Starting something new.

Heading up social media for a monumentally networked and globally massive ad agency is definitely a new one on me. Ish. But this blogging thing? I can do this. 

Hi. I’m James Whatley, and I head social media for Soho Square London, the Ogilvy agency dedicated to integration.
A few things to know:

  1. We’re not actually based in Soho Square (Canary Wharf for us – hurrah for geographical confusion!).
  2. Soho Square (the agency) has been around for ten years or so and can count offices based in New York, Singapore, Sao Paulo and a fair few other places too.
  3. Our social arm (and team) has the full support of the Social@Ogilvy network and is growing.

We relaunched the website earlier this year and, as part of that relaunch, I’ve been given my very own corner to plant and grow a brand new blog (hurrah again!). What’s it for? Sharing news, opinion, and general thought-leadership. It’s so good, you’re reading it already.

Stay tuned.


Ps. Want to know more? Get in touch.

My best things of 2012

Let’s do this!

Best Comic BookHawkeye

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 12.07.18

(followed by Saga and maybe New 52 Batwoman too)

Best BlogSuper Punch
(with Marginal Revolution and Screenrant also getting worthy nods)

Best Music – we’ll ask ———–>Screen shot 2012-12-22 at 12.54.00
(which is plugged into my Spotify and probably knows my music tastes from the year behind better than anything else)

Best FriendJennifer Miller

Best PlaceVenice

Best Fancy DressWolfmother

Best FilmSkyfall
(followed by Looper and Avengers)

Best PlayHedda Gabler
(it was SO good)

Best MusicalSweeney Todd

Best PremiereDark Knight Rises

Best Book(s)Done that already (what’s yours?)

Best Day – August 17th
(I found out I won my first pitch for the big O just I was boarding a flight to Cape Verde for a (well-deserved) holiday with the girl; it was perfect timing. December 30th comes in a close second, see next item)

Best Celeb Spot -  JOHN LANDIS!

Best EventTEDxObserver
(small mention on Five Things, but I still have ALL my notes to write up)

Best CoffeeFoxcroft & Ginger
(with an honourable mention for Taylor St. Canary Wharf)

Best Presentation (that I got to give) – Word of Mouth Marketing at SOF, Slovenia

Best blog posts (according to stats)

  1. Marvel: Disassembled
  2. Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
  3. On Facebook? I can see your private messages
  4. DRIVE (posted last year, but still top-billed)
  5. Review: Skyfall

Best blog posts (according to opinion)

  1. Current attempts at television-based social media integration are failing, hard.
  2. the pressure of immediacy
  3. Never-ending enjoyment (for a limited time only)
  4. 2013 Social Media Predictions
  5. In defence of Superman Returns

Best overall stats – Jetpack did that for me

Best New Personal ProjectsFive things on Friday and The Voicemail

Best Blogger EngagementTsingtao, Motorola and Visit Switzerland

Best FoodSpuntino – I love it there
(Hakkasan comes a close second)

Best AppPaper by Fifty-Three (example output)


Bit of a random list all in all, but hey – it’s my list and I can do what I like. This past year has been an astonishing year for stats and stuff, YOY growth has been mental

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 13.10.06

I’m putting this down to two things. First, a solid commitment to blogging; this year I published 164 new posts. That works out at an average of just over three posts per week. Having blogging projects to work towards helped with this a lot. If you’re looking to grow your readership, I’d recommend this.

Second, StumbleUpon. This year, I started sharing my links to the social/interest/serendipity-led search engine and my YTD referrers put SU in at the number two position (with Search coming first and Twitter coming third).

Finally I put a lot of my 2012 reflection stuff into my last Five things on Friday post so, instead of going over similar ground, I just want to say a big thank you – all of you – who have stopped by to read, comment on, or share anything you’ve found on this here blog of mine.

I really, really appreciate it.

Happy New Year to you and I’ll see you in 2013!

😀 😀 😀



Trimming in Public – Part 5

Cleaning out my RSS, ten feeds at a time –

James Whatley / BW


Let’s do this –

blending the mix
The blog of northern digital/social specialist, Paul Fabretti – I think this may have been one of the first/earliest subscriptions back in the day and I’ve also had a the good fortune of getting to meet Paul from time to time too. He doesn’t blog that often (he’s a busy boy), but when he does – I always read it. If you’re into social media / digital and want to keep an eye on people doing things differently, Paul’s blog is one to read.
Decision: Keep 

Blog O HAI
I met Mark Burstiner at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City about four years ago. We hit it off right away and basically had a blast the entire time we hung out. Back when I was ‘that Brit doing social media’, word got ’round pretty quick and a couple of days later, when Mark and I ran into each other again (this time at the Blog World Expo in Vegas) he made sure that I got to meet everyone and anyone he could introduce me to. From Gary V and Brett Petersel through Pistachio and Pete Cashmore, Mark intro’d me to them all - and it was awesome.

Back to the blogging bit – of late Mark has been working his ass off getting his (quite frankly, brilliant) gaming-based start up, ‘FTW‘,  off the ground so blogging hasn’t been his number one priority. Look, we chat enough over Twitter and Xbox mail as it is.
Decision: Remove

Brandflakes for Breakfast
Top five all time number one blogs to read for keeping up to date with the latest advertising, creative, innovation and online (viral) video. If you’re in the industry, you should be reading this. And if you’re launching something cool and you want the industry to know about, you should let these guys know too.
Decision: Keep

Brown Cardigan
There are a few things on this list that I have no explanation for. Brown Cardigan is one of them. It publishes far too much for my normal RSS reader liking, and by rights I should remove it. BUT… it’s everything that’s good and bad about the internet all together in one place and it’s where I go to LAUGH MY FACE OFF – and y’know what? I make no apologies for it. You have been warned. It’s staying because I LOVE LOVE LOVE the faces of the people on the tube in the mornings who happen to catch it over my shoulder.
Decision: Keep

Campaign Against Living Miserably
Suicide is the biggest killer of young men under 35 in the UK today. C.A.L.M. is a charity that’s been set up to help reduce that staggering statistic. Go. Read. Be inspired.
Decision: Keep

Chris Funderburg’s Place
I spoke about Chris back in part one. This blog isn’t around anymore, but the one in part one is. So that’s all decided then.
Decision: Remove
A great blogger and a great guy, if you’re thinking about doing anything blog related, be it business or personal, you could do a lot worse than spending a couple of days routing around in Chris’ archives. One of the good guys, I’ve always got time for Chris.
Decision: Keep

Ciaran’s Blog
God knows when Ciaran last blogged. It certainly wasn’t recently. I guess, being CTO of Skimlinks doesn’t allow for that kind of thing much these days. Damn shame. Still, lovely guy. Follow him on Twitter instead.
Decision: Remove

Colin Mercer On The Inter-Web
Used to work with Colin back at the ‘heads. He blogs fairly infrequently about Oxford Digital life and cricket. Two things that I don’t have much opinion on. If I’m being harsh on topics, I should remove… BUT he hasn’t blogged since June so that also weighs in against him too.
Decision: Remove

A fairly NSFW blog setup for the sole purpose of naming and shaming advertising ‘creatives’ who serve up yesterday’s YouTube fodder as tomorrow’s ‘big idea’. Honestly, it has to be seen to be believed. I love it, and it really doesn’t publish enough.
Decision: Keep


Part 6 when I get ’round to it.


Never-ending enjoyment (for a limited time only)

Consumers are craving the unique and brands are catching on…

— the following article is a trend-spotting piece that I wrote which ended up not being used. It is published here, with permission, and totally unchanged. Enjoy —

In this time-pressured digital age, the modern city-dweller has to be militant with their time allocation.

Friends (and family? maybe) come first; obviously, but how can brands break into the hallowed ground between 7pm Friday and 6am Monday?

Word of mouth marketing has never been stronger, yet while false scarcity isn’t any new kind of rocket science, all across the globe brands both big and small are coming ‘round to the idea that to be there today, you need to be gone tomorrow.


Time Pressure
“Time Pressure is an almost universal experience for residents of modern cities” says Associate Professor at the School of Physical, Environmental, and Mathematical Sciences, Dr Paul Tranter – and he’s not wrong. Cities everywhere suffer from the same issue: scarcity of time. There is simply never enough time for consumers to do or see everything. Commuting, working, commuting, sleeping; the cycle never ends.

They are in what the New York Times refers to as ‘the busy trap’.

The race to be ‘different’
‘Be different’, ‘the Amazing, every day’, ‘Challenge everything’, ‘Make the most of NOW’ – Brand taglines are constantly falling over themselves to be unique, to stand out – two brands share at least one of the slogans above.

Been there, done that
Ever connected, the global village is now smaller than ever. Finding that one cool venue, or that amazing trip, that no one on Twitter or Facebook has seen or done is now more difficult than ever before. Consumers not only want the amazing, but they also want the kudos of discovering the remarkable – a thirst for being first, if you will.

Combine these three elements and you find yourself in a whirlwind of one-off experiences that are continually attempting to better what’s gone before…


1. The rise of the Speakeasy
From New York to London or Sydney to Shanghai, knowing what secret door to push at exactly what time and on what street is the true mark of a local’s ‘knowledge’. You can find whatever you need on the streets of the world’s busiest cities, from Cocktail Clubs to Breakfast Clubs; the speakeasy of 2012 has it all.

The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town, London
Situated behind a fridge door of a greasy spoon in London’s Spitalfields district, this underground cocktail bar serves up Bloody Marys and bites for those that ask for a meeting with the Mayor upon arrival. He’ll be seeing you shortly.

Crif Dogs, NYC
A greasy hot dog takeout store somewhere off the East Village is the destination. Cunningly named ‘Please don’t tell’, the bar itself is hidden through a hidden panel inside the restaurant’s phone booth. Once inside, the drinks are classic and the crowd are cool.

Eau-de-vie, Sydney
Hidden away at the back of the Kirketon Hotel, is a similarly themed destination. Deriving its look and feel from the prohibition-era United States of old, getting down down-under has never been easier (or more incognito).

2. The pop-up shop, bar, restaurant, hotel, play
The ‘pop up’ is king (and already fairly well-known in the retail space). However bigger brands are getting involved and the retail trend is evolving into other spaces, spreading its unparalleled wings and setting course for the exclusive.

— Branded stores
Coca-cola, Marmite, IKEA, Louis Vuitton – all these brands and many more have each experimented with temporary locations. Mainly located in areas distinctly matched to their audience (Apple’s iPad store at SXSW springs to mind), they all deliver in very much the same pattern: iconic style, on-brand personal experiences and, more often than not, high-end transactions for consumer of today, keen not to miss out on what’s before them.

— Theatre: You, Me Bum Bum Train
A play for the individual, sold out within 10 minutes of tickets going on sale late last year. Each audience member is sworn to secrecy, and then taken through their very own version of ‘the bum bum train’. Designed to provide the epitome of unique experiences – the train’s passengers never have the same experience twice. Ever.

— Hotel: Papaya Playa Project
85 cabanas make up this Mexico-based, eco-friendly pop-up hotel. With its ‘stay’ only scheduled for five months of the year, bookings are drying up fast and, as with nearly all examples here, the attraction is in the unique. A Berlin-based ad-agency has been brought on board to fill the cabanas with stories… but only while it stays.

3. The one off, to never be seen again
‘Did you see that?’ – ‘Did you hear about this?’ – ‘Wait, you actually WENT there?’ – these are the questions that’ll be asked about our next batch of examples. The crazy, the out there, the experiences that everyone wishes they were there to experience. Instead, they just read about it on Facebook and hope they make the next one…

— British Airways Olympic Restaurant, ‘Flight BA2012’
While this example should probably be in the ‘pop up’ section, the sheer exclusivity of the execution has pushed it into the ‘one offs’. Only open for a mere six days in April 2012, the 54-seater British Airways ‘cabin restaurant’ served food from celebrity chefs and based its dishes on the menu from 1948, in homage to the year the country last hosted the Olympic Games.

— Bompass & Par, Truvia
B&P, jelly mongers by trade, are becoming known for their food-based brand tie-ins. As recently as last summer, they flooded the roof of London department store Selfridges for the launch of a calorie-free sweetener known as ‘Truvia’. 45min trips to the top of the building (pre-booked, WAY in advance, naturally), promised a true ‘journey of discovery’ the likes of which have never been seen before and will doubtfully ever again.

— Projection Mapping Madness
From Nokia to Angry Birds, electro-cars to 80s pop songstresses – the use of Projection Mapping is almost passé in its usage. But nothing signifies the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ nature of the one-off experience than really well executed piece of projection mapping. The Vivid Light Festival at Sydney Opera House is a recent favourite…

Be there, or watch it on YouTube.


Without a doubt, brands are experimenting with experiences. While they might seem like just more YouTube fodder to the cynical, unique branded encounters are what today’s consumers CRAVE. They strive to be different and, to cater for this hunger businesses are getting in on the act.

If Apple is getting into the pop-up marketplace, then one may wonder if this trend has already jumped the shark. But, as the research shows, the notion is already evolving; cross-category, cross-market and cross-borders. Brands will work harder, and innovate further to get into the eyeline (and mindshare) of the paying customer.

Which brings us back to our consumer: time-poor, cash-rich. Give them something special, premium and – dare we say it again? – unique, and they’ll cancel tea with their own Grandmother just for you.


Trimming in Public – Part 4

Cleaning out my RSS, ten feeds at a time –

Background + parts 1, 2 and 3 also available.

Shall we?

Anssi Mäkelä
Ex-client, but still a mate. Anssi hasn’t blogged in so long that his URL is now up for sale. We’re friends on Facebook, so what the hell?
Decision: Remove

atmaspheric | endeavor
Jonathan Greene is a) a great guy b) a smart chap and c) head of super smart stuff at R/GA NY. All of these things (especially ‘a’), make this one an easy choice.
Decision: Keep

A relative newcomer to the RSS reader, Austin Madison is an animator at Pixar and his blog is a BLAST. Case in point, this recent post about a Batman-related sketch game he played with a friend.

The output is awesome –

Decision: Keep

Babbling VC
I can’t remember how or why I came across Paul Jozefak, I think he was of SpinVox’s first German users and we got chatting over Twitter one day. Anyway, as the title suggests, Paul is a venture capitalist based in Hamburg and his blog is a great insight into the world of funding start ups. I like it, and I like him.
Decision: Keep

Bastian Lehmann
I used to work with Basti at Refresh Mobile, about six years ago(!!!), and we’ve always had a decent admiration for each other’s hair-brained approach to creativity and ideas… These days he’s working his backside off over in San Francisco, as founder and CEO of awesome quick delivery service, Postmates. Basti’s never been a big blogger, so it’s no surprise that his site is no longer active. Ah well, I’ll just stalk him on Twitter instead.
Decision: Remove

BBH Labs
This is one of those blogs that doesn’t publish often but, when it does, it pushes and challenges my own thinking virtually every single time. I can’t recommend it enough. Basically, if you’re not reading this, then you’re an idiot. The end.
Decision: Keep

Be Inspired
The blog of Mediavest’s EVP, Steven Wolfe Pereira, I literally have no idea whether to keep it or not. He’s nuts. Like proper mad as a box of frogs nuts. Mediaczar put me onto him yonks ago; some of his stuff I read, some of his stuff I skip over and never look back. Actually, the really good stuff is actually bloody great. So…
Decision: Keep 

Ben Ayers
I’ve known Ben through ‘the industry’ for fair few years now, first when he was doing social at ITV and now, as head of social media at Carat. He’s a good chap, but for some reason his blog no longer works. Rubbish. Sort it out Ben!
Decision: Remove 

Quite literally the best video blog I subscribe to.
Quite possibly the only video blog I subscribe to.
Quite definitely the best video blog in the world.
The end.
Decision: Keep 

Ben’s Posterous Blog
The posterous blog of one Ben Smith. Mobile-blogger (currently one third of the 361 Degrees Podcast), smart chap and long-time friend of mine, Ben’s blog is one of those things that I subscribe to and then kind of forget about [he doesn’t post that often – not here at least] but then get pleasantly surprised again when new content appears. Case in point, this rather blog post about London 2012. Check it.
Decision: Keep 


Part 4 is in the bag, part 5 when I get ’round to it.

Whatley out.



How this blog stays alive

The content, obviously comes from me. The framing, the clean-theme and overall niceness that the content is framed within, that came from Pepsmedia.

However, there is a third part of the equation that doesn’t get much airtime or love…  and that is of the hosting, the ‘backend’ …the admin if you will.

And that just so happens to be one Mr Nicholas Butler.

Future of Online Video @ ICA #amp09

via Phil Campbell

Nik, also known as Loudmouthman, has been looking after the backend of this wordpress site ever since it first fumbled it’s way into the world four years or so ago. Before he came along, I was posting my mad mutterings onto a VOX blog and, believe it or not, before that, even MySpace. Yeah, I know.

But, ever since I bought my very own URL, Nik has been looking after my backend. What this means is: when I first set up, he did all the annoying bits. And, when my site is down, I get to ask him (normally via Twitter), if it is for him too. When the answer is yes, it is back up again within minutes. MINUTES.

I don’t know how it works and I don’t know how he does it.  What I do know is – for example, this past the weekend, on Sunday in fact, I wasn’t able to actually publish anything and, within 30mins of emailing Nik, the problem was fixed.

This is nothing short of awesome.

What I’m trying to say is: if you’re doing anything that involves IT, admin, web-backendy things, wordpress, hosting, security, load-testing etc…  Generally all that other stuff that you don’t really want to think about, EVER; be you big business, or tiny start-up, SPEAK TO NIK BUTLER.

I whole-heartedly recommend (and use) his services.

Loudmouthman - well it wasn't broken when I left it :)

via Benjamin Ellis

And I’m not alone either, Sizemore is a fan and, if you’re still not sold, go read the comments on this blog post Nik wrote about giving ‘lasting advice’.


Nik Butler. This site wouldn’t be here without him.




Trimming in Public – Part 3

Cleaning out my RSS, ten feeds at a time. Parts one (including an explanation of the exercise) and two are in the bag, so let’s crack on with part three –

Alec Baldwin
This is the feed from Alec Baldwin’s semi-regular column over at The Huffington Post. I don’t read the Huff, but I do read Alec Baldwin. Intelligent, witty, worldly, entertaining and overall a brilliant thought leader, Baldwin is one of those irregular posters who I get excited about every time I see the ‘(1) unread’ light up next to his name. Read this.
Decision: Keep

Alfred App
Vero Pepperrell (and her husband Andrew) designed the theme for this blog back when they were getting their business off the ground. One of their ‘side’ projects (which has since grown and grown and grown) is Alfred App, a Mac OSX Quicklaunch Application. This is their blog. I’ve got Alfred installed, and I’m a subscriber to their newsletter too so I don’t really need to be subscribed to the blog anymore. HOWEVER, if you’re looking for the defacto search app for Mac, then look at Alfred. He’s awesome.
Decision: Remove

All About Symbian – News
This is the first of non-full feeds that I’ve come across. I’ve explained RSS before, however, if RSS readers are hooks that pull in fresh content from websites across the world, then the non-full RSS feed is the equivalent of bagging an old leathery boot. Yeah, it feels like you’ve got a bite, but when it lands on the boat there’s only a soggy title and the first 90 or so words of the content. Rubbish.

There’ll be a fair few items that get thrown out for not being ‘full feed’, but All About Symbian isn’t one of them (yet). The authors of this site know their onions and, given that the Symbian platform is on its way out, I can’t see this lasting much longer. However, while it *is* here, I want to read it.
Decision: Keep (for now)

The blog of ex-Nokian marketing guru, Dan Goodall, ALL THAT IS GOOD is a though-provoking read. If you’re in creative strategy, and/or marketing activation around digital/social media and you have an interest in community building and content co-creation, then Dan’s blog is well worth a read. Yes, I just spewed forth a whole ton of social media garbage, but Dan knows his stuff and was creating online brand equity while you were still in nappies. He doesn’t blog too often, but when he does – you read it, and you pay attention. Got it? Good. All good.
Decision: Keep 

Allix: this is my brain on…
No updates since December 2009. I love you, Allix, but you’re crap at blogging.
Decision: Remove

Alone in the Dark
Well-written film reviews. Short, sharp and an enjoyable read.
Decision: Keep

Al’s Blog
My friend Alex Barclay blogs in fits and starts; sometimes going for months on end without an update, he’ll suddenly go daily for a two week period and then close up again, like nothing had ever happened. Alex and I used to tread the boards together (well, we did two plays) and, as a budding actor in Londontown, his blog can be an amusing read. I love him dearly and, better yet, he knows how to write too.
Decision: Keep

An International Smoothie
There isn’t much I can say about Sam Ismail. He disappeared a while back and, if there’s any truth to what went down, he’s going to stay that way for a very long time. Take care Sam, wherever you are.
Decision: Remove

Andrew Currie on WordPress
Dead blog. Andrew has since moved on (I’ll talk about how awesome he is when I get to his other RSS feed later on in ‘O’ – I’m sure).
Decision: Remove
The blog of 1000heads creative director (and one of my closest friends), Robbie Dale. Described as ‘a record of the beautiful, inspiring and constantly surprising world we live in’ – Robbie’s content is often as interesting as it is surprising. Not a bad insight into what makes creative people tick; take a look.
Decision: Keep


Part four, coming soon.

Whatley out.