Jonny Campbell

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5½ Questions with Tracy King

Tue, October 18th 2011

Tracy King is the Managing Director of February Marketing, the organiser of TAM London and co-organiser of The Big Libel Gig. She speaks on a range of topics including viral marketing, advertising psychology and using marketing in science communication and critical thinking. She is the producer of Tim Minchin’sStorm” movie, a regular writer for Skepchick and The Skeptic Magazine (UK), and her work has appeared in the prestigious journal Nature.

Who is Tracy King and how did she end up in the running for a BAFTA?

I was recently described by Padraig Reidy as “queen of the angry nerds”, which I think is fairly fitting, although I’d go with geek over nerd. Better social skills ;) Outside of that I guess I’d describe myself as a producer of things. Until very recently I ran a marketing company, and I still do some consultancy, but Storm has allowed me to pursue my artier ambition of running an animation studio. We didn’t get the BAFTA, but it’s still amazing to have been even close. The short answer to how you get to be in the running is “tell them your film exists and see what they do.”

Was it difficult to promote Storm? Did you have a social media strategy in place?

Easy and difficult in equal measures. Easy because we had somewhat of a captive audience (Tim is an arena-selling performer and Storm in audio form had already gone viral), but difficult for exactly the same reasons. In other words, if Storm had been rubbish after all the hype and expectation, then it would have been very difficult to promote. As it was, most people seem to like it and have been kind enough to share it online. The hardest part about getting people to watch it is the length. Ten minutes is very very long in YouTube terms. It’s also very long in animation terms, which is why it took two years to make.

I should stress that Storm was a non-profit project. I wanted to make Tim’s amazing poem into an animation. So although I did have a basic social media strategy in place, nothing like to the degree I would for a commercial project, simply because I didn’t have any budget for one. It’s doing fine without, though!

February Marketing

You have worked on a number of great projects, but one stands out in my mind as it has been viewed a staggering 85 million times: The Colour-Changing Card Trick. What is the secret behind creating a successful viral marketing campaign?

I should clarify that 85 million views includes television airings worldwide. On YouTube it’s around the four million mark. I give a talk on what the secret behind a successful viral marketing campaign is, the shortest version of which is “there is no secret”. You have to have killer content (i.e. you can’t polish a turd), but you also rely on a million other factors including a huge amount of psychology, and none of it is particularly predictable. If you can’t make a video that taps into one of the key motivators for passing along content, then it won’t go anywhere, but equally you could tick all the boxes and it might still go nowhere. Sadly I see a lot of crummy cynical commercial attempts at getting videos to “go viral”, when really people should just be concerned with making something good that they like. If it is good, it will find an audience. It may not be the hundreds of thousands you want, but if you’re just playing a numbers game then you need to consider why you’re making videos in the first place. If it’s for commercial purposes then innovation is the key.

A concern for many businesses when it comes to social media is ROI. How can this effectively be communicated to clients and what metrics do you think are the most important to track?

This is hard to answer because every campaign is different and every client defines ‘return’ differently. If a client is looking to follow click-throughs and considers a successful campaign only on the basis of conversion to sales, then they aren’t going to get the best from social media. It’s about building trust and long-term relationships.


If you could share just one status update with the world what would it say?

“I love the smell of facepalm in the morning.”

Finally, some people have a book that has had a profound impact on them, rewiring their brain or changing their outlook. Does one stand out for you and if so what is it?

I have two titles, equally important. Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World turned me into a rationalist and science advocate, and Feynman’s Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman gave me a sense of humour about it.


Thanks Tracy for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions for a person in the series just let me know by pinging me on Twitter.

5½ Questions with Wiley Wiggins

Mon, June 6th 2011

It’s not everyday you get a chance to interview a Hollywood actor, yet again it’s not everyday you can interview a Hollywood actor about interaction design and iPad apps. I recently got the chance to speak with Wiley Wiggins who was kind enough to take part in this week’s 5½ Questions Series.

Wiley happened to star in two of my favourite films—directed by Richard Linklater—Dazed and Confused and later in Waking Life, which you simply must watch if you haven’t already. What you may not know is that Wiley is also a web, UI and interaction designer, has worked with Apple and frequently blogs.

Hi Wiley. You have an impressive résumé—web designer, interaction designer, motion graphics artist, animator, artist, sculptor, actor, editor, speaker and writer—who is Wiley Wiggins?

Hi! I don’t know! I balance precariously between boring day-jobs and fun artsy stuff. It sounded really impressive when you read it all off just now, but the truth is- just because I do a lot of stuff doesn’t mean I’m particularly good at any of it.

Follow Wiley Wiggins on Twitter

Recently you took part in a Dazed and Confused live-tweet event. Did you have fun? Do you think we’ll see more social tools being used in this way? Oh, and how drunk did you end up?

It was kind of fun. I felt like I was racing to keep up with the movie and probably didn’t answer as many questions as I could have. And I got stupidly awfully drunk. Never, ever, EVER play that stupid drinking game. I only followed one rule and I was hurting bad.

Wiley Wiggins' Blog

I have read about your interest in interaction design. Do you have any favorite iOS apps or found other areas of application that are pushing the boundaries of IxD?

I love new ways of presenting data we are used to seeing in a different way, like Planetary, or really good UI implementations of something so unglamorous that people do it wrong all the time like the terrific iTeleport (a VNC client) or Prompt (an SSH client, probably only useful if you do command line work). I think that some of the enhanced media readers out there are great- I really enjoyed The Final Hours of Portal, and I like The National Geographic interactive magazine on Zinio. I also just saw this really awesomely done blog published as an iPad app called Nalden… Really impressive. And then there are all the games… but that would be a whole huge endeavor. I think World of Goo on the iPad is pretty perfect.

Wiley Wiggins' Website

If you could share just one status update with the world what would you say?

Too much pressure! how many letters do I get? AAAAAAhhhh! Was this the update? Did I already use it up?

What are you working on at the minute? Can we expect any announcements in the near future?

I have a boring day-job doing webdesign for a big giant company that will remain nameless. It’s pretty soul-crushing but it pays well and I have health insurance. But! – I just set up my iOS game startup Karakasa Games! I’ll be really loud an obnoxious and post a lot of stuff when that happens.

Karakasa Games

Finally, some people have a book that has had a profound impact on them, rewiring their brian or changing their outlook. Does one stand out for you and if so what is it?

There’s rarely one whole book I can point to, but there’s lots of little moments in books—like the crowd rioting at the end of Day of the Locust, or the protagonists trapped alone in snowed-in cabins in A Wild Sheep Chase or The Secret History. I’m drawn to those moments that are both really immediate and strangely distant… like watching a car crash about to happen.


Wiley has been working writing and coding the first steps towards what will be a psychedelic, open-ended adventure game for the iPad.

It’s an homage to the sci-fi shows we loved as kids, but full of the schadenfreude and dark humor our now shriveled, black hearts require in order to continue pumping.

The project is on Kickstarter and has just two days remaining. Be sure to back it to recieve some cool goodies!

Thanks Wiley for taking the time to answer my questions, I can’t wait to see Thunderbeam!

If you have any suggestions for a person in the series just let me know by pinging me on Twitter.

#TigerBloodIntern Infographic

Mon, May 23rd 2011

I made a wee infographic for my Charlie Sheen stunt for the end-of-year show. If you are unfamiliar with the stunt you can find out everything you need to know in the following blog posts.

Tiger Blood Intern Infographic

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About the Author

  • Jonny Campbell is a web designer, lecturer, blogger, and brand engagement strategist living in Belfast, Northern Ireland… Read more.

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