What if Advertising Was Invented Today?

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Digital strategy, social strategy, mobile strategy, media strategy, content strategy. Why are marketing disciplines being siloed making everything really complex when in fact it doesn’t need to be? It is always great when someone manages to comes along and have a solution to this problem in three slides. This great talk from PJ Pereira (from the agency Pereira & O’Dell who did the award winning Intel Beauty Inside campaign) talks about how agencies of the future need to look at a new model to create successful work for clients.

When you look at the essence of what an entire agency does there are three functions that we are putting our brain to work on:

  1. Story – what is the story we want people to associate with our brand and our product? This can work in a 30 second film, a single photo in a magazine, a video game or a feature film but there is always a story element to it
  2. The Applications – these are things we want people to do – whether we build an ecommerce site, a real store or a game there is often something we create for the consumer to do something with
  3. Distribution – finally how do you get these stories and applications in front of the right people in the fastest cheapest and most interesting way to get close to the consumer? (paid media, doing PR, etc).

When we look at creativity in this way it starts to feel easy for people from a PR agency or a media guy or a brand planner or a social strategist to work together rather than going off individually and working up something in their “specialism” which leads to completely disjointed work.

If you take the above framework people can start to see themselves as a single team. It is about combining integrated technique and skill sets not jumping straight channels and format.

He ended his talk by saying we all need to think like a marketer, behave like an entertainer and move like a tech start up.

Think like a marketer: Remember we are solving real problems. We are helping companies grow. Our work always has a goal.

Behave like an entertainer: One of the most important things nowadays is to keep people’s attention – the moment you lose it the moment that person is looking at a competitor (this is fundamentally different to buying people’s time knowing we have their attention) so creative work has to up its game to get noticed.

Move like a tech start up: Be aware of everything that is going on and learn how to prototype ideas and put them into the market. Listen to consumers. Are they participating? Are they interacting? Are they using our applications we build? How do we refine them? Use them as part of the research and keep experimenting.

This approach is daunting. It is new. It is exciting but scary. Everyone is a beginner again. Most agencies will be too scared to do it and will still preserve the same structures they had 20 years ago. It may work but it won’t last forever.

 

Our Reward System is more complicated than we think

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(Image courtesy of Emily Blincoe)

I was reading an article from the Guardian on my bus ride home whilst shoving mini eggs into my mouth. I am not one to just have half a bag of anything when it comes to chocolate so when I read this it felt quite relevant to the action at the time. Aside from my mundane chocolate eating habits, all this stuff is really bloody interesting. I think brands can learn a lot from science in advertising (not everything) as also herd mentality comes into it too I know but it made me think.

This article was saying that rewards are when neurochemicals make us feel good in response to stimulus – we go back for more to obtain more

But it seems rewards are two pronged – wanting and liking.

Studies show that to actively want something we require dopamine in our brain, where as liking something (the pleasure part) is something separate – i.e. even if we think we don’t want something sweet when sweetness is administered we still like it. (This was proved in lots of experiments with rats).

Of course the two are closely entwined – we naturally learn we want foods by having liked them. But they don’t always work in tandem

What is also interesting is that many scientists had assumed that liking and wanting (dopamine) would have equal influence, but it turns out that the the hedonic pleasure hotspots are tiny. Pleasure, has “a much smaller and fragile brain basis” than wanting. This clever guy in the article adds “that’s why the intense pleasures in life are less frequent and less sustained than intense desires in life”. This imbalance has existed throughout most of evolutionary history, and that the domination of wanting ensures we find the things we need.

A key use for this knowledge may make us think about the way brands communicate…if wanting is more powerful than liking – how do we create any kind of desire for brands? I think we probably need to work on being brands which attract audiences rather than chasing the whole time. If we constantly chase why would anyone desire us? Think about the old saying  “we always want the things we can’t have”. Why won’t brands think about this a bit more rather than constantly trying to chat us up on social media or target us to death online and do something a bit more desirable….

Brands which attract are those which understand who they are, have a clear purpose and continuously demonstrate that brand purpose through every single touchpoint. NOT just one off campaigns with a meaningless proposition. From their packaging to their customer service to their internal comms to the tiny small print on that email they send to you.

YouTube Film Hack

I recently got involved in the YouTube film hack which you can read about here. It was a pretty good opportunity to meet other agencies, play around with the platform and answer a meaningful brief. The brief was to raise awareness of the Migraine Trust and all the great work they have been doing whilst trying to educate everyone about the serious effect migraines can cause in sufferers’ lives. I was pretty shocked when I found out migraines have more economic impact than heart disease – yet there is still so much stigma attached to a migraine as being ‘just a headache’.

Our team were really pleased to win! Here is the final video:

(Note: we were judged on our skippable pre-roll i.e. how could we try and encourage as many people to not skip as well as the film itself)

The Pre-roll

The film itself

And here’s the ‘making of’ film

5×5

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This image felt relevant for the type of mood I am feeling. A little dreamy, a little uncertain yet happy at the same time. Things are going to change next week. We are moving to Charlotte Street to work as the digital department at Saatchi & Saatchi. So Outside Line will be saying goodbye to Exmouth Market and hello to a new area with a new name. It is a bit like starting a new job again but not quite as daunting as the position remains largely the same and you move in a big clump rather than on your own.

It should be good. I have been working with them for a while now on some projects and they all seem like a lovely bunch. Merging companies can always be a bit weird at first and I am sure there will be very good things happening and more uncomfortable things to get through too. But that is change I suppose.

Last week I hosted a presentation with two other members from the agency called 5×5. These sessions are to inspire the agency on all the new and interesting things which are taking place in the world of marketing, technology and people’s lives and hopefully be used as a creative reference for the agency.

We are going to record all our references on a dedicated tumblr here to try to be of use to those that couldn’t make it.

The first one went well, I shall post some of the things that I spoke about on here too but in a bit more detail soon. It was nice to stare out at my new work colleagues thinking I haven’t a clue who you are yet but you all seem quite nice. I wonder who I will get along with, who I might just pass in the corridor and hardly ever speak to just smile when I see them, who I will speak to whilst making my tea and doing silly dances around the fridge to get the milk out which has just been put away, who I will spend long hours with in meetings. I wonder if anyone will really annoy me or more importantly if anyone will make me change my mind and perception on things. Whatever the future holds I am looking forward to it.

What’s happening in 2013?

Creativity Fluid

The surgical attachment to our phones isn’t going anywhere
A brand trying to reaching people who are stuck to their mobiles 24/7 is quite tricky – it has to be a really compelling offer for us to take any notice

Choose your channels wisely
There are no set platforms any more – delivering messages is harder and constantly evolving as new tech emerges. That said the emotive nature and scale of TV and cinema is not going anywhere yet. Our viewing behaviour is changing which means opportunities with VOD will keep going up.

Simple, beautiful stories
Story telling is still important but with the fragmentation of media they must be Simple and beautiful

Beware for content puke!
We will see a rise in urban spam – content everywhere, on every screen demanding out attention. If it is good is may get a glimpse but most will be largely ignored. Being relevant, entertaining or useful is crucial to cut through

Mobile and the shopper experience
Shopper marketing will get interesting with the data and mobile advances to get clever and interrupt people’s journeys in store

You snooze you lose
Brands that don’t react to the speed of culture will die. Brands that keep moving, keep adapting, are nimble and flexible and do things quickly will survive.

If adland had a to do list for 2013 it would be:

#1 Educate and inspire clients to demonstrate digital can be at the core of an idea (not just matching luggage)
#2 Employ more makers in an agency
#3 Make user journeys and brand experiences simple to follow
#4 Be quicker – react fast
#5 Do one brave thing for your client

Lego for Adults!

Technology will Save Us (TWSU) is a brilliant organisation which exists to educate and enable people to make and experiment creatively with technology. Their philosophy is all about showing people how to produce, not just consume technology. Their workshops allow you to buy some arduino kit at each session (or bring your own) to be able start to build and create little devices. I explained to my Dad who wasn’t  familiar with arduino that it is a bit like lego for adults, although now having attempted to use it I would say it is a tiny bit more complicated than that but the enjoyment of building and connecting objects is equally or more thrilling!

I am definitely guilty of not having a true understanding of how simple bits of technology work. After seeing some brilliant projects exploring what Russell termed ‘the internet of things’ a while back like this and this I think it is time to start trying out my own projects too. Many  of us don’t really have a clear understanding of how the future will look and feel because of a lack of understanding about how technology really works and how it will affect our lives.

I am sure if we do, we can come up with some interesting solutions for brands that we may have not initially considered possible. As a creative industry we cannot make the mistake to just attribute these projects to the ‘techies in the corner who know how to do all that coding stuff’ (not that it is all about coding). Another company LittleBits recently launched in New York urging the education system to take electronics seriously which highlights this is not just important for ad land, but also important to teach young people about applying this thinking in art, design and music where the boundaries are becoming blurred when creating and developing new ideas with technology.

So I went along to a TWSU introductory course to start to try to get to grips with this stuff. My aim is to learn and develop my understanding of basic coding and Arduino to be able to experiment with concepts and ideas myself.

I read a great piece from a guy in Wired who explained why it is important to do this in a far more succinct way, he said we all need a higher TQ – technology quotient – to adapt to rapidly changing technological conditions.

Technology will shape us as much as we shape it and it will be interesting to understand how to shape it. Oh and this quote helps too if you are interested in having a go:

“Once people have cleared the initial hurdle of experimenting with new technologies or behaviours, the barrier to repeating them is lowered as they have a clearer understanding of the benefits, and the confidence to use them again. We expect to see more evidence of these sorts of behaviours in the future.” 

I am working developing some arduino projects with my sister who is an artist/designer/film expert about to embark on an MA at Chelsea Art School where the lines between technology and art are becoming more and more blurred. We have set up a tumblr to record any useful bits and bobs dedicated to this area. It is here  and here is our twitter too. Do follow us!

 

What I found really fascinating was watching how a piece of Arduino kit placed in the hands of architects, artists and designers and even dentists (I sat next to a dentist who was interested in Arduino after he had seen a TED talk on it and wanted to find out more – he ended up picking it up ridiculously fast) had different interpretations and ideas to solve a problem. Each person making and re-imagining gadgets and devices in a different way ends up being a lot of fun!

 

First box of kit

 

@victoriatrinder learning to code using the Arduino software

Success – making two LEDs flash!

Berg’s Charming Disruption

We hold ‘planning brain food sessions’ at DDB where planners from TribalDDB and DDB get together to discuss ideas, work and industry news. A while ago now, I spoke about the debate about the possible futures of media. We discussed Russell Davies’ morbid forecast which he wrote at the beginning of 2011 for the Observer. He discussed a future of aggressive media messages plastered on every surface we see, each one fighting for our attention – a headache from all the brightly lit cheap screens which will start to intrude on us in our lives. Berg’s ‘incidental media’ videos on the other hand, explore the future with media in a less sinister, positive light. They picture a possibility of media being able to travel on surfaces unobtrusively playfully and charmingly sitting in the background our lives. This is a future where ubiquitous computing has been able to reach an age of ‘calm technology’ as Mark Weiser proposed in the 80s. A much friendlier future with media, one where as he put it ‘technology recedes into the background of our lives’.

Since this discussion I have been following Berg’s blog quite closely as they experiment with new ways to play with digital through physical things. Their latest creation named ‘The Little Printer’ made me smile for most of the day. The new experiment is a palm-sized printer (with hands and legs and a smile) which prints out the digital activity you value. Partners include the Guardian and Facebook. It prints out your preferences on a slip of paper, the size of a receipt. This invention naturally generated debate and comments in the agency, ‘it is fun’, ‘it is too niche’, ‘it is great but what’s the point, I have my phone to do that’, ‘yes but would you really buy this?’. All valid comments.

After this discussion I was advised to read this in relation to the idea of the Little Printer which made me like what it stood for even more now. It is the fact that The Little Printer turns the future of the ‘finger swipe’ on its head. It points to a future where the interface doesn’t have to be a screen. In fact this rant argues that a future of screens is far from visionary. A future with screens ignores our capability of being able to manipulate objects without even realising we are doing it, it ignores the feelings we get from touching and playing with physical objects. The finger swipe stifles creativity. Ok, our future may not be full of Little Printers but it could be something which enables us to be more expressive with our hands and body than a flat surface?

The Little Printer would certainly fit with Weiser’s vision of quiet, calm communication. It allows a person to see the content which resonates with them personally. They could stick this content on the fridge, leave it on someone’s desk, use it as a book mark. Acting like a personal filter for the chaotic web on paper, the Little Printer presents the parts of the web which only really value anyway. I doubt very much we would get a headache from this smiling machine.I will end with this great quote from a journalist at CoDesign which  struck me the most:

“I imagined setting it on my nightstand next to my alarm clock, tearing off my little “mini-newspaper” in the morning–a much more physically satisfying interaction, perhaps, than rotely grabbing my smartphone and pecking at Twitter”