I love everything about this.
Gamification gets a lot of bad press. And it’s true: there’s a lot of bad, mad and just plain stupid gamification out there. Whether it takes the form of pointless points, badges, stupid progress bars, high-score tables or missions and achievements that no-one even nearly cares about, gamification has become the kind of creative bogeyman that people swap stories about in the pub and roll their eyes when a client mentions it.
Gamification can spoil things – and usually not in an obviously broken way, but with a more subtle kind of damage, where a system of points, badges and awards has slipped in like a cuckoo and replaced functionality, content or actual gameplay. It’s often thrown over other ideas like a suffocating blanket in an attempt to make things more “sticky” or addictive, usually accompanied by talk of engagement and eyeballs.
It’s easy to confuse something that’s commonly misused with something that isn’t actually any good in the first place. Where does gamification commonly go wrong, and what does that say about how to do it right?
Long post after the break…
Now here’s a thing. This is an ad by Patagonia that was placed in the New York Times on Black Friday, that most doomy-sounding of days. It’s marketing itself (and has been well-received as) a non-ad, or reverse-ad – an advert that is essentially pleading with people to think of the planet and not buy things they don’t need. It explains the amount of resources required to make the jacket and talks about Patagonia’s pledge to recycle old clothing.
Not to be cynical, but it’s all a bit bollocks, right? There’s a yawning gulf between the virtues extolled in this ad – slow living, reflection, an end to consumerism – that are wholly incompatible with flogging clothes, and taking out ads in the NYT to do so.
This is a textbook example of how anti-corporate political and cultural are absorbed and reinterpreted by the corporate world, then ultimately used to sell more stuff. I don’t imagine that Patagonia, or anyone else who runs an ad like this, actually thinks that it’s really going to achieve any good for its stated purpose of making people stop and think. The purpose of ads like this is to develop the brand, not to promote a higher purpose – or if that cause does get some brief publicity it’s only important in as far as it rubs off onto the brand.
It’s two thirds of the way in that the lovely right-on copy about saving the environment and conserving resources cracks and little bit of traditional hard-sell slips in:
“And this is a 60% recycled polyester jacket, knit and
sewn to a high standard; it is exceptionally durable,
so you won’t have to replace it as often. And when
it comes to the end of its useful life we’ll take it back
to recycle into a product of equal value. But, as is
true of all the things we can make and you can buy,
this jacket comes with an environmental cost higher
than its price.”
Ah, sewn to a high standard, you say? Exceptionally durable? Great… I’ll take two!
It’s a clever ad that sells the product while positioning Patagonia as environmentally-aware (and thus positions you, the wearer of said jacket, as conscientious and A Good Person) by telling you not to buy their stuff. Essentially, it’s saying “Don’t buy our stuff. But seriously: buy our stuff!”
The infuriating thing is that although this ad is such a transparent token gesture there will be people who see it as a breakthrough – the first non-ad in a line of many; the first step to cracking consumerism. But it’s not. It’s just more wolfish consumerism, wrapped up in a thin layer of environmentally-aware sheepskin. An exceptionally durable, sewn-to-a-high-standard, 60% recycled polyester sheepskin.
There are plenty of fake, satirical accounts on Twitter, by people purporting to be other people. LizJonesSomalia, for example, is a great satire of the nigh-unsatirisable Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones. Here’s a sample quote taking the mick out of one of Liz Jones’ more ridiculous articles about stealing sperm to impregnate herself with:
“I’m pretty sure he had no knowledge I was stealing his spunk in order to secretly impregnate third-world women as an eugenics experiment.”
There’s MetPoliceCO11, a piss-take of the numerous official police feeds that are appearing as forces experiment with social media:
“This evening, as on previous Saturdays, we’ll be unable to respond to any emergency situations until X Factor has finished.”
And so on. There’s a distinct sub-group among these accounts that consists of “work experience tweeters”, where the user claims to be a hapless intern given the job of representing a brand or site – the result is usually a semi-literate stream-of-consciousness type affair.
So when one of these accounts by the name of ShippamsPaste popped up it was hardly surprising. “Ben” announced that he was the new social media intern at Shippam’s, makers of various canned food goods, and promptly set about spouting all kinds of nonsense in an endearingly unselfconscious way. Between shamelessly flogging fish paste on the back of any passing trend and dropping social media jargon like
“lets analyse user demands for fun and engagement”
it was a pretty funny account – but clearly wasn’t real. But what was really interesting was just how fake it was…
More after the jump!
Awesome video – I love the fixed camera effect and Kill Bill-style section in the middle.
Also, excellent balaclava.
They’ve got two albums on Spotify as well, Foreverlution is particularly good.
There’s an interesting obituary of Steve Jobs here:
I knew about his reputation for tyrannical micro-management, but had no idea he was into Buddhism, or had run a historic mansion into the ground, or was booted out of Apple before coming triumphantly storming back in a few years later…
The film of his life is going to be long and interesting.