Give a shit, folks - My take on Advertising Week Europe
This year’s Advertising Week Europe was a polarizing experience from my point of view. Some good talks were found but a lot of others felt like loosely camouflaged sales pitches, which is a shame. Then worse still, there were a few talks, mostly around social media, content and mobile, where I feared that my brain would explode with irritation if I heard another person camouflaging the substance of their discussion with the cloak of bullshit buzzwords to hide the fact they had nothing new to say.
But if you did attend this year’s event, the one talk you certainly shouldn’t have missed was the ANDY’s session featuring some titans of advertising.
This was a session that didn’t have or need any embellished bullshit buzzwords to make it feel innovative (Oh no, ‘innovation’ the most overused of all buzzwords – shoot me quick).
This was a talk instead about a single and powerful word.
A word that is often overlooked in our industry in this age of micro accountability.
And indeed who better to deliver on this heroic subject but four of the most courageous admen of our time. The panel included David Droga, Steve Henry, Sir John Hegarty and Dave Trott – Boom!. Four creative Titans that have proven bravery with their work across a number of decades, and inspiring many a creative, including myself.
I cant possible do full credit to the discussion and share all their wisdom but three points really stood out in my mind.
The first important was about sticking to principles. Remember that word?
In our industry, principles are not fashionable. Maybe they have never been fashionable? Let’s be honest with ourselves - the outside world sees what we do as a bullshit industry of ego manic, flog anything types that would advertise their grandmothers if they had half the chance. One step up from estate agents, hey! And in my time I have worked with people that do fit those awful stereotypes. The sort of people who give more of a shit about revenue than the actual work we create.
And that’s the point in a nutshell. Give a shit, folks! As Droga said: “For me, bravery is putting your beliefs ahead of self-preservation. Do what you think is right, not what is expected. It’s about putting your beliefs ahead of self-preservation.”
We are in an “amazing industry” according to the panelists and need to care more about what we are creating. People who aren’t in this industry for the work they believe in shouldn’t been in it. Staying true to your personal principles puts you firmly on the road to bravery.
The second point I got out of the talk was around trust. Trust built with clients and trusting in others to help create a culture for bravery to thrive. As Dave Trott pointed out the big bang all starts with the account person (How true!). The account person or suit needs to build a climate of trust from the start to allow bravery to flourish. His frustration was expressed in the lack of proper account men these days (I so agree), people who have enough about them to say no to clients for the right reasons or who can make a creative feel that working at 2am in the morning is going to be worthwhile. What happened to those good account guys? The ones Dave Trott described as those who would recall tales about how they got clients to buy ideas in the same way a spitfire pilot would talk about a winning dogfight.
The third point: don’t refer to your work as brave or risky. Instead of asking clients to be brave or buy brave work ask instead for them to buy exciting work. As Sir John explained: You don’t want to drive a risky car, have a risky meal, fly on a risky plane. Who wants that? Substitute brave or risk with the word exciting and it feels more..Exciting. And we all want a bit of that, be it agency or clients.
So thanks Advertising Week and also credit to the ANDYs. An American advertising institution in itself that has been a major player in rewarding those that goes beyond the norm for over 50 years to date. An institution that could easily justify its right to bring this cast to the stage in London to talk about the platform of bravery that they’re using to celebrate 50 years of creativity in advertising.
I hope it has inspired at least one member of that audience to believe in themselves more and become more brave…or exciting.
Proud to launch the next addition in the Companion Stories campaign.
Samsung brings the inspiring and moving story of Trisha Silvers and her Broadbridge Education centre to life in the latest Companion Stories film.
Meet Trisha Silvers, whose inspiring and touching story of strength, perseverance and goodwill has kickstarted the ‘Broadbridge Foundation and Broadbridge Education Centre’, an extraordinary school she built in honour of her late husband, Melbourne AFL player Troy Broadbridge, who tragically died in the tsunami that ravaged Thailand’s Phi Phi Island in 2004.
Troy and Trisha were married on 18 December 2004. On 26 December, while spending honeymooning in Phi Phi, Troy was swept out to sea by the tsunami.
In the aftermath, she established the charitable Reach Broadbridge Fund and, with the help of Troy’s Melbourne Football Club teammates, built the Broadbridge Education Centre on Phi Phi.
We’re honoured to receive awards in Branded Contentfor Samsung’s Liquid Pixels and for Cap One SuperStars in Branded Game or Application. But even better, we are especially proud to have won a ‘People Lovies’ (an award voted by the public) for our popular Liquid Pixels project.
There was serious competition from creative agencies and tech companies from across the UK and Europe, and we’re humbled to be recognised alongside them.
Real-Time work for Cap One Cup by Capital One Team - great piece of content out for C1 with our Portugal vs Sweden street fighter gif - an excellent piece born out of collaboration between people and nailed in an hour
Digital is dead. At least, that was the view of P&G’s Global Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, who proclaimed as much during a recent talk at Dmexco. An interesting and provocative statement to make to an audience full of digital folk from emerging markets, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Outthink Or Be Undone — That’s The Message We’re Getting From Blackberry. Can BlackBerry get back in Black? A good question and one that’s all over the news.
Remember when people use to be proud of their BlackBerry? Pre-Smartphone days those corporate boys and girls used to boast about their cool little (well, they were little in those days) devices. Getting emails on the go and being “connected” was seen as cool. Before kids got onboard the BBM messaging vibe, business users could never have believed that the device would lose its shiny appeal.
Fast forward four years and just ‘being connected’ is so yesterday. Now Smartphone users are super-connected and empowered by everything from apps to NFC. Everything is mobile and the BlackBerry just hasn’t kept up with the Smartphone generation and its love for all things done on the go.
BlackBerry’s struggling owners have finally clicked that to get them out of trouble they need to start considering a sale in the hope a new owner will lift their performance.
And with the Canadian company’s last venture – the Blackberry 10 - coinciding with 5,000 job loses and $70 billion shareholder drop – they really need to start getting the big decisions right.
But how does a business that was once so innovative stop innovating? That’s an issue for companies across the globe, whether their business is in the tech sector or not. Innovation is the new lifeblood of today’s brands – constant reinvention is key.
It’s something Blackberry has had to stomach as it watched its rivals acting like challenger brands even when they got to a scale and size they didn’t need to – and continue doing so today.
These ‘challenger’ brands aren’t always breaking the rules or being provocative just for the sake of it, instead they’re constantly striving for better services and products, they’re focusing on being creative and engaging with consumers. And most importantly, these brands aren’t making the mistake of letting the competition define who they are; they’re ensuring that they do that for themselves.
So let’s hope that good old BlackBerry can find a joint venture or partnership rather than just being swallowed up or pulled apart. But one thing is for sure, if you don’t keep reinventing and looking over your shoulder then - know matter who you are - your brand is on a limited shelf life.
I’ve stopped counting the times I’ve heard the term “storytelling” or now even “story whispering” today from Cannes.
In contrast I have hardly even heard anyone use that good old fashion term “advertising”. Even some old famous ad men have seemed to have dropped it. Has it lost its relevancy? or is it just more hip to swap it for a more Gen-C cool term? Or maybe the whole broadcast method of one way comms has been pushed aside by the rise of two way more social comms and the rise of an “audience of users” (a term the good folks at B-reel talked about earlier this week).
Co creation and collaboration and being real with a purpose seems to be on everyone’s lips and no appears to be talking in ad or advertising terminology.
Over the week, I’ve seen a whole bag of wonderful pieces of work that are far from the traditional worlds of the madmen era. So no wonder the term advertising is looking more and more classical. The industry are still embracing and celebrating the love of craft and skills of our industry’s past but the outputs from work like “text books” to long form films, to even community management pieces picking up gold lions and more is as different as the words advertising vs storytelling in their approach.
Sit watching an ad in award show and you see a sea of arms holding up their smartphones or tablets and interacting with the show as active users nowdays.
So maybe the very nature of advertising is changing and the term could soon disappear?
Who knows but agencies now are just calling themselves “creative” instead of “advertising” is a hint that its well underway already.
Or I could be wrong and the disruptive innovation we’ve seen be awarded in this past week will be all to quickly forgotten about when the film Lions winners get announced and the big ad networks 30’ and 60’ formats are front page in the press. Lets hope not.
Ah - the beautiful clunky QR code? Is it yesterday’s news or does it still have a use in today’s fast paced world? Have Apps, AR and things like TouchCode killed them off for good?
Our sexy QR codes (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) have been around since 1994 and its mad to think that they were invented by Toyota's subsidiary, Denso Wave. Its purpose was to track vehicles during manufacture. Designed to allow high-speed component scanning - It has since become one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes.
But apart from its use in production and as a short-cut format to load a URL or data what else can it do? Or what else is it good for?
People have found some rather strange answers for that it seems. From growing QR codes, to QR code drinks to QR wallpaper. There’s a lot of uses for these little black & white fellas.
But here’s something alot more interesting and useful for these humble beasts before you dismiss QR codes as old school yesterday’s technology - luxury car maker Daimler thinks it may have found a valuable use them – one that could help save lives.
LOOKING TO SXSW FOR INNOVATION MAYBE ITS TIME YOU SHOULD ALSO LOOK EAST & SOUTH.
#SXSW. Robots. Rockets. Spider Goats, 3D printing, Glasses…all the crazy innovation circus of SXSW is over for another year and people are buzzing around and talking about all the mad stuff that they have seen.
But while we’re looking West I think you need to start to turnaround and look East and elsewhere?
I am currently over in Asia and its dam hot but its got me thinking about all this tech craziness and where to find it.
Like maybe Asia and Africa and other places less sexy, western and oversubscribed. Our western markets are slow moving and competitive and yet other places are just bursting with innovation and untapped potential.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the stuff and the work that’s going on at SXSW but maybe true innovation in a very different and less apparent form is happening in other parts of the world? SXSW is the modern day capital of innovation and tech but is that because it’s the capital with capital?
Should we as brands, agencies and technology junkie’s start looking and talking to folks in the more weird and wonderful emerging parts of the world. Or is the bright shinny western world to hard and comfortable to look away from?
Do you know what’s creepy up on us - populations that are mind-blowing bigger than the west with a host of creative talent.
Having roughed it and travelled in some pretty mad places in Africa and seen people replace worn out car engine parts with everyday household objects, and create life-saving objects from degraded scrap tips, or created computers from parts you should be not able to use to make computers with – it strikes me that there’s a whole continent of super bright minds that don’t get the capital, opportunity, or brands that we in the west enjoy at something like SXSW – but how long will that last?
Asia and the Indian subcontinent - the same – a huge opportunity that’s untapped or uncapitalized. People doing amazing creative things on tiny budgets but with enthusiasm and vigor like you have never seen. A creative melting pot that while we celebrate our innovation hitting thousands they just get on with it and service numbers we could only dream about touching.
Both with rapidly growing middle cases and consumer appetites for brands, technology and both open and waiting if you understand how to talk to them. While we are slapping each other on the back over a cold beer and celebrating ‘Geekness’ they are making money and innovation that is mind blowing.
Want to make a fortune and make great innovation really happen right now - then I believe Africa and Asia is a place you need to be looking towards. Not as sexy, glamorous or understood as doing it in the west but maybe more financial and personally rewarding.
While others are looking to SXSW for inspiration, talent and ideas – I am also turning around and looking over my shoulder East?
Ben da Costa (one of the creative crew at JAM) has always said that Europe’s top football clubs are missing out on a star. In reality he may still be a senior digital creative at Jam, but his talents are such that he’s only one lucky punt away from a multi-million contract and a starting place in the Champions League.
LBB’s Addison Capper spoke to me recently to delve a little deeper into the campaign and to see whether me as a proud Aussie could swallow my pride and admit defeat to the German capital - as the most photogenic capital in the world.
Hiring creative talent for the “New Digital” world
Last year was a big year for us at Jam - we managed to get very lucky and win a shed load of new work with a small but passionate team against agencies twice, sometimes three or four times our size.
So now I am looking ahead and starting to think about finding the right people who have what I like to call “New Digital” skills and attitude. Over the years (yes, I am an old git) I’ve run a number of creative departments in ATL and digital agencies in a number of countries.
I’ve got use to taking a significant deep breath before sourcing talent. Now it’s difficult enough in traditional agencies to find good folks but when you’re searching for talent that understand not just digital but the “New Digital” (..the world of digital as a stand alone creative force beyond the world of the banner and outside that of matching luggage channel thinking laziness) its bloody hard - it’s like finding a virgin on Kavos!
But why is that? Where are the good ones who can write more than just a TV ad or understand that digital does not equal banner ads and microsites and Facebook apps for fuck sake?
Brazil, Chile, Australia, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Canada, all those places it seems easier to find people that have traditional craft skills and totally get where digital is going than it does back here in the UK. Finding someone based locally should be easy as the UK is constantly producing some stunning work. Does this mean the talent pool here is very limited to a select few and why good people demand to be so highly rewarded? Are we going to have two levels of remuneration – one for digital and a higher paid one for the “New Digital” creative?
I often ponder the answer - so I asked someone I trust about her views on why digital is short on talent. Amy Heart’s (from We Pick Cherries) answer was really interesting so I decided to put it up to share so you can get a glimpse of the tussles Creative Directors across agencies now face as we move from one era to another.
A view on recruiting by Amy below: …..
With unemployment still sadly so high as Britain heads into a triple-dip-recession, it’s often unbelievable and just a little bit shocking to hear that employers are still clamouring for talent.
How is this possible or even logical? Why? When there are so many qualified creative’s out there and fewer jobs than ever? The answer is simple… Quality & quantity is not the same thing, if they were, all recruiting businesses would go out of business!
In my experience, this talent shortage is now a major topic at HR, trade body and recruiting conferences, and the balance of messages on my voicemail has shifted over the past year from inquiries by job seekers to queries by Creative Directors & HR Directors seeking personal referrals to the most talented job candidates. It is indeed stranger that even though every hiring manager knows that the sharpest creative’s don’t stay on the market long that our embedded recruiting processes don’t change, can require too many ‘hoops’ or appear somewhat beaurocratic.
At this time we need to innovate for talent to make recruiting processes for these in demand creatives, easier, sleeker, faster, more approachable and human.
When it comes to digital we have a high growth market, which is relatively fledgling in terms of its possibilities and age, it’s technologies and the people who genuinely get this new and somewhat bewildering media behemoth. Understanding how to make a traditional TV ad is totally different to the skill set than say, is required to launch an innovative piece of social media with touch points in guerrilla, outdoor, viral etc - exploring the boundaries between physical & virtual is not for everyone. As an agent, I see that those who genuinely get digital in a hands-on-way, alongside raw creative power is an often tough combo to find.
Why? Because you’re asking for someone relatively ‘geeky’ to (lets put it frankly) have social skills to get on in a boisterous agency environment coupled with the creative thinking ability which does not get lost in the realms of simply what is possible digitally, but what is the right way of telling this story? Those who can do both can command a high salary for it – after all, we are also an industry sold on our talent are we not? In several cases I find that the best digital talent are getting picked up, not just be digital agencies, but by above the line agencies looking to expand their offering and not wanting to miss out on that piece of the pie. It is not just the digital market that competes with itself, it is the above the line market competing for the best digital talent too and yes, there is a shortage of it. A very real example of this can be found when you just look at the sheer amount of time that it can take to recruit for a highly talented digital creative. Often it takes a period of months to find what you are looking for, only to find that your chosen creative may have 3 other offers from other agencies all involved in a bidding war with each other.
In order to net the best talent in digital it is important to: 1) Take time with them to build rapport. Drinks, lunch, you name it. 2) Be responsive to and interview quickly (from from inbox to face to face) and decide quickly when the right one comes along. If you snooze, you lose. Go with your instincts. 3) Remunerate them well, not just in terms of what your agency budget allows or their seniority suggests (of course this is important) but other factors like what the current market rates are and what the worth of that person is as an individual, valued by the current roles they are interviewing for and the potential offers they are receiving. The worth of that person may vary by their ability and not just by their years experience on some occasions. 4) Meet the good ones, even if you’re not recruiting. They could be the next big thing for that role that hasn’t happened yet. Build your network. 5) Be there at junior awards ceremonies, build connections with grads that will be the next generation. Even investing in your own awards or graduate programs.
If we don’t invest in the next generation now, we’ll not have a new generation to fill these roles!
A very interesting point of view above by Amy and one I completely agree with. Let me know your thoughts?