FIFA World Cup 2014 Sweepstake Kit

world cup 2014 brazil

With just over 20 days until Brazil kick off the World Cup with their opening game against Croatia & we get a glut of 3 matches a day for about a month (Unless of course you’re an England fan who will lose interest in about 10 days) I thought now would be a good time to share the Sweepstake kit I have created. Everyone loves a good sweepstake and so if you’re planning on roping in all your work colleagues or just your friends down the pub, hopefully this kit will prove useful.

world cup 2014 groupsYou can download your copy of the sweepstake here >> FIFA World Cup 2104 Sweepstake

Whoever you’re rooting for over the next month or so let’s hope the stadia get finished on time and everyone can enjoy the football!

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Becoming A Tough Mudder For Macmillan Cancer Support

One in three of us will get cancer with one person getting the news every 2 minutes

I know that’s not the nicest way to start a post but I wanted to get that information in your head as soon as possible. Not nice is it?

Macmillan Cancer SupportThat’s why in just over 4 weeks, along with four crazy friends, I will be taking on probably ‘the toughest event on the planet’ Tough Mudder all to support Macmillan Cancer Support

Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile assault course designed by the Special Forces that they say is set to test both the mental & physical state of the runners (I personally think they’ve designed it just to maximise the amount of pain they can cause us)

I’ve included a video of the even below so you can see the sorts of things that I’m going to have to go through,

To donate, please visit my Just Giving page or you can go via our Macmillan Mudders team page & see who is mad enough to do this with me.

If you can’t get to the Just Giving pages you can also donate by texting MHTM99 and your donation amount (e.g. £5) to 70070 (like in the picture) just giving sms code

Macmillan rely on their supporters for 98% of their income so they couldn’t provide their services without our help and donations. If you can, please dig deep and help us help this great cause. Some targets that we’re going to try & hit are:

bullet £15 – This pays for 32 copies of The cancer guide.

bullet £100 – Pays for a Macmillan nurse for four hours.

bullet £951 – Pays for a Macmillan nurse for a week.

bullet £1,474 – Operate their phone service for 2 hours – enough time to answer 54 calls and emails from people who need emotional, practical or financial support.

As you can see, any money we raise really will make a difference.

Thanks

Oh, one last thing… If it helps squeeze a few more pennies out of you, I think this is going to hurt…

A LOT.

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The Top 10 Most Expensive Super Bowl Commercials Ever

With Super Bowl XLVII only a few days away, excitement is building & debate raging over whether it will be the Ravens or the 49ers holding the Vince Lombardi trophy aloft at the end and cementing their names in the history books (SPOILER: It’s going to be the 49ers).

For some people the Super Bowl is more than just the game it’s the commercials that air during the broadcast. Figures released by the NFL showed that last year’s Super Bowl (XLVI) attracted 111.3 million viewers and so advertisers are clambering over themselves to get their products in front of viewers with the cost of a 30 second TV commercial looking to cost a whopping $3.8m. Now this may seem like a lot of money to throw at a single advertisement, however, research has shown that a Super Bowl ad is 34% more memorable than an ad that was aired just one month before.

Here are the ten most expensive Super Bowl commercials ever produced. I’ll leave it up to you as to whether they were worth the investment.

1. Chrysler: Imported From Detroit (2011) $12.4m If you’re going to spend this much on a 2 minute commercial, you better hope it’s successful. Chrysler employed Detroit’s own Eminem driving their car around the city ending with the rapper facing directly into the camera to say “This is the Motor City and this is what we do”.

2. Pepsi: Joy of Pepsi (2002) $7.53m After having their other Britney Spears ad banned this one takes viewers from the late ‘50s through to the 21st Century and is actually pretty clever.

3. Budweiser: Delivery Truck Bridge (2010) $5.8m What would a town do if a bridge went out and they couldn’t get their delivery of Buds? Make a human bridge of course!

4. Audi: The Chase (2009) $5.6m Hire a top Hollywood actor (well, Jason Statham), film a car chase with several luxury cars and air it during the Super Bowl. Yep, that’s one way to spend over $5m

5. Coca-Cola: Stewie v. Underdog (2008) $5.4m In this ad, when Family Guy was still funny, a Stewie balloon races a dog balloon to a bottle of coke. Sounds brilliant doesn’t it? Luckily it actually works well on screen.

6. General Motors: Robot (2008) $5.2m Oh look everyone, a suicidal robot. What a great idea for a commercial…

7. ESPN: Sports Heaven (2006) $4.8m How else would you show off your new mobile capabilities apart from a guy walking blindly down the street whilst all the action takes place around him?

8. Cadillac: 0-6 in Under 5 Seconds (2005) $4.6m How about 0 – 4.6m in 60 seconds!?

9. Subway: Make Up For Eating Bad Not Being Bad (2004) $4.4m Apart from having a stupid name this ad introduced Subway’s “eat fresh” slogan.

10. Reebok: Terry Tate – Office Linebacker (2003) $4.2m Even after all these years this ad still makes me laugh WAY too much. IT IS HILARIOUS

Oh, and I know that this is the first post I’ve done for ages, but what with work, taking part in various endurance events and a new son, 2012 was a very busy year! I will be looking at annoying you all with random thoughts a lot more this year.


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The Apprentice 2012 Sweepstake

The Apprentice 2012 Sweepstake

Series 8 of the ever popular (if infuriating) TV show begins tonight in the UK and will no doubt lead to many countless weeks of people screaming at their televisions at the apparent lack of business acumen of all those involved.

Just to make the series a little more interesting we at Screaming Frog are running a sweepstake on the eventual winner.

Feel free to use our template if you want to run a similar thing wherever you are :)

Oh, and just because it makes me laugh every time I see it, here’s David Mitchell & Robert Webb’s sketch on the whole thing.

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The Greatest Penalty Shoot Out. Ever

After the Carling Cup semi final this week between Cardiff v Crystal Palace ended with a (poor) penalty shoot out I got talking with a few friends about the greatest penalties we had ever seen.

After some time (and a few drinks) we came up with what could possibly be the best shoot out you will never see. If a team ran through the following penalties I think it would be safe to say they’d probably do okay :)

1. Rik Coppens (Belgium v Iceland, 1957) The first two- man penalty famously later recreated by Johan Cruyff in 1982 and again (unsuccessfully) by Henry & Pires.

2. Francesco Totti (Roma Training Session) This back-heeled penalty was copied by Thiyab Awana from the UAE when playing against Lebanon and it drew quite a bit of criticism at the time not only from the opposing team, who were oblviously upset at the ‘disrepectful’ nature of the goal but also from the player’s own coach who immediately substituted him after the goal.

3. Antonin Panenka (Czechoslovakia v W Germany, 1976) This is the penalty that’s been tried & attempted many times, the original (and the best in my opinion) was scored by Panenka in the penalty shoot out that decided the European Championship Final

4. Ezequiel Calvente (Spain u19s v Italy u19s, 2010) The ‘switch hit’ penalty that confirmed the fears of the rest of the football playing world that the Spanish team is going to stay strong for quite a few years to come…

5. Stuart Pearce (England v Spain, 1995) Now the English aren’t known for their penalty taking skils but after taking into account the history behind this shot and the release of emotion behind it means I’ve got to include it.

Like I said above I’m pretty sure the shoot out would not get to sudden death but just in case here’s one extra.

6 (sudden death). Unknown Player Although this penalty wasn’t taken in a Euro final or a WCQ someone mentioned that they had seen in online & I think it probably deserves to be in the list just because it’s great to see the keeper’s reaction after he realises that the goal has been given. Lesson here is don’t celebrate too early!

Are there any others I’ve missed? If you think so let me know in the comments!

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NFL Wembley 2011

On Sunday the 23rd October (or October 23 if you’re from the States) I, along with over 80,000 other NFL fans will descend on Wembley stadium to witness the 5th NFL regular season game to be held in London. This year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers return to the capital to take on the Chicago Bears.

NFL Wembley 2008

NFL Wembley 2008

I’ve been lucky enough to have attended three previous of the four International Series games. the New Orleans Saints defeat the San Diego Chargers in a very entertaining 37-32 game in 2008.

NFL Wembley 2009

NFL Wembley 2009

In 2009 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned Wembley into a little slice of Tampa when they hosted the New England Patriots & Tom Brady. Unfortunately for Tampa they finished on the wrong side of a 35-7 result.

Each year the tailgate party before the game gets bigger and bigger and last year was no different as visitors where welcomed by a hug replica of the Golden Gate bridge. Once inside the party we were also able to walk around the ‘hall of fame’ which contains memorabilia from all the AFC & NFC teams. This year it proves be be even bigger with live music and events running all afternoon as well as the opportunity to get photos with the Vince Lombardi trophy.

NFL Tailgate Party 2010

NFL Tailgate Party 2010

Hopefully this years event will be as exciting as previous games and as a Dolphins fan, I would love to see the series carry on with maybe the ‘Fins returning to the stadium to banish any memories of their last visit when they lost to the New Your Giants in 2007 (The one match I didn’t get tickets for).

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The Top 10 Most Complained About TV Ads This Century

With the release of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) annual report, they’ve again included details on last years most complained about 10. There’s plenty of articles floating around the web talking about last year’s complaint but seeing as the most complained about ad received enough complaints to put it at number 3 in the overall top 10 list I thought it might be fun/interesting to look at the rest of the ads that make up the top 10.

I’m not going to link to the ads below because as you can probably guess from the title of this post a large number of people decided that the ads listed below were offensive so although you might not agree with them I don’t want to risk upsetting any of you :)

1. Marie Stopes – Are You Late? (2010)     4,688+ complaints
(including 3,600 objections made before broadcast)

This was the first ad ever shown on British television for unplanned pregnancy & abortion advisory services. It was part of a larger campaign by Marie Stopes. As you can imagine the complaints made against this ad covered quite a few reasons, including that it promoted abortion

2. KFC – Zinger Crunch (2005)     1,671 complaints

The second most complained about ad this century does not contain foul language, excessive violence, in fact it doesn’t include any of the usual reasons behind the complaints made against TV ads.  A few of you might remember the KFC ad where a couple of call centre workers singing with their mouths full. The majority of the complaint said it encouraged bad manners. The ASA ruled it was unlikely to prompt bad manners in children and so the complaints were not upheld.

3. Paddy Power – Blind Footballers (2010)     1,313 complaints

This was last year’s most complained about ad with people worried that the ad was both offensive to blind people and could encourage animal cruelty. Even though the ad received over 1,000 complaints the ASA said it was surreal and light-hearted and it decided the advert was unlikely to encourage or condone cruelty to animals or cause serious or widespread offence and so did not uphold the complaints.

4. VW Golf – Clones (2008)     1,066 Complaints

In this ad the car designer has to fight ‘clones’ of himself to get to his car, which was supposed to represent how as a market leader VW only had themselves to beat. Complaints were made saying that is is offensive because the depiction of violence was excessive.

5. Dept. of Energy & Climate – Act on CO2 (2010)     939 Complaints

The story of the increasing amoutns of CO2 in our atmosphere was told as if it was a child’s bedtime story in this ad. The ad ended with the child asking if there was a happy ending after which a vocie over kicks in and says “It’s up to us how the story ends. See what you can do.”

6. Barnardo’s – Child Abuse: Break The Cycle (2007)     840 Complaints

This ad was particularly strong and I actually found it pretty difficult to watch when I first saw it broadcast. It shows the story of a young girl slipping into a life of crime after suffering domestic abuse. Barnardo’s has a reputation for shock tactics but in this case their graphic ad received over 800 complaints. Barnardo’s took the feedback on hand and actually published an apology for any distress caused by the ad, however, they stood by their decision to run the campaign as they felt it was their duty to “ensure the issue of child poverty in this country is no longer neglected and that is the reason we have run such a hard-hitting campaign.”

7. Mr Kipling – Nativity (2004)     806 Complaints

This ad for Mr Kipling Mince pies begins with a woman called Mary in labour and crying out in pain in what appears to be a hospital. It’s only as the camera draws back we learn that she is not in a hospital but is instead is on a stage surrounded by children and being watched by a horrified audience. A woman in the audience turns to a vicar also in the audience and asks in a concerned voice if Mr Kipling has ever directed a Nativity play before. The vicar, who is unfazed by the performance, responds: “No, but he does make exceedingly good cakes.”

After receiving so many complaints the decision was made to withdraw this ad.

8. Dept. of Health – Hooked (2007)     774 Complaints

The Department of Health was trying to highlight the dangers of getting hooked on smoking by showing people with hooks in their mouths. The ASA agreed with the complaints and said that they were likely to frighten people or cause distress.

9. Volkswagen Polo –Singing Dog (2007)     743 Complaints

This ad features a very happy dog ‘singing’ from the front seat of the car, apparently full of ‘Polo confidence’ all is going well so far with everyone smiling at the happy dog, however, the mood changes pretty quickly as the shot quickly changes to the same dog cowering by his owner’s legs, while quietly mumbling the song under its breath.

This image of the dog prompted the RSPCA to launch an investigation into the treatment of the dog as they were concerned of mis-treatment.

10. Pot Noodle – Pot Noodle Horn (2005)     620 Complaints

This ad was supposed to play on the guilt factor behind eating pot noodles and the supposed shame behind eating a Pot Noodle. It starts with a man walking into a bar with a noticeable bulge in his trousers, and his friends accuse him of “having the horn”. The man denies it at first but then admits that he does have the horn, at which point he pulls out a real hunting horn from his trousers and blows it loudly. After a struggle the man owns up and says “OK, I have got the Pot Noodle horn. It’s big, it’s brassy and I’m going to blow it”. Complaints made against this ad included issues that it was embarrassing whilst others thought it unacceptable to use such a blatant sexual reference to sell a food product.

If I’m honest, I think the ASA probably thought they might get some complaints about Pot Noodle’s advertising as they had already stopped the company running the tagline “The slag of all snacks”

As advertisers constantly look for ways to make them and their ads stand out I’m sure that the ASA will have plenty more ads to review, you never know this time next year I might even have to write an update to this list.

Are there any ads that you remember and wonder how they ever made it to air? If so, let me know below.

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Out & About On The Conference Circuit: SES London 2011

This year I have made a conscience decision to attend more industry conferences and events and so with this in mind, one rainy February morning I made my way to the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster (opposite Westminster Abbey & a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament) for SES (Search Engine Strategies) London. This conference & expo is part of a series of events with other conferences taking place in New York & Shanghai amongst other cosmopolitan locations.

This was the first time that I have been able to attend the conference as a paid up visitor and so I planned on taking full advantage of the various talks and seminars running throughout the time I was there (which was unfortunately, only one day).

The talks came thick & fast with ideas and thoughts flying around everywhere, and by the end of the day I was ready for a drink and a good natter with the other attendees. Luckily for me, such an event was being held for onboard the HMS President (it was almost as if they had planned it) and so it only seemed right for me to go along and say hello to everyone (and maybe have that drink).

If you get the chance to attend SES in future I would highly recommend it not only are the talks filled to the brim great ideas that you’ll want to try out but you’re also able to meet and chat with other people in the industry. These casual chats are almost always where the real industry secrets lie and so I would really suggest that if you are able to go to this type of event, you should. It’s only when you get out there and meet/hear everyone that you’ll be able to see that everyone is looking at the same things as you are & that you’re all in the same boat together.

If you are interested in the session highlights from my day at SES you can find them in a couple of posts on the Screaming Frog SEM blog. If I find the time I might also add some more highlights to the blog, there were so many great tips and ideas though that it could turn into a long series of posts!

I’ll also be going to the BrightonSEO event in April and I’m planning on posting some stuff from there too so keep your eyes peeled for that :)

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Product Placement on UK TV

Ofcom has recently confirmed that from the end of February 2011 advertisers will be able to openly pay for their products to be used in UK television programs. This brings the UK up into line with the US where product placement has been permissible for what seems forever.

Due to the amount of US television shows currently being broadcast in the UK, this change may not bother many viewers, with some, probably saying that they weren’t even aware that product placement was illegal. All of the ‘top’ US shows have carried product placement for a number of years with manufacturers and brands paying millions of dollars to make sure that the lead actors are working on their Dell desktops or talking to their co-stars on their iPhones. Now it seems that viewers will have to get used to their UK counterparts doing similar.

Although the ban on paid placement has been lifted Ofcom have still restricted the use of product placement and although placement will be allowed in films; soaps; entertainment shows & sports programmes they will not be allowed to appear in any children’s & news programmes or any UK produced current affairs, consumer affairs or religious programs.

They have also set legislation that restricts the type of product permissible and have banned:

  • Tobacco products
  • Alcohol
  • Gambling
  • Food or drinks high in fat, salt or sugar
  • Medicines
  • Baby milk

The Ofcom rules also make it clear that although product placement is now allowed the placement of any product must “not impair broadcasters’ editorial independence and must always be editorially justified.” This in essence means that the program cannot be written with the product in mind so that they simply become an out and out advertisement for the product. This rule then stops any issues like when the ’Sex And The City’ writers created a plot revolving around Absolut Vodka.

Product Placement has been a very successful form of advertising and it will continue to be so, and so I can see it really taking off over here & becoming a very popular revenue stream with TV producers. Some commentators have said that it could be worth at least 5% of the total UK TV advertising market. If this is the case that would give it an annual value of £150m.

The difference is I think that because of the internet and the ability to watch programs from overseas people may not immediately think “Oh I really need to go and buy more Coca -Cola because the American Idol/ X Factor judges have it on their table”… That said I could be proved wrong, it has happened before (though not very often).

Finally, I couldn’t write a post about product placement without including the Wayne’s World scene where they lampoon the whole idea. :)

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Track Santa’s Journey with Google & NORAD

It’s that time of the year when all kids (and big kids) are hoping that they’ve made the nice list & are waiting excitedly for St. Nick to visit them overnight and leave a whole host of goodies under their Christmas trees…

When I was a kid you would always ask your parents just before going to sleep how Santa manages to do it all in one night and how quick he must be to get everything done before Christmas morning (other questions included fireplace related confusion & whether Rudolph actually wanted the half dozen carrots you left out on a small table alongside some mince pies/cookies & a glass of milk). Well nowadays, kids (and parents) alike can answer a lot of the questions with the help of Google & NORAD because for the last few years people have been able to track in real time the whereabouts of Santa is with Google Earth & NORAD. This really brings the old tradition of Chris Cringle into the new web age and I can just see kids all around the world hurriedly rushing to their mum’s & dad’s and asking them to help them find Santa.

If you have kids (or you are just a big kid yourself) you can start tracking Santa from 2pm EST (7pm GMT) today as he starts his journey via Google Maps from your computer/ phone as well as on Google Earth with the plug-in (you just need to search for [santa]).

Have a very Merry Christmas!!

http://www.noradsanta.org/

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