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  • Wearables And the Peak of Inflated Expectations

    27th July 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in technology

    Another in our occasional repostings of our monthly tech column written for Marketing Magazine. This one on wearables and why Nike’s decision to ditch development of Fuelband is a course correction, not a category bail-out. The original article appeared here on 02.06.14.

    The news in April that Nike may be discontinuing their wearable personal fitness tracker Nike+ Fuelband was met with a mixed wave of reaction spanning shock to schadenfreude. As more and more marketers consider offering utility and added-value services it seems worth giving a few minutes’ consideration here to its rise and purported fall.

    Launched at South By South West in 2012 amongst much neon-lit fanfare, Fuelband felt like an inexorable, natural next step for Nike+. The nerdish joy of being an early adopter made the fact mine needed replacing three times in the subsequent year easier to bear.

    Taking a step back for a moment, I’m reminded of a phrase that comfortingly comes up occasionally when you’re a new parent: ‘everything is just a phase…this too shall pass’. Indeed, take a look at Gartner’s 2013 edition of their Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies and, sure enough, wearable user interfaces are placed at that most infamous of positions, the Peak Of Inflated Expectations. This is where cracks start to appear before a technology descends into the Trough of Disillusionment.

    So is this just a stage? Or a sign of something else? Certainly in Fuelband’s case, its competitor Fitbit simply has had more traction and success, capturing 67% of the market in 2013, though not without a recent furore over a product recall.

    The specific issues with wearables currently seem to centre around maintaining user engagement. To illustrate this, research by Endeavour Partners found that one third of American consumers who owned a wearable product stopped using it within six months.

    Strong technologies with decent long term prospects habitually haul themselves out of the trough and go on to be successful. It strikes me for wearables to resolve the engagement issue and do the same in the months and years to come, two things need to happen:

    1. Device consolidation

    Fuelband’s minimal data collection and feedback loop already seems quaint. Nor does any smartwatch on the market offer a fully integrated solution. Instead we should expect a single, beautifully designed wearable device, capable of doing everything a smartphone already does and more – including capturing and reporting full body data – without draining battery life or weighing a ton. An Apple-led eco-system inevitably gets cited as the answer here, which does seem most likely when you add up the stories of a sophisticated Healthbook app and an iWatch on the near horizon, together with patents granted for earbud and/or headphone sensors. Nike pulling back from a hardware battle it can’t win makes more sense when a partner like Apple looks set to move centre stage.

    2. Currency systems like NikeFuel need to have real world relevance and meaning.

    Most likely to be brought about by stronger connections to product, tangible goals and other services. Certainly in Nike’s case their commitment looks to be to the software, not the hardware, with the launch of Fuel Labs in San Francisco, which will, they claim, “continue to leverage partnerships to expand our ecosystem of digital products and services, using NikeFuel as the universal currency for measuring, motivating and improving.” Make no mistake, for Nike, stepping back from Fuelband represents a course correction, not a category bale-out.

    And the tech and activity industries as a whole will continue to run with wearables regardless. Witness the fact Facebook are buying things again, with their purchase of the activity app, Moves. The app doesn’t require another external device to work: it runs in the background, sensing motion and making assumptions on your activity and calories burned. And Google is working on wearables too, with the announcement of Android Wear, an OS for wearable tech.

    Fuelband and its detractors, we may come to realise, represent just the baby steps down a long road for wearables.

     

  • The New Revolutionaries, tonight at BBH London

    24th June 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Events, People

    TNR_flyer_BBH_A5 (1) copy

    Tonight we’re co-hosting an event with Decoded to celebrate the “New Revolutionaries”, the people transforming their industries through creativity and technology in glorious combination.

    Kathryn Parsons, Lindsay Nuttall and I are lucky enough to be hosting a night of inspiring showcases and talks celebrating the people driving that creative revolution.

    We’ve got two tickets to give away if you fancy it: please just tweet us @bbhlabs or @bbhlondon or leave us a comment below.

    Alternatively, we’ll be live streaming the event via Twitter thanks to our friends at Streaming Tank and we’ll write up the event for this blog when we’re out the other side..

  • 2014 Internet Trends Report: The World Gets Mobile

    3rd June 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in data, mobile

    Author: Oliver Feldwick, Strategist, BBH London, @felderston


    Another year, another one of Mary Meeker’s ‘essential reading’ Internet Trends Reports has been published.
    We’re all getting used to the relentless pace of digital. Graphs pointing upwards and so on. It’s easy to take it for granted and get a bit numb to it all. But with a bit of perspective, there’s some really big stuff. Internet usage is still growing albeit at a slower rate, but the scale of stuff now being done globally on mobile is seismic.

    Some edited highlights:

    • Smartphone and tablet growth is on a trajectory where, instead of having 1b global PC’s, we’ll have 10b global mobile internet devices
    • Mobile data traffic growth has accelerated 81%
    • There are now 1.6b Smartphones and 439m Tablets globally
    • Global internet traffic is now 25% mobile, up from 14% year on year
    • 30% of global mobiles are now Smartphones
    • Tablets are growing faster than PC’s ever did, at 52% growth in 2013

    It’s not just that what we did on a PC is moving to a mobile. It’s a fundamental shift in the base of devices the world is using. It’s worth dwelling on the impact of some of this – of a world with this proliferation of geolocated, connected computing devices.

    Software is replacing a plethora of tools and tasks. Who needs a landline? A torch? A spirit level? A dictionary? A phonebook? A PC? Ultrasound machines? Calculators? Schoolbooks? Nike axing the Fuelband shows how specialised hardware is being threatened.

    Anything that can be done by a smartphone or a tablet will.

    This isn’t just a niche behaviour. ‘Over-the-top’ digital services like WhatsApp, Viber and Netflix have made complex tasks and behaviours completely mainstream. And it’s impacting all sorts of industries on a massive scale:

    • Tinder gets 800m swipes and 11m matches every day
    • 1.8b photos are taken and shared everyday
    • 50b messages are sent by WhatsApp alone
    • In many countries, Smartphones are now the primary screen in daily use
    • In the UK, Tablets and Smartphones get 166 daily minutes viewing time vs 148 minutes on TV

    We aren’t just living our lives through our mobiles, we are living our lives fundamentally differently through mobile devices.

    If that’s not enough food for thought there, add in the fact that smartphones rely on rare earth elements that are in short supply, with no clear substitutes and some of them due to run out as early as 2020. Just as we get hooked on these devices they will soon start to run out.

    Which makes for a cheery thought given just how damn indispensable they are now. So maybe you don’t just need a mobile strategy, you need a post-mobile strategy as well?

  • BBH London are hiring: Interactive Production

    13th May 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in People

    Author: Chris Meachin, Head of Interactive Production, BBH London

    Mid-Weight Digital Display Producer

    BBH London are looking for an experienced mid-weight digital producer with specific experience in display advertising (online banners). Mobile and outdoor digital advertising experience would be a bonus.

    The right candidate will join a growing and dynamic team working on high-profile briefs for world-class clients. It’s a demanding but fun environment.

    The role requires working directly with client teams and creatives to own projects from concept through to delivery. This includes responsibility for budgets, timing plans, general project management and liaison.

    If you are a motivated team player with lots of initiative, and would like to join a high-performing team at BBH, then we’d love to hear from you. Please tell us about yourself here, under Digital.

     

  • Inside Pixar’s Creative Culture

    29th April 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Books, creativity

    Author: Richard Helyar, Head of Research, BBH London

    © Disney • Pixar

    Last week Disney’s icy fairytale Frozen became the 6th highest grossing film of all time.  It had already taken more money at the box office than any other animated film in history, relegating Pixar’s Toy Story 3 to second place.  Incredibly, a two-man leadership team is behind both films and their respective studios: Ed Catmull and John Lasseter.

    So BBH was highly animated when we welcomed one half of this duo, Ed Catmull, Pixar’s co-founder and President of both Pixar and Disney Animation, to talk to us last week on his two-day visit to London promoting his new book Creativity, Inc.

    Together with the backing of Steve Jobs, Ed and John built Pixar from scratch and I doubt if anyone reading this hasn’t seen, and loved, one of their films.  Pixar’s 27 Oscars and $7bn revenue is a pretty compelling demonstration of the creative and commercial yin yang, but what is truly remarkable is that when Disney acquired Pixar in 2006, Ed and John were put in charge of Disney Animation, then on its knees, and pulled off the same trick again.  Frozen is testament to their methods and it’s these methods that were the subject of Ed’s remarks.

    What I found fascinating listening to Ed was that he talked more of failure than success.  Sure, we’re all well versed in the merits of failing fast, it’s practically an internet meme, but the scale here is epic and the anecdotes are richer.  Ed shared stories about how so many iterations of new movies suck.  Really suck.  “On Up, the only thing to stay the same from the start was the bird and the word Up”.

    He went on to talk about how the best people know how to rip up months of hard graft and start again if it’s not working and how there has only been one film when the reset button was not pressed (Toy Story 3 for the record).  He concluded that “failure isn’t a necessary evil.  It’s not evil at all, but a necessary consequence of doing something new”.

    Ed went on to describe Pixar’s ‘Braintrust’.  Basically a steering committee, but one where absolute candour and a shared investment in success, ensure that even the gnarliest problems are worked through and solved.

    And what made him most proud?  Not Toy Story or Frozen, nor the awards and the revenues, but how his people react when things go wrong.  Like for instance an employee accidentally deleting 90% of Toy Story 2 during production.  Two years work by 400 people gone and the back-up failed (you’ll have to read the book to find out what happened).

    Another topic he warmed to concerned people and process.  “Give a great idea to a poor team and they’ll screw it up.  Give a poor idea to a great team and they’ll either fix it or throw it away and start again”.  People trump process every time.  His barometer for how a movie is progressing?  Not the quality of the work (it will probably suck, see above), but the spirit in the team producing it.

    And it was a person not a process that Ed talked most passionately about.  No-one worked with Steve Jobs longer than Ed Catmull and he was clearly moved when talking about the compassionate side of Steve that never made the biography.  Ed finished with an observation that was pure Steve Jobs: “Making processes better and more efficient is a vital task, but it’s not the goal.  Excellence is the goal”.

     

     

  • BBH went to SXSW and this is what we found

    11th April 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Events, interactive

    Author: Ben Shaw, Social Strategy Lead, BBH London

    giphy

    Last month, BBH London sent 11 lucky people to Austin to discover the latest innovations that tech, film and music had to offer. Amongst the BBQ, beer and banter, they managed to find a bunch of insights about the advancement of the human race. Topics like this may only truly be delivered under a desert sky with smoked meat and a pale ale, but in an effort to distribute our learnings to a wider audience we’ve tried to distil them down into some slides (below). We looked at three topics that we think are vital to our future – as an agency and as human beings. Enjoy.

    TECHNOLOGY
    giphy (1)
    CREATIVITY
    tumblr_m5hyx6Nh3Z1rqx2fmo1_500
    PEOPLE
    412


  • On Beacons and proximity

    9th April 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in mobile, technology

    Another in our intermittent repostings of our monthly tech column written for Marketing Magazine. This one on why Beacons, specifically Apple’s iBeacon, might make all that proximity marketing jargon simple and actually usable. The original article appeared here on 31.03.14.

    Signal beacon at Corton Hill, Somerset, UK.

    Signal beacon at Corton Hill, Somerset, UK.

    Talk of frictionless mobile payments and proximity-based targeting has felt a little like waiting for jetpacks. We’ve all seen the diagrams of the device in our pocket sensing information from the environment around us with magical accuracy and we know it’s technically possible, but there’s been little sign of it actually happening in our daily lives.

     The phrase ‘proximity based targeting’ may not make your pulse race. But forget for a moment the clunkiness of a QR code or the basic act of swiping a card over a sensor using NFC technology (NFC tends to be capable of simple transactions only) or location-based services like checking in on Foursquare (GPS-enabled, so not fantastically accurate, particularly indoors).

    Instead, say hello to iBeacon. Unveiled by Apple last year as part of its iOS 7 launch, iBeacon is described as “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence.” And use that physical proximity to pass data. In Apple’s case the ‘phone (from iPhone 4 onwards) is also a beacon in its own right, capable of transmitting information not just receiving. Google is also coming up fast with beacon technology, baking it into Android 4.3.

    Two things make this particularly interesting for marketers:

    First, the fact that the beacons use Bluetooth LE (low energy), so succeed in delivering greater accuracy than GPS, whilst also draining less precious battery power. Suddenly we have the data transfer capabilities of Bluetooth, accurately pin-pointed to your exact location, now possible for a viable period.

    Second, the data transfer is passive and immediate: it seems we’re finally at a point when devices can talk to one another without us needing to do the work.

    Two commercial applications (and watchouts) to think about:

    1. Enhanced experiences

    For gigs, art galleries, stadiums and parks, strategically placed beacons allow users to pick up information about the history of a location or the background to a painting in a gallery, say, just by having their phone to hand. The exhibition owner in turn picks up useful information about where there are hot spots, blockages or dead zones. At SXSW in Texas this year, for example, the conference’s official mobile iOS app used iBeacon to send users information about the individual sessions they were in. Obviously the trick here as app developers is to judge the messaging content and velocity very carefully, ie do not spam people.

    2. Next Generation Retail

    iBeacon can work in a number of ways to change and improve a retail environment (beyond simply welcoming or issuing a coupon on arrival), for starters:

    - Act as an “indoor GPS” system helping someone find the product they’re looking for

    - Map where the best deals are for them, based on their previous shopping habits or perhaps the time of day/week

    - Develop location-specific offers, like Macy’s are doing in the USA in partnership with Shopkick, where offers are dynamically tailored to customers based on where they are in the store.

    - Beacons also make mobile payments faster and easier. Paypal are bringing out their own beacon, allowing users to make hands-free payments. The issue to overcome in the early days will be behavioural: we humans are used to physically exchanging something for goods.

    And then there are the implications for out of home advertising, on-premise, not to mention peer-to-peer and our future digital identities. As marketers this is a way to rethink how we design user interactions. Fundamentally, this technology has the potential to change how we interact with the world, not just how we shop, and it’s closer than we think.

     

     

  • When Social Went Global

    3rd April 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in mobile, social media

    A repost of one of our monthly tech columns for Marketing Magazine, this one on the globalisation of social media and what it means for, well, all of us. This article first appeared on 04.03.14. It sets the scene for a regular round-up here on technology in China and Asia Pacific by Carol Ong (based on her own newsletter), the first one of which is here.

    Via nasa.gov, the recreation of "Earthrise"

    Via nasa.gov, the recreation of “Earthrise”

    The comforting phrase “social is local” has echoed through marketing departments for a while now. Comforting because it suggests it’s enough to have experienced, tech-savvy people representing the brand on the ground who know their own community backyard. No question, local intelligence is vitally important. But as this year unfolds, I think we’re going to see some shifts in how social media marketing operates around the globe. Call it a new form of ‘social migration’ that global marketers in particular should pay attention to.

    I say this for a few reasons:

    1. The growth of the largest social networks now depends on new geographic territories

    If you’re Facebook, what do you do once you have 1.23 billion monthly active users on your platform (813 million of which are on mobile, 60% of whom are returning daily)? You take your now mobile-first platform, commit to making it more efficient so that it uses less bandwidth in  markets where that really matters and simultaneously set about putting the technological infrastructure on the ground to accelerate providing Internet connectivity “for the next 5 billion”; which is exactly what Zuckerberg is doing via Internet.org, announced last year. This is clearly a philanthropic and a commercial move: two thirds of the world without access to the Internet represents a giant growth opportunity. And Facebook aren’t alone in turning their attention to the rest of the world. Aside from Facebook’s partners in Internet.org (Samsung, MediaTek, Ericsson, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm), Twitter’s IPO last year revealed it was targetting Argentina, France, Japan, Russia, Saudia Arabia and South Africa for faster growth than the United States.

    2. Mobile powers the pace of the shift

    New behaviours often make existing services redundant, but the explosion in mobile penetration and usage worldwide*, creating what the World Economic Forum describes as a “dramatically altered business environment” across Africa for example, has allowed the leading social platforms to continue to grow, despite newer players arriving and scaling at vertigo-inducing pace: China’s WeChat, plus WhatsApp, SnapChat and Instagram being amongst the most salient. With social media, if your service is mobile first, a rising tide really does float all boats.

    3. Cultural importers can export too

    This time last year I was sitting in Beijing, listening to the CMO of Alfred Dunhill, Jason Beckley, speak about bringing a luxury British brand to the world. His words were refreshingly open-minded:

    “Our market is in migration,” he summised, “…and we’d be naive if we thought luxury will always be an imported idea.”

    The same is true of technology. If you want to predict the future of social and mobile, you’d do worse than watch China. It’s not just about the giant data pool. Historically dismissed for copycat innovation, the market is now home to some trail-blazing companies like the mobile company XiaoMi, with their eyes set on a global marketplace. By way of another example, take WeChat’s early rebranding for global rollout and their omnivorous approach to development (originally a messaging service, they added photo sharing & filters, games and now taxi bookings, with deeper mcommerce on the near horizon). Burberry announced a ‘digital innovation partnership’ with WeChat in February.

    In short, I’d suggest we get used to the idea of ‘guanxi’, a Chinese term meaning both personal and business networks or connections, extending into Europe and the US this year. Taobao, Jack Ma’s equivalent of eBay but several times’ the size, recently shared a list of the hottest shopping keywords used in 2013. You may think it’s too early to get excited about keeping up with the rise of tuhao, buying yellow ducks and avoiding peng ci, but as technology businesses go about smashing geographic barriers and consumption get more collaborative, I wouldn’t bet on it.

    *According to the content marketing service, Percolate, ‘pull to refresh’ is the most used gesture in the world – for more stats and analysis, check out their excellent The State of Content Marketing piece last year and more recently ‘Weibo, WeChat and the Future of Chinese Social Media‘.

    Update: check out more on XiaoMi’s international expansion roadmap here, (via Benedict Evans).

  • BBH Zag are recruiting a Brand Strategist

    27th February 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in People

    Author: Aran Potkin, Senior Brand Strategist, Zag

    BBH Zag is the ‘branding agency that ventures’ within the BBH group. At Zag, we work with both large blue chip brands and exciting start-ups, offering our clients brand strategy, visual identity and user experience design.

    We are looking for a strategist to join our small senior team. Working within the strategy team you will have the opportunity to lead projects from the outset, working closely with senior team members and managing junior strategists. This is the perfect opportunity for an ambitious, entrepreneurial agency strategist looking to accelerate their career.

    The role:

    A Zag Strategist is a hybrid – an agency professional who can lead strategy while also managing the client and account. They will lead branding and innovation projects and create solid, differentiated brands for everything from start-ups to global businesses. They will oversee the entire consultancy project, working with the Zag design studio to bring those brands to life and writing marketing and communications strategies for launch. The strategist should have a creative, entrepreneurial spirit with a good knowledge of strategic models and processes but the ability to push the envelope and generate new ways of working and approaching briefs. We are looking for an innovative thinker with bags of energy and ambition.

    Specific experience & responsibilities:

    • 3+ years in strategy at a brand consultancy or design agency
    • Demonstrated experience with and in-depth knowledge of digital strategy, UI and UX
    • Ability to lead teams and manage projects as account/project manager
    • Comfortable with clients and confident to manage the day-to-day relationship
    • Experience planning, commissioning and leading consumer research (both qual and quant)
    • Understanding of and appreciation for the design process – able to write clear briefs for design and work closely with designers through creative development

    Who we’re looking for:

    • Someone with a passion for brands and branding, bags of energy and ambition
    • Entrepreneurial spirit – ready to pitch in at any level
    • Creative thinker and problem-solver
    • Energetic with a positive, can-do attitude
    • Clear, articulate communicator
    • Commercial awareness and interest
    • Ability to work collaboratively within a team
    • Digital fluency – many of the start ups we work with have strong digital DNA

     If this sounds like you, send a cover email and your cv/resume to lydia.crudge@bbh.co.uk.

  • Life in the streets: a TIE project

    21st February 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Creativityforgood

    For a few years now, BBH has supported The International Exchange, “a leadership development programme that combines the expertise of corporate communications and the needs of NGOs to create positive sustainable change.” BBH signed up in 2010, you can too. For more background, check out our interview back in 2010 with TIE’s founder, Philippa White, here. This year’s BBH candidate for TIE was Nicolas Jayr, whose fundraising efforts were something of a phenomenon – you may remember this and this. This is the story of how he put those funds to good use.

    Author: Nicolas Jayr, @nicolasjayr, BBH London

    The coastal city of Recife in Brazil is home to 1.5 million people and is soon to become a World Cup host city. It is also home to hundreds of homeless children living on the streets, who are exposed to drugs, gangs, prostitution and violence.

    However help is at hand. Grupo Ruas e Praças is a Recife based NGO fighting to help children and adolescents on a daily basis. Using tailored arts and cultural projects, they infuse the children of Recife with a sense of self-determination to help them build positive lives off the streets.

    Together with Klaus Thymann, a Great Guns film director and photographer, I travelled to Recife via the T.I.E. initiative (The International Exchange) in November 2013. Working with local creative agency Melhor Communicação we developed a communication strategy to give NGO Grupo Ruas e Praças the voice it deserves to raise awareness of the reality in the streets of Brazil.

    The campaign #TEMVIDANASRUAS (‘There is life in the streets’), shot over 4 days with actual street kids working with the NGO, paints a picture of hope by showing what Grupo Ruas e Praças does in giving the children the attention and support they need. The campaign, featuring a short-documentary, visually striking posters and a new site developed locally, gives the audience a chance to see Recife’s street children in a different light – capturing their courage, talents and genuine dreams. 

    A lot of people who read this blog contributed their time and money, so we wanted to say a giant public thank you to all of you and our partners by sharing the work here that you helped make possible.

    2013_GrupasRuasEPracas_2885

    The project was part of The International Exchange (T.I.E.) program, a social enterprise that brings together the world of communications and NGO in developing countries, to which BBH partners since 2010, and was funded through the City of Good (www.cityofgood.me) initiative that Nicolas created to raise money for the project at BBH. Production was supplied pro-bono by Great Guns and Glassworks and renowned American producer Diplo, who has strong ties to Brazil and its favelas through his ‘Favela on Blast’ projects, and who provided the genius soundtrack.

    2013_GrupasRuasEPracas_4599

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