September 19, 2011

Welcome to Spikes Asia

I haven’t been to Singapore in over 10 years. What a difference a decade makes. It’s become like physical manifestation of the internet. Overblown, full of ways to spend money and geared for entertainment. Spikes Asia 2011, like every other advertising festival today, has digital on the brain. Every speaker and panelist says that the industry has dramatically changed. So how come the work submitted in the digital category was not hung on the wall with the other categories? Some things never change.

The first seminar off the block was brought to us by Coca Cola and crowdsourcing platform eYeka. The title – Is tomorrow’s agency the consumer? With panelists from both Coke and eYeka along with agency folk from Draft FCB and BBH plus someone from Diageo there was a lot of debate. The featured project involved co-creation with the public for a Coke competition called “Energizing Refreshment”. Some amazing figures were mentioned such as the 1.6 million submissions within China when Coke launched a previos crowdsourced campaign. The challenge was to sift through all of that to find the “diamonds in the shit” as one panelist put it. Would agencies become curators rather than being the sole producers of the creative ideas? The panelist from eYeka suggested that crowdsourcing accelerates innovation for brands. Co-creation questions the role of agency. The public now competes with agency creative departments. There are “millions of talented people out there” so why restrict yourself to an agency? Clients like Coke are looking for creative collectives rather than agencies where you might mix up “teenagers with professionals” as one speaker suggested. It was pointed out that the most popular Superbowl ad in 2011 was a $500 film created by a member of the public. It had “authenticity and simplicity”. Co-creation is “not about changing advertising – it’s about creating an environment where public gets involved with the brand”. One panelist said that the role of agencies needs to change for co-creation – but can they? Many agencies “missed the boat with the internet revolution and are still trying to catch up”. During question time I pointed out that the best work submitted in crowdsourced projects was most likely submitted by moonlighting agency creatives rather than the public. The speaker from eYeka admitted that a number of participants are from agencies but over 60% are non-professionals from the general public. Then they showed the winning entry for the “Energized Refreshment” competition… who just happens to be a motion graphics designer based in Brighton UK. Say no more.

Another interesting seminar was hosted by Yahoo and covered emerging markets such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia where 6 out of 10 people that access the internet do so via mobile phones. There was a lot of discussion about the internet not being the same there than in other countries – especially the west. We should not try to impose a western way of thinking on these new markets. We need to bring “5000 years of experience and knowledge” to whatever we do with digital.

There followed an inspiring presentation from JWT about breeding creativity with cultural diversity. Shame all their links to sound and video failed as it was a thoughtful and well put together seminar. They began by showing how Picasso did not find his path until he saw an exhibition of African art while the architect Frank Lloyd Wright was highly influenced by Japanese design. Special guest Gilles Peterson is a DJ that has spent his career exploring the cultural exchanges that can make music so diverse. In his words, to be “truly creative you need to get out of your comfort zone”.
Havana Cultura: Remixed // Gilles Peterson Bonus DJ Mix by gillespeterson

Matias Palm-Jensen, formerly of FarFar but now chief innovation officer at McCann, presented his pinball approach to advertising. The old way was more like bowling where you sent your ball down the alley hoping it will knock down as many pins as possible – then you turn your back and walk away. Now things are a lot more dynamic with assets, stories, formats, vehicles, destinations, conversations that then create more assets… and the ball keeps moving. Today every creative idea “needs a digital/social platform”. Fascinating guy with a big job ahead of him at McCann.

This post is getting a bit long so I’ll follow up with a second one featuring Microsoft Advertising, TBWA and Joel Cohen – one of the writers for the Simpsons who showed everyone how to make an entertaining presentation.

June 17, 2010

Google Box

So this is how Google sees the future of TV. Maybe they could hire a few interface designers from Apple because this looks as ugly as hell. Then again, if the rumours are true, Apple could soon be reinventing their own Apple TV so it knocks the sock off this. Meanwhile, Yahoo are also playing in this space and this could mean that web-enabled TV will be the new battle ground for the big players because the mobile war just isn’t enough.

August 11, 2009

Welcome to the Code War

google-qr-code1Bing vs. Google, Facebook vs. Twitter, Microsoft vs. Apple… the tension is increasing on a daily basis these days. It feels awfully similar to the Cold War of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Wikipedia describes it this way. “The Cold War (1945-91) was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition existing after World War II (1939-45), between the USSR and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, led by the United States. Although the primary participants’ military forces never officially clashed directly, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, a nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars, propaganda, and technological competition, e.g. the space race”.

The Code War involves search engine algorithms, copycat functionalities, tit for tat increases in storage space for webmail and big guns swallowing up the little guys. So we’re seeing Facebook buying Friendfeed since they couldn’t get Twitter. Microsoft couldn’t nab Yahoo! so they wait their time then screw them with what will no doubt turn into a shitty deal (it already has made Carol Bartz look dumb). Apple blocks Google Voice from the iPhone. Retaliation? Their CEO steps down from the Apple board and they put Voice on the Palm Pre.

But what does this all mean for the advertising industry. Well they seem to applaud the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! All this innovation is creating great opportunities for clever marketing. As soon as a new technology is announced the advertising and marketing folk seek new ways to exploit it. Social networks, HD online video, apps… these may all be weapons of mass consumption to attract the internet public – but for agency strategists, creatives and technologists they are shiny new toys for them to play with. Keep them coming!

May 14, 2009

Hack to the future

David Filo is an elusive guy. While his Yahoo! co-founder friend Jerry Yang went through the wringer as the public face of disgrace in recent times – we hear little of the other billionaire geek behind this once-mighty web property. But in fact, as this article in the Guardian shows, he has remained a champion of creativity and technical innovation within Yahoo! Appearing at the recent Open Hack Day in London he presided over a showcase of clever technological wizardry showing how there are still many new ways to creatively use data to surprise and wow us. One great example is Dan W who presented a mashup of Last.fm and Oyster Card (travel pass) data that shows listening habits on the London Underground. Check out his project here.

While this might be too technical for some people to grasp (I’m one of them) what this kind of event does is challenge developers to push the boundaries of the web. Social networking would not be the phenomenon it is today without the hard work of people like these guys who do magical things with data then turn it into something simple for the masses. Hard to get your brain around some of these innovations but worth the effort to see the future potential.