branding, content creating, creating

The Joys of Burberry, Part Two – Brand-Corporate: the authenticity of a business that communicates like its brand

about two minutes into the above video Angela Ahrendts, the outgoing CEO of Burberry, delivers a marketing masterclass:

“we needed to keep the story authentic. we needed to keep it pure. we knew we were going to target different audiences. we knew that the mediums would be different. we knew it would be so much more global than maybe things has been in the past, but the story had to be the same. so we said everything we’re gonna do is target this Millennial customer, and if we do that we’re going to have to speak in their language, and their language was rapidly becoming digital. so we studied this customer and then adjusted each of our strategies in order to be relevant and authentic to this audience that we were catering to. because I think everything you do going forward, you can’t do anything the traditional way. it has to be so visual, and we hit on this word ‘energy’ early on and said we want everything we do to have energy.”

it’s a very elegantly conceived and expressed set of convictions: things Burberry knew, clarity of audience targeting, the implications of engaging that audience on their own terms, and a set of beliefs that challenge convention and set a strategic behavioural direction for the brand. ask yourself how many of the brands you do or have worked on have that clarity of focus?

I wrote about the joys of Burberry’s marketing back in July. I described my admiration for their flip of the online / physical retail approach, the digital-first strategy and the pleasure in watching kisses fly across the world; and I described the prolific investment of time and energy into content.

what’s so interesting and awesome about this content strategy however, is the extent to which it’s spread into Burberry’s corporate culture … they have an entire section on their YouTube channel devoted to corporate videos. from financial results to exec travelogues, taking in a discussion of the group’s acquisition of its stores and related assets in China on the way. the video content is an authentic, consistent voice not of the brand, but of the business.

there is much to admire. this is a business with the story it wants to tell and conversation it wants to have firmly in its own hands. it’s not solely dependent on it’s relationship with reporters and journalists to share its news, agenda, and take on the world. the story as they see it is there for anyone to watch, not hidden in a column in the financial section or the ‘recent press releases’ page of the corporate website.

but more than any of this its a glorious demonstration of the business behaving in comms the same way as would the brand. this is important. and its rare. I can think of only a few businesses that try and succeed in doing so. mine certainly doesn’t … although I’d rather like it to. because more than anything else it’s a phenomenally effective way for a company to communicate to the constituency who are hopefully its most ardent advocates – it’s own employees.

of course there is an obvious danger; the assertion that such a ‘brand-corporate’ strategy is nothing more than a smart and elegant attempt to over-control the message. that a business journalist can’t question a YouTube video. that a shareholder can’t challenge a per-recorded statement. or that style will mask substance. to which there is only one simple response … just behave on brand: in the knowledge that consistency, transparency and authenticity will out.

and you don’t get more transparent than a YouTube video of Burberry’s Chairman Sir John Peace talking with an outgoing and incoming CEO about the news that Ahrendts will step down as Chief Executive Officer by mid-2014, with Bailey (on whom I have a purely marketing crush) assuming the role of Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer.

of course its well-packaged, and of course its practiced and of course well-finished.

but so is a great fashion brand.

campaigning, content creating, creating, engaging, experiencing, marketing

Joy: How Brands are Spreading a Little Love and Happiness, and What This Surprise and Delight Tells Us about the State We’re In

the always amazing media update from James, Sisse and the gang brought with it this week a couple of treats which kinda got me thinking … the first is an effort, above, from Virgin Atlantic who transformed a Manhattan park bench into a Virgin flying experience, complete with champagne, food and real life movies.

the other was an effort, below, from Molson, who built fridges full of beer that could only be unlocked by someone with a Canadian passport, much to the delight and joy of the crowds that had gathered for the unlocking.

these both share a fair bit of DNA. they both are great experiential efforts designed not really to be experiential – but rather content; content designed to be enjoyed, shared and of course land a comms message in the process. and they both rely on the participation of innocent strangers – collateral vantage if you will – to bring realness and credibility to the situation. they’re pretty much givens, but there’s something else they both have in common … something deeper and I think more significant.

but this week our own Mimi, not one to miss a sweet treat, dropped us a note that the Magnum Pleasure store will be opening in Sydney. hurrah. this is off the back of Cadbury’s Joyville effort locally …

so what’s going on? well I think we’re seeing a definite increase in the amount of random acts of kindness from brands. we’re witnessing nothing short of a surge in desire and investment into spreading a little love and happiness. the evidence of the brand-inspired Joy is all around. like love, and so the feeling grows. sorry.

now you could argue that this isn’t really anything new; that the last few years (if not decades) are riven with examples of marketing sharing a little love and happiness … be it Coke’s vending machines (or even back to teach the world to sing) or the playful inventiveness of Skittles or T-Mobile from Liverpool Street to Heathrow or insert-your-example-here … you could argue that brands have always been in the business of creating Joy. however I think this is distinct for two reasons:

one, these acts aren’t surprising and delighting the passive massive through broadcast, but rather the more tangible and meaningful individuals on the street. these acts are very deliberately public – that strikes me as significant; the acts are witnessed, at that witness makes them realer, more credible, more meaningful and more potent. and I think this is important.

the other reason is that I think it says something about the state we’re in … I read ages ago (and I honestly can’t remember where) that popular culture generates content opposite to the prevailing mood of the times. Sorkin created Bartlett when America needed him, then post-Obama positivism was countered by darker, less sure-footed heroes like Nicholas Brody. I’m wondering if the same can be said for marketing?

from the collapse of states to environmental insecurity, via PRISM, to economic uncertainty and the realignment from west to eastern dominance … we’re in pretty shaky times – you could say that winter is coming.

perhaps our collective unleashing of marketing Joy is the brand equivalent of the contemporary prevalence of the superhero: shear joy, positive unabashed certainty at a time when our world no longer gives us these for granted.

I’ll leave you with one last little bit of joy … a video from Google celebrating how we have and continue to build the web together. it’s a genuine joy … so, well, … enjoy.

featured image via adweek

advertising, campaigning, commenting, creating, debating, planning

Create and Debate: Lessons for brands, courtesy of Dikkenberg and Rusbridger, on communicating credibly, conspicuously and contagiously

I had a rather delightful serendipitous few minutes yesterday when I watched consecutively two videos on YouTube. it occurred to me that between them they rather elegantly describe the formula for communicating your position or point of view in the world right now.

the first was the above video of a speech given by Who&Why Media‘s founder Simon Dikkenberg at the 20th anniversary of Mission Australia’s CYI. Simon (who is awesome) captured more elegantly than I would the point and power of unleasing a creative instinct:

“By becoming conscious of our stories and our ability to shape then, we learn that we can edit and redefine the great changes that impact our lives … what’s exciting is that we now live in era in which the tools to record and share our stories are cheap and easily accessible (most of us carry them on the phones in our pockets) … we all have our own battles and wars but it is the stories we tell ourselves about them that determine the positive or negative impact they have on our lives …”

Simon Dikkenberg (from the above video)

I next watched this video from The Guardian of Editor Alan Rusbridger describing the newspaper’s ‘Open Journalism’ philosophy.

it’s simple, straightforward, and elegant … yet it describes profound changes to how a newspaper goes about doing what it does. changes that by Rusbridger’s own admission are a “big barrier for journalists to get over”.

“Open journalism is about allowing a response … saying to readers ‘we want to hear from you’ … if you can have more than one view you get a better account … once you accept that then you’re into just the questions of the mechanics … we should be able to respond to them too … its being responsive to what comes into the building …
Its no good shoving a newspaper on the web, you have to be part of the web … as a result I think our journalism is much more approachable, much more diverse, much more comprehensive, much more challenge-able (which is a good thing), and just generally better.”

Alan Rusbridger (from the above video)

that second paragraph is of particular relevance and significance to comms planning – swap ‘journalism’ for brand and you get the following advice: ‘its no good shoving a brand on the web, you have to be part of the web … as a result I think [your] brand is much more approachable, much more diverse, much more comprehensive, much more challenge-able … and just generally better’.

I can think of little better advice I’ve ever heard being suggested for brands as they plan in an online, on-demand, fragmented and attention-light world.

perhaps what strikes me most is how the Dikkenberg Rusbridger formula of Create + Debate is so very rarely applied. brands of course create, but very rarely for the specific purpose of instigating debate. and of course brands debate, but often as a response to events or about their products as opposed to the communicates they create around a point of view.

yet when brands do embrace this simple formula, the results are often hugely successful – at the very least from a communications point of view. here are just a few of my favourites:

all these examples are awesome campaigns because they are credible, conspicuous and inherently contagious. and they are all those things, I think, because they followed the Dikkenberg Rusbridger formula: create the stories of your battles and debate with the plurality of views they engender.

the possibilities are staggering, as is the potential positive affect those stories could have on us all.

featured image via here and here

celebrating, creating

Cannes Catch-Up: Saatchi & Saatchi + Dawkins + Meme theory = kinda crazy cool didn’t see that coming Cannes presentation

so just catching up with some of the flotsam and jetsam that emerged from Cannes this year and stumbled across the above video of a session brought to you by Saatchi & Saatchi and Richard Dawkins. Dawkins was introducing the agency’s New Directors’ showcase, which their website describes as a platform for:

“The very best new directing talent, identified by our offices around the world, and through the relationships we have with key internet sites … each year we wrap the Showcase around a theme … This year’s theme ‘Just for Hits’ is a visual and oral extravaganza featuring the world-renowned British evolutionary biologist, Professor Richard Dawkins. The show connects the world of science and academia, with the world of film and the Internet.”

so there.

the showcase theme, of course, addresses an enduring obsession with the industry – getting viral success. whilst ‘planning viral’ is a contradiction in terms (you can weight the odds in your favour but I defy anyone to say they can plan that something will go viral), there can be few better academic contexts than that of Dawkins’ Meme theory, developed in the ’70s and first described in The Selfish Gene.

in that regard getting Dawkins to introduce a showcase of videos around the theme of ‘just for hits’ is a rather brilliant piece of showmanship. in Dawkins’ own words “the internet is a first-class ecology for memes to spread … going viral [was] the very phrase I used in The Selfish Gene” source – his theory is the embodiment of many marketers’ wildest dreams.

here’s a video of the Guardian’s interview with Dawkins at Cannes.

featured image via BBC

creating, experiencing, outdoor, praising

In Praise of Physicality: a shout out to SoulPancake for making me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside

a delightfully awesome idea via the delightfully awesome Upworthy

SoulPancake encouraged totally random people to shout out to people who have changed their lives. and they did. and SoulPancake made a video of it. and then I watched it. and I got thinking about all the awesome people who have changed my life. and now I feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

I love the pure physicality of this idea. it could so easily have been a digital execution; where it would certainly have had more scale, greater pass-on, less risk and a plethora of innovations and platforms to bring depth and meaning to the idea.

none of which it needs,

despite the fact that physicality has soooooo many downsides …

physicality makes things geographically limited. stuff can get broken or damaged. people have to overcome the huge fear of public embarrassment by taking part. which means loads of people won’t. you have to get the location right and people need to be there to watch all the stuff and what if you get the location wrong. or it could rain. or there could be a local planning regulation thing that you forgot to take account of. and only 322 people will see it. and people are busy, will they honestly engage with an over-sized microphone in a shopping mall?

none of which matters.

far from limiting the idea, the physicality of how people were encouraged to do this makes it all the more powerful … the physicality of the invitation, and the physicality of people’s shout-outs transform a cute idea into a powerful affirmation of relationships and connections and influences that make us who we are.

so here’s a shout out to SoulPancake … nice job.

featured image source

creating, innovating, internet

Australia’s digital-fuelled cultural boom: Why established brands and businesses need to close the innovation gap

the above video sets the context for a report released last week by Google and the Boston Consultancy Group, which has some rather interesting findings.  the report’s key findings are that Australia’s media industry is healthy, however it is the Internet that is providing the “shot in the arm” to growth.

it turns out that not only do Australians like their ‘new’ media world, but in said world where our access to, and choice of, media has never been greater, we’re consuming more media than ever before.  so much so in fact that – because we export, essentially, more content than we import – we have a trade surplus in our content that’s worth $24bn to the economy.

the report also identified that whilst ad revenues are still (and will be for a while) predominantly generated offline (93% in 2011), its online revenues that are driving more than 50% growth in the sector.

the report came in the same week that the sparkily titled Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia (CEASA to their friends) released it’s retrospective of 2011, reporting that whilst adspend was down, it “wasn’t as bad as previous years” (let it not be said that CEASA can’t find a silver lining in a set of figures).

a 1.4% overall drop was the result of (in descending order) online up 17.5%, outdoor up 3.4%, radio up 0.7% (congrats to them all), 2.6% drop in total TV, 9.2% drop in newspapers, 8.4% decline in mags, and a 20.8% drop in cinema. so both reports point to online as doing not just well, but supporting both ad revenues and the overall economy.

so far so ‘tell me something I didn’t know’ … but the reports struck a chord with a conversation I’ve been having a lot with clients and agency-type people recently.  because the reports only tell a truer picture when you ask WHY it is that online is bucking such a downward trend – and I think that the answer is about innovation.

the engine behind online’s performance is now only marginally about penetration gains and faster infrastructure, and a lot more about the increased utility and capabilities delivered via the internet. its not the internet that’s bucking ad spend trends and fuelling the Australian economy, its what the internet is doing, and more specifically what we can do with the internet that counts.

Facebook and YouTube have now been joined by the likes of Flipboard and Spotify on the Australian media scene, innovations that have come not from the mainstream but from the fringe. and here’s where I see the gap. because its not mainstream media or businesses that are driving this innovation, but new entrants. new entrants spotting an opportunity and innovating into it.

when you think about it, many ‘online’ platforms should have been invented by existing players, yet most weren’t:

the music industry should have invented iTunes

the movie business should have invented NetFlix

the radio industry should have invented Spotify

a magazine publisher should have invented Flipboard

a bank should have invented KickStarter

a dating service should have invented Grindr

and for that matter, a media agency should have invented Facebook

the reason none of those organisations invented the new platform is the same reason the American Railroads went into decline:

“The railroads did not stop growing because the need for passenger and freight transportation declined. That grew. The railroads are in trouble today not because that need was filled by others (cars, trucks, airplanes, and even telephones) but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business. The reason they defined their industry incorrectly was that they were railroad oriented instead of transportation oriented; they were product oriented instead of customer oriented…”

source: Marketing Myopia, Theodore Levitt, HBR 1960

Levitt’s question from 1960 is even more pertinent now than it was then. what business are you in? once you’ve answered that you can start innovating around that business, and once you’re inventing stuff that gets shared and talked about, you can stop paying the expensive price of not innovating: buying media.

established players, it strikes me, are the least likely to bridge the innovation gap in their category – we should all we working on plans to change that.

and for those of us in agency land the question is more pertinent than for most … what business are we in? anyone who answers ‘buying media’ or ‘making ads’ should turn the lights off on their way out.

advertising, creating, gaming, planning

The game of the movie or the movie of the game?: The opportunity of choosing the immersive over the immediate

(featured image source)

“Several years ago in the video game industry the big buzz word was “transmedia”.  it was a term that was coined for original worlds and properties that spanned multiple venues, from the game to the TV series to the movies to the books. everyone was aflutter with this idea; these mega properties were going to dominate the entertainment landscape and change how we consume media.

flash forward to now and it’s clear that very few studios were ever able to pull off this “holy grail” of world development. budgets skyrocketed and very few wanted to take a gamble on building a new world. Ubisoft, however, pulled this off with Assassin’s Creed, and they did it with flying colours.

let’s face it – we live in a digital and connected world. a distracted world. there are always multiple things vying for our attention, be it social media or mobile devices. in this era creatives need to craft games and worlds that gamers “marry” not ones that they casually “date”. there are numerous ways to accomplish this, but one of the best ways to do it is to make a game world that is so extraordinarily deep that it takes an army to sort through all of the facts and details. the world of Assassin’s Creed is one that is easy to get into but can take years to fully understand and appreciate.”

Cliff Bleszinski – Design Director, Epic Games

it’s strange reading the above commentary outside of a media planning text, the parallels are so similar as to be striking … “buzz word was ‘transmedia'”, “change how we consume media”, “a digital and connected world. a distracted world” …

Bleszinski’s comments were written for the prologue to the Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia, a beautifully designed hardback book included as part of the Animus Edition of Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

Assassins_creed_2 Assassins_creed_3 Assassins_creed_4 Assassins_creed_5

Ubidoft’s unboxing video of Assassin’s Creed Revelations Animus Edition and images from the Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia: careful, spoilers alert

that games now come with encyclopedias may be news enough for some readers, but the fact that Assassin’s Creed does (in fact there’s an audio CD and a short movie in the Animus too) bears testament to just how evolved some game worlds now are.

evolved, and big business.

a Guardian article last week reported that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had set a five-day worldwide sell-through record, with sales of more than USD $775m.  it went on to comment that “the number also far exceeds the opening revenues from any movie or album release in 2011 – the biggest film of the year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, made $202m in its first five days. It is likely that Modern Warfare 3 will join the select group of £1bn-grossing entertainment properties by Christmas.”

some digging courtesy of the same article notes that DFC Intelligence puts the 2010 global games industry figure at USD $66bn, whilst the LA Times puts the 2010 global cinema box office figure at USD $31.8bn and eMartketer estimate recorded music revenues at USD $35.1bn.  games win.  by a long shot.

the article ends however by observing that total reach of cinema far exceeds that of games, and comments that “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is big, that’s for sure, but as a mass cultural event, it still has a looooong way to go” … the fact that this observation is disputable aside (include social and casual gaming and there’s plenty of examples of games with scale and ‘cultural event’ status – Angry Birds anyone?), the difference between movies and gaming audiences is a reflection of the difference in the type of content/context between movies and gaming.

movies are inherently lean-back, immediate and assessable. games (casual and social aside) are inherently lean-forward, immersive and require time, effort and energy. it’s no surprise that the former has a bigger audience footprint than the latter, but that the latter generates significantly higher revenues per head than the former…

what’s interesting from a media planning perspective is the choice that it presents – ask yourself what context/content we in the advertising and communications industry generally create?  is it lean-back, immediate and assessable … or lean-forward, immersive and demanding of our time and energy.  advertising was born and grew up in the mass-broadcast era – its no surprise that we predominately not only produce in movie-mode, but have extensive metrics and marketing theories (Byron Sharp anyone?) to prove its validity.

and yet we know we have to move on.

we take our content and we re-purpose it.  we’re media and channel neutral, we create experiences and promotions and we socialise and innovate around our movies.  we create the games of our movies.

and in doing so we’re missing a huge opportunity.  because Assassin’s Creed and games like it don’t create games from movies (that would inherently limit their scope – search for ‘successful movie-based game franchises and you’ll see what I mean) … Assassin’s Creed creates movies from games, and more specifically, from an imagined world in which that game is set. they start, always and every time, with an immersive and lean-forward content/context – after which spinning out lean-back immediate content is childsplay.

the point is that we have a choice.  stay as we are – create in movie mode and spin out the immersive and engaging game stuff off of the back of it … or we can decide to more often start in gaming mode.  what world do we want to create?  what are it’s rules and stories and mythologies? (all brands have them – we just don’t think of them in these terms) … then how do we create lean-forward, immersive and rewarding ways into our worlds?  and then, and only then, how do we create content – of thirty seconds or three hours duration – that expands the penetration of our worlds, and of our brands, via more immediate and assessable means.

it’s harder to do.  it’s expensive to fund.  it’s difficult to measure.  and it takes longer to produce.  but that’s our choice … and as anyone who has ever completed a game will tell you – it’s more than worth it.  speaking of which…

creating, curating, experiencing, learning

Making History Personal: How Port Arthur curates individual paths through its content

Port_arthur_card_1a playing card: your invitation to explore Port Arthur exhibitions and information

upon receiving your entry ticket to Port Arthur's visitor centre in Tasmania you receive one of the above cards.  the card is one of a couple of dozen or so playing cards, and each person visiting the site gets a different one.  mine was the Queen of Diamonds.

Port_arthur_card_2the Queen of Diamonds: my card invites and allows me to take a personal journey through the attraction's exhibitions

much more than a souvenir however, each card invites it's owner to take a journey through the visitors centre following in the footsteps of one of the inmates of two centuries ago, when the port was Australia's second penal colony in then Van Diemen's Land.

each room in the exhibit is tailored to allowing you to exploring a specific journey for your card; a journey that reflects the actual journey taken by a specific inmate in the facility hundeds of years ago.  what was their name and where did they arrive from?  were they well behaved or not?  were they punished or rewarded?  did they take on a trade?  did they ever leave the facility?

I loved this approach for three reasons.  the first is that it takes something that could be quite rational, remote and, well, historic and makes it personal and personalised.  approaching the visitor's centre and its exhibitions from the point of view that someone – a real person – actually went on this journey changes your mindset towards how you approach it.  you are more involved, more connected.  you care more.

the second-reason I love this customer solution is because of how this approach mitigates choice-overload.  it tackles that feeling many of us must be familiar with when you walk into a museum and think… where to start?  and then where?  … non of this here.  you are presented with a clear path and invited to ignore some exhibits.  this doesn't compromise your visit, in fact it actually liberates it.

but the reason that I most love this approach is the extent to which – explicitly or implicitly – it invites conversation, a point made by Davey too when I was chatting with her this morning.  when a group of people goes through the visitor centre none will take the same journey.  there will be knowledge gaps that the group will fill through discussion and conversation?  where did you go?  who was your inmate?  did you see X?  these gaps, what I call knowledge differentials, fuel conversations immediately after the experience but also, by making the navigation tangible (the playing card) they can also extend into the future.

I hope that Port Arther build on what they have.  mobile and tablet functionality now allows them to take this tailored personalised approach to a whole new level.  you could choose your character in advance and then download the journey with audio that you could listen to on your phone as you tour the centre.  social functionality would allow you to share your journey with your social networks in real-time as you go through the exhibit – or share stories with strangers who went on the same journey.

a playing card.  a simple and elegant thought that added disproportinate value to my visit; and exactly what every experience should be – personal, curated and social.

advertising, conferencing, creating, innovating, planning

Running away to the Circus: Dispatches from The Festival of Commercial Creativity – Chow on Chrome and Vervroegen on Creative Constraints


the second session of the first day of this week's Festival of Commercial Creativity, Circus, saw Marvin Chow, the Marketing Director for Google across Asia Pacific and Erik Vervroegen of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco take us through two very different kinds of creative process…

Circus_marvin_chow first up, Marvin Chow, who talked about the marketing of Chrome, and about what happens when creativity meets technology…

declaration of interest – Google are a client of PHD Australia, where I spend a lot of my time

Chow  started by making a few points about Google:

  1. one, Google is an engineering company. engineering is part of the culture. Google people like to solve big problems, he cited that driver-less car came from an engineer asking how Google can stop people dying on the roads
  2. Ideas can come from anywhere, for example the search-able maps that helped coordinate the Queensland floods response was conceived and developed by a Sydney engineer who wanted to help
  3. the role of marketing at Google is to bring technology to people.  often this is about filling the existing Google pipeline with content, for example the Life In A Day project, an idea that came from Tim Partridge in London.  The Life in a day video … which was created from a bank of 80,000 clips has now been seen by 13m people on YouTube and will have a cinema release later in the year
  4. finally it's about bringing a culture of engineering to marketing.  engineers are interested in the responses of real people to the real world.  there's no substitute to what real people do in real situations.  Google test 6,000 marketing ideas a year.  they fail regularly, they fail fast, they fail well – test and iterate people, test an iterate…

given that context, what follows is "the story of how one product can change the world" … the story of Chrome.

we know, I suspect, one side of the Chrome story, but the other side is just how challenging it's been for Google to gain market share and gain penetration in a market with a significant, dominant and entrenched player.

the first question was why bother?  why invent another browser?  when Google asked people about browsers, they found that people found browsers indistinguishable from search…

the suggestion is that people see browsing = searching…  Chow made the point that "browsers are a lot like Tyres – we know they are important but we don't care or think about them every day"

the last time a browser launched [excluding Firefox presumably] was in 1995.  Google's ambition was to bring speed, stability and security to browsing.  but how to evolve the browser proposition? … it's been a long time since 1995 and people do lots more than browsing with their browsers, it's no longer a passive experience; browsers are TVs now (35 hours a video a minute currently being uploaded), they are phones and communication devices (100bn emails and texts are sent daily).  this was the new context for the browser and for Google – and how Chrome should drive the web experience forward.

the marketing of Chrome actually began with a comic book, which was distributed in december 2008 to innovators influencers in the web space.

Circus_google_comicChrome's comic book, distributed in 2008, was drawn by Scott McCloud and can be viewed, courtesy of Creative Commons, in full here

post the comic book Google looked to deliver more scale, and so developed ideas around platform of 'why switch?' … exploring Chrome's value proposition and product benefits.  they experimented and tested different benefits, for example this effort around 'simple'…

made by a small team in japan, this was broadcast in the US and became Google's first broadcast ad.  but here's the trick, Google didn't just test 'simple' – they tested a whole range of value propositions and product benefits.  and tested them not in focus groups but in the real world.  how did they measure success?  which ones led to the most Chrome downloads … real people in the real world remember…

'fast' (rather than 'simple') worked best, and so fast became worldwide creative brief, which eventually led to this…

"The idea of showing Chrome and speed in a different way excited us" noted Chow … the next iteration of comms was Chrome Fast Ball, which invited browsers to browse the web as fast as you think in a race across the Internet…

the coolest thing – and very Googley – is that these ideas are being crowdsourced from everywhere … ideas like this one which has since adopted another classic Google behaviour – users being able to generate their own versions of the ad.

two and a half years on from launch and 100m people around the world use chrome.  Google seem to be happy, although as the below chart from Wikipedia shows, there's quite a long way to go for Chrome yet.

Share of browsers.svg

one of the most innovative areas of crowd-sourced comms for Chrome is … I'm not going to lie, I don't actually know what these are – the website says that "Chrome Experiments is a showcase for creative web experiments, the vast majority of which are built with the latest open technologies, including HTML5, Canvas, SVG, and WebGL. All of them were made and submitted by talented artists and programmers from around the world" … I'm not sure that I'm any the wiser :o(

one example of which is Arcade Fire's The Wilderness Downtown – saw this a good while back but didn't connect at the time that this was a Google idea.

Chow's two key messages … that ideas can come from anywhere, and that it's crucial to experiment and iterate.  he stressed the importance of understanding the problem that you're trying to solve, and whilst I'm not entirely that sure his solution – hire an engineer to fix it – is feasible for everyone, the last of his comments is true for all of us … that "you have to resist the voice inside you that says only you knows the answer" let go of the problem and let the answer come to you…

you can view Marvin's prezi here.

Circus_erik_vervroegen up next in session two was Erik Vervroegen, who as the recipient of seventy Cannes Lions, is a very creative person indeed.  his thesis was that life in agencies is hard :o( … but don't feel too sorry for the ad agency kids just yet, because it turns out that the result of constrained conditions often produces the best work … the more problems you have the more creative you have to be…

problem one: no money (but free media to use and a super-tight production budget)…

…which was a problem faced by Amnesty International.  the answer for whom was to make this…

of this spot for the Nissan QashQai, where Vervrogen's agency came up with creating an entire fake sport…

McDonald's had no money and no time to combat a recycling message so recycled ads to create new posters…


it's so beautifully obvious in retrospect, but it takes someone to imagine such an elegant solution in the first place.  take these examples for Amora Hot Ketchup, the shoestring budget necessitated a shoestring production, which the creative embraces and uses to its advantage…

some of Vervroegen's most creative work is for AIDS prevention charity AIDES who's brief was "nobody knows us and we can't advertise but we want to be the biggest provider of Aids prevention in Europe' … the solution: target the advertising industry with the magic word 'awards'

if you want proof as to whether or not the strategy has worked I urge you to Google image search AIDES, but here are some of the highlights…







stunning, brilliant work for a client with no money but a lot of balls.

problem two: the impossible brief

Vervroegen quoted the following actual brief from an actual real life client (I'm paraphrasing) "we would like exactly the same ad as last time only this time we want it to work" … you couldn't make it up.  another example was the bread client who said that they wanted to show an entire breakfast table and demonstrate that their bread was the softest.  the solution:


Nissan QashQai asked Vervroegen to come up with an ad that showed the car in the urban environment and which showcased every angle of the car.  every angle.  every.  angle.  they actually said "think of it as a 45 sec 360 degree pack shot" … cue this beautifully elegant solution in which a 45 sec 360 pack shot has never looked so good…

Amnesty International want to show the power of a petition.  specifically in the background they wanted to show the harshness of torture and execution … without violence.  this poses a bit of a problem, as it's hard to show torture and execution without violence…

problem three: Burnt out creatives

…who feel sorry for themselves and are producing tired work.  the solution, observes Vervroegen, is to continue to push the idea.  and push and push as far as it will go…  for example a brief to show how Mir washing powder 'keeps black strong' let to the obvious place of clothes with budging muscles, which was able to be pushed to these fellas…




another example of pushing a bad idea until it becomes a good one was for a brief for Playstation to show rebirth, the idea for which was this tired (his words not mine) approach…


which was pushed to it's limit and resulted in this…


…an effort which secured one of Vervroegen's seventy Cannes Lion in the print category.  the last example, again for Playstation was around a brief to show the excitement of the Playstation gaming experience and equate it to sexual arousal.  here's the obvious sketch…


and here's the pushed execution…


that was it for session two.  I'll aim to get session three written up tomorrow…

applicationing, creating, developing, evidencing

Walking the World Cup Talk: How is holding it’s own in the Age of Evidence by adding value to it’s World Cup-following readers

brilliant World Cup interactive infographic courtesy of Littlewood (or more specifically Littlewood's mate) hosted here…  I'm not going to pretend that I'm massively into the World Cup (I'll get excited when we play).  I am however going to pretend that I'm massively into infographics and how they can add value to how we absorb and engage with the world…

you can track the entire competition…


or just focus on the upcoming fixtures for your country…  etc etc etc…

the point, is that the site – – really takes it's football seriously…  and the investment in this little number is a great example of walking the talk, or as I like to put it, evidence-based marketing…

because whilst the application is a great way of navigating your way through the World Cup, its also a brilliant way of marketing…  marketing by the best, oldest, and arguably most effective method of communication…  yup, word of mouth (or in it's modern guise) word of mouse.

those of you paying attention will also notice that it's very social-friendly too…  the Like and Tweet buttons in the top right of the application currently show it having 32k and 5,414 advocacies (couldn't think of another word to go there) across Facebook and Twitter…

and that's a lot of connections and click throughs sparked, not by an ad saying 'Marca likes / does / loves football' but rather through the provision of a bit of evidence that proves it, whilst at the same time making the World Cup just that little bit better for its fans.  not a bad day's work for a media brand living in the age of evidence – and not a Rooney ad in sight.