but new client sets if you go and have a look at our flickr stream this month - Diguru, GO, and New Forest Hotels have all been added so there's work as diverse as van liveries, security passes and website re-skins…oh and all the usual suspects like emailers, press advertising and direct marketing of course…
Posted by Paul Skinner

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Apple App Store

Apple now has strict new guidelines for developers to get software onto their forthcoming store: “No betas or demos and no upgrade pricing” - interesting moves (no beta, demo, trial or test versions allowed!!), but that should be a good thing for the consumer as only quality, tested, proven apps will make it onto the store.

On the positive side, there will be Apple’s rigorous (some would say extreme) testing process, which means only quality makes it online (quality meaning ‘working well’ rather than quality content) and that has to be a good thing. It also means that developers and clients need to focus on what they produce and why – and that’s also got to be good news for us all as consumers.

On the negative side, they are talking about being stricter on the UI (user interface) and anything that is complex or deemed to be ‘not good’ will be removed or not allowed. This could mean the end of many good apps that have been clever in the way they uses the touch interface, which is a massive shame in our opinion. Also, tight regulations on pricing and upgrades are going to be hard for some developers to work with, adapt and overcome we would suggest.

Apple’s stringent control always means that you can rely on well developed, quality apps that work and won’t cause your iPhone any heartache. Sadly, the same can’t always be said for the content some people produce in apps! The worry is that Apple are taking too much control and opening the door for Google to push past them - quality vs the mass market. We’ll just have to wait and see, but sadly, if the X-Factor is anything to go by, the mass market might win! Then again, Apple is the Porsche of the computer world…
Posted by Simon Johnson

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Taking it to the next level

This month marks the beginning of the conversion of the top floor of Idealogy towers, turning an old unused floor into a more creative, relaxed, interactive and fun area for staff and clients.

This new breakout room gives us a more informal meeting area for clients with media and wifi access, and an escape zone for staff when moments of clarity and creative ideas are proving elusive. The floor will also incorporate a photography and production area when finished.

So phase 1, the clearing of old desks, painting and decorating is now almost complete - amazing what a few staff can do when given some paint brushes and cans of cold beer.

Phase 1 images:- &

Posted by Steve Barnes 

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

New animation tool not just a Flash in the pan

Idealogy heard yesterday that there looks finally to be a good product for rich, timeline-based animation that will do "Flash…but without the Flash!'.

A lot of people probably wouldn't see the need for such a tool - Adobe's stats are impressive, as is a lot of Flash content on the internet…but probably not if you're browsing on your phone. A lot of mobile phones still don't fully support Flash, the iPhone for one.

Sencha Animator is still in Beta at the moment, but from the screenshots that we've seen of it, any Flash developer would be very comfortable using it; it's a visual tool, outputting HTML5 and CSS3 in the background.

Chrome, Safari, and mobile WebKit browsers such as Android, Blackberry Torch, Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are all supported so it could be a very interesting piece of software to watch, we'll certainly be looking forward to using it for our clients.

Posted by Paul Skinner

Friday, 29 October 2010

New Forest, new site

Quick recap for you: Rocktime, the digital agency (one of our partners), asked us lot at Idealogy to create a fresh look for their client, New Forest Hotels.

After much research, a workshop or two and many butterflies, we created a new brand for the hotel group. This wasn't the end of our work, more like the beginning. Or possibly the middle. You get the general drift. We needed to put the brand into action.

A big task was to redesign the website so that it reflected the group's new motto of 'True quality, naturally delivered' and, of course, included the new logo. The copy had to be welcoming and not stuffy, just like the hotels themselves, the pictures had to be gorgeous, the information needed to be updated and we wanted the site to get lots of visitors.

We got the basics together and handed them over to the Rocktime bods, because they rock (it had to be done, don't sigh) at creating sites that search engines love. Not only has traffic to the New Forest Hotels site increased, but the cunning design has also resulted in increased dwell time, and made the folk at New Forest Hotels rather happy.

Posted by Anna Ecuyer

Friday, 22 October 2010

Idealogy believe it’s going to be a long, cold winter…

What is an Old Wives’ Tale? According to the brilliant minds at Wikipedia, an Old Wives' Tale is a type of urban legend, similar to a proverb, which is generally passed down by old wives to a younger generation. So without too much further debate, here are a few OWT’s (to coin the popular vernacular of TXT Speak) to get you running to your wardrobe and dragging out your winter woollies.

1. Siberian swans land at Slimbridge – one month early!
One swan does not make a winter. But yesterday, as the first migrating Siberian swans arrived in Britain, the omens were not looking good. Each year, the arrival of Bewick’s Swans at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, marks the end of summer. The birds, which head south chased by Arctic winds, usually arrive in November to spend winter in the UK. But they touched down yesterday - at dawn!

2. Consider the acorn.
It’s a nut overlooked by most… unlike almonds and pistachios, because they’re the tastiest of them all. However, this autumn season, there are thousands of beefy acorns falling all over gardens, pavements and denting cars. Assuming you have an ‘all-comers’ car insurance policy, tons of acorns with sizable girth is a good thing, but they do indicate a harsh winter ahead.

3. Lots of berries?
Not sure if this is another OWT, but I've noticed lots and lots of berries round country lanes and about the house. The orange pyracantha by the front door is loaded and the blackbirds are already taking advantage. Holly bushes and trees are also weighed down with loads of big red shiny berries. The rumour is that trees and bushes produce more berries when they know it’s going to be a hard winter. Ooh err!

4. Mince Pie Recipes on Cookery websites
Now, I’m trying not to be too cynical here, but why, 10 weeks out from Christmas, are most of the major cookery websites showing mince pie recipes? Are they trying to tell us something by preparing us for the worst, or should I keep my conspiracy theories under my hat?

5. It’s October – so why is the heating on in the office?
As much as I care deeply for the wellbeing of my working colleagues, I don’t count ‘keeping them warm’ as too high on my list of priorities. But I have bowed to the pressure from ‘the freezing minority’ – people who seem unable to put on sweaters or extra layers – and turned the office heating on, breaking my unwritten rule that the boiler stays redundant until after Firework Night. Bonfire anyone?

6. GazProm announce higher gas prices
In the simple world of 'supply and demand', the inevitable has just been announced. GazProm, the Russian Utilities giant responsible for most of Western Europe’s gas supply, has, in one breadth, declared record profits and hinted at much higher gas prices for this winter. And if anything is going to bring on a cold, hard, long winter it’s the cost of keeping warm.

So, with all of these clues staring us in the face, I have only one piece of advice. Gently crank up your central heating and get out your thermals... because winter is about to bite. And it’s going to be a belter!

Posted by Simon Dover

Monday, 18 October 2010

Running, jumping, ducking, diving – and a dodgy coccyx!

Now approaching the end of his 21st year with Idealogy, Darryl Akerman is the perfect embodiment of the ‘One-Company Guy’. But, if all of that sounds a little steady and safe, well, forget it!

When he’s not multi-tasking complex brand and design projects as Idealogy’s Design Director, he’s anywhere other than tethered to a TV. He’s a Runner. He’s a Beachcomber. He’s a Cyclist (well, at least he was until he fractured his coccyx in an infamous off-the-wall BMX incident!). He’s an avid outdoor fiend. And he’s a moody Meteorologist – his outlook set by the way the local weather is shaping up for his weekends with his lovely wife Jo, and his 2 equally fresh-air friendly sons, Cayden and Jamie. Can you imagine what that washing basket smells like on a Sunday evening?

So, what else is he notable for? Well, he’s earned the moniker ‘The Blogger Dodger” – so you don’t need to speculate about how difficult it’s been to get him to answer a few personal questions. Let alone admit an aversion to the Social Media black arts. However, we eventually got there – and there are no other peddling misfortunes to report – for the moment!

Jump, if you will, to his professional life, and Darryl is the consummate pro – digging himself deep into detailed, far reaching branding and market communications projects. Sometimes it’s tough to see where the concept ends and Darryl begins, but he’s working on sharing his knowledge, expertise and diligence with others as Idealogy attempt to create a design team that reflects all those qualities and sheer mileage. And that’s going to be tough!

Ask him what he really loves and he will reply “Branding, from audit all the way through to application – it doesn’t get any better seeing everything go the plan, the proposition hits the mark and the client GETS the value”. Well, amen to that.

So, our all-action Design Director isn’t going to change his approach to his challenging MO. And if his coccyx holds up (God bless Ortho cushions) he’s going to keep attacking his Creative responsibilities with the same gusto he puts into his weekends.

Crabbing anyone?

Posted by Idealogy

Thursday, 14 October 2010

It's not you, it's me... or is it?

I'm fully aware (as we all are) that I'm growing older. Not a lot, but a bit, and enough to shift interests a little. Don't pretend it isn't happening to you either - you used to like clubbing, and now you prefer ‘a bottle of wine in front of The X Factor’. You used to like energetic, adrenaline-fuelled sports, and now you prefer ‘a bottle of wine in front of The X Factor’.

But here's what's worrying me – the other night, I turned off the football for ‘Masterchef -The Professionals’. Now, it was England, and it was pretty much the sporting equivalent of watching my own hair grow (that's changing too, but I'd rather not talk about that at the moment), but even so... MASTERCHEF?

So, either England are simply not entertaining enough to hold the attention of a young and excitement-hungry mind like mine, or I am actually getting old and would rather learn how to quenelle my ice-cream. I spent an evening thinking about this predicament (with a bottle of wine in front of The X Factor) and decided this...

The definition of ‘cool’ is changing, not me. These days, cooking is way cooler than football.

So there, I'm still cool - in fact I'm right on it. 

Panic over, slippers on, and back to my bottle of wine in front of The X Factor.

Posted by Nick Hart

Friday, 8 October 2010

Google testing new search results showing full page previews

The big boys of search are testing some new layouts and functions for their search results, I have to say it looks pretty impressive stuff and incredibly useful for the end-user.

It’s certainly going to have a big effect on the way Search Engine Optimisation marketers, like ourselves, work considering you can see the page in Google without even needing to click! Some of the tips and tricks we’ve been so used to using will need to adapt. This type of change means that the page you show to the users will need to be visually appealing as well as containing appropriate information. Something many sites fail to combine well.

It will certainly be an interesting time for SEO.  Would you click a forum post over a nicer looking page that is potentially less informative? Only time will tell. I do hope they allow us to measure rollovers on top of clicks so that we’re able to analyse the data more thoroughly - good times ahead for users though!

Credit to blogstorm for the image

Find out more here.

Posted by Simon Johnson

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Fit for Purpose – 05.10.10 Fitness First revolutionise the ‘Join On-line’ experience for new members

Back in 2007, when joining any fitness club on-line was a very new and, often, traumatic experience, Fitness First, were one of the first to break new ground. Their initial foray into acquiring and retaining membership through a simple, web-centred system was innovative, worked well and gave them the impetus to adapt and improve – knowing full well that development of the function would generate more on-line membership, better customer data and a platform for increased and improved recruitment and membership campaigns.

Essentially, the process began 3 years ago when the first system went live and today, as part of an overall Fitness First site re-skin, a completely new 1-page click selection system is going live. And it’s a game changer! It’s been designed to revolutionise the ‘Join on-line’ experience and organically link to member promotions, offers and discounts with a simple click-through function. And the 3 pillars of effective web design apply; it’s so much more user-friendly, it uses the latest technology appropriately to enhance, not hinder, the user experience, and it is already improving the commercial effectiveness of the business.

Oh! And Idealogy helped with usability, design, development and deployment for all of the front and back-end systems and also the ‘go-live’ process with the internal teams at Fitness First. And it all works – right first time and completely fit for purpose!

Posted by Simon Johnson

Friday, 1 October 2010

Just another week at Idealogy…

Life is nothing unless it’s rich and varied – and the working week at Idealogy is all of that.

For example, this week, week 39, has been a fascinating mix of rush projects for US Trade Shows, preparation and delegate experience for upcoming Brand workshops in Italy, production of Press adverts for premium kitchen products in Norwegian newspapers, a little promotional activity for a ‘soon-to-be-famous’ Drummer, some brand reputation monitoring around the product recall activity for a leading Skincare brand, and a colourful and eclectic mix of web and email campaigns, product packaging, topped off with a liberal sprinkling of interior, environment and retail design.

Of course, there’s always the personal…on the down side, a good family friend passed away unexpectedly in Melbourne, Australia, (as good a place as any!) one of the Director’s daughters has just begun 4 years at University in London, learning Physiotherapy, the Christmas Party is planned and booked, and we’re all off to our Digital Director’s Wedding Celebration on Saturday.

Oh, and the first of the new Board Meetings happened as well…with plenty of actions for everyone to get their teeth into!

Still, at least we’ve got Sunday to get over it, before it all kicks off again.

Week 40 here we come!

Posted by Idealogy

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Digital marketing spend on the increase?

Or so you might think. But is this really true?

With the current economic climate and lots of chatter on the web about digital being easier to measure with better ROI then it must be true, right?

At Idealogy, we are a multi-service agency offering cross media solutions throughout all media types, from online to print through to PR and consultancy. It’s certainly true to say that the digital aspects of the business have grown substantially in the past 10 years, and in the past 2 years this has seen a 250% increase in the department size! So, if you ask what has driven this then the answer has to be client demand. Without this the business wouldn’t grow.

Now, having said that, we need to keep in perspective that the traditional media lines are eroding. No longer can we, nor should we, separate offline from online, DM from email, PR from Bloggers. It’s all about fully integrated campaigns combining multiple media channels for the best client results.

But still, it’s certainly true to say that the online spend of businesses across all markets is changing and increasing. The adage that online ROI is easier to measure is certainly true and the proof that email is usually more effective than DM is much easier to demonstrate. These points, alongside the economic climate in 2010, mean that clients expect better value for money with effective results. Then, throw into the mix the social media boom and we understand why digital spends are increasing across the board.

Now, once you say these things you need to back them up with facts and figures - it’s no use us pointing to our own business and harping on about this. So I took it upon myself to Google/Bing some stuff and see if my thinking was substantiated by real figures. The results are pretty compelling!

This shows it quite clearly, marketing budgets increase.
 But it’s just one blog…
Credit to

So I found this 46% of companies increasing spend with 1000 surveyed and then this about digital shift in marketing budgets: -

And then I just kept finding them: -

So I came to the conclusion that I must be along the right lines!

Having said all that and read these facts/figures does this mean that we are going to see a dramatic decrease in other budgets, or perhaps a rethink about how budgets are set and allocated - the latter I would think (hope).

Whilst there’s no hiding the increase by many clients in the digital/online arena perhaps it’s time for everyone to take into account the eroding ‘line’ between above and below and start to assign marketing investment by market, product and objective rather than by media. Surely this is a more effective way of planning the marketing budgets than the old ways of 2005? Idealogy think so, and hopefully over time we’ll be able to help our clients think this way too. It provides a much better and effective way of looking at the yearly plan.

So onwards and upwards for digital in 2010/2011 or perhaps we should now say onwards and upwards for campaign integration in 2010/2011!

Posted by Simon Johnson

Friday, 24 September 2010

A Walk in the (National) Park!

Scribble a logo, bung out a website and ta-daah. You have a brand. And no customers – because, quite frankly, you've missed the point. You need a brand that reflects the product or service and appeals to the customer. You need to do a bit of research and have a discussion or three. You need to develop a brand. Not churn one out. Idealogy developed a brand recently with New Forest Hotels (NFH), a group consisting of four hotels in, you've guessed it, the New Forest. It was their 21st birthday and they wanted to update their image to reflect their new found maturity, their coming of age, as well as their ongoing investment in their hotels.

We kicked off with a BrandPrint™ workshop, where Idealogy's consultants met with key management from New Forest Hotels, including the hotels' managers. We discussed the existing brand, commercial goals, brand objectives, customers expectations, new and existing markets and how to target them, as well as additional routes to market, then followed this up with a chat about the individual hotels' personalities and physical attributes, and their competitors. In short, we established exactly who the hotel group is, where they fit, and where they want to be. It's also how we came up with the key phrase that sums up New Forest Hotels: True quality, naturally delivered.

Donning cunning disguises, account managers Anna Ecuyer and Nick Hart went undercover as a couple who were planning their wedding. They turned up at the group's main competitors and took notes that formed the basis of the competitor audit boards. These colourful boards allowed NFH to analyse what areas could be improved upon.

The next stage was to implement all the findings and create the logo. This forms the basis of the corporate identity so the debates over this were long and involved. Leaves from local trees were considered elements, as were silhouettes of forest animals, but in the end the butterfly with its four colours to reflect the changing seasons and the four hotels in the group was chosen. It provided the continuity that existing customers would ‘hang on to’ (the old logo included a butterfly) while showing a contemporary, forest-inspired face to new customers.

The completed identity document was then presented to a broad spectrum of the staff and the customer touchpoints were discussed, noting where improvements could be made and how staff could help bring the brand to life for their customers. We wrapped all this up with a guidelines document for current and future staff to refer to, ensuring consistency of style.

So there you have it, that's how a brand is developed. It takes a little longer than five minutes, but then we expect it to last longer than that too. A bit like the New Forest, in fact.

To find out how we used this information to develop a website that reflects the brand perfectly, as well as to discover what customers and staff think about it, then check back in a few weeks for the next update.

Posted by Anna Ecuyer

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Another tool in the box

We're expanding our tool set and from next week D-Media will be able to speed up it's development of desktop AIR applications and web-based Flex applications with the arrival of the new Adobe FlashBuilder 4. The ability to interface with and create apps for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be enhanced too, and what with Apple's recent decision to support iPhone authoring straight from Flash CS5, next year could prove to be very interesting.

Posted by Paul Skinner

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

On yer bike, pedal-oh’s

  1. Green conscious eco warriors and anti-oil activists?
  2. A bunch of guys and girls who want posh bikes on the cheap?
Actually we’re a bit of both, but mainly one of the above (surely it’s the first one?).

As the Idealogy team make the most of the company’s new Cyclescheme association – allowing tax deductable cycle purchase for getting to work – expect to see Soutans on Specializeds, Chops on Cubes and Crouches on Konas real soon! We’re even thinking of trading Daz’s company car for a tandem so we can pick our clients up from the train station in style! Of course, it’ll be stabilizers to start with for Baby David, but he’ll get there too!

You can also expect a cycling mission some time in the future, as we look to raise some dollar for ‘charidy mate’. It’ll happen real soon; all we need to do is get our bikes, get fit, plan a route, pick a cause, sort some sponsorship, pack the Mars bars (again we’re open to sponsorship here) and hit the road. Phew… tiring just to think about it, better get the kettle on and have a biscuit.

Posted by Nick Hart

Thursday, 9 September 2010

iDespair* - A cautionary tale of online ordering with one of the world’s biggest e-commerce systems

The story has a simple, and some might say touching, beginning. A fathers pride at his daughter’s successful bid to go to University and his fear that she might walk off with the home computer, leaving her parents adrift in a seemingly empty world of cyber chat.

So, the task was to procure her a laptop with all of the software she would need for the next 4 years. What could be simpler? And where would the best Student deals emerge? I had to look no further than Apple – and here was my opportunity to migrate another family member into the Mac world, another nail in the coffin of PC Gates. I jumped at the chance – order a laptop for a new student and get a FREE iTouch. That would mean a net saving of over £150 on the price of the, lets be honest here, more expensive but perfectly suited MacBook. I felt the moral justification swelling in my bank balance.

Ah! The online Apple Store. What temptation. What a dangerous place to send a middle-aged man without proper assistance. I browsed and I shopped and then I shopped some more, and before I knew it I had a shopping list as long as my….well, it was quite long! So I stared at my credit card, a bead of sweat trickling from my hair line, and then, there it was – the Apple Credit Finance link – a gleaming phone number that would take away all of my problems, at a better APR than VISA…happy days!

I dialled and got through almost immediately to my guy Gerry, talking to me from sunny Austin, Texas, US, and telling me all about his pending holiday to see his folks in Idaho (wherever that is!). And that was the moment that life, as I knew it ended! Apple, ably supported by Gerry, Catrina, Lloyd and a cast of thousands at Barclays Credit Finance, successfully managed to destroy my perception of Apple over an 8-week period.

Lets cut to the chase here – I have recently cancelled my order in a rather robust and loud conversation with the unwitting Apple Europe employee, when he asked me to re-make my order and finance agreement for the 4th time, 2 days after my third delivery date had expired. But here is a brief summation: -

  • I placed an order for over £1800 worth of stuff at the start of July, and because of a conflict in some of my address information (the billing address was different to the shipping address) I had to make 2 orders and go through 2 finance agreement questionnaires on the first day. Finance denied because of this conflict
  • 2nd Order finally approved when I changed the shipping address to match the billing address
  • 2nd Order cancelled on shipping day when Apple discovered that I live on an Island
  • 3rd Order placed and new finance agreement completed and mainland shipping address re-reinstated
  • 3rd Order then modified on line by Apple to state that shipping would be agreed at Shipping date
  • 3rd Order cancelled by Apple 2 days after due shipping date because we hadn’t agreed a shipping address, which, if it was to the Isle of Wight, would also be cancelled because the VAT rate was different on the Isle of Wight (?)
  • Apple dude phones me to remake 4th order and …well you know the rest.
So, what did I do? I walked 150 yards to the Apple Store in West Quay where a very helpful Store Manager listened to my tale and promptly sold me almost all of the stuff I wanted with a generous 15% discount. Why didn’t I do this before – good question? The truth is, the online offers got me in and encouraged me to make further purchases before the e-commerce kicked in and we all hit a wall.

So what’s the moral here? Well, if a business that boasts billions in online revenues based on 59p here and £7.99 there can’t join up the dots on £1800 orders then effectively they are the Computer world equivalent of Poundland. And I shouldn’t be so lazy when the real solution is so close. Just get off your ….!

* All reproduction rights to iDespair will go to the Steven Barnes Foundation for the impoverished supporters of the forum for disillusioned Southampton FC supporters

Simon Johnson as IT director would like to distance himself from these comments as he is an avid Apple fanboy :o)

Posted by Simon Dover

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Great North Run

Plaster sales and expletives have spiked in Royston since staff from Safeline X-ray started training for the Great North Run.

The team of ten will be running the 13.1 miles from Newcastle to Gateshead on 19 September, and have already raised more than £1000 for the charity SCOPE.

To donate some dosh to this worthy cause go to:

We wish Daniela and the rest of the Safeline X-ray team the best of luck.

Posted by Paul Wright

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Simon elopes!

Simon Johnson, our digital media director, left for his holiday on 5th August. It was summer. It was expected. We carried on working. Then, on the Friday, we got a text from him saying he'd eloped. We stopped working, tied cans to his chair and messed up his desk. We may have been denied a stag night, but we like to think we made up for it.

So, congratulations to Simon and his lovely wife Mel on their marriage in St Austell, Cornwall. We've seen the photos (Mel's best friend and family happened to be camping nearby so they acted as official photographers) and we're looking forward to their party in a month's time when we can celebrate in style.

Posted by Idealogy

Friday, 13 August 2010

It's, really!

What do you get if you combine a top-rated TV programme with the UK's number one over-the-counter skincare brand? The Simple Wellbeing Challenge.

It all started last year on ITV's Tonight show, when teenagers agreed to rid themselves of all make-up, fake tan, fashion and gadgetry for a social study by Emma Kenny, GMTV's resident psychologist. The marketing team at Simple saw the programme, called Make My Kids Happy, loved it and knew it was a perfect fit for the Simple brand. They nabbed Emma and came up with the idea of using the massive Simple database – carefully developed over the past few years by many, many on-line campaigns created by our team at Idealogy – to target teenagers in schools across the country and challenge them to see if removing lippy, binning the mobile and taking up volunteer work would lift their spirits. And then they handed the brief over to us.

We say us, we actually mean Simon Johnson, Idealogy's digital media director. He and Shelley managed the project, creating a new promotions page on the site with downloadable leaflets and flyers, an area for teens to take the Rosenberg test (the measuring tool for the experiment) as well, of course, ways for users to share the information with others, such as via Facebook. It looks clean and simple (and Simple) thanks to Shelley's superior design skills and the talent of our web developers.

So, job accomplished, and in a very fine and dandy way too. Now we're just waiting for the Simple team to take inspiration from Top Gear. It will happen. We're just waiting for the call.

Posted by Simon Johnson

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Dan, Dan, the Otis Redding Man

Finding a Photographer who really ‘gets’ the intimate nature of Wedding Days and understands that these never-to-be-repeated moments are precious, is very rare indeed. Too many try to be ‘the show’. Others seem to have no empathy with the day, herding guests around without ever really getting the ‘money shot’. And even more, who double or triple book the days, rushing around, leaving bemused couples breathing in fumes and dust from departing tyre tracks. Where’s the value in that?

But Dan Akerman is different - he gets it! He knows that this is ‘their day’.  To stay in the background but still step up. To reflect their hopes, their fears and their journey. And his work showed us just that. It was so very different…

So when he asked Idealogy to sort out his Wind and Kite (web site), we all jumped at the chance to help – after all, he was one of us, talking our language, however hard to understand that was.

So, we wrote the story and the copy, his brother Darryl (Idealogy’s Design Director) designed the look and Simon Johnson, Paul Skinner and Richard Sprinks developed and built the platform. And it all tells a compelling story – painting a picture of a guy with a different slant but a creative bent. A guy who, when your Bricks and Mortar (daughter) wants to get Cash and Carried (married), he’s more than just a pointing and clicking Whistle and Flute (suit).

So, if you want a memorable Otis Redding, Dan’s the man who won’t give you Lionel Blairs (work it out for yourself!).

Get it? Good!

Posted by Idealogy

Friday, 30 July 2010

Facebook Credits – is currency a step too far for the Social Network site?

As most people will have probably read, the social network platform Facebook is aiming for a full launch of its virtual currency Facebook Credits in September. It’s a move that could lead to it becoming the default online currency rivalling leaders such as PayPal.
All of this comes on the heels of the debate about whether the site should stay true to it’s purpose, resisting the temptation to carry too much external advertising, however attractive the proposition might be to an audience of over 400 million active users. So maybe the step into virtual currency isn’t such a leap of faith after all. When you look at the statistics, it’s not difficult to see why - 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day. Each Facebook user has, on average, 130 friends and users spend over 500 billion minutes per month on the site. Where do they find the time?

So, here’s the skinny – credits will be aimed at virtual goods like games but will eventually let consumers buy anything, including physical goods. Accounts will be topped up with any credit card and charge a merchant 30% commission.

A Facebook spokeswoman has commented “We are continuing to look at ways to extend our virtual currency via a test with several developers. The test started in May 2009 and is exploring ways for people to use their Facebook Credits with third-party applications and games on Facebook.”

Other industry observers have commented, “The real opportunity is within Facebook Connect. If it can integrate with that, it will mean a much broader network of sites can implement the currency. Another opportunity is for advertisers to incentivise people to engage by offering Credits in return for interacting with branded content or ‘liking’ the brand within Facebook”.

Since Facebook first announced that it would be implementing Facebook Credits last year, many app developers have been unhappy about the proposed 30% that it plans to charge for each transaction. So, the concerns are very much part of the Reputation Management challenge.

Facebook needs to be very clear about it’s focus. Its responsibility (and it is just that) is to provide 100’s of millions of disconnected people around the world a safe, secure and intuitive environment for them to connect and share. Now, arguably the largest online community anywhere is being asked to believe in that environment becoming a commercial melting pot.

Sounds a little too hot to dip the social networking toe into. Or is Facebook about to become an anti-social network? Watch this space…

Posted by Simon Johnson 

Credit to NMA for comments used.