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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

  • BBH went to SXSW and this is what we found

    11th April 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Events, interactive

    Author: Ben Shaw, Social Strategy Lead, BBH London

    giphy

    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.

    TECHNOLOGY
    giphy (1)
    CREATIVITY
    tumblr_m5hyx6Nh3Z1rqx2fmo1_500
    PEOPLE
    412


  • Digital Digest, Asia Pacific – February edition

    17th February 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in technology

    We’ve enjoyed our friend Carol Ong’s digital digest out of BBH China for a good while now and it feels long overdue to share it. She has kindly agreed to cross-publish a monthly round-up of the best digital and technology stories coming out of China and Asia Pacific that she gathers at her blog. More on some broader implications to follow next month. For now, the February edition.

    Author: Carol Ong, Associate Creative Director, BBH China (@cbongga)

    Hi everyone,

    I started a Digital Digest email group last year to curate some cool stuff I find in the digital space, particularly in China and Asia. A personal project originally intended for colleagues and clients, it got good feedback, and when other people asked to be in the mailing list…. I decided to post the newer Digital Digest to a more public space, on my personal blog (warning, lots of baby pictures!).

    Mel also asked me to do a “Best of Digital Digest” on a monthly basis for BBH Labs. So here it is for this month. Happy Chinese New Year!

    Just tap this link to go directly to the Digital Digests.

    A peek into what the Chinease technology industry is like

    Last year, upcoming Chinese mobile XiaoMi made the global tech geeks sit up and notice when Android star Hugo Barra joined them. He made a presentation in Paris on the amazing potential of China. Such as: disposable income triples in the last 8 years. 122+ billionaires and lots of them in the their 40s and 50s. Ecommerce, mcommerce, mobile social media and China’s version of Pay Pal are much bigger and better than their US counterparts.

    Inline images 3

    Have you tried hailing cabs in China and none would stop even if they’re all empty? Taxi booking apps exploded in 2013. People started “bidding” for cabs, by guaranteeing tips. The biggest ones, Kuaide and Didi, are backed by Alibaba and Tencent respectively.  In 2014, you can now use WeChat to book, bid, and pay Didi!

    Inline images 2

    With the rise of mobile came the rise of GIFs. But it’s so hard to search for the right GIFs, isn’t it? Not anymore. Enter frame Giphy (pronounced as Jiffy). It’s the search engine for GIFs. Try it, search “puppies”. You’re welcome.
    Inline images 2Inline images 3
    Very good tips for online films and TVCs.

    Wechat evolves faster than a newborn baby! I believe this is the Chinese social platform with the most potential to become global (not Sina Weibo). Wechat’s reached 270million active users last November 2013, and 600 registered users. It’s the new marketing favorite and the uses seems endless. Here are some interesting ways brands used Wechat.

    See all public Digital Digests:  http://trevorxfiles.com/category/digital-digest/

    That’s all folks! See you next month!

    Carol
  • Talk Like a Tech Brand

    14th November 13

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in strategy

    Authors: Jim Carroll, Chairman & Nick Fell, Strategy Director, BBH London

    artgame

    From Art Game, by Leo Caillard

    The Marketing World is in awe of tech brands.

    It has visited the Valley, gathered at the Googleplex. It has listened to their leadership and consumed their case studies. It has invited them in for partnerships, hangouts and huddles. It has adopted their products, processes, principles and patter. It has acquired their interior design, appropriated their casual clobber.

    But has the Marketing World learned how to talk like a tech brand? Is there an underlying assumption that tech brands can teach us how to behave, but not how to communicate? An ongoing suspicion that the engineer-led cultures of tech brands don’t quite ‘get’ communication?

    We suspect the Marketing World has a long held, deep rooted belief that tech brands obsess too much about their own product and experiences; that they’re introverted.

    Tech brands may make cool products, but they’re not so hot on insights and benefits, emotions and humanity. They don’t understand empathy. And whilst tech brands revel in the complex, coded and arcane, they’re not schooled in single-mindedness and sacrifice. They don’t know how to drill down or ladder up. They may get big data, but they don’t get big ideas.

    So for all their many virtues, there’s not much the Tech World can teach the Marketing World about communication. Or so the conventional wisdom goes.

    But conventional wisdom may actually be an albatross around our necks. This same wisdom tends to create a convergent mush of mood board marketing, a farrago of facile insights and shallow lifestyle posturing. Modern brands from all sectors would do well to look properly, not just at how tech brands behave, but at how they communicate.

    Let’s consider a few themes.

    1. Pride in product

    Tech brands spend the vast majority of their time and energy in the pursuit of innovation; creating astounding products is their main obsession. There is always something new to say, whether it’s a big breakthrough or a modest upgrade. Which is why their communications are so firmly rooted in product truth.

    This might be considered old-fashioned in a world of purpose-led brand building. But it provides a refreshing break from the pseudo-insights, hyperbole and overly-elaborate ideas which fill much of today’s communications landscape.

    2. UX meets advertising

    User experience has been defined as “the totality of an end-users’ perceptions as they interact with a product or service” (Kuniavsky, 2010).

    Tech brands employ user experience design to create products which we love to use, but the influence of UX is also clear to see in how tech brands talk.

    Thinking in terms of “end-users”, not audiences, means the usability of the communication is given primary importance. The result is often a visual language which is clean, precise and with plenty of white space (more on the rise of “flat design” in Adam’s post here). Tech brands also use as few words as possible to meaningfully make the point. This type of communication is disruptive precisely because it respects our desire for space and time.

    3. Narrative through product

    Tech brands cannot rely exclusively on the elegant delivery of product truth to succeed.

    As in all other categories, communications which evoke an emotional response help brands to create affinity and preference. However, tech brands do not treat emotional and rational approaches to communications as mutually-exclusive, like oil and water. Instead they intimately combine the two; using the product as a medium to weave rich and emotionally-engaging narratives.

    For example, telling the story of a teenager building a media empire through interactions on a web browser in BBH’s Google Chrome campaign or showing a dramatic rescue through a GoPro camera attached to a fireman’s helmet.

    4. Cultural collaboration

    Conventionally, brands employ celebrities as a means to gain attention and credibility. These are often one-dimensional, transactional relationships.

    Tech brands, on the other hand, enter into genuine partnerships with individual and institutional players in culture with the aim of creating something fresh and interesting for the world to explore. Google and Arcade Fire, Samsung and David Bailey and Intel and Vice are all examples of this.

    In these relationships, both parties have a part to play; the cultural collaborator is the “cool kid” to the tech brand’s “geek” persona, bringing creativity and humanity to code and hardware.

    When the most innovative tech brands work with the foremost tastemakers, the result can be an irresistible combination of science and art, left brain and right brain, intelligence and magic.

    5. Built-in marketing

    With the previous themes, we have considered the unique way in which tech brands talk in their marketing communications.

    But tech brands are also highly skilled at building marketing directly into their products. When we use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and SnapChat, we also promote them. For example, to access my friend’s pictures on WhatsApp, I have to download the app. This built-in network effect means that WhatsApp has grown to over 350m unique monthly users, with 400m photos being shared every day. All of this without any significant marketing investment.

    So, let’s not just admire the Tech World’s innovative culture, agile processes and beautiful products. Let’s embrace their very particular perspective on communication. It’s a perspective that could perhaps lead us out of some of the cul de sacs of contemporary marketing. Whatever business we’re working with, in whatever sector, shouldn’t we all consider talking like a tech brand?

  • Why the ephemeral is here to stay

    7th August 13

    Posted by Jason Gonsalves

    Posted in Social, technology

    Snapchat's mascot Ghostface Chillah. He's a ghost.

    The many faces of Snapchat’s mascot Ghostface Chillah. He’s a ghost.

    It was a great man, Ferris Bueller to be precise, who once uttered the immortal words “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So wise and so relevant it seemed to me, as I reflected upon the phenomenon that is Snapchat. Last month, less than 2 years after launch, Snapchat raised $60m in funding on the basis of a $800m valuation from prominent VC’s. Dennis Phelps of Institutional Venture Partners gushed emphatically “The funding round was “one of the most competitive financings we have been a part of in years”. Despite the fact that they are yet to make a single dollar from advertising or charging users.

    In many ways Snapchat embodies the very essence of the ephemeral but I couldn’t help wondering if it might be a signifier of a broader trend unfolding, something more fundamental and profound. As a generation of “digital natives” grow up and look to their future, and the whole world considers the repercussions of Edward Snowden’s revelations, it appears that we are collectively reappraising our engagement with the digital world. We grow increasingly aware of our ever deepening reliance on networked technologies, the blurring of public and private space, and the changing nature of our relationships with others, and we are beginning to explore new strategies to respond.

    The Snapchat story

    The genesis of Snapchat is shrouded in claim, counter-claim and litigation, and comes complete with its own Winklevoss Twin (singular sadly). In 2011 Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy took their Stamford University classmate Reggie Brown’s idea for a self-destructing messaging service and launched the app in September 2011 that year. Since launch the user base has grown at a staggering pace despite many detractors trying to write it off as a novelty app for creative sexters. Take one look at the numbers its obvious that there’s more to it than that. Snapchat users, particularly teenagers and college kids, now share over 150 million pictures every single day, more than four times Instagram’s daily shares.

    Unquestionably authoritative graph from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2013

    Unquestionably authoritative graph from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2013

    Building the Ephemeranet

    What’s particularly interesting is that Snapchat’s unique appeal comes from restricting, rather than enabling the intrinsic connectivity of the web. It lets people share experiences with friends, but it does so in a way that is time-bound and impermanent. Nothing you send is stored, and none is searchable. A generation of users who’ve grown up immersed in the social web are beginning to realise that their intimate experiences are not only available to their friends. They are also open to would-be employers, their parents, even that girl they may want to marry someday.  According to Evan Spiegel the increasing pressure on them to manage their idealized online identity has “taken all of the fun out of communicating”. In glorious contrast, the transient and ephemeral nature of Snapchat provides a more spontaneous, less controlled or contrived way of communicating. By simplifying a security process enough to the point that anybody can use it Snapchat has created a market for privacy protecting ephemeral communication, an opportunity investment money will help them exploit further.

    Potluck vs Performance anxiety

    In July Josh Miller and the team behind Branch launched their new platform Potluck. Potluck, though very different to Snapchat, bears comparison because it also provides users with an interesting alternative to the performance anxiety of mass social interaction.

    Potluck, not another social network, honest

    Potluck, not another social network, honest

    Potluck is essentially a link-sharing network built on top of a users’ social connections from Twitter, Facebook and Gmail. But unlike many of today’s social networks the focus is not on having users craft an online persona, but rather on the content being shared. Links shared on Potluck aren’t accompanied by people’s names or avatars, only the topic or name of the link, and the number of your friends who are talking about it. Instead of worrying about how popular your posts are, or how interesting you look because of what you share, you can focus on more genuine conversations around the subjects that really matter to you. The performance anxiety is gone, making it more accessible for everyone. As Miller explains “The whole reason we took the time to even focus on Potluck, is because we really do want to empower the people who are not having conversations to have conversations.”

    Free to browse anonymously

    If Edward Snowden and his revelations about the NSA’s PRISM programme have taught us anything (other than to beware of transit in Moscow airport) it is that our digital click-stream is an open book ready to be read by anyone with the computing power and inclination to sift through the meta-data.

    Psychedelic and highly informative Project Prism visual

    Psychedelic and highly informative Project Prism visual

    The involvement of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google in the US spying programme has given an unexpected boost to lesser know search rival DuckDuckGo whose search requests have almost doubled to over 3million a day in the last month alone. DuckDuckGo provides ‘private’ internet searches which means that it does not track users in the same way that the big listed above do. It does serve Google-like ads, but without the customisation.

    Paranoia proves good for business

    Paranoia proves good for business

    As founder Gabriel Weinberg explained, DuckDuckGo chose not to store search data because it reveals so much about us. Search data, he says, “is arguably the most personal data people are entering into anything. You’re typing in your problems, your desires. It’s not the same as things you post publicly on a social network.” Having decided that searching is intimately personal, he deduced, rather presciently that governments would want to get hold of search data. “I looked at the search fiascos such as the 2006 AOL data release, and decided that government requests were real and would be inevitable, and that search engines and content companies would be handing over that data [to government] in increasing amounts.”

    Whilst DuckDuckGo’s numbers are hardly going to keep Googlers up at night this trend is illustrative of the growing recognition of the need to take control of the public availability of our browsing histories. Whilst DuckDuckGo’s entire premise is predicated on anonymity, “Incognito browsing” is of course a standard feature in Chrome, and similar features have since been adopted by Firefox and IE. Providing anonymous browsing may seem like a counterintuitive move for Google given their business model, but by giving users control over their anonymity on the most sensitive sites these features are more likely to reduce cookie deletion rates, thereby increasing the ability to target ads, thereby increasing revenues.

    Military grade encryption from the App store

    For those wanting the next level of privacy look no further than Wickr, created by Nico Sell, security expert and long-time organiser of Hacker convention Defcon. Wickr is a serious security-focused app that uses “military-grade” encryption to send text, video, voice, and document files that can self-destruct after a given period of time.

    And why exactly do you need military grade encryption?

    And why exactly do you need military grade encryption?

    Hospitals and law enforcement have expressed interest in a similarly functioning Android app, Gryphn.  Encryption legend Phil Zimmerman, inventor of Pretty Good Privacy or PGP, an encryption system so powerful that its distribution was once classified as arms dealing by the US government, is also developing an exciting and powerful suite of communication apps through his company Silent Circle. They are not for “average” users, but they will provide massive improvements in security for business and serious individuals who are looking for it.

    So what does it all mean?

    “Life is once, forever and new all the time” Henri Cartier-Bresson

    The Web 2.0 evangelists proselytised the benefits of a new era where we are all publishers. The Social Web enabled us to harness not just the wisdom of the crowd but the wisdom of our friends. Every moment, every memory of our lives effortlessly shared through our ‘feeds’ creating a permanent, public, searchable and socially verified record of our lives. And why? Because we could. But sometimes “Because we could” isn’t reason enough. Without serendipity we grow stale and predictable. Without spontaneity we deny the authenticity of our human response. Without our privacy where is there space for intimacy or dissent?

    Once opened this Pandora’s box cannot simply be closed, nor would we want it to be. But there is an alternative.  Snapchat’s self-destructing pictures are fun, but they are more than that. They are fleeting glimpse of what we crave, the means to put us back in control. Providing us with a most important ability in this networked age, the means to disconnect.

     

     

     

  • Technology in 2013: The Year of the Real World Web

    16th January 13

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in technology

    This post was originally published as an article, ‘The Year Ahead For Technology‘, which appeared in Campaign magazine’s first edition of the year last week, 10.01.13.

    Image: Aram Bartholl, 'Map' (public installation)

    We may have spent the past few years fretting and fetishising about the time we spend online vs offline, but here’s the good news: 2013 is going to be the year we relax a little. We’ll get over the novelty of social sharing online and just accept it, distracted instead by the utility and magic revealed when ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ worlds start to merge. The physical world becomes properly programmable. The physical web comes into its own.

    If there has been a meta creative goal of technology over the past decade or so, I’d wager it is to create online experiences that inch closer to feeling viscerally real; to strive for a ‘real world standard’, if you will. Cast your mind back to Second Life ten years ago, all the way through to the interactive 3D graphics made possible by Web GL today and the steady advances in virtual reality gaming, now being applied to healthcare. Within multiple industries fuelled by technology, there’s a fascination with mirror worlds and visceral experiences. And disappointment when they don’t quite measure up to the hype (goodbye then, Second Life).

    But what if we flip things for a moment: think about putting the web into the physical world, rather than trying to mimic the physical world online?There are a collection of reasons why the physical web’s time has come. Forget QR codes. Witness the leap Augmented Reality made with the announcement of Google’s heads up glasses, which justifiably caused a stir in 2012. Then add the emergence of the Internet of Things and Quantified Self into mainstream tech culture, as two sides to the same digital coin:

    1. Quantified Self looks at the physical web through a human lens.
    An expression coined by Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf five years ago, it’s about self-tracking your performance – often via wearable, digital tools that collect and report how well you’re doing – with applications for health & fitness, finance, productivity, education, mobility and more.

    2. The Internet of Things looks at the physical web through the lens of objects.
    Coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999, it refers to connected sensors embedded in objects making them machine-readable and artificially intelligent – with giant consequences for everything from stock taking to security, architecture to art. A year ago Cisco calculated there were already more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the planet.

    And we’re seeing brands back up the promise of both, with self-tracking services like Fitbitand Nike’s Fuelband breaking into the mainstream, whilst IoT services are emerging, likeLockitron, which remotely locks or opens your front door (never worry about losing your keys again) and Growerbot, which uses sensors to monitor moisture, light and temperature in your garden and water when needed.

    Why now?
    Solid broadband and smartphone penetration, super-fast mobile broadband, an expanding free WiFi network in the UK and the emergence of services like the ones above are together creating perfect conditions for the emergence of what might be called a ‘real world web’. Even Search is transforming, as Google puts it, to “things, not strings.” Their Knowledge Graph, introduced in May this year, aims “to understand real world entities and their relationships to one another” and already contains close to 600 million. “Search now understands that the Taj Mahal is a building, but also a music band, a casino and a bunch of restaurants.” Then there’s Apple’s Siri and now Google Now for Android; essentially predictive, personalised search on the move, although that barely does it justice.

    The rise of the networked brand
    What about brands in this context? All this powering up in technological terms and blurring between real & virtual worlds simply underlines why brands in any category need to grasp the value of operating in a network.

    A few things worth considering now:
    - If your physical product had a digital layer, what would it be?
    - What physical, live or exclusive experience can you give to your network to share?
    - Are you thinking about ‘views’ or subscribers? If you’re serious about content marketing to connected users, it’s the latter.
    - As users flip between devices on the fly, they’ll expect a seamless experience: are you designing responsively?

    What happens next?
    Beyond this year, we will need common protocols enabled by an open web for this to work at scale. Businesses to watch in the meantime: SmartthingsPlace Me (a “persistent ambient sensing” mobile app that collects all the sensory data imaginable) and Esri (formerly Geoloqi, a next gen location app). In short, our ‘phones will pick up so much real world, ambient data we won’t need to look further. To paraphrase Esri’s Amber Case: “Think what SMS did for telephones”…

    Welcome to the Real World Web.

  • Homeless Hotspots: Where We Go From Here

    26th March 12

    Posted by Saneel Radia

    Posted in sxsw

    When we started planning for SXSW, we could not have anticipated that our idea for a four-day philanthropic project to update the street newspaper model would spark such a widespread debate.  The volume of the response to this program has reinforced our ongoing commitment to this issue, and the feedback has helped us explore the ways in which we can draw attention to it, support it, and effect change.

    Homeless Hotspots has connected us with representatives of some of the nation’s leading advocacy groups and street newspaper organizations with whom we are beginning to have conversations about the challenges facing the current street newspaper model and ideas for overcoming these challenges with technology and innovation.  In many ways, we owe these connections and the future of this program to those at front lines of this issue, like Mitchell Gibbs at Front Steps in Austin, Mark Horvath of invisiblepeople.tv, and writer Becky Blanton who spoke at TED about her time being homeless.

    Where we go from here is directly tied to how we wrestle with some complicated issues that any street newspaper attempting to deploy change will have to answer for themselves – issues we’ve come to sharply appreciate amidst all the debate. Our aim is to partner closely with these groups to utilize the lessons and best practices learned from this experience. Based on conversations to date, our shared goal is a sustainable model that continues to bring homeless people entrepreneurial opportunities that challenge stereotypes, derive purpose and create meaningful interactions with society.

    While street newspapers are facing the same challenges as many other traditional media outlets, there are a number of more complicated issues that need to be addressed.  We’ve outlined the salient ones below.

    1. Quantifying an acceptable level of provocation in the name of the cause. One of the big discussion points from Homeless Hotspots was the line “I’m a hotspot” on the t-shirts, a line we too debated internally before and during the program.  The goal of the t-shirt was to create a marketing material that was provocative enough to get message-bombarded festival attendees to actually stop and speak with a homeless person – to spark a human connection and a conversation with a person who is often treated as invisible.  Thus, the humanity of the project lived in the actual conversation between the Hotspot Manager and their customer. But what about the potentially negative reaction to that message by some that didn’t stop (or who simply weighed in from afar via the web)? It was many in this group that created a wave of negative sentiment online. While the participants in the program saw the shirts as an ideal social lubricant on the streets, the message took on new meaning when it spread online.

    Any entrepreneurial sales venture for the homeless must be carefully designed.  The newspaper organization basically works like a franchisor responsible for distributing materials to franchisees, but it must also work like a social service. This balance varies widely from organization to organization and is a complicated role for social enterprise. You want to help homeless participants (i.e., the franchisees), but you don’t want to do so at the expense of the cause itself.

    2. Understanding the potential for partnership with a profit-driven company or brand. Because BBH is in the business of marketing and advertising, it was assumed early on that Homeless Hotspots was endorsed by a marketer. We fully funded the initiative and purchased the pocket-sized MiFi devices from Verizon just as any customer would, yet the reaction to the false reports of brand endorsement is an important one to explore.  Many found the idea that a brand would employ homeless individuals to be offensive, while others said they’d support a brand initiative if it provided an employment opportunity. Of course, when people realized the partner was actually a local homeless shelter and that proceeds went directly to the individual Hotspot Manager, the sentiment was widely positive.

    Before SXSW, we talked about how the long-term viability of a program like Homeless Hotspots would require bringing on a partner that could help financially support it. The costs of the technology and data usage for a program of this nature are significant, making the model difficult to scale beyond a short festival.  A brand partner would have the resources to underwrite the costs of an ongoing effort, incentivized by the promotion of its technology; meanwhile, a social enterprise would have stronger public endorsement, but would be challenged to fund such a venture. The potential problem we saw was that when a social enterprise brings on a corporate partner, perceptions change. Emotionally, the social enterprise simply becomes enterprise for some. For others, the opposite is true.  Street newspapers and homeless entrepreneurial efforts looking to share costs will have to decide where they fall on that spectrum and choose any partners wisely.

    3. Determining the importance of content creation by participants. Where Homeless Hotspots differed most from an actual street paper is that the participants were not selling content they created (although it’s commonly misunderstood just how few of the homeless individuals that sell the papers actually create the content). Serving original content to a user upon log-in to a MiFi device is surprisingly complicated if you don’t manufacture the device yourself (thus we directed users to homelesshotspots.org for further information upon activating a connection).

    There is an opportunity to create a more content-rich model for street newspapers and homeless entrepreneurs moving forward, especially as it relates to drawing attention to the causes of homelessness and prevailing stereotypes.  For example, Hotspot Manager Jonathan is a talented musician, and there could be an opportunity to use the personal and web connectivity to draw attention to his talent, such as directing customers to a site promoting his music.  The Hotspot Managers were also full of local expertise that could add more value to their conversations and connections (John Bird sees this as the future of street newspapers, which he invented when he founded The Big Issue). The absence of such content leaves a void.

    The question remains whether or not consumers of the product value that content though. Looking at our own data (difficult to extrapolate from due to the extraordinarily large number of media impressions Homeless Hotspots received, which led to a disproportionate number of donations from non-users), it’s unclear how much the utility of the service vs. philanthropic impulse drove purchase. This is hard to come to terms with if you are a commercial enterprise. How can a business be a degree removed from its product? That sounds potentially negative, but we’ve left with mixed opinions on the matter. After all, the Hotspot Managers were still able to raise almost $4,000, even though the first 2 days of sales were extremely depressed by rain. If purchases were only about actual connectivity, the rain would have made Homeless Hotspots a financial failure for the participants.

    What’s important is that the model moving forward must balance entrepreneurial opportunity, with supporting meaningful content and fostering personal interactions.  Our data implies it was hearing an individual’s story (many times not even first-hand) that led to someone donating. This particular phenomenon in Underheard in NY already got us to rethink non-profits last year, and it’s especially important for social enterprise. Non-profits fighting homelessness don’t just want to help homeless populations, they want to stop homelessness altogether.  But in many cases, customers of street newspapers seem solely focused on helping the individual in front of them. In a world where a homeless person sells a product without content, the one-on-one social interactions are their only opportunities for expression. Luckily, those conversations help overcome stereotypes (the 13 Homeless Hotspots participants had hundreds of conversations in just four days), but only if someone is provoked to stop and listen. Which brings us right back to issue #1.

    We’ll keep everyone updated once we’ve identified which partner(s) we’ll be working with in future developments. We’re genuinely excited by the amount of interest from street papers around the world to collaborate on addressing the digitization of media. In the meantime, we can only hope the conversation around homelessness doesn’t step back into the darkness as the media circus winds down. You can certainly do your part by supporting organizations like our partner Front Steps. Even small donations can go a long way in helping them overcome their daily challenges long after conference attendees have left.

    UPDATE (April 30, 2012): We are working with StreetWise, the largest street paper in the US deal with numerous modernization issues, including many of those outlined above. For more details, you can read the follow-up post.

  • Dreams from the land of Geektopia

    23rd March 12

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in sxsw

    or

    How I went to Austin expecting to learn about browsers and came back wanting to change the world.

    Author: Agathe Guerrier, Strategy Director, BBH & BBH Labs


    I went to SXSW for the first time this year, with the firm intention to learn about UX, data visualization trends, and new, exciting browser features. As I landed in Austin, I couldn’t wait to find out more about the native vs. web-based apps debate.

    In reality, although clearly there WAS a lot of talk of browsers and coding languages and apps, I  found myself confronted with a much more fundamental subject: that of meaning and purpose. More than acquire new knowledge, I was filled with new enthusiasm (and a little bit of concern) about the task that lies at hand – basically, redefining the rules of our economic, political and societal framework. Rethinking the world. Yup. Something that we need (the creative and tech community) need to take part in for two reasons: because the last 10 years have demonstrated the need for a new paradigm, and because the growing importance of technology in our world, means it now intersects significantly with world views, beliefs, and ethics.

    Take the “Skynet vs. Mad Max: Battle for the Future” dual session (by our very own Mel and Jeremy). It drew a parallel between the small, apparently benign technology choices we make today as consumers, and the future of the human species. Who imagined that buying an iPhone represented a leap towards a world where individual identity would be reduced to one login, one identity, one self, the scary simplicity of this system ultimately leading to totalitarianism? It’s removed, but not far-fetched.

    Tim O’Reilly, in his fantastic “Create More Value than you Capture” discussion with Andrew Mcafee, made a powerful case for embedding social good and genuine value(s) in all businesses. He pointed to a brilliantly obvious truth: it’s enthusiasm and passion that fuel creativity, not greed. For the sake of the social equilibrium that it depends upon, the objective of a business can not simply be profit, it has to create value for society at large, as well as for itself.

    Ben Silbermann (CEO and co-founder of Pinterest) took part in a Q&A session with Christopher Dixon and kept surprising us with disarmingly candid answers to “hard-nosed” questions. When asked what product feature he was most excited about developing, he answered it was his team, because “your team should be the most interesting product you’re building”. A few minutes later, brushing away a question about whether he was concerned by the various attempts to copy or rip off Pinterest, he explained that their effort went into improving the product and making it the best it could be, not preventing others to imitate it. In his eyes, success comes from putting all your efforts into making your product and experience brilliant, and if others copy you, it probably means you’ve got it right.

    And finally, against a backdrop of high risk, economic worries and general breakdown, I was surprised at how optimistically confused Bruce Sterling’s Ultimate talk left us all.  He forecasted a move away from the chaotic “internet” and towards vertical stacks or platforms like Google, Amazon, or Facebook (more organized, less messy – an echo to the Skynet vs. Mad Max talk and its crowd-sourced prediction of Skynet’s victory)… but also the ulterior demise of stacks.

    He didn’t say what they would be replaced with, but this legendary cynic seemed pretty optimistic about the ability of the interactive community to make sense of the “augmented, ubiquitous, post-stack future”.

    In building this uncertain “new world”, we might find inspiration in community-based, generous value creation models like Kickstarter, Airbnb, or Task Rabbit (which were unanimously praised as the most inspirational things to have happened in the last 5 years).

    But there is still a lot of work at hand, especially for our industry, in translating the inspiration from Geektopia  into actionable ethics for the world of brands…

    In the spirit of starting small, here are three things I’m going to start or do more of:

    1. 1. Get rid of any obsession with single-mindedness, and make sure to respect people’s intelligence by recognizing that “There is not one You”, as Christopher Poole pointed out
    2. 2. Broaden the definition  of “Business objective” to entail the creation of value and values for consumers and society at large, not just profit for the company
    3. 3. Behave more generously everyday, by building great teams and empowering them to create and make even greater things
  • Tech interns, we need you.

    28th October 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in BBH Labs, People

    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.

    With one very special project, we’re ready to begin the making and we’re going to spend the next three months doing just that.  Which is why we we’d like some inspirational new talent to come and intern with us in London to help out.  We are embarking on a project with Rails and MongoDB on the backend and HTML5 on the front.  We would expect you to have previous projects using these, and if you are confident with CoffeeScript, Sass and Javascript game engines (craftyjs, gameQuery, renderEngine,) you’ll enjoy the coding even more.  We are managing source code with git on GitHub, so prepare your branching and merging skills too!

    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 **labs.intern@bartleboglehegarty.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!

  • Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence Into Magic

    3rd June 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Books

    “Do not go gentle into that good night, but rage against the dying of the light”
    ~ Dylan Thomas, quoted in Hegarty in Advertising

    Sir John’s book, “Hegarty on Advertising”, goes on sale on Monday.

    He would be first person to say this is no ‘how-to’ manual, but rather his own story: packed with no holds barred opinion, behind the scenes anecdotes and strongly held principles to work by. There’s no crystal ball gazing, instead a distillation of what he’s learned in 45 years in the business. As such we found it a dose in humility for the here and now: a grip on history that, as ever, sets the future in context.

    Despite his protestation this isn’t a manual, several ideas and themes emerge that have a hell of a lot to teach the rest of us: what makes a successful start-up, the humanization of the workplace, how to approach technology and stay abreast of innovation, the role of difference and ‘creative destruction’, the impact of globalization, why ideas matter and more.

    We asked him to shed a little more light on some of these themes. In doing so, we thought we’d see if we could put one of his most firmly held views to the test; his belief that “words are a barrier to communication”. We have no idea if this is going to work, but here goes – our first interview response without words.

    What do you mean by “creative destruction”?

    “Creativity isn’t an occupation, it’s a pre-occupation” – can you explain what you mean by this?

    If you started an agency today, what would it be like?

    Is there a single piece of work you think defines you?

    Where do you look for inspiration?

    You say the way creative thinking gets deployed “will always be a continually moving target.. to nail your colours to any particular medium or technology will sow the seeds of your destruction”. So how should we engage with technology?

    And, finally, you say you can’t name all the people you’d like to thank, but if there had to be one (okay, perhaps a couple), who would it be?

    Sketches are by Sir John Hegarty

    For more about the book: www.hegartyonadvertising.com

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