Monthly Archives: June 2012
Do you ever take a look at your work and wonder: “why am I doing this?”
You’ll have seen the quotes. From Banksy, to Facebook founders, people are lamenting the loss of great strategic minds and creative talents to the task of working out how to make someone click a banner or buy a sports drink. Do not go into advertising, they warn. Working in communications is a far cry from our old dreams of being an artist or changing the world.
Of course, sometimes we get lucky. We have bold and thoughtful clients. We work among energising and talented colleagues, on inspiring campaigns, at agencies that really want to make a difference.
But we’ve all had those moments. Sitting in meetings debating the use of ‘scrumptious’ over ‘delicious’ in body copy no one’s ever going to read, trawling through stock image libraries, poring over ridiculous briefs, struggling to make our ideas a reality.
So why, then?
Why do we do what we do? Why do we care about it? Why does any of it matter?
We decided to use Cannes Lions as a chance to find out. We photographed and nterviewed people in all roles from agencies all over the world.
- Many people in “agencies” don’t describe what they do as advertising at all, preferring to say they “make things people want to use.”
- Some people say, straight out, they hate advertising.
- Iain Tait, now at Google but until recently the digital creative behind the Old Spice response campaign, said he couldn’t believe he’d even worked in advertising at all.
- But others like the energy of being in an ideas business; the teamwork and teammembers, the buzz when something goes well.
- Some reminded us of the great campaigns that made a difference.
- And some said that above all, cynicism had no place in creative work and communications.
Take a look at 40 people we profiled for WHY? You can view some of your STW Group colleagues using the tag #STW. And if you have thoughts on WHY we do what we do, please add them in the comments below or tweet them @STWnextness.
WHY? was a project for Nextness by Editor Jess Stanley and Victoria Hannan, with thanks to Andrew Braithwaite for photographing STW Group participants over two hectic days. Thank you to all our interviewees who agreed to take part.
This year, Nike introduced FuelBand. “Fuel” is a common, universal metric for activity; “Fuel Band” is a device that you wear device that tracks all your daily activity. Users can set targets and share their measurements with others. If a goal is reached, a motivational character called Fuelie shows up to applaud.
Today at Cannes Lions, Nike’s Vice-President of Digital Sport, Stefan Olander, was joined by Bob Greenberg, Chair, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of R/GA, the agency who helped build and launch FuelBand. Their seminar was full of insights about how what they’ve done might change marketing forever.
The journey to FuelBand.
Nike started off as a running brand, with the goal to help athletes, however talented, get better. While the brand has changed a great deal, the needs of athletes have not. They still wish to improve. This forced Nike to be better and think harder, Olander said.
So Nike would ask top sportspeople to come to the Nike campus and put them through a battery of tests; like measuring Tiger Wood’s golf swing to the last millimetre, they’d give them metrics they could get nowhere else. It helped the company make shoes better, and sometimes apparel.
But because Nike believe that “if you have a body, you’re an athlete,” they wanted to be able to take those intricate measurements to the rest of the world. They felt pressure, too. ‘Just Do It’ is one of the best positioning statements in the world, but customers started to change. Don’t just say it, help us. “Don’t just inspire us, enable us,” Olander characterised this shift.
Fortunately, technology has become so small and fast that they could take what they did for top athletes and make it more commonly available. Still, in 2006, when Nike+ was launched in partnership with Apple, journalists at the launch event said “How is this even possible?!”
People were gobsmacked.
But technology has stepped up, and so had the demands on Nike. Because technology itself is no longer the marvel.
Knowing they had to keep innovating, Nike’s insight therefore was that people love to measure themselves. They love a pat on the back.
But before they could design the FuelBand, they had to work out a whole new system for measuring activity. There was no adequate universal metric. They developed one they called Fuel, and it took two years.
Then they mocked up an ugly design, so ugly Oleander refused to share it, which they took to the Nike CEO. “He didn’t say, what’s the ROI on this,” Olander said. “He instantly said, how soon can you build that?”
They built it in two years. (Next in the pipeline is Nike+ basketball, specifically for ballers. And more training apps that help keep you motivated.)
So alongside products like shoes and apparel, they’ve built an entire ecosystem.
“That shift in strategy is hugely important for us, for Nike, and any company who wants to connect with customers,” said Bob Greenberg of R/GA.
Greenberg, a modest and humble presence on the Cannes Lions’ stage despite heading what must be one of the campaigns of the year, gave some essential background to Nike’s strategy. He said in the past, successful companies had focused on:
- Horizontal integration: starting off with one outstanding product and building a suite of similar ones. An example of this is Coke and their beverage portfolio.
- Vertical integration: mastering their supply chain, getting efficiencies out of it and a lot of money. A good example is ExxonMobil, pulling fossil fuel out of the ground then selling it at the pump.
But in the next decade, Greenberg says companies are going to evolve from horizontal and vertical integration models towards ecosystems.
- Functional integration: the consumer is at the centre, and then surrounded by both products and services. Key examples are Amazon (think retail and Kindle) Apple (iPhones and iCloud) and Google (search and YouTube and Android and Wallet).
He thinks Nike Fuel Band is the best case study of where advertising is going. Functional integration, plus an earned media channel in the form of a 7million strong community of Nike+ and Band users.
Greenberg is putting his money where his mouth is.
In July, his agency will be restructured around rapid prototyping, creating a video of the idea, then presenting it to and partnering with clients to build it. If you want to create services, he said, you need to be set up more like a digital agency in some ways, to develop apps, platforms, and products.
In fact, as of this year R/GA will no longer refer to itself as an agency, Greenberg announced at Cannes today. It’s just not a useful term for them anymore.
While this terminology and these philosophies are not new, it was exciting seeing them in action at Cannes.
The final word went to Stefan Olandar. “This isn’t marketing anymore. This is how we do business.”
Nextness will be coming to you from Cannes Lions this week.
+ Why do we work in advertising and communications? Why do we care about it? Why does any of it matter? Sneak a peek at our new project WHY? There, communications leaders share their deepest hopes and fears about our industry.
+ STW Group staff: don’t forget to enter The Nextness Prize. Write the best blogpost on the theme of “What’s Next” and you could win a trendhunting trip to South East Asia.
Technology’s changing fast, but people are changing slowly.
Our motivations for being social are the same as they’ve always been. To build relationships, control how others perceive us, and build our identity. It’s the same offline as it is on.
The number of friends we have aren’t changing, either. Sure, some people might have 900 friends on Facebook. But if half of them were walking towards us on the street we wouldn’t be able to place them. 500 is about the maximum number we can hold in our head at one time, 150 is the number with which we interact with even passing frequency, 15 regularly and 5 a lot.
Of course, anthropologists have known this for a long time. And as social networks make it easy for us to friend anyone we meet, it’s been popular to remind people of it: Don’t believe Facebook, you only have 150 friends.
What’s interesting is that the person doing the reminding yesterday was from Facebook itself.
Paul Adams (@padday | /padday), Global Head of Brand Design at Facebook, took to the stage at Cannes Lions. His message to agencies?
Forget everything you thought you knew about advertising on Facebook – and instead, study network science.
He said, look at your own Facebook, if you have one. (Or study your next BBQ.) Your close acquaintances are from a number of different groups, made from different interests and life stages. Within these groups, people are very homogenous. Content spreads easily between homogenous groups. But how can we get content to spread between them?
Facebook’s been doing a lot of research on the idea of “influentials,” Paul said. In other words, people who have a lot to say to a big audience. And they are “finding that [theory] to false.” Influencers are not important. We are influenced by people who are closest to us.
What is vital for content to spread are nodes: people like Paul who, he said as an example, has friends from varied groups like football, Chicago, university and his family.
So how do we get these nodes to share? First, by realising that people never share for the sake of sharing (it’s always a means to an end). And second, tapping into the drives that have always compelled humans to share:
- To build relationships
- Manage their identity (“what does sharing this say about me?)
- And help others
The internet is build around people. Our most important job therefore is to understand human interaction.
Paul ended his presentation by sharing four principles of creativity around social interaction.
- Make it a fundamental part of the creative brief. You can’t bolt it on at the end.
- Base your creative idea on a real insight about social interaction. An example, not used by Paul, but apposite: Heinze lets friends send Get Well Soup on Facebook.
- Think of Facebook as a new type of a creative canvas. It’s different, a new and different medium. Advertisers often say “the ads on Facebook are so small! I want a huge video, I want a banner that everyone has to see before they visit their page!” But this is the wrong approach. Paul played the world’s first TV ad from the 1940s. It’s just a radio ad mixed with print, he said. To be effective, a new form of creativity had to be developed for a new medium, and the same goes for Facebook. Examples he gave were: Dallas Facebook Timeline and the Fanta timeline game.
- Start by designing the newsfeed story first. This was a genuinely insightful tip: what will your story (i.e., a Facebook post) look like when viewed on the full screen of someone’s phone, or as part of a newsfeed? Focus on this, above all.
As we were about to press publish on this blog post, we got some happy, and relevant, news. At the Lions, Ogilvy Sydney and CocaCola won bronze for the Share a Coke campaign! Congratulations.
It’s Arianna at huffingtonpost.com.
“If you want to write a blog post for us, just ask,” she says. She also invites you to message her @ariannahuff. “Blog for us and you will get thousands of readers!”
Founded in 2005, her thriving news community The Huffington Post gets 3 comments per second. It was recently awarded a Pulitzer Prize for reporting.
But when she took to the stage at Cannes Lions 2012, she wanted to talk about being quiet.
Disconnecting with our technology in order to connect with ourselves.
Technology is great, Arianna says, but hyper-connectivity is “the snake in the garden of Eden.” She sees people fetishising social media: “it’s trending on Twitter,” “it’s gone viral.” But when you look closely at what’s trending (Bieber, anyone?) it lacks value.
Thoreau said (and Arianna reminded us): “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”
We pay a terrible price when we lose that connection. Leaders with high IQs are making terrible decisions, not because they’e dumb but because they don’t possess wisdom. Wisdom, along with creativity and passion, have to come from deep inside.