Campaign Interactive: Private Surf With Dan Sumption

I wanted to like The Priory website, I really did. I would swim through oceans of vomit for Zoe Ball & Jamie Theakston, but wading through illiterate copy such as ’Every week, we’ll set you a new choice as to whether a celeb is a ’hero’ or a ’zero’ in your eyes’, was just too much.

I wanted to like The Priory website, I really did. I would swim

through oceans of vomit for Zoe Ball & Jamie Theakston, but wading

through illiterate copy such as ’Every week, we’ll set you a new choice

as to whether a celeb is a ’hero’ or a ’zero’ in your eyes’, was just

too much.

The site’s designers have tried to create something new and different,

but the result is a mess - clumsy and hard to navigate. I tried to enter

their competition but was told that ’We were unable to find the page you

were looking for. Try clicking the links below or visit the Virgin Radio

home page’, which wasn’t much help. I managed to unearth a smattering of

good-natured fun, but not half as much as I found searching internet

newsgroups for conversations about Zoe Ball. According to a fan posting

on, she has ’nipples ya could dial a

phone with’ (sic).

Knowing what a nouveau country-gent I am, Campaign sent me to review the

revamped website of Country Life - ’unofficial guardian of the

increasingly threatened country lifestyle’. I have to admit I know of no

better place to bag oneself a rural estate (no, sorry, I can’t possibly

go above five million ...), but the photos of these Gormenghast-sized

stately piles were so small that even an estate agent couldn’t make them

seem otherwise. I felt like I was standing at the far end of the grounds

holding my binoculars back-to-front. If you’ve got the money, hire

somebody to do the leg-work for you and save yourself the


The new, improved Boots site was cleanly designed (hope you like

pastels) and had the corniest reason for nabbing your personal details

yet encountered on the web: ’because you’re unique’. Boots has been

online for a long time, and it has obviously learned many lessons along

the way. The site was well thought out: the registration form included

not just the usual name and e-mail address, but items which will no

doubt add to the power of the Boots database such as your loyalty card

number, children’s ages and the scheduled popping date for expectant


It is one of the few sites I have seen that allows you to ’unregister’ -

another sign of good planning. The online store doesn’t carry the entire

range, and might not be the quickest way of finding a toothbrush when

you’re caught without one, but was nonetheless pretty comprehensive.

Last time I was asked to write this column, I said that I could count on

the fingers of one hand the number of websites that I found useful.

Since then, I have been introduced to a service that has greatly

improved the quality of my life, so I thought I’d better share it. You

may already be aware of Room Service, a company that will collect and

deliver food from a number of top restaurants straight to your door.

What I didn’t know was that it has a website - and what a website. It’s

as ugly as the back-end of a particularly ugly dog, but love is blind,

so this didn’t bother me in the slightest. Simply click on your London

area and you’ll be offered a selection of around 30 eateries. Click on

one (hmmm ... what’ll it be tonight, Blue Elephant or Chutney Mary’s?)

and you get the full menu. Choose your dishes, stick in your address,

phone number and credit card details and hey presto! The food appears

around an hour later. There’s even a box for ’additional items’ you’d

like the driver to pick up on the way (a packet of king-sized Rizlas and

some chocolate hobnobs please).

Sunday nights alone in the office will never be the same again.

Just to prove that a site can be truly wonderful without being in the

slightest bit useful, I’d like to introduce you to my all-time

favourite, Bullseye Art. Manic, silly, noisy, beautiful and, not

infrequently, sick.

The Woodcutter reads like a map of my mind. Words cannot possibly do it

justice, only bizarre sounds will suffice (I would try and transcribe

them, but that might discourage you from visiting the site). Go there,

make friends with Miss Muffy, The Woodcutter and the rest of the


And in the words of the immortal Hooptie Goo and his fabulous


’i’m ever so sad

pa says my pony got shot

and some day me too.’

Dan Sumption is the chief of technology at Hard Reality


Client Ginger Online

Brief Echo The Priory Show in interactive context

Created by Fernhart New Media



Client n/s

Brief n/s

Created by n/s



Client Country Life

Brief Retain Country Life style while being simple for visitors to use

Created in-house



Client n/s

Brief Restaurant food delivered to your door in the London area

Created by n/s



Client Boots

Brief Offer women advice and features on health and beauty, including

personalised information

Created in-house


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