Things of note for the week ending Friday April 14th 2023
Welcome to #345 of Five Things on Friday.
This week’s edition is brought to you by the letters ‘W’ for winner winner winner winner winner winner and ‘P’ for ‘physio’ and ‘pints’.
An especially lovely welcome to all the new subscribers that found FToF via Substack’s new Notes feature (more on that in a bit). I hope you like what you see and, for the record, just because THIS edition has arrived on a Friday, please do not let that set any expectation that future editions will do the same. Fair warning.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope this finds you relaxed and well. If you’re neither of those, then take a big deep breath – and start over.
All will be OK.
This is Five Things on Friday. I am James Whatley.
Why not stick around for a while?
TO THE THINGS!
1. A BIT ABOUT SUBSTACK NOTES
Like 99% of every other Substack user/reader/author this week, I’m opening with a bit about Substack Notes.
If you missed the announcement (it’s here), Substack Notes is Substack’s new (but definitely not an attempt to replace Twitter but almost certainly is that because oh my god have you even seen it) ‘social’ platform.
Billed as a way for Substack ‘writers to be able to post short-form content and share ideas with each other and their readers’, so far it feels like a strong start.
Here’s some early thinking on why
Notes feels like the early days of a few of the original truly social platforms (Friendfeed, Jaiku, Twitter 1.0, etc). Familiar faces, early adopters – yes – but also the novelty of a new platform that is still figuring out what it is and allowing its users to help define that. This is a good thing.
Notes also feels like a lighter lift than other services but with potential for deeper connection. Substack has said itself that it doesn’t want Notes to be like ‘legacy social networks [where] people get rewarded for creating content that goes viral’ and as a result the content there has a completely different vibe. The dopamine driven commitment to the constant. checking. of. notifications. is non-existent. And we all need less of that in our lives.
It also means: no ads. The business model is subscriber driven. Not ads/views etc. So y’know – no crypto bros trying to scam you every 3rd or 4th tweet.
Writers reading, reading, recommending and subscribing give Notes an air of Google Reader (RIP) and I have missed that ever since Google dispatched GReader the ol’ Google Graveyard in the sky. On the that similarity alone Notes is worth checking out.
‘Yes James, but what what we really want to know is: what does this mean for brands?’
I’m telling you now, this is almost certainly the wrong question to ask.
At a personal level, I think Notes could be a great discovery engine. I do! For those that use it at least. From established writers and authors through to industry or category leading thought leaders, Notes is already working for me in either finding new content from people I already knew (but didn’t know they published) or finding great new people/content, recommended by people whose content and opinions I already enjoy and trust. And that, again, can only be a good thing.
From a professional standpoint, I am sure there will be a bRaNd AcTiVaTiOn on there by the end of the month (‘Consumer? what consumer? I want trade press!’) but that would be missing the point of the platform. This is about great content written and published by talented people. I’m hoping that continues.
Finally, Notes is the new kid on the block. With platforms suffering from their own issues (whether thats egomaniacal ownership, crap like-driven content, or simply a terrible onboarding experience – there are more and I could list them but I’ll run out of room before we get to Thing 2), having options is both welcome and healthy.
Substack is not without its own problems (Casey Newton is good on this) and it will need to get a lot sharper on its content moderation policies if it intends to get ahead of the game. In the short term, having a 35m install base is a pretty good head start I’d say – and if they make enough noise, the policies will follow.
Notes is a thing.
And I’m giving it a go in earnest.
As I have Noted below:
If you’re in, you’re in.
If you’re not, then maybe it’s worth a go? I think so.
Depends how you feel.
My profile is here (vanity URLs, when?) and I’m checking the notifications tab on the reg. So… Let me know, yeah?
2. ALL. OF. THE. TRAILERS.
I have no idea what happened between now and the last time we spoke but honestly suddenly everyone just went: ‘Oh, summer blockbuster season is it? You all better have some trailers then’
Before we move onto the next trailer, we need to give out some points. First, ten points to The Mary Sue who shortly after the trailer dropped put out this perfectly executed MCU-esque ‘How to watch the Barbie movies in order’. Outstanding.
Second, whomever is in charge of the Barbie marketing has got themselves some wicked talent on their team. The make-your-own Barbie post was a stone cold slice of fried social media gold genius.
SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE
I really hope they smash this one.
One day I’ll tell you a story about this film. Not today (maybe after the third one drops – movie, not trailer).
SEASON 2 OF VISIONS!!!
Points to Aardman for just Aardmanning the hell out of their effort.
There’s probably more that I’ve missed. What’s are you most looking forward to out of the above? Hit reply! Leave a comment! Sent a Note!
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING
Some great stuff this week. Let’s get into it.
EA Sports FC has released its new branding and I LOVE IT. Regular readers will know how closely I’ve been following the EA/Fifa (Fifa who?) fallout and I’ve been keeping keen eyes on every single development as it happens.
So when the new brand logo and lockup dropped earlier this month, well – I was excited.
Based on the ever-present triangle that has floated above
FIFA EA Sports Football games for decades, and in a world of balls and boxes, this feels fresh and different yet already familiar. I really really like it. Great job, gang.
As David Jackson, VP of Brand at EA SPORTS FC put it:
“Triangles are the shape through which the modern game is most fluently expressed, from intricate passages of passing play, to the tactical genius of Cruyff. ‘Cause, effect, response’ are the three sides of how the game is played best. Triangles are also essential to EA SPORTS most famous football experiences, from the isometric viewing angles of our very first 8-bit experiences, to the player indicator symbol above every athlete in every game – even the smallest atomic unit of our games, the polygons that construct everything you seen on screen – are triangular.’“
Game news bites
Xbox made a partly recycled controller ‘Remix special edition’ – this is a good precedent! More please!
Memories of E3 (RIP).
Netflix’s gaming ambitions continue to grow, this latest development hints at games moving from the mobile app (yes, you have games in your Netflix mobile app), putting them on your TV, then using your phone as the controller. Swish!
Cyberpunk’s Ray Tracing Overdrive Mode is SIIIIIIIIICK.
Go and see the Mario movie! It’s supposed to be great IF YOU REMEMBER IT’S A KIDS FILM FOR KIDS, apparently (I’m seeing it tomorrow – will report back). In the short-term, Jonathan is good on this.
There’s a new Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer out y’all.
The global game audience has reached 3.7bn. Important note in this about the difference between the ‘core’ audience and the more mainstream ‘people that play’ audience. Something we’ve been using a lot internally at Diva and pleased to see it’s being picked up elsewhere.
Related, Ukie released its UK Consumer games market valuation report earlier in the month (I did a mini-thread on it at the time). Main headline: 5.6% down overall but still 17% up on pre-pandemic levels.
The interesting thing about the Ukie thing is that it is REAL data. Instead of the Linkedin HYPE about ZOMG GAMING IS LIKE THE TOTALLY AMAZING (AND CLIO AWARD WINNING) THING YOU SHOULD ALL BE INVOLVED IN RIGHT NOW and the post-web3 nerds suddenly yelling about how they’re the most important people to talk to right now… the Ukie data actually paints a realistic picture of of the broader opportunity at large.
And that’s something real marketers should genuinely be trying to get their heads around. You can call me AT ANY TIME btw. You know who you are.
Video Games x Tipping
I think I mentioned this last edition but the Razer Kishi I picked up in the Amazon Spring sale really turned out to be a fantastic purchase.
Some people prefer the ‘Backbone’ but same same and, as throw it in your bag and forget about it until you need it portability goes, the general concept and execution is a lot lighter than a Switch or a Steamdeck (and considerably cheaper to boot).
It got me so into Dead Cells (picked up ‘free’ as part of Google Play’s ‘Play Pass’ subscription), that I ended up double dipping on console – getting the base game as part of PS Plus and then shelling out £20 for the complete DLC collection.
It reminded me a topic of conversation that came up recently in March when I appeared on a panel for JP Morgan (I haven’t written about this here yet, maybe I am now). We were talking about payments and how the concept and culture of tipping (while inherently US-centric in the level of expectation placed around it) does not exist in video games.
I made the point at the time that the player equivalent of tipping devs for their game is arguably what is known as in gaming nomenclature as the ‘double dip’ – buying a game again (oftentimes but not always) for another platform.
Dead Cells was that for me. I got the base game and DLC as part of a sub but I wanted to show the dev my true enjoyment so I ponied up another £20 to let them know. Spiritfarer, one of my all time favourite games, I’ve bought on ever single platform I own (a not uncommon among the hardcore ‘triple dip’). That game had such a profound emotional impact on me, I felt I had to let the developer know somehow. Double/triple-dipping was the way I did that.
Now what if you didn’t do that? What if on a digital store front, on Xbox or PlayStation for example, after you’d completed a game, you got an option to thank the devs further. I don’t know. There are other options, right? Of course there are. Buy more games. Buy merch. Buy the season pass. Whatever. I get it. But for the smaller fry, ‘buy the devs a cup of coffee’ – that’s something else, right?
It’s different way of viewing the developer/player relationship. One that I’ll gladly return to another day (more so if you’re reading this and think – yeah, actually, let’s make that happen).
What am I playing?
Still bashing through Dead Cells (the Castlevania DLC – wheeeeee!)
Picked up Terra Nil on mobile via Netflix Games. An excellent little game. And the concept art is terrific.
I finally pulled the trigger on DREDGE (leader image of this week’s edition) and I am loving it.
The kids are nuts into Cult of the Lamb (ahead of the DLC dropping, thanks for that, WASD (see FToF #344).
What are you playing?
4. DIVA DOES TOUGH MUDDER
Way back in 2013, this happened:
Me and my old Expedia UK team from Ogilvy London completed Tough Mudder and raised over £1000 for charity.
You can read: Team Ogilvy takes on Tough Mudder on Whatleydude.com – a blog post! What year is this?!
Rooting around in the cupboards this past Christmas, I found my old 2013 Tough Mudder t-shirt and thought ‘It’s 2023 this year, a ten year bookend to the last time I did this would be something wouldn’t it?’
And, well, one thing led to another and here we are.
At the last count FOURTEEN (!!!) muddy funsters from Diva have signed up to walk/run/climb/complete the 15k Gloucestershire Tough Mudder in August (only four months away – yikes) and the tension is building.
Earlier in the year, once we had our team locked – we each discussed what charity we would want to support as a team and, after a very quick/virtual show of hands we landed on War Child.
Diva has a history of supporting War Child (raising money through streams and charity events in the past) and, the combination of this year being the 30th year of War Child’s charity efforts alongside the
ongoing situation senseless war in Ukraine, we felt this would be the right place to put our efforts.
So with that in mind, we finally got around to setting up our Justgiving page this week and while I absolutely acknowledge times are tight, if you’re able to sponsor us even just a little bit, it would be very welcome.
And hey, if you’re up for running with us – you can sign up here.
Please sponsor: Diva does Tough Mudder (will you be the first one?) 🙂
5. OREO + XBOX FTW X 6
Late on Wednesday night my phone started going slightly nuts as the OREO EU team picked up SIX Clio Awards for the Xbox ‘Cheat Cookies’ campaign and partnership.
You can see the case film over on the Clios website but for those wanting the detail, the strategy work for this campaign was literally the last thing I finished and handed over before I left to start my job at Diva.
At the time I was EU brand lead for Mondelez bakery for Publicis, part of a blended team of Digitas UK (strategy) and Saatchis Dusseldorf (client and creative), and we all worked so so so so hard to get this over the line.
Giving a 45min presentation on the cultural significance of the XYBA buttons to convince the bigwigs to make the not-insignificant investment on SIX different cookie embossments is not something I’ll forget in a hurry 😁 – and actually, thinking on it now, makes winning SIX Clios taste that little bit sweeter. 🙂
Well done to the whole team (from the dedicated blended international agency team to the bold multi-market clients across MEU) that played a part in this one. Well. Earned.
It takes a village, right?
THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. BONUS LINKS THAT BUMP US OVER FIVE THINGS BUT DUE TO TIMING AND SELF-IMPOSED WRITING RESTRICTIONS ARE LIMITED TO PITHY COMMENTARY ONLY.
Ben Affleck’s latest, AIR, is getting rave reviews. This interview with the writer behind it has a lovely story in it about Affleck made sure credit was given where credit was due.
People putting ‘Look at the future of tech and AR!’ crap on Linkedin is hella boring. Except for this one.
Remember when, oh I don’t know, way back in FToF #337, when I said Wal-Mart’s idea of launching TWO branded Roblox experiences at the same time was A TERRIBLE IDEA because, quote, doing so was ‘a great way of diluting your audience and your message and ensuring one or both completely fail.’ Guess what? They closed one down.
Dungeons and Dragons is getting RIDICULOUS reviews. Here’s one of them.
The placement of ‘metaverse’ on this chart is as pleasing.
This, with Marcus, is lovely and excellent (good reading).
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE GAP.
Well here we are.
You made it to the end.
But our princess is in another castle.
See you next time,
Whatley out x