I’m going to be blogging from Shanghai for the next couple of days as I’m here for the latest Creative Social gathering of creative directors from (mostly) digital agencies from around the world. We’re staying here at the Ruijin hotel – former Communist Party guest house, now chic hotel where a beer costs £10 and copies of Mao’s Little Red Book in each guest room have been supplanted by golf magazines and Fortune
Shanghai’s currently gearing up for its Expo which is supposed to be a coming out party for the city in the same way that the Olympics was for Beijing. The point of Expos has always beeen somewhat lost on me: Is there anyone on the planet who is unaware that Shanghai is a booming global megalopolis and other cliches? They just seem like an opportunity to spend Olympian amounts of money without at least providing some plucky Gold-medal-winner stories or decent TV.
If our host agency, Profero, is anything to go by, digital advertising in Shanghai is as yet unaffected by the downturn – Profero is expecting to grow by 150 per cent next year and is soon to move into a floor of 1933, a huge new pseudo industrial building in the Hongkou area north of the Bund. Shanghai doesn’t apparently have an equivalent to a Shoreditch or a Soho yet but the area around here looks like it might be it. Omnicom is already here, while a converted 30s abattoir across the road is home to both an American Apparel and an Apple store on its ground floor, with a restaurant and more retail space above.
Founded by Mark Chalmers (now of Perfect Fools) and Profero’s Daniele Fiandaca, Creative Social is an informal conference which, a couple of times a year and thanks to some support from Microsoft, gives creative directors a chance to get together in a different city, show each other what they’ve been up to and generally talk shop.
But the added dimension is that each event has a line-up of local speakers from cultural industries who provide some insight into what is happening in their city. So it’s a bit more intersting than just talking about advertising all day.
To begin with though, attendees showed some recent projects including:
The Unloader, a site by Perfect Fools with Far Far for Nokia. Pick a document that’s causing you some frustration and watch as The Unloader trashes it for you in satisfactorily malicious style. Here it is in action:
Celebrity ping pong – Another Anomaly CD James Cooper’s magazine which came out of a project with Miami Ad School students and features famous people interviewed while playing table tennis.
And The Viral Factory’s take on the Safe For Work porn phenomenon – a clip promoting Diesel’s 30th birthday that has been much blogged about