Author: Erin Riley, Brand and Communications Director, ZAG NY
BBH Labs has become a watering hole for inquisitive, enterprising, and forward thinking minds. Thus, it is a fitting place for ZAG NY to make its first open call for ideas.
ZAG, a wholly owned subsidiary of BBH, is focused on brand invention. We invent brands by exploiting brand lags – where consumer activity outpaces brand activity. The trick of course is not only scouring technology, media, breaking trends, and cultural & consumer insights for what consumers want and need, but then uniquely satisfying those needs in a delightful and profitable way.
ZAG is fortunate because via BBH we have a unique network of collaborators who provide expertise in areas fertile for brand invention. Now, ZAG NY is looking to extend that network beyond the BBH walls and tap an even larger bevy of creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and anyone else with a brilliant idea.
This slideshare serves as an official call for ideas which will be formally evaluated this November to feed the 2011 pipeline. While we’ll entertain ideas throughout the year, this marks one of three annual formal reviews that will garner the most focused attention from the ZAG team. Pitches will be heard live or by phone/skype/virtual meeting starting week of November 8th.
To stay up to date on ZAG news and thought starters follow our Blog.
(Presentation is best viewed by clicking MENU and FULL SCREEN)
Tell us what you think? Here are some idea starters:
– Do you think ad agencies can bring new products to market?
– What should ad agencies do to cultivate owned IP?
– What do you wish this deck included that it doesn’t?
Author: Kirsty Saddler, Planning Director, BBH New York (@keava)
BBH is strictly non-partisan and typically avoids politics, but is intrigued by an independent candidate standing for Hackney South and Shoreditch this election who has taken mainstream digital behavior and applied it to politics, so offering a new model for voters.
Denny de la Haye is no career politician and has never had any party affiliation. He is instead motivated by a belief in a better political system. So he is standing with no policies and the promise of direct democracy; if voted in he will poll constituents before he votes on any issue or piece of legislation.
He believes that while there is apathy about political voting, people’s support for issues is rising – as digital has facilitated more activism and support for issue based organizations.
“If you allow people a forum and a say they will use it, but they are not motivated to vote politically as they are disillusioned by the system. The UK political system has people in positions of power who answer to a party, before their voters”.
De la Haye is aware that his system relies on people remaining consistently engaged, but this is where his experience as a web designer kicks in and he draws on participation models like Digg and Reddit.
For issues and legislation he will endeavor to get people reading around the issue to inform themselves. To do this he will post an objective synopsis of government’s texts online – inspired by Simplyunderstand.com ‘translation service’ – links can then be added to the synopsis by constituents, which can in turn be rated so the most valuable rise to the top.
It will be crowd-sourced information, without any party bias.
De la Haye’s model would become more valuable over time, as people realized the power of influence they could exert as exemplified by Obama’s election campaign and the model would build a representative picture of constituents views and how the constituency had changed over time, which can be tracked and learnt from.
If followed through it would also do away with the need for party politics, however it is still likely people would cluster around ideologies – but perhaps more their own, not those dictated by a small group of people.
So . . . back to BBH’s real interest here which is how could this work in the business and marketing world. What would happen if shareholders were done away with and there was a model based more on interest invested by people through contributions of time and/or ideas?
This suggests a world of crowd-controlled brands and an open dialogue where the brand does not assume a position of authority or expertise but is accountable to its public. It does not necessarily work for all sectors, but surely more brands could open themselves up in this way, know their place and just facilitate?
Where has this worked before and where has it failed? Could this ever really work? Love to know what you think.
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.
For more on Sour’s Hibi No Neiro video and our interview with Rick Liebling about his e-book on crowdsourcing, see the BBH Labs posts here and here.
“The world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.” Yochai Benkler, Yale University, from The Wealth of Networks
Lightbulbs image by Goldberg, via Flickr
Our collective interest in crowdsourcing (the creative and commercial opportunities and challenges it throws up) seems to be on an exponential curve only matched by the controversy and misunderstanding still surrounding the topic. Cue Rick Liebling’s eBook, Everyone is Illuminated, out today, a compendium of constructive thinking on the topic to date. As experiments in crowdsourcing start to unfold and the world waits to see just how sustainable it is a marketing tool, his primer aims to shed light on the whole area by gathering (in part crowdsourced, of course) insight and hands-on experience of crowd sourcing together in one handy place. We were happy to make a contribution to the eBook and caught up with Rick to tell us more about the project. Check out his introductory post here too. (more…)
I went to the ‘Crowdsourcery Potions 101’ event at JWT yesterday as part of Social Media Week in NYC. Not so sure about the event name, but the content was great, and the panel line up was genuinely stellar.
We watched John Winsor (Victors & Spoils Founder) lead a discussion that featured Ty Montague (Co-President & CCO, JWT North America), Saneel Radia (Alchemist / Chief Potion Master, Denuo), Michael Lebowitz (Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship) and the inimitable Faris Yakob (Chief Technology Dude, McCann NY).
Thanks to the appliance of science, the whole thing is viewable at the bottom of this post, on video. Lots of useful, practical discussion around the kind of cultures, systems, and processes that would enable new forms of creative collaboration. I particularly liked the metaphor of ‘scaffolding’: the structures that are required for successful collaboration efforts (the filters, the creative direction, the incentive model, the access requirements, and so on).
Anyway, I was struck by one area of the debate in particular, and I’ve been reflecting on that since. There were a number of observations about how business models (around agencies, and how they construct themselves, most specifically) were being challenged, and indeed how the definition of what constituted ‘the agency’ was evolving rapidly in new and interesting ways.
As Ty Montague suggested, ‘we’re on the verge of a remaking of business and what a company is’. Bold and exciting words from the leader of one of the largest and most powerful agencies around. In particular, Ty was talking about a point John Winsor had made just a moment before, around the idea that the distinction between JWT and *beyond JWT* was blurring, and would continue to blur. As creative businesses continue to experiment with new models of creative collaboration, and explore different approaches to maintaining a creative arsenal comprising the highest quality individuals and partners, it is inevitable that which was once almost wholly contained within an agency will become, to some extent, located outside the formal confines of that business.
Creative agencies need to move towards becoming permeable organizations. Those in networks need to be reconfigured as networked organizations versus simply organizations within networks. Creative business must be able to draw on not just the talent within the building, but the many skills and areas of expertise that lie beyond those walls. And they need to be able to draw on this external resource. Like immediately. Certainly within BBH Labs we believe this is the *only* way the future can look; and of course it comes with challenges.
For us (probably like many, I’m in no way suggesting we’re unique here), this means building and curating a broader group of people and companies with whom we create and produce ideas, and of course, we’re busy doing just that. It was an ex-CEO of Sun Microsystems who once said, ‘no matter where you work, most of the smart people work somewhere else’. Whilst challenging to orthodoxy, there’s definitely something in that.
Back to Crowdsourcery Potions . . . Ty was hinting that one logical manifestation of this philosophy would be the formation of a broader pool of potential creative collaborators, perhaps more akin to the curated creative group put together by the team at Victors & Spoils. I also sometimes think the Alessi example is helpful here. Alessi occasionally put together hand-picked ‘crowds’ outside their company to help them on specific projects. So for example, on their program to create new ‘postmodern’ style product designs, they curated an invite-only ‘crowd of around 200 postmodern architects to submit work. This seems smart. It also signals a potential way forward for agencies looking to innovate new modes of creative collaboration.
But it also raises what for me is *the big question*. In fact, two related sets of questions.
1. CULTURE: If the culture of an organization is one of the key elements of differentiation between one agency and another, when does the definition of an agency blur to the point of intangibility? When does JWT (or BBH, or Victors & Spoils, or IDEO for that matter) cease to be JWT? When does JWT become Victors & Spoils? When does it simply become a set of senior and experienced curators of skills, talent and partnerships? And does this matter, if it does happen?
2. INCENTIVES: What kinds of models are right for incentivizing the crowd? If the model of the future is going to involve fluid boundaries between ‘working for’ and ‘working with’, what does that mean for how people are incentivized? Not just in the crowd outside the agency, but within the crowd inside the agency? And linked to the first point, what value does one place on the cultural DNA found within agencies (which surely *must* have a commercial value) versus the more flexible and emerging skills found outside?
Early days, but exciting days.
All ideas, challenges, thoughts or builds welcome.
For more coverage of the debate check out Jonny Makkar’s (@jsmakr) neat summary blog post here, Faris’s here, or John Winsor’s short but kinda sweet piece here.
“New tools give life to new forms of action…eroding the institutional monopoly on large-scale coordination… We are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups.” Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, 2008
One of the things that caught our eye last year was a blogpost from Len Kendall sharing the plan for a simple, yet audacious lifestreaming project. Every day for 365 days, Len and co-founder Daniel Honigman were going to get a different person to write about their experience that day. If you will, a crowdsourced diary for 2010: the3six5 Project.
Just under a month in and c.250,000 site views later, the project is growing into something with real currency AND potentially long lasting value. Before we get into the interview with Len and Daniel, here are a few early thoughts on why we think the project is turning out to be so interesting. As always, we’d love to hear other points of view, so please let us know what you think.
1. Currency: the3six5 mashes up three communication themes – crowdsourcing, curation and lifestreaming – neatly in one idea. (At the same time it’s a simple journal. The combination is very seductive: it feels experimental and familiar at the same time).
2. Cultural value: if the entries continue in the vein set down so far, it’s a time capsule of intensely individual thoughts. One year seen through 365 different minds, gathered in one place.
3. As communication models go, a continuous, virtuous circle. Fresh, surprising content, which in turn its originators & their supporters want to promote and propagate.
4. Great content: none of the above would mean anything if the words didn’t leap off the page. And boy, do they. A lot of writers have taken Daniel & Len at their word and taken risks, others have brilliantly evoked the day and their state of mind, often to profound effect.
5. Success or failure depends on the community: The project has the chance to go wrong at any point, all it takes is a missed post. If we’re honest, that adds to the frisson around the project. It also proves yet again that crowdsourcing is no cop-out for the curators. As wonderful as everyone is, we suspect it can still feel like herding cats at times. As one of the contributors so far, I can also testify to a what-if-you-fail-to-come-up-with-anything? feeling in your gut as you sit down at the end of the day to write a post to an immovable deadline.
We caught up with Daniel and Len, to hear how it’s going so far from their perspective, as well as their hopes and expectations for the rest of the year. (more…)
2009 undoubtedly has been the year when the ‘crowd’ really came into its own. As the year drew to a close, it seemed like it might be a fun (okay, also possibly foolish) idea to attempt to create the world’s first crowd-curated holiday playlist.
Whilst I’d tinkered with this in fairly samizdat fashion at the end of November, the idea properly came to life when Maria Popova (@brainpicker) – the undisputed queen of online cultural curation and author of, amongst other things, Brain Pickings – got in touch. She suggested we create an audio tumblr together and see if we could find 31 people to curate one, great, vaguely seasonal track for every day in December.
So far, 24 days and around a 1000 plays later, it’s a fairly diverse collection of music and commentary: by turns happy, nostalgic, darkly funny, triumphant, moving, warm, sad and – if you ask us – all of it pretty downright wonderful.
We hope people have had as much fun as we have getting involved and watching it unfold. Maria and I will say thank you properly to everyone when the project completes at the end of the month, but in the meantime please keep checking out the site, listen to the smorgasbord of tracks we’ve had in so far and read what the curators have had to say about the music they’ve chosen. For more about Taped Together, check it out here.
The full and final playlist will be made available as a download to anyone who’d like one, please check out the site for details at the end of this month.
GOOD Magazine are asking people: “If you were to invent anything to push the world forward, what would it be?”
The jury’s still out on whether collaborative creativity can provide a viable business model (high enough quality; low enough costs) for creative businesses, but this seems to us to be a smart way of focusing the minds of artists, inventors and other thinkers on some of the more important questions.
We’ll watch with interest – what would your idea be?
(Thanks to John Winsor of CP&B – @jtwinsor – for the heads-up).
A potentially strong application of collaborative intelligence . . . with a twist.
(Un)classes starts with the premise that everyone has something to teach, and much to learn. But, pragmatically, few of us are going to sign into formal programs. Casual learning (as they frame this form of education) is aimed squarely at people who lead hectic lives but still want to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.
(Un)classes is thus in effect a marketplace for matching interests with passion, simply connecting people who’d otherwise have few ways of directly collaborating in this way. It’s deliberately informal, with few rules and none of the stuffiness that could surround what is in effect a ‘learning’ service.
(We’re also reminded of the campaign BBH New York helped create for one of BBH’s clients, NYC & Co, around using one’s skills, passions, and willingness to help address some of NYC’s most important issues: What’s Your Blank?)
The depth of the (Un)classes offering seems quite shallow at the moment, but as people sign up, and choice and quality deepen, it will be interesting to see whether the idea takes off. We wish them luck.
Following our piece looking at journalism (a review of the transformational change at the Telegraph Media Group) and fiction (interview with Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher at Penguin), our interest in the profound changes occurring in the publishing industry continues with this look at the opportunities in mobile.
We often talk about the future of mobile media and what it will all look like, but what about the future of the mobile media of the past? The notion of carrying around your reading as reams of inked paper might disappear, but the written word certainly won’t. So it seems a very natural progression for print publishers to move from paper to digital by simply reformatting for small screen mobile devices. But the considerations are vast. And more importantly, how much do people really want to use their phones as reading devices anyway?
We recently met a company called ScrollMotion, a New York-based iPhone app developer that is hard at work answering these questions. The company have been steadily creating a suite of new tools for traditional print media companies to better engage their readers via apps on mobile phones, and in the process, quietly making publishing deals with a wide range of top-notch publishers. Their growing client list is impressive and includes Conde Nast, Hearst, Time Inc., Tribune Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Wiley.