Viral video and trains: Merry Christmas Kim Wilde!

Kim Wilde sings Kids in America as a drunken serenade to London train passengers. Then t’internet goes wild (bad pun) as “Kim Wilde” trends on Twitter. Coverage appears in The Daily Mail, the Huffington Post, The Mirror, Sky News, NME and The Guardian. But this is just part of the story of viral videos love affair with trains…

I love viral video. So much so that I wrote my MA thesis on viral advertising. Interesting patterns abound when it comes to achieving viral success and with high levels of engagement, plus a pretty good level of ROI for successful videos, they are the Holy Grail when it comes to marketing for some brands. So imagine how thrilled I was to see Kim Wilde’s heart-warming, drunken message of pissed-up festive joy!

That’s right Kim Wilde, you force that Christmas Cheer unto those miserable train passengers! (Seriously guys, cheer up, it’s Christmas)

The video was filmed by Katherine Eames, a savvy actress who quickly got her representation sorted out over Twitter with a company called Viral Spiral. The fact that a company like this exists shows there is money to be made, even from home made viral videos.

Viral Spiral Represent Katherine Eames

There have been a lot of viral set ups on trains in the past; by the way, permission is needed to film on the tube and looks like you should ask for permission on trains too (pretty outdated in the day of totally pervasive mobile cameras and high social acceptance of filming in public events). I once got told off by staff for taking photos in a Tube station as a photography student, NOT ALLOWED! But then as my documentary tutor used to say, “If I asked for permission to film everything I wouldn’t have made any of my films!”

So the thought inevitably pops into my head, “Has Kim Wilde got an album coming out? Was Eames employed to be a surprised passenger? Was the Kim Wilde Kids in America train serenade video a fake?” Believe me, this isn’t cynicism! As a marketer you want to think that there are some really clever people out there popping out well honed viral ideas, maybe you can learn from it and emulate the success. I’d only feel admiration if it was faked and I’m not saying it is (just wondering, don’t sue!). Part of the point of a viral is that it feels real, particularly when it isn’t… As soon as you turn the cameras onto your Tube based wedding proposal it’s no longer that special private moment anymore but starts to cross into a performance; does that make it less real? Just because a flash mob dance off in Victoria station is organised by a brand, does that make it any less of a real event for the people around it? Do the most successful virals incorporate both reality and unreality?

The trend of trains and viral.

So before my head explodes with this Schrödinger’s-type theory of viral marketing, let’s have a look at 5 other train-related virals.

1, Stickers on the Underground.

You don’t have to be a video to be viral. There’s a BBC report on stickers on the Underground from a few months back but the best examples can be found on

Stickers On The Underground

Shamelessly stolen from (sorry)

2, The 19:57 from Euston.

Blimey, even I would have said yes!

3, Dancing at Liverpool Street Station

T-Mobile made my favourite viral video of last year. Turns out they have this whole viral thing nailed, with the video below having over 36 million views. Wowser.

4, Flash Mob Mobile Clubbing at Victoria Station

Remember Flash Mobs? Ok, so there’s a better quality video of the Mobile Clubbing event here with over 275k views but I love this cruddy one of the countdown. Look how many people are involved with this, that’s some huge active engagement going down.

5, London Underground Song

Because sometimes shared experience can equal shared misery.


Interesting people to follow from this article:


Catherine Eames – @Case_84

Kim Wilde – @kimwilde

You can wish me a Merry Christmas if you want to! @LauraOfBrighton


I thought I would leave you with something that appeals to the gerd (girl nerd) in me:


Are you clients looking here?

Every time I see a billboard like this I am compelled to take a photo…

Apparently, your clients are hanging out at the Tesco cash machine...

Apparently, your clients are hanging out by the bins at Tesco…

Turns out I was wrong about seeking out new clients through industry targeted conferences and exhibitions, via hot topic content and white papers and by launching specific, personalised marketing campaigns.

Turns out my customers are all hanging out under railway bridges!

Turns out my customers are all hanging out under railway bridges! Or are they just trolling me… geddit??

Yes, that’s right, despite the research and profiling I may have undertaken into decision makers in my particular vertical markets, that billboard tells me otherwise… it turns out they are really loitering under bridges and (I suspect) in bus stops. My clients are starting to to sound a lot like teenage gangs. Perhaps my next marketing hit should be to just whack a copy of Smash Hits and a mini can of soda in the post.

Soooo mini!

Yes, yes, I realise that I am out of touch with the “yoof” of today. It’s probably all Blu-rays and crack cocaine for today’s modern 12 year old…

Ok, so I think you get my point: that you should know your client personas well enough to know where you will find them and then sniper target them with an informed campaign.

So how about an example of a dynamic billboard marketing campaign then smartass?

Ok then. I have to give some love to this award winning campaign to fill ad space on billboards from Y&R Not Just Film. The ad campaign itself has become pretty viral, double whammy for the agency and the advertisers. Effective too!

Click to see the full campaign. 

When it comes to selling advertising space, sometimes outright threats are the way to go...

When it comes to selling advertising space, sometimes outright threats are the way to go…

5 top tips to avoid being a marketing zombie (and survive the zombie apocalypse)

I recently read an article that warned against becoming a marketing zombie. Sometimes being a zombie is awesome, however, in the workplace it is not such a productive state!

So here are my top 5 tips to avoid being a marketing, or just general business, zombie – along with some practical tips for how to deal with the impending doom of the undead rising once again to walk the earth…

1, Business decisions should be supported by sound market research.

Like the graves from which they rose, zombies are often pretty shallow, lacking the ability to have an in depth conversation about recent politics or new trends.

Rather than stumbling blindly into an important business decision, such as entering a new market, this decision should be supported by market research. What is the size of the market? What do these potential clients spend annually on the type of solution you offer? What are the costs of this venture and what is the potential pot available to you? Who could you partner with to sell more effectively? Is this profitable?

And don’t go stumbling into dark buildings with few exits, this could end badly.

2, Draw up personas to help you to understand your audience.

Zombies tend to all have one thing on their mind, which is to consume the brains of the living.

People on the other hand tend to have differing priorities. Don’t assume that your client base thinks just like you! Researching will help to understand how they behave and what really motivates them. Effective marketing campaigns can then be based on this knowledge.

Drawing up client personas can help (good guide to personas here). Don’t be afraid to approach a client and ask them about their behaviors. What magazines do you read? What websites do you visit? What keywords would you search in Google if you were looking for this product? What are your targets? What are the top 3 challenges in your industry at present?

REMEMBER: Your client is not YOU.

But do be afraid of a buddy who may have been bitten by a zombie, they will turn into a flesh eating monster eventually.

3, Measure the effectiveness of your marketing.

The zombie (un)life is an easy one. Stagger, groan, eat brains, repeat.

When it comes to marketing, you should be constantly reviewing how effective your campaigns are. Beforehand it is helpful to set SMART targets and to measure results, test alternatives and then amend messaging/campaigns/activity to improve future results. Not all businesses are looking for pure financial results – some campaigns will be instigated to target increased brand awareness, widening networks through social media, re-educating audiences, achieving a specialist status or award, etc.

Remember, your zombie kill is not effective unless you have killed the brain. Aim for the head. 

4, Choose the right tools for the job.

The zombie lifestyle harks back to a simpler time, before complex technologies and pervasive, even invasive, devices. This makes the zombie audience a difficult one to market to. 

Is the tool you are planning to use really the best one for the job based on your business’ needs? If your research shows that your target audience are UK based, technically unsavvy, older males who prefer to read their newsletters in printed form, then why would you set up a Pinterest channel? (Seeing as Pinterest users are 80% female, mostly from the US and aged 25-44). Facebook is great for some brands but if your audience isn’t there it doesn’t matter how many people are using the platform, there will just be more people to ignore your irrelevant offering. Use your research and industry knowledge to choose your marketing tools, not what you think is the latest new thing.

Many household items can be used to defend from the undead. Go for long, heavy weapons that can be swung at arms length; such as sporting equipment, pokers and most things that can be found in the shed.

5, Work closely with other departments.

If there’s one thing zombies have got right it’s that they tend to attack in large groups.

When attacking your marketing strategy this should be approached as a whole, where you are working closely with other departments. This will mean working with the sales department if your targets are financial and based on converting clients. Also, PR, SEO and customer service departments – these need to work together in a connected way rather than act as silos.

Never split up in zombie-infested territory, you need someone to watch your back. Structured society has probably broken down at this point so you have plenty of time to look for things together – it’s not like you need to be in work on Monday! 


Interesting people to follow from this article:

Dan Derry @Ask_Dan

Totally awesome annual Brighton zombie walk @Beachofthedead

UX Designer who knows a lot about personas – good BRAINSSSSSSS! @patrick_sansom

Why 7 (+/-2) is the magic number when it comes to content creation

What can psychological theories tell us about how we should express our business’ most important messaging?

I’ve just read a few fascinating articles about content creation and user experience (Steph Hay, Web Standards Sherpa) and why the magic number 7 plus or minus 2 is so special. Miller’s Law is the  idea that “the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2.” Maybe sticking to 3-5 is the safe bet, as the first article recommends, as the capacity lowers to 4 with old/young age.

Chunking is used by the brain’s short-term memory as a method for keeping groups of information accessible for easy recall. It functions and works best as labels that one is already familiar with. (Wiki)

So should the best presentations have 7 slides or themes running throughout them? Is this what makes a Top 5 blog/article so easily consumable and therefore a common theme? It’s something to bear in mind when trying to introduce new terms for offerings to an audience. If these were all unfamiliar, new phrases then there could be some difficulty in remembering them all. Whereas one unfamiliar phrase/product name could stand out, look unique, but still be in a surrounding understandable, and safe, context.

Steph’s article also strongly recommends keeping messaging concise. An interesting way to think about that is how long would it take to say your message? Too long and it’s beyond the capacity of the brain to remember it:

The storage capacity is dependent on the information being stored. For instance, span is lower for long words than it is for short words. In general, memory span for verbal contents (digits, letters, words, etc.) strongly depends on the time it takes to speak the contents aloud. Some researchers have therefore proposed that the limited capacity of short-term memory for verbal material is not a “magic number” but rather a “magic spell”. Baddeley used this finding to postulate that one component of his model of working memory, the phonological loop, is capable of holding around 2 seconds of sound. (Wiki)

Content should take business goals into account and there’s some great tips and a table that can be used to ensure you’re on track in Steph’s article. It goes a little something like this…


As someone who is often asking/asked “what is the productive outcome for doing this?” when it comes to marketing activity, this table is a great way to ensure that there is a sound and effective business reasoning to your messaging.

Thanks Steph!


Interesting people to follow from this article:

Interesting UX person: @steph_hay

Learning about best web practices @StandardsSherpa

And then there’s me… @lauraofbrighton

Is Facebook actually useful as a social media platform? UX Experiment #1

Last week Zuckerberg announced that Facebook hit the 1 billion active users per month mark. That’s a lot of influence for an 8 year old! (Half the age of Resident Evil, as discussed in my previous blog. If Facebook tried to hang out with Resident Evil, RE would laugh and tell it to go play on the swings with Youtube).

This announcement followed a LOT of negative coverage for Facebook in the previous week, that incidentally just happened to coincide with MySpace deciding they want us back.

Such as… Facebooks shares falling, sending Zuckerberg “tumbling” down the Forbes 400 rich list. HOW AWFUL for him to have become a bit less filthy rich. Reports that Facebook had been allegedly dragging up our embarrassing pasts by reposting old messages in timelines and certainly employing creepy business models by tracking drug store purchases of users so as to show them more relevant adds does not help when it comes Facebook’s image as a creepy weirdo standing far too close to you on public transport. 

Personally, I prefer the UX of Google+. Unfortunately, no-ones else does. I do think this will change in future as it has a lot of useful features. First will come the businesses for the Hangouts and the SEO, then the writers for the recognition of their Authorship… others will follow. Facebook is increasingly feeling like an email account with added nosiness, rather than a truly engaging social media platform. Facebook’s propensity to force intrusive ads and feature changes onto users is a little bit… well, Frape-y.

There’s a large part of me that hates Facebook, often refusing to use it or add new people and keeping my account walled up with privacy in the hope that if I don’t feed it then it will die. I decided to go for a month without using Facebook because this would show me if was actually useful as a platform.

Usually, when I get close to slaying the account I don’t because:

  1. Dude, all my photos are on there.
  2. It’s how I keep in touch with people I don’t see so much anymore – e.g. old bandmates.
  3. It’s how I arrange events for groups of people.
  4. It keeps everyone up to date with the banalities of other people’s lives.

After the end of this 4 week experiment I can now report that I have barely missed Facebook at all. The only times I have noticed I’m not using it have been the following scenarios:

  • I’m using Twitter a lot more but that’s ok because, for me, Twitter is more professionally useful, allowing me to network with other people in the local digital industry, read interesting articles that are actually teaching me something and otherwise wasting many hours of the week. OK, so maybe just a little bit more productive.
  • Facebook seems to lull you into thinking you are sustaining your friendships when you’re not. Without it, I’ve been more likely to have to meet people in person or call them for proper catch ups. This is nice because when I “like” what they say we can actually have a conversation about it! A few friends have dropped “because you’re not on Facebook at the moment” into conversation when telling me gossip that I haven’t heard yet, however, I am evidentially still included in the gossip loop.
  • In week 3 one friend calls to check I am ok – which is a thinly veiled attempt to check I’m not mad at them for something and have “blocked.” I’m not. I was last week and probably would have posted an arsey “of the moment” status update about it so not being on Facebook can only be a good thing.
  • At the start of week 4 I want to arrange some events and I realise how it would have been useful to use Facebook to do this. However, I remember how irritating it can be when you put an event on Facebook and then have to call everyone to confirm numbers anyway as no-one seems to look at their events or reply, even when they can make it. I decide to just use the old fashioned “phone people” concept as at least then I know for sure if someone is coming. I want to invite people round for Christmas dinners in December so I decide to make actual invitations as this will be SO RETRO!
  • During week 4 an old school friend who is preggers tells me I need to get back on Facebook so I can see her scan photos. Or Instagram. Or she could text them. I’m going to see her in person next month as well. So I don’t really need to be back on Facebook.
  • At the end of week 4 one of my old bandmates texts me to invite me to her engagement party – THUS DISPROVING the “need it to keep in touch with people like my old bandmates” theory.

This tells me a few things about how useful Facebook actually is to me (not very). It tells me:

  1. The UX of Facebook is often irritating.
  2. Facebook is not as useful as I thought it was, actually it just delays me getting the answers I need.
  3. It does keep me up to date with friends news but doesn’t beat having a conversation with them about it – not only is it good for bonding but gossip is good for your health too.
  4. It lacks the personal touch. These aren’t real relationships and how you feel could easily be misrepresented. The whole Facebook brand feels impersonal.
  5. I can use other social platforms to replace all the functions of Facebook anyway. Alternative platforms are easy to sign up to and mean I can access more relevant information with the advantage of a niche community in some cases. Seems like the wolves are at the door if you ask me…

When I sign back into Facebook it takes about 30 seconds for me to get hacked off with the UX – and, surprise surprise, it’s due to difficulty with the privacy settings. The whole layout of the platform just looks like a BIG MESS. MySpace and Google+ are looking pretty good right now.

I’m off to find a cheat for taking all my photos off…


Interesting people to follow from this article:

If you feel you aren’t procrastinating enough on Twitter fill that gap with journo @brokenbottleboy

Keeping up with new tech @guardiantech

And then there’s me… @lauraofbrighton

Cool Campaign #1: Resident Evil 6, via Full Fat

Gaming Meats Art - Resident Evil 6

This is a cool campaign from PR agency Full Fat for the launch or Resident Evil 6 on October 2nd 2012. Especially as it’s a campaign that takes advantage of both physical and digital aspects.

The gaming industry is worth over $65 billion with  some game launches making more money than a Hollywood blockbuster, for example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 thrashing Harry Potter.

The Resident Evil series is a legend when it comes to gaming, having been around for over 16 years years now – it’s literally old enough to buy a packet of fags and a lotto ticket.

At BrightonSEO last month the keynote speaker Dave Trott stressed how important it was for us to make IMPACT with our campaigns – after all, if no one takes any notice of you it doesn’t matter how persuasive your argument is.

So, for an impactful campaign for a legendary game, serving an audience who by nature do not shock easily, Full Fat came up with this:

1, Wesker and Son – the world’s first pop-up human butchery and morgue, located at Smithfields meat market.

Members of the public will be invited to sample and purchase a dizzying array of edible human limbs including hands, feet and a human head, which will be available to buy directly from the shop.  As well as these specially created products, gamers will be able to buy ‘Peppered Human & Lemon Sausages’ and ‘J’avo Caught Human Thigh Steaks’ along with some specially made pots of Red Herb and Green Herb.

Resident Evil 6 Campaign

Food artist Sharon Baker provides the human limbs, having previously produced human bits in baked-bread form. Mixologists Loading provided anatomical cocktails to wash it down with.

2, But hey, just ‘cause you’re a blood-lusting, zombie butcher doesn’t mean you don’t have a CARING side. All proceeds were donated to the Limbless Association. I’m hoping they didn’t send a hamper though….

3, Lectures at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Pathology Museum, exploring themes in the game and their links between the game and real life, such as future trends in meat consumption and whether the virus of the game could ever become a reality.


The Twitter campaign resulted in excitement and engagement around the hash tag #nohopeleft and the @WeskerSon Twitter account gained over 750 followers in a short time.

The story was covered by Huffington Post (best photo gallery) and Daily Mail – check out the photos there, they are even more gory than in this blog!

As for the live site – you can’t miss something like that when it’s slapped in front of you!

Resident Evil 6 Butchers

From the Huffington Post gallery


Interesting people to follow from this article:

The agency @wearefullfat

PR superstar @seanharwood

Straight talking ad man @davetrott

And me… @LauraOfBrighton

Top tips to take away from Brighton Digital Festival

I initially wrote this blog on Makemedia’s website. Recreating content is a bit of a no-no but it got good feedback and hopefully it will prove useful for readers.


Make Marketing Noble

Allister Frost implores us to “Make Marketing Noble!”

In case you couldn’t make it to these events, here are my top marketing tips from the Brighton Digital Marketing Festival (BDMF) and BrightonSEO, both part of the fantastic Brighton Digital Festival.

Firstly, a big thank you to the organisers of both events; I feel very lucky to live in a town that holds a month long digital festival. It’s particularly useful to hear from and meet other marketeers, especially if, like me, you work in a small or one-person marketing team. It’s a chance to bang heads and discover some new tips and vantage points that will benefit your own marketing strategy. I would recommend BDMF for all round marketeers looking to build up knowledge across new areas. BrightonSEO is more specialist, although they do invite speakers from other areas of expertise such as UX and even linguistics (e.g. Lynne Murphy, who was particularly amusing). It didn’t seem quite as controversial as previous years (reference: angry blog 2011) but there was a whopping turnout of attendees (circa 1500).

If you want to listen to all the talks you can expect to see them up on the websites soon. In the meantime, here are my top takeaways from the events.


1, Don’t waste your speaking opportunity by turning it into a full fat sales pitch.

It takes guts to get up in front of a room full of people and present your ideas and the speakers are brave to do so. However, spending 40 minutes slapping your listeners in the face with how great your company is instead of speaking about something that will inform and benefit them will bore and annoy your audience. Instead, focus on providing information that is of value to listeners, whilst reflecting your expertise. It will be obvious from this that you would be a knowledgeable supplier.


2, Useful tools for links and referrals

Thanks to Berian Reed (Berian Reed’s presentation slides) for these tips. Copy and paste is still the top way data is shared. You can use TYNT for automatic link attribution when users copy and paste from your site.

You can also use this Google Analytics filter to see full links in your list of referral sites. Perhaps these sites will be more open to partnerships as they are already linking to you?


3, Considerations for your mobile strategy.

Mobile mobile mobile! Yes, it’s the “year of the mobile” (again).

Alex Meisl wisely advises to consider you mobile audience not the mobile device, therefore avoiding jumping on the App bandwagon. Aleyda Solis advises a mobile first design, which has the added benefit that what you end up with on your screen is cut down to the most essential information.

The Makemedia mobile website is in the making presently so keep your eyes peeled for a future launch.


4, The future for mobile (according to Alex Meisl)

Mobile specialist Alex had some interesting points to consider regarding what aspects of mobile marketing are more substantial.

  • NFC (although the new iPhone does not have NFC capability so perhaps this is still some time away from becoming ubiquitous)
  • Location – in a saturated market locative marketing can give you the edge.
  • Vouchering.
  • SMS – although we were discussing at BDMF how unwelcome SMS marketing can be intrusive, annoying and possibly damaging to the brand.
  • Image recognition – I’m excited to see how both image recognition and the semantic web will develop as surely this will change how we use the web forever!


5, Images of people in your marketing are important.

Allister Frost talked about how product reviews with photos are considered more trustworthy – and even more so if a description of the person is included. Research tends to show that  reviews and personal recommendations enjoy a high level of trust from consumers.

Marc Munier advised that when you use images of people in your marketing they should be looking at the thing you want your audience to look at – your great offer, call to action, etc.


6, A few tips for your PPC campaigns…

Nikki Rae reminds us to ensure you have the correct time zone selected in both your Google Analytics and Adwords accounts for accurate reporting (edit profile settings to do so).

Setting up a group on LinkedIn is effective but a lot of hard work so instead you can target PPC campaigns on the site to those groups – James Faulkner has seen returns here.

James also reminded us to include links in PPC ads that will allow users to call directly from mobile phones and tablets.


7, Making an impact with your marketing is the most important step!

Dave Trott gave us all something to think about with his talk on “Predatory Thinking.” In a saturated market 90% of ads fail (probably more). Using the example of asking Mrs Trott for a cup of tea, effort is being exerted like this:


Dave Trott’s triangle illustration of where energy is often allocated by advertisers.

Often, the majority of effort goes into persuading. However, if you make no impact then no-one will notice the ad anyway. Communication is still important because if you don’t start the conversation there will be no opportunity to persuade. Therefore, we need to turn the triangle on it’s head as getting noticed is the most important step.


Dave Trott’s triangle illustration of where energy SHOULD be allocated by advertisers.

There’s a good blog on Dave Trott’s talk in the Silicon Beach Training blog.


8, Use contrast to your advantage.

Dave also told us that the brain picks out what is different so you need to make your ad stand out← to be remembered.

On the other hand, Allister showed us how you can use this theory to trick the brain. Product listings are often similarly designed to look the same (see below). The consumer will generally go for the mid-price option thinking this is the best option.


Deja vu design

Simon Penson explained that when scheduling content strategy you should utilise peaks and troughs. So you can use regular items – serialised content, top 5s, quick tips, etc. – and then less often you will have your “big bang” content – such as your press and TV campaigns.


9, The secret of good UK

Stephanie Troth asked us to focus on one question:

“Do you want to evoke an emotional reaction or a rational act?”

You will be designing your marketing differently depending on this.  Your product or the essence of your brand will define which one you’re going for.


10, Delight comes in small doses.

Small surprises can really lift our mood! Small gifts, things we didn’t expect, even working out a puzzle in an advertisement or logo – it’s the little things that matter. Allister used the arrow in the FedEx logo as an example:


The Fed Ex logo is an example of a hidden visual puzzle and also a visual signal of what they do – getting something from somewhere to somewhere else.

So that’s my top tips. Please do add to the comments if there are any particular tips that you would like to add and if this article was useful to you please share.