May 12, 2015

One and only

The award season is in full swing and it’s interesting to see what is winning festivals like ONE SHOW to get a glimpse of who will be grabbing the lions in just over a month. I’ve chosen a few of my favorite GOLD PENCIL winners which I think will definitely be picking up prizes at Cannes.

Interactive Gold Pencil

Under Armour – I will what I want
Droga 5

Let’s face it, Gisele Bundchen doesn’t need the money. So when you see her doing a campaign like this you know that it’s because she believes in it. I love the way she kicks ass while all the internet trolls try to bring her down. Really empowering stuff.

Interactive Gold Pencil

Honda – The Other Side
Wieden and Kennedy

Some projects are famous even before they hit the judges screens at award festivals. I remember this one doing the rounds and being amazed how seamless and brilliant it was. One button interaction! You can’t get more user-friendly than that. www.hondatheotherside.com

Direct Gold + Best of Discipline

Sol de Janiero – Tattoo Skin Cancer Check
Ogilvy Brasil

This is a really smart idea. Young sun lovers are never going to get a skin check so how can we bring it to them? OK, so how about all the people who don’t get tattoos? I guess they are not cool so don’t deserve to be saved 🙂

Mobile Gold Pencil

TeatreNeu – Pay per laugh
The Cyranos//McCann

I love the case video as much as I like the campaign itself. Maybe even more. But it’s interesting to see how broad the mobile category is now. This is a really smart idea especially for a country where the economy is bad and people want value for money.

UX/UI Gold Pencil

SNCF – The most serious game ever
TBWA Paris

Nice to see the UX/UI discipline being recognized because it can mean success or failure for any project. The challenge for the agency would have been to really get inside of the mind of this super-smart target audience. Not an easy task to do for most people working in advertising. Sorry.

Check out all the winners here and see which ones you think everyone will be talking about this year.

October 8, 2014

GO CLIO!

No, this isn’t about the popular French compact car that was available as a crazy V6 version. It’s the CLIO awards that were recently announced along with a special speech from Jerry Seineld who basically said that what we do is meaningless. Yes Jerry, we already knew that.

Rather than focus on the big winners we’ve already seen soaking up the glory at Cannes and elsewhere, I want to look at some of the lesser known projects.

Red Urban in Toronto won bronze for this inspiring website that tells the story of a VW Beetle that went around the world several times. Everyone talks about storytelling these days. But if you find a compelling story and tell it beautifully it can be really touching.

OK, this next one won gold but not enough noise has been made about this. The Beats Music app from R/GA shows how human technology can be. With curated suggestions and questions to gauge your mood they are able to give you playlists that match who you are. Let’s see what Apple will do with this now they’ve made Dre the richest gangsta on earth.

Having a terrible president (again) and being the sick man of Europe seems to be sparking a lot of creativity in France. We’ve seen a lot of award winning work this year from les Francais. Here is a lesser known project for SNCF from TBWA that picked up a bronze CLIO. To recruit new engineers they challenged potential candidates with an impossible game. OK, so they only ended up hiring 10 people. But they were geniuses!!

Here is one last one from the Innovative Media category. While adamandeveDDB earned lots of buzz for their Harvey Nichols work this year they’ve done some other great projects too. This one for Google brought passionate soccer fans from around the world to a live football match thanks to the power of Google +

So don’t just check out the grand prix and gold winners. There are some interesting nuggets to be found in the lesser metals and shortlists.

Check out all the 2014 CLIO winners here

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…

September 21, 2011

Spikes Asia part 2

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.

February 28, 2011

Towards digital

If there are still agencies out there that haven’t moved to digital yet then this presentation from TBWA/Digital Arts offers some good pointers to help you avoid the pitfalls…

October 19, 2010

Projeqt

Sometimes ideas are too good to keep for yourself. This is the case with Projeqt, an initiative from TBWA that started out as a brief for a new agency website and became a creative storytelling platform open to everyone. Their goal was to make a content-rich site that was easy to navigate, worked on any platform from desktop to mobile & tablets(sorry Flash) and was enabled to take advantage of all the various types of social connectivity available today. As they say on their website, “creating a Projeqt is simple and intuitive. In fact, you have probably done most of the legwork already. We play nicely with the other social platforms out there so you can embed your videos from YouTube or Vimeo, post pictures from your Flickr account, include RSS feeds from your blog or even your Tweets. Through Projeqt, you can orchestrate all these integral pieces of content to form one coherent story. And then share that story with the world in exactly the way you want it to be heard”. Check it out here.

June 24, 2010

Digital roars at Cannes Lions

It has been an exciting week at Cannes for anyone who has been slogging away in the digital space for many years. Finally it has taken its true position as the driver of 21st century marketing communications. Digital has extended its reach into direct, promo and activation in an unprecedented way this year. What is clear however, both in the Cyber Lions and the other categories, it is that digital combined with the physical is where the magic happens. Let’s see some of the winners:

A gold winner in Promo and Activation from Ester Stockholm. To help prevent aids they developed a campaign where unique numbers were put on condoms given out. People could then go online to tell their story of how the condom was used. “By printing 100 000 condoms with numbers we gave every condom a story to be told by whoever got lucky with it. Every condom-package contained a uniquely numbered condom and a text that encouraged the recipient to share the condoms fate, by uploading his or her story at the blog kondom08.nu The 100 000 condoms became the message, the media and also the solution”.

Also in Promo & Activation, BBDO New York won gold for their HBO Imagine campaign in the category Best Use of Internet/Online Advertising in a Promotional Campaign. The video speaks for itself – it shows how creative ambition can now be fullfilled online if you have the ideas and the budget to match.

In the Direct category the Grand Prix went to a campaign that could not have been possible without the power of digital. Special Group in Auckland developed a campaign for ORCON Broadband that “created a world-first event, a chance to re-record ‘The Passenger’, live online, with Iggy Pop. Our direct response objective was two-fold: Attract a large enough pool of talented auditions to ensure we could select our virtual band. Maximise the country’s engagement with the auditioning process. The call for auditions went out first to Orcon’s customer base, to its facebook friends, and via online advertising. This was then extended by 15” TVCs and street posters calling for people to Play live with Iggy Pop. Entrants then uploaded auditions directly to a specially built facebook application, where they could be browsed”.

Gold in Direct also went to BBDO and Ester for the two campaigns already featured here. Meanwhile, in the Cyber Lions, the Grand Prix went to the Nike Chalkbot from Wieden + Kennedy featured on this blog a few times and the Volkswagen FUN THEORY campaign from DDB Stockholm.

As they say on their entry, “Volkswagen asked us to create a campaign that would generate interest around BlueMotion Technologies. A series of cars and innovations that help reduce environmental impact without compromising on performance or the joy of driving. Our insight was that VW made it easier to choose an eco car by making them more fun to drive. Our solution was a theory, focusing on the thinking behind the cars; that the easiest way to change human behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do”.

We’re back to sex again, this time with a Gold winner from TBWA Paris in the category Banners and Other Rich Media: Charities, Public Health & Safety, Public Awareness. Rather than just stick with the simple video in a banner, they “took Willy, a young potential stud, in an expandable banner, to deliver the message in an interactive and playful way. Never moralising. Always fun. So, the story line, the actors and the location are the same… now discover a (more) hands on user experience. Don’t be shy, grab Willy (he wont mind) and celebrate happy safe sex.”

Lots of other Gold winners have already won awards this year so they are the obvious (but still worthy) choices. We choose the Moon, IKEA Facebook Showroom, and Monopoly City Streets to name but a few. Check out all the Cyber Lion winners here.

Just a final thought. While I was there I took a look at all the Titanium Integrated entries being shown in various screenings. Socially conscious campaigns driven by social media seem to be the flavour du jour. It all became one big blur. You could have switched brands and never have noticed. In the attempt to be “of the moment” many campaigns came across as being too “try hard” or bandwagon jumping. The real creative challenge is to stand out in all of this white noise. My bet for next year? Social media may be seen by many as “so yesterday” and the baby will be thrown out with the bath water.