April 23, 2008

Unilever Switches Off Dove Forums

Filed under: brand, community, dove, unilever — Tags: , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 9:18 pm

I had a reply to my last post from Jamie who is the web editor for Greenpeace, saying that ever since Greenpeace launched their campaign the forums on Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ site have been closed.


Engage positively!!!

This is lame and you’re looking like fools.

This smacks of the fake blogging incident by L’Oreal brand Vichy who failed to understand (at first) how to engage with this level of digital subversion. L’Oreal turned it round by positively engaging with the blogging community to create a dialogue.

Unilever have put up their rather un-inspiring, dry, content free retort and are putting their fingers in their ears and saying la la la. I think they might be sitting up there in Unilever Towers looking out the window saying things like “Have they gone yet?” or “Today’s news is tomorrow’s chip wrapping.”

Silly Unilever.

Well done Greenpeace.

It’d be great if you could look at some other ecologically naughty brands / campaigns and entertain us all with some more highlighted irony to deliver important messages.

Beauty? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. What’s inside Dove is ugly.


Unilever’s ‘digital reaction’ to Greenpeace Protest

Filed under: brand, community, dove, unilever, user generated content, video — Tags: , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 12:30 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

The Greenpeace Orang-Utan’s struck Unilever on Monday and within an hour the blogosphere was rampant with rampaging Orang-Utans, videos, images, stories.

As ever ‘Transparency Tyranny‘ is rife and digital is the driving nemesis of corporation x.

What are Unilever doing in response? And how are they going to engage in this digital onslaught, this citizen journalist propagation and ironic spin of ‘real beauty’?

I’m really interested in the strategy behind all of this and how it unfolds. In the inception of the ‘campaign for real beauty’ I wonder if they thought about defensive strategies should stories (which they MUST have suspected) such as this emerge.

On the Unilever site there is a front page news item titled ‘Sustainable Palm Oil’. Click through and you see a video from their SVP of Communications and Sustainability starting with a statement that:

“We have great sympathy with what Greenpeace are trying to achieve, they are drawing attention to a really important issue” – Gavin Neath, SVP Communications and Sustainability

I find the role of SVP ‘Communications’ (Spin) and ‘Sustainability’ incongruous, but that’s another issue.

Unilever's News Page

Unilever are part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or RSPO for short, and unsurprisingly they are playing up to this. Unilever claim to be instrumental in setting up the roundtable for sustainable palm and carrying it forward.

The transcript can be found here.

The response is a step, I’d rather see something directly relating and acknowledging the Greenpeace efforts, an alignment of sorts. They are playing it down, but not explicitly responding.

The ‘Dove in the News’ site is even wetter. Dove is all over the news, but it is not showing here.

Cue fingers in the ears – “la la la”:

Dove's News Page

The problem is, in order to hear Unilever’s point of view you have to mobilise yourself to go and see their site, navigate and watch a polished corporate video.

I can’t, yet, find any level of engagement by Unilever with the user-generated, mobilised, chatteriffic sphere of blogs, video sites and social networks. Searches for ‘Greenpeace, Unilever, Palm Oil’ only result in links to sites siding with the Greenpeace effort and not Unilever.

Designing a strategy for organic search traffic is required or else people will simply miss Unilever’s point.

I had a quick scan through the Facebook groups and found lots of Unilever corporate groups for ‘Graduates’ and ‘Management Schemes’ but UNSURPRISINGLY I found the Facebook group ‘Dove: Not so clean’.

Okay – it has 12 members so far.

Corporations are really uncomfortable with this stuff and they continue to ignore dealing with it.

And in closing, the final statement by the interviewer:

“Gavin Neath – thank you very much indeed”

smells horribly corporate and reeks of Aunty (The BBC for non-UK readers).

Greenpeace Protest at Unilever London

Filed under: brand, dove, unilever — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 12:30 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

Only last week I was having a conversation with one of the brains behind the new LBi Quarterly called LBiQ about the Dove campaign that gave Unilever permission to engage with audiences as an authority of ‘real beauty’.

We debated the merits of Dove’s ‘campaign for real beauty’ and how a good old fashioned campaign can bring new light to an otherwise dying entity even in today’s ultra transparent web 2-oh world.

Recruiting ‘real women’ from London streets, using portrait photographer Rankin to shoot the images and celebrating 95% of the female population as having a normal figure, it was a good idea well executed.

Well, today as I was crossing Blackfriars Bridge in London on my way to work in Clerkenwell I saw that Unilever’s London HQ had become besieged by Orang-Utans in protest about the beauty line’s impact on wildlife via the extraction of palm oil in rain forests.

In the words of the Temptations;’…beauty’s is only skin deep yeah yeah yeah‘.

The protest coincides with a released Greenpeace report called Burning Up Borneo which reports on a link between Unilever’s relationship with palm oil extraction companies and the destruction of Orang-Utan habitats. Apparetly 80% of Orang-Utan habitat has been destroyed in 20 years.

More here from Orang-Utan Outreach if you are interested in the plight of ginger monkeys (I know, I know).

Also, good video here from the BBC.

Do you know which of your household products use palm oil? Or where it comes from?

Personally, I haven’t a clue.

It’s used in cleaning products, fabric conditioner, margarine, soap and a whole host of cosmetics. It’s also used as a crop for bio-fuels, so demand for it is going up.

However, it’s further proof that in beauty terms it’s what is on the inside that counts.

Anyway, here are some pics I snapped on my mobile:

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London[01]

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London[03]

Greenpeace Protest @ Unilever London

Apparently, the protest was staged simultaneously at various Unilever sites in London and Merseyside with some protesters gaining access to the factory on the Wirral.

After good work from Ogilvy & Mather on the concept in 2004, this kind of communication/brand strategy is always open to subversion in this way. I’m expecting Howard Sheldon from the Halifax ads to have some dark financial past secret exposed at sometime bringing his personal equity and thus Halifax brand integrity down like a house of cards.

I find it ironic that the concept of ‘real beauty’ is being subverted by something that is entirely un-beautiful. Okay, the sorrowful near-human gaze of an Orang-Utan’s face aid in the sympathy somewhat, but ultimately my take away was ‘Dove products are responsible for dying Orang-Utans’.

Yes, my takeaway.

Interestingly, most of the coverage of this protest that I have seen centres on Unilever and not the Dove brand so the Dove ‘campaign for real beauty’ might get away with it unscathed.

April 9, 2008

Flickr does video

Filed under: brand, community, flickr, technology, video — Tags: , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:59 am

So, Flickr now offers video.

Flickr does video

That’s my ‘Photostream’ kiboshed.

They’re offering Pro users storage for up to 90 seconds of video. Not sure if freebies get video or not.

At first I thought this is a bad move, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve read their blog article and decided that I like the idea of sharing ‘long photos’.

I like the 90 second cap.

It tallies nicely with those short mobile videos I capture of my kids and do nothing with. Now, instead of rotting on my phone I can share them with my family.


Initially I thought 90 seconds is short and will hamper adoption, but actually the shortness keeps the idea of video quite pure. It is about ‘long photos’ and not a repository for pirate film and clips. I’d hate to see it used like YouTube which to me is a bit of a chavvy web brand.

Snuck in at the bottom of the blog post is the news that they are doubling the upload image size for Pro users to 20Mb and 10Mb for free users.

I wonder what the Flickr community will make of it? They can be quite a reactive bunch.

Nice. Honored at the Webby awards

Filed under: brand, mapping, Microsoft, multimap, technology, tools, usability, user experience — Tags: , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:58 am

Nearly two years ago here at LBi, we started working with Multimap to redesign its public .com web property.

It was time for their loved, but ageing raster-map offering to be dragged inline with, then new and innovative, Google’s ‘slippy’ Maps.

With a raft of new features including drag, zoom, pan, hybrid view,all stuff we take for granted now, we set about defining a sharpened mapping proposition that worked for both Multimap users and advertisers.

It was a brilliant project, great fun, hard work and really quite challenging. The guys at Multimap (which sold to Microsoft in December last year) were all smart cookies and pleasure to work with. Personally I see it as one of the triumphs of the team I work in here at LBi. Not only was it great solution, it was a great learning experience and those two things make for great projects. Certainly satisfactory ones.

Multimap Homepage

Stephen Barber was, and still is, ace on this project. Will Bloor was his usual unremitting creative self, Peter Jupp smashed the design and Mike McIntyre and Gavin Edwards aced some complex interaction and James Norton provided some wonderful interface development. It was also a pleasure to see Lorenzo in action, which doesn’t happen nearly enough for some of us here at LBi.

Well, enough spouting from me. has just been named as an Honoree in the Service category at this years Webby awards.

This is no mean feat as only the best 15% of submissions attain the accolade and this from a pot of nearly 10,000 entries received from all 50 US states and over 60 countries.

Multimap is now owned by Microsoft, so expect to start using it a lot more as it integrates into all their properties. Exciting stuff indeed.

The guys I worked with on this project were:

November 21, 2007

Amazon launches the Kindle – a portable eBook reader

Filed under: amazon, brand, product design, technology, user experience, Wi-Fi — Warren Hutchinson @ 10:18 am

Amazon’s new eBook device the ‘Kindle’ was released this week.

I find this an interesting one.

It was very well covered yesterday on lots and lots of blogs with pretty much everyone saying it’s rubbish. The 400 or so reviews on the Amazon page are largely negative too, this is an interesting point in itself for Amazon.

Here is a video of the out-of-box experience as captured by Robert Scobble:

The packaging looks okay, quite cute for it to come in a ‘book’.

Here is a video of using it and experiencing some issues

I was watching the Amazon demo thinking things like ‘Wouldn’t it be good if you could look-up words as you read. Oh, it does’, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if it wasn’t based on wi-fi hotspots. Oh, it isn’t.’ And so on…

Featurewise, it’s quite nice. It ticks a few boxes and for this reason Amazon will shift a few I’m sure.

Then I thought about the product design and decided that it’s a lame dog. It has some weird, flimsy, asymmetrical form that looks a little like James Bond’s underwater Lotus Esprit.. A little 80s.


Lotus Esprit

The interaction looks far too complicated and it smacks of ‘get it to market quick’. It could have been soooooo much better, so much more desirable, so much easier to use. Also it seems that the interaction itself is awkward, scrolling up and down aligning a little cursor with menu commands rather than selecting them.

However I am a fan of the electronic paper screen, it’s just a shame it couldn’t be tough screen, but then that would defeat the point right?

But this isn’t the problem I se with this device.

My main reasons this won’t be the ‘next big thing’

  • People love books. A bookshelf says a million things about its owner and people love the tactility of paper, the romance of curling up under a reading lamp in a comfy chair and losing themselves.

    The books we read represent us in some way, they have ‘self-expressive benefits’ to quote ‘Aaker’. To have read, own and display works by Shakespeare, Brontë and Dickens says something about the individual. The collection of books one has says something about the owner. Why else would we all have bookshelves? Okay, so they are practical, but they could easily be hidden.

    The same goes for newspapers. It brands an individual to be seen reading the FT, The Independent, The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mirror.

  • It has DRM and apparently spies on you . Has Amazon learned nothing? You can’t ‘lend’ books. PEOPLE LOVE LENDING BOOKS!
  • The product design sucks and the interaction is a little fussy. Before iPod, listening to music, changing track, albums and artists etc was a little less-than-slick. iPod made it slick. The Kindle flashes as you do things. HOW ANNOYING! This is not slick. It’s slow.

    You have to pay for blogs if you download them but can browse them in the web browser for free. Weird.

  • People don’t consume books like they do music. With music you flit between things. The Kindle can’t ‘do an iPod’ which changed the way we listened to music. It broke the CD model. The Kindle has nothing to break, no stranglehold to release.
  • People don’t want another device in their bag. “Keys check, wallet check, phone check, blackberry check, laptop check, kindle…? Sod it I have my phone/blackberry/laptop”
  • The name Kindle is rubbish.

It’s exciting because:

  • It’s a very cheap mobile bookshop
  • The screen is a great step forward
  • It has the potential to change the way [some] people read

Sure some will fly of the shelves, but at $400 it’s simply too much for £50 man. People will offset the amount of books they read and think it’s not worth it.

It appeal to the niche. The tech geeks, the academics but it won’t light the fire for my younger brother. As one reviewers says:

“If you travel a lot, or require rapid and accurate access to references (as I do), the Kindle is definitely soon to be a necessity. I am a medical student, and I loaded an entire medical library onto the one I’ve been beta testing”

Having said all this, I might get one… For research purposes of course.

June 15, 2007

London 2012 – Challenge Yourself

Filed under: brand, sport, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:42 am

A new aspect of the London 2012 web offering came online this morning and it’s a feature that is about inspiring participation in the brand.

Given that the Games is about being the best you can be, about being Olympic, the ‘Join In’ feature of the new site is about setting yourself a challenge for the future.

I think it taps into the spirit of the Games ina really nice way and starts a journey that London will go through over the next 5 years. Despite the criticism levelled at the identity, this is where the participation in London’s Games begins.

There’s a whole lot more to go on over time, so keep checking in.

So, challenge yourself and join in.

June 6, 2007

London 2012 – “My kid could have done that”

Filed under: brand, sport, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 8:35 am


Day 2 and the viriol is still rolling concernig the new London 2012 identity and brand system.

I’ve seen coverage of the new Olympic London 2012 identity blazed across front pages, on the news and on the radio. Everyone is talking about it. So is this a bad thing? Is all PR ‘good’ PR?

I certainly think so.

It takes a while for the supporters to emerge and I’m starting to see supporting signs here, here and here signs that this identity will gain traction. I said yesterday that dissatisfaction and resentment always air more readily than satisfaction and support and this has been very apparent.

Comments include:

  • “Of all the cities that are “would-be” hosts of the Olympics, only London have the balls to pull something like that off, and they have.”
  • Like a lot of people, I didn’t like this when I first saw it; I thought about posting but I didn’t. But I kept thinking about it today, and the more I thought about it, the more it grew on me.
  • I love how it works as a system. I love that its brash and crazy and risk-taking and young. And maybe its those qualities – which are often just as much a part of the Olympics as good sportmanship and acheivement – that speaks to my own favorite Olympic “moments…” The Jamaican bobsled team (I was a kid and I loved them that year and cried when they crashed), the first time snowboarding came to the Olympics… And I do think as time goes on it will take on the other, time-honored qualities of The Olympic Spirit.

Of course there are a myriad of detractors, but John Snow (a very credible news reader here in the UK) has warned us though‘Be careful, it will grow on you’.

He’s right. Or at least for my experience of the brand he’s right.

I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking “Oh. Okay. Urmmm. Wow. That’s different”. But it has grown on me. Now I really like it. I’m sticking up for it. I’m sticking my head up and saying “I support it”.

Personally I’m a little takenaback by the lack of support from the design community who usually berate everything for playing to the status quo. This identity certainly doesn’t do that. SO I expect some more emerging and high-profile supporters soon.

My favorite comment concerns the perceived ease at which these things are created; “MY kid could have done that” has chimed out on radio programs, television news and in the papers.

Well, great.

If your “kid could have done that” then that means it’s simple. It’s uncomplicated.

And simplicity is one of the most complicated things to achieve in design particularly in a spac where the identity has to work on tickets, billboards, clothing, signage etc etc. Also, it has to work with various sponsors on the side of cups, in newspaper adverts and so on.

This site provides 10 reasons for loving the new Olympic identity and adds that if your “kid could have done that, then get them to send in their resume”. They go on to point out that some of the best brand lock-ups are simple such as the Christian Cross (two lines) and the Mercedes badger (three lines and a circle).

This prompted me to think about the comments that criticise the logo for not being literal enough. Comments such as:

  • “It doesn’t represent London”
  • “It doesn’t represent sport”
  • “It doesn’t contain red, white and blue”

I’d bet my house that if the logo was any combination of those things, a London landmark with some sporting gesture woven in, rendered in our national colours then we’d hear comments of “Try harder”, “Unoriginal”, “London is more unique than this” etc.

This brand system has to be reognisable at 10×10 pixels and at 100×100 ft. This is a brand system that provides a massive amount of scope for ‘play’. Expect to see bright coloured, angular forms across everything.

Love it or hate it. It will be plastered across London in various forms and I’m sure you will recognise it when you see it.

June 4, 2007

Response to the London 2012 brand

Filed under: brand, community, sport, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:21 pm



That was the network effect in full, errrm, effect. At the time of writing some 11750 people have signed a petition stating:

We, the undersigned, call on the London Olympic committee to scrap and change the ridiculous logo unveiled for the London 2012 Olympics.

Whilst over on the BBC 606 website there have been some 2799 comments, and very few of them are complementary.

Read my full reaction to the reaction over on my personal blog Tailwind.

London 2012 – Brand Launch

Filed under: brand, sport, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:16 am

If you are interested you can watch the videos online:

Video 1 – Annimation
Video 2 – Brand Story

So.. What do you think?

[Xposted: Tailwind] (more…)

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at