Archive for the ‘People’ Category
27th January 12
Every now and again, we like to interview someone doing something interesting. It’s a pleasure to say that this time we’re featuring a good friend of Labs, John V Willshire, (or @willsh, as he’s known to the Twitterverse). John broke free from agency life last year to set up his own business. In this, the first of a two-part interview, we asked John to tell us a bit about it – along the way sharing his thoughts on a bunch of things from The Smiths, social connectivity, the economic viability of social production today and, er, rocks vs water..
BBH Labs: Tell us a bit about why you founded Smithery.
JW: The idea powering Smithery is Make Things People Want beats Make People Want Things. The former doesn’t replace the latter, as companies still do both, but what’s interesting is the switch in emphasis.
Over time, the advertising industry became very, very good at making people want things. It didn’t matter if those things weren’t all that good, because nobody could tell each other with any meaningful scale at a meaningful volume. Advertising was louder than bombs, to inappropriately hijack The Smiths (hey, if it’s good enough for John Lewis…).
Obviously we don’t need to go into the details here of how the internet has changed how companies can connect with people, but the advertising instinct is to use social connectivity to make people want things. That’s why I think the majority of social activity we see is poor.
As time passes, companies and agencies will work harder and think better about how to use social connectivity to make things people want, whether that’s changing established goods and services, or creating new ones.
So I founded Smithery to help do that; whether it’s working together in better ways, making better things, or helping telling better stories about those things. Read full post
28th November 11
Author: Mareka Carter, @marekacarter, Creative, BBH London
Many people living in villages in Sub-Saharan Africa have to walk c. 5 km every day just to collect clean water.
#WaterRun is about running (or walking, if that’s more your thing) the same distance, our aim to raise enough money to build 30 new wells in the region.
5 km takes about an hour’s walk a day; for many of us it’s the equivalent of walking or running into work, instead of taking public transport – see what we did there?
Log your runs and donate here: waterrunproject.com. If you’re a Water Runner, you could donate the money you’ve saved not using public transport, if you’re a Supporter you can donate, well, as much as you feel able.
It’s something for everyone, not just the creative and tech community: we’d love everyone’s Mum and Dad, Mom and Pop, Mama and Papa to get involved too.
Think of it as a win-win, ‘pre-tox’ cleanse before the debauchery of the holiday season kicks in - or, if you’re in the States, a quick post-Thanksgiving fitness drive – a chance to do some good towards others and yourself in the process.
Why are we doing this?
You will have seen news coverage of the widespread famine in East Africa and very possibly heard about the 50/50 project launched in response by our friends at Made by Many, hatched with Good for Nothing. If you haven’t: each project on the collaborative platform combines fund-raising with digital goodness, aiming to engage a network of supporters to help spread the word and generate as much money for as possible for UNICEF famine aid. Like our brothers and sisters at BBH NY, we knew we wanted in the moment we heard about it.
Those links again:
Log your runs and make a donation here: www.waterrunproject.com.
Find us on Facebook here.
And check out the raft of other amazing initiatives for 50/50 here: 5050.gd
#WaterRun starts now, but you can join in whenever you want. Do it once, or you can do it every day for the next few weeks – it’s up to you. The main thing is to keep logging your distances on the super simple website and telling the world about it, so together we can send the total raised sky high.
Thank you. Happy Water Running!
28th October 11
Authors: Gabor Szalatnyai (Creative Technology) & James Mitchell (Strategy), BBH London & BBH Labs
Here at Labs, we make a lot of stuff for other people and brands, but, now and then, we like to build experiments – additional stuff we love so much, we take extra time and pull late nights to see it done. We do this because sometimes, we want to test a theory, because we want to test our capabilities, and because we want to make something cool.
But this role is about more than the build. We’ll work iteratively on this, so we’ll be testing and learning as we go. This means you’ll be working with the team to prototype, test, bend and break – modifying and bettering the experiment at every stage. We’ll expect you to have a major impact on the idea itself. You’ll have the freedom to implement any technical solution that solves the problem, to work with the entire team to make sure the thing doesn’t just happen, but happens better.
Why work with us? Because we hope you’ll agree the project is cool, the team is a diverse and interesting one, and the use of data is, as far as we know, something that’s never been tried before. And, at the end of it all, you’ll get to put your name against something very special.
To apply, please send a nice message (with your GitHub username and/or some work) to **email@example.com**, and we’ll have a chat about what we’re trying to build. If you have any more questions, drop them in the comments. Thanks!
29th September 11
Author: Adam Powers, Head of User Experience, BBH London
The User Experience (UX) Principal will have responsibility for delivering world-class UX for BBH London across a diverse, valuable portfolio of clients.
We are looking for someone with a tenacious, entrepreneurial spirit; someone who’s happiest rolling up their sleeves in the relentless pursuit of useful and beautiful solutions in an often dynamic and changing environment. They must also be nice. Read full post
11th August 11
Author: Pablo Marques (@pablo_marques), Creative Director, BBH London & BBH Labs
Please donate here: http://keepaaroncutting.blogspot.com/
The Barn is a program for our interns: its aim to expand and mix both the power advertising wields and youth’s inherent energy, then channel both for good.
As our team went about trying to find a problem they felt passionate about solving, we were all surprised by the absurdity of the past week’s riots in the UK.
With the riots came all of the negativity towards todays youth and the use of social media technology to mobilise people.
There it was, we had our problem. We wanted to show the world that youth and technology could also be a force for good, this was exactly what The Barn was about.
The team came up an idea. Why not use the force for good to help someone that was neither young nor technology savvy.
We set up Keep Aaron Cutting.
Aaron is an 89 years old barber who has been in the Tottenham area for 41 years whose business was ransacked during the riots. He has no insurance and no way of rebuilding his shop. His livelihood is devastated.
“I will probably have to close because I haven’t got insurance and I can’t afford the repairs,” – Aaron
If we could restore Aaron’s faith in youth and technology that might not solve the problem, but would be the perfect way to start.
2nd August 11
Author: Louise Ablewhite, HR Manager, BBH London
Who we’re after
The ultimate T-shaped Producer. Someone with an in-depth knowledge of a production discipline (film, interactive, print, mobile, content, AFP, events/experiential, gaming, publishing), with broader knowledge across at least one other specialism. You’ll be responsible for working with the Creative Department to realise their ideas through development and craft – and to manage the process through to delivery / first release and beyond.
What you’ll be like
Fearless and fun to work with, passionate about the work and a great communicator – able to build great relationships with Strategy and Team Management, be client facing and campaign aware. Above all, you’ll be happiest collaborating with multiple partners and stakeholders (both internally and externally). Challenges and unknowns must be embraced and relished.
- Be able to demonstrate excellent creative and editorial judgement
- An appetite to learn and develop further is a must, with a passion for new ways of working and outputs
- Comfortable & confident with unknown territory/never been done before projects & able to navigate through it
- A keen an eye for detail and a strong background in managing complex project and budgets
- Confident in managing clients directly
- Able to manage complex legal negotiations with several parties
- Entrepreneurial: actively seek new revenue generating opportunities & business models
- In-depth knowledge of how other brands & media owners are operating in this space
- Good people skills and ability to build relationships across all disciplines and with third party partners
- Other key attributes: Hardworking, energetic, collaborative, good organisational skills, sound production and cultural knowledge.
If this sounds like your kind of job, we want to hear from you. Please send a cv/resume, details or link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1st June 11
- Picture the scene. There are around 4-6 people clustered around a table together. All trying to solve a problem, all very talented… most of them creative/strategy/tech hybrids. An hour later, they’ve gone in circles several times, sure, but between them there’s light at the end of the tunnel.. a few solutions look to be within reach. Then the school bell goes people have to head to another meeting and they agree to meet again. Except it takes a day or two to arrange the follow-up and then half an hour to remind everyone what they’re there to do. And repeat.. does this sound familiar?
There are some very smart people arguing that generalists are the future. When we have much more to do in less time, then it’s better we put together teams of people who can all spin plates, bang a drum and throw knives at the same time, right? Perhaps there are some people who are so extraordinarily talented across so many disciplines that they genuinely can claim to be the ultimate one man band; a steel-alloyed, swiss army knife of creativity. For the rest of us, I would beg to differ. Read full post
17th May 11
We recently ran a post asking if the junior talent in advertising are packaging themselves wrong. As we tend to do, we turned to a reader to help us answer that question after a number of very insightful comments on the post. In this case, we asked William Burks Spencer, who recently interviewed over 100 Creative Directors about what they look for in portfolios and compiled them into Breaking In, a book about creating a portfolio that will get you hired. For excerpts from the book, checkout the companion site.
Author: William Burks Spencer (@wspencer), Freelance Copywriter
Are students and juniors in advertising packaging themselves wrong? I think the answer is “most of the time, yes.” When I asked over 100 Creative Directors about what they look for in portfolios, on most topics there was a good diversity of opinion. But everyone agreed on one point: most books are pretty much the same.
Certainly a lot of it has to do with content–books all look the same because the advertising in them is the same. Often ads in student books lack strategic thinking. It is very obvious when someone jumped right into making ads without any thought as to what the business problem was, or how to solve it. Another common problem has to do with technology. Students often show executions across tons of different media including Facebook apps, iPhone apps, and more, without having a powerful idea at the core. They’re good at blowing out an idea, but not actually crafting it. But beyond just the ads, I think there is a problem and an opportunity here. Very few juniors venture outside of the normal format: 5-7 campaigns and a resume.
I think a solution can come from thinking about two things:
1. A portfolio tells a creative director “this is what I want to do”. That’s a very personal question and it gets to the heart of a student’s personality and passion. I think the reason a lot of books feel the same is that students haven’t thought about this question. They don’t have strong feelings about what they want to do so they let other people to figure it out for them. I’m not talking about “being an art director or writer”–that’s too broad. I’m talking about having a unique voice that comes through in your work. Or a strong point-of-view. Or specializing in one aspect of advertising that you love and demonstrating it. A lot of junior talent are trying to fit into what they think a creative should be, whereas Creative Directors are looking for people who know who they are.
2. A portfolio needs to make a point. It needs to make an impression on a Creative Director that stays with them. Matt Vescovo, an art director and artist, said in the book: “What’s really appropriate about the whole thing is that Creative Directors look at student books the way that consumers look at advertising.” Just as a good ad needs to leave you with a certain message or feeling, a good book should as well.
I think students need to combine these two goals and build a portfolio that demonstrates, in a memorable and original way, what kind of work they want to do.
If want to make Facebook apps and that’s what you’re good at, go for it. If you love crafting long-copy, show that. Make that your hook. It comes back to the idea of the T-shaped creative person that BBH and others use. Show what you’re good at and passionate about. And then show that you can do the other things that someone with the title you want would be expected to do. It seems like most students and juniors are afraid of planting the base of the T and the result is they end up just being an underscore.
I often tell students about a friend of mine whose student portfolio consisted of a 6-foot roll of paper. Unrolling it revealed a single campaign that he art directed 7 different ways. Think about the impact that has for a CD to see that layed out on the floor. It stands out because it is different and bold. It made the point that he’s a prolific, exacting art director who will work for as long as it takes to get it right. And he is. He works at Wieden+Kennedy in Portland.
In the book, Pat McKay, who is a freelance Creative Director in Seattle and worked at Wieden+Kennedy London with me, said that he thinks it is smart for a book to have an idea to it. Pat said he “would certainly look twice if a book came in with 100 sketches and they were all good ideas.” That book would say “I’m just going to have loads of ideas and that’s the one thing I want to leave in that person’s mind”.
Another way to package yourself differently is to get away from advertising completely. To show something else that shows your voice and personality. One of the other questions I asked everyone I interviewed was about showing this type of work–writing, art, hobbies, etc. Most Creative Directors I spoke to were interested in seeing it and it was usually those things that they could remember and talk about, years down the line.
Tony Davidson of Wieden+Kennedy London talked about a team who filmed themselves getting over a very low rail in different, often silly, ways to show that they solved problems differently. Dave Bell from KesselsKramer talked about someone who had a book called “Very, Very Short Stories” containing a hundred or more 3-line stories. Ted Royer of Droga5 talked about someone he hired who put a technical blueprint of Noah’s Ark in his book. Vince Engel of Engine Company 1 remembered someone who wrote absurd letters to companies and compiled them into a book. Those things all probably say more about a person than ads.
Your portfolio has to represent you for those precious few minutes with a Creative Director. The onus is on you to show that they can think differently than anyone else in the building. Why not make a statement? Be different. Take a stand. Demonstrate that you have the base of the T, whatever that might be. If you open the conversation, you will always have an opportunity to show that you have the broader skills at the top part of the T as well. It might feel risky, but the bigger risk is not taking one.
22nd April 11
We interview people all the time, even when we’re not hiring.
There’s no arguing that the quality of junior talent in our industry is exceptional. This is a group that’s taking a systematic approach to studying our craft, while balancing it with a pleasantly messy (as Global Planning Director, Heidi Hackemer, labeled it when screening candidates for the Barn program) mix of other interests that feed their insatiable curiosity.
Yet, there is an alarming trend about this talent. It has to do with packaging.
We look for T-shaped people when hiring. In other words, talent that’s got a specific area of awesomeness, but stretches into other areas in a highly collaborative way. This is distinct from being a hybrid talent, a label that most junior talent in our industry self-apply early into most of these conversations: “I’m a mix of strategy, creative, media and production.” True hybrid talent has more than one depth of expertise. That’s exceptionally hard (I know, I was a sub-par Media Director before being a sub-par Creative Director).
No doubt this crop of people is indeed a mix of expertise. In fact, it’s likely more true than of prior generations of ad talent. The question remains though, what arenas do they have or seek a depth of expertise in? In other words, what’s the base of the T?
No one wants to be put in a box, ourselves included. But, ultimately clients want to know what they’re buying, especially in a world of ever less familiar job titles. At BBH for example, it isn’t until clients see engagement planning as a discipline that they fully appreciate the value it brings to the table in today’s marketing landscape.
Which brings us to the punch line. The junior talent in this industry needs to remain buyable, even as they become messier and potentially more hybrid. So many talented young folks do a little bit of everything, but few are willing to commit to doing one particular thing quite well. In other words, those with the potential to truly be hybrid talent—deep skills in more than one vertical expertise—never manage to gain the depth to deliver on the promise such talent has.
Yet, it’s exactly that talent that I know every agency in the country would hand a job to right now if they were just more buyable. The question is simply, which one needs to change? The talent and how they package themselves? Or the agencies that struggle to explain their value to clients?
14th April 11
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, ShelterBox.org, 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 Shelterbox.org.
******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: