Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The next generation of trainers

This month adidas have taken an Avatar-esque step into the unknown by launching trainers that come with their own explorable 3D world. A select range of adidas originals trainers will come with augmented reality coding on the tongue which, when used in conjunction with the adidas website, creates a full on virtual space.

Usage wise they are very simple - turn on your webcam, go to the website, and use your trainer as the remote.

In the coming months three further environments will be released for the shoes, check out the below link for two videos that explain all!

Friday, 5 March 2010

England - good, but not great

England vs Egypt - not exactly an automatic headline creator.

This would be what anyone who has been hibernating for the past three months would say. But actually the lead up to this game couldn't be more intriguing;

- a new vice Captain (Steven Gerrard) takes the reins from the new Captain (Rio Ferdinand) who displaced the incumbent (John Terry)
- JTs Chelsea are locked with Rio's Man Utd in the closest Premier League battle in years where anyone seems to be able to beat anyone
- Staying on JT theme, the England squad does not contain an internationally experienced left back and the defence looks more dodgy than it has in a long time
- A wide selection of inconsistent wingers is giving Capello a headache over who to play and where to play them
- No solid front two seems to be able to have a run of games, whether that be through injury or form. Rooney is the first name on the team sheet but who plays with him?

Add these into the fact it is a World Cup Year and actually the second last friendly before football's ultimate showpiece is actually a really important match up. Overall the game was good to watch but it didn't actually answer any questions. England triumphed but it was laboured and they probably posed more questions than they answered.

Terry and Upson were generally poor with JT obviously exposed by pace and the West Ham defender Upson looking very nervous. Leighton Baines is very underated and looked quite assured at left back but just doesn't have the experience to go up against the best teams in the World. Wes Brown, although competant, is no Glen Johnson going forward and isn't spectacular in his own penalty area so was there due to other players being injured. Lampard, Gerrard, Barry and Carrick all played a part in the England midfield during the game with Carrick probably standing out the most due to his superb ball distribution. Up front, Rooney and Defoe started and generally looked quite blunt. Crouch came on and showed why he should definitely be on the plane, but I'm pretty sure Capello knew this already. Carlton Cole had around five minutes so didn't really have a chance to do anything. So from this group, aside from Baines, Capello didn't really see anything new.

What the game did do was raise England's problem on the flanks. By my reckoning there are 8 wingers who could go to South Africa, all with their own positives and negatives. The image below shows them all and the next two months will be key for thiese player in particular to secure their spots in Fabio's final 23.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Terry stripped of England captaincy - Capello keeps his promise

On Friday 5th of February 2010 John Terry lost the ultimate honour to be bestowed upon an international footballer - he was sacked as captain of the England Football Team. Since last week Terry's name has been dragged through the press and people across the world have been waiting with baited breath to see whether the footballer's alleged indiscretions would lead to him paying the ultimate price.

The decision was reportedly confirmed after a 10-minute meeting with Terry where presumably he was challenged by Fabio Capello to prove why he should keep the armband. England's manager gave Terry a final appeal to explain himself and the inability to convince Capello will surely open the floodgates on the whole scandal. Various tabloids are seemingly prepping themselves to truely destroy Terry and by stripping him of his captaincy Capello and the FA have taken away his last layer of protection.

Is it a good decision? On the one hand England are a mere five months away from a World Cup where, after a very impressive qualifying campaign (under the leadership of John Terry), the team is positioned as one of the favourites for the tournament. The squad has a plethora of talent but also has balance giving England a real shot at World Cup glory. Taking the captaincy away from Terry and giving it to the experienced Rio Ferdinand will not have a great deal of impact on the performance of the side. However, what could have an impact will be the relationship between Terry and his teammates. He remains one of the best defenders in the country and he will surely keep his place within the side which will mean all within the squad will have to get past the news that has dominated UK press for the last two weeks. Some will be sympathetic to Terry, others will not be and Capello may have an even harder decision to make dependent on whether he sees Terry's presence within the squad as unsettling. The England squad will meet up in late February ahead of the Egypt friendly at Wembley on March 3rd and Capello will need to quickly rebuild what is very possibly a split team. If the revelations continue and other players, especially if they are other England players, are involved then the hugely sucessful Italien could have a real problem on his hands - only time will tell.

With regards to the decision on captaincy, Capello made the right decision. If the allegations are true then Terry in no way deserves the honour of leading the England football team. He is not just a leader on the pitch, he is supposed to be an ambassador for England. Capello has also always acted in way that makes it very clear that he won't accept any messing around - anything that puts team performance or morale in jeopardy will be not be stood for and his sacking Terry has not only sent an important message the player but also to the wider squad. He will not allow anything to get in the way of him successfully doing his job which is exactly the sort of manager England have needed for many, many years.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

How to celebrate heritage in style - Atari Style

Ask most male twenty/thirty somethings what Atari means to them and you'll usually get a look of long lost love. The Atari was the original pioneer of home video games, starting with classics such as Pong and then releasing the iconic 2200 system in the mid 80s. The 90s saw the release of the highly acclaimed Lynx and the fore-runner to more sophisticated gaming, the Jaguar. Neither saw widespread success however and Atari faded before being brought into the Infogrames corporation. The company now focusses on distrubution and publishing but can definitely be credited with starting the home entertainment revolution way back in 1972.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The 2010 World Cup draw - great news for England?

The draw for the 2010 Football World Cup took place on Friday out in South Africa and the excitment will now build in the run-up to the tournament. Although it is six months away it was clear through the coverage of the event here in the UK that World Cup fever has already bitten.

The actual ceremony was farcically long and an oddly entertaining hosting duo meant that it wasn't until the balls started rolling that it was possible to really focus on what was happeing. England, seeded in the draw, got a group of USA, Slovenia and Algeria - all things considered it was a fantastic outcome.

Algeria had a decent qualifying campaign and will be a quick and physical side, but they should be swept aside by a full strength England team with relative ease. Slovenia were suprise qualifiers with a playoff victory against a good Russian side. They will give it everything against England and will be tough to breakdown, but again, this should be three points for the three lions. The USA however are a different proposition. For many years the USA's biggest quality has been that they are "hard workers" - not exactly the sort of complimant you want if you are trying to be taken seriously as a world football power. They've kept this trait but have gained some really talented and experienced players like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. Their 2009 Confederations Cup display showed how far they've come and England will have to be on top form to take maximum points from the fixture.
That being said England will and should feel confident of progressing, the real challenge will begin in the second round. The English first team is a match for any side in the tournament but the World Cup is won on the strength of squads. David Beckham was a special guest in South Africa for the draw and he'll be a hugely important squad player next Summer. Barring injuries ahead of June England will go with a great squad - a mix of talent, youth, and experience. They've got a solid back line, one of the best line up of midfielders on the planet and a potent strike force. When you add players such as James Milner, Ashley Young and Peter Crouch into the mix as squad players its no suprise that the English media and bookies are getting carried away, some instilling them as favourites. In reality the top national teams haven't been closer for a very long time - Spain, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Argentina, Holland, France - all could triumph.

As with every World Cup draw there was also the reveal of the new football for the tournament. adidas have made the ball for each World Cup since 1970 and the newest incarnation was not a disappointment. The ball is called Jabulani, meaning "to celebrate" in isiZulu, and has been developed using truely revolutionary technology. A new 8 panel design means it is rounder than ever before and a new grip n groove surface promises truer flight and more stable. The 2006 ball, the teamgeist, used more panels to help increase stability and the less panels on The Jabulani should mean more movement. However, the grip n groove texture compensates for this and should make life less unpredictable for goalkeepers.

Some players have got a headstart on getting to grips (no pun intended) with the new ball but some seem to have struggled with the pronounciation. Can you say it? -

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Observer axes its magazines.. the beginning of the end for Sunday broadsheets?

It has been announced within the last few weeks that the Observer Newspaper is set to close its magazines. The weekly broadsheet, first published in 1791, was the worlds first Sunday newspaper and it has a truly illustrious past. However, although it was named British Newspaper of year as recently as 2007, falling ABC figures has led to speculation about the paper shutting down.

In August this year it was widely reported that the paper would close but this hasn't happened and instead a signficant editorial change has been made to try and bring revenue and costs closer together. The popular monthly magazines will all cease to exist, the format will be reduced to four main sections (news, sport, review and The Magazine), and several staff will be reassigned across The Guardian network.

However, is this just delaying the inevitable? The costs involved in producing a Sunday broadsheet are huge and large circulation figures are required to generate the required sales and advertising revenue to make a paper a viable business - especially in todays economic climate. The format changes to the Observer will save costs but they are unlikely to add to the papers comparatively (versus papers like the Daily Mail and Sunday Times) small circulation figures. As such the paper is likely to continue to lose money so it can surely only be a matter of time before it no longer makes business sense to publish it.

It will be a sad day when The Observer loses its battle and it seems that The Independent may unfortunately follow suit, but it seems that big loses to the media industry such as these are what is needed as to fast track the radical changes required.

Online news and content is the way forward, the newspaper industry just needs to figure out how to evolve.

What is probably in store for England fans at the World Cup 2010

The link above is to a short but powerful video that reviews England's performance at the 2006 World Cup. On the whole it was a nerve shattering experience and this film brings back the feeling of how close we were to going out early and then how close we were to going to the later stages. With much the same team that went in 2006 set to go in 2010 have we really got a chance of getting past a quarter final penalty shoot out loss?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Wilkinson is the shining light in England's opening Autumn International defeat

Rugby Union is starting to get exciting again. With only two years until the World Cup in New Zealand and six years until the tournament hits British soil, there is plenty to draw wide-spread attention to the game. However, since the heroics of 2007 where England grafted their way to the World Cup Final, the national side has seen a series of high profile setbacks restrict their progress. The retirement of key figures such as Lawrence Dallaglio, Jason Robinson and Martin Johnson has meant that players with little international experience have had to step up and perform. Little consistency in the English line-up has meant the team has never really gelled and ahead of the opening match of the Autumn Internationals last weekend the first XV was low on national team game time.

However,  one crucial return to fitness and form meant that it wasn't all doom and gloom in the lead up to the game against Australia. Jonny Wilkinson's move from Newcastle to Toulon in the Summer was seen by some as the last roll of the dice for the injury prone number 10 but so far its been a huge success. He has managed to find the form and happiness in the game that makes him Union's most potent ever weapon. Wilkinson is the highest test point scorer of all time and recent research from Gillette Winter Defence has revealed that England have won 78% of their games over the last ten years with him playing versus 47% of their games when he has been missing.

The research unsuprisingly revealed  that Wilkinson's attacking impact is an average of 3 points per game for England. However it also revealed that with him playing England concede an average of 4 points less a game which is backed up by his average tackle count of 8.8 per game. It seems as though Wilkinson has returned to the World stage when Johnson needed him most and at a great time for him personally in his career.

Therefore it was no suprise that in the lead up to the clash with Australia the attention and expectation of the nation fell upon Jonny's shoulders. As always he thrived under the pressure and although England lost to an emerging Australian side Wilkinson was most definitely back to his best, kicking 9 points, tackling hard and leading on and off the pitch (click the link above to see extended highlights on BBC iPlayer).

The Autumn Internationals are mostly definitely a time for England to experiment, gel and grow as a team. The learnings that Martin Johnson will take from the series will define the squad that goes into next years Six Nations and the success of that team will certainly have an impact on the team going into the 2011 World Cup. One thing is certain - The Wilkinson Effect is alive and kicking and English coaches, players and fans will want to keep it that way for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

adidas Predator X - power redefined

Global football is dominated by three brands - adidas, Nike, and Puma. These brands battle it out each year with new innovations being the trump card for product releases. The most famous name from the adidas brand is the Predator which built its name on a simple innovation. In 1992 the brand brought out the boot incorporating rubber strips that were designed to increase swerve and bend on the ball. The boots quickly became best sellers and adidas went about signing up the most exciting players at the time to be their ambassadors. Klinsmann, Gasgoine, and Del Piero were three of the first players to wear the iconic and Del Piero, who is still playing today, continues to wear the Predator.

Over the last 15 years adidas has released a total of 9 versions of the famous boot, all being an improvement on the last. This November sees the release of the tenth generation of the boots, the Predator X. Ahead of the World Cup adidas needed to an impact with this release and improvements to the boot make it sound as though it'll be a certain winner. The official techical breakdown lists two key features;

1. The Powerspine  - a revolutionary centre to the boot that minimises the energy lost when a player strikes the ball, transferring this energy to ensure maximum connection with the ball.   The result of this innovation is an additional 7% extra power versus the previous generation of Predator boots.
2. A newly designed Predator zone - containing a mix of rubber and silicon the re-positioned zone increases swerve in all weather conditions. A Taurus leather core combined with Thermoform memory foam and Optifit technology creates a lightweight fit that lasts.

Alongside the usual bout of player testing and involvement, the Predator X was crafted by one of the most technically gifted players of all time - Zinedine Zidane. Zidane has worn Predators throughout his career and for the Predator X he was heavily invovled in the R&D for the boot. The image below is a still from the link above which shows Zidane being interviewed about his famous Predator moments and then shows him testing the boots. By the look of the film he is still absolutely world class.

adidas symbols wearing the Predator X will include Steven Gerrard, Karim Benezema, David Beckham, and Michael Ballack. The worlds most famous boot is back, with a bang.

Go to to find out more information.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Two Champions in two years - the British ruling F1!

This weekend in Brazil Jenson Button sealed his first Formula 1 Drivers title, the second year in a row a British driver has taken the Championship. The link above takes you to the BBC Iplayer coverage of Button taking 5th place in the weekends race which was enough to give him the title he had waited so long for.

The 29 year old had a difficult time with the Honda team during the last few seasons and when Ross Brawn took charge of the new Brawn GP team no one was sure how Button would fair. Some thought that the forgotton man of F1 would continue to struggle and waste another season, others thought that his true class would shine through in the Mercedes powered car. In the end, the genius of Ross Brawn, combined with the excellent debut Brawn GP car gave Button the edge and confidence to achieve his life-long goal.

But where now for Brawn GP and Button? Sponsors will be lining up to jump on the success of the team and Button and both deserve all the opportunities that come their way after a fantastic season. However, will the fabulous performance be a flash in the pan? Firstly Barrichello will almost certainly leave the team and they will require a top replacement to give the team the strength they had this season. Secondly McClaren and Ferrari will not be happy with their 2009 seasons and will look to really step it up next year. The drivers they have in Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are some of the most naturally talented drivers in F1 history and they will be battling it out with Button to take control of next season. Brawn GP certainly won't have it easy and its sure to be close run thing in 2010.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

the art of stand up comedy

Stand up comedy has got to be one of the strangest professions in the world. As a sucessful stand up comic members of the general public will pay quite large sums of money to come and see you stand on a stage and talk for a few hours. As a band or solo artist people will pay money to see you because they are fans of your music. As an athlete people will pay money to see you because they are a fan of your team or because what you are doing consitutes performance at a higher than average level. As an actor people will pay to see you use your talent to portray a character and tell a story. As a comedian people are paying to see you be funny, to largely just be yourself which must be a fantastic but at the same time baffling feeling.

I recently saw Michael McIntyre at Wembley Arena as part of his 2009 Arena Tour. He is a fantastic comedian, one who doesn't rely on being crude or picking on audience members for laughs. A genuinely hilarious and intelligent stand up. However it was still difficult to get my head around the amount people (around 12,000) who had paid £30 to come and see him "be funny". I feel jealous of his friends who get him being funny all the time, for free!

Anyway if you haven't come across him yet click on the link above for a 5minute highlight reel.

Monday, 28 September 2009

FIFA 10 - advert making 101

In the video game world there is probably no bigger face off each year than the battle between EA Sports FIFA franchise and Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer. Each year the combined sales figures of the titles make up a huge percentage of the overall games market and with that number growing year on year both publishers have more cash to splash on making their latest installment the must have game of the football season.

Until recently Pro Evolution Soccer had trumped FIFA on the most important aspect of all: gameplay. Even though FIFA has always been graphically superior and had all the licenses money can buy, Pro Evo has traditionally been the game for true football fans. However, for the last few years FIFA has been getting their game together and the developers over at Konami haven't been able to respond. By all accounts this years FIFA 10 is set to be the best yet and will finally fully surpass Pro Evo in the popularity stakes.

One thing FIFA has almost always got right are their adverts and the commercial for FIFA 10 is no exception. Their tried and tested formula of the past few years is as follows;
1. Recruit top real life footballers - Rooney, Benzema, and Xavi star in this years ad to name but a few
2. Put them together with real fans/FIFA players - this years version sees the pros playing amongst a whole group of fans
3. Show some cleverly shot gameplay - a rotating camera with changing team views really works well
4. Throw in some cinematic location shots - this years is about as iconic as you can get
5. A decent soundtrack and voiceover - see for yourself!

Watch the ad linked above and try to resist thinking about how many days it is until you can lay your hands on EA's latest masterpiece.

Monday, 21 September 2009

kit to wear under your kit

A recent innovation from sportswear manufacturers is the concept of compression clothing to wear under your sports kit. adidas have their techfit range, under armour have a set of performance gear, and Nike have their NikePRO range. The image above and link are for the new NikePRO collection which stars Adrian Peterson, arguably the greatest running back currently playing american football. An excellent iconic commercial with the range of kit being part of Peterson instead of something he just wears.

More and more resources from the big manufacturers are going into trying to make their compression kit the must have with Peterson the most recent in a long line of worldwide superstars across a variety of sports to be used to showcase the range. However, what are the actual benefits of using this sort of kit?

The adidas techfit range has the following benefits;
- the kit focuses energy where it is needed most generating greater explosiveness at critical moments
- techfit is designed with superior stability to enhance strength, flexibility and power
- the seamless garments from the range increase oxygen flow through the body to the muscles and reduce vibration in core muscle groups
- climacool technology increases ventilation to keep body temperature low
- greater stability in key areas including lower back, torso, and abdomen improve overall balance and diminishes the chances of injury

With the proven scientific benefits and high profile athletes endorsing the various ranges investment in this kit seems like a wise move that will enhance sports performance.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

meeting a sporting legend

As a general sports enthusiast it is a pleasure to work in the field that is my passion. A massive perk of working within this arena is that sometimes, on very rare occasions, you get to meet sportsmen and women who are true legends and giants of sport. This slightly self-indulgent post is frankly a big boast about how I was lucky enough to meet Jonny Wilkinson yesterday. The Rugby World Cup winner and all round English hero is now based in Toulon and I was involved with some promotional activity he was taking part in. A genuinely nice, intelligent and eloquent guy who deserves the adulation he receives. Like every other England fan I am keeping my fingers crossed that one of best number 10s of recent times can stay fit for the upcoming Autumn Internationals, Six Nations, and the 2011 World Cup. If you don't share this sentiment click on the link above for a 2minute summary of why England are an entirely different prospect with him in the team.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Todays selection of imagery

Not a great deal of point to this point I'm afraid - just an example of randomness and variety of stuff being uploaded to the internet everyday

The greatest tennis player ever gets even better

This looks like it is about to be crucial point for Novak Djokovic from this weekends US Open Tennis event. Djokovic was 2 sets down, 5-6 down, and love-30 down but this was the shot that would turn the game around. Roger Federer, officially the worlds greatest tennis player, is on the back foot and a lob from the advancing Djokovic sends him chasing a lost cause to the back on the court.

Against any other player this shot would have made it 15-30 and would have put the pressure back on Federer, but he is not just any player. Click on the link above to see how Federer plays this unbelievable shot to leave a gobsmacked Djokovic feeling supremely beaten.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

You should't laugh, but...

Not much point to this post I'm afraid other than the fact I got sent this and it made me laugh, when it probably shouldn't have. A valiant attempt by a school orchestra to play the famous opening to Stanley Kubricks "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Pretty damn terrible but also pretty damn entertaining

Sunday, 6 September 2009

don't quit the day job

A recent list, compiled by Empire magazine, revealed 25 movie stars who sing. The talent on show varies from the gifted Russell Crowe to the vocally challenged Eddie Murphy. A massive variety of styles and genres exist within the list but the general feeling is that these guys and gals should stick to their dayjobs. Aside from some rare exceptions (Milla Jovovich being one) these people were made to act and its just not fair for them to have two dream jobs.
The picture above represents everything that is bad about movie stars straying into the music world - William Shatner. The two images are linked to below and are clips displaying his musical "talent". One is Shatner doing a spoken word version of Elton John's Rocketman, the second is him rapping about Shakespeare. Madness.

Shatner rapping at this link

Shatner the rocketman at this link

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The new secret weapon of the police

 "Its not a job, its an adventure"
Is the line Steven Seagal uses to finish this teaser for a new TV show, imaginatively called;
Steven Seagal: Lawman

The premise is simple: for the last 20 years, in between making martial arts films, that have all had roughfully the same plot, Seagal has been serving as a cop in a small American province. The new series follows his job/adventure as a "normal" cop on the beat.

Utterly ridiculous, but if it ever makes it onto UK television I think it might have a Dog the Bounty Hunter type addictive-ness to it.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Can clever marketing alter taste?

Lager is one of those funny products where it is as much about the image of  the product as it is about the taste, which is why lager brands spend incredibe sums of money on trying to make their brand cool.

If successful, clever marketeers can make people think their beer tastes good, even when it doesn't. The above ads are simple, but cool - CDs and pizza boxes. Heineken like to promote themselves as premium lager and stylised communications help them do this.

Coors Light is a great example of where a lager has decided its strategy should be to make everyone think of mountains, fresh air, and the cold whenever they see it. "The Taste of the Rockies" has no real factual basis to it - its brewed in Burton! However, if you ask someone to describe what its like with a couple of adjectives they will almost definitely say light, cold, and refreshing.