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Author archive

  • The future of connected TV (and why it may just revolutionise adland), Part I

    16th June 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in interactive, technology

    TV stencil by USB, via Flickr

    Author: Matthew Kershaw (@mattski2000), Content Director, BBH London

    There is a frothy bubble of excitement growing around the future of Connected TV.

    At CES back in January, it was announced that the connected TV category is forecast to ship over 123 million connected TVs  a year by 2014. With overall ownership to reach 1 billion by 2015.

    Just this month,  Philips announced that they have 1 million active Net TV users.

    And all the major players are piling in: Google are still behind Google TV, YouView are finally preparing to launch with the ultimate boss, Lord Sugar, Virgin have just launched their Tivo service, Sony made a commitment early and even Apple are still just about in the game with their AppleTV device. And then there’s Anthony Rose, the genius behind the  BBC iPlayer and ex CTO of YouView, now championing two-screen interaction.

    With all this hype and excitement, you’d think that us ad folk would be talking about nothing else, combining as it does ad land’s two big obsessions: the power of television and the interactivity of the internet.

    So why are we holding back? Read full post

  • Life In A Day: Preview Screening & Live Q&A

    14th June 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Film

    YouTube Preview Image

    Author: Alice Bullimore, Integrated Producer, BBH London

    What would happen if you asked everyone in the world to take a video of their life on the same day?

    Well, it’s happened. The day was July 24th 2010 and people from 120 countries uploaded over 80,000 videos. Life, in a Day.

    The raw footage itself is powerful. As Alexandra Coghlan comments in her great review, “what is perhaps most extraordinary and exciting about this project are its leftovers”,  and on the ‘explore’ tab at youtube.com/lifeinaday the guys at Google have made all this footage available for us to filter and view, the many stories untold.

    But then there’s the film.

    Kevin MacDonald & Ridley Scott at RSA undertook the ambitious curatorial job of creating their story of the world, Joe Walker took on the crazily gargantaun mission of editing.

    Over 4500 hours of footage reviewed, complied and cut into a coherent 90 minute film.

    The film’s not bad either.

    It was well received at Sundance, Berlin and SXSW film festivals, Total Film have given it 4 stars and it currently enjoys a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    But what was it like laying down this challenge?

    What if no-one had entered anything?

    What if most of the crowd sourced footage was unusable?

    With so much footage to go through, how do you choose what story to tell? An individual’s? The world’s? The editors’? Just whose agenda is at work, and what are the implications of a film like this?

    Well, we’re privileged to be able to get a bit closer to some of these answers with a preview screening & live Q&A with the editor, Joe Walker, at BBH in London this wednesday 15th June at 5.00pm.

    If you would like to ask Will and the team a question of your own, we have a limited number of tickets available for you & a friend to join us.

    Please email carrie.murray@bbh-labs.com to get a free pair of tickets. First come first served.

    We look forward to seeing you.

    You can also upload questions for Kevin MacDonald and Life in a Day contributors here, by 2pm UK time *today* in advance of the UK premiere. The film is on national release in Vue cinemas on Thursday.

  • Tonight: Kronenbourg 1664 hosts a live Q&A with Suggs from Madness

    6th June 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Events

    Author: Agathe Guerrier (@agatheg), Strategist, BBH London & BBH Labs

    YouTube Preview Image

    *Tonight at 9pm GMT* we’re happy to say Kronenbourg 1664 is hosting a live event on the brand’s YouTube channel, as part of its Slow the Pace campaign.

    A Q&A with the star of our second commercial in the series, Suggs from Madness, it will be livestreamed from the studios of our partner Absolute Radio. Since Friday, users have been able to submit their questions on the channel via a Google Moderator widget, a tool that was developed a few months ago for YouTube’s own Worldview project (featuring Obama and David Cameron), enabling citizens to quiz world leaders on issues of global governance.

    To our knowledge, no brand has ever done this before. So nous croisons les doigts, as we say in France, until 10ish in the UK.

    Watch the interview here.

    Kronenbourg 1664 YouTube channel

    This campaign is an integrated approach to broadcast and the social web that we’re calling “Super Bowl, Super Social” (check out our post last year about Yeo Valley for a detailed case study). Very simply, we know successful brands marry broadcast and participation in ways that add value (utility, entertainment) to people’s lives – the real-time web pushes that a stage further: rewarding brands that provide experiences and content that are bolder, better.

    In the meantime, let’s hope Suggs turns up tonight.

    For more info you’ll find Kronenbourg 1664 in all the usual places: @K1664slow, Kronenbourg 1664 on Facebook, Kronenbourg’s YouTube channel.

  • Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence Into Magic

    3rd June 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Books

    “Do not go gentle into that good night, but rage against the dying of the light”
    ~ Dylan Thomas, quoted in Hegarty in Advertising

    Sir John’s book, “Hegarty on Advertising”, goes on sale on Monday.

    He would be first person to say this is no ‘how-to’ manual, but rather his own story: packed with no holds barred opinion, behind the scenes anecdotes and strongly held principles to work by. There’s no crystal ball gazing, instead a distillation of what he’s learned in 45 years in the business. As such we found it a dose in humility for the here and now: a grip on history that, as ever, sets the future in context.

    Despite his protestation this isn’t a manual, several ideas and themes emerge that have a hell of a lot to teach the rest of us: what makes a successful start-up, the humanization of the workplace, how to approach technology and stay abreast of innovation, the role of difference and ‘creative destruction’, the impact of globalization, why ideas matter and more.

    We asked him to shed a little more light on some of these themes. In doing so, we thought we’d see if we could put one of his most firmly held views to the test; his belief that “words are a barrier to communication”. We have no idea if this is going to work, but here goes – our first interview response without words.

    What do you mean by “creative destruction”?

    “Creativity isn’t an occupation, it’s a pre-occupation” – can you explain what you mean by this?

    If you started an agency today, what would it be like?

    Is there a single piece of work you think defines you?

    Where do you look for inspiration?

    You say the way creative thinking gets deployed “will always be a continually moving target.. to nail your colours to any particular medium or technology will sow the seeds of your destruction”. So how should we engage with technology?

    And, finally, you say you can’t name all the people you’d like to thank, but if there had to be one (okay, perhaps a couple), who would it be?

    Sketches are by Sir John Hegarty

    For more about the book: www.hegartyonadvertising.com

  • Don’t Forget the “I” in “T”: On Recommitting to Specialism

    1st June 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in collaboration, People

    Mashery's Circus Mashimus poster at SXSWi 2011

    Picture the scene. There are around 4-6 people clustered around a table together.  All trying to solve a problem, all very talented… most of them creative/strategy/tech hybrids. An hour later, they’ve gone in circles several times, sure, but between them there’s light at the end of the tunnel.. a few solutions look to be within reach.  Then the school bell goes people have to head to another meeting and they agree to meet again. Except it takes a day or two to arrange the follow-up and then half an hour to remind everyone what they’re there to do. And repeat.. does this sound familiar?

    There are some very smart people arguing that generalists are the future. When we have much more to do in less time, then it’s better we put together teams of people who can all spin plates, bang a drum and throw knives at the same time, right? Perhaps there are some people who are so extraordinarily talented across so many disciplines that they genuinely can claim to be the ultimate one man band; a steel-alloyed, swiss army knife of creativity. For the rest of us, I would beg to differ. Read full post

  • Boxing, Branding and Social Enterprise: LUTA

    31st May 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in business models, Social

    Author: Anika Saigal (@anikasaigal), BBH Labs Intern

    YouTube Preview Image

    We love businesses that turn our expectations positively on their head. Luke Dowdney, the founder of the charity Fight For Peace, did exactly that when he came in to see us about the launch of a new clothing brand, LUTA (@lutaclothing). Check out the trailer above, directed by Seb Edwards at Academy Films, for a powerful introduction.

    Founded with the support of private investment, LUTA is a “collection of fightwear, trainingwear and streetwear that brings together real fight performance, favela style and a genuine social mission”.  We’ve been working with Luke behind the scenes and so went along to hear him tell the story behind the brand at its launch last week, which was held at Fight For Peace’s East London academy.  LUTA aims to be a brand built on favela spirit – “Real Strength” is its motto – quality performance clothing to compete with established brands and also on the basis of a 50% profit share scheme.  That’s to say that LUTA pays as much of its profits to Fight For Peace as it pays its shareholders. ‘Even if the brand doesn’t pay its shareholders a profit in any given year, it will still pay FFP a minimum of £10,000 for that year, ensuring that its support is stable and ongoing.’

    Brazilian national boxing champion and LUTA ambassador: Roberto Custódio (left) began his boxing career through training with Fight For Peace. Photos courtesy of LUTA, via Flickr

    The model here is social entrepreneurship which we’re seeing more and more of – from Rockcorps channelling the power of music and celebrity to make volunteering a part of youth lifestyle, to TOMS matching each pair of shoes purchased with a pair given to a child in need. We’re seeing, too, more and more mainstream brands seeking to put their mission statements into action on the ground, often through social and CR initiatives.

    What’s interesting with LUTA, however, is the reversal of that model: the ‘philanthrocapitalism’ of this potentially lucrative, profit-driven brand.

    Idris Elba, star of HBO’s The Wire, supporting the launch of LUTA clothing

    What could marketers – non-profits or otherwise – learn from the approach Luke is taking?

    It strikes us that charities often go about securing donations by capitalising on either our compassion or on our resolve to remove the awkward guilt that ensues when we turn away from a good cause. We need to know the story behind the charity first though, in order to feel moved enough to do something about it. And it follows that, to get people to listen, conventional charities need to be opportunists in their approach to securing donations. The flow of income may be unpredictable, making it difficult to plan projects.  What’s more, a ‘landmark’ Harvard Business Review article, published two decades ago, describes the flaws in charitable foundations.  These include the finding that little effort is devoted to measuring results, and that these foundations have unjustifiably high admin costs.  That article has been repeatedly cited, years later, to bring home the fact that even though the flaws are widely acknowledged, not much has changed.

    In the conventional charity model, endorsing the perception of their beneficiaries as victims may be necessary in order to incite charitable motivation. But this also, however unwittingly, can further remove potential supporters from the reality of their plight, so that those who could/do donate feel more like outsiders watching from afar.

    Idris and the Fight For Peace Youth Council

    In the case of LUTA, it’s a very different story.

    LUTA focuses on the quality of its clothing in order to make it a credible competitor to existing brands. The fact that half the profits go to a good cause simply adds incentive to a purchase that would, regardless, have still been considered.  This seems to make more sense in terms of behavioural economics.  We instinctively avoid guilt and chase inspiration. So, instead of encouraging people to give, literally, for pity’s sake, it’d be more effective instead to stir action-provoking emotion through an aspirational brand that embraces themes of determination and hope.

    Are there other learnings we’ve missed or other great examples? We’d love to hear about them if so. In the meantime, enjoy Academy Films’ powerful film made to promote LUTA:

    YouTube Preview Image

    A little about Luke:

    Luke Dowdney MBE is a social anthropologist and former amateur boxer from East London, he’s spent the past decade establishing and running the Fight For Peace boxing and education academy in the Complexo da Maré, one of the biggest agglomerations of drug gang-controlled favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

    Luke speaking at the LUTA launch

    Fight for Peace offers youths in favelas an alternative to becoming involved in organized armed violence. It offers the opportunity for them to gain strength and self-respect through the discipline of martial arts, as well as providing them with supplementary education and preparation for the job market.  He’s since opened another FFP academy – this time in East London – with the aim of continuing to grow internationally.

  • The Birds That Sing At Night

    27th May 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in culture, Social

    'Blackbird singing in the dead of night' (image by Dia, via Flickr)

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    Sometimes recently I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and there have been birds singing in the street outside. Two or three o’clock in the morning, well before sunrise and they’re chirping away, casually, confidently.

    I’m no ornithologist, but shouldn’t they be saving it for the dawn chorus?

    Inevitably one is troubled by the abnormal. My initial concern was that their singing portended some dark event, an omen of impending doom.

    But the world didn’t implode.

    I wondered was I witnessing some form of ecological fallout? Was the nocturnal bird song an unnatural response to an unnatural environment?

    The bird authorities’ website reassured me that our feathered friends sing primarily ‘to attract a mate and defend territory’ and that some species are just  happy to do these things at night.

    I prefer to imagine that the birds outside my window are adapting to the modern world. Working, socialising, eating and courting on a more fluid, 24 hour, ‘always on’ basis.

    Perhaps the collective unconscious of London sparrows has connected with humanity’s accelerating metabolism. Perhaps they’re embracing deconstructed social norms, flexible working, speed dating.

    Maybe this also explains the migrant foxes that have long since given up the tedium and conservatism of rural life for the bright lights and diversity of the metropolis.

    I have always liked the idea that change is a social, collective thing. That we like to change together, that we are reassured by community even when that community is evolving in different directions.

    I have sadly found it frustrating to entertain philosophies to which my Clients do not yet subscribe.

    As a student I was taught that a society in some respects behaves like an orchestra. It assigns ‘in tune-ness’  to behaviours that are consistent with everyone else and it rejects abnormal behaviour as ‘out of tune’.

    This of course has its downsides. But it’s reassuring to consider that, as we run at the future, we may be taking the the wildlife with us…

  • Whose Ad Is It Anyway?

    16th May 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    Tamara Rojo in Swan Lake, image via http://www.tamara-rojo.com/

    Last week I attended a talk by the magnificent Royal Ballet dancer, Tamara Rojo.

    As a child growing up in Madrid she had not been aware of ballet and had stumbled into her first dance academy somewhat by chance. She immediately fell in love with the art form and became a diligent pupil. Observing her enthusiasm for dance, her parents took her to a performance of Swan Lake by a visiting Russian company.

    The young Tamara was, however, disappointed and upset by the experience. She loved ballet, but had never imagined that it was to be crafted into stories and performed in front of other people. She thought ballet was, as she had experienced it in class, an entirely personal thing, a beautiful private escape.

    Subsequently Tamara’s teachers would tell her that she was there to entertain the audiences, not herself.  But one could not help concluding that Tamara’s exceptional ability to inspire others was derived in part from her determination to do something for herself.

    Inevitably when we discuss modern communication,we spend most of our time considering whether we are properly reflecting the truth of the brand or engaging the interest and participation of the audience. And rightly so.  But doesn’t it help, a little at least, to be motivated by our own interest, enthusiasm and sense of pride?

    Many years ago I worked with the much loved and respected creative, Martin Galton. We would return, heads bowed, from another attritional Client meeting to supply the team with the customary ‘builds’. Martin, however, would only entertain a certain level of distortion of his original concept. Beyond that point he’d say: ‘Forget it.Throw that idea away and I’ll do you another one.’

    Frustrating at the time, but his self-belief endured. In an era where the communications process is increasingly driven by the end user and hyper-targeting techniques, how many of us stubbornly hold on to our own vision? Is there still a time and a place to ‘dance for ourselves’?

  • Exploring The Edges: On Innovation In Agencies

    28th April 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in business models

    Last weekend @malbonnington posed a deceptively simple question: Do We Really Need Chief Innovation Officers in Ad Agencies? He cited four people with related titles, including our own @saneel who holds the title Director of Innovation at BBH NY. I was reminded of Ed Cotton’s posts which asked a similar question about the role of agency labs. In both cases, the comment threads are as enlightening as the posts – don’t take our word for it, go check them out, including Ben’s own excellent response here. Below I’ve pulled out and built upon our contribution to the debate in both cases. Consistently aided and abetted, prodded and provoked by others far smarter than us since we set up Labs in 2008 (you know who you are, the likes of @edwardboches, @benkunz, @timogeo, @malbonster, @patsmc, @willsh, @caseorganic, @irowan, @danlight, @shaunabe, and @tomux are just a flavour), this post has ended up being a distillation of what we’ve learned so far about this topic.

    Image by Eistean, via Flickr

    I suspect innovation, or more specifically, how we deliver it, is a topic that’ll continue to cause debate in any creative industry worth its salt, for the simple reason that innovation isn’t an ‘add-on to what we all do, it is the decades-old bedrock of our existence: asking audiences to see their world in new ways, seeking new routes to communicate, shining a light on invention. We may embrace co-creation and recombinant culture, but our industry still worships at the altar of originality. Who of us doesn’t want to do ground-breaking stuff? Inevitably, it follows that the very idea of “innovation transcending functional expertise“ can feel like a total anathema.

    Certainly, my immediate response to the questions about Chief Innovation Officers and agency labs is pretty simple: in most cases, I wouldn’t appoint someone to the job.

    I say this for three reasons:

    a. Few agencies aspire to operate close enough to the “bleeding edge” to justify the cost.
    b. As others have commented in the past, the hiring of a CIO all too often represents an abdication of a management team’s responsibility to lead change.
    c. It’s a tight rope walk of a job. Incredibly easy to slip off.

    And yet…for the people with the appetite to try it, here are a couple of thoughts on why, when and how we *might* make it work:

    1. Start by picking your company carefully.

    Oddly, it’s at the extreme ends of the spectrum of corporate health that this role may be most useful: at the hellish end where a company is wallowing in a stagnant backwater, the short term appointment a CIO could help signal a fresh agenda. At the opposite end, when an agency has grown too big to sit around one table yet retains a forward-looking culture, a CIO can play a powerful, much more strategic role. More on this below.

    2. Demonstrate the value of exploring the ‘edges’.

    Make sure everyone around you (that’s the whole agency, not just management) are on board with the commercial and creative advantage your role can bring. Summarised, the task is to explore and exploit the opportunities at the “edges” of your business, as described in a related FT.com article from earlier this year:

    “Edges could involve new product introductions, expansion into new markets, or the launch of entirely new business propositions…the edges of companies are generally more open to change and the adoption of new technologies, because they face more unmet needs and fewer established routines. The people who are attracted to edges tend to be less risk-averse, as well….Longer term, edge initiatives have the potential to become the new core of the enterprise.”

    Read full post

  • Introducing: BBH Asia-Pacific Data Snapshots

    26th April 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in data, digital

    Author: Simon Kemp (@eskimon), Engagement Planner, BBH Asia Pacific & BBH Labs



    The digital landscape across Asia-Pacific has seen significant change in recent months, with enthusiasm for social media driving the broader adoption of a wide range of connected services and tools.

    Although Internet penetration levels remain low in many Asian countries, the sheer size of those countries’ populations means that the numbers must be seen in context; for example, internet penetration in China stands at just 34%, but the number of social media users in that country exceeds the total population of Russia.

    It’s also critical to understand how people in the East access and use the web. Read full post

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