BBH goes Back to the Future


October 21, 2015 is the date of BBH’s digital expo, SXW1 (yes, a terrible pun-slash-homage to SXSW, based on our postcode in London) and this year we’re going Back to the Future. Some of us are old enough to be obsessive fan girls and fan boys of the film and the date on the clock in Doc Brown’s DeLorean at the very end of the film was, well, just too good to resist.

So on Wednesday, this agency is going to be festooned with Back to the Future memorabilia, listening to a killer soundtrack courtesy of BBH’s own Black Sheep Music and most of us dressed up as the cast from the ’50s, ’80s or Robert Zemeckis’ vision of 2015. Across his trilogy, Zemeckis helpfully dropped into just about every century, so we have options.

As much as it’s fun to park a begged/borrowed/stolen DeLorean outside our doors and dress up, this also happens to be the third, annual instalment of our digital expo. SXW1 is designed to be a day when we down tools as a company and just learn through doing; immersing ourselves until we bleed in the cutting edge of technology and interactive creativity, together. Three years ago this felt like a bit of a risk (“um, you want to close the company for a whole day?”), now it feels normal and necessary.

Under the leadership of our newly minted CXO, Adam Powers, this year the theme is largely – and naturally enough – about looking to all our futures. The future of photography (drones), the future of online advertising (the ad-blocking debate) to the future of TV. We will then close the day with a look at the future of religion, with the amazing Louisa Heinrich talking about faith in Elon Musk replacing faith in the Almighty.

In previous years, our stage has been graced by the likes of Michael Acton Smith from Mind Candy and Ian Livingston, the Gamers’ Godfather. We’ve had Vine & YouTube workshops, Game of Thrones Oculus Rift courtesy of Framestore and pre-release gaming consoles. We’ve drawn gratefully on our many partners and friends – Google, Twitter, Vice, Buzzfeed and many more – to provide sessions that are hands on and get-stuck-in beyond the keynote speeches.

Most years there have been surprises. I imagine this year it will be no different. And if you fancy coming back to the future with us, we have a couple of tickets we’d like to give away. Just ping @bbhlondon or @bbhlabs on Twitter, or leave your name in the comments below.

For now, we leave the last words to Marty McFly: Time circuits on… Flux Capacitor… fluxing… Engine running… All right!

See you on the other side.


The Nine Nos of Innovation

Last week I spent two days at the glorious British seaside, attending and speaking at Silicon Beach in Bournemouth. Highlights included Louisa Heinrich of Superhuman, on technology as today’s opiate of the masses, a rousing rant from Mark Adams of Vice on attention in the 21st century and Nicklas Bergman, who not only admitted to passing on the opportunity to invest in Spotify, but was also sporting four (visible) wearables AT THE SAME TIME!

Our own contribution, ‘The Nine Nos of Innovation’, is embedded above, and a text only version is available on our Medium channel here.



Joyful and Extraordinary, meet Dismal and Mundane

With it’s gleeful puncturing of the tropes of advertising – a world where families chuckle around the breakfast table and where it is always golden hour – the promo for Banksy’s ‘bemusement park’ might just be the most interesting piece of marketing of the year so far. Given his disdain for advertising and his skill in the dark arts of self promotion, it’s really no surprise that Dismaland manages to be both an interesting spectacle in its own right and a twisted commentary on consumerism and entertainment. Group outing anyone?

But if Weston-Super-Mare is not on your map, the lineup at this year’s dConstruct, with it’s theme of ‘Designing the Future’, looks brilliant. Highlights include ‘paleofuturologist‘ Matt Novack, Dan Hill on very-near-future city making and friendof-Labs John Willshire on ‘metadesign … examined through the contents and context of the most intriguing bedroom in sci-fi’. And, in a (hopefully unforced) segue from Dismaland, Nick Foster of design fiction exponents Near Future Laboratory will be considering ‘the role of the mundane in building the future’. Tickets for dConstruct are available here.

Create Memories, Not ‘Stuff’

“People will forget what you say, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou, quoted by Katie Ewer, Design Strategist, JKR Global

In an information-saturated world, it isn’t surprising that people are seeking out experiences rather than messaging. This non-news undoubtedly has influenced the many brands who are moving budgets from informational advertising to experiential marketing, hoping to reach an audience who want to ‘participate’ and ‘engage’ and ‘feel’  as much (if not more) than they want to consume.

With this in mind, colleagues at BBH Singapore created a day of provocation and inspiration on the theme of creating memories, with contributors coming from the worlds of neuroscience, architecture, travel and design. A video of the highlights of the day is above and a fuller recap is available here. Details of past and future events are on the Insanity with a Purpose tumblr.


The New Revolutionaries, tonight at BBH London

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Tonight we’re co-hosting an event with Decoded to celebrate the “New Revolutionaries”, the people transforming their industries through creativity and technology in glorious combination.

Kathryn Parsons, Lindsay Nuttall and I are lucky enough to be hosting a night of inspiring showcases and talks celebrating the people driving that creative revolution.

We’ve got two tickets to give away if you fancy it: please just tweet us @bbhlabs or @bbhlondon or leave us a comment below.

Alternatively, we’ll be live streaming the event via Twitter thanks to our friends at Streaming Tank and we’ll write up the event for this blog when we’re out the other side..

BBH went to SXSW and this is what we found

Author: Ben Shaw, Social Strategy Lead, BBH London


Last month, BBH London sent 11 lucky people to Austin to discover the latest innovations that tech, film and music had to offer. Amongst the BBQ, beer and banter, they managed to find a bunch of insights about the advancement of the human race. Topics like this may only truly be delivered under a desert sky with smoked meat and a pale ale, but in an effort to distribute our learnings to a wider audience we’ve tried to distil them down into some slides (below). We looked at three topics that we think are vital to our future – as an agency and as human beings. Enjoy.

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[slideshare id=33418484&doc=bbhsxsw2014-externalversion2-140411114855-phpapp01]

The making of Nike Hypervenom: House of Deadly

Author: Miguel Andres-Clavera, Creative Technology and Innovation Director, BBH Asia Pacific

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For some time now, artists, programmers and marketers have been seeking innovative ways to collaborate, to blur the line between art and technology, thereby creating complex systems that merge the real world with the digital world. As these new experiences transcend digital mediums and permeate our physical experience, we begin to witness the emergence of public performance as a spectacle.

We had a great opportunity to explore some of these ideas when we were tasked to launch Nike’s new Hypervenom football boot collection in Southeast Asia. Our imagination ran wild at the thought of of creating an experience that combined real football with virtual challenges and got us really excited. In a way we wanted to allow fans to experience a whole new way of playing football, to make fans feel as if they were personally immersed in an epic video game.

The challenge was to create an authentic experience that preserved the physical skills and attributes required when playing football in real life, then take the player through an intense emotional journey culminating in a ‘deadly’ twist, giving him or her a sense of empowerment from the game.

The ‘house of deadly’ was born, a mixed-reality gameplay experience in a controlled environment where players were monitored and challenged to perform actual football skills but in a virtual context using an adaptive interface. (more…)

#London2012 – an early look at the ‘Social Games’

Author: Vicki Maggs (@maggsy), Digital Analyst, BBH London

As we’ve all heard repeatedly, London 2012 has been anticipated as “The most social Olympic Games yet”, and it’s easy to see why. Since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Facebook users have grown 800%, Twitter users by over 8000% and Youtube videos are now generating 72 hours of video per minute. Not to mention the launch and growth of Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Foursquare.

Friday night saw the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games with 26.9 million UK viewers tuned in. According to Twitter, this one night alone generated more tweets than the entire duration of the 2008 Beijing Games – 9.66 Million.

Using Sysomos, we found over 840,000 tweets tagged the #openingceremony with the peak of conversation occurring on Mr Bean’s entrance. Interestingly, he was also the most discussed topic of conversation (aside from mentions of Danny Boyle @DannyBoyleFilms) – being picked up all around the world as a successful nod to British culture and humour. Mr Bean gained a very positive response with 97% of conversation favourable. (more…)

The Planner / Creative Relationship: Results

Authors: Fran Hazeldine, Head of Strategy and Pelle Sjoenell, Executive Creative Director, BBH LA

[slideshare id=13692036&doc=plannercreativesurveyresults-120719040321-phpapp02]

A few weeks ago we asked Planners and Creatives from a range of agency backgrounds to fill out a short survey about the Planner / Creative relationship.

As promised, we’ve got some results to share. If you like your slides with added innuendo, our Planningness presentation is available here. But it’s quite minimalist and really needs the voice over, so we’ve summarized the main findings below.

A few notes on the sample

The 324 respondents were a mixture of self-selecting BBH Labs readers, people from our extended professional networks and anyone else we could persuade to take part. So there are probably all sorts of research effects that mean you shouldn’t take any of the results as hard fact – more food for thought and discussion.

What do we know about the survey respondents? Not surprisingly, we had more Planners than Creatives. And the Creatives tended to be more experienced and male. There was also a heavy North American and European skew across the board.

But despite collecting a mass of demographic info, the results we’re sharing are not split out by gender, age or region. We tried cutting the data along these lines, but any variation was remarkably unremarkable. So instead we’ve focused on the simple comparison between Planners and Creatives, which turned up some much juicier stats. (more…)

Last month Google asked me along to their Creative Sandbox in Cannes to give a ‘lightning talk’ about ‘something I was particularly interested in’. Luckily, they gave me just 15 minutes to speak or we would have been there all day in the baking heat.. Thank you to everyone who came along and asked lots of questions afterwards – here, for what it’s worth, is a record of what got discussed.

I’d like to talk about 2-3 things here, loosely connected by a theme around how and why we should keep contributing to, using and building the open web:

1. The Guardian, the UK newspaper (a client of BBH London) and their ‘open journalism’ positioning.
2. A project we’re developing at BBH Labs called
3. A postscript on how we like to work here and what “open and constant learning” means in practice.

But first, some brief scene-setting: we’re all familiar with the debate that has raged and continues to do so about the open web – but why should we care? (more…)