28th October 11
Authors: Gabor Szalatnyai (Creative Technology) & James Mitchell (Strategy), BBH London & BBH Labs
Here at Labs, we make a lot of stuff for other people and brands, but, now and then, we like to build experiments – additional stuff we love so much, we take extra time and pull late nights to see it done. We do this because sometimes, we want to test a theory, because we want to test our capabilities, and because we want to make something cool.
But this role is about more than the build. We’ll work iteratively on this, so we’ll be testing and learning as we go. This means you’ll be working with the team to prototype, test, bend and break – modifying and bettering the experiment at every stage. We’ll expect you to have a major impact on the idea itself. You’ll have the freedom to implement any technical solution that solves the problem, to work with the entire team to make sure the thing doesn’t just happen, but happens better.
Why work with us? Because we hope you’ll agree the project is cool, the team is a diverse and interesting one, and the use of data is, as far as we know, something that’s never been tried before. And, at the end of it all, you’ll get to put your name against something very special.
To apply, please send a nice message (with your GitHub username and/or some work) to **firstname.lastname@example.org**, and we’ll have a chat about what we’re trying to build. If you have any more questions, drop them in the comments. Thanks!
21st October 11
Author: Adam Powers, Head of UX, BBH London
This week ex-Morgan Stanley research analyst, now at KPCB, Mary Meeker delivered her latest Internet Trends presentation. As always, Mary’s distillation of trends is always good value and genuine insights are peppered throughout.
For the time starved amongst you, here are some highlights:
• Though still with some ground to make up, it’s striking the number of Chinese and Russian internet companies popping into the global top 25.
• What’s more, between 2007 and 2010 China accumulated 246million new internet users – that is more than exist within the USA.
Mobilising the people:
• Mary notes that even in recessionary times breakthrough technology and services can breakout. One need only look at the extraordinary first weekend sales of Apple’s iPhone 4S to confirm this.
• 2010 QTR 4 saw more mobile devices (which includes Tablets) sold than PCs and signs that Smartphone sales outstripping feature phone sales in US/EU
• That said. still enormous unconverted user base with 835 million Smartphone users against 5.6 billion mobile device subscribers.
• Apple getting plenty of headlines right now, but it’s Android mobile devices with the remarkable quarter on quarter ramp up – jumping from 20million to 150million units shipped in between quarters 7 and 11 post-launch.
• Global mobile success story continues with app/ad revenue up by a factor of 17 between 2008 and 2011 to a figure of $12billion.
• Meeker calls out the latest trend in the evolution of human computer interaction being from text command lines to graphical user interfaces (GUI) to natural user interfaces. Yes, Steve gets a name check too.
Cash is no longer king?:
• E-commerce story continues to be one of growth through tough economic times but plenty of room to grow.
• Again the big story is growth in mobile commerce with ebay and PayPal doubling or more their gross mobile sales/payments since 2010.
• The uplift in mobile e-commerce activity has been of particularly benefit to local commerce through the plethora of location aware discount offer aggregators.
Power to the people:
• Meeker identifies overarching mega-trend as the empowerment of people via connected devices.
• She references the Twitter traffic patterns post Japanese earthquake, the fact that 200million Indian farmers currently receive government subsidy payments via mobile devices and 85% of global population are now covered by commercial wireless signals versus 80% being on electricity grid.
30th September 11
Posted in transformational change
For the third event in the Google #Firestarters series its curator extraordinaire, Neil Perkin, chose to tackle the issues of “legacy structures, processes and thinking” head-on with the question: “what might the operating system for the agency of the future look like?“.
It’s a hairy, humbling monster of a question, not least because talk of new agency structures and ways of working so often teeters precariously on the edge of empty buzzword bingo (check out Tim Malbon’s post last year on Agile as a cargo cult).
On Tuesday night, Martin Bailie, James Caig and I were given 20 minutes to share a response. I attempted to avoid painting a picture of an agency built of silicon, and instead set out to describe something rather more prosaic. These days, perhaps more than ever, agencies are almost ALL about culture; their operating system a set of programs designed to encourage creativity and responsive behaviour, not codify inflexible structures and processes. Get the culture right and the rest follows. So the question becomes: what sort of agency culture do you want to create or be a part of? And what about all the contextual stuff we perhaps need to consider first?
A simple take on the impact of technology
We’ve known for years that the opportunities to buy mass attention are shrinking by the day, just as the opportunities to earn and measure attention become ever more enticingly available. If today Google’s Panda algorithm places ever more pressure on businesses to boost the signal not increase the noise and Facebook’s EdgeRank reduces the visibility of brands that send users to sleep, imagine what this will be like in future. At its simplest, it adds up to the same thing: ALL marketing – not just the rare handful of brands that regularly win awards – needs to be *genuinely* useful or entertaining. If not, marketing will become that thing that marketers and agencies fear the most: unseen and unheard.
If we can just wake up to this fact, this is a show-stoppingly great moment in time for our industry. There simply isn’t room for me-too, clutter-up-your-life, half-baked ideas, or one way messages dumped on the web dressed up to look “interactive”. However, there is lots of room for marketing done with skill and purpose, that people want to share, remix and make their own.
I’m calling this Marketing Singularity – an absurd title, which I’ll explain it in a second. For now, I just want to restate how it feels that we’re at a tipping point in our industry’s life cycle. If we can just set ourselves straight, it’s going to be epic. Let me explain why and how…
Is the pace of change exponential or logarithmic?
Let’s start with a question that’s at the root of why we’re having this conversation in the first place: the oft-discussed pace of change. Jeremy pointed me to a speech made earlier this month by Ben Hammersley, who spoke with provocative eloquence about an incumbent generation of leaders losing ground on a ‘Internet era’ revolution racing away from them. Around the same time, Matt Edgar wrote a spirited rebuttal to the common assumption that the pace of change is accelerating.. It feels important to decide where you sit on this debate, because if the pace of change is exponential, then it follows we need to have systems in place that encourage us to plan a lot further ahead – or react more nimbly – than we have currently. Or perhaps that isn’t the point. The pace of change may or may not be accelerating, but the pace of life is de facto faster than it was, say, five years ago. And whilst Matt questions whether technology’s exponential rate of change actually impacts on our lives to the same degree, I find that a peculiar assumption. Technology doesn’t sit on the sidelines of our lives these days: it’s embedded, root and branch. What’s more, the technology companies themselves regard speed as a competitive advantage (“Better products, faster” – Larry Page, Google shareholders’ meeting, 2011). Last week’s avalanche of tech news (again) is a case in point.
In fact you could argue we’re approaching Marketing Singularity: the point at which marketing is forced to become exponentially better, until it is so useful or entertaining it ceases to be a separate, stand-alone, one-way message and instead becomes indistinguishable from the product or service it promotes.
It might be content, it might be a framework or a game that invites participation; or even participation that gets displayed as a game. Platforms are brand operating systems, campaigns are applications. As Ben pointed out earlier this year, these are not binary.
Marketing as a profit centre, not a cost
Taking this to its logical conclusion, shouldn’t we aim to create marketing products and services that are so good, people are prepared to pay for them? Even if this approach isn’t what’s required (perhaps a Freemium model is the way to begin), I like the responsibility it places upon our shoulders: make marketing valuable to people. Looking further out, we may look back on the days we spent millions of dollars just paying for the privilege to reach people as a little odd. Brands like Audi and Red Bull are early experimenters in the guise of brands as committed media owners / publishers.
The kind of agency OS this demands
A few programs for starters:
Reductive thinking everywhere
At Labs, we admire the ruthless economy, flex and energy of a great start up as much as the next person. Kickstarter and Instagram are two of the better known examples of Minimum Viable Product thinking. For any agency worth their salt, the fundamental principles of MVP should not feel new. Great brand strategy and creative have *always* been about the art of sacrifice. The task now is to apply that mindset throughout agency departments: reduce to MVP, then listen (data) and pivot as required. This becomes all the more important when we look at shifts in business stability: from long periods of stability and short periods of disruption, to the reverse. This is a model for marketing too – let’s get comfortable with an environment that needs to flex and morph.
Silicon vs carbon
As Rishad Tobaccowala said a few days ago, ‘the world may be digital, but people are analog.” Any agency OS needs to be built around people, not technology.
‘Big is a collection of smalls’
People habitually join agencies like BBH from colleges and smaller agencies because they want to do something at SCALE. Accordingly, the very last thing we need to do is shy away from growth. Instead, the best agencies are increasingly breaking into nimbler, cross-functional teams, often with hybrid skills and collaborative in mindset. As Nigel Bogle puts it, ‘big is a collection of smalls’. Teams with autonomy, but access to shared services.
Whilst we should cast for the client or task in question (don’t take the team structure I sketched too literally), it’s worth drawing attention to the ‘broker’ role. If you’re interested in non-traditional media partnerships and thinking, you need a deal maker in your team.
Networked, versus in a network
We cannot do everything ourselves. With every layer of complexity, comes a deeper requirement to nurture and build strong external partnerships. Labs is a product of its network, plain and simple.
Foster Renaissance (wo)men
We’ve said this before, but we’re living through a Renaissance period. To be successful, we need fearless people who want to collaborate and learn from other industries. Deal makers, entrepreneurs, makers.. The people who never hold back from making the thing they dream of, just because the tools don’t exist today. Because they know they’ll exist tomorrow.
Make real things
You don’t need a 3D printer to make stuff or experience the benefits of making a proto-type of your idea. Making an early version of something – even if it’s rubbish (many years ago, I remember taking a mockup of a Boddingtons Tetra pak to a client meeting, to sell the idea of ‘Fresh Cream’. They hated it) – teaches you stuff you don’t find out if you stay in theory mode. So go buy a soldering iron and make something… There’s also a non-too-subtle shift going on between experiences that live entirely online (potentially interesting) and those that straddle the real world too (potentially fascinating). Check out Russell Davies’ piece for Campaign and the brilliant Marc Owens’ Avatar Machine if you want to read more.
Adopting and encouraging a culture of constant learning sounds exhausting, but it may well be the only way to stay sane. Learn to code, get comfortable in the wild, stay open, stay curious – I’m enjoying playing with my Weavr thanks to @zeroinfluencer – create your own here. A phrase used often at BBH and which turned up on our login screens this summer is perhaps an apt way to close: “Do interesting things and interesting things will happen to you.”
We’d love to hear what you think – what are the other programs you’d want to include in an agency OS?
Thank you to Neil, James, Martin and everyone who came and contributed… as always, the discussion got most interesting when the formal presentations stopped and everyone piled in. Aside from following the conversation here #Firestarters or nicely storified here, there have also been several thought provoking response posts (check out this one here from Simon Kendrick or this one here from Shea Warnes for starters). As always, Neil’s follow-up post will be one to look out for too.
29th September 11
Author: Adam Powers, Head of User Experience, BBH London
The User Experience (UX) Principal will have responsibility for delivering world-class UX for BBH London across a diverse, valuable portfolio of clients.
We are looking for someone with a tenacious, entrepreneurial spirit; someone who’s happiest rolling up their sleeves in the relentless pursuit of useful and beautiful solutions in an often dynamic and changing environment. They must also be nice. Read full post
16th September 11
Author: Lucia Komljen, Strategist, BBH London
This week saw the launch of ASOS Urban Tour – a shoppable, cultural experience in the form of an interactive platform promoting ASOS A/W 2011 menswear collection. It invites the audience to watch some of the world’s most skilled urban musicians, dancers, designers and artist in action across the world and to explore what – and where – inspires their craft and their style. The centerpiece is a dynamic, shoppable video set in London which can be paused and explored at any point, presenting the user with more information on the dancers and enabling the purchase of their looks.
Overall, we hope Urban Tour is an example of what can be achieved when you push technology and design in an attempt to seamlessly combine entertainment and service for e-commerce brands. Furthermore, it’s another demonstration of just how powerful it can be when technology enables ambitious creativity throughout the customer journey.
Here’s the story behind the work so far, we’d love to hear what you think. Read full post
11th August 11
Author: Pablo Marques (@pablo_marques), Creative Director, BBH London & BBH Labs
Please donate here: http://keepaaroncutting.blogspot.com/
The Barn is a program for our interns: its aim to expand and mix both the power advertising wields and youth’s inherent energy, then channel both for good.
As our team went about trying to find a problem they felt passionate about solving, we were all surprised by the absurdity of the past week’s riots in the UK.
With the riots came all of the negativity towards todays youth and the use of social media technology to mobilise people.
There it was, we had our problem. We wanted to show the world that youth and technology could also be a force for good, this was exactly what The Barn was about.
The team came up an idea. Why not use the force for good to help someone that was neither young nor technology savvy.
We set up Keep Aaron Cutting.
Aaron is an 89 years old barber who has been in the Tottenham area for 41 years whose business was ransacked during the riots. He has no insurance and no way of rebuilding his shop. His livelihood is devastated.
“I will probably have to close because I haven’t got insurance and I can’t afford the repairs,” – Aaron
If we could restore Aaron’s faith in youth and technology that might not solve the problem, but would be the perfect way to start.
5th August 11
Author: Neil Barrie (@neilbazza), Director, ZAG
I spent the first half of my adult life to date, playing in bands and the second half planning brands, most recently at Zag, the brand ventures division of BBH.
After an awkward adjustment period where I tried to deny all existence of my previous life and its accompanying streaked mullet jpegs, I’ve recently been finding that I actually learned a lot of useful things in those years in the Highbury Garage. Here they are:
# 1 Develop your dynamics
Listen to any AC/DC, song, especially Back in Black and you are listening to a lesson in dynamics. The space, the drums, the shifts, the CRUNCH – you can’t help but be moved by it. Loads of massive rock tracks owe a lot to soft/loud dynamics from Babe I’m gonna leave you to Teenage Dirtbag. Boys in particular like this sort of thing. The laws of rock dynamics are directly applicable to any presentation. It’s a good discipline to think “where’s the bit where the chords come crashing in?” and “how can I make this section feel more like ACDC?”
2nd August 11
Posted in People
Author: Louise Ablewhite, HR Manager, BBH London
Who we’re after
The ultimate T-shaped Producer. Someone with an in-depth knowledge of a production discipline (film, interactive, print, mobile, content, AFP, events/experiential, gaming, publishing), with broader knowledge across at least one other specialism. You’ll be responsible for working with the Creative Department to realise their ideas through development and craft – and to manage the process through to delivery / first release and beyond.
What you’ll be like
Fearless and fun to work with, passionate about the work and a great communicator – able to build great relationships with Strategy and Team Management, be client facing and campaign aware. Above all, you’ll be happiest collaborating with multiple partners and stakeholders (both internally and externally). Challenges and unknowns must be embraced and relished.
- Be able to demonstrate excellent creative and editorial judgement
- An appetite to learn and develop further is a must, with a passion for new ways of working and outputs
- Comfortable & confident with unknown territory/never been done before projects & able to navigate through it
- A keen an eye for detail and a strong background in managing complex project and budgets
- Confident in managing clients directly
- Able to manage complex legal negotiations with several parties
- Entrepreneurial: actively seek new revenue generating opportunities & business models
- In-depth knowledge of how other brands & media owners are operating in this space
- Good people skills and ability to build relationships across all disciplines and with third party partners
- Other key attributes: Hardworking, energetic, collaborative, good organisational skills, sound production and cultural knowledge.
If this sounds like your kind of job, we want to hear from you. Please send a cv/resume, details or link to email@example.com.
2nd August 11
Posted in Brands
Author: Jim Carroll, BBH London Chairman
‘O sleep,why dost thou leave me?
Why thy visionary joys remove?
O sleep again deceive me,
To my arms restore my wand’ring love’
I recently attended a concert in which these words of Congreve were sung in a beautiful Handel aria. I’m sure we can all relate to the sentiment: sleep is a place of joyful deceptions and re-found loves; it’s a place for escaping, forgetting, recovering, refocusing. However harsh the work environment, however stressful the unrelenting day, I have always been sustained by the promise of sleep, its welcoming embrace, its warm repose. In fact I have a singular talent for napping at will and I have inherited from my mother the habit of the Sunday afternoon kip. I like to drift off on the sofa, newspaper on my lap, to the sound of children’s chatter and roller bags from the pavement outside.
I have long felt that sleep is an area of untapped opportunity for brands. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, but we’re increasingly concerned by our ability to get enough of it, at the right quality. One can’t help but be underwhelmed by the plethora of scented candles, quack remedies and orthopaedic pillows that currently constitute the ‘sleep sector’. Can’t we do better than this? Surely space is not the final frontier; it’s sleep. Read full post
5th July 11
An edited version of this post was originally published for Fast Company here.
I suspect 2011’s festival may be looked back upon as the year advertising and technology agreed to meet in Cannes and get married on the beach. Sure, previous years have seen tech co attendance (Yahoo! are regulars to the festival) but this year the commitment to one another was unprecedented, visible and visceral.
Unquestionably, the two industries have much still to work out about each other. Nonetheless, the re-branding of that bastion of old school ad cool, Cannes Lions, as a ‘festival of creativity’ this year signalled a broadening mindset. And Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, took a big step towards agencies, speaking compellingly about Facebook as a “platform for creativity” and the company’s desire to “stay small and empower agencies.” On the very same day, Eric Schmidt was on stage declaring that “hell has frozen over..we would never have thought there was value [in a Super Bowl ad].. We strongly believe advertising has value.” Importantly, the brand also picked up a pride of Cannes Lions this year, thus proving again that the appreciation flows two ways.
This shared acceptance spilled out beyond the seminar speeches and awards. Having done some early reconnaissance at last year’s Cannes, Google’s Tom Uglow came to the conclusion that “people want decent wifi and fairy lights”. A year later, surveying an array of geeks and ad types happily mingling on the beach at Google’s Creative Sandbox, it’s hard not to agree. The generosity inherent in designing a space like this (masterminded with great care by Google’s Head of Events, Amy Brown) for all comers is laudable, but more than this, the approach said loud and clear that the company values its relationship with the creative community and has something to show them about giving back; about being open, versus closed.
The ubiquitous bottles of Rose lined up on tables along the Croisette may be delightful, but finding uniquely useful, entertaining ways to enhance each other’s experience is a lot more fun and well, different. As John Hegarty’s speech on Friday spelt out, as humans we’re hard-wired to respond to difference (technical term is dishabituation, apparently): in short, “difference wakes us up”.
At Cannes this year, advertising and technology finally woke up to one another, properly and in public. I’m looking forward to 2012.
Google are a client of BBH.