This week is Internet Week in New York.
On Tuesday, Boulder Digital Works (I’m lucky enough to be on the Advisory Board there) hosted an evening at the Art Director’s Club called ‘Evolve!’ at which they launched their neat new website (created by Modernista!) – take a look at: http://bdw.colorado.edu/, it’s very cool. There were a number of short presentations from some BDW board members, including Scott Witt (just recently moved to a new role as Creative Director at Apple), Shane Steele (just recently moved to be be VP Global B2B Marketing at Yahoo!) & Scott Prindle, Technical Director at CPB in Boulder. I tagged along and got my ten minute slot.
I thought I’d use it to highlight why we need places like Boulder Digital Works in the first place. In short, to produce a new breed of hybrid creative; what we call ‘T-shaped people’ – awesome in (at least) one area, plus highly collaborative and at least literate in many other things. So blending both the right skills and the right attitude. Far too often the latter – an appetite for all things open and collaborative, a readiness to leave ego at the door – is sacrificed at the expense (frequently, the *great* expense) of simply importing people with new skills.
In addition to sketching out why these hybrid people are so important in creating new forms of creative product, I briefly touch upon the importance of the agency implementing the right kind of ’operating system’ (the processes, values and culture within a company) if the fancy new ’software’ is going to run smoothly. If the operating system is outdated, even the most impressive software is redundant. I show, in one slide, an overview of how BBH in New York is approaching the re-engineering of it’s OS.
Would love to know what you think, and what your experiences are of finding, working with, managing and retaining T-shaped people. The future surely belongs to them.
For best viewing view on slideshare (this link takes you right there), where you can see embedded film & speaker notes; I have added the latter into the first comment there.
Are You Ready to Form Voltron? (June 2010)
Footnote: Coincidentally, Mattel announced this week that Voltron is going to be relaunched, with a new TV series and toy line planned. Here’s the opening of Voltron, which gives newbies a little background.
The thing we like most about Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends presentation is it’s just packed with data. The charts are sometimes *too* intense, in fact, carrying too much data. But it’s always revealing, and usually inspiring. Because it’s fact, not fiction.
Slide 7 is especially impactful. I was born on the left hand side of the chart, probably around when there were 5 million computing-capable units globally. On the right, just ten years from today, the forecast is for 10 billion+ units. Extraordinary.
View more presentations from CM Summit: Marketing in Real Time.
In a recent BBH Labs post (Wind Tunnel Marketing, The Sequel: On the Need for Divergent Insight) that talked about the need for divergent thinking and stimulus in approaching problem solving (& creative ideation), Chaz Wigley, the Chairman of BBH in Asia Pacific, mentioned how the CIA‘s (I’ve always wanted to link to the CIA) Problem Definition Checklist provoked precisely this kind of approach; rounded, many-faceted, flexible.
These questions are known as “context-free questions” and are designed “to encourage agents to look at a challenge from many different angles. Using Phoenix is like holding your challenge in your hand. You can turn it, look at it from underneath, see it from one view, hold it up to another position, imagine solutions, and really be in control of it” (see the excellent, if chewy, paper on Exploring Exploratory Testing, for more here).
We now have from Chaz not only the list of questions the CIA use to define problems, but also (thanks to Iqbal Mohammed) the follow-up list they use to develop the plan. Which seems kind of important too.
My personal favourite question in the problem definition list is the somewhat open-ended: ‘what isn’t the problem?’.
Why is it necessary to solve the problem?
What benefits will you receive by solving the problem?
What is the unknown?
What is it you don’t yet understand?
What is the information you have?
What isn’t the problem?
Is the information sufficient? Or is it insufficient? Or redundant? Or contradictory?
Should you draw a diagram of the problem? A figure?
Where are the boundaries of the problem?
Can you separate the various parts of the problem? Can you write them down? What are the relationships of the parts of the problem? What are the constants of the problem?
Have you seen this problem before?
Have you seen this problem in a slightly different form? Do you know a related problem?
Try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown
Suppose you find a problem related to yours that has already been solved. Can you use it? Can you use its method?
Can you restate your problem? How many different ways can you restate it? More general? More specific? Can the rules be changed?
What are the best, worst and most probable cases you can imagine?
Can you solve the whole problem? Part of the problem?
What would you like the resolution to be? Can you picture it?
How much of the unknown can you determine?
Can you derive something useful from the information you have?
Have you used all the information?
Have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem?
Can you separate the steps in the problem-solving process? Can you determine the correctness of each step?
What creative thinking techniques can you use to generate ideas? How many different techniques?
Can you see the result? How many different kinds of results can you see?
How many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?
What have others done?
Can you intuit the solution? Can you check the result?
What should be done? How should it be done?
Where should it be done?
When should it be done?
Who should do it?
What do you need to do at this time?
Who will be responsible for what?
Can you use this problem to solve some other problem?
What is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and none other?
What milestones can best mark your progress?
How will you know when you are successful?
We enjoyed the new spoof of BBH New York’s / Google Creative Labs ‘Speed Tests’ films for Google Chrome.
We particularly like the casting of two ‘Scandinavian’ looking gents as the main protagonists; perhaps a gentle reference to our own ECDs on the project, Calle and Pelle Sjoenell.
Here’s the original, in case you missed it.
And here’s our film about how we made them.
Finally, a few snaps from the shoot.
Three undisputed masters in their field discuss how the art of ‘selling’ is evolving.
Sir John Hegarty (Worldwide Creative Director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty)
Alan Edwards (CEO, The Outside Organisation)
Lord Philip Gould (Vice-Chairman, Freud Communications)
Moderated by: Matthew d’Ancona (Political Columnist, Sunday Telegraph & Evening Standard)
Authors: Brad Haugen, Hal Kirkland & Masa Kawamura (@BBHNewYork)
Asher Roth is an artist who is uniquely in touch with his fans. After all, his brand was brilliantly built on the back of the web community Ning. This platform forged bonds and fostered conversations between Asher’s team and their fans. Since the end of his first tour, everyone was simply waiting for what he would do next.
So while this project arrived at an extremely busy time at BBH New York, the opportunity to work directly with an artist who encouraged creative freedom, and to experiment both conceptually and with new technologies, was super exciting; a luxury not often afforded within every advertising brief.
Luckily Asher, an incredibly web-savvy and prolific blogger knew what he wanted from the start.
“I want my website to really show my fans who I am. I want them to realize that I am just like any of them, and that I’m human. It has to engage them on that level.”
It didn’t take long before the idea for the site began to evolve. Of course, after some initial concepts were discussed, we had to make sure what we were suggesting was even possible, hence partnering with the geniuses at AID-DCC in Japan, a production company renown for pioneering the introduction of augmented reality into Flash.
The way the site works is simple; an illustration of the website is printed on a card around the size of a credit card. Whenever a photo is taken of the card by Asher or one of his buddies and uploaded, that photo instantly becomes the top-page of asherrothmusic.com. Meaning Asher can literally carry his website in his wallet and fans can follow him wherever he goes.
When fans visit the site, the first thing they see will be the latest updated picture, which could be anywhere from Asher holding the card on stage at a performance, to Asher watching TV with his buddies. Each image is dated and labeled, so fans can make a connection with the context in which the photos was taken.
Using FLARToolKit, the program tracks the design and shape of the card and then literally launches the site’s interface from its surface. Each graphic element then matches the exact color of the card therefore enhancing this illusion and giving the site a visually organic quality that matches Asher’s style.
The next step for the site is to connect with the fans even more and to get them to submit their own photos. The next album release will have the card featured on the cover. In this way, fans can become a part Asher’s site as well and help to build the already pretty crazy library of photos.
The platform is also totally geared to maintain engagement. Several sponsorship and competition strategies will be implemented over the course of the year, each providing both fans and sponsors a reason to keep coming back.
BBH-ers have worked on music projects before, not least for MySpace (see: http://j.mp/7nFiYF). But this project taught us many things about the music industry. While it’s a creative industry, for the most part, music labels tend to be a little old-fashioned and somewhat formulaic when it comes to promoting their artists. Even though an artist may be promoted via many channels and social networking platforms, sometimes the user experience can come across as a bit of a box-ticking exercise i.e. must have Facebook page, MySpace, blog, etc, instead of thinking an original way that the artist can legitimately connect with their fans.
With Asher, we were lucky to have an artist who is also a creative thinker and is willing to take a leap of faith in order to keep his brand authentic, especially since the technicalities of the concept were difficult to articulate in the beginning. On complex projects like this it’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia, rather than merely concentrating on the bigger picture. Asher really gave us some breathing room, and the project benefited greatly as a result.
Asher has really opened a window so that he could share his day-to-day life and experiences with his fans. It’s a direction that many others in the music industry could learn from. Of course, it helps a great deal if the sentiment is as sincere as his.
Overall, the site is far better represented by exploring it for yourself, in which case we hope you do.
It would be great to hear any feedback as it is in a constant state of development.
But before we go we’d just like to put a big thanks out there to everyone that made it possible.
Creative Directors: Masashi Kawamura, Hal Kirkland
Art Directors: Masashi Kawamura, Hal Kirkland
Technical Director: Tomohiko Koyama (Saqoosha)
Designers: Yuri Morimoto, Masayuki Nishimura
Business Director: Brad Haugen
Account Director: Lindsay Kopec
Content Director: David Wilsher
Project Manager: Yoko Yamazaki
Flash Developer: Tomohiko Koyama (Saqoosha), Kenji Mori
Programmer: Masaru Kinoshita, Tomohiko Koyama (Saqoosha)
Illustration: Yuri Morimoto, Yumi Yamada
Music: Asher Roth
Production: AID-DCC, Katamari
Author: Heidi Hackemer (@uberblond), Planning Director, BBH New York
We just went through recruitment for our upcoming internship program, the BBH Barn, and since we announced our six interns from the 150+ applications we’ve received a lot of questions about our selection criteria.
Whether literally or figuratively, the candidates that made the cut had a two-column resume. In column A, we saw an interest and understanding of advertising and/or consumer and brand interaction. It doesn’t mean that these interns are advertising experts by any stretch of the imagination, but it does mean that they have an appreciation for it and may know a bit of their way around our world. 98% of the applications checked off this column quite well.
The second column is where things got interesting: we also looked for candidates that had a bit of “mess” in their resume, i.e. a curiosity, a drive to think about and do things beyond pursuing the perfect advertising career. As a result we have filmmakers, activists, dancers and a guy that has worked in third world development.
We believe the mess is just as important as the “proper” education and inputs: advertising is one of those fields that should collaborate not only internally, but with culture at large – to be relevant and human we should inhale the world around us, circulate it in our lungs a bit and then exhale our response. The minute that we get too obsessed or spend too much time focusing on what happens within our walls or the minute the great love in our life becomes a widget or :30 second idea is the minute we lose the oxygen that we need to make great work.
Let’s face it, the people that are purely obsessed with advertising (and we all know them and have phases in our own lives where we’re guilty of being one of them) aren’t the people that contribute much to a truly sparkling dinner party or a stupid fun night out or bring a perspective that really changes things. So we wanted to make sure our Barn was filled with the dinner-party-rockers of the future. We think it will make for a more interesting summer and better work.
So here’s where it gets cool:
We were thinking of the above criteria, that we applied externally, and we thought we’d check internally how well we were doing. We asked BBHers in the NYC office to send along their personal, out of office, projects. We had a whole bunch of stuff submitted. Some highlights included:
Calle Sjoenell @callesjonell wanders around new york and puts up basketball nets where there are none. http://www.flickr.com/photos/callesjonell/sets/72157621869375075/
Harper Reitkopf @itsharper pretty much lives at the honey-space gallery to help artists do their thing http://honey-space.com/
Dane Larsen @dlarsen is documenting the life and times of his Brooklyn backyard this summer http://bklynbkyard.com/
Brad Haugen @hoogs throws his passion into being the Director of Marketing and Brand for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that helps build schools in third world countries http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/blog/2010/04/bring-out-lead-forth/
Zach Hilder keeps an awesome blog of his drawings and photographs http://deathfrom.blogspot.com
Kris Chu @kris_chu documents his struggle to banish cable from his life: http://suckitcable.blogspot.com/
Colleen Leddy @colleddy blogs tips about being the impeccable bridesmaid http://holdthebouquet.squarespace.com/
Kenji Summers @kenjisummers gives time to the Marcus Graham Project, a network of diverse advertising, marketing and media people @MGProject
Kirsty Saddler @keava has taken her personal passion for corporate social responsibility and started a think tank/action group within BBH called the Hive @BBHhive
Chris Araujo @cornfedchris is working on a soon to be unveiled project that’s all about making the world a better place and that’s all I can say about it right now upon fear of death.
Miranda Kendrick @mirandakendrick has two culture grabbing blogs: http://workingitatwork.tumblr.com/ that shows off the beautiful people of BBH and http://nyink.blogspot.com/ that shows off the beautiful tattoos of the world.
Hal & Masa have been busy working on the follow up to their Webby-winning music video for “Hibi no Neiro” (Tone of everyday) by “Sour” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfBlUQguvyw (watch this space)
And me? I’ve started the Wilhelmine Project, a mini-gallery that is hosted in the display window of my converted storefront apartment in the East Village http://thewilhelmineproject.com & @wilhelmineprjct
The most striking thing about all these projects is that people just did it. Google have their awesome and rightly famous 20% policy; we don’t have that at BBH, at least not formalized. So what makes the above particularly cool is that people just went out, made time and did. No one told them to, no one asked for the time. No permission was sought, or given. We think this is emblematic of the kind of creative business we strive to be, that the energy, thinking and output from these personal projects explicitly and implicitly makes BBH a more interesting and smarter place professionally.
So our question today is, what’s your 20% project?
Are you busy waiting for permission?
Or are you busy just getting on with it?
Let us know what you’re up to. You never know, there might be some common ground; we could collaborate.
During the eruption of the volcano that no one can pronounce (or barely even spell) Sean Stiegemeier took his Canon 5D Mark II out and produced this rather ace short film, set to music sung by Jónsi (lead singer of Icelandic band Sigur Rós).
We like the ethereal music mashed up with something that is, essentially, destructive. Violently elemental. Yet beautiful.
For best effect set to HD and then go full-screen. Turn it up.
He notes on his Vimeo page (full of other very cool projects – check it out):
“So I saw all of these mediocre pictures of that volcano in Iceland nobody can pronounce the name of, so I figured I should go and do better. But the flights to get over took forever as expected (somewhat). 4 days after leaving I finally made it, but the weather was terrible for another 4. Just before leaving it got pretty good for about a day and a half and this is what I managed to get.
Wish I had more time. I missed all the cool Lightning and the Lava of the first eruption. But I figure this will just be a trial run for another day.
I am of course accepting sponsors to send me back there for more please…!! haha
© Sean Stiegemeier
Many thanks to @finnbarrw for the heads-up.