It's time to vote! The finalists have been chosen for this year's iMedia Agency Awards, an industry awards show that honors agencies advancing digital marketing. Below are two campaigns we really loved.
"What is Working: Small Businesses" (Media Kitchen)
The Huffington Post and Goldman Sachs developed a new sponsored section to provide small business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed in a tough economy. The section, "What is Working: Small Businesses," features original content authored by Goldman Sachs from teaching business skills to participants of its 10,000 Small Businesses program. Additional content comes from the program's partners and graduates, thought leaders, news articles, and other independent contributors. The sponsored section aims to inspire, educate, and inform small business owners while also sharing great stories of entrepreneurship in the US.
Samsung's “Life’s A Photo. Take It.”(Starcom Media Vest)
For the launch of the Samsung GALAXY Camera, Samsung asked 32 photographers to show why their city was the most photogenic in the world. Photos were uploaded to a bottomless Tumblr page connected to Instagram and other social media networks where fans could vote for their favorites. The city with the most likes won a massive party in the photographers’ honor. The Tumblr campaign earned over 1 million clicks and the videos received 1.3 million YouTube views. After eight weeks of submissions, voters chose Berlin as the winner.
It's great to see talented and innovative marketers putting amazing work out there! Don't forget to head over to the iMedia website to cast your votes!
Awards season may just be kicking off, but work by Definition 6 is already taking home the trophies. Game of Thrones' Join the Realm, an interactive experience created by Definition 6 and HBO, won both an OMMA Award and a Stevie Award this month.
At the 8th annual OMMA Awards in New York City Monday, HBO won the category "Best Use of Fan Page" for Join the Realm. According to Ken Fadner, CEO of MediaPost, there was a record number of entries for 2013. “The quality of entries was stronger than ever, making selecting the finalists and winners exceedingly difficult.”
HBO teamed up with Definition 6 to create Join the Realm for Game of Thrones. Join the Realm is an interactive experience that allows fans to create their own 'House Sigil' similar to those in the show and then download, share, and post it in a variety of formats on leading social networks.
The tool can be used in 24 different languages and gives fans an interactive sigil editor to name their House, enter House Words, and choose from a variety of backgrounds, patterns, borders, colors, and icons. It can then be shared via Facebook cover photos and profile pictures, Twitter backgrounds, wallpapers, and Instagram photos. With Join the Realm, fans are able to create the house that most represents them.
"Can you FEEL IT?" Fall may be in the air, but the real buzz is for today's premiere of the fifth season of The Wendy Williams Show. It's not just the start of a new season for Wendy -- it's the start of a new era for the show marked by a major rebrand by Definition 6.
Kicking Off the Rebrand With a Viral Music Video
Just six weeks ago, Wendy teased her fans with a preview of the rebrand by releasing a full-length music video featuring the new theme song remix. The video has since gone viral, amassing over 150,000 views on YouTube and millions of impressions on Twitter and Facebook. Blogs ranging from Buzzfeed -- complete with mesmerizing GIFs -- to industry standards like NATPE and PromaxBDA's Brief praised the new video.
TV and radio host Max Tucci tweeted, "I love that @WendyWilliams is having the time of her life... You can see it in the new "Feel It" remix video! Super energy!"
Are You Ready to FEEL IT?
Definition 6 produced the remix by extending her short opening theme song into a full-length club version with choreographed dance. D6 sound designer Dan O'Sullivan recomposed the theme song to give it that DJ Tiesto feel and Creative Director Jamie Manalio directed the filming with over a hundred extras and seven cameras in Central Park.
“Wendy and her team loved the video!” says Rob Ortiz, Managing Director at Definition 6. “They loved it so much the full-length track was released on iTunes and it's the new opening theme song for her show.”
Today, fans will finally see the full extent of the rebrand as The Wendy Williams Show reveals a complete new look. The rebrand includes a full graphics package in addition to the memorable music video.
Behind the Scenes: "Wendy Williams has taken over your TV screen and now she's taking over Central Park"
The behind the scenes video includes interviews with key people on set, including famed choreographer Derek Mitchell, Definition 6's Rob Ortiz, Director Will Heins, and, of course, Wendy Williams. Wendy says, "I've worked very hard for this moment. This is season five. It's a big, big deal. Everybody's out here to support the season and I just feel very fortunate."
Definition 6 Pulls Out All the Stops for The Wendy Williams Show
Though this is the second year in a row Definition 6 has worked on the Wendy Williams image campaign with the Debmar-Mercury team, this is by far the biggest project done for them because it extended beyond promo work into several other areas of our expertise. This includes the music video, 30, 20, 15, and 10 sec spots, new theme song, images, mixing, editing, social media activation, and snippets for YouTube and Wendy’s various social media channels.
Editor John Gill ensured brand continuity with the work Definition 6 did previously for the season four campaign. As Expert-in-Residence Frank Radice said, "At Def6, we get it done!" -- and that is exactly what we did for the season five launch of The Wendy Williams Show.
The rush to get home is something that every commuter is familiar with, and I for one, think of it as my daily exercise, mainly because of all the people I have to dodge, all the standing I have to do on every form of transport I encounter, and all the complaining I have to do about it afterwards. So, whilst everyone else in London is enjoying the never-ending heat wave, I have some reservations. Hot weather and London’s public transport system seems to turn even the most rational and logical mind into a crazed animal with fourteen flailing limbs and rather smelly armpits. I have come to the conclusion, therefore, that the ability to make good decisions is left at the office door at 6 o’clock, and waits there patiently for you to return like a small dog left whimpering outside a supermarket.
The Decision Making Process is a huge part of working life, whether you’re doing it on your own or with others, those decisions need to be made. The people around you right now, they make decisions all the time. They might even be doing it right now – look closely, see if you can spot their decision making face, everyone has one. Don’t stare, that’s rude. Now they’re trying to decide why you’re staring at them.
You can reduce the Decision Making Process (or DMP if you’re one of those peeps that like to abbrev. everythin’) into 5 simple steps: Situation, Options, Choose, Act, Evaluate. We do this subconsciously, it’s completely engrained in us to weigh the options before us before we act, and so we can do it in a split second, but not after 6pm. Apparently.
Think of the Situation, you’re walking onto the platform to get the tube home. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of millions of people. All of you want to get on that train, which, by the way, is already packed. What are your options? Well, you can either attempt to get on the train, or wait for the next one, which will arrive approximately 24 seconds after this one. Choose. Simple Enough, I’m getting on that train, says every commuter on that platform. Act: Push and shove forward (whilst somehow allowing others off the train at the same time) until you get on that train being very careful not to pull the emergency alarm that has somehow ended up under your arm, and with your face buried in some other commuter’s armpit. You’re now stuck like this for your entire journey while more commuters squeeze themselves in, and probably get their heads stuck in the doors.
Evaluate: You’re stuck, sweaty, unhappy. But hey, you got on THAT train, which coincidentally happens to be going in the wrong direction. Go you.
Imagine if you approached your working environment in the same way, and by not weighing up your options for longer than a second, you resign yourself to having to follow through with a judgement made in error by a desire to get somewhere faster. If we all behaved in the office the way we behave on the tube, no decisions would ever really be made because somewhere along that line, we’d realise we’d got on the wrong train and just have to do it all again. Moral of the story? Don’t be a commuter at work. Take your time with your decisions, work with people, not against them, and try your hardest to make sure you get on the right train.
Extra moral of the story. Don’t be a commuter on the Tube either, no one likes it.
Maersk Group launches Digital Edition of Company Magazine: The Maersk Post
Definition 6 has worked with the Maersk Group, the largest container shipping company in the world, to create an online digital Company Magazine. The quarterly publication will feature stories across the various Maersk businesses and employees around the world. Maersk works with a huge amount of external stakeholders and it is vital that they are kept up to date with all activities across the business. It also allows for interested parties to read more about the workings of The Maersk Group and its vital role in shipping oil and gas. The digital publication not only delivers informative articles on the industry itself, it introduces Maersk employees and gives excellent insight into how the Group’s strategies are executed.
This style of corporate publication is a fast growing space, especially when optimised across all devices. Such transparency will serve to protect a First-class image. A vital marketing tool, it can be an influencing factor that will help a company progress and win new business. A corporate publication strengthens customer loyalty, providing information on the industry itself. It also attracts new customers, getting their attention through clarity and thought-leadership. In turn, a digital magazine can be easily shared and will therefore serve to improve your referrals and exposure across digital media. Finally, a corporate publication strengthens customer relations and staff morale. In presenting company information to employees and customers, your magazine presents a solid business story that you are proud to shout about.
Following the above, a digital publication allows for far more than a physical print version. Not only is access measureable thereby presenting a huge amount of useable data, a digital platform also allows for a more interactive, immersive experience with the use of video. Online platforms also allow for personalisation which will inevitably enhance audience experience with targeted stories and relevant story alerts. An experience can be tailored to a user’s preference in the long-run making the information presented far more relevant and desirable.
The new digital edition of the Maersk Post enriches the user experience with plenty of interactive material, such as videos. The digital magazine also allows for sharing across all social media platforms. Many large companies have a legacy of an internal print publication that still has value but as audiences spend more time online, there are boundless new opportunities to present information digitally. Taking the printed version and adding multimedia extensions using an online platform is a simple way of presenting information online. However, in the longer term, organisations could look to more innovative platforms to enable an even better digital experience.
Journalists need to adapt with the Digital Age. All outlets now have the ability to break stories on their websites 24-7. As workers become multi-skilled, journalists need to stop thinking of themselves as specialists; as only a print or broadcast journalist, but as a multi-skilled reporter with the ability to gather information and tell a story. Having the ability to prioritise and develop new skills is absolutely vital in today's online world.
The latest edition of The Maersk Post discusses its policy on security issues. In 2011, thousands of Egyptians protested against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak. As the situation became uncontrollable, the Maersk Group offered employees and their family’s evacuation. Learning by experience, the Group talks about how this shaped their future security strategy.
Working with the BBC is regarded as an honour, not only in the UK but across the globe. Being given the chance to collaborate with the largest broadcaster in the world is any agency's dream, trust me.
Connect Studio is a new approach to ensure innovation across BBC Future Media. Producers, developers, digital agencies and designers including Internal BBC Staff are invited to construct innovative solutions to a brief set by the BBC. In creating an open forum, the hope is to optimise BBC digital media products for the future.
Tony and I decided to attend the Connected Studio in Glasgow. Only an hour on a plane and we were there, at the home of the Commonwealth Games 2014. I could sense impending excitement in the air. Other passengers were overheard discussing their ideas, even sporting jackets with ‘2014 Games’ embroidered on them. The city was evidently buzzing in preparation for next year’s events.
We took our seats in the Lighthouse, there wasn’t a single spare seat in the room. In case you didn’t know, there are 54 member states in the Commonwealth, each represented by a single flag hanging from the ceiling. Four criteria were set out in the brief, all focusing on delivering non-sport Commonwealth-related content from the BBC to audiences. The aim was to improve digital offerings and with it, digital media literacy so audiences are inspired to think about their place in the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is home to one third of the world’s population. But sadly, most know little about it. The first challenge set out in the brief was to reflect life throughout the Commonwealth and to celebrate the different cultures within it. Another objective was to make audiences across the UK feel part of events happening in Glasgow. The hope is to encourage UK audiences to participate in and share the digital Commonwealth moments during the games. The final objective was to inspire the youth of the Commonwealth and encourage younger audiences to engage with all content.
Bruce Malcolm and Claire White began the day by addressing the crowd and giving us a taste of what the Commonwealth Games meant for the BBC and for Glasgow. They were able to create an air of anticipation and excitement around the games, something that prompted us all to begin thinking creatively as to how we would address the brief. They were followed by other BBC staff, each giving further insight into their specialised genres.
As the ideas began to flow, the room divided into teams. Creative facilitators circulated the room, all offering advice and inspiration. Roaming experts were on hand to listen to ideas and to give honest and valuable feedback. Linda Cockburn talked to the group for half an hour on how to deliver the perfect pitch. She was absolutely excellent, Tony and I both felt incredibly lucky to be given her invaluable advice. One tip I would like to share was to tell a story. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end. In doing so, your pitch will be clear and concise and will deliver the desired message as efficiently as possible.
We decided to address the Youth of the Commonwealth. There were over thirty pitches at the end of the day. It was such a great experience to listen to so many ideas in one forum, the transparency of all the pitches was really great with each being tweeted on the BBC Connected forum. It is a rare experience to be privy to other pitches; an experience I think was truly valuable. We were able to take away so many great ideas from others. Congratulations to all those that attended.
BBC Connected Studios was an invaluable experience, one that I truly hope to replicate in the future.
I am, as I have been told many times, in a rather unique situation. By day, I work in Media Relations in the Definition 6 London office. By night, I live in a convent. It’s only temporary, you understand, but it does give everyone in the office a great deal of amusement to call me a ‘Trainee Nun’.
On a daily basis, I communicate with people I have never met in countries I haven’t yet been to, and in the office too, where a mixture of different cultural habits is continually present and discussed. The workings of the NHS compared to the Portuguese healthcare system is a recent example, with the ways that both cultures view this huge organisation being both informative and, at times, downright hilarious. I have learnt, in the short time that I have been working here, the importance of communication in a business setting, the tailoring of pitches and responses to suit the intended audience.
Recently, I have begun to realise how that affects my ‘home’ life on a similar basis. We tailor our responses to all communication, even unconsciously. You wouldn’t swear in front of an elderly relative or small child, but in front of friends, it’s (mostly) perfectly acceptable. We are constantly learning new methods of communication, depending on the people we meet and the ways in which we engage them.
At home, I have had to prevent myself using the phrase ‘Oh my God!’, but in the office or out with friends, it’s perfectly common. Engaging in regular communication with a nun is at the best of times, a pleasant experience, they are continually positive and really rather lovely. It can be, however, rather strenuous if one doesn’t know what to say. The golden rule with nuns: take it slow, frame your conversation with description and nice things, and don’t make too many references to pop culture. They have, however, heard of One Direction. Unfortunately.
When speaking with journalists and broadcasters, the opposite is true: Don’t waffle. Make your point, ask as few questions as possible, be professional. These are busy people, they probably don’t want to discuss your love of knitting, and how beautiful the Houses of Parliament look at dusk.
Communication then, is the most useful tool anyone in our industry has in their arsenal. In fact, communication is the most useful tool in the world’s arsenal. Social media allows us to engage with different cultures on different platforms every day, which is incredible. The more personal touches such as communication via phone and in person, allow us to advance our knowledge of communication as an ever changing medium, to engage with more people with confidence, and to tailor our responses to ensure that your messages are always translated cross-culturally in an appropriate and hopefully beneficial way.
The Oil Industry: Live from Copenhagen to the World with Maersk and the first ever computer game made by an Oil company – Quest for Oil.
“Working with the Definition 6 team on the Quest for Oil launch day really made our story fly within the international media” - Anja Anderson Maersk Group Marketing and Branding
Here’s the big question for Oil companies. How do you solve a long-term recruitment problem facing an industry that is misunderstood and largely closed to the public? The answer from Maersk Group was to create and launch a strategy based video game called Quest for Oil – a game that allows everyone a chance to run their own oil business and learn how the oil industry works for themselves. Perhaps even consider a career in the industry too?
Our role? The Definition 6 team was asked to work with Maersk for the launch to help create widespread international media coverage. We did indeed create a lot of coverage, with help from a generous amount of time granted to us by not one but two CEO’s from the Maersk Group.
Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling and Jakob Thomasen, CEO of Maersk Oil tried their hand at a Satellite Media Tour to launch their new initiative internationally.
While an SMT is a very new format to Danish and other Scandinavian CEOs, it is proving to be a highly impactful, cost effective, efficient use of a CEO’s time on big news days. Check out our work with LEGO CEO Jørgen V Knudstrup: http://bit.ly/17Lieer
How does it work?
International coverage is achieved on this scale by running two parallel processes. Firstly, our team creates a highly targeted Live Media Plan. CEO interviews are mapped to specific regions and demographics across print, broadcast and online media. It is a structured process that involves careful planning to ensure that everyone involved--from the CEO to the production crew and newsroom--is ready on launch day. Going out live on the day perfectly delivers the desired message, visually, editorially and demographically.
From the launch event we enabled Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling and Jakob Thomasen, CEO Maersk Oil to conduct interviews with The BBC, CNBC, Forbes, TheStreet, Fox News Houston, CNBC Arabia, First Business News and Reuters. Be sure to check out the broadcast interviews:
Secondly, we coordinated a targeted multimedia distribution and media relations campaign to thousands of journalists within a broad range of vertical media. The techniques we use at Definition 6 allow us to work across broadcast, online, social and print media ensuring that the content we send to media is in the right format for the journalists needs. You can see the full press kit here: http://bit.ly/11eHWR6.
These two parallel processes allow a multiplier effect. The combined live schedule and distribution of prepared materials creates much more coverage than standalone services; i.e. the sum of the whole is far greater than the individual parts.
Services used: TheNewsmarket.com platform, Our US and European Media teams, Media Centre Platform and our signature SMT.
Since HBO's launch of www.jointherealm.com, a site that allows fans of the popular show Game of Thrones to create their own house sigil, hundreds of thousands of fans have generated their own coat of arms and shared them across social media channels, stirring up excitement for Season 3, which premiered last night. Check out what we created as well as some of our favorite brand and celebrity sigils below and be sure to Join the Realm and create your own family arms at www.jointherealm.com. What are some of your favorites that you've seen this week? What does your house sigil look like? Share it with us in the comments.
Fans of the wildly popular HBO show Game of Thrones are anxiously awaiting the premiere of Season 3 on March 31st, 2013 at 9PM in the United States. The show has become a worldwide phenomenon and in many ways re-defined what is possible for a television show.
As the fans know, core to the story are the different family Houses like the Starks, the Lannisters, and the Targaryens. Each House is represented by their coat of arms or Sigils that also bear their House Words like the infamous “Winter is Coming” words of the Stark family in the North.
At Definition 6 we are extremely excited to help launch Join the Realm, an experience that allows fans to create their own House Sigil and then download, share, and post it in a variety of formats for the leading social networks and other purposes.
Join the Realm, which can be used in 24 different languages, gives fans an interactive sigil editor to name your House, enter your House Words, and choose from a variety of backgrounds, patterns, borders, colors, and icons. It can then be downloaded immediately or saved while generating versions of it that include Facebook cover photos and profile pictures, Twitter backgrounds, Wallpapers, and Instagram versions. These can also easily be shared out to your social networks directly from the site. And if you don’t feel like taking the time to create one yourself you can always just use the automatic “Do It For Me” Sigil generator.
One very cool aspect of the experience is that HBO wanted it to be available on leading smartphone and tablet platforms as well as desktop browsers. So the interactive editor had to be designed and built in HTML5 and Canvas, allowing the full site to be used on an iPad and an optimized mobile web site version available to iPhone and Android users. This does mean older desktop browsers and older smartphone browsers aren’t supported, but in the Game of Thrones some browsers win and others must unfortunately die.
We hope you have fun creating and sharing your Sigils. We had a lot fun making the experience and working with our friends at HBO on this. It may be Spring now in the northern hemisphere, but Winter is still coming…
“It's the family name that lives on. That's all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honor, but family.”
Tonight we are excited to attend the 2013 Atlanta Marketer of the Year (AMY) Awards, put on by the American Marketing Association (AMA). We have a big group from Definition 6 set to attend the event. The evening's events will start off with a cocktail hour sponsored by Synaptic Digital.
The AMY awards honor the brands that have created innovative marketing strategies and unforgettable campaigns during the past year. Agencies and brands have been nominated in categories such as visual branding, integrated marketing, email, web & interactive, search, and general advertising. A full list of the finalists are on the AMY awards’ website.
Our client, Herschend Family Entertainment, will also be in attendance at the Fox Theatre tonight. The Herschend property website Dollywood.com has been nominated for an award in the category "Web & Interactive Marketing - Lead Generation/Ecommerce." We hope to see you at the awards ceremony tonight, but if you can't attend, be sure to follow the action on Twitter @Definition6. The hashtag for the event is #AMYS13.
The wait is almost over – Downton Abbey’s Season 3 premieres in January 2013. To generate buzz for this, we worked with PBS on Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey to create a 5 minute recap video of seasons 1 and 2, which launched on their website earlier this week.
The goal was to create a shareable video that would tap into the existing fan base of really loyal fans, but also engage and entice new fans from a wider demographic to get a glimpse into the dramatic storyline.
This web-only video presented the interesting challenge of compressing more than 19 hours of programming into 5 minutes. The team at Definition 6 screened all the episodes, created character outlines, segmented storylines and wrote the voiceover script to incorporate with the sound bites from the footage. Culling the episodes down to the bare essentials was not easy with a show as rich in story and character as Downton Abbey. It helped that the voiceover is written in a casual American style that plays well in contrast to the show clips, allowing more of the show’s character and personality to come through. The viewer is drawn in by the rapid narrative and quick cut highlights.
Since my last article on Ideation came out, there has been an interesting study done by the University of Illinois at Chicago regarding the effect of alcohol on creative problem solving. The study worked with the proposition that alcohol affects the brain by diminishing the working memory capacity (WMC) and that WMC — the ability to remember one thing while you’re working on something else; is more useful for analytical problem solving or problem solvers.
This study proposes that diminishing our WMC actually leads to creative breakthroughs. So how would diminishing your ability to concentrate or focusing your attention increase creative problem solving results? There are two theories at play here; the first is that the use of alcohol opens up the brain to accessing remote ideas or neurological pathways in the brain, and the second theory is that the use of the alcohol inhibits the linear reasoning process that keeps you on a singular track of thinking. Of course the researchers caution that the alcohol had to be used in moderation, just shy of what most states consider intoxication, (0.80 blood alcohol level). So it worked with just a moderate amount of liquid goodness, while getting a major buzz on it reduced both concentration and working memory tasks.
Another interesting side note from the study was that there were other things that tend to assist creativity; working in groups with varying levels of skill, working in groups of three versus groups of two, changing one’s routine, sleeping, and one we cannot control: aging… Damned, at least there is one good thing about getting old.
Apart from the history of artist’s using mind-altering substances for creative inspiration, I really am personally hesitant to recommend alcohol to enhance creativity so let's just say it should be a personal decision, not to be lightly taken. This is because so many famous creative talents self-medicate to basically “turn off” their minds. Pearl Buck once said: "The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive." And sensitivity is not necessarily an asset in our modern society.
To recap the most effective ways to be creative and ideate
- Brainstorming seems to be generally a poor method when used in any process that is linear and in a rigid timeframe or formulaic
You have to be a critic. Someone is going to have to make the call on the decision or direction of the ideation and decide on which ideas are moved forward, which are tabled. The lack of leadership is probably the greatest idea killer of them all. Many great ideas do not move forward because they lack a champion or critical thinker. When I think of a business with such an individual as an example, I would have to say Steve Jobs’ role at Apple. I am certain that Jobs didn’t always make the right choice among the ideas that were developed and brought to him, but once he chose an idea to develop, he became the first and last evangelist of his company’s products from creative ideas. Innovation was key to his decision-making criteria and he was also a champion critic.
Prior to any ideation session, list the requirements of the solution. Many ideas might sound good, and based on the individual’s presentation / persuasive personality, those ideas may have energy and seem like viable options. However, to lead- to use critical thinking when dealing with new and unique ideas - keep the objective or goal at the forefront of your decision, and it can help break any deadlock to decide on which idea to pursue. If you have two great solutions or ideas, pick one and table the other for a future campaign, but most importantly, make a decisive call. I find the most frustrating aspect of ideation is the lack of decisiveness or trying to use a “Frankenstein” solution of cobbled ideas. As a leader, you need to be make tough calls to bring breakthrough ideas to life..
Great ideas don’t come pre-packaged together and there is no secret formula for creativity, but following my guidelines can give you and your team a better chance at the next BIG idea.
So, like every other self-respecting modern-day MadMan (and woman), I’ve become totally hooked on AMC’s new show, “The Pitch.” Because who doesn’t like to look at themselves in the mirror while simultaneously being filled with pride and revolted in disgust and self-loathing?
Three episodes in and there are numerous things I have found fascinating about the show. One is how un-fascinating the show is to non-industry people (“Wow…all these people sound boring and I have no idea what they are talking about… kind of like you” – My girlfriend). I’ve been impressed with how well the producers capture a few specific moments, like the excitement around getting the initial brief, the struggle of moving from ideation to execution, the battle between creativity and strategy, and the anticipation of the team walking into the board room for their moment of judgment.
What I’ve been amazed by so far is in the three episodes I’ve seen (I missed the “Mister Sparky one”), the wrong agency has won. Sure, I know this is my opinion and I don’t have the whole story, but based on the tweets of my peers, I don’t think I’m alone here. With the parts of the brief that were seen on air, the agencies that lost absolutely had the best ideas and they delivered the strongest results against the brief. So where’s the disconnect? Am I (and all of these other agencies) that far out of touch with what our clients really need? Why do so many agency people think the wrong agencies were awarded the business?
The answer is presentation. The agencies with the strongest presentation won. This creates a couple of problems…the first of which is that clients need to be able to see through some of the “dog and pony” show (or as we like to say at Definition 6, “the cotton candy and frozen margaritas”) to understand the idea and select the agencies that understand the objectives and the brand the best. I have been confident of the outcome at the end of the presentations, saying to myself, “The winner is obvious…there is no way they can select the other agency,” only to find myself shocked by the moment of truth. Maybe that’s just good editing, but each time the client has said basically the same thing…”The other group really took it farther and thought it through more.” That’s really not a true statement. In each case, the other agency simply did more free work and more spec creative. I would actually say the losing agency thought through the idea more carefully and found more insight and opportunity for the brands. Unfortunately, the time spent developing that insight left less time for the creative executions. That requires more imagination from the client to see the vision.
However, let’s be clear that the reverse is also true – presentation IS important. Conveying an idea or concept that can be digested and understood easily is critical to winning the business. These agencies have done a great job finding insight in the audiences of these brands, but they have failed in gaining insight into their own target audience…the brands themselves. These brands need to not only hear the idea, but see it, feel it, and touch it. A lot is decided in that two hour presentation. Brands need to know that the idea is more than just an idea, and the agency has the ability to execute that idea and make it come to life. To a brand, the ability to execute can be just as important as the idea itself, because the best idea in the world, if poorly executed, still won’t work.
Create that balance between good ideas based on strategy and insight and good execution across a multitude of platforms and tactics…that is what brands want to see and what agencies need to deliver. Now, go make life pop…and don’t be a zAMbie.
The IAB recently announced new digital display ad units (they diligently avoid calling them “banners”). The Rising Stars Display Ad Units are more than simply a bunch of new sizes; they represent a new paradigm in display ads that allow brands to create a complex brand experience for the consumer without requiring them to live the page they are viewing. While the six new formats differ from each other in ways that make them more appropriate for use by certain brands, messaging, or publications, they all provide a larger canvas and much greater opportunity for multimedia and interactive executions.
Are they awesome? Well, yeah. These new formats open up a world of creative possibilities. The depth of content and experience they provide makes me salivate. Some of the implementations I see are really brilliant.
Will they succeed? Dunno. They will clearly be more expensive from a media buy and production perspective. We already established in my previous post that “banners” suffer from the problem of getting clients to invest enough in their production. And how will the consumers respond? If, and this is a big if, we can fill these new units with great content, they may actually give users a reason to enjoy ads again. Wouldn’t it be great if these “rising stars” got the star treatment currently bestowed on Super Bowl ads? It could happen. But it might not. It will take brands with an understanding that this is a fantastic new form of paid media and agencies that are courageous enough to push for their (proper) use.
It’s all about sharing.
People share everything… videos, articles, photos… why not ads? Actually, they already do via Pinterest and YouTube, but imagine if users could share banners right from the page they live on? There’s precedent (sort of).
The brilliant Axion Banner Concerts campaign gave users the ability to embed the ads on fan’s pages… something that added over 43,000 impressions to the nearly 7 million impressions gotten through paid media. Now imagine if anyone could have shared that content from anywhere they saw it… that’s real amplification.
Of course, there are all kinds of issues to work out with this model, but it does open up a lot of interesting possibilities. What if sharing the ad actually drove people back to the hosting page, thereby raising that pages views. Now the publishers win as well and we have the beginnings of an entirely new brand/publisher partnership model. And if we approach banners in the same we approach other sharable media, we will clearly pay more attention to the creative and content.
Or do we chuck the whole idea?
Is the basic idea of digital display media broken? Maybe banners underperform because as a format they are fundamentally flawed, unable to work as traditional display media and too expensive to produce as fully interactive media. If that’s the case (and I’m not convinced it is), what do we do about it. Tim suggested we do nothing and just let them die. The other panelists took exception with that as it essentially dooms the publishers, and none of us wanted to strip the content from the internet. But what we all did agree with was that just because we have been doing something one way, there is no reason to continue to do it that way. Industries have been devastated by choosing to ignore or fight against the fast changes that happen in the digital landscape. So maybe banners will continue to change, but the idea of digital display advertising will (and should) continue to be an integral part to the web experience.
Coming up in Part 3: What to do today to improve your banners.
In my last article regarding ideation, I suggested that conflict, not harmony, made for better team ideation results. But before strapping up your armor to participate in a heated ideation session, there are some critical points of preparation that are needed and the first one is an ideation brief or briefing that will help kick start the team into their critical thinking.
Sun Tzu ended “The Art of War” with a chapter on intelligence and counter-intelligence, but when one is looking for a new idea that is where to start. Prepare your team with a brief of the situation including the core elements needed to create a solution to the client’s problem. There are numerous versions of briefs around the web that can provide direction to help you create an effective one. A good brief is critical to the success of the project. By defining a client’s needs clearly, the team can avoid distraction and deliver real results. Equally important is answering the why, when and how: why are they being asked to solve it, how will the ideas be used and when will the ideas be implemented. An example might be “how would you get young adults or late teens to consume more hot coffee via social media in 2012?” The team might be derailed if they argue the benefits or detriments of coffee as an appropriate beverage for teens or get too carried away by weighing factors like caffeine versus antioxidants that are relevant, but don’t address the solution. To do a good brief, you have to give the team enough understanding of objective, directing them on the task and allowing enough ambiguity for exploration. The result should be solutions based upon their collective thinking related to the customers, the culture, where the product would be consumed or purchased, economic considerations, the product itself, new uses for the product, past accepted uses and practices, past successful or failed campaigns for getting more people to drink coffee via social media and how all these factors influence each other. If you have prior research, personas or previous campaigns, the briefing is the time to make sure everyone has access to the material.
Sun Tzu’s ideas require time to implement. Creative ideas require time as well. In fact, studies have shown that our best thinking is done when we are relaxed and not directly focused on the problem and that requires time, hours, even days. So once your team is briefed, turn them loose and give them a minimum of a day to come up with their solutions. Attempting to hammer out a solution by keeping the team together is the least effective technique I know to get genuinely new solutions. When teams tackle problems together it is very easy to get into a virtual loop and follow it, just as people who are lost tend to walk in circles. With regard to relaxation, I have seen brainstorming consultants fill a room with little toys in an attempt to relax their corporate teams but the reality is they are still confined and tasked with a deadline in a room where any sense of fun or play is merely contrived. Dismiss the team and actually give them the hours to do it their own way. It is not mere coincidence that companies like Google and Nike have everything from table tennis to warm showers on their corporate campuses. So instead of focusing really hard on the problem, engaging in another activity or merely relaxing can be more productive then being together until ideas are forced.
Relaxation is the real key to productive ideation. The simple act of walking can trigger ideation. Einstein once said: “The legs are the wheels of creativity” and “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” He knew how important relaxation was to his thinking. So for your next brainstorming session, have your team go do something relaxing or engaging that is not directly focused on the task. Encourage everyone on your team to keep notes of ideas that might be forming if they can, when they can, but without rules. I recommend the use of moleskin style notebooks or even notes on the smartphone to keep track of ideas. Work in a style that is individualistic to you and you cannot go wrong.
In my last part of this blog series on creativity I will address the presentation of ideas and the techniques to using criticism and conflict to sharpen the final output of brainstorming or ideation.
I was recently in LA to attend Digiday Agency: Retooling for the Future. In addition to hanging out at the swanky London Hotel, I spoke on panel titled “The Banner is Dead, Long Live the Banner”. Moderated by Sean X, Founder, SXC Marketing, it was lively discussion featuring myself, Oliver Duncan, Creative Director, Digitaria, Tim Leake, Global Partnership Director, Hyper Island, and Jaime Robinson, Creative Director, Pereira & O’Dell. Between the five of us, we completely solved the problems of underperforming banners.
Okay, I made that bit up. But we did manage to make some good observations, followed by some prescient ideas and wrapped it all up with a few tidy recommendations. In case you weren’t able to attend, or watch on the web, the following is a brief overview of the discussion from my viewpoint (let the other guys write their own blogs).
The banner is not dead, but it is neglected.
Banners are the red-headed stepchildren of the media world, often treated as an afterthought (“recycle my commercial into a banner”) or worse, simply regarded as a low cost alternative to other marketing options. Because banner media is relatively inexpensive, the traditional “media to production” spend ratio does not really work. Instead of lowering the production budget because the media spend is lower (compared to television for example), take advantage of that media savings and put more money into creative and production. As brands shift their media spend to more and more digital units, encourage them to get the most out of their money.
“Click Through” is not the only (or even often the best) measurement of success.
Early on, the digital marketing industry offered the Holy Grail… easily trackable advertisements. Gone were the days of not knowing if someone was watching your commercial or reading your print ad… with banners you will know every time your ad resonates with the consumer by measure click-through. The problem… it doesn’t really work that way. Yes, you know if a user clicks through or interacts with your ad, but even if they don’t, that does not mean your ad hasn’t made an impression (at least as much of an impression as other non-direct response display media). By hanging our hats on that metric, we set ourselves up for failure. Poor click through means poor performance means lower value means lower investment means worse content means lower click through… and so on and so on.
Banners are not print… or television.
As a panel, I don’t think we agreed on whether banners are closer to print or video (well, I didn’t agree). But we did agree that while you can treat them like either of those, they will be most successful when you play to their strengths… reach, interactivity, focus, and context (from a content and viewer perspective). Whether you start from the simple static version and build up, or conceive of a full viewing/interactive experience then pare it down for all executions, it’s most important that you consider the characteristics of banners and how to use them to your advantage.
Doug Dimon attended Digiday in Los Angeles last week and spoke on "The Banner is Dead, Long Live the Banner " panel where he was joined by fellow creatives: Sean X, Oliver Duncan, Tim Leake, and Jaime Robinson.
It's no secret that banner advertising has been around for over a decade, but in the last few years it has fallen into a gray area within the advertising landscape. It may be time for agencies to reapproach banner advertising with a new outlook. Watch as the panel discusses how the banner must evolve to be relevant for audiences and marketers:
Ever since Alex Osborn, the “O” in BBDO, wrote his little book about “Your Creative Power,” in 1948, a lot of people have spent countless hours in “brainstorming sessions” to create the ultimate creative idea or breakthrough concept. Brainstorming according to Osborn means “using the brain to storm a creative problem — and doing so in commando fashion, with each stormer attacking the same objective.” His group approach also stressed that no negative or critical thinking was permitted because that would stifle the creative mind. In fact, Osborn said “Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it in the bud.” His technique gained much popularity as it sounds like an inclusive, productive, feel good way to get a lot of ideas quickly. Osborn became the guru of the most widely used creativity technique on the planet and the center of two more popular books in the mid-twentieth century, “Wake Up Your Mind” and “The Gold Mine Between Your Ears”. Today multiple agencies and design firms use his methodology and there are centers of training like the International Center for Studies in Creativity in Buffalo, NY and the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process, which gives credit to him for their existence. Since no idea is a bad idea in this method, group brainstorming is still frequently sold to multinational corporations by a league of consultants all specializing in conducting sessions that promise to make creative ideation a great team event.
I only have one issue with Osborn’s technique. It really doesn’t work as advertised. And certainly is not what makes us so innovative at Definition 6. While it is true that larger and larger teams are required to make advancements in technology, science, and any field with vast amounts of information because one human mind cannot possibly retain it all; this growth of team size doesn’t mean more or better ideation at the core of creativity and insight.
There are many studies to debunk the Osborn brainstorming method, but most telling in my process for creative ideation is the study done in 2003 by Charlan Nemeth of University of California, Berkeley. Her research study divided 53 brainstorming teams of 5 students each into three processes and presented them with the same problem. One third of the team used the no-criticism ground rules approach of Osborn, one third were given no instructions at all on how to brainstorm and the final third were told the ideas should be debated, even criticized.
The results are fascinating. Brainstorming slightly outperformed the groups with no instructions, but the teams given to debate and criticism were the most creative by far. And later, after the brainstorming teams were disbanded, the "debate style" individuals yielded even more ideas. The findings are significant. The very thing that Osborn stressed as inhibiting ideas was in fact more productive. The reality is that we are a culture that thrives on conflict and it can be leveraged as creative force.
So how do you bring the right amount of positive conflict to a team to produce innovation? And when, or with what, process? At Definition 6, we use a briefing or education session to kick off our creative ideation, and then we task the team to think on their contributions before we form assignment teams. A creative brief is like a secret recipe, every good cook keeps a few secrets on how to build their favorites and we do too. I will tell you that we typically build briefs to answer a few key questions that enable us to reach great concepts like the Coke Happiness Machine or the True Blood Season 4 Facebook application.
The idea is to give each team member a minimum of several days to have the opportunity to come up with insights and ideas on an individual basis and present these ideas to their peers. The most single important aspect of creation is the time spent thinking about the creative problem and individually producing insights or solutions. The ideas at this stage are typically not complete and will require further development either in a team or individual session, but like any good recipe, timing is critical to getting the best results. When we reflect on the quality of the ideas we have presented to clients, and those ideas that have been built into customer campaigns in recent years, we see that the time we individually spent to consider, process and form solutions before team interaction, undergoing a critical review and debate, are major factors in our success.
If you are still using the Osborn methodology to create or ideate, you probably are not leveraging your individual talents and might want to consider adding some Socratic methodology to your process, even if you just do “group think.” Next part of this series on ideation, I will discuss our briefing process, how to manage critical debate in a creative setting, and what techniques we use to keep creative discovery and ideation sessions fresh.
For being a revolutionary. An innovator. A visionary. It is no understatement that many consider you a genius. You are our generation’s Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, A.G. Bell. You made it possible for us to carry a library of music on something smaller than the size of most wallets. You positioned your company at the forefront of the information technology industry – you didn’t just foresee trends, you set them. At your keynote speech at the Macworld Conference and Expo in 2007, you summed it up this way: “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very, very beginning. And we always will.”
You changed the way that people look at design and technology together. You are the template that clients hold up when we ask what they want in a new website. “We want Apple,” they say. What they really want is not just your style, but your ability to bring to light the brilliance of simplicity. Other companies are not keeping up with the Joneses, but trying to keep pace with you.
It is not just the way you looked at technology that changed the world, but the way you looked at the world. You encouraged people to push themselves harder, to think differently, to consider the impossible, possible. You gave a voice to those that pushed the boundaries and questioned everything.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
We thank you for your contributions, for sharing your gifts, for changing the world.
We are a unified marketing agency, connecting brands with people in motion. Through imagination, innovation and insight, we execute ideas that deliver continued value across all brand interactions - while unifying the disciplines of marketing and technology.