16th May 11
Posted in creativity
Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London
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’?
28th April 11
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.
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.”
15th April 11
Posted in Uncategorized
Author: Rosie Arnold, Deputy Exec Creative Director, BBH and Deputy D&AD President
On Tuesday night, D&AD launched a new initiative: The White Pencil Award. It is an ongoing award, but the first White Pencil will be awarded next year to a piece of creative thinking that best answers a brief that we’re giving to the whole creative community.
The White Pencil is for a piece of creative work that changes the world for the better; the first organisation D&AD has chosen to support is Peace One Day.
The brief is available here and, to the best of my knowledge, it is the first time the entire global creative community of designers, advertisers, digital, photographers etc has been give the same brief.
Come on all you creatives out there: use your talent to change the world.
14th April 11
Posted in Uncategorized
When Jonathan Harris’ project ‘Today‘ began, we instantly liked its intentions. Lifestreaming projects like this are hardly new but, in the hands of someone like Harris, you know ‘a photo and a story a day’ (in his case, a resolution made to mark his 30th birthday) is going to be downright special.
In this film, made by Jonathan’s friend Scott Thrift, over a year’s worth of photos each appear for a second.
The soundtrack is Harris talking about the experience which will feel familiar to any lifestreamers – the early anxiety, the excitement of figuring it out, a growing audience, then a sense of the project ‘running you’ … followed by the missing it once it’s gone.
“I use stories as a technique to organise the past and I think there’s a real lack of storytelling now among all of us. We’re all living lives that are so fragmented…there’s not that time to create stories, to make sense of that experience.”
For more of Jonathan’s work, check out number27.org.
14th April 11
From 12pm GMT today, BBH’s global run/row/cycle-a-thon goes LIVE, streaming from all six BBH offices simultaneously for 24 hours straight. You can watch it happen via the webcams on the site. Please show your support by donating here, tweet #bbh4japan or leave a message for everyone breaking a sweat here. All donations, no matter how small, will help the charity we’ve chosen to support, ShelterBox.org, deliver emergency temporary housing, warmth and dignity to Japanese families who have lost everything after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
A whole host of people around the world in BBH offices got this up and running.. you know who you are. We also caught up with Dom Grant and Zak Razvi at BBH London who designed the art work to promote the event:
“We wanted to create a powerful image that worked on more than just one level. Using the iconic design of the Japanese flag, we replaced the red circle with a textured heart graphic. We then used the shape of Japan as a crack to depict a broken heart. We hope the image encapsulates our love and respect for the people of Japan.”
Please give generously. A big thank you for your support, from everyone here and at Shelterbox.org.
******AN UPDATE, 21.04.11******
As of this morning, we’re happy to report a whopping £27, 110 has been raised! Thank you to EVERYONE who donated and supported the effort.
Here are some shots from Japan sent to us by Shelterbox today:
12th April 11
“Here’s to living forever. That’s not just a salutation in our family”
~ Sonya Kurzweil
“This is of mythical proportions. We have to deal with it, even if it turns out not to be true.”
~ Kevin Kelly
Regular readers of this blog will know we have an abiding fascination with what technology may bring in the far flung future (see our The Coming Age of Augmentation post and, most recently, Greg Anderson on Asimov’s First Law).
So it’ll be no surprise to hear we got *extremely* excited when an invite arrived, courtesy of Google, to attend a screening of Barry Ptolemy’s Transcendent Man at the Science Museum in London, followed by a Q&A with the director and the film’s subject, the futurist, author and engineer Ray Kurzweil. Read full post
1st April 11
Posted in Uncategorized
Author: Romy Miller, Team Director, BBH London
It’s Mother’s Day in the UK this weekend and it seems a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of some of the difficulties many mothers face in the most marginalised communities of Africa, via a new release of our Status of Africa Facebook app for AMREF, Africa’s leading health development charity.
You may remember that we did something similar last year – the difference this year is that we’re focussing just on women – mothers, in fact. Maternal health is a huge issue: every year 280,000 African mothers die unnecessarily in pregnancy and childbirth because they lack basic medical care. AMREF is working to change this by trying to ensure no woman dies whilst giving life.
The Facebook app gives users the chance to choose a real African mother or midwife that AMREF works with and to share their status or Twitter account with them for 5 days. The app automatically updates the users’ status twice a day with their chosen African mother or midwife. The status updates were written based on true case studies. The stories shared by the women are real. Read full post
31st March 11
The promo for Dels’ “Trumpalump” looks at the space between fantasy and reality and very cleverly focuses on a line from the track, as the directors behind the promo explain it:
“Our process of generating ideas always starts with the lyrics. With Dels it helps massively that his lyrics create such vivid images, for example in Trumpalump we took inspiration from his line ‘do we dream in colour or black and white?’..” ….ooh, how very Inception.
It’s directed by us, AKA Christopher Barrett & Luke Taylor, double D&AD award winners, who also run their own multi-disciplinary graphic design and branding studio, alongside shooting promos and commercials with Academy Films.
You must watch the promo through to the end, as the more it goes on, the cleverer it gets. Shot on a shoestring, made possible by using mates (the twin girls are friends of Dels) and by doing everything in-camera…no possibility of an Inception-style post prod budget in the promo world these days! And that’s precisely what makes the piece so exciting and inventive. Out goes budget; in comes creativity.
If you like this, check out the Making Of too:
Mintsource is BBH’s internal initiative to provide BBH with an opportunity to seeing fresh, alternative and up and coming talent. A kind of director’s showcase for the ‘unusual suspects’ in the film directing and animation world.
29th March 11
Author: Adam Arnold, Partner, BBH
Today sees the launch of The Black Sheep Fund – which we believe is the first venture capital fund of its kind. It is a venture between Zag (BBH’s brand invention business) and Spark Ventures – the London based VCs that backed start up phenomena including lastminute.com, Kobalt Music, notonthehighstreet.com and Moshi Monsters.
The background is increasingly obvious: There is a dearth of seed funds for start ups. If things feel tighter than they used to be in the States – then it is ten times harder to raise money in Europe right now. The banks demand personal guarantees for business loans (!), and institutions are incredibly risk averse. If you are proven entrepreneur with a string of successful exits under your belt, then you will get by. But if you are young, hungry and full of belief in your big idea – you might well get nowhere. The thing we spotted was that the next big digital business is just as likely to come from new entrepreneurs – and that is why we set up this fund.
The premise is simple: We offer a unique cocktail of business building and brand building in one investment package. All VC’s invest cash and sit on boards. Our fund will do this plus it will help to ensure the business captures the imaginations and loyalties of consumers too. We call it ‘creative capital’. We aim to invest this creative capital in businesses that intersect consumers, technology and content. Examples would include smart new social tools, disruptive e-retailing concepts or contagious GPS games. The portfolio will be broad so long as the role of the brand is business critical. The Fund was announced today in the Financial Times, and we already have our foundation funds in place. Over the next quarter we will be meeting prospective start ups and raising the rest of the fund – targeting £10m GBP.
The invitation is open: If you or anyone you know is currently sitting on a great start up idea that they plan to take to market – then do consider the Black Sheep Fund on your short list of VC’s. We are primarily a UK based fund, but we are idea led – and a good enough idea with the right management could be invested in overseas. And, if you are an angel, with a growing desire to re-enter or join in the start up scene, then do get in touch for more information. The fund will qualify as an Enterprise Incentive Scheme (EIS) – which the UK government made increasingly attractive in the Budget last week.
Get in touch: email@example.com
For more on the Black Sheep Fund, BBH and Spark Ventures: