July 24, 2012

Being too good just isn’t sporting

Filed under: Marketing,Technology — by xrematon @ 7:34 pm
Tags: , ,

I have recently been involved in a report looking at the future of golf – and must confess to having found it all far more engrossing than I expected. That having been said, let me take the opportunity to plug the report written by The Futures Company for HSBC.

One theme that intrigued me was the impact of technological advances in improving player performances. There are a variety of different ways in which technology is used.

Some players are using their own IT to improve their game – players take their iPads out on the course to film themselves taking their shots, and then carefully analyse their strokes using video analysis software.

Then there are changes in the equipment directly used to play the game. In writing the report, we deliberately didn’t go into this area, but there was one development which cropped up.  A number of people we spoke to brought up the fact that changes modern balls can travel increasing distances. This is a source of concern to those in the industry as the below quote from Gary Player (interviewed for the report) illustrates.

“The golf equipment and ball have completely changed. One of my main concerns at the moment is how far the ball travels.  With the advances in golf ball technology, courses now have to be needlessly lengthened.  These costs are hurting the game because courses will have to recoup the costs somewhere.  The expense to scale back the ball would be miniscule compared to the money being spent around the world modifying golf courses.”

The third area I would like to bring up is technology being used to replicate the whole game experience, whether this is through video games, or golf simulation. One of the hypotheses posited in the report is the idea that virtual golfers become real world golfers. Indeed, comments from Urban Golf founder, James Day, who has set up three golf simulation experiences, suggest that virtual is very much about encouraging interest in the ‘real thing’, not a replacement.

‘I think the simulator model is going to be the best way to keep players hungry to play outdoors.’

Obviously, golf is not alone amongst sports in being impacted, in both desirable and undesirable ways, by developments in technology. Similar to the issue presented by golf balls which travel too far, so too the distance reached by javelin throwers became a source of concern.

It was whilst mulling over these issues that an article in The Economist caught my eye – it’s about how high tech is causing ripples in the angling world too.

“It is really getting kind of unfair,” says Macquarie’s Dr Brown. “If you are going to use GPS to take you to a location, sonar to identify the fish and a lure which reflects light that humans can’t even see, you may as well just go to McDonald’s and order a fish sandwich.’


July 1, 2012

Project Rebrief – or rehearsing the past

Filed under: Business,Demographics,Futures,Marketing — by xrematon @ 7:11 pm

I’ve just had an entertaining half hour watching through the four films that are part of a recent initiative from Google: it’s Project Re: brief. This involved reviewing four seminal advertising films from a generation ago and thinking about they could be re-imagined for today, using all the resources Google has in its treasure chest of tools.

A couple of observations from stuck me:

  • Someone in the films talks about ‘concepting’. Can you really turn concept into a verb?
  • The films are a great opportunity for some office voyeurism. I am always fascinated to see what other work places are like, especially somewhere as iconic as Google. Sadly, there is nothing extraordinary on show: they still present to clients using big white screens and something that looks suspiciously like Powerpoint, and though they show off whizzy animations on iPads, pencils and notebooks are reassuringly still present for taking notes during meetings.
  • I don’t want to go into whether the new ads are better or not. The biggest take-out for me from seeing the ads is that the process reinforces the importance of proper planning. By this I mean, making sure there is a big, clear, strong idea which acts as the driving force across creative development media planning and execution.
  • This isn’t just playing for fun – the teams actually go through with their ideas. They show them to the client and then shoot the films, build the apps, install the smart vending machines etc. That’s pretty cool.
  • When I still worked properly (by this I mean working into an office), I used to wonder what happened to people in advertising and marketing when they entered their fifth decade as there seemed to be very few around with that level of life experience. However, this film is, unintentionally, a way of showing that older generations can still take part and contribute in this field. The individuals who were originally involved are now in their 70s (the ads were produced forty to five years ago).
  • I am interested in futures thinking, having worked on many projects in this area, but I find the idea of going ‘back-to-the-future’ very intriguing. And it does make me wonder what whether there could an extension or sequel to the project in which the teams had to think about what the ads would be doing in ten years’ time?

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