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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Linkness. What we’ve been reading | September 28, 2012

by Nextness published September 28, 2012 posted in Linkness

More words of wisdom from Indexed. And now, Linkness. (Remember, we’re on the look out for staff members from STW Group companies who’d like to curate a Linkness of their own week. You choose the type of articles, what they’re about and where they’re from. They just have to be what you think is worth reading! Tweet or email us if you’re keen.)

If you only read one thing.

  • Focus means ignoring: “We need to spend less time looking to others for interesting things, and start spending more time doing the things that make us interesting. ” | Able Parris


  • How to nurture your company’s rebels, and unlock their innovative might | design mind
  • The power of defining the problem | Harvard Business Review
  • More direct reports make life easier: “Once spans of control are increased, it is then possible to compress the number of hierarchical layers or levels. For example, instead of one manager having five direct reports — each with three people reporting to them — the middle layer could be eliminated and the manager would then have fifteen subordinates.” | Harvard Business Review
  • Creative leadership: humility and being wrong | Forbes


  • The perils of best practice: Should you emulate Apple? Outliers are exactly that. Duplicating their performance is harder than we might wish. | McKinsey Quarterly (requires free registration)
  • Startup = Growth: “A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth.” | Paul Graham


  • On joy and order: Simply the act of imbuing order creates delight. | aesthetics of joy
  • Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks. The “neuroscience” shelves in bookshops are groaning. But are the works of authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer just self-help books dressed up in a lab coat? | New Statesman
  • Ten ways to get people to change | Harvard Business Review


  • In fashion, are trends passé? | NYTimes.com
  • Why good design is finally a bottom line investment | Co.Design
  • The Web Aesthetic: we’re embracing “responsive” but neglecting the second part: “design.” | A List Apart
  • “How I Met Your Mother” creators on building a long, funny, mystery | Co.Create

On Nextness this week.

  • For the love of story: we’ve gathered 8 of our favourite resources for people who want to walk the walk of creating compelling narratives — not just talk the talk. | NEXTNESS
  • The biggest theme felt wrong but all the smaller stuff felt right: A download and frank perspective from Brisbane agency Junior on what we can all learn from this year’s Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity. | NEXTNESS

STW Group news.

  • Death and the digital age | The White Agency
  • Three campaigns with just enough of an idea on the Moon Blog
  • “It’s from misery to hilarious, NRMA.” A glowing review of Lawrence Creative’s new ads for NRMA from Australian Creative.
  • Pat Crowley steps up at Ikon Sydney | mUmBRELLA

For the love of story.

by Nextness published September 26, 2012 posted in Creativity

Earlier this week, a guest post made fun of the fact that “storytelling” has become the latest buzzword in our business. In this post, we’ve gathered 8 of our favourite resources for people who want to walk the walk of creating compelling narratives -- not just talk the talk.

1. Nerdist writers’ panel.

Writing, television, and the business of writing television: that’s what the 40+ episodes of the Nerdist Writers’ panel podcast cover. From Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad to Modern Family, Buffy, and The Simpsons, writers of successful TV share what goes into “breaking the story” of the shows and characters you love.

2. KCRW’s The Treatment.

A “treatment,” in Hollywood parlance, is a concise overview of a screenplay. On The Treatment, film critic Elvis Mitchell turns the tables and gives the “treatment” to some of the most influential and innovative forces creating movies and popular art and entertainment.

Not sure where to start with The Treatment? We suggest Elvis’ interview with Christopher Nolan on the occasion of the release of Dark Knight Rises. Nolan co-wrote the screenplay and talks in detail about his choices.

3. Robert McKee’s Story.

Photo by Flickr user elmineAn actor plays Robert McKee in Charlie Kaufman’s film Adaptation; he comes across as a slightly-laughable hack. But he was famous enough to be parodied for a reason. His book Story breaks down the technical and emotional notes a screenplay has to reach in order to keep an audience hooked.

Incidentally, McKee’s book turns the plot of many popular films into charts in order to better highlight their turning points. Story Charts is a pretty intense blog inspired by McKee. Here is a breakdown of The Dark Knight.

4. WTF with Marc Maron podcast.

Peek into the minds of the world’s best comedians on Marc Maron’s cult podcast; see what they’ve learnt of their craft, and how. Background on the phenomenon of WTF.

5. The storytelling animal: how stories make us human.

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why?

In his new book, Jonathan Gottschall explains.

6. Storytelling on Fast Company.

Fast Company and their multiple blogs are all over storytelling like a rash. They’ve got a great archive, updated frequently.

7. Transmedia storytelling.

This Nextness 101 on Transmedia Storytelling we did last year is still a pretty good primer on storytelling across multiple channels.

8. Charlie Kaufman’s BAFTA Guru speech.

In a surprisingly intimate and personal speech, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) digs down into the burden of truth on the screenwriter.

I do believe you have a wound too. I do believe it is both specific to you and common to everyone. I do believe it is the thing about you that must be hidden and protected, it is the thing that must be tap danced over five shows a day, it is the thing that won’t be interesting to other people if revealed. It is the thing that makes you weak and pathetic. It is the thing that truly, truly, truly makes loving you impossible. It is your secret, even from yourself. But it is the thing that wants to live. It is the thing from which your art, your painting, your dance, your composition, your philosophical treatise, your screenplay is born.

Watch the video or click transcript to read it. Forget marketing, forget gimmicks, forget tricks. Kaufman reminds us of the deep human needs that storytelling fulfils.

Do you have a favourite resource for storytellers? Tweet @STWnextness and share it with us.



The biggest theme felt wrong but all the smaller stuff felt right.

by Nextness published September 24, 2012 posted in STW Group

A download and frank perspective from Brisbane agency Junior on what we can all learn from this year’s Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity.

OK, we’ll get the grumbles out of the way early so we can get into what we thought was the good stuff to be gleaned from this festival.

The over use, mis-use and frankly bewildering obsession with the concept of ‘storytelling’.

Sure, we are in a new age of hyperconnectivity, so brands must bring themselves to life and live out their story with consumers in real time. Then hope their story gets re-told. It’s a good point and we get it. But with a shift to storytelling, it seems legions of ad professionals can now begin to see themselves as super cool creaters, curators and directors of multi-media content. Which feels really much less dirty than dealing with anything so crass as a sales proposition. Which is maybe why everybody wanted to really extend and labor the whole story telling point. Or worse still, start pretending that we really are now here just to help brands inspire and entertain. And so can consider ourselves somehow not really the process of selling stuff any more.

More buzzword bingo.

Storytelling was followed closely on the buzzword bingo card by ‘omni-channel’, ‘big data’, ‘NFC’, ‘converged media’, ‘moores law’ and ‘the internet of things’. With that wi-fi push to order pizza fridge magnet thingamajig being everybody’s favourite example of the later.

What else bugged us? Senior agency group heads (invariably posh pommie blokes of a certain age wearing red socks) shouting at Asian agencies for the quality of work not being high enough. When you couldn’t help but wonder if little bit of instruction, encouragement or inspiration might not have gone amiss. And the seminars/forums being a little bit topline and light-on when just a cursory glance at the body of work entered into the awards suggested there was plenty of stellar work we could be debating and unpicking. Broadly however, not much bugged us.

Spikes is BRILLIANT.

You can’t help be fascinated by a forum spanning such diverse cultures. From Aussies to Indians to Malays, Thais, Sri Lankans and Singaporeans. Plus of course some fascinating little micro nations completely marooned in their own space. Like New Zealand.

Some highlights.

Lowe used a campaign example from Colombia (wishing rebel fighters merry christmas to make them homesick to make them lay down their weapons) and the work of Chinese documentary maker Ruby Yang to propose that we can all be a bit braver.

Though brave is a tactic to be moderated accordingly. If you want people to buy something, make them like it surreptitiously and in the million ways you now have at your disposal. Be brave in your choice of channels. If you want people to stop killing each other, make them stop and think. Be challenging, thought-provoking, emotive, hard hitting with your message.

India’s two greatest living Creatives took the stage and showed us that there is still a neo classical role for TV advertising. In India at least. With a series of stunningly good ads where 28 seconds of set up paid off beautifully for the brands revealed at the end. Their defence of TV was a simple one. And probably made a few of the older heads in the room a little wistful. In India, they said, people still love advertising. ‘We do not have the fast forward problem. We just have to keep making good ads’ said Prasoon Joshi.

Nice work if you can get it, you could almost hear the audience thinking as one.

The smartphone is changing how we shop in very specific way.

Our first forum experience (smaller room, longer session) was a deep dive on how mobile will change shopping. And thoroughly thought provoking it was too. Brands want us to join their communities. But all we really want from brands in the digital space is deals. In Asia shoppers use their phone to drive their bargain. 32% of shoppers in Singapore have redeemed a coupon in store this week. 37% have taken photos of product in store and shared it socially. Nearly half use their phone to price check online.

Essentially, it is the at store opportunity not the pre store deliberation retailers need to be looking at if they want to prosper. Get like Starbucks and weave mobile into the purchase process seemed to be the nod. And if you don’t know what red laser is yet, get across it pronto.

Get a hold of the data.

What to do with it, are we drowning it, how can we harness it? In a session on ‘data driven creativity’ we were shown exactly that. Honda turning piles and piles of the stuff into a real time map of which roads in Japan had survived the flooding for example.

Data is understanding what does and doesn’t work and data is pretty much free. The brand will have some already and you can gather more of it through analytics at nil cost. So the message for agencies was to get a hold of the data. Take ownership of it. Show their clients what they can do with it. Data, one of the speakers said, is not ever the idea. But it can take you to one.

So there you have it.

Some bite sized Spikes. A snapshot of how some of the world’s most voracious consumers and adopters of technology are being serviced by agencies who have long since given up on advertising as the communications model. Apart from India of course! They just love TV!

Brisbane-based STW Group company Junior has a fascinating Twitter you should follow @juniorbrisbane. They last appeared on Nextness in 10 things Junior’s loving right now.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | September 21, 2012

by Nextness published September 21, 2012 posted in Linkness

Our weekly wrap up of the best business and creativity #longreads online.

If you only read one thing this week.


  • How to run your meetings like Apple and Google | 99U
  • Boring is productive: making too many decisions about mundane details is a waste of a limited resource: your mental energy. | Harvard Business Review
  • Introverts make great leaders, too | NYTimes.com



  • The power of “Native Advertising” is in the hands of the brands | TechCrunch
  • Is the taste for Apple turning bitter? | B&T



  • Five ways to kill it with content | Undercurrent
  • Creativity predicts a longer life | Scientific American
  • “In business, in love, in life, art matters. It really does. Especially our own. And I’m not talking about putting colors on a square of canvas or blowing into a trombone. I’m talking about opening doors and letting shit out that we wish we had the balls to share with our loved ones, with peers, with complete strangers.” | The BrandBuilder Blog

On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.


Narcissism and personal data: a future of less sleep and more sex.

by Nextness published September 19, 2012 posted in Data

 Photo from fashion blogger @CarolinaEngman
Today’s guest post is from Athan Didaskalou (@ath), Strategist at DT Digital.

Narcissism. [narh-suh-siz-em] {noun}

Excessive interest in or admiration of oneself.

Narcissism usually has negative connotations. However, I see it as a positive. Loving thyself means knowing more about thyself. I look at people like Nicholas Felton who use their fascination with themselves for good, for betterment, for data.

There is a trend these days of collecting information about web users. In other words, you. And you can be assured that your favourite websites do this— Amazon know how many times you read that sex scene in your e-book version of 50 Shades, ASOS learn that targeted emails about specific products you like trigger you to click more, and of course Google get whatever they can get. Companies are constantly looking for new ways to quantify the actions of their users. The adage of ‘knowledge is power’ has never been truer.

Not too long ago, when most things were analogue, such measurement didn’t seem to be possible. But now that we’ve moved to a digital lifestyle, everything is open to the opportunity of being measured – we are capturing data from any action we do in an attempt to quantify all things in our lives.

But what do we do with these tidbits of self-absorbance? We end up collecting a constant trickle of detailed knowledge about ourselves only to find that we don’t really know what to do with it. We pride ourselves on the ability to look at big data sets and understand trends on scale, but what do we do with the data based on a sample of n=1?

Forget “big data”; all the juicy stuff happens at ground level.

The big one this year: Nike FuelBand. As a mate puts it, “seriously, it’s the most f*ing over hyped pedometer ever”. He’s right. But why do we love it so?  It feeds our hunger (note: obsession) for knowledge about ourselves. No one knows your body like you do, yet you still don’t know as much as you would like to know, and you never will. We’re drawn to knowing our outputs.

We want to be able to measure and define what has previously been instinctual. The rise of personal measurement apps is a testament to this. This, and this, and this are great examples of what’s happening right now in personal data measurement. One of the best examples of a company capitalising on the trend is Withings. They created self-measuring blood pressure tools and smart weight scales that all connect to the internet and offer a unique way to monitor and adjust your data for the betterment of your health. This is only the tip of the infographic. In Canada, they have apps that gamify pain monitoring for young cancer patients. But my favourite is a start-up in San Fran. that has coined their developments as “the API for the bloodstream”.

The well-being of our bodies today is thanks to the medical advancements brought about by R&D and technology. New cancer drugs, better scanning machines, mobility tools, etc. We’re using the density of the web to help some of the best scientists in the world fold proteins. Things look bright for medicine and tech. However on the individual front, we’re subjected to smaller tools to assist in diagnosis and betterment, and overall innovation in this domain has gone down the path of PPC (I’m looking at you, WebMD).

Optimisation: a series of trial and error.

An opportunity lies not within a diagnosis given based on the subjective inputs we give it, but by collecting data on our habits and testing what does and doesn’t work with our bodies. Everyone is different, and often require different solutions to the same problem. A classic example of this is asking the question “How much sleep do you need?” Some tell you a solid 8 hours, others will have you believe that less is more. The crux of the question is that there is no right answer. We can judge it by a lifetime of how we feel when we do one thing over another, but there are so many variables to factor in that most of us don’t know the optimal amount we need. We use trial and error to attempt to solve it. The next step in our evolution is to self-optimise through the utilisation of personal data.

Testing data like this is likened to A/B testing our bodies; we understand the cause and effect of everything we do, every little thing we consume, to make sure we function efficiently and effectively. In a world of personal data, we can find out what sleep patterns can make us day ninjas, which household chores release the most endorphins, and which foods act as the most efficient aphrodisiac! (I’m ahead of the curve – I’ve found it to be oysters). The practice exists already. Elite athletes have doctors, physicians and dietitians on hand to analyse every movement and morsel in their lives to determine their optimal approach. The next wave of medical technology to the masses is about the democratisation of personal data tools that give us the ability to understand and learn from ourselves.

This type of self-optimisation is what will be the most exciting surge in the next few years. How will it affect relationships? Our workplaces? Our insurance premiums?!

Medical tools on a personal level already exist. Recording personal data is already an emerging trend. The opportunity lies within making them both relevant by giving us the data on a personal level, and providing us with the tools to learn and optimise the data collected for our individual needs.

To better ourselves through data is seeing narcissism have the positive spin it deserves. But until then, stick with the oysters.

Athan Didaskalou (@ath) is a Strategist at DT Digital who’s been known to take his top off to pitch ideas to COOs. This post first appeared on the excellent DT Digital blog.


Nextness’ greatest hits.

by Nextness published September 17, 2012 posted in STW Group

Nextness is 18 months old next week and our readership’s grown and grown – thank you!

But not everyone’s been with us since the beginning. So in case you missed them the first time round, here’s a list of some of our favourite posts over the past year and a half:



The future!

A little favour.

We suppose you’ve been wondering what to get us to celebrate our 18 months. If an iPhone 5 is out of the question, perhaps you’d like to share us with all your friends?

When they sign up for our 2 – 3 emails a week, add us to their RSS, follow us on Twitter @STWnextness, or like Nextness on Facebook, this post shows them what they’ll be getting!

(Along with Linkess, our weekly round-up of the best business and creativity writing on the web.)

We blog for the love of it and because it’s our job – but what makes all of this worthwhile and fun is our growing community of readers and contributors. You can help us build it.

Share the Nextness love today!

(And even if you don’t, thank you for reading <3)


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | September 14, 2012

by Nextness published September 14, 2012 posted in Linkness

Thanks to the team at Shift for this great photo – another successful R U OK? Day has been and gone (our background blog post | Chris Savage’s guest post | R U OK? Day website). Did you take part? And now, Linkness.

If you only read one thing.

  • Almost a third of the economy faces a digital “big bang” over the next three years, pushing companies as diverse as retailers, banks and real estate agents to rethink their strategies, a new report says. | SMH


  • Five imperatives for CMOs by Brian Fetherstonhaugh | Sell or Else
  • How can employees manage their time at home to maintain mental and emotional well-being? | PHWP
  • “No one organization or executive can have all the answers or skills to deliver to clients in such a fast changing scene, when we need to mesh creativity and channels with new technology and fast morphing consumers. We have to learn to collaborate.” | Wrestling Possums
  • What to do when you have to work with someone you don’t like | Harvard Business Review





  • The Slow Web Movement | iDoneThis blog
  • Digital content appears with minimal visual language distinguishing yesterday from tomorrow and today. Now habits have emerged in which we communicate with the past and even mistake it for the present. Is time itself something mutable on the web, available to us to reimagine and remix? | Joanne McNeil


  • The creativity of the wandering mind | psmag
  • How to tell a story: tips from a master of improv | Co.Create
  • Smart content is about more than words and clicks. It can have a profound impact on a brand’s bottom line | Sparksheet
  • 4 steps to breakthrough ideas | Fast Company
  • How to explain an idea: a mega post | Life. Then strategy
  • Complicated seems clever to stupid people | Dave Trott

On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.

  • Ogilvy Australia has a new website!
  • Bohemia strikes again with $15m Aspen Pharmaceuticals win | mUmBRELLA
  • Sydney is region’s third strongest city brand, Melbourne is fifth – marketer survey | mUmBRELLA
  • Kimberly-Clark launches Pull-Ups education campaign | B&T
  • STW expands digital with an investment in Sydney digital agency Switched on Media | Campaign Brief
  • The Big Bang and a new age for business | Ogilvy Australia
  • Hooroo.com: TRAVELtech Amadeus Website of The Year | Travel Trends