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
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
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
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
Those of you who like to rewrite history ( c’mon, you know who you are
and, unfortunately, so do your colleagues), go to
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
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
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