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Archive for May, 2012

  • Commercial Karma

    21st May 12

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, culture

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    Memories light the corners of my mind
    Misty,water colored memories
    Of the way we were.

    ~ Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were

    Barbara Streisland, image: barbarastreislandpictures.com

    I attended the Damien Hirst show at the Tate Modern. Flies and fags, butterflies and bling, spin and spots, drugs and death… There. You don’t need to see it now.

    I walked away somewhat hollow. I felt a pang of guilt and recognition. Guilt because Hirst was in many ways the adman’s artist. Art that came with a nudge, a wink and a knowing punchline. Art as quick hit, shiny bright, paper thin. Recognition because, yes, that was Britain in the ’90s. Spin doctors and Spice Girls, boy bands and man bags, heroin chic and Shabba Ranks, lads and Loaded, puffas and Prozac, Wonderbra and Wonderwall, alcopops and Posh & Becks. Fool Britannia…. There was no god, no beauty, no other. Just money and death and irony. Things could only get worse…

    I’m not sure I blame Damien Hirst. I suspect he’s a very good artist. He was very effectively holding a mirror up to us and our values. Or lack of them. And I suspect each generation gets the art it deserves. Flies and fags was maybe all we were good for in the ’90s.

    Don’t you also think that we get the advertising we deserve? As an Agency, as a Client, as a culture ? When we hark back to a golden hued, bygone age of celestial communication, are we not condemning our own failure to create greatness now? When the disappointed Client fires the disappointing Agency, isn’t he or she shirking personal responsibility? When we rail against cruel fate and happenstance, when we bemoan the recession, or reach for the blame gun, shouldn’t we be looking in the mirror first?

    I believe in commercial karma. That, broadly speaking, in advertising as in life, we reap what we sow. That what goes around comes around. Not for some spiritual, counter cultural, gaia-type reason. But because, though it seems trite to say it, in the long run, smart, open minded Clients, working with intelligent, lateral Agencies, for honest, worthwhile brands, will make better, more effective work. And vice versa.

    I guess I have witnessed exceptions to this. The craven creative, the malevolent marketing director, the bullying business director have on occasion won the day. But overall in my experience fakes are found out, charlatans are shopped. Good prevails.

    Instant karma’s gonna get you
    Gonna knock you right on the head
    You better get yourself together
    Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead

    ~ John Lennon, Instant Karma

    John Lennon, image: backstageol.com

    Of course in the past one had to wait for hubris to be followed by inevitable nemesis. Nowadays the social web has created a kind of instant karma. Because the courtroom of public opinion is so immediate and all seeing. It shines an unforgiving,instantaneous light on the ill conceived and poorly executed. It likewise rewards the virtuous with currency and value.

    I had always believed that Corporate Social Responsibility was exactly that: a responsibility that a business owed to the communities it served. I wasn’t so enamoured of more fashionable phrases like social investment because I didn’t feel ethics needed commercial justification.  And I wasn’t convinced CSR had a role in marketing or brand.

    Now I have been persuaded that ethics are more than a responsibility. They are fundamental to a brand’s sustainability in a transparent, socialised world. Because increasingly consumers are unwilling to buy good products from bad people. Because in a world of commercial karma only the good Clients, good admen and good brands can win.

  • The Planner / Creative relationship: how does it work for you?

    8th May 12

    Posted by Griffin Farley

    Posted in collaboration, strategy

    Authors: Fran Hazeldine, Strategy Director and Pelle Sjoenell, Executive Creative Director at BBH LA

    YouTube Preview Image

    In a couple of weeks time we’ll be speaking at the annual Planningness conference, which is coming to LA for the first time this year.

    We were originally asked to talk about how we work as a planner / creative duo at BBH LA. But rather than share a single, narrow perspective, we thought it might be interesting to take a broader look at the planner / creative relationship today.

    What do planners and creatives really value in one another? How can they best work together in a modern agency setup? Do similar or opposite styles attract? Does gender, nationality or experience make a difference? Has digital changed the relationship? Is it still a two-way dynamic or are planning and creative duties shared between more diverse teams?

    We’re hoping to answer some of these questions by asking planners and creatives from a variety of agency backgrounds to fill out a short survey. If you work in either role at any level, we’d love to get your input. Results will be shared here on the Labs blog and in our Planningness talk on May 18th.

    The aim is to gather some honest, practical learning about the planner / creative relationship, how it is changing and what we can do to improve it. Next up, the new business / finance relationship…

    You can find the results of the survey and our follow up post here.

  • ‘Everything we know, is wrong’

    3rd May 12

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Events, Rants

    How communication is consumed: West vs East, from "Everything we know, is wrong"

    BBH Asia Pacific Chairman, Charles Wigley, and Rob Campbell of W+K delivered their joint talk “Everything we know, is wrong” at The Asia Marketing Effectiveness Festival in Shanghai last week. Asked to be provocateurs, their talk (slideshare below) smartly tackles five flawed notions in one fell swoop: from ‘tv is dead’, ‘brand love’, ‘everyone wants to join in’, ‘pre-testing makes everything better’ and finally ‘London and New York know absolutely everything’. At Labs we particularly enjoyed the provocation of the last theme, which struck us as something not discussed nearly enough on these pages. If you’re someone with a client or simply a keen interest in Asia (so all of us, then..), then may we suggest – if you do nothing else – reading slides 64-81 of Chaz and Rob’s presentation below.



    As Chaz himself puts it:

    “We had what we knew would be a crowd pleaser in the East where we have both lived and worked for years, but may be less of one in the West. We’ll see. We firmly believe it anyway. Specifically we took on the notion that ‘West knows best. If you believe that culture significantly influences how people look at and interact with the world, then there is ample evidence that it causes Asian – more collectivist – consumers to interact differently towards brands and to read communications differently. Academia and our business are just at the start of understanding this one. But it’s going to be big. Read Richard Nisbett’s ‘The Geography of Thought’.”

    Chaz and Rob in action at AME 2012

  • The Barn NY internship program: open call for Summer 2012

    1st May 12

    Posted by Saneel Radia

    Posted in awesomeness, BBH

    BBH NY's Barn Opens for Summer 2012

    Author: Andy Ross, Account Manager, BBH NY

    As the Winter 2012 Barn session came to a close with interns presenting digital platforms directly to UNICEF clients, something dawned upon us – we need to get the next round of the Barn rolling.

    In short, the Barn is back. Please consider this your invite.

    It goes like this: Two teams of three resourceful, slightly sleep-deprived interns compete against one another on a brief that belongs solely to them. They’ll also work on live projects within the walls of BBH and score some direct interaction with and mentorship from folks in nearly every department here, including BBH Labs.

    The skills we’re looking for are varied, and none are mandatory – but guidelines might help. Do you know Final Cut Pro, PHP, C++?  Ever heard of Open Source? Are you hyper-organized? Do you have a penchant for human behavior studies or a highly developed sense of smell that you have leveraged into a successful truffle company? Bottom line: we want people who can get things done.

    Our role here is to empower you, not to ask you for coffee. That’s why previous Barn teams have managed to win everything from Lions to Pencils during their 10-week internship.

    So you have it, the Barn’s hiring criteria are as follows: We want people who are good and nice. Apply at BBHBarn.com and follow @bbhbarn.  Applications are due May 11th.  We start June 4th, 2012. We cry that it’s over August 10th.

    Good luck.