I know what you’re thinking. And yes, I fully agree with most of it.
But leave your politics and your preconceptions at the door and the Daily Mail's online Science section is a veritable treasure trove of oddities and weirdness that is a great place to turn when in need of some fresh inspiration.
In the past few days alone, they’ve reported on robot baristas in South Korea, a ‘lickable screen’ being pioneered by scientists at Japan’s Meiji University, and an AI system that can detect your personality type from a selfie. These may sound far-fetched, but look a little closer and it’s possible to see ways that any of these could be relevant to clients (and certainly to UK consumers) in the near future.
On more than one occasion, innovations we’ve discovered on MailOnline Science have ended up forming the basis of a future campaign. So I would suggest it is at least worthy of a few minutes of your time.
The videos of PUP
Under normal circumstances I may simply have said live music – given the passion and dedication that those involved put into it (and often for very little financial reward). However, as there seems no prospect of entering a moshpit any time soon, I’ll plump for the music videos of Canadian pop-punk outfit PUP.
Over the past few years, PUP have taken the art of the music video to new levels. Back in 2016, they created a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’-style video (well, technically, dozens of videos) that pre-dated Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch by more than two years. To launch their 2019 single Free at Last, they released the chords and lyrics two weeks before the release date and invited fans to create their own versions of the song before they’d even heard it. And on their most recent visit to London, they gave handheld cameras to audience members and cut the chaotic resulting footage into an accompanying video for Morbid Stuff.
Without major-label budgets to back them up, PUP (and longtime video collaborator Jeremy Schaulin-Roux) have had to be smart about how they get maximum eyeballs for their money. It’s a challenge that will be familiar to any PR.
I’m sure there’ll be some wags reading this keen to point out that peddling fictions is a PR’s stock-in-trade.
But I feel our industry is sometimes so wrapped up in the latest Malcolm Gladwell or Yuval Noah Harari that we forget about the many benefits of reading good fiction. As professionals whose sole job function is creating new narratives, there’s a lot to be learned from novels.
First, they can bring huge benefits for your own writing and grasp of language. Also, what better way to learn about the art of crafting a story than from an expert storyteller?
Peter Carey and David Mitchell (not that one) are some of the best around.
Coldwar Steve (AKA Christopher Spencer)
The ingenuity of internet memesters never fails to amaze me, and their creativity has gone into overdrive during the interminable weeks of lockdown. But one still stands above them all, and that is Coldwar Steve.
When dystopian collages of EastEnders’ Phil Mitchell traversing post-Brexit wastelands started popping up in my Twitter feed in 2017 I (like most newcomers) wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. But since then Christopher Spencer’s commentary on the latest mishaps of government and public figures has become a distinctly British form of protest, and never fails to hit the mark. It remains one of the best reasons to venture online.
In addition to this, Spencer seems a thoroughly good guy, who regularly donates his work and time to support charitable causes. If it was up to me, he’d be winning the Turner Prize.
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