After returning from the Making Digital Work Conference at BDW, which included some of the most intelligent and forward-thinking minds in advertising, I expected to have all the answers to the digital future. Instead, I walked away with many questions, a revised outlook on the digital landscape, and a strong desire to affect our agency’s future.
I thought a meeting of great minds – like Matt Howell, Gareth Kay, Michael Tabtabai, Alastair Green, Edward Boches, Scott Prindle, and John Winsor – would have it all figured out. But even they, admittedly, didn’t have all the answers:
Stephen King quote – stolen from Gareth: “I’m just surprised that no one’s thought of a better idea yet.”
It took until Day II for me to realize that there wasn’t a single, simple answer. The rise of digital has reshaped our marketing landscape and removed much of the control marketers once enjoyed. Whether the presentation was geared towards art, creative, production process, briefs, agency structure, or the latest technologies – the Mad Men advertising model is useless today.
Solutions to today’s marketing questions are ever evolving. What might have worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow. And as scary as today’s marketing landscape appears to many, we are living through the most interesting period in our industry.
The rules have indeed changed. Campaigns as we once knew them are dead. Instead our commitment needs to be about creating experiences that encourage:
- conversation (social)
Despite the conference’s digital focus, it is clear that nobody believes interactive will replace all other forms of media. Though transmedia seems to be the hot term these days, I am a bigger fan of Tabtabai’s digiraditional. While this term was introduced jokingly, it highlights the fact that there isn’t an all-encompassing term for what a successful campaign should consist of today.
What does digiraditional really mean? Well, nothing… What it stands for though, does matter.
No longer will brands be able to shout at consumers.
Successful brands are providing real value through ongoing, relevant, and shareable content, experiences, and narratives. Agencies are beginning to figure this out. And yet many still have old agency structures, outdated internal resource bases, and broken financial models – which greatly hinder their ability to produce the brand experiences consumers’ desire.
In order to better service our clients, sell top-level work, and exploit today’s interactive toolbox we must break down archaic agencies structures.
Maybe that’s the answer. Prepare your agency for the digiraditional future.
…Oh, and by the way, it’s here.
As they grapple with a recession that doesn’t want to end, it’s easy for U.S. businesses – including creative agencies – to grow despondent. But a recent bit of futurism from McKinsey offers comfort for those prepared to broaden their horizons. And other reports suggest a counterintuitive direction for small to mid-size agencies.
“A huge shift is under way in consumer markets,” note the authors of McKinsey’s What Happens Next? Five Crucibles of Innovation That Will Shape the Coming Decade. (See a summary here. ) Globally, “somewhere north of 70 million people are crossing the threshold to the middle class each year, virtually all in emerging economies. By the end of the decade, roughly 40% of the world’s population will have achieved middle-class status – up from less than 20% today.”
Take a look where a lot of that growth is happening. Another McKinsey report, titled Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies, projects that by 2020, consumer spending in Africa will reach $1.4 trillion. (About time this continent caught a break.) But unlike in China, say, the big holding-company agencies don’t yet have a huge presence in Africa. In fact, The Africa Report (in “Advertising on the Move: African News, Analysis and Opinion,”) notes that most African companies are still in growth mode and don’t have the budgets for big agencies yet. Which of course spells an opportunity for smaller, independent players.
At M!, we’ve been keeping an eye on this global explosion for some time, and preparing for it. More than a quarter of the staff come from countries outside the U.S., including Creative Director Davi Sing (from Japan) and Digital Creative Director Xavier Teo (from Singapore). “The U.S. is a little behind the eight ball because it’s been dominant for so long,” Xavier comments. “Now, it’s beginning to adopt a more international view. But Americans need to have a better understanding of how business is done in other countries. In Asia, it’s much more a social thing – people getting to know each other after work. It’s a question of developing trust. Strangely, I think that was once a lot more common in the U.S. than it is now.”
We came across an interesting cultural notion the other day from Fred Wilson’s post, which discusses the lack of women entrepreneurs, VCs, and software developers. It seems that entrepreneurial spirit and the startup world are male-dominated endeavors. Sure, there is less debate about the “glass ceiling” today, but why and how could this be true?
According to the New York Times, although “around 40% of private companies in the U.S. are owned by women, there is still a significant lack of female entrepreneurship in the tech sector – only 8% of American venture-backed tech startups are founded by female CEOs.”
Think of the stereotypical “nerd,” and you picture a poorly dressed male with glasses, and certainly a computer (or two) – but rarely is this person female. Brad Feld and Eric Reis have recently advanced good thoughts regarding the lack of gender diversity within the tech entrepreneurial field.
What is pushing women into their professions at an early age – is it gender or lifestage?
If males and females have the same intellectual abilities, surely it’s a matter of upbringing. Some people argue that parents of young girls don’t push them into exploring math or computer science enough. Are women taught to try something else if the math gets tough? It’s a valid thought, but the truth is that women have been attaining higher education much more than men within the last few years. Just read the Atlantic Monthly’s “End of Men,” and you’ll get an idea of where genders split on education.
On the other side, Wilson contends that women who start businesses desire to know what they are doing first and often have kids in their 30s before they finally hit their entrepreneurial sweet spot in their 40s. By then, coding or moving to Silicon Valley isn’t feasible. It certainly sounds like a male-dominated world! But the good news is that Wilson is part of a new discussion that aims to engage women at their entrepreneurial peak and bring diversity to the sector.
Elizabeth Stark points out that “women comprise the majority of Internet users, so it absolutely makes sense to have a team that represents a variety of perspectives.” It seems simple to gain a woman’s perspective, so what’s the hangup?
This is an issue that applies directly to the world of brands. At the heart of the matter is our education system, which isn’t structured to instill and properly foster creativity from an early age, for either gender. Our educational system covers traditional creative fields such as music and art, but does it sufficiently address technology, product creation, and branding?
Today’s youths have grown up with iPods in hand and are savvy enough to decipher brandspeak from the truth. They seem to be the most democratic generation yet, but what is the effect on women who want to become entrepreneurs?
The impact involves more than just jobs and diversity. Rather, it is directly connected to the future of creativity and content. The world of brands has no shortage of diversity, but what’s being done to ensure that tomorrow’s crop of thinkers and doers are the most diverse possible? How can we capture creative people at an early age, rather than those trying to break in post-school, such as from ad schools that “farm” talent? This is something the whole industry should discuss.
Ultimately, this discussion is about unleashing the future of creativity, and everyone should have a say in how we get there.
Posting messages into the Facebook news feed of your most loyal consumers seems like a useful thing, right? It’s one of the reasons social media teams have put so much focus on creating and promoting Facebook pages. Now, with Facebook approaching 500M users, and with the privacy distractions fading away, this seems more important than ever. So why isn’t anybody using one of the most powerful aspects of the Open Graph protocol – the ability to send messages into the news feeds of people who have Liked something on your website?
For many brands, especially online brands, building a separate online presence on Facebook is an awkward process. Everyone wants access to the engagement and viral plumbing that Facebook perfected, and everyone wants to engage with consumers “where they are,” but the price of that is creating a less efficient path to the place you want your consumers to take action. If awareness or consideration are your main goals, then this is fine, but if trial or sales are your main goal, then having the activity take place on a site besides your own is a drag on efficiency.
So, when Facebook announced The Next Evolution of the Facebook Platform in April, it seemed like the best of both worlds had just arrived. As Mark Zuckerberg announced in his keynote, the Open Graph protocol makes it possible to extend Facebook activities to any website. Most of the initial conversation that followed concerned the power of the social plug-ins, especially the Like button, to spread content. Lost in that conversation was another, more powerful use of the Like button. As the Facebook team describes in the quote below, the Like button can create a persistent connection between you and your consumers.
When a user establishes this connection by clicking Like on one of your Open Graph-enabled pages, you gain the lasting capabilities of Facebook Pages: a link from the user’s profile, ability to publish to the user’s News Feed, inclusion in search on Facebook, and analytics through our revamped Insights product.
The key phrase here is, “the lasting capabilities of Facebook pages.” Now, if you have a website, you can get people to Like you on your own website, and still be able to post items into their news feed. Done properly, there may be no reason to create and maintain a separate presence on Facebook. We’ve built a prototype of such a page here at Modernista! and confirmed that it works as described above. Sure, there are some bugs and documentation is scarce, but that’s always been the case with the Facebook platform.
Some websites are using most of the Open Graph capabilities. For example, on IMDB, you can Like a movie, and all kinds of nice things happen for IMDB. Your friends see that you Liked a movie on IMDB.com, a link to that IMDB page goes into your Facebook profile page, and IMDB movie pages start turning up in Facebook search. Those are all nice things, but why isn’t IMDB posting information to my news feed now? That’s what happens with regular Facebook pages, and it’s technically possible, so why hasn’t IMDB or anyone else started doing this? We have some theories, but let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Last year on World AIDS Day (December 1), we launched a holiday campaign for (RED) that harnessed gift-giving around the world to drive contributions to The Global Fund. As part of that campaign, we designed (RED) pop-up shops in New York, London, Tokyo and San Francisco, each of which brought (RED) partner and special edition products together for sale under one branded, engaging roof.
In addition, to support the London (RED) shop and help announce Nike as the newest global (RED) partner, we took over the Oxford Circus Underground station with thousands of square feet of silkscreened panels featuring (RED) partner products and maps to partner stores above ground. And working with the animation ninjas at Psyop, we created a short film that ran in digital panels throughout the station, as well as on joinred.com and in all four pop-up shops.
This Oxford Circus takeover was recently recognized in AdAge and Creativity Magazine’s The Art & Science of Outdoor. Click on the thumbnails above or check out the work on pages 50-51 and 65 in the printed version.
Our animation is posted below as well – take a look and let us know what you think. And look for more good stuff from (RED) and Modernista! this upcoming holiday season.
It’s been 50 days since the BP oil spill began, and the struggle to cap the flow continues. What if this happened where you live?
Take a peek at this visualization.
Food Should Taste Good, the maker of all-natural snacks, has named Modernista! its first-ever agency of record. M! won the business in a competitive pitch that saw an initial list of seven agencies whittled down to one. FSTG and M! plan to launch a fully integrated campaign across all channels, with a heavy emphasis on innovative online and in-store experiences.
M! recently garnered a silver Clio in the technical category for its “Re-ignition” TV spot for Cadillac. Check it out:
Modernista!’s Director of User Experience, Bob Goodman, will be a featured speaker on an upcoming Webinar to talk about how UX, social media, and taxonomy intersect. Bob tells us one featured topic is the way UX design needs to support both content consumption and conversation in the same space. “The experience of reading and the experience of publicly commenting on what you’re reading aren’t separate anymore. They happen in the same space and nearly the same time. People read about something one minute and share and talk about it with their personal network of friends and followers in the next minute; that’s an interesting opportunity in how you design for conversation.” Look for Bob from 1:00 to 2:00 EST on Wednesday, June 2. The webinar is hosted by Early and Associates: