Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category
21st May 10
Post by Charles Wigley, Chairman, BBH Asia Pacific
Jim Carroll’s excellent post on Wind Tunnel Politics reflects an idea he came up a couple of years ago – the notion of ‘wind tunnel marketing’ – an idea that Emma Cookson (Chairman, BBH New York), Jim (Chairman, BBH London) and I have been chatting about a lot again recently.
Given the traffic, RTs and positive comments the first post got, we felt it was perhaps time for a more thorough analysis of its impact on what most of us reading this do for a living – the development of brand communications.
We’d like to get the debate going and involve people from all sides – client, agency and research. So please let us know what you think.
Here we’ll look at three things to start the conversation:
I. The origins of the problem;
II. The results; and
III. Some potential solutions
Then we’d like your point of view.
1. The Origins of the Problem
Pretty obviously the world is now crammed with very good, largely parity products across most sectors. With the consequent decline in any real, viable notion of product USP’s the industry has increasingly turned to understanding the consumer as the key source of competitive advantage.
The Holy Grail is a breakthrough ‘consumer insight’. Something that cracks open consumer motivations around a category in a new and fresh way and as a result allows a brand to more powerfully pitch its product or service.
Indeed many companies now have entire departments focussed solely on consumer insight. Some of you reading this may have it in your job title.
And, looked at one way, it makes a lot of sense.
After all, isn’t the whole notion of marketing about ‘satisfying the wants, needs and desires of consumers ‘ ?
There is, however, one rather significant problem with it.
Everyone is looking the same way and largely following the same path.
Frequently doing the same research, with the same consumers via the same research companies on essentially the same products.
The result won’t surprise anyone – they get to very similar places.
So while marketers and their agency partners consistently (and rightly) talk up the critical importance of differentiation, most of our industry is wedded to a ‘best practice’ process that inherently takes them another way – to greater sameness.
2. The Results
Are self-evident and everywhere (ever noticed how hard it is to think of major brand examples of ‘great’ outside of the usual suspects?)
From mid-range family salons that, when unbranded, even car fanatics fail to recognise ( and can you remember the make of the ‘reasonably priced car’ on Top Gear ?…….you’ve probably seen it about 30 times ) to entire categories where the work is just too interchangeable (looked at any skincare advertising recently?) Even brands aimed at youth (where one would assume a greater leeway to pursue difference) seem to be merging into one – an event with a DJ and some free form skateboarders anyone?
From a marketer’s point of view all this serves to do is to make it a game of scale of resources again.
He or she with the biggest distribution network / media budget / sales team wins. The cost efficiencies of genuine brand differentiation are notable largely by their absence.
Yet, because large organisations inevitably (and understandably) need logical ‘handrails’ for staffers to follow, few are challenging the standard, solely consumer insight oriented process currently in place.
3. Potential Solutions
People need systems. Very few of us are individually brilliant enough to be able to operate day in day out in the trenches without them. So an imploration to just ‘go free-form’ is unlikely to be of much use to most companies.
It seems to us, however, that the handrails that need to be put in place need to actively force diversity of thinking.
They need to be ‘hydra-like’ in that they need to regularly have the potential to lead to many different places – not always back to the same spot.
The CIA ‘Problem Definition Checklist’ does this (if you want a copy let us know). When properly followed, the Disruption model does it. Interestingly, in his latest thinking, Adam Morgan is suggesting a far more diverse range of different types of challenger brands (and no doubt different ways to develop them).
For our part at BBH, we are re-committing to one of our oldest strategic tenets (and simplest of thoughts) – ‘insights from many sources, not just consumer’. The product, the brand, the way category operates, the retail experience, the media landscape, etc, etc. – all are ripe for investigation – and all should be.
We are also re-committing to the future.
There’s something interesting here. As per the famous Akio Morito quote - “we don’t ask consumers what they want ; they don’t know. Instead we apply our brain power to what they need, and will want, and make sure we are there ready” - the future is surely what we should be trying to work out the likely terrain of, rather than analysing that of the present or the past. Perhaps the most powerful model we are now trying to get grips is a fusion of brand insight with consumer foresight. Note – not consumer insight – but rather an understanding of where the market is likely to go rather than where it has been.
As we said at the start, we’d like to hear what you think. If this rings true, what are your thoughts on potential solutions?
19th May 10
Author: Heidi Hackemer (@uberblond), Planning Director, BBH New York
We just went through recruitment for our upcoming internship program, the BBH Barn, and since we announced our six interns from the 150+ applications we’ve received a lot of questions about our selection criteria.
Whether literally or figuratively, the candidates that made the cut had a two-column resume. In column A, we saw an interest and understanding of advertising and/or consumer and brand interaction. It doesn’t mean that these interns are advertising experts by any stretch of the imagination, but it does mean that they have an appreciation for it and may know a bit of their way around our world. 98% of the applications checked off this column quite well.
The second column is where things got interesting: we also looked for candidates that had a bit of “mess” in their resume, i.e. a curiosity, a drive to think about and do things beyond pursuing the perfect advertising career. As a result we have filmmakers, activists, dancers and a guy that has worked in third world development.
We believe the mess is just as important as the “proper” education and inputs: advertising is one of those fields that should collaborate not only internally, but with culture at large – to be relevant and human we should inhale the world around us, circulate it in our lungs a bit and then exhale our response. The minute that we get too obsessed or spend too much time focusing on what happens within our walls or the minute the great love in our life becomes a widget or :30 second idea is the minute we lose the oxygen that we need to make great work.
Let’s face it, the people that are purely obsessed with advertising (and we all know them and have phases in our own lives where we’re guilty of being one of them) aren’t the people that contribute much to a truly sparkling dinner party or a stupid fun night out or bring a perspective that really changes things. So we wanted to make sure our Barn was filled with the dinner-party-rockers of the future. We think it will make for a more interesting summer and better work.
So here’s where it gets cool:
We were thinking of the above criteria, that we applied externally, and we thought we’d check internally how well we were doing. We asked BBHers in the NYC office to send along their personal, out of office, projects. We had a whole bunch of stuff submitted. Some highlights included:
Calle Sjoenell @callesjonell wanders around new york and puts up basketball nets where there are none. http://www.flickr.com/photos/callesjonell/sets/72157621869375075/
Harper Reitkopf @itsharper pretty much lives at the honey-space gallery to help artists do their thing http://honey-space.com/
Dane Larsen @dlarsen is documenting the life and times of his Brooklyn backyard this summer http://bklynbkyard.com/
Brad Haugen @hoogs throws his passion into being the Director of Marketing and Brand for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that helps build schools in third world countries http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/blog/2010/04/bring-out-lead-forth/
Zach Hilder keeps an awesome blog of his drawings and photographs http://deathfrom.blogspot.com
Kris Chu @kris_chu documents his struggle to banish cable from his life: http://suckitcable.blogspot.com/
Colleen Leddy @colleddy blogs tips about being the impeccable bridesmaid http://holdthebouquet.squarespace.com/
Kenji Summers @kenjisummers gives time to the Marcus Graham Project, a network of diverse advertising, marketing and media people @MGProject
Kirsty Saddler @keava has taken her personal passion for corporate social responsibility and started a think tank/action group within BBH called the Hive @BBHhive
Chris Araujo @cornfedchris is working on a soon to be unveiled project that’s all about making the world a better place and that’s all I can say about it right now upon fear of death.
Miranda Kendrick @mirandakendrick has two culture grabbing blogs: http://workingitatwork.tumblr.com/ that shows off the beautiful people of BBH and http://nyink.blogspot.com/ that shows off the beautiful tattoos of the world.
Hal & Masa have been busy working on the follow up to their Webby-winning music video for “Hibi no Neiro” (Tone of everyday) by “Sour” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfBlUQguvyw (watch this space)
And me? I’ve started the Wilhelmine Project, a mini-gallery that is hosted in the display window of my converted storefront apartment in the East Village http://thewilhelmineproject.com & @wilhelmineprjctThe most striking thing about all these projects is that people just did it. Google have their awesome and rightly famous 20% policy; we don’t have that at BBH, at least not formalized. So what makes the above particularly cool is that people just went out, made time and did. No one told them to, no one asked for the time. No permission was sought, or given. We think this is emblematic of the kind of creative business we strive to be, that the energy, thinking and output from these personal projects explicitly and implicitly makes BBH a more interesting and smarter place professionally.
So our question today is, what’s your 20% project?
Are you busy waiting for permission?
Or are you busy just getting on with it?
Let us know what you’re up to. You never know, there might be some common ground; we could collaborate.
21st April 10
Everyone at BBH New York is excited about the new work we’ve just launched for Google’s Chrome browser, follow-ups to the work we produced at the end of 2009.
The first film is for Chrome Extensions, and demonstrates how users can personalize their browser. The music used is Fats Waller’s (Do You Intend to Put an End to) A Sweet Beginning?
The second film is for Chrome Translate, the range of translation features that are built in to Chrome, and that enable users to seamlessly translate Internet pages from one language to another.
Both of these films are quite unlike most other tech product demos. They use lo-fi, hand-made elements and simple metaphors to show how the products work. There’s no hype. No extravagant claims. We instead try and keep everything simple.
As with our previous work for Chrome at the end of 2009, we worked with the extraordinary production team at 1st Avenue Machine in New York. The films were directed by 1st Avenue Machine’s Aaron Duffy & Tim Brown.
We hope you enjoy them. They look particularly great in HD on YouTube (click through the videos and then select the HD button).
And watch out for more new work for Google to come in the next few weeks.
Client: Google EMEA
Titles: Google Chrome Extensions/Translate the Internet with Google Chrome
Agency : Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York
CCO: Kevin Roddy
ECD: Calle Sjoenell, Pelle Sjoenell
AD/CW: Maja Fernqvist
AD/CW: Joakim Saul
Head of Broadcast: Lisa Setten
Senior Producer: Melissa Bemis
Business Director: Ben Malbon
Acct. Manager: Rossa Hsieh
Production Company: 1st Avenue Machine
Director: Tim Brown
Co-Director: Aaron Duffy
DP: Zak Mulligan
Exec. Producer: Sam Penfield
Line Producer: Keeley Gould
Editorial Company: Lost Planet
Editor: Charlie Johnston
Assistant Editor: Christopher Huth
Exec. Producer: Krystn Wagenberg
Producer: Meagen Carroll
Telecine: Company 3
Telecine Artist: Billy Gabor
Online Facility: Black Hole
Online Editor: Tim Farrell
VFX Company: Black Hole
Producer: Tim Vierling
Audio Facility: Plush
Audio Engineer: Rob Fielack
Music Supervisor: Sara Matarazzo, Anna Lasxurain & Stephanie Diaz-Matos
Title: (Do You Intend To Put An End To) A Sweet Beginning Like This
Artist: Fats Waller
Music Supervisor: Sara Matarazzo, Anna Lascurain & Stephanie Diaz-Matos
Title: Plastic Sunshine
Composed by: Steven Stern and Stuart Hart
20th April 10
Posted by Dean Woodhouse, Creative, BBH London
Our MySpace Fan Video campaign (which Fran shared here a few months back) has been nominated for a People’s Choice Award at this year’s Webbys, which we’re just a little excited about. And yes, this is an unashamed plug and request for your support.
The category is Best use of Online Media, this is the Myspace entry. All you need to do is sign-up (it takes 20 seconds) and then you get an email that lets you vote.
Whilst we’re here, it would be wrong not to mention our friends at BBH Shanghai’s awesome WWF Fate’s in your Hands in Experimental & Innovation, BBH NY’s Google Chrome in Online Commercials, BBH NY’s Axe Balls in Viral Marketing and Hal & Masa’s (BBH NY) promo video for Sour’s ‘Hibi No Neiro’ in Best Editing.
We’re up against good work from some great agencies like W+K, TBWA, AKQA and Glue, so a win would feel even better.
Deadline for voting is 29th April, so not long to go.
THANKS very much for your support.
13th April 10
The Johnny Cash Project has been doing the rounds on Twitter and the blogosphere recently, for good reason. Anyone initially sceptical (“another crowdsourced music video?”), very quickly realised it was something pretty special. Digging a tiny bit deeper, spotting Aaron Koblin was heavily involved, things started to click into place for us. It’s a well-conceived idea, beautifully done – textbook Koblin.
Something else clicked into place at the same time. So much talk about crowdsourcing, so much experimentation, almost all of which we’re in favour of. Nonetheless, there is an art to how we use the crowd.
Last night I saw Ennio Morricone at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The maestro was conducting some of his best known compositions (including soundtracks to many of Sergio Leone’s films – last night The Ectasy of Gold from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was unforgettably good). On their own, the soprano Susanna Rigacci, the Roma Sinfonietta orchestra and a 100-strong choir were all world class, together they were extraordinary. Morricone is famous for using singers less to tell a verbal story and more as an emotional, ‘human’ instrument. Last night was no exception: there was something completely mesmeric watching orchestra and singers working as one. It was an act of collective creativity.
No question, a lot of us in the audience felt moved, even elevated.
In a similar way (although perhaps the reaction is less viseral, given there’s a little more distance when something isn’t live and in front of you), The Johnny Cash Project is elevating. There is something profoundly brilliant about making the work of many hands *entirely* visible. It feels 50 times as powerful for its sense of mass mobilization behind a creative act. Its strange quirks, differences, non sequiturs…versus how you’d imagine the same task performed by an individual working alone. Suddenly, one artist in isolation feels one dimensional, ironed out, as if the output would lack vibrancy and surprise.
Sure, centuries of art prove me wholly and irrevocably wrong on that last point. But when I think about how we might most usefully use the crowd, it strikes me crowdsourcing has the potential to be most palpably powerful – to lead to richer outcomes – when we use the crowd as a creative collective.
Right now, with the honourable exception of the likes of Aaron Koblin, a number of innovators in music promo creation (including early initiators Hal Kirkland, Masa Kawamura at BBH New York & their buddies Magico Nakamura & Masayoshi Nakamura – whose lovely video for Sour’s Hibi No Neiro is justly famous), our industry seems most interested in using crowdsourcing primarily to:
a) drive down cost
b) give the crowd something to do – in other words, the ‘crowd’ are in fact a target audience and we want them to feel ‘involved’ with a brand
c) broaden choice – lots of responses to a stated question or task, only one winner
Those are all reasonable things to attempt and we’re not suggesting there should be only one use of the crowd, it just strikes us that focusing on using the crowd as a collective creative resource is something we’re doing less of. And yet, oddly enough, it might be the most powerful use yet.
What do you think? Are there a host of examples of brands using crowdsourcing as collective creativity that we’re missing?
For more on The Johnny Cash Project, check out Maria Popova’s blogpost here.
A version of this post was originally posted on melex.posterous.com.
23rd February 10
BBH Labs will be streaming today’s Burberry London Fashion Week show live in the below video players from 4pm GMT / 11am EST. Thanks to some clever player tech, the show will be broadcast on 73 other websites including Vogue, Grazia, CNN, Sky News, The Times, The Daily Beast and Yahoo. The player is also optimised for iPhone viewing.
Over at http://live.burberry.com the video stream will be complimented by live comments from global Burberry fans. Visitors can log in with their Facebook / Twitter sign in and post comments live as the new collection comes down the catwalk.
Finally, in a fashion and technology first, the show will also be broadcast live in stunning 3D to global VIP events in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Dubai and Tokyo. You can read more about the project here:
Thanks to VideoJuicer for some very clever player technology.
BBH is a strategic digital partner of Burberry.
22nd February 10
Posted by: Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology, BBH New York
BBH is looking for a rare breed of person to be part of the evolving Creative Technology team in New York. Creative Technology at BBH is the fusion point between bleeding edge technology, the creative teams, brands, & people. Inventing and discovering new ways to connect with people and bring rich creative ideas for brands to life in the digital world.
Does this sound like you? Read on . . .
First and foremost you are a creative visionary with a deep passion and knowledge of the digital world; most importantly, you actually *make* things.
You never stop tinkering, playing with things, hacking and combining to create new species. Your life is a digital social experiment; the way you live exposes the way you think, and what you make defines who you are. You love to watch people and uncover the nuances in life where you can make a difference in peoples lives. Technology is your oxygen you need it every second of the day and always want the freshest air, but you understand that not everyone is like you, so you can translate it into natural consumable language.
If so, email your resume and examples of things you’ve made to email@example.com with ‘Creative Technology’ in the subject.
(Read more about creative technologists in this AdWeek piece).
22nd January 10
Posted by Fran Hazeldine (@franhazeldine), Planning Director, BBH London
‘Myspace is dying’. How many times have you heard or read that in recent months? It’s not a hard conclusion to reach from recent visitor trends.
But speak to some of the guys here at BBH London and they’ll tell you a different story. For the past few months they’ve been working with our Myspace clients on the UK relaunch of Myspace Music. It’s a revolutionary platform for the stream and share generation, and they’ve created some really smart and engaging work to promote it. Will that be enough to kickstart a turnaround? Only time and data will tell. But it’s a good excuse to share some wider thoughts on the kind of work we get excited about at the London office.
The campaign started back in December, when 9 artists revealed the music they love in a series of interactive films showcasing the new music player. The idea was to bring fans closer to their favourite artists, reinforcing the core Myspace offer of music community.
Building on this idea, the team have created a new set of films starring Fiddy, Florence, Furtado – and you. Visitors to Myspace.com/fanvideo can create a playlist of videos, log in with Myspace ID or Facebook Connect, then sit back and watch as the artists take turns to make a personal dedication. If you’re feeling friendly, you can also give a load of your Myspace / Facebook pals the super-fan treatment.
Sure, most of us have seen personalised video apps before. But I do think the Fan Video app moves things on a bit. In fact, I think it’s made with three fresh ingredients that will be part of the mix in most of our best BBH London work this year.
1. LOVEABLE MAGIC
Agency types get very excited about whizzy new technologies. Apparently, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. And boy, do we love magic. It’s what our clients pay big bucks for. We spend countless hours trying to conjure up little bits of it. So when ACME Tech serves up another massive blob of ready-made magic there’s a rush to give it a branded twist. AR bog roll? Awesome!
Problem is, some of this pure techy magic is losing its allure. Out in the real world people are suffering innovation fatigue. They’ve seen a thousand tech firsts and the give-a-fuck bar is iPhone high. You can dress that bog roll up in in AR magic clothes, but it’s still just bog roll. Where’s the good stuff? The funny, emotional, cool stuff? What’s there to LOVE?
With the Myspace Fan Videos, the magic isn’t in the tech. It’s in the moment when 50 Cent hangs a picture of you on his wall, or Alicia Keys sings you a song. Sure the magic is tech-fuelled, but it’s the twisted cultural content, the playful reference to things I love or hate, that really makes it. Tech is the means, not a magical end in itself.
Tech magic is out. Loveable magic is in.
2. COLLABORATIVE CRAFT
One of the things we’ve become more and more sure of as an agency is that we can’t do everything. Not on our own, anyway. And certainly not to the ‘best in class’ standard our clients demand. We’ve got bags of creative talent in the building, but to make truly awesome, loveable magic, we need the help of great craftsmen from outside BBH. These aren’t just suppliers or production companies. They won’t settle for a white label. These are creative partners who respect the vision, shape the execution and share the credit.
I spoke to Dom Goldman, the BBH Creative Director on this project, and it was refreshing to hear him say that the Myspace Fan Videos couldn’t have been made without Pulse Films (who shot them), Absolute Post (who did the post production), and Domani Studios (who built the application). More importantly, they couldn’t have been made without genuine collaboration between that network of partners. Let’s call this process ‘collaborative craft’.
If you watch the Alicia video carefully, you can see the reflection of your Facebook profile pic in the glossy piano surface. That isn’t off-the-shelf tech. That’s collaborative craft. Dom’s creative team obsessed over those art directional details. Absolute advised on special filmic effects. And Domani coded away until they were subtlely, perfectly achieved.
3. SIMPLE SOCIAL
We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that people can’t wait to participate in marketing, and will happily jump through branded hoops.
Most personalisation apps I’ve used in the past have asked me to answer several questions or find and upload an image. Sharing has tended to mean entering lists of email addresses or choosing from lists of buttons. Those are pretty big demands at every step of the experience.
By focusing on the simple and specific request for your Facebook Connect login, the Myspace Fan Video app makes that experience faster, simpler and more spreadable (auto-post your fan video to newsfeed, batch-create fan videos for your friends). The use of Connect also amplifies the magic. You don’t know the app has scraped your Facebook profile image until you see it spinning round on David Guetta’s turntable.
Stepping back from the content, it’s just very cool to offer Facebook login for a Myspace promotion. That’s confident, user-centric behaviour. It makes my life a little more convenient. It says “we’re not trying to replace Facebook, we’re different”.
And isn’t that all Myspace need to say, really?
Check out the work here and let us know what you think:
22nd December 09
We need your help.
We’re after a big room, studio or small stage in NYC for three days in January (14-16th). We’re trying to find a space where we can re-create the Chrome Features short films we’ve just made for Google.
For a start, we want to have a little party, and January seems like a good time to be doing that. But we’d like to open it up to anyone who wants to come along and have a look at how they were made.
The space needs to be around 60 x 40 ft, with – ideally – some good height to the ceiling. If you have somewhere you can lend us, or you know someone who might, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
THANKS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS
Here are the films:
And here is a film about how we made them: