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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Nextness Visual Diary | Toilet paper, “you have had a personal encounter with me,” handwriting, rugs, landfill and more

by Nextness published January 30, 2013 posted in Inspiration

Visual Diary’s where we showcase what’s caught our eye recently. Do you work for an STW Group company and want to curate your own Visual Diary? Email us!

Artist Alexander Calder’s toilet paper holder, from an article on Calder in Portfolio Magazine, 1950 via Wary Meyers.

Famously shy comedian Steven Martin’s business card; also see the old cards of Steve Jobs and “William H. Gates” among others at Flavorwire. (A slideshow, sorry.)

The amusement park ride was the best part of Sarah Polley’s film Take This Waltz. From the Hopscotch YT channel (really good for film lovers) via The Curious Brain.

Old French handwriting cards via the beautiful blog of design and papercraft, Present & Correct.

Beautiful rugs by Jonathan Josefsson, via I’m revolting.

Dutch designers Waarmakers have created sustainable rubbish sacks for discarding unwanted items in good condition, in the hope that they’ll be picked up by a new owner instead of ending up at a landfill site.

This film for Leica tells the story of the iconic camera -- from the camera’s point of view. It’s shot with the Leica M-Monochrom camera, a digital camera that only shoots in black and white. Via Adverblog.


Those were the days: advertising in the 1930s.

by Nextness published January 29, 2013 posted in Insights

Detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers worked at S.H. Benson’s (later Ogilvy & Mather) from 1922 to 1931. She is credited with coining the slogan “It pays to advertise!” and also worked on the iconic Guinness ‘Zoo’ ads. But while she spent her days selling, she spent her nights plotting.

Murder Must Advertise is a detective novel Sayers published in 1933. The book, in which five people die before the mystery can be unravelled, features her famous detective Lord Peter Wimsey: an English aristocrat with the background of a Bertie Wooster and the smarts of a Jeeves. To solve the case, Wimsey goes undercover as a new copywriter at “Pym’s Publicity” (based on Sayers’ real-life agency) for a salary of £4 a week.

After seven days, Sayers wrote in one breathless long paragraph, Wimsey had learned a great many things about advertising…

He learned the average number of words that could be crammed into four inches of copy… that the word “pure” was dangerous, because if lightly used, it laid the client open to prosecution by the government inspectors, whereas the words ‘highest quality’, ‘finest ingredients’, ‘packed under the best conditions,’ had no legal meaning and were therefore safe; that the expression ‘giving work to umpteen thousand British employees in our model works at so-and-so’ was not by any means the same thing as ‘British made throughout’… that The Morning Star would not accept any advertisements containing the word ‘cure,’ but there were no objections to such expressions as ‘relieve’ or ‘ameliorate,’ and that, further, any commodity that professed to ‘cure’ anything might find itself compelled to register as a patent medicine and use an expensive stamp; that the most convincing copy was always written with the tongue in the cheek, a genuine conviction of the commodity’s worth producing – for some reason – poverty and flatness of style; that if, by the most farfetched stretch of ingenuity, an indecent meaning could be read into a headline, that was the meaning the great British Public would infallibly read into it; that the great aim and object of the studio artist was to crowd the copy out of the advertisement and that, conversely, the copy-writer was a designing villain whose ambition was to cram the space with verbiage and leave no room for the sketch; that the layout man, a meek ass between two burdens, spent a miserable life trying to reconcile these opposing parties; and further, that all departments alike united in hatred of the client, who persisted in spoiling good layouts by cluttering them up with coupons, free gifts offers, lists of local agents and realistic portraits of hideous and uninteresting cartons to the detriment of his own interests and the annoyance of everybody concerned.

Happy birthday Murder Must Advertise, 80 years old this year. How some things change and others stay the same!


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | January 25, 2013

by Nextness published January 25, 2013 posted in Linkness

The Obamas: they’re just like us! Screencap of them all on their phones during the inauguration via @jaredbkeller.

And now Linkness.

If you only read one thing.

  • Vision and validation: on how easily people can get ‘stuck in their ways’ – do and believe things based on past experiences, despite the rapidly changing present. | now in colour


  • Strategy and the uncertainty excuse: “Without making an effort to ‘do strategy,’ a company runs the risk of its numerous daily choices having no coherence to them, of being contradictory across divisions and levels, and of amounting to very little of meaning.” | Harvard Business Review
  • Why advertising agencies must disrupt themselves (not a new argument but a good list of what the author considers good disruptions underway) | LinkedIn
  • Secret ingredient for success: “The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to acheive them.” | NYTimes.com
  • Corporate hackathons: the fine line between engaging and exploiting | Jamie M Smyth
  • PR professionals are not ‘yes men’ when pressured to be unethical, study finds | Science Daily


  • Google’s Larry Page on why moon shots matter: a big interview | Wired.com


  • Are personas still relevant to UX strategy? | UXmatters
  • Searching for relevance, Yahoo aims to be the “Google of Content” | AllThingsD


  • Games vs. School: how effort, status, interaction and hard work differ in self-organising ‘passionate affinity groups’ versus school or work | Medium
  • “Success is the amount of joy you feel in your life.” | Wrestling Possums
  • Airbnb and the unstoppable rise of the share economy | Forbes
  • Reminiscence bump explanations: Why we remember young adulthood better than any other age. | Slate Magazine


  • You 2.0: “I found it super invigorating to think about the web as this place of freedom, a new realm of possibility. A place that lives and breathes. A place where we can craft our own highly individualistic religions, or curate our own worlds, or expand our creative license. A place where we can invent and reinvent ourselves anew, with as little or as much loyalty to our flesh-and-bones selves as we choose.” | Rookie Mag
  • Having original ideas in a world of collective thinking | 180360720
  • Jeffrey Eugenides’s advice to young writers | The New Yorker
  • Sundance darlings eye alternative distribution platforms: Today’s Sundance Film Festival hits needn’t necessarily make a splash on the big screen (although that’s nice). Video on demand, iTunes and other outlets await. | latimes.com

On Nextness this week.

  • Here’s a helpful test to work out if you’re wasting your time online | NEXTNESS

STW Group news.

  • Ogilvy Melbourne gets Ego boost | mUmBRELLA
  • Ikon announces 12 new clients including Labor election campaign | mUmBRELLA
  • Designworks returns to Christchurch | Stuff.co.nz

Here’s a helpful test to work out if you’re wasting your time.

by Nextness published January 20, 2013 posted in Insights

In 2011 and 2012 it was “10 ways to…” or “8 reasons why…”

In 2013, this is what we have instead:

  • “Here’s the Real Reason Why…”
  • “Good Morning, X Happened to Y”
  • “The Cycle Of Love You’ll Go Through With Your Phone.”
  • “I Can’t Stop Staring At….”

They’re cliched web headlines, and they’re everywhere.

According to editor of The Awl, Choire Sicha, web headlines now are

… a strange cross between imperative and inviting. The tone is soothing, seductive and at least a little bit demanding… What’s oddest about this form of headline is that it’s disassociated from conveying news. Instead it conveys interaction. Headlines once were stuffed full of proper nouns. But it turns out, old-fashioned headlines don’t convey things that aren’t news well.

And if they’re not news, why are you reading them?

Sicha concludes sadly, “These constructions acknowledge a truth: our actions are increasingly passive online, and we really are just looking for something to watch, click, share and receive.”

If you spot a headline like that, save yourself time and skip it.

But what about when you’re scrolling through Twitter, or FB? The feeds of your friends, people you follow and trust?

How do you know if your friend’s (or favourite curator’s) link is just a time-sink?

Well, it will probably announce itself with a lead-in like this:

  • Made me smile: [link to a thumbdrive in the shape of a clothespeg].
  • Just so you know: [link to an infographic showing how to escape from a disused well if all you have on you is a lifejacket, false teeth and gas cylinder].
  • Just spat coffee on my keyboard: [gif of a newsreader falling off a platform during a live cross; paralysis, hospitalisation and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of surgery and physio not shown].
  • You’re welcome: [Ryan Gosling with no shirt on].
  • My ovaries just exploded: [animal of X species snuggling animal of Y species].
  • And the laziest presentation of a link, ever? “This.” When people just write “This.” Nothing else. Just “This.” This: [Ryan Gosling with no shirt on snuggling an animal of X or Y species].

The fact is, unless someone takes the time to explain either:

  • Why the link is important to them, or
  • Why it should be important to you

…it’s probably just ephemera.

There’s nothing wrong with ephemera.

So long as you’re consuming it consciously – and you’ve got the time to spare.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | January 18, 2013

by Nextness published January 18, 2013 posted in Linkness

Mesmerised by the HondaTrope, a device that “creates a new world through the illusion of a digital environment overlaid onto a real environment.” Created for Honda by its digital agency DT, you can see it in action at the Sydney Festival.

And welcome to Linkness, what we found worth reading this week.

If you only read one thing.

  • It would be bad if this article was written by a man but it’s written by women, recommended here in Linkness by a woman, and is a must-read for women (and dads with young daughters). Women need to realise work isn’t school | Harvard Business Review


  • 10 reasons why 2013 will be the year you quit your job | TechCrunch
  • Keep it small- why big groups are slow and stupid | Northern Planner


  • Innovation pessimism: Has the ideas machine broken down? | The Economist


  • Revisiting: if your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault | Anil Dash
  • How record labels are learning to make money from YouTube: Rather than getting unauthorised versions of videos taken down, labels are monetising them through YouTube’s ad partnerships | guardian.co.uk


  • 2013: The year everything converged: “I think 2013 is going to be the year that things feel like they are all blurring into each other more than ever and is going to create a lot of challenges for both brands and their agency partners as they work together to figure out how to address the overlaps.” | Logic+Emotion
  • How to solve problems like Sherlock Holmes | Co.Create
  • Tesco effect: How big firms quietly own little brands | BBC News
  • How people learn | Farnham Street
  • Facing the truth is a terrible way to be happy. | Dan Ariely
  • The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational | io9
  • How Tide detergent became a drug currency: “Tide detergent: Works on tough stains. Can now also be traded for crack. A case study in American ingenuity, legal and otherwise.” | New York Magazine


On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.


Nextness Visual Diary | No Noise, yes yes yes, uncanny valley, Van Gogh, sushi x 2

by Nextness published January 14, 2013 posted in Inspiration

Some images and film that have inspired us or made us think.

“Showcasing modern minimalism at its best, this iconic jar of Marmite has been debranded as part of the Selfridges No Noise initiative, celebrating the power of quiet in a world bombarded with information and stimulation.” Still not sure why anyone would buy Marmite, debranded or not.

A collage recreates Meg Ryan’s soliloquy from Nora Ephron’s “When Harry Met Sally,” using letters cut from Ephron’s obituary in The New York Times. By conceptual artist Rachel Perry Welty.

Abstract-expressionist painter Agnes Martin is featured on The Reconstructionists, a collaboration between illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova. It’s a “yearlong celebration of remarkable women.”

Artist Paul Emsley created the first official portrait of Kate Middleton. For a scientific explanation of the world’s horrified reaction, please check out the the Wikipedia of uncanny valley: “when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers.”

What would Van Gogh look like if his famous self-portrait was a photograph rather than a painting? Lithuanian architect and photographer Tadao Cern digitally recreated it as a modern portrait. Via The Atlantic.

Modern dancers are human sushi in a series of not unwelcome spots for the Norwegian Seafood Council. As AdWeek says, “Weird conceptual ads are a welcome breather from the endless wacky-office-culture crap we get in the States.”

By the way, have you guys all see Jiro Dreams of Sushi yet? Nextness approved.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | January 11, 2013

by Nextness published January 11, 2013 posted in Linkness

Image via National Geographic. And here are the week’s most interesting links!

If you only read one thing.

  • How to redesign your app without pissing everybody off | Anil Dash




  • The improbable is the new normal. “I am unsure of what this intimacy with the improbable does to us. What happens if we spend all day exposed to the extremes of life, to a steady stream of the most improbable events, and try to run ordinary lives in a background hum of superlatives? What happens when the extraordinary becomes ordinary?” | The Technium by Kevin Kelly
  • You won’t stay the same, study finds. People tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” | NYTimes.com
  • Revisiting: ‘Askers’ vs. ‘Guessers.’ Which one are you? And why is it so horrible when the two types of people meet?! | The Atlantic Wire
  • On false dichotomies and diversity: “if you manage to get a speaker line‐up with 0% female speakers, you have a bias. It does not necessarily mean that you’re a male chauvinist pig with a deep‐seated hatred for women who is determined to hoist the banner for sexism to exciting new heights with his next event. It may just mean that you have an unexamined, unconscious bias” | Aral Balkan
  • A simple suggestion to help phase out all-male panels at conferences. “Men: You can help fix this. Refuse to participate unless there are women on stage with you.” | The Atlantic
  • How feeling powerless directs the narratives of our mind | Farnham Street
  • Do we need advertising? | RSA blogs


  • 3 storytelling tips from “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan | Co.Create
  • On selling out | Austin Kleon

On Nextness this week.

  • Can traditional ad agencies stop making people want things and instead make things people want? Three good posts and a long comment have reignited the debate over “saving” ad agencies this week. Our summary.