At CR’s Click London conference last week there was great work, a great big row and curry for lunch. Who could ask for more?
Click is our one-day conference on digital creativity – or should that be post-digital creativity? In kicking off the day our chair, Andy Cameron of Wieden + Kennedy London (and previously Fabrica, Romandson and Antirom) wondered whether we hadn’t already entered a post-digital phase where much of the exciting work was not technologically inventive but was about combining existing platforms and technologies in compelling ways – Old Spice (discussed at Click San Francisco) being a case in point.
But this is not to say that investigating new technologies was unimportant in fuelling exciting work, as we were to see later that morning. But first, a lesson in the realities of app publishing by Mills of ustwo (profiled in our July issue).
The McBess Granimator iPad app, one of a series produced in collabortaion with CR by ustwo (more here)
With commendable frankness, Mills explained that app publishing is very far from the gold mine that many have hoped. He estimated that ustwo had invested some £480,000 in staff time in developing its apps in order to receive just £130,000 in revenue. Shifting paid-for apps, he showed, is a real challenge, relying as much on marketing skills as the quality of the product.
But, and it’s a big but, there is method in ustwo’s madness. The apps that are so costly to develop open the door to far more lucrative client work. Our next speaker, Andy Fowler of Brothers and Sisters, showed more great client apps, including the excellent Museum of London Street Museum (which we covered here) and a new project for Sky Sports in which fans can insert their name and photo into a documentary-style piece about football’s latest sensation. Such work, he explained, was particularly compelling as it allowed users to fulfil their dreams.
Next up we had Evan Grant of Seeper (see CR October) showing some of his studio’s stupendous 3D projection mapping and multitouch installations including the Battle of Branchage project – one of the first and still one of the best projection mapping projects
And this multitouch display for the launch of Airside’s book
Then we had Joel Gethin-Lewis of Hellicar & Lewis (profiled in CR’s July 09 issue) and Anita Fontaine of Champagne Valentine, both of whom are represented by Nexus Interactive Arts, a new division of the production company set up to help ad agencies work with media artists.
Amongst the work Gethin-Lewis showed was Divide by Zero, an experimental piece for choreographer Nina Kov
And this spectacular outdoor projection/performance piece for New Zealand Telecom
Grant, Gethin-Lewis and Fontaine all took place in the debate that followed about the issues arising when such media artists work with ad agencies. Inevitably, this gravitated toward the thorny issue of accreditation and some well-documented issues of occasions when ad agencies have seemed to either copy artists’ ideas or take credit for work which wasn’t theirs. Gethin-Lewis called for agencies to “be respectful, involve artists more and pay them a decent rate. Everyone’s standing on each other’s shoulders, so be honest about innovation,” he asked, noting that there is a tendency towards claiming ownership of an idea or innovation when in fact that technique may be the work of many collaborators. Fontaine also asked for “more honesty and a more open, collaborative approach”.
This was a theme that we would return to later but, in the meantime, Happiness Brussels took to the stage to present work such as the Toyota iQ font and the Anthony Burrill Oil and Water Don’t Mix print made using spilled oil reclaimed from beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
The afternoon was when things really kicked off (perhaps the huge plates of curry consumed at lunch were to blame) with a panel that was supposed to be about the place of design within digital (or vice versa) but ended up returning to the agency – artist relationship. In a heated exchange, Greyworld‘s Andrew Shoben complained bitterly of the way that his studio had been treated on a recent project where, he alleged, they had suffered undue interference and even had the name of the commissioned work changed without their knowledge. Andy Cameron, however, challenged the implication that agencies mistreated those they work with and pointed out that anyone working with an agency – whether artist, film director or anyone else – must expect to take on board the client and agency’s views.
Things calmed down a little after that and we had an excellent session on social media, a session on the problems of judging digital and interactive work for awards and, to round off the day, talks from Måns Tesch on his eponymous new business, Flo Heiss of Dare and Ogilvy Digital Labs‘ director of innovative solutions’ Nicole Yershon on her attempts to introduce new thinking and new technologies into a major agency.
All in all, a great, inspirational and intense, day – our thanks to Andy Cameron and to all our speakers and delegates for making it so.
This year, we have run Click in New York, San Francisco and, of course, London. Watch out for news of venues for 2011.