What have the Simpson’s got to do with Spikes Asia? Well Simpson’s scriptwriter Joel Cohen was the speaker invited by DDB to talk about “Lessons in Creativity and Innovation from the Simpsons”. Easily the most entertaining speaker at the event, Joel explained how the writing team managed to stay original after 22 years on the air. He talked about some of the crazy scenarios that have appeared on the show and made a connection between that and innovation in our own industry. Joel explained how vital it is to connect with the audience before you innovate. What you say has to be relatable. At the same time big ideas don’t always fit into the context of the story so you have to filter. Joel had a few suggestions for anyone that hits a creative roadblock. Sometimes you just have to suggest the opposite of what you were thinking. But the best solution is jamming together with others to get more diverse ideas.
Laurie Coots, Chief Marketing Officer at TBWA did a seminar on the Gamification of advertising. With a stock photo heavy Powerpoint she said that gaming techniques drove participation leading to engagement and interaction. This leads to greater meaning and behavior change. In the attention economy we had to find greater brand value. The Starbucks app with its reward system was mentioned as one great example. However research shows that 80% of apps are downloaded less than 1000 times. If you are using an app as part of your marketing campaign then gamification can help make participation addictive. Laurie shared an interesting case study for New York Library where gamification was used to get kids interested in books as a source of information that you can’t find through Google.
Wunderman US CEO Daniel Morel had the misfortune to speak first on day 3 meaning that the room was half empty. He presented a lot of statistics overlaid on stock photos and built his case around the need for Context, Community, Commerce and Creativity. With a big focus on mobile he presented cases from Austria airlines with their Red Guide, UrbanDaddy and HomePlus from Korea who saw sales go up by 130% and an 76% increase in members with their virtual stores in the subway. He was skeptical about co-creation saying that there was very little talent out there but that brands should listen to customers to get real insights. After showing the Decode with Jay-Z case (pronouncing the rapper’s name Gee Zay) he showed the Land Rover Mobile Fair Stand from Austria – a great example of how you can get your brand noticed and generate real results with some left-field thinking.
Jeff Benjamin from Crispin Porter + Bogusky was up next with a much more inspiring talk called Invent or Die. Ironically he opened with the example of Gutenberg who didn’t become rich with his invention of the printing press but died broke. He said that only later did we realize what he had invented. Culture just wasn’t ready for it at the time. Jeff told us that it was the same for the steam engine and electricity. In a similar way it has taken 15 years for culture to finally catch up with technology and the internet. Not so long ago online dating seemed bizarre, online commerce seemed risky yet we now buy TVs from Amazon and even our notions of what friends are has been redefined by social networks. Digital technology is now an essential part of our lives and the public now expect innovation. Jeff said that the current creative revolution is being fueled by technology. If a brand is not inventing it isn’t going to be around much longer.
He gave a few tips for surviving:
Everyone can be an inventor – it isn’t just the creative department. Burger King chicken fries were invented by an account service guy in their agency.
Fill the void by working out what the consumer needs. The Pizza Hut pizza tracker came from the insight that ordering online is great but then you wonder where your pizza is at for the time it takes to arrive. The technology already existed within Pizza Hut to track employee efficiency. They just repurposed the data.
Prototype fast and often. Inventions don’t live on paper so take action to test your ideas.
Have fun – A great example is the Pringles Crunch Band app that came from their Sweden office.
Fail First. Fail Harder. It’s important to embrace failure and clients need to allow agencies to try things out that might seem risky.
Collaborate. It isn’t easy as many people don’t like sharing before an idea is fully formed. You need to be bold enough to bring in other opinions.
He showed some great examples of the agency inventing new things based on a simple brief. Small Business Saturday was not a campaign. They invented a day to help answer a need for the smaller companies that missed out on the retail frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday that occurred every year after Thanksgiving.
Be fast and nimble, daring and relentlessly scrappy. You need to participate in technology to be able to invent new ways of using it. Be on Facebook and Twitter. The Whopper Sacrifice came about because the team were exploring what could be done with it.
Don’t stop – keep making it better. The Jello pudding face idea was a cool way to read the mood of people on Twitter. But rather than just use it online they came up with a giant pudding face billboard. Always ask what else you can do.
Be an entrepreneur. Pretend your client’s business is your own. What would you do? When the carrot farmers came with the brief they asked how the public could eat them as naturally as they eat junk food. So the carrots were packaged like packets of crisps (chips if you’re not English) and sold in vending machines.
Jeff talked about how the first 15% of work you do is 90% of the effort. That’s because you need to evolve your idea, experiment and keep changing it until it is right.
You need to invent where people are. That was the driver behind the Whopper Lust idea that ran on cable channel Direct TV.
Above all he said that we have to be delusionally positive. When you are asking yourself “how are we going to make this” and when you’re scared that’s when you find that positive energy breaks down walls.
Later I saw an inspiring talk by Mark Holden from PHd about 2016 – Beyond the Horizon. He started by talking about the famous IBM 1401 computer that is now in a museum. It filled a room but we have more computing power today in our mobile phones. The world is changing fast. Right now one in two people on earth has joined a social network. Indonesia has the second largest presence on Facebook with over 40 million users. If we consider the 1.2 billion social network members globally as “independent media owners” we can see the power of influence they have. He showed how in the UK 44% of mobile phone sales are influenced by online comments. In the next 5 years the true driver of business will be us – the people. But what drives us. It is the desire for abundance – everything, everyone and everywhere. He said that the future depends on Infrastructure, Interface and Internet.
Looking at Infrastructure & interface he predicted that by 2016 the cloud will be default. We’ll be using ultra HD connected TVs. Watching will be a social experience like we can see with HBO Connect.
You’ll be buying through your TV screen with t-commerce being worth 15 billion dollars by 2016. Embedded content will be accessed through natural user interfaces that will work like Kinect and use facial recognition to personalize information. Meanwhile mobile phones will be made with flexible graphene, maybe transparent with NFC, audio spotlight technology and use advanced augmented reality. The world will be seen through the “looking glass” of your mobile device with the internet smeared across cityscapes. Instore you can see instant user reviews while even your friends’ faces will launch augmented reality content.
The internet will continue to harness HTML5 so the web becomes one big app. We’ll see an increased socialization of the web where links become likes, vertical searches mean you can buy straight from search results and you’ll get direct answers to complex questions through AI. Social commerce will dominate and we’ll see an increase in gamification of the web to drive deeper engagement.
For medial planners there will be a social dashboard that will allow everyone to be tailored – even TV ads. There will be a need for audience management platforms where every aspect of brand communication can be optimized. The biggest threat will be social contagion since the power of consumer influence will be even bigger than today.
So what will the agency of 2016 look like? Creative will be more like a technology industry while media will be a data industry.
For the full story buy the book.
2016: Beyond the Horizon
In my next post I’ll share some of the award winning work from Spikes. As usual the Japanese dominated but Australia and New Zealand gave everyone a run for their money.