Creative Review is hosting its Click conference on digital advertising today in association with the Art Directors Club in New York. I’ll be blogging live from the event through the day…
James Cooper from Another Anomaly is kicking things off. He’s going to talk about capitalism – which, if you believe the news this morning, is feeling rather unwell right now…
James kicks off with this
Cooper says agencies have the opportunity to redefine relationships and role of agency to have a positive affect on society beyond the bottom line – “ideas that modern capitalism craves”.
Keep a Child Alive – on paper, it’s got everything. Charity that ticks all the boxes – celebrities, kids, AIDS and Africa. It should have been awards gold he says, tongue-in-cheek, but no-one really knew about it. Anomaly came up with concept of “lean into frame” – to hijack a media event for your own ends. So they decided to join the queue for the sale of the first iPhone and use it for benefit of the chairty – blogging about it for five days as he stood in line. They effectively hijacked the launch of the iPhone for the charity
They then auctioned the iPhone for $100,000. So a simple idea that was blogged and tapped into a media event delivered a huge return for the charity.
“Pink it & shrink it” – when companies want to market a pre-existing product to women they make the pack smaller and colour it pink. But, Cooper says, such a cynical approach no longer works – need to be more honest with consumers.
There has to be a better way of doing “branded content” than clumsy movie-style product placement. Cooper shows a film and record Anomaly made for Converse with Pharrell and Santogold.
It’s a piece of “content” – music video, youtube clip, ad – whatever. Free content – you could download the mp3 for free. An accompanying campaign used Google for an online Spelling Bee. More here
Cooper argues that having clients as partners as Anomaly does changes the relationship to be much more honest and mutually beneficial.
Cooper’s main points:
Don’t use charity accounts to chase awards, use them to test new ideas and new theories.
Be on the consumer’s side – don’t participate in misleading them.
Have partners not clients – you’re less likely to dick them around and, I guess to be dicked around yourself
Next up, Paul Parton from the Brooklyn Brothers
Paul went for the old conference shock tactic by starting off saying that they hate advertising and would like nothing better than to see the back of it. Ad agencies were bloated, wasteful and self-aggrandising and yet Brokklyn Brothers does a lot of advertising. So they’re either horribly conflicted or very sad.
he talked about the fact that they realised all ad work becomes digital work eventually – whether it’s people taking pics of a billboard then sending them to their friends or sharing films on YouTube. So you have to approach everything with an online state of mind, rather than a traditional broadcast one. This revolves around three things:
Inviting the consumer in
The ideas is the medium
Advertising is disposable
He talked about the work they’ve done for the NY Rangers ice hockey team where they created a character – an actor named Bobby Granger, who is the ultimate fan. He features in 17 films that were released via hockey blogs rather than mainstream media thus encouraging people to feel he was one of them. He participated in chat online, was totally open about what was going on and, apparently, became accepted by fans – he now has a chant at home games
Pertaining to his last point about disposability, Parton explained that all 17 films were made (with director Kinka “Kerchingka” Usher no less) for $350,000. The average cost of a US 30 second TV spot is $270,000. So, as with James Coper, the message was make lots of small, cheaper content rather than one big show-offy spectacular.
Parton rounded off by saying that their approach comes out in a different approach to strategy – whereas before they would start with the brand and its positioning, now they are much more focussed on solving business problems. They are far more entrepeneurial and pointed and a lot less abstract as “clients are fed up with paying loads for films which may not work”
Already there are definite themes coming out of Click. Following the Brooklyn Brothers we have had sessions from the nascent Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) the organisation founded by 18 independent digital agencies to establish best practice and advance the industry through education and advocacy. This was followed by an impassioned session from Poke’s Tom Ajello and an equally eloquent one from Michael Lebowitz at Big Spaceship.
Ajello had a simple message – if you’re not eating, shitting and breathing digital, go home. In other words, people involved in digital communications need to be consumed by the medium and its latest developments – Twittering, Flickring and even good old-fashioned blogging for all they’re worth.
he held up his mobile and informed us that we were all live on the net – via qik.com. You can see the video here
“If you’re not experimenting and seeing this stuff for yourselves you’re ruining your clients’ chances of doing something really amazing – you need to be a part of it.”
Ajello and Lebowitz after him voiced one of the main themes of the day – that what digital agencies do is not ‘advertising’. It’s kind of difficult to sum it up neatly without resorting to awful marketing speak but it’s basically about creating experiences or opportunities for people to interact with brands or organisations. CReating experiences and facilitating relationshsips.
Lebowitz also had a list of pointers for running a digital agency:
1, Everyone’s creative – if you’re not creative, you shouldn’t be working here. He loathes the expression ‘creative department’
2, Don’t hire assholes, no matter how talented. Even the best art director in the world is not worth the hassle if he or she is a pain to have around
3, Hire to be the dumbest person in the room – the old Ogilvy maxim of hiring people smarter than you
4, Give people autonomy – they will care more
5, Experiment constantly – not just for clients. It helps retain staff and do r&d for what could be client projects
6, Small is good – it’s hard not to grow. BS turns away 60 to 80% of possible jobs.
So, themes so far:
Get involved – you have to be part of the digital world to know what to advise clients on, to be a constant student.
It’s not advertising – advertising is part of it but it’s about facilitating a more rich, two-way, engaging experience. Inviting the consumer to become involved.
Do more – big blockbuster, one hit pieces of work are out – a multitude of smaller, cheaper executions are far more effective.
The idea is the medium – you just put it wherever it wants to go.
By the way, Tina Roth of Swiss Miss is here and blogging too – go here to read her
Now we’re onto a discussion on education with Liz Danzico, our moderator, Ale Lariu from McCann and SheSays, Mattias Hansson of HyperIsland and Chloe Gottlieb of R/GA
Ale says most important quality in digital is passion for it – everything else can be taught. Matthias stresses importance of people learning to work together.
Chloe talks about using the people within an organisation for continual education of staff – that people may be teaching outside or doing research and how important it is to feed that back via workshops etc for staff.
Mattias points out that HyperIsland has no books, no teachers, no lessons – none of what you’d expect at a college. It’s totally focused on the group dynamic and how to work together on projects.
What’s biggest shortcoming among students?
Chloe – it’s either very strong concept and no craft or other way round. really hard to find people who can do both. Agencies have to become post-grad places offering courses and structures to help them skills they need.
Utility – “Useful is the new cool” says Ale. You have to be giving people something useful but not many understand that.
Chloe – as soon as people feel they’re not learning anything, they want to leave. So rather than education being a risk because people might leave, it’s actually a vital tool to stop them from leaving. Teach them something and they’ll stay.
“You need to fall in love with the fact that digital is constantly changing and ride with that” – Ale.
And we have Sergio Gordilho from Africa Advertising in Brazil.
How can you be creative in a country where everyone is creative – or thinks they are?
Cultural fusion is one of the keys to Brazilian creativity.
Isolation – we’re surrounded by Spanish-speakers. 11 hours by plane from any major city in world.
History – 50 presidents in the last 100 years. Only the most creative survive.
They only have 8 clients – he says they want to be expensive and exclusive. Why Africa? Because ‘Africa is Brazil and Brazil is Africa. 80% of Brazilians come from Africa.”
Unfortunately Sergio has some issues with his Brazilian technology – it won’t work.
So we’ll move on to the second last speaker – Ben Palmer from the Barbarian Group on being “hopelessly devoted to interactive”
Shows their new internal project Beard. A kind of message board on which they post up every new project that comes in to the agency so that everyone can contribute ideas. So that Palmer doesn’t have to run everything – everyone gets the chance to be creative director. And it’s called Beard because all the tech guys have them (of course).
Beard has involved various disasters – ie 22 year-old kids being given the job of presenting to major companies – but he says it’s led to everyone getting better at everything – which is nice.
The site also acts as a repository of ideas that have no client but might come in handy one day. On example is a T-shirt generator originally thought up for Hanes. Eventually they used it for CNN – it allows users of its site to create a T-shirt whose slogan is a headline from one of that day’s new stories ie Jesus’ Face Seen In Kitten’s Swirly Fur
See more here
And finally, we have Alex Lieu of 42 Entertainment who created the Year Zero campaign for Nine Inch nails.
Today’s audience he says, is primed to ignore traditional advertising. But if you build cool stuff, they will come.
42 builds Alternate Reality Games – ARGs – where the audience has a central role and drives the whole thing.
Talks about using the world as a platform – any way to engage people, whether it’s projecting onto buildings, events, or digital.