The perfect real life paintings of Robert Brownhall

Q Weekend Magazine recently featured the story “Shot on Site” which is about Brisbane born and educated painter Robert Brownhall. This story immediately drew my attention as I was very taken by the pictures shown of his work. His subjects are mostly office towers, bridges, suburban houses and skylines that form the backdrop of our daily lives in South East Queensland. These paintings are very lifelike as he captures light and shade, sunny, rainy or foggy weather. The painting that really captured me was his “Albert Street Uniting Church at night 2011”. The detail of this work is so perfect that, at first glance, I thought I was looking at an actual photograph of the Albert Street Uniting Church that had been “shot on site”.

Robert Brownhall, Kurilpa Bridge 2010

Although Robert Brownhall has painted around the world it’s Brisbane, his hometown, that holds his attention as most of his work is locally inspired. His bird’s-eye view of scenes, characterised by a strong connection to place, was inspired during his earlier day job as a tree lopper.

Since his first art-student exhibition he has garnered a loyal following, given the resonance of his largely South East Queensland subject matter.

You can view Robert Brownhall’s exhibition at Brisbane City Council’s Museum of Brisbane on display from Fri 15 April 2011 – Sun 31 July 2011. It is the first survey of his work and encompasses twenty years of painting.

Photo: courtesy of the Robert Brownhall website.

Yours in Brisbane artists,

The Royal Wedding – a social media affair?

It was reported yesterday that tweets will be banned during Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Wedding ceremony today. That’s right it was alleged signal-blocking technology would be installed at Westminster Abbey, preventing social media leaks by those privy to be up close and personal with the pair. The fears were reportedly about the possibilities of photos, tweets or any sort of exposure reaching the world and news media before the Royal’s official release.

However, Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police have denied these twitter-banning claims. Which is a good thing given the entire wedding is being streamed live on YouTube, so us common folk outside the Abbey or in living rooms around the globe will not miss a beat (or tweet, as we’d be out of the signal-blocking technology!).

It’s not news that social media trumps official news casts in speed. Think back to the Queensland floods coverage or the Logies leaks (in 2011, the Logies banned Twitter). With everyone armed with a Smartphone being capable of being a social-journalist, reporting via social media is very real and very now. It’s simply part of the changing ways we communicate.

Within hours, social media channels will be running wild with Royal Wedding banter. Will you be watching the wedding on TV, or will you be online keep tabs on YouTube, while checking Twitter and Facebook? If you’re all for the latter, we recommend reading Mashable’s How to Follow the Royal Wedding Online article.

Yours in royal wedding excitement,


Now here’s how to be creative applying for a job!

In France, Victor Petit in his pursuit of finding an internship at a communication agency took inspiration from an iPhone app that mimics mouth movements to the lyrics of a song by electronic duo CASSIUS. The idea being that you put the phone screen over your mouth so it looks like you are singing!!!

Not my kind of iPhone app personally but at least Victor put the concept into a practical real life use! Victor created a QR Code (which we have mentioned before on Brio Daily) that links through to a brief message spoken by Victor himself. The wow factor is that you place your phone screen over the printed CV that he sent to give you the full picture of his portrait and mouth actually speaking to you!

That would impress me! From a communications agency point of view he has demonstrated that he knows print design and also digital process by using video and new media. Wish I had that kind of technology when I was young and looking for a job!

Here are a couple videos for you to watch… The first is the full film clip of the CASSIUS song, the second is the process of viewing Victors CV.

enjoy… yours in digital media,

PR Disaster of the Year Winner: Vodafone!

Last year BP’s oil spill took the cake, but this year it’s looking like Vodafone is a clear front runner in the PR Disaster of the Year Award. Vodafone is quickly becoming one of the most hated brands with its embarrassing lack of coverage, voicemail & SMS delays, billing issues and poor customer service. Vodafone customers are suing in a class action lawsuit spurred on by Adam Brimo, the founder of and Sydney law firm PiperAlderman. Thousands of Vodafone customer horror stories can be found on the website which reeks of a similar PR disaster Dell Hell that unravelled a few years back where disgruntled customers used internet forums and social media to band together and make a stand against crappy service.

It appears (and this is such a big social media no no) that it seems Vodafone dealers and staffers have been trying to defend the telco on without identifying themselves – says Brimo who’s analysed the IP addresses of the contributors. Even worse, their tone has been “quite aggressive” says Brimo and basically argue that “it’s the customer’s fault and that all of our complaints are about tiny problems”. Their attitude is “if we don’t like it, we should just leave” and judging by the complaints on Facebook I witnessed this Easter long weekend it seems that people are leaving Vodafone in droves (over 22,000 thousand customers have approached PiperAlderman). Brimo, has even had legal threats from the telco and had the site’s logo removed from Facebook due to “copyright infringement” – a move he believes was sparked by a complaint from Vodafone.

Vodafone’s inability to provide SMS text messaging to its customers on the 24th of April (a full 24 hour day), led them to offer customers a half-day (that’s only 12 hours) of free SMS messaging to compensate but with many of its customers on caps that include free SMS anyway, this offer on the first of May seems a slap in the face to customers who are feeling utterly “Vodaboned” as ITWire puts it.

In terms of customer service and social media Vodafone are making some huge mistakes and seem like they’re on a one way path to self-destruction. They could really learn some lessons from Dell in the way they handle complaints and adopt some transparency in the forums they engage in. Every company has problems and will inevitably receive customer complaints but it’s the way they deal with them that matters.

Are you a Vodafone customer? What are your experiences? Will Vodafone survive this PR mess? Unless we see some big changes soon I’m not so sure they will!

Yours in PR disasters,

Choose your words carefully – they could change your world

Words have more power than people give them credit for. In fact writers often scroll through hundreds of words before finding the perfect one, the one word that encapsulates their message completely and correctly.

It’s no surprise then, that effective cut-through communication relies on the mutual understanding of those words and their intended meaning by both sides in the communication equation – sender and receiver. We often forgot that with the rise of social media it’s not enough to simply send your message out into the world; it needs to be understood quickly so it can be processed and acted upon even quicker.

I saw a video recently of a homeless man on the street, his sign saying “PLEASE HELP, I’M BLIND”. He had a few people stopping by and giving money, but nothing that would greatly ease his suffering. He had the right message, but the wrong words to create action in his audience.  His message wasn’t cutting through all the other market place noise.

The clip continues as a professional woman comes into shot. She pauses, picks up his sign. You see her hastily writing something, but you’re unsure what. The homeless man touches her shoes as she puts the sign back into position beside him. The scene changes and more donations are being given to help, the homeless man scrambling to capture all coins in his tin. The professional woman returns after some time and the homeless man recognises her by her shoes, which he’s felt again. He asks with genuine sincerity and appreciation, what did she do to his sign and her reply? “I wrote the same, with different words”.

She used the right words, in the right context to create cut-through communication and connection between sender and receiver, and the effect in this demonstration was profound. Imagine if all your communication was received this way.

Brio Group can help you find the right words to achieve cut-through communication in the busiest of marketplaces. We also offer helpful hints on writing better Press Releases, creating copy for your ads and understanding the rapidly growing business benefits of social media.

Yours in 355 specifically chosen words,


When fashion & technology collide: Burberry’s Beijing Show

I’m not someone who you would say is “top of the fashion pack” but it goes without saying that I’m mildly interested in the “catwalk show experience”. I like them and when I’m invited to attend, I go, but I don’t often go out of my way to track them down or view them online.

When I do attend, I often gaze with so much admiration you could be forgiven for thinking I’d just met the love of my life and couldn’t take my eyes off them. I watch patiently, carefully putting together next season’s wardrobe in my mind, vowing to track down the items as soon as they’re released for public consumption. I’m pretty sure I even think at some point while in my fashion trance “I should design clothing for a living”, but then the lights come on and I’m awoken to the fact that I may never find, let alone own some of the beautiful designs I’d just witness sashaying before me. What I do own, however is the experience created by the brand, and that brand memory will be mine forever.

My most recent brand “memory acquisition” is from Burberry. Burberry is a historically British luxury brand whose clothing is unsuitable to the harsh Australian climate (for me) and is too much at odds with my current clothing cycle. However they delivered such an unforgettable brand experience with their recent Beijing Fashion show that I’m now looking at their website, “Liking” them on Facebook and finding them on Twitter – I’m a fan with a huge crush on their April Showers showcase.

So how did they blow my brandless cotton socks off?

Like Lynx who stepped outside the box with their technology-born vixens who fell to earth in London’s Victoria Station, Burberry elevated the catwalk experience with their most fashionably dressed catwalk models bursting into snowflakes (amongst other things) at the Beijing Fashion show, adding a touch of magic, personality and interactivity through new technology to their fashion show experience.


This unique twist on the standard catwalk show has created a fresh perception of the brand, in my eyes at least, and inspired my thinking on ways to use technology to create greater interactivity between brands and potential consumers in upcoming campaigns.

Yours in all forms of intertwining design,


PS. As it’s ANZAC day please take a moment to pause and reflect on those who sacrificed so much to give us the lives we have now.

Tracing the iPhone’s problem

Ever wondered what a map of EXACTLY where you have been over the last month looked like? Got an iPhone? Well, here’s something you probably didn’t (but should) know!

It may come as a bit of a shock, but you might like to know that your iPhone is actually capable of doing this. The technology is nothing new or special, 3 cell phone towers are used to triangulate your exact co-ordinates which are then stored in a database with a timestamp. Due to the fact that your phone does this without the assistance of its GPS hardware, this is NOT something that can be turned off or that you can opt out of. Though this method of recording your position is potentially less accurate, it is countered by the fact that it stores this information timed to the second. Want to see what this information looks like when its displayed through a program on a computer? Check this out:

Washington DC to New York from Alasdair Allan on Vimeo.

The next interesting (or scary fact), is that it’s been happing since June 2010 with the release of iOS 4. The information is kept in a file that is synced to your computer via iTunes where it can be deleted (along with the rest of your phones back up) but the next time you sync your device a new copy of the file will be created. It is also moved to a new device when the old one is replaced.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of information about all of this is that it took two security researchers to stumble across it for the information to come to light. Apple have stored all of this without the user’s permission or knowledge through the use of undocumented and seemingly hidden features of its mobile operating system. Telephone service providers are able to record this information however it requires legal documentation and is normally only accessible by the police. It is pretty easy for anyone who has access to your computer to get hold of this information which for some is more worrying than the fact that your phone stores it in the first place. Unfortunately at the moment there is no way of opting out of this either. Discoverers of this information have written a simple program on Mac OS X that is capable of displaying this information on a map which illustrates just how detailed the stored information is. If you’re interested in trying it out visit their website.

As someone who likes to keep my personal information cards close to my chest, I strongly recommend reading the articles that inspired me to write this post, visit:

iPhone Tacker –

Gizmodo – Your iPhone is Secretly tracking everywhere you go

The Guardian – iPhone keeps records of everywhere you go

Yours in spying and secretly tracking things,

Tag your TV and get free Pepsi!

We’ve all heard of QR codes and how popular they are becoming in marketing campaigns, but how about a campaign where you interact with your TV?

That’s right, TV advertising has finally come full circle thanks to IntoNow, who have developed a new iPhone App which allows you to “tag” your TV. The promotion has been launched in conjunction with Pepsi, where they are giving TV viewers the opportunity to tag the commercial using their iPhone which then automatically downloads a voucher to their smartphone for a free Pepsi. There are 50,000 free vouchers being given away to the first users who tag the correct spot in the commercial.

The technology is somewhat similar to that of the hugely popular iPhone app Shazam which identifies music by “listening” to it. IntoNow listens to and identifies programs and advertisements on television.

The images of the interface that I’ve seen are really exciting. You are able to instantly review what you’ve tagged plus, you can see all the other users who are tagging the same program or item within a commercial. It’s a totally interactive experience!

The possibilities for this type of technology are exciting, imagine being at the cinema watching the latest blockbuster, tagging the movie and then purchasing merchandise direct from your phone?

The technology is only available in the US at the current time, but I’m really looking forward to seeing this technology on Australian shores.

What do you think of this type of technology?

Yours in very cool technology,


The rise of mobile marketing in 2011

Mobile phones, it seems everyone has one right? In 2011 people are spending more time on their mobile phones than ever before. A new study by Microsoft Tag has revealed the cold, hard stats in an interesting infograph.

Marketers, did you know that more than 1 billion of the world’s 4+ billion mobile phones are now smartphones? And of these users, more than a third of Facebook users (more than 200 million) access Facebook from their phone.

However the most interesting statistic I stumbled across is that in three years mobile internet usage is set to overtake desktop internet usage … the whole world really is in our hands, already! This proves that mobile marketing is fast becoming an important part of businesses digital marketing plans.

Below are some key highlights from the infographic:

Yours in mobile marketing statistics,


Let there be rock

Lovers of rock can swap stage for cinema during the upcoming Let There Be Rock program at the Gallery of Modern Art’s Cinémathèque.

Featuring more than 45 documentaries, concert movies and feature films capturing the rebellious spirit of rock music, Let There Be Rock surveys more than 50 years of music on the big screen. Audiences can expect a musical journey from Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock 1957 and The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night 1964 to Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White in It Might Get Loud 2009 and Animal Collective’s visual album ODDSAC 2009. The program runs from April 29 to June 5.

The Friday night screenings will come alive when local musicians respond to the music represented on screen with very special short live performances. Look out for Ben Salter (The Gin Club), Matt Somers (I Heart Hiroshima), Seja Vogel, Tim Steward and Kate Jacobsen (Texas Tea) who will provide their own unique takes on Joy Division, The Rolling Stones, Arcade Fire, The White Stripes and The Doors.

And, for the Gurge fans, make sure you mark this is in your diary: on June 3, Quan Yeomans (Regurgitator) will take on the music of Prince prior to a screening of Purple Rain 1984.

For more information about the program and ticket details, please visit the GoMA website.

Yours in music,