April 23, 2008

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 15, 2008


Filed under: patterns — Tags: , — gavinedwardsuk @ 11:52 am

Whilst out with some of the Guys from work attending a pitch we rocked up to Watford station where we presented with this great example of an anti-pattern. In one word? FAIL


April 11, 2008

Multimap launches new features

Filed under: mapping, multimap, technology, user experience — Tags: , , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 2:26 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

Hot on the heels of my posting about Multimap being honored at the Webby Awards in the Service category comes some great news that a new feature-set has been implmented.

Those that have watched closely would have been expecting this due to the recent acquisition of Multimap by Microsoft.

But ah-ha, it’s not all MS integration stuff.

First up, Improved mapping functionality with Microsoft’s ‘Birds-Eye View’. While I wasn’t a great fan of Microsoft’s mapping solution, I did quite like the idea of the Birds-Eye view, a 3/4 isometric view from above.

It definitely taps into that ‘thing’ that makes looking at maps quite addictive and for me is a nice step ahead of Google Earth in terms of flying about. GE is slightly limited (unless you use the 3D buildings) at providing a decent non-distorted angled view.

Multimap Birds-Eye View

Also note the Wikipedia view, overlaying information from Wikipedia that has a geospatial reference.

I find this sort of view really useful when it comes to looking at directions to a place that I have never visited. Mostly as a way on envisioning the route before I drive it. Overhead view is useful for orientation and proximity purposes, but it doesn’t really look like the real thing. Only the other day I sat down with my father to ‘fly’ him through some directions on GE.

I’d like to see Bird-Eye View fly-thoughs added to Multimap Directions at some time. I think Map24 has some sort of solution for this. Yes you can switch on Birds-Eye when in View Map mode of the Directions service. But it’s not a prime feature.

Multimap Directions - with Birds-Eye

I should quickly add that Multimap’s Birds-Eye Vie isn’t available for all locations, just “major cities”. Although my town is covered and I live out in the proverbial ‘sticks’.

In this new release they have also improved the directions functionality with better, more coherent step representation for journeys. When I played with it yesterday, the map view wasn’t quite working as the site was obviously rolling out across the servers. But it looks promising indeed.

Multimap Directions

And lastly, exacerbating the blur between location based services and directory services, Multimap now has Business Listings. The Multimap communications said:

Now you can use our maps to find businesses in your area – or your destination. We’ve got details of everyone from accountants to woodworkers in the UK, US, Canada, France and Italy – with other countries coming soon.

For those ardent lovers and web 1.0 stalwarts, the old site has finally gone. but don’t fret. If interactive maps really aren’t your thing or you are on dial-up or have an old system then you’ll be happy with the introduction of ‘Basic Site’ functionality. Essentially a rasterised map offering with some new features, but optimised for more basic delivery.

Multimap - 'Basic Site' View

I like the way Multimap have retained this as important. When we at LBi first engaged with them, Sean (Founder), Eric (CTO) and Jeff (CEO) were all fairly adamant from the get-go that ALL users were important.

Anyway, there you go. Have a play and switch your favourite mapping service over to Multimap.

BTW – I do have integrity and this isn’t a shameless plug for LBi work. I firmly think that this is the better browser based mapping solution out there at the moment.

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:

December 19, 2007

Culture of fear

Filed under: poor experience, technology, usability, user experience — Lorenzo Wood @ 7:22 pm

I noticed that the Sky+ user manual uses the following diagram to explain how it should be connected:

Confusing Sky+ diagram

Can anyone find a more unnecessarily scary instructional diagram?

December 13, 2007

Multimap sells to Microsoft

Filed under: buy-outs, mapping, Microsoft, multimap — Warren Hutchinson @ 10:23 am

Last year we worked with Multimap, redesigning the UK internet granddaddy and bringing it back to life with a new UX and web-two-of type over haul.

It needed it.

I have to say it was one of our finer achievements last year, good work by all.

Well, yesterday Sean Phelan (founder) and his partner Audrey sold Multimap to Microsoft for an undisclosed sum. Sean started the outfit about 10-15 years ago from home and has been at the helm ever-since, head firmly under the bonnet shepherding Multimap through highs and lows, including the .com bust of 2000. CEO, Jeff Kelisky will remain as Mutimap moves into a new era.

Multimap will remain separate from Redmond and act as a wholly owned-subsidiary of Microsoft but will pseudo-join its Search and Local team. It stands to reason that Multimap will benefit from some favourable data deals.

Multimap is incredibly popular here in the UK and easily provides the best quality maps. Fact. The purchase will not only increase Redmond’s foothold in the UK mapping market which is currently dominated by Google and Multimap. The acquisition will also significantly improve MS’s local advertising remit.

Multimap has over 1300 b2b clients, including Yell, Ford, Tesco and Foxstons, mostly poviding store locator type functionality. It’s also prevalent on sites such as Autotrader from which is reaps massive free usage. Multimap has never advertised and yet is a popular service when polled in the high street.

Also, the improved geospatial skills now lend themselves to some potentially exciting location based mobile services. How long have we been talking about location based services? How long have I been wanting Multimap to properly break some mobile services.

All this considered, Micromap has some exciting times ahead.

It’s rumoured that Multimap was sold for about $50 million.

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.

November 16, 2007

Kindle me up

Filed under: uncategorized — neildw @ 3:36 pm

e-books a go go with Amazon.

Sounds crap.  I’ve not done much looking into this – indeed I may never look any further.  But.  On the face of it.  An electronic device that let’s you download e-books to it from Amazon.  It’s got wi-fi… Yeaaa.

November 7, 2007

Tricked into sending invites to my contacts

Filed under: poor experience, registration, usability, user experience — Warren Hutchinson @ 10:27 am




I recently set-up an account on Imeem for exploratory and research purposes and the process arrived at that ‘enter you Gmail address and we’ll see if there are any of your contact already n this site’ moments.

Except it wasn’t.

It was one of those ‘We’re being very sneaky and are going to send an invite to each and every one of your 400+ contacts, many of whom are clients that you haven’t spoken to for a while’ moments.


If you received an invite to Imeem on my behalf, I apologise.

I’ll review Imeem later, but they are not in my good books.

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