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    • A New BBH 20% Project: The Knot Collective

      14th October 10

      Author: Steven Peck, Creative, BBH New York (@stevenpeck)


      When I began design school at the age of eighteen, it was the first time I was ever exposed to a large group of people whose individual skillsets, interests and backgrounds varied so differently from my own. I was thrust into a new intellectual and creative environment that was completely foreign. Little did I know then how much value that experience actually created. Over the course of five years, I built great friendships with people in a variety of creative disciplines – from automotive design to interactive design to fashion design to architecture and urban planning. Many of my closest friends in design school were in programs outside my own discipline and as a result, I did a lot of my graphic design work in the car design studio. Simply working in the same studio with people who were creating completely different kinds of projects had an immense effect upon my approach and process, and the feedback from respected people outside my own creative discipline was, in many ways, more valuable than the people within it.

      It’s been awhile since I was in design school. But looking at the world today, the need for a destination to house conversations that spawn new ideas, insights, and creativity is more pertinent than ever. Acquiring perspectives from smart, talented people with a different frame of reference, and the constant ability to see and experience creative work in the periphery of your own has a real, tangible, and positive effect.  The reality is fast becoming that collaboration is not just a new way of doing things – it’s becoming necessary to survive and be competitive in business. Technology is enabling creative people to work in more ways than ever before and bring great ideas to life. It’s certainly an exciting time to be making things.

      These beliefs led to my 20% project. The Knot Collective attempts to bridge the gap between these disciplines that are so often siloed to help share knowledge and cultivate thought leadership for creative businesses. We believe that cross-disciplinary collaboration is the future of innovation and design. We hope the site can serve as a valuable resource and build a thriving community that fosters critical thinking and lively discussion.

      My longtime friend and product/transportation designer Marc Reisen and I have been discussing and developing the foundation of The Knot Collective for over two years. After thinking about it, building it, rethinking it, and rebuilding it, we’re extremely happy to have launched the project last month. It’s been a long road, but a considered one, and a labor of love nonetheless.

      You can check it out here: www.theknotcollective.com (or @theknotcollectv)

      We hope you find the mix of disciplines as valuable as we do. We’d love to have you join the conversation.

    • How to do Propagation Planning

      13th October 10

      A few years ago I wanted to be a part of the next theory in strategic planning. Connections Planning had been around for about ten years (in 2009) and I wanted to know what comes next? That’s when I discovered the work that Ivan Pollard from Naked Communications had shared around Propagation Planning.

      Over the last few years I dedicated my ‘extra’ time to understanding and cultivating the theory, articles and case studies surrounding propagation planning. I shared everything I learned on my Blog. By sharing, others contributed and the ideas got better.

      Sharing and generosity are very important in the advertising industry today. They make all of us better. As they say, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

      Edward Boches, who is in the process of formalizing propagation planning at Mullen, wrote a great post this week asking a provocative question, “Do you give content away because you want credit?” For me, I give content away to become a member of the club. A club of strategic planning minds that contribute everyday to a greater collective. This club is made up of so many people that I couldn’t possibly name them all here… but you know who you are.

      So I was thrilled when Mark Lewis and the Planning-Ness conference asked if Mike Monello (Co-Founder at Campfire) and I would share our thoughts on propagation planning. I hope that you can take something away from this deck and inspire your creative and social media teams to develop work that gets spread.

      (Best viewed by clicking MENU and FULL SCREEN)

    • “Yes. But….”: Challenging Short-hand Marketing Rules

      7th October 10

      Posted by Saneel Radia

      Posted in creativity, digital, process

      Author: Emma Cookson, Chairman BBH New York

      This bunch of charts comes from a BBH session at a recent conference organized by The Bellwether Group in New York. The subject of the day was ‘Creativity and content creation in a digital age”. So something of a wide canvas….

      My start point was the realization of how intimidated I felt speaking on the topic – and the further realization that this intimidation stemmed not just from personal neurosis or the breadth/complexity of the subject (although all that applied), but that I was also intimidated because there’s already so much great comment and advice in this area available. It’s one of the interesting by-products of an age of such extraordinary pace of change that we’re all frantically trying to keep learning, keep up to date, keep pace – and as a result there’s a whole slew of people working to satisfy that desire with tips and advice. Every day brings a deluge of advice and input on digital marketing/comms/business-building.

      My observation is that although so much of this advice and comment is truly fantastic, the flip-side is that within all the rush and deluge we are sometimes accepting and sharing – at speed and at face-value – assertions that maybe should bear closer examination and qualification. Perhaps all these assertions we read in the latest expert tweet or in the headline of that skimmed article are all broadly right – but maybe not in all circumstances, not right for all brands, not right in every dimension. Perhaps there’s a slightly more precise story to tell (see our recent post on a similar theme examining participation).

      So that’s where this presentation came from. And why it’s called ‘Yes. But…’ I note a number widely accepted truths about creative best practice in a digital age – and, without disagreeing with any of them, suggest that they might benefit from a little qualification. My contention is that – for example – escalating consumer control of brands is of course a real phenomenon, but it doesn’t absolve brand owners of deep responsibility for brand leadership and, yes, still a degree of brand control. Or that ’360 degree marketing’ is a good clarion call, until you start wondering if it really is right that the most powerful communication solutions really do always have to be deployable in every single channel, with every weapon available in our communication arsenal.

      Any comment or argument is greatly appreciated.



    • A Radical Proposal to Save Advertising on the Web

      8th September 10

      Posted by Ben Malbon

      Posted in creativity, interactive

      Author: Calle Sjoenell, Executive Creative Director, BBH New York

      (Follow Calle here: @callesjonell)

      After reading Chris Anderson’s piece in Wired about the web being dead, long live the Internet, I got a really uneasy feeling. Banner advertising has always been the weird step child of advertising. Few creatives wants to do them, clients don’t know how to approach it and nobody clicks on the ads. I always argued that it’s the ultimate test of stripped-down creativity, with lots of constraints, just 40K to play with and super-restricted space. It’s like creating wonderful music out of an old synth; just a few dials, but turn the right ones at the right time and wonderful things happen. On occasion, that can happen with banners. But maybe we have all missed the real problem. The first trouble with display ads is that people don’t know how to look at them. I believe the reason for this is the creative and the instruction for interacting with the creative is all over the place.

      Right now, internet display advertising is like driving through different towns where every town has invented their own traffic sign system. You need to look really carefully at every sign and interpret what they mean instead of brainstem reactions that would come with a unified signage system. Learn more, Click here, Fold There, plus signs, single arrows, >>, all in a box, or not. Underlined. Bold. !!!!

      We are just not sure what to do. So, in over 99% of instances, we do absolutely nothing at all.

      This is connected to a second problem with display advertising: that there is no clear way of knowing if you will leave the site or interact where you are. In the early days it made sense that you left the site you were on and went to the advertisers’ websites. That was how you used the web back then, hence the idea of ‘surfing’. Now people are on fewer and fewer sites and are reluctant to leave where they are. They’re also afraid of viruses and malware.

      Is there a solution? I propose we separate creative from instruction.

      I propose we create a clear set of universal instructions letting users know if they are staying on a site or leaving it. Or, to push it even further, what if every ad had two standard buttons at the same location, “Save for Later” (like Instapaper for display) and “Go to Website”. That way ads would behave more like we use the web today. A Universal System for display, in which everyone knows what to expect. A system that respects the user.

      Few have got this right to date. Google come to mind, with their Adwords text ads (& look at the impact of a user-focused design approach on their revenues). With Google, the parameters are tight and everyone knows what to expect. Facebook is also on to this with their standardized format that provides a static picture and lots of text. These are fairly low on the creative side, but I think the creative part of a banner can be wonderfully executed through animation, API interaction or just a plain old static picture that says it all. Whatever it is, the instructions should be standard, simple and clear.

      This is one reason why I have joined the IAB and their Rising Stars forum, to drive forward this question of standardization. It might point to the way forward for creative AND functional display ads on the web that users know how to interact with. But there are a lot of people who need to agree and compromise to make this happen.

      So to save advertising on the web, who is willing to come to the table?

    • Creatives, Know When to Ask for Help

      25th August 10

      Posted by Ben Malbon

      Posted in creativity, technology

      Author: Kevin Roddy, Chief Creative Officer, BBH New York (follow at @tweetrod)

      Originally posted on Ad Age, August 23 2010 (link: http://j.mp/crf6Io)

      I have a theory about why some “traditional” agencies aren’t evolving as quickly, or effectively, as they need to: because their creative directors aren’t admitting that they’re stupid.

      Now, hang on a minute. Before you take a four-iron to my knee caps, let me explain what I mean. In my pre-creative-director career as a copywriter (you know, back when ads were written in Triceratops blood on cave walls) I never had to worry about writing for a small thing we now call the internet. Back then, an “integrated campaign” meant it had TV, print and radio. The definition of “interactive” was doing a print ad that required someone to turn the page. My colleagues and I never had to think of any solution beyond it.

      The path to becoming a creative director in those days was to be really good at developing work in those media, the theory being, the better you were at doing it, the better you would be at directing it.

      Today? Not so much. As someone who’s now responsible for directing creative people doing things I never even dreamed of in my copywriting days, I don’t consider myself solely equipped to make every kind of idea better. How could I? I’ve never done many of them myself.

      Sure, I can tell someone how to make a TV spot or a print ad better. I’ve done a ton of them. And, I think, I’m pretty good at them. But when it comes to creativity today — a new world that encompasses everything from iAds to augmented reality — it’s a whole different ballgame.

      I’m not alone. I’d venture to say there’s a whole industry of CDs out there who have the same difficulty as I do single-handedly creative directing today’s ideas. Some have even confided in me as much.

      So where does that leave creative leaders like me? Here are a few options:

      1. Ignore the new ideas. Hey, if we can’t make them better then let’s just dismiss them altogether!
      2. We can ask for new ideas, even demand them, but because we honestly don’t know how to improve many of them, we can just let them move forward in their “first-draft” state.
      3. We can admit that we don’t know enough about how to make technologically complex creative ideas better and ask for help.

      Hopefully, we’ll all be brave enough to pick option No. 3. Creative directors need to admit a weakness in our own ability to creative direct today and ask for help. Take down the walls and ask other people for suggestions about how to make the work better. Heresy, I know. (You’ll have to turn in your creative director secret decoder ring and conveniently forget the creative director secret handshake.) But the danger of pretending like you know how to do it all means great creative opportunities could pass through you agency without a chance of exposing themselves. I believe we’ll be more effective in our jobs if we get help revamping our creative departments to deliver the complex kinds of creative products clients require to engage consumers today.

      Note, I’m not suggesting you get others to do it for you. I’m simply saying get help. As creative directors it is still, ultimately, our responsibility. We are, like it or not, better qualified to judge and direct great creative work, of any kind, than anybody else.

      And if and when the “I need help” movement takes hold, I promise creative directors will look really damn smart (actually being smart, however, is a different story…hell, we’re creative directors not planners).

    • 56 Sage Street: the story behind the game

      13th August 10

      Posted by Mel Exon

      Posted in creativity, Gaming

      Author: Ali Merry, Creative, BBH London

      56 Sage Street – The Game – Game Play Video Trailer from 56 Sage Street – The Game on Vimeo.


      The first release of 56 Sage Street – BBH London & B-Reel’s game for Barclays – went live last month and, we´re happy to say, has just received NMA’s Campaign of the Month. Ali, one of the creatives behind the project agreed to tell us the story behind the game’s inception, how it got made and what the team learned along the way. Read full post

    • Interview with Dan Light, Part III: The role for brands in transmedia

      16th July 10

      Posted by Mel Exon

      Posted in creativity, storytelling

      Author: Ben Shaw, Strategist, BBH London

      http://www.iamironman2.com/home/

      In the last of our blog posts with Dan Light we’ve saved the trickiest questions for last. What, if any, are the roles for brands in these transmedia extensions of the narrative? Can it ever get deeper than product placement and, if so, can brands ever make a legitimate contribution to the storytelling experience?

      In the past decade we’ve seen that the music industry had to get screwed before it would change, the newspaper industry is struggling and the film industry is being forced to reinvent itself. Can entertainment industries transform themselves? Where do you see the film industry going?

      I think the film industry is going to polarise. I think you’re going to have your Avatars – they will be big 3D events that will be 15-year projects and will command bigger and bigger sums of money.

      At the other end will be the classic independent films, built around a good story but also written from the ground up, with a view to all the ways in which that story can be told, developed and audiences be found.

      So brands need to find new ways to engage audiences and clearly sponsorship of this kind of content is a legitimate path, albeit it represents a fairly transactional relationship with the producer. Is this how you see the role of brands developing?

      Read full post

    • Interview with Dan Light, Part II: the intricacies of creating transmedia content

      15th July 10

      Posted by Mel Exon

      Posted in creativity, storytelling

      Author: Ben Shaw, Strategist, BBH London

      http://www.vimeo.com/11229983

      Last time we left off talking to Dan about the role of transmedia in extending the relationship between entertainment properties and audiences. As expected we soon moved onto Dan’s favourite topic, creating transmedia content for today’s multimedia world. This was just after Dan managed to pour an entire cup of fresh coffee all over himself.

      Read full post

    • Interview with Dan Light, Part I: engaging online communities

      14th July 10

      Posted by Mel Exon

      Posted in creativity, storytelling

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

      Iron Man 2 transmedia marketing

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

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

      Read full post

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