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Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

  • High-Performance Creativity: A new framework for Creative Businesses

    28th May 14

    Posted by Agathe Guerrier

    Posted in creativity, performance



    A few weeks ago, I was in sunny (but chilly) Aarhus to speak at the SPOT interactive conference.

    There are a couple things you need to know about Aarhus:

    1. It’s the second biggest city in Denmark after the capital, Copenhagen;

    2. The airport is 45km away from the town centre and a taxi will cost you £70, so take the shuttle bus, especially if you’re travelling on the Labs budget.

    I was there to talk about BBH’s answer to the challenges and opportunities that creative businesses face today. The tensions between creativity and commerce, and the question of the monetization of creative outputs in the digital economy, had been recurrent throughout the day, since SPOT started out as a music conference, and a lot of the participants (including RECHO app developers, who launched their app at the conference) were connected to the music business, which has obviously had to spend the last two decades revolutionizing its value model.

    Have a flick through the presentation if you fancy. Or read the ten points below for the gist of the keynote.

    1. BBH was founded on the belief that growth needs space, and space needs difference, and creativity is the best tool at creating difference. Far from seeing creativity and commerce as opposites, we have a fundamental faith in the ability of brilliant creativity to deliver business results.

    2. Conveniently, the IPA has actually proven through correlating Gunn report awards (a good proxy for quality of creativity) with ROI data, that creativity multiplies the effect of marketing investment by a number included between 7 (historically) and 12 (more recently).

    3. Increasing connectedness of users, platforms, objects, channels, brands, devices, life, and generally everything, means that creativity needs to adapt both its inputs and outputs in order to continue to deliver commercial success.

    4. We call this new type of creativity, High Performance Creativity.

    5. High Performance Creativity is:

    -       Rooted both in genuine user and business insight;

    -       Fuelled by real time, real world data;

    -       Connecting all of a brand or property’s touch points into a consistent ecosystem that it itself connected to culture, to deliver at scale.

    6. High Performance Creativity generates a new breed of creative ideas. Here are four examples.

    7. Data-led ideas:

    The New York Times reported that Netflix, which has 27 million subscribers in the US, found the idea for their version in House of Cards by running the numbers. The combination of the high popularity and engagement rates of David Fincher films, Kevin Spacey films, and the British version of “House of Cards” suggested that commissioning the series would be a very good bet on original programming.

    In the BBH world, a team led by Creative Technologists has recently created a digital Audi billboard in Waterloo station which runs on real-time, station-related data. Check out the video inserted in the slide.

    8. Network ideas: Sometimes the best strategy to triumph is to partner with the obvious competition. When your customers don’t care about what you make any more, think of what they do care about, and go befriend it.

    A good (and befittingly, Danish) example of this is part of the spectacular Lego recovery story. Upon realizing that kids were more interested in blockbuster film and video games than they were in small stackable bricks, they initiated a whole new collection of franchises, and in one swift move turned themselves into a successful cross-platform entertainment brand, driving growth through innovation in gaming and film partnerships such as Harry Potter and Dark Knight. More recently, this strategy has taken the form of a long-term partnership with the Cartoon Network.

    Working with our friends at Refuge, we were faced with the issue that domestic violence is an issue young women don’t want to talk about. So we found a way into their conversations by associating ourselves with a property they did want to talk about (make up and beauty) through celebrity blogger Lauren Luke.

    9. Shoppable ideas: The idea that the various steps alongside the consumer journey from awareness to purchase are separate in time and mindset is eroding in the digital age, since all phases are increasingly connected. In the new world, those steps have become layers of a single ecosystem.

    Founder Nicola Massenet describes Net A Porter as a fashion magazine that sells, rather than an ecommerce property. Quality creative content delivered by top fashion journalists and photographers, one click away from purchase: that’s inspiration and conversion wrapped into one. A winning strategy that has gone full circle this year with the launch of Porter Magazine.

    At BBH, we have recently created a product for British Airways which similarly combines inspiration and delight through content, with optimized e-commerce. Picture Your Holiday is an intuitive holiday planning tool which allows for both dreaming up and buying your next trip away.

    10. Triple Win Ideas: A lot of success stories in the world of digital products and services, come from unlocking a group of users or a type of use for the product, that wasn’t part of the original plan. So it’s always worth asking yourself who else your idea could be a win for.

    Dog-sharing services such as Tailster put dog owners in need of a sitter, with dog lovers who don’t have their own pet. Dog owners get a cheaper rate on a dog walker or sitter, and dog lovers get an hour with a dog.

    BBH Zag recently partnered with OMG Plc to create the world’s first intelligent, wearable camera.

    The partner company had created a medical product designed to help those with memory loss. We set out to help them create a mass consumer product with cutting edge tech credentials. Positioned as a life streaming and social photography tool, Autographer launched in the spring.

     

    More to come shortly on High Performance Creativity; in the meantime let us know what you think.

    Thanks go to Mette Marcussen from Shareplay  for inviting me, Paul Tyler from Handling Ideas for moderating the day, as well as all the other speakers for their inspiring points of view.

  • 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”.

     

     

  • Hello world: code and the future of creativity

    3rd September 13

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in coding, creativity

    This week we’re cross-posting some of the monthly tech columns we’ve written over the past year for Marketing magazine. In part so we keep a record of the topics that are vexing and/or getting us going here at Labs, but mainly because some of these topics keep resurfacing and seem worthy of on-going discussion. As always please let us know what you think in the comments below.

    First up, a piece published in March this year on code and creativity.

    ***

    Sample of Beatrix Potter's code, source: peterrabbit.com (yes, that's right)

    Sample of Beatrix Potter’s code, source: peterrabbit.com (yes, that’s right)

    A biography of Beatrix Potter published last century may not sound like it warrants a mention in a column about technology. Yet when a friend sent it to me recently I was surprised: as a child, Beatrix had conceived her own cipher or code for use in private journals that she wrote well into her late twenties. 200,000 words in total that were only successfully decoded two decades after her death. So why did she write in code? And why was there such baffled curiosity that a creative writer did this?

    The thoughts Beatrix encrypted were neither controversial nor particularly personal. The biographer speculates that she was a lonely, if intelligent child who sought refuge in her own imagination. Described as a peculiar act of creativity to escape an otherwise colourless childhood, if you will.

    Reading it, I was struck by how little fundamental attitudes to writing code have changed in decades. In our industry, as in others, there’s positive intent and considerable uptake of courses designed to teach the basics of programming languages, sure. But reading and writing code is still not a part of the fabric of life the same way learning a language, sport or an instrument is. Many still see code as intimidating, or the preserve of the solitary (male) computer science geek.

    Even as we grasp how code and the role of different languages are transforming marketing output and our ways of working, still too many of us step back from getting to grips with code directly and personally. That’s for newcomers to the industry, right?

    Yet it’s no more complicated than anything else we learn over the course of our lives and it’s part of the day job: we already know the Internet has been the biggest advertising sector in the UK for the past four years (IAB data) and that it will register double digit growth every year for the next four (PwC’s Global Media & Entertainment Outlook for EMEA, 2012-2016).

    So what now?

    Perhaps we don’t all itch to shape the way the web develops, but let’s embrace the fact that, at its simplest, code is how things get made on and for the web. Much as Beatrix Potter understood a century ago, code is creative. Of course there’s much to do here: if code in combination with its older siblings, art direction and copy, is to grow up faster, better, stronger it needs leadership at every level. We don’t all need to learn to code necessarily, but we do need to know what code can do.

    Time to get with the program, people.

    More on the topic:

    Google’s “Art, Copy & Code”

    A series of experiments launched at the start of the year designed to re-imagine advertising, reflecting the triumvirate now at the heart of commercial creativity.

    Code.org and their video ‘what most schools don’t teach’ featuring Zuckerberg, Gates and a host of other geekarati championing code. If I were Secretary of State for Education, I’d make it mandatory for all girls in secondary education to watch this.

    Decoded – http://decoded.co/. The original “learn to code in a day” training course. You may not emerge a fully fledged developer, but you do leave with a good grasp of the history and roles of different programming languages, plus an app you built yourself. Intelligently designed course, highly recommended.

    Dr Techniko

    Teaching kids the basics of code through a parent-child physical training session where the parent is the ‘robot’ and expected to respond to specific commands: “How to train your robot”. Every small child’s dream.

    And as a counter-point: Learning to Code is a Waste of Time (Forbes)

  • Nick Gill: 10 Things I’ve Learned That Might Help

    9th August 12

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, People

    This piece was originally published in Creative Circle’s 2012 Annual last month. It’s packed full of advice from the great and the good, with special mention to our own John Hegarty and also to Ben Kay on how to write an advertising blog. You can buy a copy of the annual in magazine form here.

    Author: Nick Gill, Executive Creative Director, BBH London

    Weeble shot & designed by secretfunspot

    ‘Creative’. I’ve never really come to terms with this word. The very notion that some people are defined as creative, whether by trade or persuasion, I still find strange. Even if I wasn’t creative the last thing I’d do is admit to it.

    When I was at school I never thought of myself as a creative person. Just someone who could draw and paint quite well. And these basic skills would be my ticket out of obscurity.

    But growing up I soon realised that for all my talent I was never going to be an artist. It wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough. I just wasn’t made that way.

    Because someone had tuned my brain to solving problems. Give me a blank sheet of paper and I’d break out in a cold sweat. Ask me to draw a picture that included a giraffe, a lawn mower and a magic carpet and I’d enjoy working out how to cunningly weave these three seemingly disparate objects into one satisfying image.

    I went to art college in Manchester. I stood in the graphic design studio on day one, waiting for a tutor to read out my name. But it never happened. This is because they had me down for another course. One entitled ‘Design for communication media’. ‘What’s that when it’s at home?’ I enquired. ‘Advertising’ came the reply. And that’s how I got into this business. I fell into it. Like a drunk tripping over a chair leg and landing in the arms of Charlize Theron. I am one lucky bastard.

    Because advertising is a great career. And ‘creative’ is a truly wonderful way to go through life. To make money out of your imagination is as exciting as it is scary.

    What have I learned from my time in the business? Here are a few things that might help. Read full post

  • Going for Gold

    19th June 12

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, Events

    Author: Ross Berthinussen, Strategy Director, BBH London

    At 11 o’clock this morning, we premiered the launch ad for our new Olympic campaign for British Airways on Facebook. At 7.35pm GMT this evening, it will be broadcast to the UK, just before kick off in England’s critical, final group game in the Euros.

    The campaign is a rallying cry for Britain to stay at home during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to support the national team. Just this once, when its country needs it most, when the Olympic Games comes to London, Britain’s national airline is telling Britain not to fly.

    Even with its tongue in cheek tone, it’s a bold move. I thought I’d share some of the thinking behind the campaign and some things we’ve learned along the way.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Be confident

    We’ve had a turbulent journey with BA over the last six and a half years. We’ve been with them through the PR disaster of T5, fog, volcanic ash, the recession and industrial disputes. But right now, confidence is high. They have new leadership, they’re financially solid after the merger with American and they’re reinvesting in the customer.

    Our communication has had a job to do to help restore this confidence – to rebuild pride inside the organisation and the emotional connection the nation has with its flag carrier.

    In September last year, the airline recommitted to “To Fly. To Serve”, a motto that has lived in the organisation for over fifty years, with a campaign that celebrated the people who live their lives by this ethos. We followed this fast with a campaign in February that heroed the BA team who were ready to welcome the world to London for the Olympics.

    Our body language over this time has been critical. To instil confidence we had to act with confidence. We bought big TV spots, press insertions and outdoor sites. We had the confidence to lighten up. We featured an orangutan and racing baggage in our ads. This summer billboards across London will rally Britain, “Don’t Fly. Support Team GB”.

    Build in reward

    We hope people are going to lean into this idea: we’ve got a series of high profile TV spots this week to build conversation; with the British Olympic Association’s backing we’ve persuaded members of Team GB and Paralympics GB to share the ad – so a lot of people will hear about it first from the athletes; and hopefully the nature of the idea will spark interest and debate.

    So we wanted to build reward in for those who want to get a bit closer.

    We’ve created a customisable version of the TV ad online in which you can enter your postcode and, using the Google Streetview API, watch a version of the film with the plane taking a detour down your street. To premiere the ad this morning, BA’s facebook community were asked to first enter their postcode to receive a personalised version of the film.

    We’ve made a documentary with Michael Johnson, Sir Clive Woodward, Denise Williams and Shelly Woods, that explores the difference it makes for sports people to compete on home soil with a nation behind them.

    YouTube Preview Image

    The ad itself has scenes that reward multiple viewing – like the old lady onboard who checks the time on her watch as she passes Big Ben.

    And we might have made a short film that suggests there might have actually been a plane driving through Richmond Park – whilst making a nod to the Fenton viral.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Do vs. say

    We obsess a lot at BBH about getting to different kinds of ideas. Asking what can we do, rather than what can we say, seemed a good place to start here. The creative brief for this idea was, “what can we do to show our support for Team GB?”

    Have a point of view, start a conversation

    We got to the idea of telling Britain not to fly early. It became grounded when we listened to an ex Olympian talk about the concept of the home advantage. This gave the brand a point of view on the Games and the guts of our campaign. All our activity invites you to join in with #homeadvantage.

    Get everyone onboard

    There are over 40,000 people working at BA. There was a chance that they might not like us telling people not to fly. We needed them to understand that this was the ultimate expression of our support for Team GB, that it would help build the brand and that people wouldn’t take us too literally. So BA have been running a huge internal programme to get them onside and share the thinking behind the campaign.

    Think tactically

    We’re telling people not to fly but we still need to sell flights. Whilst we can’t be seen to promote travel over the Games we can offer money off flights and holidays to get away afterwards – this idea actually came from our client in the meeting when we first shared the idea.

    Be generous (and dodge the tornado)

    You have two fears developing a campaign as an Olympic sponsor. One, that you will appear cynical, simply piggybacking on the event for your own gain. Two, that you will be swept up in the tornado of other sponsors (and hi-jackers) vying for people’s attention and time. Brands trying to claim that they are also faster, higher, stronger. Or showcasing athletes using their products.

    This campaign builds on a series of things BA have been doing over the last few years to support Team GB and Paralympics GB, including flying the team and its equipment around the world, which has built credibility in this space. We hope that this Olympics, by zagging when everyone zigs, by having the courage to admit that the fortune of the British team is more important than buying our product, we will not only dodge the tornado but be seen as genuinely contributing to the performance of the British Team.

    Thank yous

    We couldn’t have got here without a brilliant relationship with a very brave client, a talented BBH team and the support of a tight team of agency and production partners including Zenith Optimedia, IMG, Cake, 12th Floor, Partizan, Framestore, Stitch, Angell Sound, Black Sheep Music, Google and Paul Zak at Burnham Niker.

    (And, it goes without saying, if you’re British and reading this, please consider staying at home and supporting Team GB and Paralympics GB during the Games. Your support could be the difference between silver and gold).

  • Can a simple cotton t-shirt really be worth $300,000?

    25th October 11

    Posted by Griffin Farley

    Posted in creativity, design

    Short answer: you bet. In fact, $300,000 is a downright steal for a t-shirt when you consider we’re sending every cent of the purchase to some very needy kids (via the U.S. fund for UNICEF) in the Horn of Africa.

    For our latest effort, in a proud history of humanitarian efforts, BBH New York and UNICEF have teamed up with Threadless and NYC artist collective Christine and Justin Gignac to launch Good Shirts: a clothing line priced to help.

    Each Good Shirt is sold at the exact cost of the aid item depicted on the front of the shirt. So, in the case of the cargo plane, the shirt is the exact price of a cargo plane to transport aid – $300,000. Don’t worry: not every gesture need be this grand, we’ve got shirts for every budget, starting at $18.57- the cost of three insecticide treated mosquito nets.

    Many thanks go out to our distribution partners at Threadless who went above and beyond to make this project a reality. They rallied behind the idea like most good partners tend to do; even going so far as to alter their website’s back-end code to allow for our unique pricing structure (which in code land is a seriously big deal).

    The landing page: www.threadless.com/UNICEF went live today. Please check it out and just maybe purchase a shirt to help the children in the Horn of Africa.

    Oh, and for the art directors reading this, the pictures can be found here:

    We are excited to launch this new product with the UNICEF U.S. Fund. This is one of many ideas that agencies around the world are doing (see the 50/50 project for other projects). Tell us which projects you are most excited about?

  • 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’?

  • Creative Direction vs. Creative Selection

    1st April 11

    Posted by Saneel Radia

    Posted in creativity

    Author: Pelle Sjoenell (@pellesjoenell), Executive Creative Director, BBH LA

    I believe Creative Direction isn’t just Creative Selection. I’ve noticed the two are often confused and I think it’s the result of agency process. Creative Direction is about having a vision and making sure the vision is clear to everyone involved. Having a vision doesn’t mean coming up with or choosing the ideas. Having a vision is about leadership, constantly inspiring and instigating. That’s why Creative Direction has to start early in collaboration with planners, even before a brief is written, and follow through to the end of the rainbow. In other words, if Creative Direction is done right, you should never have to select. You never need to resort to the role of a bouncer. Or simply giving things thumbs up or thumbs down.

    The process can only be fixed if the Creative Director doesn’t sit above others. Creative Director is just another kind of job. No one works for a Creative Director. Everyone works for the idea. The idea hires us and we go to work. The Creative Director’s relationship with the idea is unique. It’s a combination of three professions – a politician, a farmer and an assassin. The politician handles the multiple stakeholders of the idea, traditionally pursuing different agendas. The farmer’s part is to nurture the idea so it can grow from interesting to awesome. This means identifying which add-ons, or fertilizers, will make the work better and which will hurt the crops. Lastly, the Creative Director needs to be able to shape shift into an assassin. This means isolating any threat against the beautiful, fragile idea, and putting it to sleep forever.

    Playing these three roles requires the Creative Director to be involved early and broadly. It’s when Creative Directors are involved late, or are too far removed, that their job becomes that of Creative Selection. Ultimately, that’s but a minor part of the job.

  • Super Bowl, Super Social: The Story Of Yeo Valley

    24th December 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, Cross-platform

    YeoTube, the brand's YouTube channel (never knowingly afraid of a pun).

    It seems every food brand on the planet wants to be “100% natural” these days. In the face of rising ethical consumption, even the unlikeliest of brands – McDonald’s, Muller and Walkers crisps to name a few – are responding and staking a claim. Always outspent in marketing terms, organic food producers – just at the point they should be claiming their day in the sun – face being outpositioned too. If you care about it enough, you only have to Google the term to find out that there are real and significant benefits to sustainably produced organic food, but why bother when even a celebrity chef tells us conventional foods are good enough?

    Ask a mainstream UK audience in a recession-hit early 2010 what they had to say about organic food and the impact of all this showed: top responses included increased scores against “expensive”, “worthy” and “a bit dull”.

    By contrast, when a team of us met Tim Mead (whose family started making dairy products under the Yeo Valley name in 1974) in March this year, two things were striking:

    1. His approach: an unapologetic marriage of entrepreneurialism and down-to-earth common sense. An organic farmer for the 21st century if there ever was one.

    2. Their vision: Tim and his mother, Mary Mead, believe organic, sustainably produced food should be accessible to everyone.  Philosophically and practically it’s a virtuous circle: the more people eat sustainably produced food, the better it is for all of us and the planet. But “accessible to everyone” demands prices that are competitive to conventional products and that in turn makes a volume-based strategy for Yeo Valley both an economic possibility AND an absolute necessity, if the company is to prosper.

    Which was where they saw a role for marketing: to drive demand amongst a necessarily broader, more mainstream audience, along the way helping people to remember Yeo Valley’s name and what it stands for – not least the fact it’s a real place in the West Country.

    Our strategy was simple: tackle the perception issue head-on by reversing the expectations of how an organic brand should behave amongst a mainstream UK audience. Goodbye: worthy and earnest. Hello: open and social, populist and proud.

    For more on the anatomy of our approach take a look below. First up, some results and what we’ve learned so far. It’s still very early days and we’ve resisted writing about this until we had some (hot off the press) commercial data. We’ll have more substantive conclusions once we’re further in, but here’s what we know for now:

    - Furthermore, Yeo Valley spontaneous awareness as a dairy brand had more than doubled just 2 weekends in to the campaign (7% to 15%). Source: Nursery brand tracker

    - Of the online mentions since launch in October an average week records a 94.9% favourable sentiment score – fuelled no doubt by over 550 blogposts and the odd celebrity tweetSource: Sysomos sentiment analysis


    10 THINGS WE’VE LEARNT

    Perhaps few surprises here, but at the very least a strong reinforcement of some evolutionary truths about modern fmcg marketing:

    1. Be true to the people who live the brand, not the perception. In this case, organic brands don’t have to wear sandals.
    2. Broadcast can still play a crucial role. If you want to reach a discrete audience (cf Marmarati or Stella Artois Black’s Night Chauffeur) it may be far from necessary, however if your task is mass appeal and you deliberately want to make a public statement about your brand, then broadcast is hard to beat. The trick for Yeo Valley in this respect was three-fold (points 3, 4 and 5 below):
    3. Strategy is the art of sacrifice. There wasn’t a huge marketing budget to blow. In terms of bought media, instead of attempting to be everywhere, we brokered an exclusive deal with ITV and Fremantle around X Factor and went big with it. One 2 minute spot, first ad in the first break of the UK’s TV biggest show would, we hoped, act as a rocket launcher for the brand. Subsequently, an on-pack promotion and a mix of shorter time length ads appeared, only ever in X Factor on ITV1, ITV2 and itv.com.
    4. Super bowl, super social: we began the process believing the answer did not lie in choosing between social and broadcast, but in committing to both wholeheartedly. To borrow @willsh’s analogy, ‘fireworks bring you to the brand, you stay for the warming fire’. In Yeo Valley’s case, this meant live event TV every weekend, with an ongoing bedrock of conversation and additional content on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube which extends, deepens and personalizes the brand’s relationship with new customers.
    5. As we’ve said before, it’s not about now, it’s about the trajectory. The basics of the brand’s behaviour and presence online were laid down months before the TV ad launch and will continue long after; amongst other things getting to know like-minded bloggers, who came to Yeo Valley over the summer to see for themselves how a sustainable dairy farm is run.
    6. Reward the fans – by recognising the very best remixes and spotting what they like and giving them more (in our case, letting Ted the owl take over @yeovalley for a day on Twitter and produce his own edit).
    7. If you can, change the rules of a category. Quite simply, the conversation around Yeo Valley was fuelled by content and behaviour that caught people’s imagination in a surprising way. A brand trending on Twitter a few days in a row may not be a result in itself, but since the sentiment stayed largely favourable, it gave us a useful indicator of early impact and most importantly where earned media could come from.
    8. Haters gonna hate? Maybe, maybe not. Sure, some criticism should be ignored, but we’ve gained a lot more by listening, taking a deep breath and responding.
    9. Have an organising thought that can cross platforms and time. “Live in Harmony” sums up Yeo Valley’s world view and also gives the brand and its audience the licence to have some fun with music over time, even playing with the sounds of the farm itself: YouTube Preview Image
    10. Brands that get better under scrutiny, not worse, will win in social environments online. With Yeo Valley this was never a problem. But it’s worth thinking beyond your carefully planned editorial calendar: what are the issues and opportunities that just *might* arise?

    THE ANATOMY OF ‘LIVE IN HARMONY’ TO DATE

    The engagement plan set out to splice bought, earned and owned media. It was necessarily quite complex – this is the simple version:


    If you’d like to find out more drop us a comment here, check out the brand’s website or YeoTube for more Yeo Valley videos. These include a Making Of together with a series of films featuring Tim & Mary Mead, each offering a window on Yeo Valley as a real place in the West Country (one example below):

    YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

    Finally, look out for “Farmony“, our Yeo Valley online game teaching kids how to run a sustainable farm, launching in early 2011.

    CREDITS

    Yeo Valley:
    Tim Mead, Managing Director
    Adrian Carne, Commercial Director
    Ben Cull, Head of Brands
    Alison Sudbury, Marketing Manager
    Niki Martini, Assistant Brand Manager
    Sally Laurie, Customer Services Manager

    BBH:
    Rosie Arnold, Deputy Exec Creative Director
    Kevin Brown, Director of Engagement Planning
    Mel Exon, Strategic Business Lead

    Simon Pearse and Emmanuel Saint M’Leux, creative team
    Eric Chia, Digital Creative Lead
    Glenn Paton, Producer

    Mark Whiteside, Team Director
    Simeon Adams, Strategist
    Lawrence Kao, Strategist
    Jim Hunt, Head of Technology
    Craig Dodd, Tech Lead
    Ebla Salvi, Digital Team Manager
    Josie Robinson, Team Manager
    Sarah Barclay, Digital Project Manager
    Daniele Orner-Ginor, Digital Intelligence
    Emile Doxey, Data Analyst
    David Pandit, Head of Data
    Richard Helyar, Knowledge & Insight
    Rebecca Levy, Team Assistant

    PR: Bell Pottinger
    Richard Moss, Director (PR Planning)
    Kate Griffiths, Account Director
    Jacquelyn Redpath, Account Manager

    Brand identity redesign: Pearl Fisher
    Tess Wickstead, Planning Director
    Natalie Chung, Creative Director
    Matt Small, Client Services Director
    Michael Dye, Senior Account Manager
    Henry Leeson, Head of Realisation

    TV Production Company: Flynn
    Julien Lutz, Director
    Emma Butterworth, Producer
    Alex Barber, DoP

    Post Production: Framestore
    Editing: Steve Ackroyd at Final Cut
    Sound: 750mph
    Exposure: TV, UK

  • Digital, can we kill this word for good?

    16th December 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, digital

    The good people from the Cristal Festival (held in Crans, Switzerland.. not a bad place to be at this time of year) got in touch a few months ago, asking me to join a panel today with two very smart ladies, Fernanda Romano (Euro RSCG’s Global CD for Digital & Experiential Advertising) and Patou Nuytemans (Chief Digital Officer, Ogilvy EMEA).

    We were each asked to come with an answer to the question that’s the title of this post. My response – a super short presentation and what was said to accompany it – below.



    When I first heard the question, the answer felt pretty obvious. An immediate YES. Let’s kill it stone dead, with fire, right here, right now. Both Fernanda and Patou argued with absolute certainty that this should be the case, letting a series of integrated award entries from a single telco in Bahrain (yes, that was the point…) do the talking.

    Personally, my response was driven by the fact the word feels both outmoded AND it suggests unnecessary complexity; a separation between “digital” and “analogue” that’s vaporising before our eyes. Even before analogue TV channels are switched off forever (in the UK in 2012), we all know audiences flow freely between on and offline and expect to see coherency from brands, wherever they find them. This blurring is only going to get more extreme, until we don’t even notice the difference. In fact, I’m fairly convinced we’re the last generation to even care.

    Continuing in this vein, I borrowed the oft-quoted Charlene Li’s statement at SXSW in 2009 that “[digital] social networks will be like air”. Businesses need to prepare themselves for a future where open, hyper-connected networks are the norm. Talking about “digital” vs everything else out there is arguably unhelpful, reminiscent of a past when digital was an after thought and treated as a channel (“okay, we’ve got our big idea, now let’s do some of that digital stuff!”). Now that digital underpins much of what we do, it becomes next to meaningless as a descriptor.

    Or does it? Before we draw the knife to kill the word, let’s just hold on a minute. If we stop using the word digital, what would replace it? How would we describe the creative canvas and media environment in which we operate? Note: ‘post-digital’ is not an option.

    Taking a step back, there’s nearly always an answer somewhere in history – as Russell Davies’ reference to post-war England in his Post Digital apology perfectly encapsulates – or better still, given I was asked to talk about killing something, let’s learn from Mother Nature.

    There’s a natural rhyme and reason to the flow of things in nature. Put incredibly simply, all living things experience at least two of the following during their lifetime: birth, sex, death.

    Where are we *really* in the cycle of digital’s life? Actually, I’d argue we’re somewhere just after birth.

    We’re certainly no-where near approaching maturity. Like virgins discussing sex, we’ve boasted about nearly doing it, thought we may have done it (not entirely sure) and excitedly talk about what it’ll be like when we’ve done it, you know, A LOT. There are people who are legitimately experienced, but most of us aren’t. Not in the “10,000 hours logged coding” sense of the word.

    Sure, we don’t all need to know how to code brilliantly in order to qualify. Although I’d like to suggest we might want to learn a little. Ad agency creatives ten years ago didn’t need to be directors, editors or lighting cameramen to write great TV scripts. However, they’d lived with telly and newspapers their whole lives and learned the craft of writing, design and art direction before they ever dared set foot inside an agency. Likewise the UK’s IPA has stacks of papers which prove the effectiveness of advertising, yet would be the first to admit the real ROI of digital activity is still in its infancy.

    Until the industry at large has a universal understanding of what it takes in terms of craft and intelligence to deliver *outstanding* digital work, suggesting we should ‘kill digital’ feels grossly premature.

    In writing this, I’m reminded of Iain Tait’s last column for NMA just last month, in which he protested with good reason:

    “Digital may be everyday, but it’s not effortless… It’s time to stop all the nonsense about trying to call this stuff this or that. Only thing that matters is whether it’s good or not. The only thing more stupid than all the word-monkeying is denying that technology, code and making things out of bits and bytes is important.”

    I’ve got a lot of sympathy with this for a bunch of reasons (as I’ve said before here, a favourite post of mine is The Tragic Death of Practically Everything), but in the main I’d like us to show digital some respect. Yes, it informs everything like air, but that doesn’t make it easy to breathe.

    In short, I’d like our industry to be allowed to reach its potential in terms of digital skill. Not recognising the particular craft skills and necessary time on the clock runs the risk of arresting our collective development. Let’s not let that happen.

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