School’s out Friday

Oh, Peter Sharp, how I would love to spend a day in your company. Watch him as he restores faith in humanity in the video above. Then be delighted as he makes train travel an experience you’d want to pay for.

Here is Pete’s description of his work as a social artist from his web page:

I quickly realised that my passion for creating social art was what I was born to give after inspiring and leading a social movement in Barcelona Spain.
The creation of art has become a shared priority for people from all over the world to unite in something that gives working proof that a better, more harmonious future is possible. My life work points itself towards engaging communities in playful activities that empower people to share acts of love and kindness with each other.
More power to you Pete. The world needs more of your ilk.
Enjoy the weekend. Start a social movement. Hug a stranger. Dance on a train. 🙂


School’s out Friday

I’m currently in the throes of trying to pack as much as I possibly can into my ‘Language of our Times’ class in the final weeks of term. We were looking at viral videos recently (and at its essence, what are the qualities of a video that makes it move to viral status) and have returned to this in the last two days, prompted by what I’ve viewed on mainstream television and what has run past my Twitter stream.

The Qantas ad, above, caught my attention while I was making inroads on correction. It led me away from the correction pretty quickly, enticed as I was with the soundtrack and storylines that were unfolding in front of me. A two minute slot in primetime must cost a fair whack, but the 300,000+ views it has racked up on YouTube in 8 days is quite possibly paying dividends for the Qantas brand.

We followed this up today with two Christmas ads coming out of the UK. The first was the John Lewis ad below that has racked up a more than impressive 14 million+ views on YouTube in 8 days. And yes, I’m betting John Lewis sees this as an investment that has paid off.

The second is the Christmas ad from Sainsbury’s, a UK Supermarket chain. It was made in partnership with The Royal British Legion and is inspired by real events from 100 years ago. I dare you to watch it and not tear up.

It was released two days ago and has racked up 4 million+ views to date. I’m figuring this is one with shareability written all over it. Check back in six days and I’m betting it’s running rings over the John Lewis ad.

What these ads have enabled is some great discussion around what makes an effective marketing campaign in a world where YouTube rules and mainstream media is becoming less relevant in the lives of the everyday citizen. A good discussion to have and one that I think my students have benefited from. If I find them all leading marketing campaigns in future years I’ll know I’ve done a good job. 😉

I’ll be grabbing some shut eye this weekend and gearing up for a busy few weeks as the year comes to an end. Rest up folks and enjoy some down time. 🙂

School’s out Friday

OK Go – you remember them. The guys who made that video on the treadmills. You know, the one where you were expecting one of them to fall flat on their face, but remarkably they stayed upright and performed some amazing moves that had us all transfixed.

Well, here they are again, in another feat of visual mastery. According to this Billboard post, the video was filmed in a single take using drones with mounted cameras but it took 50 to 60 run throughs to get it right. Another interesting fact – it was paid for by Honda who supplied the seated Segways the band members are sitting on. Now wouldn’t you love one of those to scoot around in?

Clever, huh? Create a video that has viral appeal, thus reducing your marketing costs, and then get Honda to pay for it. Use that as an example in your next Business Studies class and forget the textbook that probably is laden with examples that hold little relevance in today’s digitally driven world.

And if you’ve never seen their original 2009 video, well here it is. Enjoy it, and the weekend ahead. I’m sure you deserve a break.  🙂


School’s out Friday

I’m laying odds that the people at Head Office of IKEA in Sweden are looking very closely at their Singapore division and wondering what kind of Christmas bonus they can offer them this year. The ‘BookBook’ video, uploaded to YouTube by IKEA Singapore, has racked up over 10 million views in a week  – a pretty clever marketing ploy by anyone’s standards. Send up your product in a parody of an Apple ad and watch it go viral. Just what I need for impetus for my ‘Language of our Times’ class next term, when we begin our Project Based Learning task exploring ‘What makes an idea go viral?’

Speaking of Apple, their latest video, ‘Perspective’, shown at their Keynote launch this week, is another signature Apple piece appealing to their tribe of followers.  Take a look.

Over 600,000 views in three days. Another good one for my students to analyse.

I’m currently in Munich, where I’ve spent the last three days after visiting Italy for a week. In my last post I spoke of my poor footwear choices leading to some pretty difficult days limping through the streets of Florence and Venice. I’m pleased to report Munich has been much kinder on my feet. It’s a very flat terrain here, and we’ve slowed down our pace out of sheer necessity. We were exhausted after the heady pace of four cities in 7 days – Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice. Today, after reading some travel blogs about the best footwear for traipsing through Europe, I purchased some Geox walking shoes that I’m hoping will see me right through the next few days in Frankfurt and Bad Kreuznach and then onto Paris and  London in the coming weeks.

I will try to write here about some of our experiences – we’ve had an amazing time already. Yesterday we visited Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and that experience deserves a post of its own. I’ve read so much about the Holocaust, but nothing really prepares you for walking the grounds and listening to a guide take you through the experiences of the people who were subjected to that cruel fate. It’s an experience everyone should have – as I walked through, it struck me that it is something that could feature as a Google Tour – that way students all over the world could have that experience and hopefully understand why the International Memorial there has the words, ‘Never again’ written in six languages.

Our hectic pace continues tomorrow, My husband and son are off the Bayern Munich vs Stuttgart game in the afternoon, then we board a train for Frankfurt in the evening, arriving there close to midnight and hoping that the accommodation I’ve booked doesn’t fall through!

I hope your weekend sees you finding time to relax and take in some sun. Enjoy whatever comes your way. 🙂

School’s out Friday

Are you one of the 46,089,523 (as at 9.45pm Melbourne time March 14th) who has seen ‘First Kiss‘? I saw it for the first time today when my students said I should watch it after we’d watched ‘Good looking couple sing Frozen’ as a bit of fun and exploration of a viral video at the end of class.

Did I take it at face value and think it was an interesting concept that held mass appeal?

Yes, I did.

Was I surprised when I discovered tonight it was clothing advert starring actors for the brand Wren Studio?

No, not really.

I’m getting used to clever videos that appear to be genuine turning out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They aren’t insidious, but they do leave you feeling a bit cheated especially when you’ve made an emotional investment while viewing them and have perhaps then gone on to share them with others in good faith. The lesson in all this is to not take things at face value and to investigate further.

I’ve spent a little (not a lot!) of time tonight looking into ‘Good looking parents sing Disney’s Frozen‘, and I can’t detect anything insidious behind this one, other than wondering who on earth would include ‘Good looking parents’ in the title of their uploaded video. It seems that Samuel and Nia Rader of Terell, Texas are just the kind of people who do that. Here’s a bit more about them from the description accompanying the video on the Youtube page.

Just a little about us. We’re high school sweet hearts, been together for the past 10 years, married for the past 4.5 years. We have TWO children, our five month old baby man is sitting behind me. My wife is a stay at home mom/wife, and an amazing one at that.She creates decorative wreaths in what little free time she has. I’m a full time ER nurse and do wedding photography on the side…

Lovely. But would I be at all surprised if in two days time something surfaced that demonstrated an underlying intent behind the posting of this video? No, I wouldn’t. I’ve come to expect it, especially considering that YouTube is to teenagers today what television was to me as a child.

Anyway, enough of the speculation. Enjoy it as you contemplate the weekend ahead. I’m thinking about buying a Go Pro and taping it my windscreen so I can record myself singing Pharrel Willliam’s ‘Happy’. I’ll upload it to YouTube and call it ‘Middle Aged Woman kidding herself’. 🙂

School’s out Friday

Now here’s something to put in the lesson toolbox for 2014. Chicago’s Magical Piano, currently sitting at 3,352,971 views on YouTube and looking for all intents and purposes like a wonderfully Christmassy feel good viral video from Amtrak.

But, it’s hard to get anything past the Reddit community these days. Here’s what transpired (from Mashable);

About two hours after it was shared on Reddit, a user named schwagro claimed in the comments that the video was fake. Schwagro posted a link to a notice about an Amtrak casting call for a video in Chicago’s Union Station with a “magical piano around Christmastime that seems to be truly alive.”

One of the examples given in the notice is that an actor might “play ‘Chopsticks’ … and we turn it into a duet,” which is exactly what happens to a young girl at the beginning of the video.

Kevin Nalts, at has provided a scene by scene breakdown outlining the indicators to tip us off. Here’s what he had to share (I’d encourage you to visit the link to the site too);

  1. Girl playing chopsticks has almost no reaction at :28 seconds when the magical duet that occurs. Her “mother” at :37 seconds realizes her reaction is just as disingenuous so she covers her face.

  2. At 1:00 a business man gets frustrated in convenience proximity of the piano. As the music becomes tense, his hand stays up in a token gesture of frustration. People don’t hold their hand up like that when they’re frustrated, and if they do it’s for a brief moment. He somewhat convincingly barks at the piano at 1:07, but that’s a much more severe reaction that would have occurred naturally. In real life, the guy would have almost subconsciously walked away from the noise to keep focused on his call.

  3. At 1:25 a fat man approaches and almost convinces us he’s amused. But when he kicks into a manic blues dance at 1:44 we’re painfully aware that the moment is staged.

  4. By the time two other musicians stumble upon the piano (a trumpet player and a harmonica player) I could no longer continue watching.

  5. I scanned toward the end, and shouldn’t have been surprised to see Santa shooshing the piano at 3:33. I think that was actually the real Santa, though… not an actor.

I had my students investigate the nature of viral videos in my class last year and I intend to do a similar thing this year. I’ll definitely be including this as a discussion point, perhaps with the title, ‘When is a viral video not a true viral video?’ As our eyes tune in more and more to spaces like YouTube and less and less to mainstream media, we’re going to see more companies try and get their message out with entertaining videos that tug at our heartstrings and make us aware of their company or product. Westjet did it well with their Christmas Miracle video, but they were upfront about what they were doing. Therein lies the difference. Be upfront at the start, and you won’t incur the wrath of the Reddit community and the less than complimentary debate that follows.

Have a great weekend. Lovely weather here in Melbourne at the moment, and next week promises to deliver the opposite of the Polar Vortex experienced by North America this last week. I will be returning to work and leaving the holiday behind. Can’t say I’m excited about that just right now, but them’s the breaks!

School’s out Friday

The Melbourne Metro system posted this video on YouTube on November the 14th, and it’s since had 19,182,295 views. It’s called ‘Dumb ways to die’, and it was made in response to peoples’ careless behaviour around trains leading to unnecessary and preventable deaths. It’s attracting a lot of press due to the viral nature of the video, one that has finally knocked Gangman Style of the top of the viral video chart! Cassie McCullogh has written a post on ABC site ‘The Drum’, that outlines some criticism that has been levelled at it, suggesting its message will be ineffective.

Personally, I think any video that goes viral like this can’t be considered anything but effective. I don’t know if you realise this, but 19,182,295 views is a number within coo-ee of the entire population of Australia. The fact that the message at the end of the video outlines what its intentions are is a moment that makes you sit up and take notice. It’s kind of a ‘what the’ moment, but it certainly got me thinking.

I take my hat off to Metro. It’s quirky, creative and obviously has the mass appeal factor. The Drum article has some insight to its creation from Creative Director John Mescall,

It’s designed to engage with a younger audience that doesn’t “want to hear any kind of safety message”, McCann Melbourne Creative Director, John Mescall told ABC NEWS 24. “If it looks, smells or feels like an ad, it won’t get shared … it has to be incredibly likeable.”

This is one to store away for a class activity. My students have exams next week, but if regular classes were on, I’d be starting my lesson with this and encouraging discussion as to the ad’s effectiveness and the reasoning behind its creation in this form.

Sunny weather for the weekend here in Melbourne. I’ll be enjoying the rays, and making sure I don’t engage in any of those dumb ways to die. Enjoy your time this weekend – I hope you get an opportunity to see some rays too. 🙂

School’s out Friday

This the the 2012 version of ‘Where the hell is Matt?‘. This time, he has varied the dance moves and tried to be in keeping with more traditional dances from the countries he visits. David Pogue interviewed Matt this week; if you’re interested in the background details about the creation of the video, take a read. Matt’s also released the outtakes video, and I think I prefer it- there’s something really touching about people from all differing nationalities joined together in the spirit of doing something fun.

It feels a bit to me like ‘Where the hell is Jenny’ at the moment. I’ve been on the move for the last few weeks with conferences and a family holiday. I’m very happy to report that tonight I landed back in my home town of Melbourne and am very happy to be writing this post from the warmth of my bed! Travelling is exciting, but the old adage, ‘There’s no place like home’, starts to ring true when you’ve been away for awhile.

There’s no rest for the wicked though (cliches flying thick and fast tonight!). Next Thursday night is TEDxMelbourne: Education Leadership, and I’m one of three speakers presenting there. For the next six days, that’s my focus. I’ll be fine tuning my talk and hoping I can deliver it with passion. I’m very honoured to have been asked to speak and want to do the event justice. I’ll certainly be sharing my thoughts on the process here, so keep an eye out for a post or two over the next week.

Enjoy the weekend everyone. Let’s hope the sun shines for us. 🙂