December 19, 2013

The writing’s on the wall

Ad agency BETC Paris faced a dilemma when it decided to locate its new headquarters in a building that had been abandoned since 2004, but also happened to be a mecca for street artists from around the world. The solution is Graffiti Général, an immersive 3-D digital tour of the Magasins Généraux as it stood on the eve of destruction, including detailed information on over 40 of the artworks and artists. It is the biggest building surface ever modeled in WebGL, but also offers a wide-open experience allowing you to stroll around the place as if you were actually there. via Fastcocreate

October 15, 2013

Right here, right now

Real-time marketing is the new buzz word and reflects the way people consume media today. In this article Oreo’s digital agency we learn that success requires “a well-laid strategy and plan” and that the formula for success can be distilled down the “three Ps”: planning, process and practice.

In the earlier article on Fast Company we hear how “nimble activation generates immediate social recognition and praise from consumers” and that brands everywhere have to “evolve from simply publishing content towards a much more sophisticated construct that looks more like a traditional “newsroom”–an editorial team model that supports agile content development”.

Agencies and brands need to change how they work to keep in step with this new, always-on world.

September 17, 2013

Save the boy

Here is another great campaign for St. John Ambulance by BBH London. After winning a silver Film Lion for last year’s excruciating “Helpless” spot they return with a new film and interactive experience. The film hinges on an element of surprise. You know something’s going to happen to this kid—but what? In the end, though, it’s not really about the child at all. It’s about the woman and the man, and only one of them has a chance to save the boy’s life.

The 60-second spot is supported by an interactive experience that immerses you in the story and demonstrates simple first aid, which can be the difference between life and death. via Adweek

September 13, 2013

AMCHAM Advertising After Party

Last night Nils Anderson, Y&R China’s Chief Creative Officer, and I jointly presented at a special event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. We wanted to share the winning campaigns from global advertising festivals like Cannes Lions to business leaders in China. I thought it would be interesting to share my own part of the presentation here.

While Nils focused on the Film category and spoke in depth about the craft that goes into winning work, I covered many of the other categories. I began by talking about the dramatic changes the advertising business has gone through since the Mad Men era. Just look at the picture below to see how quickly mobile devices have become the main way to create and consume media. Both show the announcement of a new Pope just 8 years apart.

Yet even with such amazing developments in technology, it is ideas that win not techniques or (dare I say it) gimmicks. In my presentation I began with a look at the category of DIRECT which is all about targeted communication with a clearly identifiable call-to-action or response mechanism. It’s all about having a measurable response.

This multi award-winning campaign from McCann Melbourne was based on real human insight. Take a serious message then make it fun and engaging. Make something that people want to share. Allow people to participate and own the campaign so the message gets magnified. The results speak for themselves. It didn’t just connect with people but changed behavior and demonstrates where our industry is going – harnessing the power of digital & social to seed the message.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals teamed up with MINI Cooper to teach dogs how to operate a car, in the hopes that it will draw attention to the talented and adorable dogs that were up for adoption. It shows the power of talk value in a campaign in order to capture attention.

When the laughs died down I then went on to talk about winners in the Cannes Cyber Lions. Very few people use the term “cyber” these days. It’s a throwback to the late 90s when the internet was still science fiction to many people. Now people talk about “digital” which is already sounding narrow and old fashioned. Maybe, after 5 years, I need to retire this blog if that’s the case.

The internet and social media as radically changed the advertising industry as much as other industries like music. But rather than being its death it breathed new life into what we do. Look at any great campaign now and see how it harnesses the power of digital to connect with consumers in ways not possible only 15 years ago.

Oreo’s 100th birthday mission was to help everyone around the world celebrate the child inside.  Draft FCB’s “Daily Twist” aimed to filter the world through the “playful imagination of Oreo.” It went way beyond a simple print campaign as it was designed to spark conversation and sharing on social platforms. On Facebook alone the population of fans grew to 27.7 million!

When an Adidas store is closed can you still allow people passing by to buy your clothes? That was the questions answered by agency TBWA Helsinki. It really shows how broad the category is.

It has been a long time coming but mobile marketing is now a force to be reckoned with. Today almost everyone carries smartphones and in many countries they are the primary access point to the internet. Mobile opens up lots of amazing opportunities to connect with consumers to deliver timely and relevant messages or to provide utility.

People love free wifi so Ogilvy Paris came up with an award-winning idea for their client Mattel by offering win free Wi-Fi minutes in places where there isn’t any. All you had to do was play Scrabble and your words became passwords to access the free Wi-Fi connection. You could stay connected as long as you are good at spelling words on Scrabble!

When everyone thinks of mobile they immediately think of high-end smartphones and sophisticated apps. But Philippines agency DM9 used a simple and low-tech solution to make a profound sustainable impact using the simplest phones. It shows how creative you can be with technology when it comes to solving problems

In the PROMO category it’s all about targeted online communication with a clearly identifiable call-to-action or response mechanism.

Sometimes the product becomes the campaign especially when you do something innovative. Coca Cola in with Ogilvy Paris and Singapore developed a can with a difference. One you could share without sharing germs.

How do you get more people to become organ donors? Ogilvy and Mather Brazil took real patients on organ-transplant waiting lists and created films directed at fans of the Sport Club Recife soccer team—telling them their hearts will keep beating for the team, even after they are gone, if they sign up to be an organ donor.

Like award ceremonies themselves I kept the best until last with the Titanium category from Cannes. Sometimes ideas are too big and multi-dimensional to fit into a single category. That’s why festivals like Cannes Lions created Titanium awards. The idea is everything, whether it’s for a car or toothpaste, telecommunications or charity, big budget or low budget.

“The Beauty Inside” by Pereira & O’Dell, which won major awards in digital, film and branded content categories, was born out of a powerful brand truth—just like an Intel processor, it’s what inside that counts. The campaign involved episodic films that followed the story of Alex, a man who wakes up looking like a different person every day. Apart from being “really social at its core” and “really beautiful” the smartest part was the integral role the brands played in the film. At Cannes it won grand prix in Cyber, Branded Content as well as Titanium.

Another Titanium winner came from Nike. When you are not sponsoring the Olympics how can your brand be heard? Nike tested the limits of the Olympic rules on ambush marketing with a global campaign by Wieden & Kennedy featuring everyday athletes and ordinary people enjoying sport in places around the world named London. Anybody could be their own champion no matter how great their achievement.

In fact, if there is one big trend recently in awards festivals it is the number of campaigns where brands are on a mission to do good. It’s not just about changing the world but helping people have a better outlook on life, to treat others and themselves with respect. Brands that are seen to do good are more attractive to consumers. Many of the cases I shared at the event reflect this. One of the Titanium Gold winners epitomized this trend.

Real Beauty Sketches is beautifully simple idea from Ogilvy Brazil centered on the insight that women often see themselves as being unattractive when in fact they are prettier than they think. The result is emotionally powerful and helped spark meaningful online conversations.

A saw a few tearful people in the audience so decided that I couldn’t leave them feeling down. I ended by demonstration that when a campaign is so successful you have to be prepared for one thing – to be parodied…

July 18, 2013

Talking Window

To promote Sky TV’s new TV streaming app, Sky Go, BBDO Dusseldorf affixed transmitters to train windows, which sent out high frequency vibrations. These were translated into a verbal message, which passengers could only hear when they pressed their heads to the glass by using bone conduction technology.

June 25, 2013

Creative collaboration

From all of the recent Cannes winners one project stood out for me that showed what can happen when a client and its agency truly collaborates. The IBM Boy and his Atom movie came about because Ogilvy creatives took the time to dig through all the incredible research projects IBM were working on and found out how they could move atoms individually. The agency thought “could we create animated images using atoms as pixels?” and then worked with the researchers to bring this to life. The results speak for themselves. This is going beyond the brief and literally delving into the inner workings of a client’s business at an atomic level. That’s when magic can happen.

June 13, 2013

D&AD Winners

Great sum up of the winning projects at D&AD. Check them all out on the Creative Review Blog.

My personal favorite has to be Help I Want To Save a Life by Droga5 (video above). Donor registration kits are included with packs of Help Remedies plasters. Blood is collected on the plasters and are then sent t0 the donor centre affiliated with the project who will then follow up if they find donor matches. It’s smart design that does good for society by thinking of new uses for an everyday object.

November 20, 2012

Digital Media Awards 2012

This month’s Digital Media Awards ceremony in Beijing as part of the Digital Asia Festival highlighted some world-class creative thinking from across the region. I love this gold winner in the social media category from DDB DM9JaymeSyfu in the Philippines. It’s an integrated digital campaign by Gabriela, one of the world’s foremost advocates for women’s rights, that used Facebook in a simple but impactful new way that turned every participating profile into an ad for the campaign.

Another gold went to Clemenger BBDO Sydney for their TEDx project in the media innovation category. They answered the question “What Twitter Would Look Like, Without A Laptop Or Smartphone”. They produced a one-off installation that visualised the flow of ideas around the room in real time.

Wunderman (in partnership with Ogilvy, IKON, and Naked) took gold in the FMCG category with this innovative integrated campaign for Coke. They took the world’s most iconic brand and handed it over to the public using personalization on a mass scale. After 125 years of putting the same name on every bottle of ‘Coke’, whey tried something new and printed 150 of Australia’s most popular names on ‘Coke’ bottles and cans then invited Australians to ‘Share a Coke’. I really like the way they connected digital with physical experiences to make the brand even more social.

In the automotive category the BMW Crop Circle campaign by Interone China took silver. Their task was to create awareness for the compact BMW 1 Series family and to incite the target audience to register for a driving event. They leveraged a simple truth: Chinese people are very superstitious. Anything mysterious triggers immediate strong attention and passionate discussions. They used the fact that there had never been a crop circle in the country. See the case below.

For all the winners click here.

September 23, 2012

Spikes with a conscience

The newly announced winners at Spikes Asia show that marketing with a conscience is now a mainstream trend. Whether it’s sustainability or social responsibility, brands are discovering that doing good is good for everyone – even the bottom line. The best example from Spikes was the Grand Prix winner in the Digital category. The Connecting Lifelines project by Dentsu for Honda, to quote the Spike’s website, “was a response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Roads in the region were affected and traffic was put to a complete stop. Within 20 hours after the earthquake, Honda quickly responded to the critical situation by providing road information collected real-time via the Internavi system installed on vehicles. By plotting these real-time data on a map, usable roads are visualized. Information was provided on the internet and through Google Map. Internavi became an indispensible tool for the nation”.

In the Mobile category the Rapid Rescue app by JWT for the Red Cross was a great example of technology making a real difference in people’s lives. The idea was “based on the insight that time is of essence when there is an emergency. It takes 4 minutes for the human brain to stop functioning in case of a heart attack. It takes 8 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. But life-saving help could be around the corner because Red Cross has 12,000 first-aiders in Singapore who are equipped to save lives. Rapid Rescue puts all individuals trained in first aid at everyone’s fingertips. The mobile app that connects a First Aid seeker to a first-aider, instantly. Once pressed by someone in distress, the app sends out an SOS to first-aid trained individuals close to the victim via GPS. Along with the SOS, the app also maps out the shortest route to the First Aid seeker”.

A Gold in the Direct category went to BBDO Guerrero and their Pepsi Bottle Lights initiative. As the Spikes website explains, “solar bottle lights are recycled plastic Pepsi bottles installed on roofs to refract sunlight into 55W of light. The brand has installed over 20,000 lights through the combination of volunteer action, online donation and direct sponsorship. Community management was magnified online and via events such as mass runs that collected and recycles used bottles for the activity”.

In almost every category we can find socially responsible, winning campaigns. The Pedigree Adoption Drive from New Zealand by COLENSO BBDO Auckland took Gold in the Promo and Activation category with Donation Glasses. They wanted to “demonstrate the power of a donation in a memorable and fresh way. So they partnered with a production company and developed a way to watch two different films on the same screen at the same time. Utilising this technology, they screened parallel stories; the first of a mistreated dog who gets rescued, the second of the same mistreated dog who never gets found. Before the movie, cinemagoers could choose between two sets of glasses. One pair was free. The other they got for a small donation. That choice decided the fate of the dog on screen”.

Working in advertising it’s not always easy to feel that you are making a difference in this world. This work shows that doing something meaningful is possible. Check out all the Spikes winners here.

June 25, 2012

Cannes Reinvented

When the Cannes Lions changed their mantra to being a “festival of creativity” it was because of the sea change that digital was stirring where the word “advertising” was quickly becoming rather meaningless. In many ways “digital” is an obsolete word today since it has become the electricity that runs through every aspect of our life. With this year’s Cannes Lions we’ve reached that tipping point when every brand and every agency uses the power of digital to connect consumers with brands – sometimes literally.

As we can see from the Titanium Grand Prix winner for Nike + Fuelband. It goes beyond communication and becomes communion. Between consumers and the brand, with the product and with each other.

Almost every winner in every category has digital running through it. In Branded Content & Entertainment the Grand Prix when to Chipotle with their film using a digital-first strategy, first launching on YouTube with no paid media support. The launch was supported with an earned media plan and the social media assets of Chipotle, Willie Nelson and Coldplay to a collective audience of 21m Facebook fans.

In the Direct category a huge percentage of the Gold winners were digitally-centric including this project for Montblanc. This international campaign conceived for the web and a worldwide audience and target, was designed to build maximum awarness for Montblanc as a watchmaker brand. The simple idea was to ask people to create a 1-second-long video that celebrated the fragile beauty that can be found in this small unit of time. They teamed up with film-director Wim Wenders and challenged people to capture beauty in a 1-second-long video, creating the shortest ever short-film contest. People competed online at montblanc-onesecond.com by uploading their one-second videos of beauty.


It’s the same story in Promo & Activation. Many of the top winners were either infused with digital goodness or relied on digital channels to get their message out there. Mobile is also becoming a great tool for activation and in this project George Patterson Y&R Melbourne has created the first medically diagnosable advertising for the Australian Defence Force.

These are exciting times to be in the “advertising” business. There are so many amazing possibilities right now thanks to the power digital gives us. The biggest challenge is finding the most relevant and meaningful idea. Because at the end of the day that’s what counts. It’s not the technology itself but what you do with it. Digital may have transformed Cannes but big ideas still rule.