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Facebook: Do Not Want revisited May 30, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in web 2.0, work/life.
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A while back I took Facebook to task for constantly displaying ads telling me how I could meet women.

Just break up?

So I engaged in a bit of profile altering in order to see how Facebook changed the kinds of ads it displayed. Now that my profile shows I am in a relationship, Facebook has gone from showing me how I can meet women to displaying ads on leasing cars and hangover cures.

Because obviously now that I am in a relationship I have turned to hard living in an effort to self-destruct (as this is easier than actually going through a break-up). Switching to married gives me…go-karting. And an offer to complete market research surveys. Microsoft paid how much to be able to serve Facebook’s ads?

Now I’m on It’s complicated, seems to be serving me ads for a swinger’s club. Trouble in your relationship? Why not restore the trust and dedication you so sorely need by…hooking up with complete strangers.

I’m back to being single now, which feels about right. Of course the rawest example I’ve seen of Facebook’s ad serving hitting the nail on the head is this example from Charlie O’Donnell’s blog earlier this year. Fresh out of a relationship, wound still gaping wide, Facebook delivered this gem:

Facebook lands buttered side down May 27, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news, web 2.0.
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Hunter S. ThompsonOne of the joys of now being a columnist is having the editor of the magazine call up and berate you for over-due pieces. Picture any actor who has played a journalist (I’m thinking Clooney personally) called by his very attractive but somewhat neurotic editor who has told he has until the end of the day to get his story in or he is fired. Note how cool he plays it, how he has arranged to discuss his column over dinner with her (and probably breakfast too). Got that image in your head?

Right. My life is nothing like that.

Still, I was called today because my latest piece was over-due. I said I had nothing to say, she said not to worry, that I could write about butter and it would be interesting.

So that’s what I did. Spurred on by the recent hoopla surrounding their blocking Google’s Friend Connect, I explain why butter is a crock, why Facebook is butter, and why, for me, it starts to spell the end of this media darling.

…trying to control what people do with (their own information) is the digital equivalent of telling rain which way to fall in a thunderstorm. Facebook eschewed a bunch of good stuff to get to where it is, using ingredients that were good for a whole lot of other, better, products and services. Now they’re desperately trying to maintain hold on user data, under the daft assumption it was somehow theirs to play with in the first place.

It’s already been suggested I’m wrong on this, I’m not so sure…

Image courtesy of bezmyaso, with thanks to Flickr Storm.

Bluefreeway request extension to voluntary suspension May 22, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing.
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Bluefreeway today extended their suspension from trading while investigations continue internally. Simon Chen does a decent breakdown of the situation in his own inimitable style.

I really feel sorry for all those local companies who did a 50/50 deal for cash and stock when the fast talking Bluefreeway guys came along. There’s not one who wouldn’t be regretting their decision to sell.

Because if the core group goes pear shaped when they do finally make an announcement to the market, each and every company won’t be able to do anything. Potential buyers of the carcass (or carcasses) will be negotiating with someone from Ferrier Hodgson rather than the founders of the individual brands.

I read a great piece recently which I’ll try to dig up on matching your development cycle with your sales cycle to make sure one doesn’t sink the other. 20/20 hindsight for Bluefreeway, hopefully it will serve as a lesson to others. For those interested in the history of the “train wreck”

This just in: People tend to agree with me May 22, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news, intent, web 2.0.
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I am guilty of opening far more tabs in Firefox than is perhaps advised, I just got to one opened earlier this week. The page loaded is a post from Laurel Papworth taking to task a piece penned by Douglas A. McIntyre titled “Web 2.0 is a bust“. By that, he means his ill-informed view of how it should operate.

Laurel makes a few good points in her piece, it is definitely worth checking out. It also echoes my own thoughts from back in February, where I said the following:

Ever see teenagers at a shopping centre, hanging out and not buying anything? Look for this behaviour to continue (funnily enough). Marketers looking to capture that intention are going about it in the wrong capacity. Yes, a person is a fan of the TV show Lost. Yes, you have that on DVD and you can sell it to them. No, they do not want to buy that now. They want to buy it when they want to watch it, so you had better make sure you know enough about your audience to be in the right place at the right time.

Rumours abound; Facebook and MS and Yahoo! Oh my! May 20, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news, web 2.0.
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No sooner am I cracking jokes about not following Scoble than I clock an interesting breakdown of rumours swirling regarding Microsoft taking search off of Yahoo!’s hands and buying Facebook at the same time for somewhere between $15 & $20 billion. Robert is running around saying the sky will fall if this happens, I say you’ll see first an uproar and then an exodus from Facebook, the kind of thing that will make the hassles with the news feed and Beacon look like the good ol’ days.

I’ll be leading the charge.

*Update* David J Hinson hit me up on Twitter suggesting I may be over-reacting a touch. Me? Noooooo…*ahem* I seriously value the ability of the web to keep moving towards a completely open future, and my instinct says a deal between MS and Facebook would not take is closer. I have nothing against Microsoft (hi to Tom and Adam at Redmond, we miss you guys), but as Andy Grove once said, only the paranoid survive.

Tweetwheel; the hits keep on coming May 20, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in web 2.0.
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Scoble? FTW?Turned onto a cute little Twitter visualisation via Iain Tait called Tweetwheel which lays out up to 100 of your followers then shows you who among the people you know are also connected.

I was just about to close the window when I noticed Robert Scoble sitting on the page with no connections. You may say odd that Scoble showed up with no connections (surely a first..har), but the mystery for me lies in the fact that I don’t follow Robert.

Perhaps the creators got so used to loading up his name he just defaults? Who knows =]

Why Australian GQ sucks – part 5: Online May 20, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, work/life.
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Everything Web 2.0Do me a favour, open a new tab or window in your browser and punch in www.gq.com.au. What happens? It re-directs to the Vogue website where we’re given a token sampling of the current issue in the midst of the Australian Vogue website.

Hold up (wait a minute).

Vogue. We’re not Vogue, we’re GQ! Since when is the GQ man subservient to the Vogue woman? Understand, this isn’t gender politics, this is branding 101. The GQ man is strong and independent, he is a law unto his own stylish self. He can have epic, swinging-from-the-chandeliers-sex with the Vogue woman, but he is in no way beholden to her, certainly not a subset of her environment.

Contrast this with British GQ. Being the digital guy that I am, I’m going to call a spade a bloody shovel (thanks Grandpa), the British GQ site isn’t much better, but it is its own beast. Girls, gadgets, films, music, motors, style, grooming, bars, restaurants and only right at the end is the magazine mentioned – which makes me think, nay, hope Conde Nast’s UK operations have an inkling that print still has a role to play but its digital offering needs to have its own legs.

(I am however biased…moving on…)

GQ.com.au should be something the magazine is not. Nobody is going to read a printed page’s worth of content online, pieces are shorter, they’re a single idea (or they should be). You have people’s attention in a place where they’re willingly engaged by your brand. Not only that, you probably have the attention of some fairly articulate and intelligent people (and then me) who are in a medium where they’re familiar with exchanging ideas in public forums; why not give them an appropriate space to do that?

What about a showcase for Australia’s best menswear designers? You have such limited inventory in the magazine, online is as good as limitless. We’re all guilty of salivating over the same foreign labels, though I was in a bar Saturday night and a guy in Zegna asked where I got my coat – it was Saba, home grown. If a site conveniently put together a shopping list of Australian labels I would seek them out and wear them proudly.

Let’s recognise there’s a whole audience around men’s grooming and fashion that is unique to Australian culture, why is Australian GQ not the epicentre of that the way GQ is in every other territory? Because we still all aspire to Paul Smith suits anyway? Perhaps. But if we don’t back our own nobody else will, and GQ Australia is in a privileged position where it can and should make that happen.

In conclusion…

I’m a huge fan of the GQ brand – to me it perfectly nails a combination of aspiration and accessibility. The GQ man is James Bond without the inconvenience of having to save the world (though he probably could…), it is working hard and playing much, much harder. We all have brands or products we love that have somehow fallen by the wayside, as consumers we can demand they do better, and we should! If they do better, then everyone wins, if they don’t, it is a one-sided victory that isn’t even ours – it goes to that brand’s competitors.

For now though, I’m going back to work, There’s a new British GQ out on the shelves of Borders, and I’m stuck back in March. I suppose in the absence of Australian GQ, I’d at least have more time…

…something the GQ man can never get enough of.

Image courtesy of Stabilo Boss with thanks to Flickr Storm.

Update: I wanted to link all five posts together for easy reference, so here they are.

  1. The Editor
  2. The Writers
  3. The Art Direction
  4. Audience & Competitors
  5. Online (you are here)

More on being wrong… May 20, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, work/life.
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2 comments

Just saw this, what a great quote:

Screwing things up is a virtue. Being correct is never the point… Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.

Can I get an amen? The quote comes from Robert Rauschenberg, which I picked up reading a great blog Stu put me onto, Indie Breakfast Club. I’ve been thinking and writing a lot lately about being wrong, great to see I’m not alone.

What are you still doing here? The post is over! Go check out Indie Breakfast Club, tell ‘em I sent you.

Image courtesy of wernerchen, first spotted on and shamelessly copied from Indie Breakfast Club.

Why Australian GQ sucks – part 4: Audience & Competitors May 19, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, work/life.
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3 comments

I may very well be the only straight man in Australia with this opinion, but I’m not interested in buying magazines with girls flaunting themselves on the front cover. If I want that, I can go to almost any bar on a Friday night and see pretty young things who can’t hold their pre-mixed vodka. And if for some bizarre reason I’m really desperate to see girls tarted up and air-brushed to within an inch of their cosmetically enhanced lives, I’ll google “porn star” and see what I find. In fairness, British GQ are as guilty of this as anyone, and Australian GQ actually have Guy Pearce on the cover for their April/May issue.

Regardless, put a stunning David Bailey portrait on the cover (better yet, an Australian photographer – Robert Paul Mee has a lousy website but is brilliant) and I’m 10 times more likely to buy than a bikini-clad actress. I realise I have now put myself in an even smaller subset of beings who know a David Bailey photograph on sight, but nobody said this was going to be easy.

The first part of this is something I don’t have an easy answer to, but I think about it a lot, and that’s we need a new definition of masculinity because the old one isn’t working, and while that is something that informs this argument, it is itself a separate post (and one I look forward to).

The second part of this is looking at the space GQ exists in. Australian GQ competes on the shelves of newsagents and Borders against British GQ, American GQ (only marginally better than ours, but full of white-bread Hilfiger and Polo ads, therefore beyond saving) and Esquire (here the US version is actually better than the English one) among others.

It does not compete (or at least it shouldn’t) with Ralph, FHM or any other “lad” magazine purporting to appeal to stereotypical male culture. Who writes this drivel? Who sees enough value in its pages to shell out for it? FHM are certainly aware of how low-brow they are, to the extent that they’ve started releasing dedicated Style issues in an attempt to reach people like me. Sorry guys, your brand doesn’t stretch in that direction, no matter how hard you pull (pun intended).

Does the GQ man lust after models in magazines or does the GQ man party with them on his private yacht? Right. So get them off the cover and let’s replace it with some men we can actually respect and who have earned the spot. British GQ used to run “Britain’s leading quality men’s monthly” across their masthead, and while you could argue you shouldn’t have to say it, they at least knew where they were headed.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish up by looking at online.

Image courtesy of Proserpina with thanks to Flickr Storm.

Update: I wanted to link all five posts together for easy reference, so here they are.

  1. The Editor
  2. The Writers
  3. The Art Direction
  4. Audience & Competitors (you are here)
  5. Online

Why Australian GQ sucks – part 3: Art direction May 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, work/life.
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4 comments

Art directionI’ll raise a hand here and say this is a subjective one, everyone likes something different. So, be something different! The art direction on Australian GQ is so clinical as to give the appearance of robotic overlords having taken control, operating on a paint by numbers basis.

In fairness though, British GQ has an ace up its sleeve; it’s called Jo Levin. Jo has been the magazine’s director of chic for a long time, and does it so well a book called GQ Cool was published a couple years ago, highlighting her best work which went a long way to making every person in the pages look like a bonafide superstar, even when all the person staring back at the camera had managed was an ungraceful early exit on Pop Idol. British GQ’s writers are extraordinary, but, with a picture being worth a thousand words and all, Jo Levin gives the magazine a hundred thousand more each issue.

Overall, the layout and art direction in GQ OZ seems more an after-thought than a seized opportunity to extend the brand’s visual identity. I don’t know GQ’s circulation, maybe it does indeed lose money each issue and is actually the poor cousin of the rest of the publisher’s stable. If that is the case then there’s no attempt going on right now to hide that, but I don’t think anyone is capable of mounting an argument that GQ should ever appear second best to anything.

Much like the Editor, the Art Director needs to take that vision of GQ and wash that through the magazine. If you need glasses to read and don’t have them handy, then the colours and shapes on the page should still feel like GQ, and currently it has all the passion of of a senior’s pharmaceutical brochure. All the words used to describe the clothes on display (crisp, fresh, modern) should be employed for the layout. This will forever remain subjective, but if I may employ the words of Malcolm X on a far more trivial matter than he had in mind, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

Still to come: audience & competitors.

Image courtesy of Simon Pais-Thomas, with thanks to Flickr Storm.

Update: I wanted to link all five posts together for easy reference, so here they are.

  1. The Editor
  2. The Writers
  3. The Art Direction (you are here)
  4. Audience & Competitors
  5. Online
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