consumer experience, technologies

Technology end-games and when it all falls down

Hopes in the cloud?

Technology’s greatest strength, and arguably its biggest, weakness is that there is rarely an end-game, one perfect final solution.  Everything just keeps developing, for better or worse.

In an introductory video for The Guardian’s new iPad application, Editor In Chief Alan Rusbridger explicitly states: “there will be no final incarnation of The Guardian.”  It’s equally unlikely that there will be a final incarnation of much web-based technology we see around us today.  Will there be a final Facebook solution?  A final iPhone?

Continue reading “Technology end-games and when it all falls down”

consumer experience, social media, technologies

Scrooge: a fan of 2010 tech?

Zooming out

“..every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens

Sitting in the audience of a West End theatre for the first time in a long time this week, I was struck by the relative timelessness of the setting, the medium’s removal from technology.

Functioning almost exclusively within a single domain can make it difficult to see out. A necessary predominant focus on your business and its industry inevitably means other worlds can get blurrily peripheral: like an in-law you can just about stumble through a conversation with by knowing they like snooker.

You go to watch a play, retreat back home, or are displaced somewhere and remember that although technology (or whatever it is) is vital to you, although you break out in sweats if separated from your iPhone for half hour, it’s not really that important to others.

Chatting to a team-mate in a couple of weeks ago, I had one of those rare “so what do you do for a living then?” chats.

He was a successful tradesman, carpenter, decorator with a good team of loyal workers. He’d never advertised his business anywhere. Word Of Mouth apparently remains the most pervasively powerful recommendation tool for anything or anyone.

I almost found it quaint that such businesses could thrive when divorced with much that’s considered standard about business communication: the apparent social media revolution et al. And curious that there are such small business ways of working which have never much been defined by technology.

Having a mobile phone which enables you to make voice calls on the go: that’s probably as far as it reaches. I didn’t ask, but I doubt he uses the spirit level iPhone app.

He returned the same question and admirably feigned a level of interest in my answer.

After trying to explain and enthuse about Augmented Reality as an example of a new mobile technology, I was met with the response:

“Why point a phone at a shop, or packet or landmark, and wait for the information to load on a screen? Why not walk up to a person and ask them the question? – If you’re really that fussed?”

Attitudes and behaviours change with new generations and youthful adoption of new media methods, different ways of interacting. They’re the ones who influencers and technologists are most interested in listening to; they hold the key, we’re told. Yet for a flickering moment I empathised with my team-mate’s technological apathy.

Taken a step further, you could even suggest an unavoidable degree of dehumanisation comes with the development of technology. Are we making it harder, or somehow less acceptable to physically speak to each other? To interact at the most basic level? To ask people questions over counters? To borrow and lend?

Technology can divide and segregate groups as much as it can bring them together. The rift between sniffy non Tweeters and Tweeters has become pronounced this year.

Blinking out of the theatre and into the heaving festive West End, conversation of the show slowly ebbed and attention turned to respective mobile devices: reflecting the continued and unthinking wave of dependence. However heavily we invest, most modern world dwellers will be affected by the contents of that portable little box you carry around and how you interact with it.

Could a long term effect be of slapping us firmly into neat, taggable demographic, geolocated bubbles where we can float along blissfully, remotely controlling everything we need without ever having to consider other people? Unless we want to.

How Ebenezer Scrooge would have loved such a world. He wouldn’t have cared for social media of course, unless ranting in a Charlie Brooker style. But with the number of online services at his fingertips, Ocado could’ve delivered his Turkey, he might have got rid of that simpering Cratchett and had less need to speak to others. Or even ever venture outside.

‘Merry Christmas’. I’m away to get boiled with my pudding.

consumer experience, technologies

Canned mobile credit

You text a short code on a packet to enter a competition or get some mobile content. And then you get billed, sometimes a bit, sometimes not so much, but always something. Right? That’s the deal.

Not any more. How about it being totally free, and you actually GET money? 50p credit, to be exact.

With surprisingly modest coverage, a new on-pack promotion has been announced which enables sweet-toothed consumers of Coca Cola (and Fanta, Dr Pepper and Sprite) to send a text message to a short code and actually GET money back. Either in the form of credit added to their prepay account, or an amount taken off their monthly bill.

A mobile credit campaign, if you will, which operates across all UK operators.

The official release says:

The ‘Every Pack Gets 50p’ mobile credit promotion will run for approximately one month, from mid July until stocks last. In this time, consumers will receive 50p free credit from every 330ml can and 500ml bottle of ‘Fanta’, ‘Dr Pepper’ and ‘Sprite’ they purchase. Each can and bottle will carry a special code, the first of which should be redeemed online at a bespoke website, Subsequent codes can be redeemed by returning to the website or via SMS to 85888 and credit will be added to the consumers account within 48 hours.

The promotion will be featured at the end of the latest ‘Dr Pepper’ TV ad campaign, with a special 10-second tag, and will feature in a high profile outdoor activity.

they get everywhere..
they get everywhere..

Technical guards are obviously in place to limit the number of times any one consumer can do this (maximum of eight).


While the campaign is operated through mobile agency, Sponge, the technically unprecedented nature of this campaign must have required Sponge’s dedicated mobile connectivity provider, or aggregator, to work closely with each individual UK operator.

It needed to make sure there was agreement, commitment and the technical billing capabilities to make the campaign work across the network board.

No small task. But when there’s the promise of a big brand like Coca Cola, together with associated numbers, organisations step on the gas, collaborate and find a solution.

Even so, the campaign’s fruition – which has seen ad agency, BD Network work with Sponge – is a fine testament to a sometimes convoluted mobile value chain collaborating brilliantly and achieving a tough end goal. So full respect to each part for getting there.

Why did Coca Cola want to do this?

Will it be a significantly effective brand loyalty exercise? Is it any more than that? Is it a compelling enough offer to have a few more quid to spend on mobile services? Or will it just go flat? (Sorry).

Hopefully time will tell. Although we probably shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for the campaign metrics.

In the meantime, I’m patiently waiting to see a can and give it a go. Newsagents are probably getting annoyed with me going into their shops, scrutinising cans in ridiculous detail, then leaving again..


NMA item
Official Coke release