Evian’s “Baby and Me app” performs like a geriatric…..

According to the Danone website, “Baby & Me, created by BETC, shows a street full of people rediscovering their inner youth – and dance moves – as their reflections reveal the baby versions of their adult selves.” If you haven’t seen the advert, you should watch “Baby & Me” on YouTube, it’s fantastic; a perfect example of a viral marketing campaign with over 59 million YouTube views. This advert builds on the success of their “Roller Babies” campaign from a few years ago (69 million views). I’ve shown it to my children and my wife and everybody I’ve mentioned it to seems to have seen it. Evian is reaching a mass market with relatively little TV advertising spend.

To capitalise on the success of the advert, Evian has commissioned the production of a “Baby and Me” app for iOS and Android. On the face of it, this looks like a great idea. The application takes a picture of you as an adult and then uses pattern matching to identify over 70 facial features in a database of baby pictures. The application then creates a composite image of you as a baby. This has great potential for social sharing of images and it isn’t hard to see how this could help to ensure that even more people get the “Release the inner you” message from Evian.

There is no doubt that viral media is a great marketing tool and mobile apps are a great way to use peer interaction and socialisation to spread a message quickly. All good news so far from a marketing / PR perspective, but…….

…….There’s always a “BUT” isn’t there?

Evian Error screenshots
Evian Error screenshots

The Evian app is sadly disappointing.
Anybody who downloads an app that doesn’t work first time is highly likely to delete it and never use it again. Negative publicity from colleagues and friends who can’t use the app will do a great deal to damage any positive marketing messages that the app was intended to create

It is highly likely that the application designers and developers have been forced to work to a difficult schedule to get this application to market. Whilst individual teams may have all tested their application components; it is highly likely that proper end-to-end testing, including testing over relatively slow 3G and Wifi networks has not been done. Performance testing is crucial for applications like this, a poor user experience will result in users abandoning the application and never downloading it again.

So what went wrong?
Whilst performance testing is a well-established profession……
…testers need to evolve.

  • 15 years ago testers needed to understand thick clients and complex client-server apps.
  • 10 years ago, web applications dominated the market and testers skills (and pay rates) started to fall.
  • 5 years ago, Web 2.0 and mobile technologies started to develop and many testers failed to understand the complexity of more complex multi-tier web applications.
  • Now testers need the ability, skills and tools to test across multiple devices and multiple networks and need a deep understanding of application architecture to ensure application stability, scalability and performance under load.

Many testers don’t have the required skills or testing tools to test complex multi-tier applications across different devices and network topologies. Evian have used big-hitting media companies, BETC Digital and B-Reel, to develop their application…. I bet they’re wishing that they had the application tested properly by an independent testing specialist before this week!


Raspberry Pi as a WOL server

My electricity supplier in the UK recently sent me a electricity consumption meter which tracks energy use in real time and displays in on a small LCD panel. This has proved to be a real eye opener for me and has helped me to see how much power is used by a variety of devices in the house. I’ve found myself checking the meter at regular intervals and I’m getting good at working out which things are powered on just by checking the meter!

Electricity Consumption Meter
Electricity Consumption Meter

I’m one of those geeky types that likes to leave my home PC on all the time. This means that when I’m away from home, I can connect to the PC remotely and pick up files or refer to old email archives that I don’t keep on my laptop. I haven’t given this much thought until now but I checked the power consumption of my PC and saw that it draws 250W – 300W whenever it’s powered on. I did some rough calculations to see what this was costing me and I was surprised.

Daily power use for my PC = 0.275 KW x 24 = 6.6 KWh
Annual power use for my PC = 6.6 KWh x 365 = 2409 KWh
Average cost in the UK for 1 KWh = £0.14

Annual cost for running my PC all the time = £0.14 x 2409 KWh = £337.26

This made me think about turning my PC off more (as my wife has been suggesting for years) 😉  But I don’t want to lose the ability to turn it on remotely and get access to files….. hence my use of WOL (Wake on Lan).

I recently bought a Raspberry Pi and I’ve been tinkering with it for a while, I’ve used it for time lapse photography and general experimentation. I’ve also put one in the Trust IV office in Manchester which operates a webcam. I thought that I could use the low-powered Raspberry Pi to wake up my high-powered PC when I need it and I’d enable power management on the PC to put the PC to sleep when it isn’t in use.

Here’s how I did it.

  • Installed a base build of Raspbian on my Pi
  • Installed “wakeonlan” on the Pi, using the command [sudo apt-get install wakeonlan]
  • Installed Apache on the Pi, using the command [sudo apt-get install apache2]
  • Installed PHP5 on the Pi using the command [sudo apt-get install php5]
  • Wrote a small PHP script that sends the wakeonlan command to my PC.
  • Changed the default port for the webserver
  • Enabled port forwarding on my router to forward HTTP requests from outside to the Pi.
RPi screenshot
RPi screenshot

The PHP script (above) is pretty straightforward and uses the “exec” command to simply execute the wakeonlan command. I may improve this to give myself some visual feedback to show that the magic packet has been sent to the PC. For now I’m just happy that I can reduce my energy consumption and still access my PC remotely whenever I want to.

Assuming that  this gives me a 50% energy saving, this should reduce the electricity bill by more than £150 per annum.

#neverseconds – A lesson for us all in Internet marketing by Martha Payne (9 years old)

I suspect that many of you will have heard about the 9-year old girl from Argyll and Bute in Scotland, whose blog site http://neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk/ was the victim of censorship by her local council because it drew attention to the catering standards in her local school.

School dinners.....

I was monitoring the story yesterday and wrote a semi-geeky article on my website (and Intechnica’s blog site) about the impact that this appeared to have on the complaints page of the council website. (It broke!)

As a measure of just how much publicity the #neverseconds story has generated for Martha Payne’s blog, when I checked Martha’s hit counter at 13:20 on 15th June 2012, the site had around 2.6m hits. Today that stands at 4.6m hits (and it’s still rising quickly).

Martha’s “Just Giving” page http://www.justgiving.com/neverseconds, supporting school feeding projects in communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education, has raised well over £50,000 in the last 24 hours.

Well done, Martha !