Mel Exon « BBH Labs
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  • Interview with Dan Light, Part I: engaging online communities

    14th July 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, storytelling

    Author: Ben Shaw (@BenShaw), Strategist, BBH London

    Iron Man 2 transmedia marketing

    Dan Light’s profile description on Twitter (@danlight) reads: “Interactive marketer (and maker) of movies”. Although the bio may be short, his experience certainly is not. Dan has recently left Picture Production Company (PPC), where he led an award-winning interactive team producing some of the most innovative online marketing campaigns of recent times. In previous Labs posts we looked in more depth at the work they produced for Watchmen last year here and for Iron Man 2 here.

    Working primarily on blockbuster movie releases, PPC Interactive has produced a variety of transmedia marketing materials serving to promote and extend the narrative of the story beyond traditional media. Those who know Dan will know he can talk for Earth about any topic he’s passionate about. We’ve split the interview up across 3 different blog posts which we will publish across three consecutive days. We spoke to Dan about his thoughts on engaging online communities, his extensive knowledge of transmedia entertainment, and the potential role for brands in this space.

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  • A perfect storm: the social web, storytellers and brands

    13th July 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, storytelling

    Entertainment brands.. showing us how transmedia is done

    Last week was Pixel Lab, Power to the Pixel‘s (@powertothepixel) cross-media workshop.

    I joined a group of tutors and producers, half with film/transmedia projects in development, half not, from around the world for the latter half of their week away in Wales.

    By way of introduction, Power to the Pixel are an organisation dedicated to supporting film and the wider media in its transition to a digital age. Ben and I are both lucky to be on their Advisory board.

    My brief was to shed some light on brands and cross-platform/transmedia storytelling, which, if I am honest, initially felt a little awkward. Brands and agencies may be embracing cross-platform creativity and integration per se, but true transmedia… not so much. The likes of Campfire with their Frenzied Waters work for the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week last year, Audi Art of the Heist and – back in the day – Beta 7 for Sega; as well as Ivan Askwith at Big Spaceship (who was generous and interested enough to chew the fat with me late one evening) are two, honourable exceptions.

    With this in mind, my presentation focused primarily on what brands and their agencies are learning about integration, interaction and new partnerships in the hypersocial environment we find ourselves in. I also attempted to explain why brands may be reticent about taking a step further into building deep, immersive, narrative worlds.  Along the way, telling the story of a (failed) BBH Labs joint venture and what we took from it… and finally, ending with a proposal.

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  • Agency, does your client need you?

    2nd July 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, business models

    Yesterday I was invited along to Curious 01 in London. Any event with ‘curious’ in the title sounds like it might be interesting and this was. Curated by Paul Bay, a group of good & nice people turned up, including John Grant, Neil Perkin, Jon Bains, Alex Bedoya from Hyper Island and many more. Whilst the session covered a number of topics, the conversation centred around the question: what should a brand team look like in future? A subject close to our hearts here at Labs, see related posts here and here. Paul also decided to spice things up by asking a couple of us to ‘bring a provocation’… hard to resist.

    There were a ton of good ideas (others) and some a little more loony (mine). For what it’s worth I’m sharing my provocation here because, as always, we’re interested in hearing what others think. A round-up of the rest of the day will be shared soon.

    In a nutshell, my provocation began with the question: if clients only pay for the things they can’t do themselves, what does that mean when we work in a real-time, social web world?

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  • What Not To Wear: The Six Items Or Less Project

    18th June 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, culture

    Author: Heidi Hackemer (@uberblond), Planning Director, BBH New York

    gm

    What do our clothes say about us? Why do spend so much time on what we wear? What happens when we don’t?

    Starting Monday, June 21st, a group of people from California to Dubai are going to take part in a little experiment: each participant gets to choose six (and only six) items of clothing and pledge to wear only these six items of clothing for a month. They’ll share their experiences via a group blog throughout the course of the month.

    People have asked what the philosophy is behind the experiment and most assume it’s a statement about consumerism. In reality, we haven’t dictated a driving thought. Rather it’s about putting a challenge out there and seeing what people bring to it and do with it. Even in this pre-experiment era it’s turning out to be a nice brief: tight enough that there are walls and consistency, loose enough that the output will be varied and ripe for discussion.

    To understand what people are bringing to the table, the one question we ask at sign up is “why”? So far, the primary motivation falls into one of four camps:

    1) anti-consumerism

    2) the mental freedom that comes with a uniform

    3) creativity (“let’s see how inventive I can be with this limitation”)

    4) masochism

    sr

    There are a few things that we’re really liking about this experiment that will hopefully make us smarter about people and communities down the road:

    1) The experiment itself. We’re deadly curious to see how the month will go and what it will unveil about the participants and their relationship to their clothes.

    2) The speed at which it went from a little idea amongst two friends (myself and my former colleague at Fallon London, Tamsin Davies) to an idea that has been embraced by people globally and how digital tools are allowing to manage and keep pace with the spread.

    3) The fact that this isn’t about an agency or a brand, but rather it’s first and foremost about collaboration with a community of curious people. The experiment has grown and breathes with that community and if we can help it continue to do so, should be quite interesting. That being said, in true spirit of BETA we’re the midst of updating the blog so it can handle a larger community (should be ready by Saturday) and also looking to add in some data capture and perhaps a sponsorship mechanism into the site experience.

    It starts Monday the 21st – brave enough to give it a shot? You have until Sunday to sign up, details are here.

    If not, please still let us know what you think about the project here and follow along @sixitemsorless or sixitemsorless.wordpress.com.

    six-items-or-less

  • BBH London are looking to hire an Interactive CD

    28th May 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in People

    Who we’re after

    An interactive Creative Director. We’re looking for someone who has proven experience leading radical change in communications. We don’t care where you come from – you might be in an ad agency in a digital role, working as an interactive CD at a digital agency, as an interactive design CD, or within a technology or innovation company as a creative director or project director. You might have nothing to do with agencies at all.

    What you’ll be like
    Very simply, we’re looking for someone with a proven appetite for radical change, big ambitions, tons of experience working with big ideas and vast amounts of energy. Someone happy to wear many hats; a proper hybrid.

    BIG IDEAS IN BREAKTHROUGH FORMATS: Most of all, we’re looking for someone who is happiest working, sleeping and playing with ideas. The bigger, the better. The more innovative the canvas, the better.

    INTO TECHNOLOGY IN A BIG WAY: We need someone who gets the enormous potential of what’s out there now – especially in deep interactive and immersive digital experiences – and how emerging technologies can & might work with the more traditional stuff. Your experience and willingness to experiment & go out of your comfort zone with technology is critical.

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE DESIGN: We require someone who loves graphic design and visual communication and who has the ability to mentor and guide graphic and interaction designers. Someone who has mastery of project concept creation, site architecture, user-interface specification, functionality specification and interactive design

    AN INNOVATOR: Someone  with strong opinions on how bigger & more breakthrough ideas can be created & nurtured for brands. Someone comfortable working with others in new and different ways. Someone who can surprise (us, others, themselves) and who likes surprises.

    If this sounds like your kind of job, please send your cv/resume, details or link to interactivecdlondon@bbh.co.uk

    BBH is a global creative advertising agency founded in 1982. The agency now has creative hubs in 6 locations: London, New York, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, and, most recently, Mumbai. For more information visit http://bartleboglehegarty.com

  • Wind Tunnel Marketing, The Sequel: On the Need for Divergent Insight

    21st May 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, creativity

    Post by Charles Wigley, Chairman, BBH Asia Pacific

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/breakfastcore/3114817008/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/breakfastcore/3114817008/

    Jim Carroll’s excellent post on Wind Tunnel Politics reflects an idea he came up a couple of years ago – the notion of ‘wind tunnel marketing’ – an idea that Emma Cookson (Chairman, BBH New York), Jim (Chairman, BBH London) and I have been chatting about a lot again recently.

    Given the traffic, RTs and positive comments the first post got, we felt it was perhaps time for a more thorough analysis of its impact on what most of us reading this do for a living – the development of brand communications.

    We’d like to get the debate going and involve people from all sides – client, agency and research. So please let us know what you think.

    Here we’ll look at three things to start the conversation:

    I.                The origins of the problem;

    II.               The results; and

    III.              Some potential solutions

    Then we’d like your point of view.

    1. The Origins of the Problem

    Pretty obviously the world is now crammed with very good, largely parity products across most sectors.  With the consequent decline in any real, viable notion of product USP’s the industry has increasingly turned to understanding the consumer as the key source of competitive advantage.

    The Holy Grail is a breakthrough ‘consumer insight’.  Something that cracks open consumer motivations around a category in a new and fresh way and as a result allows a brand to more powerfully pitch its product or service.

    Indeed many companies now have entire departments focussed solely on consumer insight. Some of you reading this may have it in your job title.

    And, looked at one way, it makes a lot of sense.

    After all, isn’t the whole notion of marketing about  ‘satisfying the wants, needs and desires of consumers ‘ ?

    There is, however, one rather significant problem with it.

    Everyone is looking the same way and largely following the same path.

    Frequently doing the same research, with the same consumers via the same research companies on essentially the same products.

    The result won’t surprise anyone – they get to very similar places.

    So while marketers and their agency partners consistently (and rightly) talk up the critical importance of differentiation, most of our industry is wedded to a ‘best practice’ process that inherently takes them another way – to greater sameness.

    2. The Results

    Are self-evident and everywhere (ever noticed how hard it is to think of major brand examples of ‘great’ outside of the usual suspects?)

    From mid-range family salons that, when unbranded, even car fanatics fail to recognise ( and can you remember the make of the ‘reasonably priced car’ on Top Gear ?…….you’ve probably seen it about 30 times ) to entire categories where the work is just too interchangeable (looked at any skincare advertising recently?)  Even brands aimed at youth (where one would assume a greater leeway to pursue difference) seem to be merging into one – an event with a DJ and some free form skateboarders anyone?

    From a marketer’s point of view all this serves to do is to make it a game of scale of resources again.

    He or she with the biggest distribution network / media budget / sales team wins.  The cost efficiencies of genuine brand differentiation are notable largely by their absence.

    Yet, because large organisations inevitably (and understandably) need logical ‘handrails’ for staffers to follow, few are challenging the standard, solely consumer insight oriented process currently in place.

    3. Potential Solutions

    People need systems. Very few of us are individually brilliant enough to be able to operate day in day out in the trenches without them.  So an imploration to just ‘go free-form’ is unlikely to be of much use to most companies.

    It seems to us, however, that the handrails that need to be put in place need to actively force diversity of thinking.

    They need to be ‘hydra-like’ in that they need to regularly have the potential to lead to many different places – not always back to the same spot.

    The CIA ‘Problem Definition Checklist’ does this (if you want a copy let us know).  When properly followed, the Disruption model does it. Interestingly, in his latest thinking, Adam Morgan is suggesting a far more diverse range of different types of challenger brands (and no doubt different ways to develop them).

    For our part at BBH, we are re-committing to one of our oldest strategic tenets (and simplest of thoughts) – ‘insights from many sources, not just consumer’.  The product, the brand, the way category operates, the retail experience, the media landscape, etc, etc. – all are ripe for investigation – and all should be.

    We are also re-committing to the future.

    There’s something interesting here.  As per the famous Akio Morito quote - “we don’t ask consumers what they want ; they don’t know.  Instead we apply our brain power to what they need, and will want, and make sure we are there ready” -  the future is surely what we should be trying to work out the likely terrain of, rather than analysing that of the present or the past. Perhaps the most powerful model we are now trying to get grips is a fusion of brand insight with consumer foresight. Note – not consumer insight – but rather an understanding of where the market is likely to go rather than where it has been.

    As we said at the start, we’d like to hear what you think. If this rings true, what are your thoughts on potential solutions?

  • Wind Tunnel Politics

    12th May 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, culture

    Post by Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    Clegg, Cameron and Brown (image courtesy of Campaign magazine)

    Clegg, Cameron and Brown (image courtesy of Campaign magazine)

    It was going to be the most important Election in a generation.

    It was going to break the mould of British Politics.

    It should have been so exciting.

    So why did it all seem so unfulfilling? Why did our eager anticipation of the first debate turn to a stifled yawn by the third? Why did our ardour for the new kid turn so quickly to complacency? Why did we shrug at the glossy manifestos, put the recycled thinking straight into the recycling bins?

    This was the Sunblest Election. The Election when all the mighty forces of Marketing created three soft, medium sliced, plastic packaged loaves. Designed to please, guaranteed not to let you down. Perfectly pleasant on their own terms, but curiously unsatisfactory.

    You see, all three candidates and campaigns had been put through the same Marketing Wind Tunnel.

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  • Twitter’s most radical idea yet: advertising that adds value

    11th May 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Guest post by Patricia McDonald, Planning Partner, CHI

    This is a rare event for us, a guest post from an ex-BBHer, Pats McDonald. Pats has written a fair amount on related topics in the past here and we’re delighted she agreed to do this follow-up.

    Hotly anticipated at South by SouthWest but held back for the first ever Twitter developer’s conference in April, Twitter unveiled its long-anticipated advertising platform last month. While the announcement has been slightly overtaken in the hype stakes by the launch of the Facebook Open Graph, the iPhone OS4 and the Apple versus Adobe showdown (quite a month we’re having), there is nevertheless some serious food for thought in the nuances of the Promoted Tweets platform.

    I’ve written before about some of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that accompanies the very idea of sponsored tweets and more recently about the very real danger that by polluting the stream, over-advertising in social media may strip the medium of much of its value. So it was intriguing both to see Twitter’s home grown platform and to see reactions to that platform in the Twittersphere. Teeth gnashing was-perhaps surprisingly-at a minimum, although there was some inevitable concern about the proposed long term shift from advertising around keyword searches to advertising in the stream. Read full post

  • Status of Africa: the Facebook app with a difference

    10th May 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, social media

    amref_fb

    As we’ve said many times before, we like nothing more than a great idea put to good use and we’re very happy to say BBH London have just created exactly that for AMREF (African Medical Research Foundation).

    Kim & Mareka, the creative team who dreamt up the idea, told us more about it.

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  • Myspace Fan Video & The Webbys

    20th April 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in awesomeness, creativity

    Posted by Dean Woodhouse, Creative, BBH London

    picture-3

    Our MySpace Fan Video campaign (which Fran shared here a few months back) has been nominated for a People’s Choice Award at this year’s Webbys, which we’re just a little excited about. And yes, this is an unashamed plug and request for your support.

    The category is Best use of Online Media, this is the Myspace entry. All you need to do is sign-up (it takes 20 seconds) and then you get an email that lets you vote.

    Whilst we’re here, it would be wrong not to mention our friends at BBH Shanghai’s awesome WWF Fate’s in your Hands in Experimental & Innovation, BBH NY’s Google Chrome in Online Commercials, BBH NY’s Axe Balls in Viral Marketing and Hal & Masa’s (BBH NY) promo video for Sour’s ‘Hibi No Neiro’ in Best Editing.

    We’re up against good work from some great agencies like W+K, TBWA, AKQA and Glue, so a win would feel even better.

    Deadline for voting is 29th April, so not long to go.

    THANKS very much for your support.

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