Human Beinz

Loving this track. Heard it on the Nike ‘throwdown’ ad…

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Impossible is nothing

Here is a video that we watched in our account management meeting this morning. It’s screening was designed in part to get us to remember the mantra engraved on the the steps of our Charlotte Street office and live by them everyday. ‘Nothing is impossible’.

There’s lots written about the future of account management – Our focus is firmly on the fact that the role of ‘maintenance facilitator’ is dying out…but the role of ‘leaders’ isn’t…

Our new Visa ad

Here is the new Visa ad that we;ve been working so hard on at Saatchi’s. There is plenty more to come and I’ll share some of the digital elements as they go live over the forthcoming days and weeks.

The athletes featured are going to be some of the most well known faces in just over a year and the preparation for London 2012 now feels fully underway…

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The role of brands

These are my very brief thoughts in relation to the role of brands, whether the power of brands is waning and what it means for the industry as a whole…

It used to be relatively simple to know what the role of a brand was. Brands were simply products and services available for sale. But society has evolved at tremendous pace pace in the last century and brands have evolved with them. Now, it feels like everything is a brand. Rightly or wrongly, brands now dictate what we think of people and how we think of ourselves.

So, is the power of the big brand waning?

Well, the above would suggest not. Unprecedented technological advancement has meant that in the present day, brands are able to be more flexible and multi faceted than ever before. Brands can offer different meanings to different people doing different things at different times. This flexibility creates greater relevance to the visions and ideologies that consumers identify with and conform to.  

So, with greater opportunities to be relevant comes greater power?

Well, yes it does. However, the opportunity to become multi-dimensional has a flip side. With these technological advancements, the consumer has also been offered the opportunityto participate and interact rather than simply consume messaging. As such, brands are no longer a static brand value but a constantly morphing discourse of opinion. Some belong to the brand, but more belong to individuals who now have the power to make and break them.

If the product and the vision stacks up, then brands are more powerful than ever. If brand credentials don’t stack up though, then no amount of media purchasing and snappy slogans will rescue them from public opinion

So, what does this mean for our profession? Well, it means it’s harder to cut-through than ever before. It means we can’t bullshit consumers. It means we need to understand a plethora of channels that a few years we didn’t even know existed.

It also means more channels than ever before to communicate in. More opportunities to be bold and innovative. More opportunities to make a difference to greater numbers of people than ever before.  It means there’s never been a more exciting time to be working in the communications industry.

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Is advertising losing it’s relevance?

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here. Starting a new job and the holiday season put paid to efforts temporarily. Fortunately, starting a new job means interesting new surroundings and people to be inspired by. Which is good. So, I’ve started at Saatchi and Saatchi and one such source of inspiring thoughts is a weekly account management ‘workout’. We’ve had talks from interesting brands like Google through to social media experts and it was whilst listening to the latter chatting away about a particular participatory campaign that I asked myself a question… Is advertising losing it’s relevance?

I’m not talking in the traditional sense of does advertising per se hold interest to the average man in the street. We know it still does as, whether it be gorillas, meerkats or karaoke, advertising campaigns retain the ability to permeate popular culture. What I’m more interested in is how far removed from the product being advertised, agencies are now willing to go to achieve business objectives that didn’t exist 10 years ago – principally around participation and interaction. The reality is that in low interest categories – it can be easy to think that people aren’t really interested in detergent or sausages or wood varnish, so to get them involved in participatory mediums, we need to find out what they really are interested in and use this as a hook to show that we understand their wants and desires.

For me, this creates a problem though whereby it becomes incredibly easy to lose sight of what we are actually trying to achieve – sales. Our desire to make people ‘participate’ or ‘interact’ with a brand can overshadow the ultimate requirement of establishing relevance which is I think is essential within advertising to selling more of a product. Participating isn’t enough. We need relevance. It’s actually pretty easy to create something that people can play and interact with. The real challenge therefore is finding the emotional hook in the context of the product and the potential customer’s relationship to it – that can create an affinity and ultimately sell more. Relevance basically. Which is much harder and oft forgotten.

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Big Bang Big Boom

Amazing wall painted animation on how we all got to this point. Epic.

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Heading upstream

A lot of decisions that we make are based on preconceptions. We are creatures of habit and we think we know best. If something has worked for us once then we may well use it again. If it hasn’t, we probably won’t. And messages, marketing or otherwise, are screened using what has gone before (or our experience). What this means is that we have to find different and innovative ways of saying things to break down these barriers that inherently exist.

 To be innovative – we have to go ‘upstream’ if you like.

 ‘Upstream’ is a term (I like) that Dave Trott used in a talk a couple of months back at the APG on ‘The Art of Persuasion’ (It was a great talk and you can view it here). He told the story of a group of young girls in American high schools who enjoyed kissing the mirror of the restroom (It’s an American story alright!) and leaving lipstick marks. Despite protestations about the time it took the janitor to clean the mess – the kissing continued. Eventually the head teacher took the group of girls into the restroom and asked them to ‘look how long it takes to clean the lipstick marks off the mirror’. The janitor then plunged his mop into a nearby toilet bowl and scrubbed the mirror. The girls recoiled in horror. Not because of the time it took – but because of where the water was from….

 There are numerous ways to tell the same story. And different ways create different results.

 Human beings are inherently selfish. So, we need to find ways to tell stories that provide a benefit to that person if we want to convince them to do something. It’s obvious really…

 My next door neighbours had an overgrown garden. It was horrible and the weeds were growing over my fence. When I suggested that they get their landlord to come and cut it – I received no response. When on the other hand, I suggested that they might be annoyed that they couldn’t enjoy summer barbeques in the garden that their rent should cover – I found that a week later – the garden had been cleared…

 Offer a benefit otherwise people won’t bother.

 The concept of a benefit is a pretty open though. A benefit can be a piece of entertainment, some engaging content, the chance to see something etc

 Here is someone making people pay attention to something that they would normally ignore. People pay attention because something traditional is approached in a new way. The star of this show goes upstream to deliver his message. And provides a benefit to those who do in the form of entertaining content. 

Give people something that benefits them in some way and they’ll likely tell their friends. As we all know, engagement is great – but participation and conversation are better.

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Design For Networks (via Mike Arauz)

I came across this great presentation. Check it out…

The Trillion Dollar Flyer

The Trillion Dollar Flyer, by TBWA Hunt Lascaris in Johnannesburg for The Zimbabwean newspaper, scooped the graphic design category at the D&AD Awards. I thought this was a really neat idea…

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