for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Coraline: so much more than 3D

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while so whilst I’m in the confessing mood I really should announce how excited I am about Coraline, the new movie from the ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ director, Henry Selick. Everything about the 3D stop-motion film looks amazing – from the brilliant puppetry to the fifty fantastical sets, all painstakingly made by hand utilising crafts and skills that are rarely promoted these days. The talent is astounding, with over 250 technicians and designers involved, including people like Althea Crome who knits in miniature and created all the clothes used on the puppets, at some points using knitting needles that are “almost the dimension of a human hair”. And that’s before we even get on to the story itself, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, which sounds like a thrilling alternate-reality fantasy horror- the type that engages the imaginations of all ages.

coraline website

The website with its eerily beautiful music is an adventure of its own, full of engaging behind-the-scenes content, fascinating videos about the skills involved in the film, downloadable posters, and interactive activities such as ‘Button your eyes’ that are a pleasure to use.


Even better, all of the film’s marketing was just as carefully and creatively thought out and included the sending of 50 handmade boxes to select – and very lucky – bloggers (including the guys at Coolhunting, BoingBoing, and NotCot), that were filled with sections of the screenplay, a selection of props and exclusive corresponding stills from shooting – plus personalised letters relevant to each blog.

coraline box

coraline box2

coraline box3

(Notcot has a great post with images of almost all 50 boxes here)

And then there are the Nike Coraline Dunks – two differently packaged, specially designed ranges including the 100 pairs in the Movie Props edition given to streetwear bloggers such as freshnessmag, and the even more exclusive Wooden Box Edition of which only 15 pairs were produced, packaged in a special key-locked wooden box, and given to the world’s best sneaker boutiques.

coraline dunks

The clip below shows a brief overview of the marketing strategy employed, all of which is pretty darn impressive, so big props to a fantastic campaign by Wieden+Kennedy:

The film is apparently not released in the UK till May 5th (boo), but there’s plenty of content around to keep you intrigued for now…


I realise I forgot to include this great video about the making of the movie. Enjoy

Filed under: clever promotion, entertainment

Little Chef gets a mighty makeover

little chef

I knew Heston was giving the Little Chef menu a revamp, but I had no idea they also had the fantastic Ab Rogers design in for a complete overhaul. Created for a Channel 4 documentary ‘Big Chef Takes on Little Chef‘ as part of the broadcaster’s hefty season of British food programs, the newly designed Popham restaurant (somewhere near Basingstoke apparently) opened it’s doors in November, but these are the first pictures i’ve come across.

little chef2

Not only does it look fun, light and welcoming, but extra attention has been paid to the toilets to encourage drivers who are just stopping off to use the facilities to stay for some food. From the press release:

The new scheme incorporates a unique and unforgettable experience: Cooking tips screen-printed on the walls, the ambient sounds of the kitchen in the lobby, the aroma of coffee passing through the space, and an interactive extract sound, all about food, which triggers when the customer enters the toilets.

Even though that does just sound like more marketing, at least it would make your motorway stop more enjoyable – and informative, and if Heston’s worked his magic then it’ll probably be a meal worth pulling over for anyway.

images via dezeen

Filed under: brand extensions, entertainment, food n drink,


This is a brilliant video that’s been doing the rounds for a bit but I kept forgeting to put it up. Thanks to futureshorts for reminding me of one of the funniest music videos i’ve seen in ages – and a great song too! Look out for fatboy slim making a sneaky appearance.

Filed under: creative ideas, entertainment, ,


picture from flickr, mdanys photostream

Looking for a way to create social value from the fascination with reality talent shows, BBC’s youth-focused digital channel BBC Three are launching a programme called Britain’s Young Butcher Of The Year, that aims to celebrate the “the unsung young heroes of professions that don’t tend to attract public recognition”.

According to the press release:

The search is on for the UK’s top young butcher in this ambitious new format which celebrates the millions of young British workers whose skills aren’t the kind to win them a million-pound recording contract.

Borrowing from the conventions of glossy TV talent shows, the series aims to find the best the UK has to offer by staging big entertaining events that home in on one industry or profession in each episode.

Along with Young Butcher, other episodes will include the hunt for Britain’s Young Hairdresser and Young Chef of the year.

The hopefuls are put through a series of tough elimination rounds designed to test their skills to the limit – until the final two go head-to-head in one last, brutally hard challenge to claim the title of Young … of the Year 2009.

(picture from flickr)

Filed under: entertainment, ,


blackcabsessionsI’ve written before about the growing love for intimate venues heralding ideas like theatre in your home and gigs in your living room, but the Observer this weekend highlights the most extreme version of these – a performance with an audience of one. The Black Cab Sessions are live gigs recorded in the back of a black cab where the invited artist is challenged to record one song in one take, with the resulting video uploaded for all to see.

The brilliantly simple idea, conceived and produced by Just So Films and Hidden Fruit is explained on the site: “the sessions are all about great music and the venue strips this to its essence. We aren’t picky about genre and will happily open the cab door to anyone who blows us away”.
The videos, also uploaded to YouTube, are gaining considerable interest- with the recent performance by Benjamin Zephaniah receiving over 200,000 hits. BBC Radio One Online has heaped praise on the sessions, saying “A challenge has been laid down. Forget chart positions, forget ticket sales, or brand-extending toiletries or MySpace friends or any other measure of success. From here on in, it’s all about how well you can rock the back of a cab.”

The Observer article reports from an exalted position inside the cab:

‘ last Tuesday, as I sat on a jump seat nervously clutching a boom mike for the 31st Black Cab Session, I began to realise what a splendid arena a Hackney carriage is. Opposite me, Britt Daniel, the lanky lead singer of US indie stars Spoon, was leaning forward on the banquette tuning his guitar. Although Daniel had an audience of three – Johnny the cameraman, Terry the cab driver and me – this was a one-take deal and, if he faltered, the gig would be scratched. So there was tension in the air as he began strumming and we began driving.’

‘ The Black Cab Sessions have emerged as the music industry is struggling to cope with its dramatic loss of power to the internet: EMI is responding by laying off 2,000 staff, while Radiohead recently released their album online and fans decided what they wanted to pay for it. The Black Cab Sessions provide a small answer. ‘The gig is the cost of a cab fare,’ said Will Evans of Just So. ‘We offer a lift to a touring band from their hotel to the venue, so they can always fit it into their schedule. But I think it’s the stripped-down situation and the challenge of a single take that tempt the bands’. ‘

‘Watching the final product online, the perfect marriage of medium and message hits home. Whereas a music video or venue gig can look and sound strange viewed on a computer screen, the Black Cab Sessions’ single audio track and intimate performances translate well. Without make-up, lights, amplification, post-production, packaging or a large audience, and with their evident joy at the challenge, the varied artists rise to the occasion.’

The Black Cab Sessions

Filed under: arts & culture, entertainment, ,



Here’s a step up for in-flight entertainment; Virgin America have just announced that from this Friday they will be offering TED talks through their entertainment channel. From the image it looks as though it’s part of their pay-per-view offer which seems a little cheeky when the videos are free online, but at least it beats watching re-runs of old sitcoms.

‘The TED Talks channel will premier on Virgin America flights in March and will feature some of the most compelling and groundbreaking thinkers of our time – including former President Bill Clinton, designer Philippe Starck, rock star/activist Bono and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.’

via BoingBoing

Filed under: entertainment,

Radiohead ‘Secret’ Gig Attracts 1500 Fans Within Hours

A supposedly surprise intimate gig by Radiohead caused a fair amount of commotion in London last night as the intended venue Rough Trade East record store and the surrounding area of Brick Lane was inundated with nearly 1500 fans. The band had quietly announced the gig on their website in the morning and had planned to give tickets to the first 200 fans and place screens outside for anyone else, but with the whole of London in the know by lunchtime and numbers swelling rapidly the event had to be quickly relocated to the club opposite; 93 Feet East. In return for running three hours late due to the move, the crowd was then treated to the whole of their new album rather than just the few songs they had planned. The event was also webcast live on for anyone who couldn’t make it to London that quickly!

After the great media coverage they received for sticking their fingers up at the music industry and giving the album away for free, the band have managed to get another dollop of free PR- with every newspaper across the country picking up on the story, the boys will have no doubt helped future ticket sales. But it somehow doesn’t seem like that was their aim. They are in no way the first band to offer ‘intimate gigs’, just the first to respond to their fans and adapt to a situation to be as inclusive as possible. As one fan said “the whole approach of Radiohead is different. Love it”.

From their website:

So, we’ve got a small gig tonight.

It’s in London at the Rough Trade East shop on Brick Lane, and we’re planning to play a short set of in rainbows material. It’s very limited free entry, first come first served. Also, as it might be a little uncomfortable for anyone queuing early, they’re planning a numbering system so people at the front of any queue can get snacks and toilet breaks in the store. Good bagels round there. But dress warm…doors won’t open until 7, and we’ll play at about 8.

For those who can’t get in – and it’s pretty small in there – we’ll have some screens and speakers outside, if we’re allowed. I think we are. And we’ll also webcast it. I’ll put the link up here, as well as any other info, later today.

Hope you can make it – should be….interesting. Us being us, we’re taking far too many instruments…..

watch a 3 minute video of the event at the Guardian website or watch the whole event at

Filed under: clever promotion, entertainment,

NY Metropolitan Opera Reaches out to a Global Audience

ny operaLondon independent cinema The Everyman Cinema Club (part of the Everyman Media Group) is offering the chance to experience the New York Metropolitan Opera season live from the comfort of their luxurious sofas. A PSFK favourite for its brilliant snack and beverage to-your-seat service (including a selection of rather good wines) and fabulously comfy surroundings, Everyman are streaming all the operas live and uninterrupted in full High Definition glory.

It’s all part of the Met’s initiatives to reconnect itself with a contemporary audience and make opera a more welcoming art form, by offering their performances available regularly on multiple platforms. Sounds like great idea, but although adding locations definitely makes the operas more accessible, this inclusive mentality is not reflected in ticket prices, with shows starting at £25!

The season can be experienced at a range of different indy cinemas across the UK, and throughout 10 other countries including Germany, Sweden and Japan, as well as various locations in 44 American states. Each performance is streamed once only, possibly due to the time-difference issues – and the fact that some shows are over 5 hours long!

This Saturday sees a slightly shorter performance of Macbeth. Find out more at The Met HD Season or

Filed under: arts & culture, brand extensions, entertainment

Time for One helps Londoners learn the Value of their Own Time

time for one

Time for One is a brilliant new review guide that encourages making the most of individual free time in London. The concept began life as a restaurant guide for single travellers- previously a primary school teacher, self-confessed independent spirit Wendy Fisk often found herself with free holiday time when no-one else was around and so went off exploring on her own. She soon noticed however that there was a real need for people to know of places they felt welcome to eat and experience on their own, and this grew into a four-fold online guide that offers honest advice to likeminded individuals as a comprehensive resource to living life to the full.

The site encompasses Table for One, the only online restaurant guide with advice on where to go and eat by yourself, entertainment and activity guide Play for One, travel and exploration guide Away for One, and personal pampering guide Spa for One, together making the most of what London has to offer. With aims to expand with advice in cities across the globe, and research already underway for a New York guide to debut next year, Time for One hopes to start a global social movement that helps people understand the value of their free time. As the lovely Wendy explained to us “London is a place where there’s not enough time for anybody and anything, and I think people have to see the time in the life that maybe they’ve not been noticing, seeing free time in a whole new light and understanding that you are not by yourself you are with yourself. It’s something that Londoners are starting to pick up on”. And it’s not just for single folk, Wendy says that in fact many of her readers- and reviewers- are happily married but looking to enjoy “my time”, whether it’s on a free evening on business trip or just an hour away from the kids!

A labour of passion, the site carefully vets each venue and only adds places that the team feel understands their ethos that it’s absolutely fine to be there alone enjoying it, primarily through the attitude of the manager whom they always interview. Within Table for One the search options cover a variety of choices based on the attitude of the space rather than the cuisine: from seating (communal/ counter/ tables for one) to mood (vibrant and social/ chic and stylish / relaxed and casual), and the reviews always include the manager’s personal recommendations for their favourite places to eat solo. From this, Wendy has found not only a great deal of places that welcome individuals, but that a lot more people enjoy eating and experiencing things alone than even she had assumed. She described her most recent discovery: “One of our recent reviews was Kensington Square Kitchen, a great brunch and tea place which opened 5 weeks ago. When I was talking to Sarah the manager she said that on an average day she will discover that her entire restaurant is full of single tables. She has found that it is totally normal for people to come and treat themselves and indulge alone.”

The Play for One section offers not only the expected Music, Arts and Entertainment searches, but also options for Classes (including cooking, cheerleading and chocolate appreciation!), Sports, and even the fabulously titled Something Zen. In fact Wendy describes Play for One as “an indulgence of my own time and interests”, summing up exactly what this whole fantastic concept offers- the opportunity to openly indulge and revel in self-serving space and time that is on your own, not necessarily alone, but definitely all about ‘me’.

Time for One

Filed under: arts & culture, entertainment, food n drink,

Hammer Horror Revived – on MySpaceTV

Since the news earlier this year that classic horror film company Hammer had been bought by a consortium headed by Big Brother creator John de Mol, there has been speculation about what would be next to come from the great British institution. According to The Guardian the wait is now over:

‘Yesterday it was announced that the first production from the recently revived Hammer Films would attempt to [similarly] marry old and new to shocking effect by premiering on MySpace in a series of 20 four-minute “webisodes”. The film, Beyond the Rave, will be the first UK co-production by the social networking site’s recently launched video arm, MySpaceTV.’

‘Starring Sadie Frost alongside a largely unknown cast and with a score chosen by DJ Pete Tong, it will chart 24 hedonistic hours in the life of a young soldier before he goes to Iraq. Inevitably, things soon take a sinister turn.’

‘Simon Oakes, chairman of Hammer Horror, promised it would mix the defining elements of its catalogue – blood, sex, death, vampires – with a 21st-century setting and sensibility. “It’s suspenseful, with plenty of blood, but it’s not ‘gore-nography’,” he said.’

Hammer are of course promoting across the social networks through their pages on Facebook and Bebo as well as MySpace, and by creating the film as an online serial are completely bypassing the box office- although they will offer the film on DVD after it’s online debut. The question now though, is how does MySpace plan to act as a regulator- despite Oakes’ insisting that the online version will not be too violent to be shown to a general audience, the DVD will most probably be classified as an 18.

watch the trailer at Beyond The Rave

Hammer Films

Filed under: entertainment, life online