September 24, 2009

The wwwild frontier

87When you think of Google you picture a money making machine powered by ad sales, search words, maps or videos. In fact there is a group within Google called the Creative Lab helping to push the boundaries of what the web can do. Check out their presentation here. The internet has not finished surprising us yet.

July 31, 2009

Tech guys take centre stage

fiat-eco-driveRecently we’ve been seeing some very interesting examples of brand communication based on smart technology ideas. I’ve already mentioned the award winning Fiat Eco:Drive by AKQA in previous postings. In his recent blog post, “10 things to do for digital agencies”, Jerome Courtial suggests that we bring technology out of the technology department. He explains how the Fiat idea came from technologists who found the data and just thought it’d be cool to do something with it. And then got helped by planners and creatives to make it what it is now. Jerome also links to an interesting blog post from earlier this year entitled “creative technologists in brand advertising” where Scott Brinker says that “the elevation of technology talent in the agency world represents a tremendous opportunity for agencies — who need to address the disruptive innovation of online advertising with bold changes — as well as opening new career paths for technical professionals, especially those who blend engineering disciplines with creative and marketing business savvy. Marketing and computer science together in the spotlight”.

Take a look at the Chalkbot that accompanied Lance Armstrong during his recent Tour de France. Again, a group of technology guys come up with a brilliant idea that becomes part of a bigger marketing campaign. It’s a tradition in the Tour De France is for fans to write messages of encouragement on the road in chalk for the riders as they go by. Nike took the innovative idea of the Chalkbot making it possible so that anybody in the world can submit a message and have it written on the road. IAn internet-connected chalk tool that will etch people’s messages that have been submitted via Twitter or the website. Bannerblog describes it as “a great merging of the digital and physical worlds. Or a bridge between the two perhaps. It’s also a great example of how good digital ideas are light enough to travel around social networks, rather than the meat of it being based in a microsite”.

gubbeThere are other interesting examples too such as the Absolut Machines project by Teenage Engineering. Launched in 2008 this live installation allowed online visitors to control a choir of robots. While this was more artistic than commercial it showed how technology-led creativity can produce something truly memorable. So bring the technology guys out of the basement. They may smell differently and communicate is a strange language but they might just provide the spark for your next big campaign idea.

April 17, 2009

Cooking up the perfect digital agency


Although this blog is inspired by David Ogilvy’s book is not going to be just about him. Saying that, I thought it could be interesting to cover some of the topics he wrote about but update them for the digital world.

His first chapter is called How to Manage an Advertising Agency, He starts by saying that it is not different from managing an other creative organization such as a research lab, magazine, architect’s office or even a kitchen (David Ogilvy was a chef in an earlier life). Over the years I’ve worked at various interactive agencies and even set up one from scratch. Looking at these and other successful digital agencies there are a few common factors that stand out. So how do you create & manage the perfect Interactive Advertising Agency? What’s the recipe for the ideal organization? It would be a mixture of some of the best agencies…


A slice of Razorfish

With strengths in quantitative and qualitative audience research capabilities, Avenue A | Razorfish broad experience creates a strong base for cross channel campaigns.

A bagful of R/GA

This is where creativity meets technology in startling new ways. A perfect example is Nike + which illustrates their approach of building communication platforms that attract and retain customers while weaving marketing and product together.

A cupful of Ogilvy

Brand-focused communication based on big ideas, all mixed up in a 360-degree approach that puts the customer at the centre. Traditional marketing and advertising has a lot to teach new media in terms of crafting the right message.

A little Organic

A strong belief in empathy-based experience design and flair for harnessing Web 2.0 technologies like YouTube, Flickr, and a Facebook applications this brings a lot of smart thinking into the mix.

A sprinkling of Sapient

Spice things up with excellent technology integration ranging from sophisticated transaction-based systems to interactive marketing platforms. For a digital campaign to provide a good customer experience your technology needs to be rock solid.

A dash of Digitas

Last but not least we need some robust measurement and analytics capabilities. Strong measurement and insight from that data is vital for the perfect agency combination.



Make sure your melting pot allows space for strategy and creative to really blend their thinking. Stir in real consumer insights rather than just what you think the target audience would like.

Look beyond digital. Adding traditional media to campaigns may result in a more startling outcome.

Raise the heat by experimenting with fresh ingredients. Be unafraid to explore new ideas or technologies but be careful not to get carried away with the flavour of the moment. Watch trends closely and take advantage of new ways to surprise your audience.

Don’t forget the human element. Each person in the team must pour their expertise and passion into the project in the right amounts. The best work is only possible with the perfect blend of strategy, creativity and technology…. all coordinated and delivered flawlessly.

Measure everything carefully to ensure the right balance of ingredients and to improve your recipe. Never be satisfied. Stay in beta.



The best digital agencies naturally present themselves in the best light. From the office environment through to their own digital marketing efforts. Seeing is believing and the ideal agency should look the part, walk the talk and be constantly striving to be the best. Even with all the right ingredients in place my perfect agency would always feel that it could be a little better.

A digital agency should never be bland. It should have contagious passion for great ideas and defend them to the end. Be brave to walk down new avenues and balance intelligence with ambition. Always staying hungry…


Bon appetit.


Thanks to Forrester and AdAge for a little inspiration.