Platform Experiment 1.0 – Twitter Controlled Gameboy

Can we create a new gaming interface?

Unlike music production where there are many different interfaces to create music, in gaming there is only one. So, we decided to hack a Nintendo Gameboy and create a new gaming interface via twitter, so that people could play Mario as an MMO game.

We chose a prominent moment in digital culture by launching it in the middle of ‘Internet Week’ and ‘Mario’s 25th anniversary.’
The results we’ve got via twitter and email suggest that it’s an interesting idea, but this didn’t translate into playing time.
We got about 600 visits in 2 days.  Around 20 – 30 people tried it. Only 3 or 4 engaged with the game, tweeting a few times trying to achieve something and not just sending things randomly. But lots of people deleted the tweets after sending them.  

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From that behaviour, our conclusion is that one of the big obstacles for people to investigate and understand the game through trial and error is the spamming effect on their followers. For a lot of people, twitter is the platform they use to show to the world how interesting and insightful they are in very few words. Therefore, sending “nonsense” to hundreds of people is not very appealing.

A technical fact, is when we reached the pick of 15 people at once (a bit lame for a pick, I know) looking at the game (few of them tweeting), twitter behaved quite unresponsively. So this probably frustrated the few of them trying to play the game.


Having said that we think online cooperative experiences have a bright future. Watch this space for more MMO hacking experiments.


scientifically proven system for creating award-winning ads

I'm currently reading 'Made to Stick' by Chip and Dan Heath. The premise of the book is that while some people may be naturally more creative than others the creation of 'sticky' ideas is something that can be learned.

The book describes an experiment conducted by an Israeli research team in 1999. They assembled a group of 200 award winning, highly regarded print ads and, after studying them, decided that 89% could be classified by just six categories. Yes, rather than being fresh and surprising, highly creative advertising follows a limited number of basic templates. (This perhaps isn't all that surprising a contention if there are only 'seven basic plots' that all stories follow.)

The research paper 'The Fundamental Templates of Quality Ads was published in MARKETING SCIENCE Vol. 18, No. 3, Summer 1999 and is available online here.

The researchers claim:

Creative ideation is a highly complex process, which is difficult to formalize and control. Evidently, even in a complex thinking context certain patterns of creativity may emerge. Relying on such observed patterns may help in "organizing" the creative process by promoting routes that have been proven to lead to productive ideas and avoiding those that do not.

The present research suggests that successful advertisements share and are characterized by such abstract patterns termed creativity templates. The theoretical rationale for the emergence of such templates and the empirical studies that detect the key creativity templates underlying quality ads indicate that the templates are identifiable, objectively verifiable, and generalizable across multiple categories.

The six categories, of which the first two made up most examples of award-winning ads, are as follows. (The examples shown are mine.)

1. Extreme consequences
In which the exaggerated consequences of a product attribute are demonstrated.
Screen shot 2010-11-27 at 19.09.52
2. Pictorial analogy
In which extreme analogies are rendered visually.

Screen shot 2010-11-27 at 18.37.56
3. Extreme situations
In which a product is shown performing under unusual, exaggerated circumstances.

  Screen shot 2010-11-27 at 19.51.38
4. Competition
In which a product is shown winning in competition with another product, often in an unusual situation.

Screen shot 2010-11-27 at 20.03.02
5. Interactive experiments
Where consumers can interact directly with the product, sometimes via testable credentials.

(I don't really understand this one in the context of print advertising so I couldn't find a good example.)

6. Dimensionality alteration
Where the result of using or not using a product is dramatised by a leap in time that shows the long term consequences.

Screen shot 2010-11-27 at 19.58.57
The book goes on:

The researchers tried to use their six templates to classify 200 other ads – from the same publications and for the same types of products – that had not received awards. Amazingly, when the researchers tried to classify these 'less successful' ads, they could classify only two per cent of them. The surprising lesson of this story: highly creative ads are more predictable than uncreative ones.

These research findings seemed odd to me until I trawled the international awards sites for examples to illustrate the categories. A cursory skim of sites like this reveals that most 'award-winning' ads are executionally similar, generic rather than particular to a brand, based on a visual pun, and are probable scams, like the plasticine helicopter above.

Anyway, those Israeli researchers didn't stop there. They then decided to see if these templates could be used as a system to generate successful advertising.

They brought in three groups of consumers and briefed them to create ads for three products. One group was given background briefing information but no training, the second group was trained for two hours by an experienced 'creativity instructor' who taught them how to use brainstorming free-association techniques to generate ideas. The third group was trained for two hours on how to use the six templates. The ads were tested with consumers, who apparently rated the ads by the third group as '50 per cent more creative'. The ads 'produced a 55 per cent more positive attitude to the products advertised'.

So, there you have it. Using these simple templates will make your crowd-sourced ads sure-fire winners. Why have we been making it so complicated for all these years?

Of course, the experiment only tested the templated concepts against ideas created by other research  respondents, not against the ideas of talented creatives. Which one could argue is a bit like giving one group a paint-by-numbers grid. They may turn out something that looks better than the pictures done without that grid, but that doesn't mean it will stand comparison to the work of a genuinely talented artist.

Crowd-sourced amateurs working to a template system couldn't come up with truly great work like this, for example:

The Ministry needed us. And we responded, interactively.

Platform writes:

Screen shot 2010-11-24 at 21.09.37

The Ministry of Stories is an organisation dedicated to the creation of stories by a new storytelling generation.

Inspired by Dave Eggers' 826 Valencia, founded by author Nick Hornby and co-directors Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne, hidden away at the back of Hoxton Street Monster Supplies store, the Ministry of Stories provides a free space for fresh writing by young people. Here in Hoxton they provide workshops and one-to-one mentoring. The services are provided by volunteers: local writers, artists and teachers, all giving their time and talent for free. The MoS is inspired by young people, and aims to inspire them to transform their lives through writing. They work closely with schools, supporting the work of teachers, but their great benefit is that they provide one-to-one mentoring for young people to enjoy imaginative stories, improve language skills, increase abilities in communication, add to social and educational confidence.

Screen shot 2010-11-24 at 21.16.43

Wieden + Kennedy Platform was approached by the MoS to design and fabricate an interactive installation for one of the shelves in their Monster Supplies store.

Following an initial visit to the store we arrived at the idea of sourcing some live, free-range snacks for monsters in need of something to complement the store's existing range of tinned and jarred produce. 

Screen shot 2010-11-24 at 21.21.41

Six hours, some sacking, and a few cuddly toys later, we had managed to capture and package some exotic creatures ready for delivery to the store in preparation for their Friday grand opening.  

The final installation included a collection of packages, some of which were automated in order to provoke and engender a reaction from customers who trigger the installation should they get too close! 

Preparing ingredients….
At least it's not a cat…..
Packaged produce ready for installation
Final installation in the dark recesses of the store….

Who killed the cat?

Platform writes:

Thank goodness for sausage sandwiches. We made good use of them mopping our sweaty brows last Wednesday, eagerly anticipating *in mind numbing fear* our Platform agency presentation. 


We kept things short and sweet, mainly discussing a little background about each of us through the use of choice project examples.


Karl Sadler was up first and gave us a little background basically through the medium of some documentaries taken from his projects for Vice/Intel's Creators Project event in London this summer.

It's W+K tradition for new starters to reveal a secret about themselves;

Karl's was, despite being a professional animator and compositor, that he is significantly colour-blind. 


Sitraka was up next, demonstrating his exo skeletal brain conditioning tools to catch flies with chopsticks. I think possibly more disturbing than the sight of an arm being strapped into a Meccano set was his secret that when he was a child he killed a cat with a hammer. 

Andrew Friend, a charming fellow who pleasures himself with fantastical architecture, prompting emotional connections to space and nature, through devices that electrocute the fuck out of you with lightning. Awesome storyteller, but his secret was that in fact the burn marks on his arm were caused from an exploding gas canister rather than his lightning rod.


Gerard pulls up a chair, sits down; "It's too early for me". Taking things in his stride, he discusses and demonstrates his expressions despatcher which, if anyone wishes to have a go first hand, is in our hackspace. Gerard has a thing for Lady Ga Ga.


Rich & Keivor only recently started collaborating together. Apparently they're into standing under waterfalls and blowing their balls with air-mattress inflators amongst other techy contraptions. Rich also likes kicking sausage dogs and Keivor secretly left a kitten under Sitraka's desk.


We rounded off the presentation with a montage we felt inspired us as forward-thinking, post-digital renaissance men. 





W+K strikes gold (several times) at BTAA and Epica

Screen shot 2010-11-23 at 19.39.56

I think we now have the final Wieden + Kenendy total in from the BTAA Craft Awards. It's an impressive seven golds and one silver. 

Gold – Best animation / Nokia 'Dot'
Gold – Best editing / Honda 'Everything'
Silver – Best editing / Nike 'Write the Future' (Damn! Beaten by ourselves.)
Gold – Best vfx / Nike 'Write the Future'
Gold – Best sound design / Nike 'Write the Future'
Gold – Best visual composition / Nike 'Write the Future'
Gold – Best overall crafted commercial / Nike 'Write the Future'
Gold – Best achievement in production / Nike 'Write the Future'

In other gold-related news, our Nokia N8 'dot' film just won the 2010 Epica D'Or.

Congratulations to all the talented agency, client and production company folks who made this possible.

OFF-ON: a short film on the project

Here’s a piece we’ve made explaining different aspects of the OFF-ON project:


Quick update on the agency:

Since the launch, we’ve made a couple of changes to the agency to give people a nudge in the right direction.

Eco kettle
We’re now an eco kettle-only zone. They’ve taken a little while for people to get used to, but we’re all fully on-board now.


And we have a Warming-Up Wardrobe with OFF-ON branded hoodies, should anyone find they’ve dressed inadequately for the weather. Fan heaters have now left the building.
If anyone’s got any thoughts on other economical ways for us to save energy (other than lightbulbs), please let us know and we’ll give them a try.

bartle wieden kennedy & hill


This is Naomi Bartle who, despite the name, isn't related to anyone at BBH.
She joined us today as account manager to work on P&G.

We plucked her from the big shop with the yellow bags where she was advertising manager.

She most recently launched the huge new shoe department, as well as arranged men's underwear events which basically involved fit blokes in pants wandering around the store… both things being of great interest to certain people here at W+K.

Rory Hill
And this is Rory Hill.  Our very own creative recruitment specialist. 

He’s come from The Talent Business and will be helping add to our talent-pool.  He’ll be getting himself about, really understanding who we are, what we’ve got, and what we need.