Friday, April 18, 2014


Just a quick one, as it's a gloriously sunny bank holiday and I want to get to the pub. But I also want to point out this brilliant piece in the Guardian from earlier this week.

Responding to the (totally understandable) outrage at The Mirror using a stock photo for their front page article on food banks, the Guardian's head of photography writes a gentle thought provoking piece highlighting the importance of truth in photo-journalism... and it strikes me there are plenty of us in the design/web/marketing world who could stand to take this onboard too.

People are cynical. Give them a chance to poke holes in what you're saying and they will.

Stock photography can do just this. If we choose it poorly or - much worse - try and palm it off as something it isn't, we lose our audience's trust and (in doing so) lose our audience.

Right. That's quite enough pontificating from me. Pub.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Truth in advertising.

So. This week I found a new (to me) gay dating app called Mister.

I like it.

It's mostly full of Americans* (of course - there are so damned many of you guys!) but that's not the point. The point is, that it's specifically billed as the gay app for grown ups and - shock - the users actually seem to have taken this to heart! It's full of funny, interesting articulate blokes who talk to each other like real human beings. Even though they're on the internet!

I know. We can do that. Who knew. 

Anyhoo, as much as personally I'm loving the app & enjoying the chat on there, professionally I'm loving Mister's marketing. It's smart & funny & honest

I like those things as - I hope - you may have noticed. 

It's fun to see a relatively successful product employing much the same approach I'm trying with my own business: be honest, be yourself, be engaging & the rest will follow. 

I especially love two of their "adverts" YouTube videos: clearly styled as pastiches of Apple's old "Mac & PC" campaign. The two chaps on screen represent themselves & (simultaneously) the tone & content of their online chat with each other. It's really beautifully done & I can't stop watching them - in fact the only reason I'm only raving about two is that I can't find more than those two - if you're reading Mister - either "encore!" (if there are only two) or sort your YouTube channel (if there are more lurking there that I - a former librarian - have been unable to locate).

I like sharing things and want to share these two vids, but - conscious that much of my audience (unlike Mister's) may never have encountered some of the contextual aspects of these funny, honest little observational gems, I feel a little preamble is in order. 

If this falls under the heading of explaining the joke & killing the funny, forgive me. 

So, follow the links when you've read my guff. OK? Unless you've ever used Grindr in which case you'll get it immediately.

Vid 1: "Shit guys on Gay Apps Say"

Context: some of you reading this (who btw can thank your lucky stars!!) will never have encountered either bro'lish or cyberamnesia. Trust me. Both are very, very real. In fact I think I've had almost exactly the same conversation as we see here (though I probably didn't ask about sports).


Many of the guys in most gay chat apps will use words of one syllable (or worse: lol) in lieu of actual conversation & will still be bewildered (and possibly sad) when this fails to forge any kind of connection with the fella on the other end of the line.

Most marketers of gay chat apps seem utterly indifferent to this yawning chasm in their "communication" product, and will instead blithely assume that bombarding potential users with (unrealistic) images of who might be waiting on their app will win the day. 

This ad gently, humourously underlines the flaw in how many of us gay men have taken to "chatting" online, and by doing so, beautifully underlines what the product (the Mister app) is, and is not.

Vid 2: "Bear Talk"

Context: Happily the guys at Mister did some of my work for me here. Well, actually here

Watch that video "why bears woof" & you'll get a sense of what the bear community's tounge in cheek defacto greeting "woof" is about. Assuming you didn't already know [winks at Phil].

"Woof" is used on bear, and bear-ish sites though & - just as in the ad - it means many things depending on the context. It's a kind of catch all friendly verbal wave of the hand... that any of us who identify as bear or bear adjacent** cringe at ourselves for using, yet still sometimes hide behind. Yes you do. Honesty remember?

What's lovely about the "Bear Talk" vid, is how it acknowledges that (as we see in "why bears woof") that self-same community recognises the limitations of "woof" and wants to communicate more, better, to engage more fully and more diversely with each other. Sadly all too often the atmosphere or tone of the chat products we're using online makes it easy to fall back on a cliche.

Mister picks that up and runs with it, again - gently, humourously and (since - in contrast to "bro'lish" - the owners of this daft net -ism are on board with  Mister's product ethos) with a sexy sense of play. 

It's beautiful. 

Truth in advertising. And a product that kinda lives up to its own spiel! Hurrah!

Food for thought for those of us advertising & marketing our own products (or, indeed ourselves!): be genuine, be direct, be engaging & be witty. But above all have a rewarding product waiting when you've caught the audience's attention. The rest falls into place.


Since Mister so kindly linked to this post in their members email this week I figured I should say "hi" to anyone arriving here by that route, and link back to my profile on there.
* I have nothing against 'murcans, in fact evidence suggests I'd enjoy the company of a great many of you, but until we develop teleporters it's frustrating when all the guys I want to chat with are on the "wrong" side of the Atlantic. Huff.
** For the record cub. Kinda. Insofar as I do labels.