Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’
13th June 11
Posted in Participation
Last week kicked off another session of The Barn, BBH NY’s 10-week internship program. The Barn brings in 6 interns, divides them into two teams and has them compete on a 3-word creative brief (last session’s was “Do good, famously” but we can’t tell you this one just yet).
It’s a fantastic program, run by Heidi Hackemer, Dane Larsen and Jordan Kramer. As I work with my new team (I’m the Advisor for Team Moose*), I’m reminded of how such a program broadens our agency’s thinking as much as it does the interns’.
My team last session had a fantastic idea to give 4 homeless men a voice via Twitter as part of a project called Underheard. That experience made me fundamentally rethink the role non-profits play in a world where motivated audiences self-organize and work (a theme we’ve discussed before).
In fact, Underheard showed me the limitations inherent to straight-forward marketing by non-profits. Generally, their missions—and resulting communication—are highly focused. Take, for instance, the mission statements of two of my favorite non-profits here in the US.
Feeding America: “Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.”
National Resource Defense Council: “We use law, science and the support of 1.3 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.”
Both organizations are clear not only in what they want to achieve, but also their means: food banks and legal action, respectively.
This fairly typical behavior makes it clear and easy for me to engage. Their cause is established. If I choose to support any cause, I’ll do so via an organization that uses the means I believe most effective. So of course a non-profit should outline the micro-actions I can take as a concerned citizen to help, right?
I’m no longer convinced that’s the only solution. Underheard (not an organization of any kind, to be explicitly clear) was simply a platform for homeless individuals. It didn’t specifically ask people to donate, nor did it edit what happened (when giving homeless individuals a voice, it should be no surprise some of what we heard fell outside of anything an organization would ever endorse). Nonetheless, people regularly contacted the interns to help the four men in ways they deemed best. At one point, someone in Australia paid for 2 transit tickets Albert (one of the four Tweeters) received. Those tickets totaled $200, beyond any reasonable amount Albert could have gathered on his own. Similarly, Danny was offered help to write his story by someone in Wisconsin. This desire to tell his story was something he brought up a few times including at the very outset of being selected for the project. Neither of these were ever explicit requests. In fact, financial help was offered regularly, but no one ever said they’d like to donate generally. Every financial offering was tied to a specific individual and incident. The offer was never $200. It was to pay for those daunting tickets. The offer wasn’t to fund a book; it was to help write it.
It seems people will determine the appropriate means of contributing if the right system is in place. In this case, the only pieces required were a platform to communicate (pre-paid phones to tweet from) and someone spreading the word. It’s similar to how a free-to-use site like Craigslist can turn commerce upside down via collaborative consumption. Craigslist never set out to extend the life of products or help communities consume more efficiently; it just happened to be the platform on which such consequences transpire.
All of this opened my mind to a new possibility. Could a non-profit exist simply as a platform for those that may need help with no instructions or systems in place to actually help? Sure, a number of organizations already use social media to push their causes and seek help, but they are generally speaking to existing supporters– and they’re outlining what they need. Could an extremely low-cost platform serve solely as scaffolding to let people connect their own solutions to narratives told by people in need?
Currently, people in need use the internet to ask for help all the time, but to a very limited audience. Their best-case scenario is having their need adopted by a cause that will help them. But what about all those people that could decide how to help without an organization outlining how? Is there a scalable solution between being a collection of individuals in need and being a formal organization requiring funds to operate? Could a platform that simply makes voices heard but doesn’t actually have an agenda successfully exist? Perhaps it’s a Craigslist-meets-Kickstarter-meets-Twitter for people to tell stories in a culture that is clearly intended to seek assistance, but in no specified fashion. The possibilities seem pleasantly ambiguous and endless.
Now, that may be the dumbest idea ever. That’s not the point. The point is how much my mind was opened by people with limited resources and experience answering an open-ended brief.
The point is intern inspiration.
I can’t wait to see what this new group of interns does. No matter what they do, I’m sure I’ll be inspired in some way. That’s a fantastic investment for any company to make.
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: