Thursday, 24 September 2009

Essence of Sugababe

The band of the Coldstream Guards features no original members. Nor does Manchester United. Both are accepted by majority decision to be the real thing. Sugababes now have no original members. So are they Sugababes? It seems that they are.

In dance hall days there was an unspoken protocol. Bands were allowed by fans to soldier on as long they still had the legacy of at least one original member. And recourse to law has often decided just who owns an identity.

I researched this with some rigour. There is an example at of T Rex appearing, as the post says, ‘without an urn in sight’ . The Sugababe innovation is to apply the principal to a current big name. And hence to create brandband – or bandbrand. Bandbrand is a promise of a vibe. The folks on stage are employees. That’s fine for brands.

Just don’t expect to see Pink Floyd on stage in your old age. Something else is demanded of bands.

PS: since posting have read re Neil Mccormick in the Daily Telegraph, He has uncovered the work of The Blind Boys of Alabama, gigging since 1939, undeterred by death. Also checked out Someone should tell them.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Embed Me - with passion

Madmen went well (see below). We all did what we were supposed to do. If it runs for a dozen seasons then story lines will catch up to real time. Sterling Cooper will have to deal with the uncertainties of Social Media.

The agency would catch up to a world where the blogger, the tweeter, the viral sender is free to choose only the very finest content with which to be associated. Material of the quality of AMC and HBO.

Chosen embedded video for this post was about to be a viral from a global consumer electronics brand. It was all about social media. And it was mildly amusing. Then this came along - spotted on the day we are gifted a whole new series of Peep Show. Please pay attention to the sponsor message whilst enjoying David Mitchell's passion to the full. Thanks to the Daily Mash.

The Daily Mash is at

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Reflection on Smoke and Mirrors

If you live in the USA you may know of Derren Brown. You may not have known of him before last Friday. The UK’s star illusionist had promised to predict the lottery live on TV and to explain how he did it.

The public was disappointed with the result. A padded hour of flim flam showed us people who had been brought together in the preceeding week to deliver the wisdom of crowds whilst Derren interpreted the ‘deep mathematics’.

Accusations flew of cheap post production tricks, and of no real explanation as to how he ultimately revealed all the pre-slected balls to be correct. YouTube reruns have been forensically examined. Professors of mathematics have spoken.

Derren’s in - crowd were pretty convinced their wisdom had delivered the numbers. A large part of the UK population now believe that he fixed the lottery in advance. The BBC on Saturday morning ran the story in its main news. The Sunday papers are full of Derren Brown. And as the story grew on-line over the weekend Twitter search now returns a lot of ‘who is DB?’ from accounts outside the UK.

That's a lot of tricks delivered - including the gall of saying that no matter how shabby this looks – people will believe. Misdirection. The biggest trick that Derren Brown pulled off was to understand how media works today - and to go global.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cameron and the Philosopher

Also published at Business and Politics, 25 August 2009

Ironic that neither David Cameron nor Nassim Nicolas Taleb seemed to be quite prepared for the risks they ran at the rather odd RSA ‘debate’ event. Yet they emerged unscathed.

Both guys seemed surprised: Cameron during the event that NNT was going to introduce subject matter that wasn’t on the Tory agenda. Taleb’s revelation came afterwards at a media mauling and at the obvious fact that not all of the press in this country would be on side. Given his assertion that news is entertainment it should not have been that big a shock that The Mirror should express ‘outrage’ at his rather complex opinions.

What was Mandelbrotian complexity was ever going to have to with bumper sticker policy was never clear. NNT had been the darling of the bank bashers … overnight he became Philosopher to the Tories. NNT’s own agenda was to tell the world it’s going to hell in an over-leveraged handcart.

The risk lesson for every aspiring PM could easily have been ‘don’t mess with complicated stuff’. What was Cameron supposed to do if Taleb came up with a persuasive argument? Argue back? Change policy there and then? Philosophers don’t necessarily provide the policies you need for votes. Nuance is always off message. NNT found that even in the more intelligent British press, nuance is off message there too.

That was what I wrote until I was about to post and then in interview with Channel 4 Taleb hands gold to the Conservatives. ‘You and your party may be the only hope for a resilient society insulated from black swans’. ‘Only hope’ is a slogan coup and a half. Forget that what our Levantine thinker probably meant was that DC is the only person likely to be elected soon to lead a major government with its own currency together with the political room to start to work down debt.

In the aftermath The Economist called Cameron brave…although not for that bizarre encounter. The genuine bravery of the debate will probably not be repeated. That same edition points out the difficulty President Obama has in getting his Afghan/Pakistan policy on to a bumper sticker.

Politicians who need winning policies may well be best advised by philosophers in more private surroundings.

Truth is complicated stuff.

Update: thanks to RSA for opportunity to show the debate

The posts below have been moved to 'We are all Mad Men now'. The original post by (Bestshow)Watch was inadvertently misposted here.