Friday, December 30, 2011

A wishlist for 2012






Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Absolutely Unfabulous

Downton mania aside, one of the most anticipated shows in the festive TV schedule this year was the return of Absolutely Fabulous. As early as November, coverage of the forthcoming episode began to appear, and Jennifer Saunders joined Twitter as @ferrifrump. Fashion, celebrities, gossip and debauchery - not since the 90's have we seemed quite so obsessed with "Who's in, who's out, who's sexy, who's not sexy, who's clever, who's not clever". Clearly its creators, and the nation, felt like a contemporary institution was about to make a much welcomed comeback.

I was 10 when Ab Fab first aired, and - as a full-blown media brat - I instantly recognised the Edina "type" from the kind of people who regularly populated our family kitchen of a weekend, talking of Harvey Nic's, Bolly, and lunches at Bibendum in South Ken. It was that halcyon moment in the mid-90's, when the rich were rich, the supermodels really were super, and the "we live like this" generation properly came into their own. As Edina quips in Season 2, "what you can't tell about a person by what they have chosen you to see on their coffee table isn't worth knicker elastic". My parents and their friends laughed at Ab Fab, the same way my friends and I laugh now about Dalston Superstars; they could hardly bear to admit it, but it was funny because there were elements which were oh so true.

But Ab Fab had something more. It wasn't just a comic reflection or parody; like the very best comedy, it stayed one step ahead of its audience. At the risk of sounding hideously "industry", it was like a trend report in a show. From the clothes, to the brand references, to the interior design, Ab Fab seemed to be the zeitgeist, not just represent it. Even Mary Portas, then Head of Visual Merchandising at Harvey Nichols, understood the PR value in allowing Edina to park her car on the pavement outside the store. Where else on TV at that time, was the image of a modern, aspirational lifestyle available? Coronation Street wasn't exactly heaving with Brabantia bins, Emma Bridgewater porcelain and bottles of Aqualibre, now was it, darling? And let us never forget that Edina was adopting children "one in every colour, one in every room", long before the Jolie-Pitts got going.

So, what made me really sad about the latest episode, was the gaping hole where real cultural insight used to lie. Yes, there were jokes about Twitter and the Kardashians, but those were easy wins, and fairly obvious ones at that. The media industry has evolved from the 90's into an engorged, self-propogating monstrosity, simply heaving with do's and don'ts, ins and outs. How could the Ab Fab writers have failed to leverage the fertile comedy ground today's Edinas are currently stomping around on? You'd think twenty minutes spent swathed in a cape from APC, on a sun lounger at Babington House with an iPad in one hand, and a cup of flat white in the other should at least get them started.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Last Thursday Matt Judge launched Design Assembly 3 - a printed compendium of archive material from the Design Assembly blog, plus additional new work created especially for the book. Having recently lost his father to cancer, Matt is giving 100% of profits from the sale of the book to three cancer charities globally, so stop reading this for a moment and buy it here NOW.

The launch party was held at Wolff Olins and was well attended by the Shoreditch Twitterati, and the who's who of graphic design. Check shirts, designer facial hair and a considerable amount of heavy drinking characterized an evening which truly celebrated all the love, hard work and effort contained within DA3.

I was very touched to be asked to contribute to the compendium and felt in very grown-up company alongside some of the luminaries of branding and design. Having written predominately in short-form online, to tackle 2,000 words for print felt like a bit of a mountain. Nevertheless, it was great to really dig deep into a subject knowing that it needed more permanence than a fleeting blog post. As a result, I ended up giving my inner geek an early Christmas present by really going to town on the power of data. A few of my colleagues from Moving Brands have also contributed to the book - Nick Jones, Jon Hewitt, Mat Heinl, and ex-colleagues Hector Pottie and Lisa Smith are also in there.

Tonight there's a slightly more low key event to promote the book - the Graphic Design Xmas Quiz. I don't own a check shirt, but I'm seriously hoping that three years in the design industry will have imbued me with  more than a simple appreciation for some quality kerning.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

VHS: Off the shelf

When I was a kid, a friend of mine used to make me MTV mix tapes on VHS, because she felt bad that my family didn't have satellite TV. Anyway... enough of my deprived childhood. To capture the response to this tweet...

Thanks to Daniel Hutchinson (@danielhutch) for the links!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swagger jumper

Well, given that we’re now just hours away from being legally able to listen to Mariah’s “All I want for Christmas” on repeat for 25 days solid, I feel it is only appropriate to do a little round up of Christmas jumpers for 2011. To many, the Christmas jumper, is just a polyester novelty item suitable only for a cheap laugh and to retain one’s Christmas turkey meat sweats like some ill-conceived human boil in the bag experiment gone fatally arwy.

 To others, like me, however, the Christmas jumper is an investment piece, a visual signifier that the festive season has begun, and an indication that we are soon to be playing Nat King Cole records, digging in to Fortnum & Mason’s hampers, and letting no wine go un-mulled. The Christmas jumper, Hanukkah sweater, Festive gilet, Crimbo knit... call it what you will is a key piece for December, and it seems the fash pack think similarly.

The reigning visionary auteur of the CJ is Ralph Lauren. Each year, their deep-pile chunky knit offering grows more complex. For 2011, Ralph steps into the realm of the Gothic, with a cheeky nod to Damien Hirst and Donnie Darko. Sultry and controversial. Love it.

Next up, a newcomer to the scene, Marcus Lupfer presents us with a kitsch stitch that wouldn’t look out of place on YouTube. Puppies, kittens and sequins, oh my!

Now, two CJ’s for the Mad Aunt in us all. Ideal attire for the annual sherry-fuelled family argument and a great kick-start to the Boxing Day migraine. Sonia Rykiel and Proenza Schouler.

And finally, if you insist on being the only hipster in the village, arriving home laden with Whole Foods bags, and little lovely things from Aesop, then this CJ will serve you well. Inspired by Nordic sea heroes, woven in Japan and native to Hoxton, it’s the clothing equivalent of a flat white.

Please send other super Christmas Jumper spots to me @CamillaStore. These aren’t just jumpers. These are Christmas jumpers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Young Money

Last night I spent a few hours propping up the bar at the BFI, soaking up the scene that is the onedotzero audio visual festival. I'm lucky enough to work alongside many uber-talented motion graphics people, some of whom were featured in the festival, such as Simon Jones' collaborative film project, Resonance, and "rising star" Sam Blain's In Dreams.

I also got chatting to a recent graduate Hannah Blackmore, who made this beautiful film which poignantly captures the silent extinguishing of traditional retail going unnoticed in middle-England.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The weird turn pro

With all the buzz surrounding the release of The Rum Diary film, I've been imploring my friends to read the book before giving in to the visual delights of Johnny Depp. The novel, written when Hunter S. Thompson was still just a kid, is one of my greatest literary indulgences - a vivid depiction of anarchic escapism that I return to year after year.

I first read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I was 16, sparking a near-feverish devouring of every bit of "Gonzo" and New Journalism I could get my hands on. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Armies of the Night, In Cold Blood, Hell's Angels, the articles of Tom Wolfe… after years spent wading through the tomes associated with English Literature GCSE, the realisation that writing could be this electric blew my teenage mind. But I didn't just want to write like Thompson, I wanted to think like him - to experience life through rolling eyes and be able to nail it still bleeding to the page.

I recently read Fear and Loathing in America - the collected letters of Thompson. From his long correspondences with friends, to stern notes to American Express, his gonzo style teeters constantly between powerfully charming and indiscriminately threatening. Across it all and most surprising, perhaps, is his organisation. With all the tales of drug abuse, politico baiting and cop taunting, it's easy to forget that Thompson was a highly successful and diligent journalist. Quite a lesson to writers who simply want to talk the talk; walking the walk, no matter how stumbling or crazed, takes a business-like dedication.

"Because what happens to anybody who gets into any kind of forced/regular writing is that he's bound to make a useless fool of himself now & then… and it's hard to set a price on that kind of reality."

Through all of Thompson's work runs his ability to overcome the most basic of human emotions, and one so raw in anyone attempting any form of creative endeavour - the fear of failure. Even at his most ranting, he possesses a self-belief which seems to transcend ego or arrogance. Incredibly, Thompson never fears or loathes his own opinion.

But while Thompson's journalistic style hugely inspires my own writing, he also stands - cigarette in one hand, gun in the other - on a great pedestal in my mind. In times of great stress or emotional turmoil, Thompson represents the promise of being able to go missing from one's own life, should circumstances dictate. As he wrote in The Rum Diary, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who see it coming and jump aside". There's great comfort to be found in the notion that - for the price of an airline ticket and large bottle of Habana Libre, one can abandon one's grocery shopping in the Whole Foods car park, leave a message at home to let them know you've "gone to take care of matters", and simply "jump aside" somewhere where the rum is cheap and the sea stays warm late into the night. Hey, The Bible may work for some, but I sometimes need something a little stronger.

"PS - I'm definitely in a writing mood these days; the angst has come to a head - let's not blow it this time."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back to my roots

Just a gentle reminder to readers of Camilla's Store, that you can also find my brand ramblings over on the Moving Brands blog. This past week delivered lots to think and write about, and I found myself posting three blog posts up - a record number not seen since my early days as MB Marketing Manager when clients were just a by-word for left over pastries.

So, if you just can't get enough, do check out my look at how Whale Trail hit 40,000 app store downloads in 4 days, why the power of hashtags may now be greater than the dollar, and what happened when an 11 year old tried to imagine life without the internet.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Siri says...

This past week, I spent quite a bit of time writing one of my longest articles yet on the future of technology (2,000 words biatches! But, more on that soon). In it, I talked about how exciting change is, and what a positive force it can be. On Wednesday, at a trend briefing by LS:N Global, I sat there shaking my head as they used the word "scary" over and over in the context of social networks and our digital lives online. In fearing the pace of change, we are no different to the Victorians opposed to the speed of steam engines. Technology and the progression of mankind are intertwined - each driving the other forward.

That said, however, the new ad from Apple (released on Friday) showcasing the Siri feature sent a chill down my spine. Compared to the warm, sentimental, intimate even, nature of the FaceTime ad of June 2010, this spot left me cold. And I had to ask, are we really getting to the point where we no longer talk to people on the phone, we just talk to the phone?


To be fair, I'm not condemning the technology. Intuitive, voice activated interfaces make perfect sense and I can imagine a number of situations in which Siri would be incredibly useful. It is Apple's depiction of user behaviour - the highlighted "consumer benefit" for which they are known to lead with - which I object to. Unlike the iMac, or iPod or iPad, Siri isn't positioned as being about freedom, fun, beauty or utility. What the ad, and copy like "Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back", suggests is that we are all ultimately alone in the world, attempting to communicate with computers.


I may argue that the evolution of human behaviour in line with technology is progress, but Apple's idea that a phone can replace some of the few people in your life who are there for you when you've locked yourself out, or need to get to a hospital, who listen to you and understand you, and who know how to help you with all the little things like packing for a trip and tying a bow tie... now that really is scary.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

After Wes Anderson

Massive new Internet crush on Alex Cornell. Today, his painfully funny app pastiche, jotly, blew up across Twitter. But, having scouted around on his website a little bit, the video I'm particularly loving is this one. Acutely observed and charming.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Letter from Havana: The land that brands forgot

Ernest Hemingway, who made Havana his home for thirty years, once wrote that "you can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another". I've spent enough time in enough places to know that this is largely true, but maybe it's not about getting away from yourself, maybe it's about getting away from who you feel you ought to be, who you're expected to be at 'home'.

As I write, I am in Havana - amidst the crumbling buildings, under the scorching Caribbean sun, and in the sunset of a Socialist regime. I came to Cuba expecting little more than some beautiful weather and a bit of a rest, but what I'm finding is a city reverberating with a style and strength so powerful, it's almost impossible to believe it operates under such political and economic restraints. Foremost, what Havana proves is that Western capitalist culture can be as much of a burden and limitation to society as any government regime. With no private enterprise and, therefore, no advertising, branding or publicity, Havana feels like a time capsule in the process of bursting free from its casing.

Yes, they may be driving cars from the 1950's, but they know how to fix a car and make it last. No, they may not have iPhones and Blackberries, but everywhere you look couples are flirting and canoodling - getting to know each other the old fashioned way. And no, the kids don't have Xbox or Wii, but they are bright-eyed and full of energy, making up games in the park without a constant parental fear of pedophiles and predators.

Most noticeable for me is the lack of brands. I'm both programmed and trained to read my surroundings based on the cultural signalling of brands. I, like most Westerners, rely on brands to confirm or contest my assumptions about people, places and things. Here, without my trusted way-finding system, I feel lost, vulnerable and uncertain. I have been stripped of the self created for me by the brands I interactive with in my daily life. It has been an enlightening challenge to make choices based on the things that really matter, not just on logos, typefaces and colour.

In our modern, capitalist world, we too readily trust brands to make our decisions for us. 'There's a Wholefoods on this street? Oh, I must be in a good neighbourhood'. 'That guy's pushing a Bugaboo? Well, soy my latte, I'm sold!' This afternoon I sat for lunch in a leafy square, where families cooed over their little ones, dogs chased each other barking, and a Cuban reggae band jammed together on a nearby bench. A small part of me initially felt nervous - without a landscape of corporate badging, how was I to know if the food was well-prepared, or if I was to be taken advantage of as a tourist. But I quickly realised that, here instincts and wisdom are what counts - when choosing a restaurant the smell from the kitchen, the demeanour of the staff and the mood of the patrons are all you have to go on. You have not only to trust them, but to trust yourself as well.

Moving from one place to another isn't about losing yourself, or finding yourself, or whatever it says in The Rough Guide. It's about accepting that, if the reflection of ourselves provided by brands and media is taken away, we remain. And if the Cuban people I've seen are anything to go by, we live on more vibrant than ever.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

First wave

This past week, I watched my 1,000th Twitter follower clock in. Sure, a huge proportion of those are bots, but many are real-life friends and colleagues, and people I've never met but hugely admire. Bizarrely, my 1,000th follower was Chris at Rizzo Tee's - the first person to ever comment on my blog back in 2008. Today Chris is a VP of Social Media - a job title which barely even existed when he and I briefly exchanged emails just one year after Twitter's debut at SXSW.

But it's not just me who's marking milestones. Another first generation blogger released her first book this week - Grace at Design Sponge. To my memory, Design Sponge was among the first blogs to really challenge print. When I first started reading her blog, I was working in a design studio which had a vast wall of carefully chronicled magazines spanning Elle Deco, Domino, Interiors, Wallpaper, Monocle and so on. But with Grace's daily postings, that wall quickly started to feel outdated and static. When Grace blogged about her fears over losing her job at Domino, neither she nor her readers could have anticipated the power and influence her blog would ultimately obtain.

Anyway, we know all about the "transformative power" of the internet, and I believe we are gradually arriving at the point where it's no longer seen as a separate conversation. But there really is something wonderful about hearing Grace Bonney say that she started her blog in 2004 "as a way to talk about the things that I love" and to see how far she's come today - through changes in her own life and changes in technology. Camilla's Store was started for exactly the same reason, and it remains one of my proudest and constantly evolving achievements. So, before I start to get too emo, thanks for the follows, thanks for reading, and here's to the next milestone whatever that may be.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

GIFS are so hot right now

Sometimes nothing makes me happier - or more of a geek - than to see something bubble up and go mainstream. Working with a load of hipsters in Shoreditch obviously makes the challenge of spotting trends a little like shooting fish in a barrel - odds are that eventually one of their unique foibles will catch on. So, it is not with too much self-congratulation that I see the animated GIF style appear in Kanye West's new video "Marvin and Chardonnay".

Nevertheless, the GIF tag on my bookmarks has been steadily growing in examples since November 2010. Running almost concurrently with our ever decreasing attention spans, animated GIFs have been circulating via email and on Twitter more and more this year. In August, Fast Company even went so far as to call Animated GIFs an "art form" having featured Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg's fashionista "cinemagraphs" several months previously.

Photographs are too static, two-minute YouTube videos are too time consuming; somehow these bite-sized pieces of entertainment consisting sometimes of no more than a few frames, now represent just about all the visual stimulation we can handle. And now there's even an App for that.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Find your Ness

Last week saw the launch of Ness to the App Store - a smart decision engine which takes your social feeds and helps you to decide where you want to eat that night. Moving forward, the technology can be applied to a range of "verticals" - from nightlife and shopping, to travel and movies.

Being a start-up - conceived, financed and developed by a young, bright team in Silicon Valley - Ness became the perfect client with whom to push the boundaries of strategic approach. It was exhilarating to work with people who represent both the beating heart and the future of technological innovation. On a personal level, Ness allowed me to put a lot of my additions to the MB digital offer into practice - embedding moving world thinking into the brand from the very beginning.

I also got to point charismatically at a lot of post-it notes.

You can read more about the app here and see the Moving Brands case study here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Whatever/Whenever - The W brand

There's beach balls in the swimming pool, condoms in the mini-bar and a concierge service that promises to bring you "Whatever, Whenever" - the W Hotel really is a home away from home for the Executive Hipster. Working abroad in San Francisco means I occasionally have the good fortune (and good budgets) to stay there and they are true to their word. I once ordered fried chicken, hair straighteners and the original manuscript of The Rum Diary, and they had it to my door in under ten. Ok, maybe not the manuscript, but they're pretty bloody on it.

Aside from all the frills and fluff, The W makes for an interesting case study. They seem to have embraced the scope of a hotel brand, to truly "own" each touchpoint a guest (or potential guest) might encounter. The scent in the lifts, the textures of the soft furnishings, the music in the bar, even their own fashion magazine all add up to a 360 degree brand world which somehow makes sending work email from bed feel cool.

Two elements really stand out for me. First, is the genius copywriting found throughout your stay. The messaging acts as a written extension of their service offer - a little note under your water glass says "Why not?", their in-room massage is described as "In, Aah, and Out", and their porters wear t-shirts with "Ask me what's next" written on the back. Without sounding sycophantic, it's these tiny little moments which somehow transform what can be an isolating experience into a conversation. You may be alone in strange city, but someone's looking out for you. "Who wants eggs?" asks the in-room dining card. I do please!

The second element is their pairing with Bliss salons. Bliss was "the" spa and beauty product brand post-Millenium. With its soft blue packaging and charming product naming such as "FatGirl Slim", it was one of the quintessential touchy-feely brands to take us out of the minimalist 90's along with Innocent Smoothies and Carluccios. Today, Bliss is no Aesop, but its comfort clinical (comflinical?) tone puts you at ease, whilst somehow justifying a $200 massage. Bliss products are in all W bathrooms, and are often found in spa form down in the basement. Their similar messaging style and "I deserve it" clientele, make W and Bliss firm friends and a great example of a successful brand collaboration.

Working in branding it can sometimes be hard sit back and just enjoy a good brand at work, but The W is one I am always more than happy to let get on with it. Sometimes it's seeing the smoke and mirrors behind the magic which makes it all so much more impressive.

Friday, July 22, 2011

App Watch

Can't give too much away just yet, but I highly recommend you sign up to get notified about the upcoming launch of Ness, "the first personal search engine based on your unique tastes".

Check out the TechCrunch article here and get involved.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All the young dudes.

Taking a moment away from all the tech talk to get back to my roots with a post on fashion.

When my contemporaries and I were teenagers, we didn't have the Gossip Girls and Willow Smiths of today's world to look up to. In the mid-nineties, tweenage fashion was defined in three key moments: Cher's knee-high socks in Clueless, Ginger Spice's Union Jack dress at the Brit awards and Britney's school uniform in Baby One More Time. The last correlating directly to my parent's decision to send me to boarding school.

But before all that, and before Girl Power with its ghastly Buffalo boots and belly chains, there was one TV show setting the benchmark for post-grunge tween style. Blossom. Blossom was an American series which managed to combine important life lessons with some fashion statements even Carrie Bradshaw couldn't compete with. No other show before or since and been single-handedly responsible for the comeback of hats. Hats baby.

I recently found this interview with the costume designer on Blossom who explains how she mixed ethnic materials with vintage pieces to create a look that defined a generation.

Talking with my friends, its seems we are all in agreement that teenage fashion was not easy to come by in our youth. For those of us not into the pint-sized prostitute look peddled by the likes of Tammy Girl and Miss Selfridge (pre-overhaul), we had no choice but to be creative. Our response to a waif-like Kate Moss on the cover of Dazed & Confused, and the final days of Kurt Cobain manifested itself in Doc Marten's, slouch socks, floral leggings and our Dad's washed out denim shirts. Fashion inspiration didn't just come neatly packaged from celebrities and magazines, it was much more a reflection of our culture, our moods, music, art and movements.

To illustrate my point, I had a quick dig through the family albums. Having a photographer father means that my developing style - for good or bad - has been painstakingly documented. In the shots below - both from the mid-nineties - you'll see my fashion homages to both Nirvana and Pulp Fiction.

However odd us Nineties kids must have looked at times, I'm glad we didn't have our fashion fed to us quite as prescriptively as we seem to now. The grunge-y, ramshackle look not only gave us freedom to express ourselves as we pleased, but also allowed us to remain kids, if only for a couple more years. Covered in baggy tees and stomping around in DM's meant we didn't feel the pressure young girls must experience today of having the "perfect" Nicole Scherzinger body. We weren't about being "so hot you'd melt a popsicle", we came as we were. Fake boobs and botox? Ugh, as if!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Life lesson from lady geek homegirl and Google exec - Marissa Mayer:

"She advises people pursuing careers in the high-tech industry, whether at startups or Fortune 500 firms, to consider four things when choosing between jobs:

"Work with the smartest people you can find, do something you're not ready to do, find an environment in which you're very comfortable so you can find your voice, and work for someone who believes in you -- because when they believe in you, they'll invest in you."

Via Huff Po's new "Women in Tech" section. Click here for full article.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Portability. Mobility. Accesss

Despite the slight awkwardness of the interview, this chat with the Internet's wild child, Sean Parker, makes for interesting viewing. Parker's thoughts on his latest investment - Spotify - are especially insightful. For him, Spotify represents all his hopes and dreams for Napster made real. And, although he had to learn the hard way, time and experience have turned Parker into the ideal spokesperson and mentor for the new way to consume music legally and profitably for all concerned.

"We get the user building playlists… they accumulate a library… they get the song stuck in their head... Portability, mobility and access - that's the point where we monetise it". Lesson learned.

Speaking of Spotify, All Things Digital recently laid its hands on some of Spotify's US-oriented marketing materials. Not that it's going to need much push - the Americans have been salivating over Spotify for as long as us Brits have been pining for Netflix. Swapsies?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Power of Influence -or- What It Really Means To Get A Tweet From Ashton

In a recent article from the New York Times, Joe Fernandez CEO and co-founder of Klout said, “For the first time, we’re all on an even playing field... it’s not just how much money you have or what you look like. It’s what you say and how you say it.” And, for about 24 hours last week, I watched astounded as this came to life in front of me.

My last post reviewed A+ - the Twitter client from Ashton Kutcher and UberMedia. Just as the West Coast turned in for the night, and I jumped on the 67 bus into work, Ashton tweeted his thanks and appreciation for my review. My fellow bus passengers were totally freaked out by my screams of excitement. By the time I arrived at my desk, my blog had received 3,000 hits. At close of play on 22nd June the post had reached an amazing 8,000 views - up 7,900 on my usual daily visitors.

Now, let's calm down and do the math. Ashton has 7,075,316 followers on Twitter. Of those followers, about 0.1% clicked through to my blog. Amongst the 8,000 who read the post, 30 then followed me on Twitter. That's a fair downward slide in engagement - a key indicator of influence. So I got to wondering, just how influential is Ashton and about what, because despite being a key investor and consultant in tech, it seems his audience aren't a geeky lot - they aren't interested in blog posts about desktop apps. And, conversely, the key tech influencers don't appear to view Ashton as a hot source on tech news. In one Silicon Valley workshop I ran earlier this year, I was surprised when the client insisted on putting Ashton on the "We are not" board.

Ultimately, Ashton (and his wife Demi Moore) are known globally for their celebrity. For most of the world, Ashton is the dude from "Dude, Where's My Car" and Punk'd. He has fans - 7 million of whom follow him on Twitter. And, when it comes to his causes and charities, those followers are something powerful to leverage into action. Equally, for the execs behind Two and a Half Men, Ashton has both the star quality and dedicated following to drown out Sheen's incoherent rantings come the new season.

Having witnessed the power of "God-like" influence first-hand, I must agree with the NYT piece, "focus your digital presence on one or two areas of interest. Don’t be a generalist". Ashton's celebrity following prevents him from being a leading influencer in the very area of interest he is attempting to focus on, he is a victim of his own digital presence. All praise to him for starting Katalyst, his own digital media company, but if I were Ashton and really wanted to cultivate influence in tech? I'd start a side stream (@AKTech ??), get down and geeky, and aim to be the first person to get 1 million tech tweeters to take you off the "We are not board" and get on board with Ashton the media mogul.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ashton's App

For some time now I've been toying with the app - Ashton Kutcher's Twitter client which launched in late May. It was a brave move but one that not only cemented Ashton as leader of the Twitter flock, but also changed the game for branded apps. Writing about it further for a case study today at work, it really hit home how Ashton not only understands the needs and wants of Twitter users, but also their likely acceptance of branded content in return for intelligent interface.

Here's how it works. is a desktop Twitter client which splits into three key content areas. There's your personal Twitter stream and the ability not just to tweet, but also to quickly add links and @ mentions, as well as a slightly dubious "tweet shortening" tool. The tool basically removes vowels and makes for some pretty hideous tweets, but the sentiment is there. Secondly, there is the Live Preview. It's this which really sets the app above Tweetdeck et al - by clicking on a tweet in your stream, the Live Preview shows you the webpage/image/video right there in-app - no more new tabs and clicking back and forth. It's brilliant.

And in return for all this lovely previewing? Streaming content from Ashton world - updates from Ashton himself, his wife Demi Moore, his company Katalyst and his charity, DNA Foundation. Or, by scrolling through the channels listed above, further content from Ashton supported streams linked to Apps, the Arts, Campus Life and so on.

Ashton really is a clever bitch. has gone beyond hoping that people will actively seek out or notice tweets from brands - or in his case "Celebrities" - and positioned it right there next to your Twitter stream. As Twitter, and indeed other social networks, age and grow, the idea that your brand's voice will be heard through the noise just because you're good at tweeting is not a risk worth taking. What proves, is that if you have the insight on your audience to give them something they'll truly use - like a great Twitter client - then you have also created the opportunity and right to give your voice, your message priority. Genius.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Check This: CheckThis

Online, there's nothing that says VIP like getting in early on a Beta. "Beta" is the testing period for new tech. It's usually limited-invite only, meaning only people close to the developers and their resulting network get a look in. And, if the product's good, there's really no greater way to build buzz than restricting availability to a few geeky influencers. Especially when those influencers are also doing the testing leg work to make it great ahead of mainstream launch. It's old school marketing in a new school sphere.

One new Beta I was invited to recently is CheckThis - "a beautifully simple publishing tool designed for the new web". At first, I couldn't work out the point of it - if I want to share content, I post it to my blog, or Twitter, or Facebook. So a week went by, and I forgot all about it. I had basically failed as a Beta tester.

But then something came up that made me want to make something - a little collection of content all in one place in a context of its own to be communicated just to the people I chose. And suddenly CheckThis had a point. Because we don't really sit down and write letters anymore, or make mix tapes as a way of connecting with people. To convey our state of mind, feelings and taste now we update, tweet and "Like". In front of everyone. It was time to find a corner of the web that could be personalised and shared, but shared quietly.

Meet checkthis from checkthis on Vimeo.

CheckThis allows you to create a unique webpage and easily add copy, images and video. The page can then not only be protected to just those with the link, but also set to expire after a day, a week, a month. An interesting feature in an age where we're all worrying about that Facebook update from 2008.

Makers can never really be sure how consumers are going to adopt their product into their lives, and that's why the Beta stage can change the whole direction of how that product is communicated on launch. I can imagine CheckThis generating a huge and loyal user base, but I would not be surprised if most of those users are protecting their pages. Saving a small part of themselves online for just one other person, not the networked whole.

ps. I have ONE invite for CheckThis left. Get in touch if you want in.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"We focus on SEO keyword-rich, trend tracking that's had a lot of success on the mobile-to-mobile tablet based client side in the cloud-sourced integration field"

And, by the way, I've decided that were I ever to move to Silicon Valley and create a start-up consulting with start-ups, the over-inflated job title I would give myself would be...

"BAMF of SoLoMo Strat Jazzing"

And by BAMF, I mean Bad Ass Mutha Flippa. And by SoLoMo, I mean Social/Location/Mobile. And by Jazzing, I mean bringing the Tiger Blood.

One day... one day....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(Wo)mandatory viewing

Just found this TED talk from Sheryl Sandberg over on the Watermark website and was absolutely blown away. While I usually shy away from anything with a glimmer of feminist debate about it, this talk speaks only to the value of balance for men and women both in the workplace and at home. Not only did Sandberg's words resonate with me as I push forward with my career and make my "place at the table", but her delivery and style also proved how impactful honed presentation skills can be. Brilliant.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


A code of behavior that delineates expectations for social networking behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, tweet-up, or Facebook group. The British word Appiquette, literally made up by Camilla in 2011.

Most of us are now accustomed to the modern table setting - knife, fork, phone (at home) or notepad, pen, laptop, phone (at work). The occasional glance at incoming emails, goes barely noticed by present company. But how are we managing the new wave in location-based social networking? At what point and with whom can one politely check-in on Foursquare, or ping out a Hashable? It's a modern conundrum.

I've noticed three distinct groups emerging.

The Social Show-Offs - The meeting itself will have been organised across so many different platforms, they both turn up late, made even later by the fact that they are texting and DM-ing each other as they approach. The restaurant will have been selected through Yelp, the location Google-mapped, photos from Foodspotting screen-grabbed and the event iCal-ed, and tweeted ad infinitum. Once actual IRL life contact has been made, both then sit in silence for the first 10 minutes updating, before spending the rest of the night looking at apps on each other's phones.

The Denier - This is the trickiest one of all. It's your friend with the Nokia N79, the one you love dearly but who probably still enjoys the occasional CD-Rom of a weekend. You don't want to get into a debate about how "expensive iPhones are, and what's the point anyway?", but equally, you are eating at that super-cool new restaurant and you need (NEED!) to create some content around it. Here, you have two options - keep filling their water glass and pray they go to the bathroom long enough for you to check-in and Instagram a shot of your food. Alternatively, you can re-consider your relationship - either with your friend or with your social media problem.

The Responsible Networker - This person knows just how pretentious all this checking-in business is, but isn't going to let that stop them becoming Mayor of Foursquare. Yes, they may choose meet up spots based on the social cache attached to it ("I'm at Shoreditch House with 5 others"/ "I'm at Heathrow Terminal 5"/ "I'm at The Infinite Loop, Cupertino". And yes, they may turn up 10 minutes early to guarantee some alone time with Facebook and the bar's free wi-fi. And though, once their companion arrives it's phones down and interacting in real-time, they may occasionally be caught in dreamland, wistfully composing a description of the night in 140 characters or less.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

@millsustwo: Do you believe 'social' influence will become a key asset going forward for 'individuals' to prosper from?

@Camillastore: Yes. Five reasons why...

1. Being a part of this "moving world". Achieving social influence represents a deep understanding of the nuances and mechanics of the world we live in today, namely one which blurs the line between online and offline. We are fast moving into a place where the relationships we nurture and protect in the digital world are as important and "real" as the ones in the physical world. Just as it is great to be around people who are socially comfortable, so it goes for people who behave engagingly online.

2. Thought leadership. Today, it's easy to share your passion with world - from a simple online portfolio, to a Vimeo channel, to blogging. It's when others pick up on that work and share it with their networks, that influence starts to be generated. It opens doors to other thought leaders in the same sphere and ignites conversation and debate. @millsustwo uses the word "prosper" - financial prosperity may be a by-product of influence, but social influencers prosper mainly through exchange of information and a strong eco-system.

3. Recruitment gold dust. It's exciting to find people who are both passionate about what they do and are great at it. For an employer, social influence is like a whole stack of letters of recommendation. If the people of the Internets are prepared to give the candidate their eyeballs and attention, then so might a client. For any employer, it's reassuring to know they're adding clout to their team and, if they play their cards right, potentially gain exposure to a new network themselves.

4. Going to market. Perhaps where influence as a key asset is most critical is for anyone working to bring a brand, product, service or personality to market. I'm so bored of hearing how "it's important to engage customers online", it's not "important", it's even beyond critical. It's pretty much the norm. That's not to say that it's the only way to reach your audience, the traditional components of the marketing mix are still powerful and relevant. But any brand working without "socially networked" people will be missing conversations, threats and opportunities.

5. SO hot right now. Overall, I think it's worth remembering that "social is so hot right now". Social and Apps - that's all anyone wants to talk about. Insinuate you've got a bit of social influence and they're throwing iPad 2s at you like there's no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow and eventually everyone and every brand will feel a lot more comfortable operating in the social space. Social influence will still be a key asset, but in the same way being a "Team Player" or "Proficient in Microsoft Office" is today. It will be expected, a given. That said, the cream always rises to the top and the real influencers online will become ever more powerful, constantly turning the tide in 140 characters or less.

What do you think? Is social influence important for individuals? Please comment below or tweet us at @camillastore @millsustwo