Four Things About #fakenews


Another quarter has rolled around and I’ve written some more random opinions for MarketLeader magazine. As per last quarter, if you’re a WARC subscriber you can read it on their website but they allow me to stick the ‘original submitted version’ on here, as long as it carries the disclaimer “Unedited Version” and the credit “Reproduced with permission of Market Leader, the strategic marketing journal for business leaders. To subscribe visit© Copyright Warc and The Marketing Society.”

As a special bonus for BETC blog readers the ‘original submitted version’ omits a typo that was introduced in the version printed by Market Leader. Spot it and you might win a prize. (You won’t win a prize)

Here it is:

#fakenews is a cultural blob that incorporates the feelings that everyone is lying, that shouting is truth and that feelings trump facts. It’s not well-defined, it’s not easy to poke at, that’s probably its power. But I thought it was worth exploring because we’re all in the business of explanation and persuasion and we’re doing that in a #fakenews world. And, of course, it’s all our fault.

1. We Are The Problem

Ev Williams knows quite a lot about the internet. He was in at the invention of Blogger and Twitter. He did an interview with the New York Times recently and diagnosed the #fakenews problem like this: ”The trouble with the internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.”  What Mr Williams doesn’t have to say, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of, is that the mechanism that drives this behaviour is advertising. The internet rewards attention with cash because of advertising. We built that model. We didn’t build a model that rewards high quality content or trust-worthy media owners or decent editorial environments. We attempted to abstract all that away, reducing our metrics to disembodied qualities like ‘eyeballs’ and ‘clicks’. We forgot that there were people involved and that our decisions had consequences. It’s understandable, of course, we tried to create a complex, global, interactive media ecology from scratch in a dozen years or so. We were bound to get it wrong. Print newspapers have had several hundred years to sort it out and they’re not much better. But, this is where we are. Advertising is what makes it economically sensible for smart people in Macedonia to make up lies about US politics and put them on the internet.

2. It’s Just Going To Get Faker

The problem now is that all the news is just going to get faker. Machine learning is not far from making it trivially easy to generate, for instance, video of anyone saying anything. Look at the University of Washington’s Synthesising Obama project; they can take a piece of audio combine it with a bit of talking head video and make an entirely plausible video of Obama saying a thing he never said. That, of course, has been possible for a while with special effects and clever technicians, the problem now is that we’re a few years away from it being a 69p app on your phone, something you can do to anyone. This will be an annoyance for politicians and celebrities, but they’ll be able to prove the untruth through detailed, probably expensive evidence of being somewhere else at the time. But what happens when someone uses it to produce evidence of the staff in your shop abusing them? or of a sales person promising them an impossible deal? What happens when technology weaponises fraud and abuse? It’s going to be a mess.

3. The opposite of Fake is Open. And detailed. And boring. Not short sentences.

We’re also going to have to abandon some of the rhetorical styles of sales and marketing. I used to work at Nike’s advertising agency and we use to joke that our key advantage was that we could ‘fake authenticity’ better than anyone else. There are, or were, clear, well known stylistic, rhetorical flourishes that made communications feel ‘true’. Simple, blunt language. Plain-spoken-ness. Regular demotic speech. Short sentences. But that’s how Trump talks too. That’s how #fakenews is spread. That’s what Goop do. If you want a ‘trusted brand’ you’ll have to a) (obviously) be trust-worthy and b) be detailed and precise about explaining yourself. It will feel too long and too boring, it will feel like too much work. But the slogans aren’t working. Not everyone will read the detail but they’ll like to know that it’s there. Hopefully this will spell the end of the empty brand manifesto. All those short sentence. Saying nothing. At length. With that music.

4. Pay attention to the bottom of the page

Part of that detailed work will be at the bottom of your website where the caveats lurk. Clear, honest Terms and Conditions might be the best way to fight #fakenews. You’re probably rewriting them anyway because of GDPR so perhaps you could pay extra attention and really make them sing. Innocent smoothies made the words on the back of the bottle a competitive landscape, maybe GDPR will do the same for terms and conditions. 

(If you want to get a head start on thinking about this stuff have a look at what the design consultancy IF have put together at


Russell Davies is chief strategy officer at BETC, a contributing editor for Wired, and a relentless mucker-about on the internet. Follow @fourthingsabout on Twitter for a stream of links and articles related to this quarter’s topic.


8 Reasons You Should Join us at SearchLove London 2017

We’re closing in on SearchLove London – it’s on 16th and 17th October – in just a few short weeks’ time. We’ve been running a conference in our home city since 2009, and I’m as passionate as I’ve ever been about making our events stand out.

You can still get a ticket for under £900 – the classic all-access pass costs £899 +VAT – and get access to the whole conference as well as after-show entertainment on both nights.


Here’s why we think our show is special:

1. Quality

The combined outstanding and excellent ratings from a recent conference.

I obviously don’t generally get to see all the feedback other conferences get, but I’d bet ours is right upthere. At one of our recent events, our eight best speakers were all rated outstanding or excellent by over 9 out of 10 people in the audience. Even our twelfth-best speaker was rated outstanding or excellent by 4 out of 5 people in the audience. I’ve never seen another conference where the bottom quartile speaker ratings are still getting into the ~65% outstanding or excellent range.

Speaker quality and consistency is our top priority, and the most common complaint about conferences generally. With our conference being a single track show, we know everyone will see every speaker, so they all need to bring their A game, and they know it.

2. The speakers

We’ve invited some of the best speakers from Boston and San Diego to London 2017.

Speaking of the speakers(!) I’m so grateful to all the people who put such an incredible amount of work into preparing their talks – if you’ve never done it, you have no idea how much work and pressure it can be.

This year, we have:

  • Exceptional speakers: we often invite back speakers who do an exceptional job at our other conferences. Running events on both sides of the Atlantic might bump up our travel costs, but it lets us see great speakers with our own eyes before inviting them to our big stage:

    • To come in the top 4 at our San Diego conference this year, a speaker needed to get over 97% of the audience rating them outstanding or excellent. At this London event, we’re bringing 3 of those top 4 speakers back to wow you. (*)

    • In Boston earlier this year, our top 3 scored 94+% outstanding or excellent and we’re bringing all of them to London.

  • Returning favourites: 3 of the top 5 all-time best SearchLove speakers (looking at average scores from speakers who’ve appeared multiple times)

  • Brand new speakers: 11 of our 17 speakers have never appeared at SearchLove London before (and Paddy last spoke here in 2011 / Justin in 2012!). We’re confident they’re going to will blow you away (see below for more on our prep process)

(*) the other top-4 speaker was Greg Gifford (DistilledU members can see the videos here). It looks like we need to invite him over to London soon!

3. A great venue

The Brewery adds to the SearchLove london experience.

As a speaker, I’ve rarely come across a stage as good as the one at The Brewery. It’s a huge widescreen, with extra massive screens partway back so everyone can see my slides, the stage is huge, my face is projected far too big alongside the slides giving great trolling opportunities when I pull stupid faces, and the audio / visual setup is top-notch. I trust the A/V team to make me look and sound good, and I get to concentrate on my story.

As a delegate, you get a seat with a desk, power, notebook and pen. You get wifi that works, and you get top-notch food and great coffee. Join us for structured lunchtime work at our Topic Tables staffed by the Distilled team, or just hang out and catch up with friends new and old.

4. A taste of London

Enjoy your time in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

We know that many of our delegates travel to attend, and so we’ve picked our venues for the conference and entertainment to help you make the most of your trip to one of the greatest cities on the planet.

The Brewery is in The City of London – the historic Square Mile – so you’ll get a taste of the traditional. The entertainment is conveniently nearby, and you’re within easy walking distance of the buzzing Old Street technology hub (with its great hipster coffee) as well as Clerkenwell with its spectacular restaurants and fancy bars. Even in the time I’ve lived and worked in London, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the food and drink scene – all great excuses to make the trip to an incredible city.

If you want to spend a bit of time visiting London either side of the conference, you can be anywhere in the centre of London within 20-30 minutes by public transport, whether you want to see the tourist sights or do some shopping. If you want to extend your trip to the rest of the UK, you’re close to the Kings Cross and Euston stations that connect you to almost everywhere north of London (and even to St Pancras for Paris and the rest of Europe).


5. Access to experts, and the chance to meet friends old and new

We work hard to make networking with fellow attendees as enjoyable as possible.

We know that much of the value in attending a conference comes from meeting speakers and other delegates so we set up plenty of opportunities to do that:

  • VIP ticket-holders join the speakers for an exclusive pre-show dinner.

  • We have chosen to have a single-track event, with every speaker getting a full-length 40-minute session – this means that every other delegate has seen the same speakers you have, and so you’ll have plenty to chat about, and all our speakers will be very familiar to you and super-approachable

  • Plenty of opportunities to mingle and meet people – including structured and unstructured lunchtime sessions, regular breaks, a fantastic party on the first night and industry meet-up on the second (which even non-delegates can attend so invite your other London friends)

6. Past delegates would urge you to come

You might have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with feedback. As part of the conference feedback, we ask our delegates to tell us how likely they are to recommend our conference (out of 10). From this, we calculate a Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS ranges from -100 to +100, with anything over 50 being excellent. Last year’s London conference rated a 55 with almost half the delegates surveyed (44%) giving it the top possible score of 10.

7. Coming from overseas? It’s cheaper than ever

Without getting too political about it all, our currency has been fluctuating a bit over the last year, and so right now, our tickets come in at only:

  • EUR 1,021

  • USD 1,212

There has to be some silver lining, right? If you’re coming from the US or Europe, the exchange rate has never been more in your favour. Your money goes further!

8. We’re working hard to address all the criticisms we’ve seen of marketing conferences

It turns out good coffee is high on people’s conference priorities.

The other day, I put out a call on Twitter to ask for everyone’s common complaints about marketing conferences because I want to make sure that we are doing our very best to avoid them – whether they’re big complaints or small details:

  • We take our code of conduct very seriously and work hard to make our events welcoming and inclusive for all – and I’ve heard good private feedback about our efforts:

    • We remind speakers about it during our prep calls

    • It’s emphasised during our MC’s intro

    • All our staff know what to do in the event of witnessing or receiving a report of a violation

  • We’ve got sessions on hardcore link building and deeply technical topics – we’ve got plenty on content and social, but we haven’t forgotten our roots

  • And a load of details:

    • The food is great – delegate comments:

      • “the general organisation and food etc. were top notch”

      • “really good food”

      • “great food”

      • “great venue and food”

    • The wifi works

      • “good wifi”

    • We have great coffee

      • “coffee was awesome”

    • Complaint: lanyards can be hard to read or flip over. Our lanyards have names printed on both sides – hopefully big enough to read easily

But of course, by far the most common issue people have is with speaker and talk quality. I talked a fair bit above about our speakers but we are by no means assuming that we’ve done all we need to do – we continue to run a speaker selection and preparation process that involves:

  1. Detailed research, including watching previous footage, reviewing past decks etc

  2. Discussion of topic ideas that the speaker has new and interesting ideas about

  3. Content calls with me or a senior Distilled team member to set expectations, discuss the outline, and share information about the conference and audience

  4. Where appropriate / for any speaker that wishes: review and feedback on actual talk outlines and draft decks

We also encourage first-time speakers to review footage of past top-rated sessions and speakers.

I asked a few of our speakers for their thoughts on our speaker prep process. They said:

Emily Grossman:

“The SearchLove team really sets speakers up for success. It all starts with initial planning brainstorms where we talk about the best topic-fit for SearchLove. Will, Lynsey, and the whole team are very open about what works and doesn’t work for their audience. As a speaker, this helps shape how I’ll approach a certain subject and allows me to really tailor both my topic and my deck to the SL crowd.”

Greg Gifford:

Sam Noble:

What are you waiting for?

There’s still time to pick up your ticket, but time is running out. Click the link below and pick up your ticket today. Reply in the comments if there are any last-minute questions you’re burning to ask.

Join us for SearchLove London 2017

Why This Company Implemented A Learning Sabbatical For Its Employees

A sabbatical doesn’t have to involve traveling to a far-flung location.

Here at Buffer, we believe in constant experimentation and self-improvement. You might know this if you’ve followed along with our experiments in self-management or making regular changes to our vacation policy to try and find the best fit. This time, we’re experimenting with teammates taking a learning sabbatical.

Read Full Story

Understanding the German Federal Election Results

By Axel Wallrabenstein, Chairman, MSL Germany What is the election result? Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in yesterday’s German federal election. However, with losses of 8.5% her position is weakened, and this is likely to be her last term as Chancellor. Following their worst result in post-war history (20.5%; -5.2%), the Social Democrats […]

The post Understanding the German Federal Election Results appeared first on MSLGROUP’s Blog Critical Conversations: Critical Conversations.

Getting a Seat at the Table: The UN General Assembly

When world leaders gather for the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York every fall – known to insiders simply as “UNGA” or “UN Week,” private sector executives, non-profit leaders and foreign governments alike converge on the city to vie for a spot in the conferences, media frenzy, parties and meetings that go on in the sidelines of the debate. Though public relations professionals can’t mitigate the Manhattan traffic jams that put parts of the island into periods of gridlock, industry professionals can help their clients seize the moment for issues that matter most. Few understand the mechanics of this high-level convergence of private, public and sovereign leaders, and with U.S. President Donald Trump making his UNGA debut today, analysts are more on their toes this year than ever.

The seventy-second session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) confronts a crowded agenda. It will be dominated by questions on traditional hard power issues including the U.S.’s role in the world under a Trump administration, the North Korean nuclear issue and the fate of the Iran deal. Climate change will also top the agenda in the aftermath of monsoons in India, Nepal and Bangladesh that killed more than 1,200 people this summer, as Hurricane Jose makes its way up the U.S. east coast and Hurricane Maria crashes the Caribbean, and amid uncertainty over the U.S.’s commitment to the Paris climate accord. As the world increasingly looks toward the private sector for answers to some of the world’s most vexing problems, UNGA gives business leaders the opportunity to insert their perspectives into these debates and to restate their commitments to global initiatives, including the UN’s ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It also gives non-profit leaders the chance to highlight their agendas and liaise with donors and partners. And it gives foreign leaders a podium to address the issues most pressing to their citizens on the global stage, speak to a diverse range of audiences and engage with new partners and stakeholders.

With so much going on, what does it take to get your seat at the table?

Speaking Your Mind

Every year, a host of events are held on the sidelines of UNGA. In territory previously held by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), multiple conferences have proliferated. For 2017, the Concordia Summit, the Social Good Summit, the Global Citizen Festival, Climate Week and this year’s first-ever Bloomberg Global Business Forum are just some of the places where leaders from across sectors will convene to engage on pressing international issues. Speaking slots at these conferences are ripe opportunities to take advantage of the groundswell of activity and exposure. Public relations professionals can help clients identify marquee venues and secure the right commitments to address target audiences. Especially as platforms fracture to more issue-based and sponsor-specific events this year in lieu of CGI, public relations professionals can work with clients to navigate this new landscape – or help host salon dinners and targeted meetings to connect more directly.

Knowing the Landscape

If you are a group focused on nuclear issues for instance, you not only need to know the right venues for your voice to be heard but must also understand the larger ecosystem around the UN—its partner foundations, think tanks and other conveners of thought leadership platforms around your issue. And you must recognize not only those influencing the conversation surrounding nuclear issues but also be able to anticipate the trajectory of where that policy conversation may head during the meetings. Public relations professionals have the tools to map and target these trends.

This year, Burson-Marsteller worked to produce dozens of briefing memos for leaders of a prominent international organization, including an in-depth analysis of a critical geopolitical issue at play. With foresight on where the policy conversation around this issue could head, the Burson-Marsteller team was also able to identify the most important players in shaping this dialogue and target outreach to them.

For another key client, Burson-Marsteller outlined a plan for a high-visibility media event as well as a specialized social media outreach program targeted to key geographies and outlets to ensure that messages reached the right audiences.

Dispatching Your Message

The press corps covering the UN General Assembly is a unique cast of players, including New York reporters, Washington-based journalists, international press and UN correspondents. Public relations professionals have eyes on this constantly evolving media space and can tap into their networks to secure high-level interviews, broadcast hits and op-ed real estate in the right outlets.

Going Around the Globe

It’s not all happening in New York. Audiences worldwide give special watch to events surrounding the UN General Assembly. Burson-Marsteller has engaged its global network to make sure that onlookers across the world are tuned in to your message—from hosting events, engaging media, developing social media programs or building coalitions.

Finding Your Seat

As thousands meet in Manhattan to examine some of the world’s shared challenges and opportunities at the UN General Assembly, public relations professionals are well-placed to help clients develop a strategic plan for engagement, provide foresight on major players and policy trajectories, navigate on the ground and sustain momentum around key issues. Make sure you find your seat at the table, and as UN Week comes to a close, know that some of us are already gearing up to support clients similarly for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this January 24 to 27, 2018.

This post was contributed by Mike Fernandez, U.S. CEO, Burson-Marsteller.

Side Hustles: Creative Outlets to Improve your 9 to 5

Dedicating 40+ hours a week to one office, one specialty, one computer, can be especially draining when we get sucked into the routine. That’s where a side hustle comes in—an outlet to create outside of the workplace and make some money while doing it. This year, over 44 million Americans reported having some sort of side hustle.

GSD&M employs a whole slew of crazy-talented folks, so you bet there are some side hustles around here. I dug a little deeper into the double lives of ad gurus by day and hustlers by night to see what passions they’re turning into profit.

Chelsey Korman, founder of Peach Electric: a real rad vintage shop for rad, real women

What took your side hustle beyond a hobby?

I’ve loved the art of fashion and the beauty of a thought-out outfit my entire life, and have wanted to explore it as a business for as long as I can remember. One day, I just figured I’d better start somewhere. This is just the beginning, I feel.

How has your side hustle made a difference in your day job?

It makes me appreciate all the departments in GSD&M. Reaching 100 Instagram followers was a huge achievement and honestly, some were sympathy followers. Ha. But seriously, social media experts are seriously smart and creative, and they understand what it means to “reach and connect” with an audience. We all have so much to learn from each other.


Laura Guardalabene, Cofounder of JUNK-O: creators of enamel pins inspired by pop culture and progressive political ideology

Where do you find inspiration to keep up the side hustle?

I follow a lot of other pin makers and small independent clothing brands. Companies like Lazy Oaf and Big Bud Press show me the growth potential JUNK-O has and how far hustling can get you.

How has your side hustle made a difference in your day job?

It has fueled my creativity tenfold. I no longer experience creative blocks or burnouts because I’m constantly challenging my mind and keeping it in shape.


Julia Elizondo, Cofounder of LA LO LA: a luxe resortwear line offering small batch collections

Where do you find inspiration to keep up the side hustle?

Through everyday things like a new issue of W Magazine or Condé Nast Traveler or just the simple dream of wanting to see women in our clothes. I want the chance to keep evolving the styles and collections into what I really want. 

What does this work outside of the office mean to you?

It means that I can pursue my dream while still being able to make a living working in a dynamic place like GSD&M. It’s an outlet for me too.


Jeffrey Butterworth, founder of ArterBarter: a website to auction off original art pieces one by one, for anything BUT cash

What took your side hustle beyond a hobby?

Bringing a concept to satisfy the question I have been asking myself, “What am I going to do with my art?”

How has your side hustle made a difference in your day job?

A big part of what I do at work is trying to put together things that people would be interested in and attach it to a brand that makes sense. This is no different, it’s just that I’m the brand I’m attaching the idea to.


Turning a passion into profit is hard, rewarding, meaningful work. Judging from the side hustlers above, work outside of the office creates a source of energy, drive and satisfaction that might otherwise go unused. Everyone needs an outlet, so might as well make some extra cash while you’re at it. Keeping your brain “in shape” isn’t a bad way to get your exercise, either. If you’ve got something in mind, why not give it a go and see what happens?

The Distilled Yearly Creative Roundup: 2017 Edition

It’s been a year since our last creative roundup and I wanted to share what we’ve been working on in the last 12 months. As I started to collate the our creative pieces, it’s become clear that we’ve tried our hand, and indeed had some successes, at new and exciting formats

This has partly stemmed from Google’s changing algorithm, as we can see the benefit in investing in content for brand awareness, with branded search carrying more weight than before. This creative freedom has led us to storyboard social ad series, shoot stylized photo essays and video social experiment stunts for brands too.

We’ve made pieces with regional angles, which have led to neverending press lists (a good thing), and one that focussed on the fear factor that ended up on the news. It’s silly how the TV still feels more exciting than online, but it really does.  You can read our thoughts on the disruption online will cause to TV here.

New formats have included poster quizzes, personalised graphics and making additional press assets to go alongside pieces too. Maps, interactive visualisations, long format articles, scrolling stories and quizzes have also continued to make up the core of our work. Format is just one aspect, at the heart of everything we make, the story, the insight, and the ‘wow’ factor is key.

We also feel that sadly much of the internet can be an ugly space, and with our creativity we aim to tell compelling stories that also make the world a little bit more beautiful. Whether it is adding humour, or waving our illustration wand…


Go Compare – Great British Bakes of Instagram

For Go Compare a financial services comparison website we created a UK map comparing the popularity of British bakes in different regions. Illustrations really helped to bring this piece to life, turning what could have been a rather dull map into a mouth-watering delight. Each year the hype around ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is phenomenal, so we launched our piece during the finale. The regional differences in top bakes lengthened our press list to regional publications as well as national.

As well as seeing which British bake is most popular in your region you can also see the popularity of specific bakes across the country. e.g. trifle is most popular in Yorkshire and Norfolk, tying in with people patriotic tendencies to their place of origin.

We added in animation that works well with the twee illustration style, hovering over cakes, rotates them slightly, bunting swings in at the beginning and changing the map from one bake to another makes the map filter in one region at a time, these UX additions mean interacting with the piece is just that little bit more exciting. This was the perfect piece for Vicke, our resident birthday cake baker, to produce!

GeoTab – Most Dangerous Highways in America

For GeoTab, a fleet tracking platform, we analyzed road crash data across the US to see which highways have the highest number of fatal accidents in each state. Morbid I know, but in this case, fear led to coverage.

We launched the piece during a public holiday in America when the roads would have been at their most busy, local news outlets jumped on the chance to talk about the most dangerous highway in their region. We even got some brand mentions on the news.

The piece focuses on the most dangerous highway for fatal accidents in each state but allows you explore further comparing the amount of crashes and amount of fatalities, so you can compare which states are the most dangerous by comparison.

On page load, the highway lines across the states are drawn onto the map, and below the sorting feature, transitions in a satisfying fluid way.

This piece received over 100 linking root domains (LRDs). Off the back of its success, we have gone on to look at the most dangerous days to drive in each state too.

Maps: key takeaways

Fear/danger is a story – being worried or scared gets people talking, if there is a risk or a danger it’s news.

Visual feedback is important – a movement on hover or page load engages the user and gives the piece more of a personality.

Launch dates matter – as much as a piece should try to be evergreen to gain links over time, the newsworthy nature can often come by tying in with a conversation that is already happening.

Regional differences increase coverage – regional competitiveness or comparison means regional and national press can be contacted.

Long format content

Somfy – Totally Worth It

Somfy is a company that makes blinds which operate at the touch of the button. Their target audience is high-earning people in the 50+ age bracket who appreciate a little bit of luxury in their lives. We created blog content that highlighted products for the home that are worth splurge.

Everyday level blog content can still have its place in content marketing. Not everything needs to be a larger scale interactive or higher budget piece, because it is the idea at the core of a piece that needs to capture attention. It is important now more than ever for brands to not just focus on their product or service, but the attitude and lifestyle that surrounds it.

During page scroll the stock photography that we sourced transitions to an illustrative overlay that highlights the product within the scene and highlights its motion when in use. This creative element sets the article apart from other listicles and gives it a brand style that is unique to Somfy.

Long format: key takeaways

Create a unique visual style – set your content apart from others by adding memorable visual styling.

Be consistent – so many low-level listicles have paid no attention to whether the piece is cohesive. When using illustrations or stock imagery, ensure that the styles work as a collection.

Think about your brand voice – does the tone of the content lend itself to your brand’s personality. Content that feels too tangential can do more harm than good.

Picture Quiz

Magic Freebies – Spot the Christmas Movies

Magic Freebies is the UK’s largest freebie site, they aim to delight and surprise their customers by providing them with fun free gifts, their target audience is people who have time to browse and play online.

We created a spot the Christmas Movies poster, that existed both in print and as an online game. 25 iconic Christmas films were illustrated in one wintery scene.

We have created two picture quizzes now, working with illustrator Bill McConkey: 25 Years of Top-Flight Footy Moments and the aforementioned Spot the Christmas Movies. The trick is to create a scene that works as a whole but is made up of individual elements.

Christmas is a difficult time of year for coverage, so if you are going to take a punt on it, your idea needs to be watertight. This is certainly not something that will work all year round, yet it can gain traffic each year at a similar time.

This poster quiz earned 2.6k Facebook interactions and has been visited over 27k times.

Ginny’s – I Believe I Can Fry

Ginny’s is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which gives us a lot of creative freedom when coming up with ideas. It’s an e-commerce site stocking all sorts of products for the home, and we were focusing on their fried goods gadgets. Firstly creating the 50 States of Bacon which received over 100 links, and then the humorous quiz ‘I believe I can fry’.

Taking song titles we replaced the word fry/fried/frying with something else that rhymed and drew them as image puzzles.

The majority of the time spent here was on the illustrations, the build of the quiz being quite minimal itself. I illustrated the song titles myself, ensuring each image had a similar style and colour pallet to tie the set together.

Just how ludicrous this idea is, is actually what sets it apart.

Picture quiz – key takeaways

Leverage nostalgia – both these picture quizzes hook onto nostalgia as a driving factor, old movies and classic song titles.

Make use of freelancers – Bill McConkey’s distinctive style and speed of illustration allowed us to produce these picture quizzes relatively quickly.

Interactive timeline/story

Go Compare – Food of the Famous

As part of a campaign for GoCompare we compared the daily diets of famous athletes, actors and musicians. We are inherently interested in famous people’s lifestyles, often looking to emulate them in our own lives, as though living like them might somehow move us nearer to their lofty heights.

For the execution we went lo-fi, choosing to source stock imagery to make up the plates, giving them a cutout collage effect (like you see on gossip magazines) as opposed to shooting the plates from actual food. This not only created a cost effective result but also give it a bit more design edge.

Looking at a range of celebrities, who had very different relationships with food we showed what was eaten throughout the day, from 10,000 calories consumed by The Mountain to a meagre 1316 calories from Gwyneth Paltrow. The amount of food, type and frequency is shown using a day timeline.

It was covered by Business Insider, Joe, FHM and Unilad amongst others.

Advisa – Dead Men on Dollar Bills 

For Advisa, a Swedish financial services client, we analysed the people that feature on banknotes worldwide. 100% of the people who feature on US bank notes are dead male politicians. We looked at what it takes to have your face on a note. The story walkthrough compared the gender, profession, birthplace, and whether or not they are alive, for all the people on bank notes throughout the world. As well as the findings in the piece we paired the launch with a survey and some of our own note designs for both a UK and US audience.

Our survey asked 5000+ people who they wanted to see on banknotes. For the UK, Princess Diana, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst and JK Rowling came out on top. And for the USA, Michelle Obama was top. We made concept art for each of these people to show how they would look on banknotes. The press loved these visual assets and the survey that went alongside the piece.

The launch of the piece tied in with news about Jane Austen due to be appearing on a new £10 note design in September 2017. The piece was linked to by Yahoo, Metro, Evening Standard, Daily Star, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Insider amongst others.

Interactive timeline/story: key takeaways

Comparison is important – if the data does not show enough contrast then there is no story.

Journalists want statistics – a survey can help to gather new statistics for your content.

Personalised infographic

Go To Court – How Criminal is Your Name?

For Go To Court, an Australian law firm, we looked at first names and how they are linked to criminality. We collated the names from over 25,000 crimes to see which names are most criminal and what crimes specific names most commonly commit. Leon is the most criminal name, and Leons most frequently commit assault. It turns out Leonie’s most frequently commit abductions! So watch out.

This visualisation is essentially just a table, but making it look like a police investigation board and making the list searchable with an individual expandable graph for each name makes this interactive engaging.

Scrolling allows you to understand hierarchy better. The piece received over 100k visits and 141 LRDs.

Personalised infographic – key takeaways

Can you see yourself in the story?  –  Age, name, demographic, intelligence are all ways you can rank people. Choosing one of these as a data point allows the reader to put him or herself in the story.

How have your won over an audience?

We would love to hear what you have learnt on your content marketing journey. Sometimes looking at the failures as well as the big wins can help us learn too. Are there new formats or types of ideas that you have seen work well?