Before I go into my photos, emails and other ways to try and remember 2011 it feels like a small year. Looking back on 2010 2011 pales in comparison. It's also the first year I didn't take many photos so records of the year will be sketchy.
I was on a "reality" TV show.
Not strictly a reality TV show (more a doco type show) but they filmed Do or Die with me and 5 other Soapers in the middle of WA. It was "farking hot" but I learned a lot about myself and my team. I signed an NDA so can't reveal more but it'll air in 2012 in April on ABC2
Photos below from Matt who was part of the Soap team.
Had a proper holiday
Ervi and I travelled to Venice, Milan, Madrid and Barcelona Thanks to AirBNB and a strong AUD I had what I think was my best holiday yet. Barcelona blew me away as it wasn't even in my top 20 cities I wanted to visit. We were lucky that our trip to Venice coincided with the Biennale Arte festival.
After joining instagram I then realised that if you want more followers you just follow people. So then proceeded to follow everyone and anything. I grew my followers from 130 to 700 in a matter of days. I also started posting my old faves from Flickr as mydaily life wasn't as photogenic. The interactions with my photos went well, but then I lost interest as I had "gamed" the system and got sick of photos of cats, food and girls getting the most popular photos. I was no better, I posting photos from my zoo visits or kitten photos to bait for hearts.
I was able to post one of my fave photos I've ever taken. This chance find i titles "I SEE BATMAN"
I joined Costco
And tried to make the best of it. I think this is the Housing Commission kid still inside me. Saving money on stuff, counting the cost per 100g but driving 50k there and back to do so :)
I would best describe the situation at Costco in Sydney on the weekend as a "shit fight".
Started Another Blog
I had finally secured areawesome.com and kicked off my world domination with.... bananas!
I have plans to expand but time has been short and this is always a side project just to see if it takes off. Even my link bait women eating a banana hasn't been the click avalanche I was expecting.
Went to E3
I finally attended E3. It was amazing. Even though all the industry veterans I met said "not as good as previous years" it was still amazing to me. Having an exhibitor pass (thanks Activision) meant I got access to anything fast too. As a gamer since the 8bit days this is a dream come true.
I also made sure to "document" the Booth Babes of E3. I just realised I haven't posted any other photos from E3! How sad.
Stayed in Venice, CA with Mike and Nick
Part of this E3 trip was staying with Mike and Nick at their place in Venice. I rode a fixie for the first time down Venice Beach (Garmin stats here). I'm not sure about other people but my balls could not handle the ride on a fixie. I usually stand up to pedal and also roll. No can do on a fixie.
Attended a Transformers Conference
I went to BotCon 2011. Working on the marketing for Transformers: Dark the Moon for Activision and having a conference "near" you was enough reason. Alex drove both of us to Passadena and we rocked out what was a "small" conference to put it nicely. I did get some great photos but I don't think I'll be back for Botcon 2012.
WOW! This was an epic Transformers tattoo piece.
I got an iPhone
After a year of using an Android phone (and being very happy with it as a phone) I got an iPhone so I could raid the App Store. I actually ordered the phone in Oct, it was delivered in November but to the wrong person. Fast forward to April!! and I finally got my phone from this wrong person. It took 6 months, 8 phone calls, 12 emails and a trip to a police but I finally got it back. Hey "wrong person" if you're reading this, you really are a douche.
Also by luck the power button broke just 2 weeks before the warranty expired and got a replacement phone at the Apple store on the spot. So I've essentially got a new iPhone now. I also made sure to tell the Apple "genius" that it's lucky Apple doesn't make cars, because replacing something because of a broken power button just seems silly.
Game Jam 2011
After winning the Global Game Jam Sydney 2010 (no prizes BTW) Soap decided to send another batch of people to the 2011 event. I attended just as a "coach / busy bee" while 4 other Soapers did the 48 hrs. One of the Soap groups had their developer up and leave in the middle of the night while Hendrik and Derek finished their Zombie Sheep game early, with less arguments than my team in 2010 :)
I also helped get some prizes for the comp securing copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops Prestige Edition for all the team members of the winning team. Thanks Arbie & Activision.
Bought a BBQ!
After many years of waiting (for no reason) I went all out and got a Weber Q. I no longer feel jealous when the neighbours fire up their BBQ while I eat wheetbix for dinner. I ended up using the BBQ every day for a good 3 weeks.
This is me BBQing in the park...
Got a new mouse
Goodbye Logitech G5 and hello R.A.T 7. I bought a bunch of these for guys in the office. It's the most customisable mouse but I've hardly customised it. But I like knowing I can. And it looks bad ass
This year was a bumper year for lanyards. I also made my "laynyard collecting" fetish known to others and explained how I treated it like "game hunting". I want to collect them myself not have someone give me one.
Played some Poker
I played 2 matches in AU with the Soap team and came 2nd in my first match. This then set me off and I started playing on the Xbox constantly to skill up and then the next game I folded to death coming 4th but I never even really contended a hand. I then played in LA and came 3rd (I think)
Lee with his winnings from match #1
Ko with his winnings from match #1 in LA
Too many Games
2011 was a huge year for gaming and for the first time I had my games than I could play. I still have Dark Souls, MW3, Saints Row 3, Ace Combat, Rage and Assassins Creed Revelations to finish. Phew.
(Update: Since initially writing this in Dec I have finished Rage and ACR)
And that was it for 2011 on a personal level.
------------------- Professional ---------------------------
In terms of work this year it was actually a pretty strong year. Both on a business level and the individual projects I was able to have an influence on.
Adnews Agency of the Year & Finalist in the B&T Agency of the Year.
We're still Adnews Agency of the Year until Feb next year when the new winners are announced and we were also in the top 5 for B&T Agency of the Year. B&T also had us down for Employer of the Year too.
We didn't win anything "agency level" at B&T although we did pick up their Digital Campaign of the Year for Pac-Man and 5X picked up Media Campaign of the year. I guess the judges focussed on the other parts of the entry...?
We also won a bunch of other awards mainly for for PAC-MAN and 5X.
World's Biggest PAC-MAN
A combination of lucky brief and simple solution made this my fave project of the year. While no One Show or Cannes glory, I'm happy with the non industry response. Traffic is still solid with 3.4 million visitors in just under a year. Not bad for a campaign with no media spend at all.
We even got tweeted by Alyssa Milano (call me!)
Oh and our first Guinness World Record now! Woo
5X Mutant Gum 5X started in Nov 2010 and it all finished May 2011. It turned out better than I was expecting in some ways and not as good in others. Working with Alex Houghton at OMD on this (he came to us with the idea) was the best media agency experience I have ever had... by a long way. It was also great to see a client as excited by an idea as us.
This was another project we started in 2010 only to finish in 2011. A companion game for a AAA console release. Dream brief! We pitched and won with a multi-player version of Risk with a PVP tied to a AAA console release! Global Resistance was born.
While the game only reached 63% of our initial scope it turned out well. Working with (and not for) Insomniac Games was pretty amazing too. I think it's the most laughs we've had on a conference call. If I wasn't for Michael Kordahi at Microsoft I'd say they were the most "kindred spirits" Soap have as clients.
I remember in the pitch Insomniac Games asking if we "would be able to keep the enthusiasm up over the long development period" and I'm happy to say we did this with spades!
Diggin' Dogs Diggin' Dogs is finally finished. Soap's first real AAA iOS game. My hand in this has been minimal. When we wanted to change from steam punk styled worms digging into a brain (that was our original direction) I just said "make it POP CAP CUTE".
The game has been an R&D labour of love for over a year now and something that's been hanging around the office since the 2007 "game in a day" challenge I set! Here is the initial prototype.
Will we make a shed load of cash? I hope so
The reviews have been great so far and I hope we can continue to support the game with the revenue it brings in.
We launched another iOS game which had been in R&D for quite a while. Thumbzilla was released in Dec with a soft launch. No trailer, no reviews and the game is 80% there. We're working on a new update and we'll use that 100% game and a trailer to properly launch the game. We actually had the name "Fingerzilla" on the app store but then let that lapse. (you get 6 months) only to see another developer release a Fingerzilla game, which was a hit. The developers name was "Inert Soap" as if it was some cruel joke about procrastination on ideas.
The game is built in Unity 3D so we're looping to port it to android which is much harder for Diggin' Dogs.
Note: Do NOT Google/Bing Thumbzilla as it's also the name of a porn site. Just go direct to Thumbzilla in the App Store and buy it :) This can't be helping sales :)
Got a PB at bowling at the Soap Birthday Party
No more lawn bowls this year we went with Ten Pin to celebrate our 9th year anniversary.
I got a personal best (180) and was able to settle the who is better between myself and Dave. Vote in the poll here about my performance. I also beat Dave again 3 months later in the northern hemisphere when I was in LA with a new PB of 187.
So I'm appointing myself the best bowler at Soap. Brad Coen, the only person to beat me, if you're reading this I want a rematch!
Below is me getting the LA symbol wrong at the Midwown Bowling alley
Soap's Youtube Challenge
I had the idea that we'd create a Yotube challenge to get staff creating content to win cold hard cash.
First to 20,000 views = $500
First to 50,000 views = $1,000
First to 100,000 views = $2,000
Anyone could enter and my entry below had over 100,000 views in 2 days and it took the steam out of everyone else's sail. There were complaints but I scripted, cast, shot, edited and graded this video myself so was within the rules. Never under estimate the power of boobs.
I've donated the 1st and 2nd prize back for someone to win which currently is still up for grabs. Sam's UFO entry is close though!
Shared Our Secrets on Slideshare
Our Facebook Brand Pages for Dummies guide was launched on Ad Age and then took off. It's since received 89,000 views and we've seen the techniques used everywhere. We didn't coin "link bait" but we certainly made it a popular term. One downside to this has been we've had two clients take over a Facebook page we were running for them and use this as the bible.
What inspired us to share so much was that we had seen other agencies in Australia copying our "techniques" and we thought we'd share the secrets with everyone. Lame claim to fame: Before sharing this presentation there was very little use of "like this post/status if" but we changed that. "Like Baiting" is now a drug that most FB brand pages are addicted to.
Lynx Rules of Rugby
I had nothing to do with this piece but it was our first truly viral video. Yes it has babes but that's no different than having roller skating babies or singing cats. You play to what works for your target.
Spoke at ADMA Digital Days
Carlson Choi (client from Namco) and I spoke in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney about Gamification. I had originally suggested Rajat from Bunchball but he was busy.
This wasn't my most prepared talk and the first time I've had to share the stage with another talker so the flow wasn't great. We got an average rating of 3.5 / 5 in the reviews so some people got worth out of it.
Soap's New Site
Design started in 2009 and it was finally launched in 2011. It already needs to be destroyed and redone for many reasons but it's done. And true to predictions I'm still the one updating it the majority of the time. The agency website is an interesting beast.
Social, Social, Social!
After the success of 100 Days of Summer for Foxtel the social floodgates seemed to open. We grew the social team from 1 to 4 in that time and brought on several new brands through the social gate. Personally social (read: Facebook) is like pop corn. You aren't left very filled at the end of it and it can get stale quickly. But we have been able to do some interesting things and the social foot in the door has opened up clients to other digital work. View our Social Media campaigns here.
I really enjoy being Kronjob on Xbox Australia with Jonothan keeping up my alter ego. It's the one profile where I get to be me. Oh that and responding to posts as Bubble O' Bill. Always a great way to get a laugh.
We also billed over half a million on Facebook ads which has been a real learning experience unto itself. The biggest learning was how to sell it to clients. Media agencies don't focus on results (they can't as they are usually pretty bad) so they focus on the sell.
Note: the same amount of sell and reporting is needed for a $3000 spend as it is for a $100,000 spend. No wonder media agencies are lazy, doing a good job just doesn't matter.
We worked with a few celebs this year.
Ken Jeong reading my ADR scripts for the Hangover 2 iPhone game was funny even if only 2-3 lines made it into the final game. I need to put these up somewhere as they are LOL funny.
The "5 Gum voice over guy" did some extra Soap lines for us on the side. Oh and my voice mail message.
Kate Ritchie from Home and Away wished us a Happy Birthday
The Jacob's Creek team met Curtis Jobling who designed Bob The Builder! Here's Brad with the man below. Jealous
We Made a Billboard
To celebrate Bubble O Bill Facebook hitting 1 Million fans we created a bill-board (sic) that was just down the road from our office. It was meant to be up for 4 weeks and ended up staying for 3 months.
We made Grassy Street Art
I had little to do with this one but I was able to help it get on Wooster Collective and it's another interesting "non digital" project we did in 2011. Lots of photos here.
Soap Cross Fit
This has been the surprise of the year with the Cross Fit Personal Training becoming a huge success. Around 17 Soapers do this twice a week. After doing a few sessions of Your Shape Fitness and feeling totally knackered I have wisely decided to avoid killing myself at Cross Fit and will just do Your Shape via Kinect like the nerd I am.
Got a new Boardroom Table!
Gone with the old, water damaged table and in with the new custom built ping ping table. Even if you don't play Ping Pong it's a great looking table.
Pitches & New Biz
We capped off the last week of work with 2 new biz wins. We won ING Direct and the digital work for The Avengers for Disney Australia. I've been an ING customer since it first launched and it was surprising to them to see my customer ID # was so low. This wasn't agency BS I really did jump in fast.
2011 on a whole was a solid year for new biz with Ferrero coming on board with Tic Tac, Nutella and Kinder Surprise. Adding to the long list of brands that I use every day and happen to also work for. Seriously all we have to do is work for Milo again and there isn't a brand I use/eat/play regularly that we don't work for.
Jacob's Creek for Pernod Richard was the biggest win and has lead to a lot of interesting work. We've even done a fair amount of print work too! The big idea we won the pitch with will launch in 2012 and that is looking amazing.
This was the first full year in which the other Soap co-founder Rob wasn't here. It wasn't as hard as I expected but his presence was missed.
There's no doubt that brands have drive the success of Facebook in the last year. Every major campaign is plastered with a Facebook URL and brands are pouring millions into advertising to grow their fan base and reach people who would never normally visit their boring brand websites.
But with all that support and money being spent I can't help but feel Facebook needs to up it's game to give brands a much better product. Sure for the users it's fine, people seem to enjoy the sub standard photo feature while Flickr cries in the corner. But for brands and those spending millions we expect a little bit more.
Here's my list on how to make Facebook better for brands. Anyone have other suggestions? I'll check in with my team and see if we can format this into a sexy Slidehare pres which have been quite popular lately.
1: Better Analytics
While Insights has been upgraded it is still pretty sub par. Google Analytics is the base standard these days and those with Omniture will be used to even more. Facebooks insights are poor in comparison. What's worse is this recent trend to consolidate all global pages into one mega page. This is a nightmare for region wanting their own little slice of stats.
Simple fixes for the insights team:
- Provide a way to segment all data by countries, gender, ages. Don't make this available in some 199 tabbed excel doc we want a dashboard for this
- Up to date data. Not 7 day delayed data. Real ltime would be great but we'll settle for next day and then 72hr locked in.
- Ability to add notes: Started campaign, TVC launched. A way to flag when a significant event happened to give the reports context.
- Mobile vs Browser stats: Seems a pretty simple stat to provide.
- Top users: (Privacy permitting) give us a list of the top users based on their interaction with the brand over 7, 28, 90, 365 days
- Let me specify a range greater than 89 days.
- Unique vs Total: Just show this basic stat on tab views.
2: Better Editing Options
Posted a typo to a post. Shit, do we delete it? We can't edit it..... argh! CODE RED.
Why not allow brands to edit posts easily and community managers around the world will have less worry lines.
3: A Better Spam Filter
I feel sorry for some of the larger pages (2 million+ fans) as they are smashed with porn and scam spam 24/7. While the wall allows you to choose what is seen by default online, on mobile it's all posts and no way to filter. This becomes a real mess.
Also there needs to be a way to ban pages from tagging your brand in a post too.
4: Let us upload a tiny profile pic. FFS
It's a little bit hit and miss right now creating a profile pict that works large and small. Why not let us just upload a 50x50 image? Do you not trust us?
5: Better Photo App
The easiest would be "be more like Flickr" but some simple fixes
- Let me edit a photo by uploading a new one in it's place
- Allow users to easily see bigger images. 720x720 isn't big enough sometimes
Seriously though we'd all just settle but better insights. It's also reduce the need for all the 3rd party apps and services that just present the same data in slightly better ways.
I have just finished my tax and reconciled all my expenses and earnings for the year and it's that time again to reflect on the money side of life. What's interesting is I spent a LOT of time thinking, talking and signing papers about money in 2011. Having two business partners leave a business is a very paperwork intensive situation. If you've ever bought property and think the paper work is overwhelming for a mortgage then never go into business.
So just over a year ago I shared some insight into my donations. This was partly to inspire people to donate more and partly narcissistic. But isn't blogging about yourself all about that?
Note: It's actually quite easy to donate when apply rules or siphon off money from you're usual spending.
2011 was a big year for donations for me. I think the combination of the usual guilt I feel (I stole $40 from the MS Read-A-Thon while a teen and still feel guilty), the whole Occupy Wall Street BS and the fact I had so many meetings with bank managers and lawyers on the business side had me feeling in need of a karma boost. Factor in I earned less last year than last year I jumped from donating 2% of my earnings to just over 6%. I was aiming for 5% but clients had a busy year with walks, fights,and moes that needed funding.
Break down from 2004 is below. I need to contact the ATO to get my data from 1995 onwards, although when I worked at McDonald's in '95 I don't remember giving to charity. But from '99 when at Kinkos I had regular donations.
One thing I did learn is that you need to be disciplined in keeping track of all your donations. Some charities are great and give you nice receipts for the end of year tax time while others you can easily miss their single, badly formatted email and that's it.