‘Everything we know, is wrong’

How communication is consumed: West vs East, from "Everything we know, is wrong"

BBH Asia Pacific Chairman, Charles Wigley, and Rob Campbell of W+K delivered their joint talk “Everything we know, is wrong” at The Asia Marketing Effectiveness Festival in Shanghai last week. Asked to be provocateurs, their talk (slideshare below) smartly tackles five flawed notions in one fell swoop: from ‘tv is dead’, ‘brand love’, ‘everyone wants to join in’, ‘pre-testing makes everything better’ and finally ‘London and New York know absolutely everything’. At Labs we particularly enjoyed the provocation of the last theme, which struck us as something not discussed nearly enough on these pages. If you’re someone with a client or simply a keen interest in Asia (so all of us, then..), then may we suggest – if you do nothing else – reading slides 64-81 of Chaz and Rob’s presentation below.

[slideshare id=12671669&doc=ame2012presentation-120424105922-phpapp01]

As Chaz himself puts it:

“We had what we knew would be a crowd pleaser in the East where we have both lived and worked for years, but may be less of one in the West. We’ll see. We firmly believe it anyway. Specifically we took on the notion that ‘West knows best. If you believe that culture significantly influences how people look at and interact with the world, then there is ample evidence that it causes Asian – more collectivist – consumers to interact differently towards brands and to read communications differently. Academia and our business are just at the start of understanding this one. But it’s going to be big. Read Richard Nisbett’s ‘The Geography of Thought’.”

Chaz and Rob in action at AME 2012

Future Human: Transparent Life

A version of this post originally appeared in the 16.02.12 edition of Campaign magazine.

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Billed as a dive into the “rapid evolution of data visualisation tools”, last week’s ‘Future Human: Transparent Life’ could have lost its audience at ‘hello’. Data viz may have become a hot topic in recent years, but there was also plenty of healthy scepticism in the room relating to its publicity hungry off-spring, AR. Ah yes, Augmented Reality.. which, until very recently, has had to work hard not to be dubbed Awkward Reality.

Yet a few minutes in, the event’s organiser and first speaker, the journalist Ben Beaumont-Thomas, had held the audience’s attention, wise-cracking his way through a history of human motivation behind how we portray ourselves in public (the 1970s neatly summarised as a ‘me’ decade of solipsistic confusion; the 1990s as an ‘us’ decade, the start of social transmission and an accompanying loss of privacy), before moving swiftly up to date, to focus on how we consciously and unconsciously allow increasing amounts of information about ourselves to be generated and left in the public domain: the ‘transparent life’ of the event’s title. And with that, the talk became less about bytes of visualised data and instead about something both simpler and more profound: human identity and the blurring boundaries between our private and public selves.  (more…)

Tale Torrent – The Prologue

Author: James Mitchell (@jamescmitchell), Strategist, BBH Labs

Preparations for our night of storytelling for Internet Week Europe are almost complete. And with less than a week to go until Thursday the 10th, we thought we’d share a little preview info of some of our speakers. Tales will include…

Simon Sanders – “Postcards ‘n’ mix-tapes, Skype ‘n’ status updates”
Creative Strategist /

Basheera Khan“Tales from the Crypt-ograph”
UX Architect, EMC Consulting /

Katy Lindemann“Ye olde days of (web)logging: when it still began with a ‘w’ and people thought it would never take off…”
Freelance Strategist /

Rishi Dastidar / Matt Busher“Self Portrait Postcards”
Senior copywriter, archibald ingall stretton… / Designer, mandatory thinking

Claire Burge – “From Mud Pies to Geek Chick”
Photographer /

It’s looking to be a lot of fun. It looks like we’re at capacity, with a heavy waitlist – but there is still one way to get in. We’ve still got space for a few micro-stories: that is, tales of five minutes instead of ten. So, if you have any internet incidents that you think might amuse and enthrall and you want to come, drop me an email at in the next few days.

And if you just can’t make it but want to tune in, watch this space – we’ll try to get a stream up and running on the night, right here.

Until then,


P2P Storytelling – Telling Tales for Internet Week

Author: James Mitchell (@jamescmitchell), Strategist, BBH London & BBH Labs

Here at Labs, we’re fond of many things, but here’s two: the internet, and storytelling. (Mel also likes robots, but that’s her choice ) We wondered if this year, we could combine them.

In the main, Internet Week Europe is about making better use of the internet, from bringing out the amateur behaviourist in all of us to trying to master its very nuts and bolts. And BBH Labs has been no exception: last year, we got together with google for the binary bootcamp that was Coding For Dummies.

But while we should strive to do more with the net, it’s already done much for us to celebrate. The much-feted promise of connection that was heralded in 1990 has come true for us all, whether through Facebook, Twitter or a dodgy backroom BBS. And while it’s easy to talk about the macro impact cases, from Libya to London, the personal stories often remain just that: personal.

So as part of IWE’ 11, on Thursday 10th November, join us at BBH from 7 for TaleTorrent: a night of true stories about the internet. It’s a conference, a campfire, a confessional. Eight storytellers will take ten minutes to tell us something.

There are two ways to get involved. One: come along by grabbing a ticket on our Eventbrite page.

Two: we are still looking for a couple of people to tell their stories – it could be five minutes, it could be fifteen – in our little gathering. Funny, sad, uplifiting, anything you like. If you’d like to share with us, get in touch with me at

Tonight: Kronenbourg 1664 hosts a live Q&A with Suggs from Madness

Author: Agathe Guerrier (@agatheg), Strategist, BBH London & BBH Labs

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*Tonight at 9pm GMT* we’re happy to say Kronenbourg 1664 is hosting a live event on the brand’s YouTube channel, as part of its Slow the Pace campaign.

A Q&A with the star of our second commercial in the series, Suggs from Madness, it will be livestreamed from the studios of our partner Absolute Radio. Since Friday, users have been able to submit their questions on the channel via a Google Moderator widget, a tool that was developed a few months ago for YouTube’s own Worldview project (featuring Obama and David Cameron), enabling citizens to quiz world leaders on issues of global governance.

To our knowledge, no brand has ever done this before. So nous croisons les doigts, as we say in France, until 10ish in the UK.

Watch the interview here.

Kronenbourg 1664 YouTube channel

This campaign is an integrated approach to broadcast and the social web that we’re calling “Super Bowl, Super Social” (check out our post last year about Yeo Valley for a detailed case study). Very simply, we know successful brands marry broadcast and participation in ways that add value (utility, entertainment) to people’s lives – the real-time web pushes that a stage further: rewarding brands that provide experiences and content that are bolder, better.

In the meantime, let’s hope Suggs turns up tonight.

For more info you’ll find Kronenbourg 1664 in all the usual places: @K1664slow, Kronenbourg 1664 on Facebook, Kronenbourg’s YouTube channel.

Breaking A Sweat For Japan

Image credit: Dom Grant & Zak Razvi (@zakrazzle)

From 12pm GMT today, BBH’s global run/row/cycle-a-thon goes LIVE, streaming from all six BBH offices simultaneously for 24 hours straight. You can watch it happen via the webcams on the site. Please show your support by donating here, tweet #bbh4japan or leave a message for everyone breaking a sweat here. All donations, no matter how small, will help the charity we’ve chosen to support,, deliver emergency temporary housing, warmth and dignity to Japanese families who have lost everything after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

A whole host of people around the world in BBH offices got this up and running.. you know who you are. We also caught up with Dom Grant and Zak Razvi at BBH London who designed the art work to promote the event:

“We wanted to create a powerful image that worked on more than just one level. Using the iconic design of the Japanese flag, we replaced the red circle with a textured heart graphic. We then used the shape of Japan as a crack to depict a broken heart. We hope the image encapsulates our love and respect for the people of Japan.” Please give generously. A big thank you for your support, from everyone here and at

******AN UPDATE, 21.04.11******

As of this morning, we’re happy to report a whopping £27, 110 has been raised! Thank you to EVERYONE who donated and supported the effort.

Here are some shots from Japan sent to us by Shelterbox today:

“Emotion is data too” – Google’s screening of Transcendent Man

“Here’s to living forever. That’s not just a salutation in our family”
~ Sonya Kurzweil

“This is of mythical proportions. We have to deal with it, even if it turns out not to be true.”
Kevin Kelly

Sarah Speake introduces the 'Transcendent Man' screening

Regular readers of this blog will know we have an abiding fascination with what technology may bring in the far flung future (see our The Coming Age of Augmentation post and, most recently, Greg Anderson on Asimov’s First Law).

So it’ll be no surprise to hear we got *extremely* excited when an invite arrived, courtesy of Google, to attend a screening of Barry Ptolemy’s Transcendent Man at the Science Museum in London, followed by a Q&A with the director and the film’s subject, the futurist, author and engineer Ray Kurzweil. (more…)

Advertising, mobile, the fall of capitalism and slankets.

Author: Peter Sells (@sellsy), Head of Mobile, BBH London

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It’s normally an absolute pleasure to speak to your peers about a topic of your choosing. A pleasure that turns to butt clenching FEAR when your know your peers are going to JUDGE you, in a contest against other speakers who are funnier and cleverer than you will ever be.

The Battle of Big Thinking event format focuses the mind then, but perhaps not necessarily on the big thoughts.  For, as the review contends, this year there was a heavy emphasis on execution and perhaps less on the idea.

Mine obviously was the exception…

The value of a good story

Last Thursday (on Thanksgiving, if you are so inclined) the great and good and up-and-coming of London’s planning community gathered at the British Library for the APG/Campaign Battle of Big Thinking, an annual event that pits mind against mind for the chance to be crowned the Biggest Brain of All.

BBH London was well represented, with Peter Sells sharing thoughts on ‘The Fall of Capitalism, Bloody Revolution and the Destruction of Civil Society ….. And it’s Effect on KFC AM sales in the Tyne Tees Region” and winning his category in style. I apparently offered what was described as ‘an entertaining after-dinner speech’ on “What I have learned in 39 days in the advertising Business” and didn’t win my category which was won by an excellent pitch for a planner-owned product by PassionBrand. We’ll put these presentations up when the videos of the day become available.

But the star of the show and a very, very close runner up to the eventual overall winner was James Mitchell, who provoked and entertained the audience with his smart thinking and charming discourse on advertising, caring and storytelling.

So here is the extended remix of James’ talk – put on some headphones, hit play, enjoy and be provoked.

11.11.10: Coding for Dummies with Google

Joint authors: Tom Uglow (@tomux) and Mel Exon (@melex)

We all know what a page is, and HTML, and a server – but did you ever want to code? Well, our afternoon of coding for beginners in London next week won’t make you into a ninja web developer, but it is a light-hearted, activity-led series of hour-long sessions for the most (and we mean ‘most’) inexperienced web wannabe.

We will show you what an HTML page is made of and then you’ll make one yourself. There will then be an hour on CSS (or making it pretty). An hour on javascript (or making it do stuff). An hour on API’s (or adding cool stuff) and then an hour on HTML5 and and the future . . .

Think of it as Blue Peter meets O’Reilly – by the end of the day you should have your own toilet-roll and sellotape webpage and a few new skills. You can come for any of the hour-long courses or for the whole afternoon. We’ll bring some experts (a couple of awesome Google engineers, along with BBH London’s Head of Technology, Jim Hunt and Head of Creative Technology, Jon Andrews). You’ll need to bring a laptop and some enthusiasm.

There’s limited availability, so please RSVP to

This is our small contribution to Internet Week Europe, follow them here and find out about other events during next week here.