Ideas must be both Cool and Right.

Read the full commentary here

Most of us grow up with pretty finely tuned bullshit detectors. The thing is, this technology is getting better every day.

In fact, over the years, I think bullshit-detection technology has more than kept pace with computer technology, to the degree that kids today have BS detectors picking up readings as low asone-part-bullshit-in-a-million.

Interestingly, many of these same kids – these wonderful cynical rebels – will, when asked to create advertising, revert quickly to bullshit. They aren’t stupid. They’ve simply grown up listening to all the horrible advertising out there and, hey, when you grow up in France, you speak French.

This is why I ask beginning students to forgeteverysingle thing they think they know about advertising and keep only their disdain for most of it. I ask them to be honest and to justtalk. Yes, I want them be interesting, to be funny, or dramatic, but to justtalk; not bullshit.

As a test, I give students this process, one they can apply to their own work to see if it qualifies as bullshit.

Pretend you’re sitting next to some guy at a bar and you’re talking about the product you’re advertising which, today, let’s say it’s some chain restaurant. And this guy asks you, “So, tell me again why I should go to this place?” You take a big slug of beer, look ‘im in the eye, and you say….

“The flavors of ancient Italy will tantalize your nose and suddenly you’re in Rome.”

This is where he slugs you.  > POW! <

You’re on the floor lookin’ up wondering what just happened. Well, what happened is you decided your bar buddy was an idiot and he’d believe any insipid, bullshit cliché you come up with.

So, that’s my little test.

Look your best friend in the eye and speak your message. Can you say it with the same authenticity and unadorned honesty as you would tellin’ her what the weather is?

If you can, you’re not advertising. You’re just tellin’ someone about this cool thing you heard about. And what’s wrong with that?

Sharpening your instincts for the digital age.

Sharpening your instincts for the digital age.

By Brand Learning.

Marketing in the digital age. Not the same as “digital marketing”.

VW don’t make-up-and-drive video.

Good work we know intuitively.

Instinct + Historic Data = Informed Intuition

“Survival opportunity”, Hope Soap. Soap with a toy inside to encourage kids in 3rd world countries to wash their hands, to create a habit.

Our instincts are to de-risk life but we miss the opportunity for digital.

1. Reawaken our inner Hunter Gatherer

Disruption: More guest nights at AirBnB than Hilton last year!

2 camps: Leaning in, big movement, loud, risk takers. And people who are less so, non risk takers.

We need to hunt for new areas of growth.

Moving from “sustainable competitive advantage” (Porter’s five forces diagramme) for when brands have a solid foothold, to …

“The End of Competitive Advantage” (Rita McGrath).


e.g. of TCA:

BMW Hydrogen cars was pulled back because it wasn’t selling and they launched the mini electric car.

Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. They pulled out of Fuel Band to focus on app.

Uber: (No traditional advertising in place!). Looking at sharing rides with other passengers now.

Netflix: Moved from mailing DVD to streaming. And now they are into original programming (House of Cards, The Killing).

Facebook: “We are 1% done” (Mark Z).

 How well prepared are you for the transient economy?

Novartis and Google make contact lenses that detect insulin levels for diabetics. Product creation.

2. Rewrite the Laws of Attraction

We are naturally attracted to those similar to us.

We live in a world of algorithms, networks, predictive models.

Intersection of technology and the arts.

Instincts + Different Partners = New Laws of Attraction

We need to become attracted to people with new ideas. The Bakery (bringing together tech companies, brands & agencies), Shoreditch. Wayra.

Simon Lowden. CMO PepsiCo North Am. Short-term innovation thinking. Culture groups listening to pop culture.

3. From Retrospective Intuition to Forecasted Judgement

Using the past to predict the future is becoming less useful.

Instinct + Data + Insight = Judgement

Kleenex with CDC data (not just Google Analytics) could predict 3 weeks ahead when flu would hit and which US cities. “Head to where the puck is moving to”. Not just where the puck is.

ADT alarm systems: “it’s what they leave behind” case study video.

4. From Flight or Flight to Constructive Curiosity

Instinct + Change = Constructive Curiosity

How and why and what? Listen to what your consumers are doing, in real time! Forget focus groups.

T.Jacket in Japan. Sends a haptic touch to a sweater of child.

Mimo onesie for babies. Data streamed cloth. Intelligent cloth.

3D printed affordable housing in China.

Wrap up

Instincts: New Hunter Gather, Forward Focussed Judgements, New Laws of Attraction, Constructively Curious.

How will you:

Think Big

Start Small

Scale Quickly

"Products are what you buy. Brands are what you buy into."

Teen girl’s take on social and why she doesn’t like Facebook

Georgie Strawson is a thirteen-year-old British secondary school student. In this piece for Brand Perfect she offers insight into how a modern-day teen’s perceptions of media technology differ from those of their parents… 

You could say I’m a typical teenager. I live on my phone. As soon as I get home I’m talking to people via text and Snapchat that I’ve spent the whole day with, which is something parents don’t seem to understand. In an effort to bridge the gap between the teenage world and the adult one, I’ll attempt to explain why social media and the use of digital devices are such a big part of many teens’ lives.

Having unlimited access to so many different doors that lead to sources of information leaves you with a pocket of temptation at the back of your mind. Whether it’s seeing what people are doing by looking at their Snapchat stories, or updating your BBM Pm (BlackBerry private messaging), there is always something to be updated or talked about. Usually exciting or funny things that have happened throughout the day, like my friend Abi falling out of the Science block window. To my peer group, social media equals gossip. People share things that they wouldn’t in real life and it’s only when you really think about the things that you’re typing into that status bar that you realise how it can, in a sense, capture you as someone else. Something my Dad has always says to me is not to share anything on social media that you wouldn’t be happy shouting down the high street. This is one of the few rules that I completely agree with, and I try to stick by that as much as I can.

I try to understand that parents don’t understand what it’s like to be a teen in the modern day, and the significant differences that come with it. It was a completely different world to what it is now, and in a way I envy them. Their play-time was making completely unsafe ramps to ride their bikes over and coming home with the cuts and bruises to prove it. When it was bedtime, it was bedtime – there was no last check on Facebook or having to finish a conversation first.

However, having a level of connectedness previous generations probably barely dreamed of does make day-to-day life a lot easier. If I want to know what something means, I don’t have to find a dictionary and spend five minutes looking up the word, I just type it into my search engine and a Wikipedia definition pops up. I use my phone most. A general log of the usage of my phone would start in the morning: I use it as an alarm clock so I can instantly see any notifications that I’ve received overnight. I respond to them and say good morning to the couple of people I talk to daily. I’m constantly checking the time on my phone, as it also acts as a watch substitute. When I’m on the bus going to school I’ll listen to music using Spotify, which is basically my life as I live for music. Spotify is such an easy service to use and it has everything right where I want it. It allows me to sync music to my phone so that I can listen to it whenever I want and is a lot less expensive than using iTunes and paying for every song individually. I buy CDs from time to time, but never really use them, especially as we now have a Bluetooth connection in the car, so I can just stream music straight from my phone.

When I’m at school I don’t use my phone much in lessons, but the Google translate app is helpful in languages for translating single words – though not whole sentences, as my teacher constantly reminds us. (Something I’ve had confirmed for me from reading the recent Brand Perfect feature on the importance of brand translation.) And the calculator app that comes with my iPhone is helpful in maths as I always forget my actual calculator.

I use my phone for social media mainly, and calling and contacting people as a phone was originally intended to do. I use my laptop for all my schoolwork as I find it is a much less distracting device to use. You don’t have alerts popping up every minute reminding you of other things you need to reply to and completely side-tracking you from the job in hand. I do most of my schoolwork in books and then when I get home I’ll do my homework on my laptop as I find it much more efficient and it’s easier to keep my work organised. Once I’ve finished an assignment I’ll submit it via the school website, where there is a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) that allows you to access school drives and upload work.

I’ve noticed over the last year that I’m being asked to provide a lot more information about myself for things in return. For example, I recently had an advert pop up on my Facebook page saying, ‘We’ll give you unlimited access to your friends’ profiles if you answer five questions about yourself’. I don’t go with anything that has the word ‘if’ in it. To me, that’s how blackmail is formed and compromises are made, which is never a good thing. I don’t understand why people think it is something that people would respond to – surely no one would be stupid enough to click on something like that.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that leading companies like Coca-Cola or Haribo have Facebook pages that are shared constantly by themselves trying to get attention for their brand. I don’t see the point in this; I don’t want to read about Coke. I drink Coke and that’s all it has to offer, why would I want to have a daily update on it? This is the main reason I much prefer using Snapchat and Kik to Facebook, they are purely socialising apps that require very little information about me and don’t bombard users with adverts. I don’t particularly want to give out my personal details and that’s another annoying thing about Facebook: a lot of apps are linked to it asking to have access to your personal profile, photos and friend list. You end up having a lot more people knowing about you than you first anticipated. What happened to privacy?

When it comes to social media, I’ve learnt to understand not to understand. What I mean by this is as a teenager, you have to realise that your parents aren’t going to make sense of the reasons you present to them as to why you spend so much time on your phone, and why you have all these social networking sites. And as an older citizen, you have to notice that things are different for us, and to accept that you might not understand everything that teenagers get from the time they spend on their machines. But we are all connected, we all have a footprint that is ever-growing and it is up to us how we shape it.

Will this new creative school really change things? If the syllabus isn’t forward thinking enough, then perhaps it won’t

After 30 years, Dave Buonaguidi has swapped agency life to set up Gratis, a free school that he hopes will benefit both students and the creative industry alike.
Buonaguidi: Gratis will seek funding from government, large corporations and the creative industry in order to offer a free-to-attend 18-month course in London

Buonaguidi: Gratis will seek funding from government, large corporations and the creative industry in order to offer a free-to-attend 18-month course in London

I’ve never really liked the ad business. That might sound a bit hypocritical from someone who has spent 30 years making a good living from the industry, but I’m not your stereotypical adman. I’m not particularly social – in fact, I’m socially awkward. I don’t drink, or do drugs, or cheat on my wife, I think awards are bullshit and I’m most definitely not corporate.

I often wonder how the hell I’ve lasted so long. It’s simple: I am an idealist. I joined advertising because I wanted to be creative. Sadly, over the past 30 years, I have watched what was once a creative business turn into nothing more than a functional money-making mach­ine where creativity is a commodity.

Creativity is vital: it’s the key to solving any problem – and the creative mind, whether it specialises in design, strategy, technology or concepting, is an asset that should be nurtured and rewarded. We need a fresh influx of smart creative entrepreneurs who can give creative business a boost of energy and take it into its next chapter.

Room for improvement

The creative business is not good enough and needs to change. I’m not alone in thinking that, and I ask myself what is being done to instigate the change needed to get us out of the rut we are in.

In the past, we had visionaries who challenged the status quo. People such as John Hegarty, Alex Bogusky, Dave Trott, Steve Jobs and Arianna Huffington. And interesting ad agencies that fundamentally changed the creative landscape for the better, such as Boase Massimi Pollitt, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, GGT, Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, St Luke’s and Mother.

Who are the next creative visionaries, and where are the next truly mould-breaking ad agencies? There are three issues we need to address:

1. The talent pool is not diverse enough and not good enough. Rising tuition costs have created a huge barrier to future talent, especially those from outside of London and with low-income backgrounds, to gain access to the best creative training programmes. It goes without saying that diversity inspires creativity and that we, the UK, will only be seen as the creative capital of the world if we produce the best talent and inspire the best ideas in the future.

2. Not enough ambition, not enough innovation. Ad agencies have not really changed in 40 years. Most are uninspiring corporations that produce a formulaic product driven by the narcissistic creative awards business.

3. No visionaries, no missionaries. There are too few – if any – creative visionaries setting up businesses to make a difference, most preferring short-term finance vehicles rather than businesses that will create change and energy and be more interesting for staff, clients and the industry.

Gratis: free and inclusive

The idea came from a conversation I had with Donald Fogarty and Adam Oldfield from FutureRising and a great college tutor. We all agreed that, to make the industry better, we had to start with an education system that was inclusive and to remove the main barrier to access: cost.

I think creative businesses have a duty to be more involved in the education and creation of their future leaders, so the school will rely only on funding from government (hopefully), large corporations and a diverse selection of companies within the creative industry. That money will pay for accommodation in London that includes work space, 20 dorms and the services of the best creative tutor I know of. (I can’t mention him for obvious reasons, because he is currently employed.)

The “working” course will be 18 months long, with two 14-day holidays (like real working people have and not the usual long breaks that students enjoy). It begins with a six-month boot camp followed by a blend of intense group workshops augmented with professional skills training with leading industry partners.

The building will host regular talks, seminars and workshops and have the ability to offer apprenticeships, industry training and bespoke events for the creative industries. Importantly, it will also offer an idea-generation and creative-support service to its partner companies, which will generate extra funds to put into a central kitty that will then be divvied up, so that students actually leave having earned some money.

That’s the dream. Last week, the Skillset chief executive, Dinah Caine, invited me to The Creative Skillset presentation at Channel 4, where it was announced that there was to be £37 million-worth of funding to spend on education and creative internships. I was inspired and hugely excited to be in a room full of people who wanted to do something amazing and to make a difference to the creative industries, and suddenly that dream became a little more of a reality.

I had only one question: how could we get our dirty mitts on some of that money? We need one Transit van. Six people with balaclavas. I’ll supply the guns. Who’s up for it?

Dave Buonaguidi is a co-founder of Karmarama

Ultimate Weapon.

Ultimate Weapon.

Kermit x-ray.

Kermit x-ray.

Indebted to the Red Stars

I once worked in an agency where the ECD who hired me was booted out the very day I joined, which was April Fool’s Day in the mid noughties. I wanted to leave the very next day. But instead I ended up staying over two years. I was a sr writer in one of the two teams. And I worked with a few art directors during my time there — a crazy and horny frenchman; a straightlaced, anger-issues guy who made several holes in a few walls over time (with his fist and foot); and a quiet and talented fellow who mumbled all the time. The place was a constant battle between suits and creatives; creatives usually lost because there was no real balance of power or real lust for work that would make us famous. Despite the obvious negatives in the agency, I worked my ass off over there. I did so because of all the people in creative. We were a team who wanted to do something special against all odds. We didn’t have a creative head for some time but we had each other. And we were a small group. The agency had sacked so many people after losing two massive accounts, I could move desks every month! Us few, we pitched endlessly, gave up weekends, busted our guts for several nasty clients, ate hundreds of pizzas, fought and loved each other. On the day I left, our creative and design team had doubled in size. We had grown our billings through sheer hard work and a  heap of creative revisions. We made a real difference. All of us have moved on from that agency but for a few years we kept meeting up for reunion lunches and dinners. We weren’t just colleagues, we were friends. This is what I think being part of a creative team is really about. It’s about winning and losing together. Laughing and crying together. Pushing for good work over and over again because we believed in the power of creativity. Wherever you guys are right now, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being nice. For being mental. For the very late nights. For the intercom pranks. For the wild away days. I’ll never forget you and the stuff we did and accomplished together.

Jam. We hip. We hop. We wear rabbit suits and ride bmx.

Jam. We hip. We hop. We wear rabbit suits and ride bmx.

Flogging a dead elephant.

Today I attended an event by cp+b. Famous agency. They put on a show on stage, literally. Their message was about being and doing brave work. Targeted at potential clients. I walked away too early. I was bored. Bored that they were trying to be “brave in advertising”. Advertising has moved on. It’s not so much about saying stuff anymore. Not about being disruptive just so you can stand out in media—although that isn’t wrong thinking in itself. The inconvenient truth is that the game has changed. Rules have been rewritten. It’s now about rethinking the way we engage people. About making stuff for people that’s brand relevant. This “stuff” isn’t adlike. It builds brands. It creates brand preference. It changes behaviour. Does what adverts do. But differently because people have changed. I’m sorry, but hoopla isn’t enough anymore.