Monthly Archives: June 2014

Yo.

Simplicity is beautiful. With messaging apps and especially through stickers our communication has become more effective and simpler. Is there a limit to how simple you can get?

Apparently not.

This week app called “Yo” launched from beta. It is the simplest form of communication I have yet seen. It works in iOs and Android. You select username. Then you add friends. Then you can send your friend “Yo” as a push notification and audio. So essentially you can only communicate through one phrase:

Yo

You got to be kidding?

No I am not. The company behind “Yo” has raised $1 million in venture capital. Currently there is over 50k users sending around 4 million Yos. They are also currently hiring.

For life-long hiphop-enthusiast I can see the merit of the app. Maybe in the future iterations you can have personalized “Yo” or an “Yo” from a famous rapper. Yo is simple, positive and universal.

Unlike many start-ups, the app creators have also thought about potential use cases for companies:

  1. A blog can Yo the readers whenever a new post is published. Imagine getting a Yo From PRODUCTHUNT.
  2. An online store can Yo its customers whenever a new product is offered. Imagine getting a Yo From JENNASHOPIFY.
  3. A football club can Yo the fans whenever the team scores a touchdown. Imagine getting a Yo From THE49ERS.
  4. An ice-cream truck can Yo the kids when it’s around the corner.… Imagine getting a Yo From THEICECREAMTRUCK.

The feedback for the app is hilarious as well. The current users have definitely taken supportive although somewhat ironic stance to it. Here are some of the highlights of App Store comments:

Yo is all I need
When the wife texts me to go get some stuff from the store, all I do is shoot her back a “Yo”. When the kids text for money or a ride, I get on the app and hit them a “Yo”. Yo is a way of life. Live simply, live beautifully. Yo”

This app changed my life
I am a professional scientist who has been scouring the earth for 7 years in search of a program or application so revolutionary, so outside of the box, so groundbreaking, that it could actually reverse the effects of clinical depression and bipolar disorder. “Yo” seems to be a fit. I have tested the effects of yo on several samples of depressed and bipolar tigers. Tigers were a natural choice for testing due to the little known fact that their anatomy is nearly identical to that of a humans. In a sample of depressed tigers, 8 out of 10 became happier due to the app yo and in an all male sample, 9 out of 10 experienced increased libido. I have taken my findings to Pfizer in hopes of negotiating some sort of three way contract between the creators of yo, Pfizer, and myself, Chisley Winsett M.D. So my message is this, creators of yo, this app that you have so sweetly crafted is not just an app, nay, but a highly scientific piece of medical innovation. We could do great things together. Please respond. Regards, Chisley Winsett M.D.”
 
“A life changing app
Yo is the best way to communicate. We no longer need intellectual discussion. We no longer need language. This is the next stage of human evolution!”

This feels more like postmodern commentary of the current app infrastructure or as an art project gone viral. On the other hand, it is hard to predict what eventually becomes hit. I would regard Yo only as a novelty app, but I do not use stickers either. It just might be that Yo will revolutionize messaging. Or it will be remembered as the tipping point when app bubble really started to burst.

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Giving What They Need vs. Giving What They Want

Go watch The Chef.

It is the best food-related film since Jiro Dreams of Sushi. There is an awesome soundtrack to accompany the food porn as well. With El Michels Affair & Roberto Roena playing on the background, it is automatic 4 stars for me. Also it has social media playing quite integral part in the storytelling, which was actually surprisingly fresh.

While the main plotline is a story about father and son, the movie is really about passion. Chef Carl Casper is bored in his job heading successful but predictable restaurant. The owner wants to play it safe, while Carl would want to make food he truly believes. After public meltdown and some social media trolling, he eventually finds his groove by putting on a food truck.

Does that sound familiar?

Do you feel that sometimes we are just doing what the client wants but not really what he needs?
That is essentially the biggest challenge in our work. People think they know what they want, but they don´t really know what they need. Consumers did not know they needed iPad, Crossfit or many other things. This applies to agency personnel as well. We might want to do something, but it might not be right for client either.

Working in kitchen is not that far away from working in agency. Both are balancing in this thin line of creative expression and commercial reality. Restaurants are essentially feeding you. Agencies are helping you sell more. How they do it is the most interesting bit. In both fields, there are three-start Michelin restaurants and there are fast food chains. The problems start when someone demands Bic Mac in Noma or vice versa. We are not artists in agencies, but we are not servants either.

We should always fight to have the most effective creative solution for the business problem. Sometimes it means giving tough love: both to clients and agency personnel. Ability to come up with ideas is one thing, but if you do not fight for those ideas, it does not really mean a thing.  If you are too eager to please, you are not really doing the right thing. I don´t regret any instance, when I have put my stake on the ground and tried to fight for the great idea. What I regret are the times, when I have let it go without a fight to avoid confrontation or make it more easy. Every time the end result has been crap (or at least not that good as it could be).

When you stop fighting for your work, it is time to quit.
Without passion, this field of work (and cooking as well) is just too draining. There are less time-consuming ways to get paid.

So let your passion show in your work every day. Sometimes that might mean raised voices, hurt feelings and occasional meltdowns.

But so what?

Those things make the difference between 3-star Michelin dish and the Bic Mac.

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Hacking is The Highest Form of Flattery

Don´t let lawyers run your brand.
This becomes quite apparent when you think about cease & desist from Ikea to Ikea Hackers. You have a person who has been an ambassador for your brand and indirectly urged people to buy more of your products. Yes, he has gotten some money out of it through ad sales, but seems quite petty from behemoth like Ikea to care about that. Instead they put the self-professed super-fan in jeopardy on quite dubious legal grounds. Cory Doctorow has a great argument on how the trademark is not copyright. What is most striking is that something like this still happens in 2014. It used to be my usual blog fodder to rip stupid brands harassing people who love their brand. I thought that brands had learned something throughout the years. Apparently not, so here is a reminder about two facts in this social age:

1. Hacking the brand is the highest form of flattery.
Even if someone is doing a parody about your brand, she is still using countless of hours with your brand. She would not do it, if brand would not mean anything to him. The challenge for the brands is not the negative feelings, it is that most of the people do not have any feelings (positive or negative) towards your brand.

2. Reward, don´t punish your biggest fans

Coke´s Facebook Page was originally started by fans. Instead of cease & desist, they invited those fans to visit the factory. Ikea should think about how they could collaborate with Ikea Hackers. Or maybe there would be some interesting cues for product development?

Weird mishap by otherwise generally smart brand. I think some of the solutions in this great Ikea-produced video could contribute as hacks as well:

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Anatomy of An Insight: Fartcode

If you are not even slightly entertained by flatulent humor, there is probably something wrong with your emotional state.

“You don’t have to be smart to laugh at farts, but you have to be stupid not to.”
Louis C.K.

Gas is always a blast for me, so not surprisingly this was highly entertaining:

Insight: Kids are not interested in nutritional value of food. Nutrition in food makes you fart. Fart equals fun. Educate kids through farts about the nutritional value of food. Get smart with your fart.

Nice touch on this app, combining utility and social sharing.

Only question with this brilliance is will it really appeal to kids (kids referring to anyone younger than me)?

The look & feel is actually more resembling an episode of Beavis & Butt-Head from 90´s and the song could have been lifted from the glory days of Epitaph records skate-punk.

Is it something that resonates more with us middle-aged kids than the real target audience?

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You Have Listened to Led Zeppelin, Would You Like to Listen to Prince?

First rule of being a planner:

Don´t think that you represent target audience.

You have to understand the target audience. Know as much as possible about them. Talk with them. But never think that your own behavior resembles anything that normal people are doing.

Unless you are targeting 30+ years old dudes still wearing sneakers and knowing too much about popular culture.

Majority of planners are snobs in various fields, and this does not exclude yours truly. Therefore I have never seen the reason for automated recommendation algorithms. I will always know what I want to listen or watch. I have spent majority of my life listening to obscure records and watching odd movies to be able to entertain myself in every occasion without outside help. If I need recommendation, I only trust in a handful of established aficionados, who have earned my trust.

I will always favor human curation over algorithm.
Therefore this recommendation in Spotify made me laugh:
Prince Spotify
You have listened Led Zeppelin, now listen to Prince.

How stupid is that? It would be like recommending broccoli in restaurant because you like meat.

“Eugene Goostman” might be able to act like a human, but this recommendation did not raise hopes for reaching singularity for a while.

But here´s the trick:
I like Led Zeppelin.
I like Prince (the song is from one of my favorite Prince albums).

So actually recommendation was not off. It just came from surprising angle. Maybe the Spotify algorithm knows more than it appears. If there would be more people, who listen both Led Zep and the The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, the world would be a better place.

Eventually it boils down to this: as long as the recommendation pleases the audience, it does not matter how off or not it is. That is why I don´t really think that the future of streaming services lies in super-smart recommendation engines or human curation. It will be about vast catalog. Streaming service, able to secure The Beatles to its service, will probably go long way.

Maybe recommend some Rolling Stones to go with that.

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