CAMPAIGN REPORT ON NEW MEDIA: Cutting-Edge Creative - The digital arena is the place to find real innovation in media creativity, Marek Grabowski argues. Here he chooses five sites that demonstrate true originality

By MAREK GRABOWSKI, creative director at t, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 October 1998 12:00AM

When was the last time you saw an original idea in broadcast media?

When was the last time you saw an original idea in broadcast

media?



I can’t remember and, hell, I’ve been in the business long enough to lie

about my age. It’s all been done before, it’s derivative - you only have

to see the number of gold gongs that fail to be awarded at the major

festivals for the evidence.



Even if I exaggerate, you’ll have got the point; it’s getting well nigh

impossible to be innovative in old media. On the other hand, in the

digital arena, the demand for, and speed of, creative technological

change means that new media is positively bristling with opportunities

to be truly original. So it’s not been easy choosing my top five online

creative executions.



Too much choice by half.



Kidnap was a recent, realtime, online performance created by the

experimental theatre company, Blast Theory. It charged people pounds 10

each to enter an ’abduction lottery’. When the possibly rash decision to

enter had receded from people’s memories, two ’winners’ were abducted

and incarcerated under the constant scrutiny of a webcam. Visitors were

invited to control the camera, listen to the hostages and even

interrogate them.



It’s purely a subjective view as to whether the performance had artistic

merit, but top marks for innovation. I paid a sizeable wedge into the

lottery and was inconsolable when Peter Mandelson failed to appear in

the hostage room.



It wasn’t long ago that people rubbished the very idea that tone,

attitude and personality could be deployed effectively in the ’cold’

electronic media. We were still taking our influences from corporate

America, because no-one else with any credibility was online. ’Engaging’

was not a part of these sites’



vernacular and neither was ’friendly’, ’helpful’ or ’interesting’. The

obvious commercial benefits of relationship building has caused

significant advances in the promotion of these softer values.



Step forward www.colors.com. This site seeks to engage and encourage

regular return visits. Don’t they all? This one succeeds. It talks

intelligently and with considerable wit about such burning issues as

fat, hair and death, with new themes, actually suggested by its young

’Benetton’ audience, introduced constantly. This good-looking site flags

the company’s magazine rather than overtly shifting merchandise online.

I empathise with its youthful irreverence. I must be younger than I

claim.



Those of you who like to rewrite history ( c’mon, you know who you are

and, unfortunately, so do your colleagues), go to

www.sincerelybill.com.



Such a brilliant little idea: edit the soundtrack from one of Clinton’s

television broadcast speeches into single words, arrange them into a

selectable alphabetical directory, create an animation loop of the

President talking, programme the whole in Shockwave and, before you can

clear your throat, you’ll have the first straight-talking politician in

history.



Echoing the sentiment of the chairman of judges at this year’s inaugural

Interactive Cannes International Advertising Festival Awards, ’You don’t

have to be big to be the best in new media,’ I include the site of a

lone individual who’s innovating away in the Land of the Rising Sun.

www.nagafuji.com epitomises creative interface design. He’s using Flash

to fantastic effect.



It’s a work of art. But, free as we are with ideas in this newish

discipline, one has to draw the line somewhere and, although I’m more

than happy to give you his URL, finding the amazing bits is down to

you.



Although I promised Campaign I wouldn’t write about one of our own

creations, I couldn’t bring myself to finish this appraisal of digital

originality without mentioning www.genie.co.uk. The site’s got

everything: attitude, style, high design values and more serious toys

and applications linking the internet and mobile telephony than you can

shake a hard drive at.



Doesn’t it just make you feel creative? Check it out before it’s changed

irrevocably. Nothing’s forever, least of all in this environment.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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