'Money spent on a set of eyelashes will always pay dividends in the office beauty stakes."
This post from five years ago is worth a seasonal revival. For all those missing Mad Men, here's the real thing.
On Adam Curtis's The Medium and the Message blog, there is an absolutely fascinating record of the real life world of UK advertising, filmed roughly around the time that the last series of Mad Men was set. It's quite astonishingly strange. The boundaries between the sexes, between 'management' and 'staff' and between young and old seem so much more pronounced than they are today, and yet the essentials of human nature haven't changed at all. The idea that an ad agency party in the so-called swinging sixties would be planned to finish at 6.30 pm seems hilarious. At one point we hear what I think is John Lennon's Cold Turkey on the soundtrack. It sounds like a transmission from the future but was released in 1969 so it could actually have been played at the party.
Davidson Pearce was still going when I started in advertising. It was acquired by BMP in 1988, which was then itself acquired by DDB, creating BMP DDB Needham, now just known as DDB London. (Update: since this post was originally written, DDB London has changed name again, to become Adam & Eve DDB.)
As the year comes to an end, let's look at the last lot of new faces that have walked through the doors...
Rob Meldrum joined us a while back as a Freelancer, we've now convinced him to stay permanently in the role of Director of Experience Architecture. Rob's had quite a few travelling experiences such as hanging out with Orang-utans in Borneo, riding a motorbike through the mountains in Vietnam (he'd never ridden a motorbike before) and teaching English to Lao Monks. In Lao. (Obviously). We're happy to have Rob here as a perm member of the W+K family.
Xueling Wang joins our Design team after a 6 week work placement. She loved it so much, and we loved her so much, that she's staying for good! She has recently graduated from the Royal College of Art and has totally impressed us with some beautifully crafted and animated typefaces, as well as being super talented in print, animation and a bit of interactive design too.
Ben and Scott are one of the latest additions to our Creative department. They joined us from New Zealand agency Colenso BBDO where they've worked for the last few years.
A fun fact about Ben: Outside of work, burritos are his biggest hobby. In New Zealand Ben reviewed them as a hobby and really carved out a niche for himself. This led to him then starting a company which makes sausages, that taste like burritos. They are stocked in NZ supermarkets and down the line he would like to bring them here.
A fun fact about Scott: Because Scott is an odd ball, he created a flag design for 100 planets of the Star Wars universe. Since he began Scott has had several of the flags produced in China and had senior management at his former agency pitch it to Disney. According to Wookipedia (wikipedia for Star Wars - yes it exists), there are another 180 planets needing his attention. You can have a look at the work at: www.flagsofthegalaxy.com
The final new victims in our Creative Department are Tom and Tess. They join our brill Nike team. Tom is really into football, Tess is really into running. Tess once got groped by Ben Affleck on a shoot and Tom's mum used to embarrass him by making him dance in a load of recitals and plays (she owned a dance school). They've settled into agency life well and we're happy to have them here!
We know what you wanted for Christmas - a handsome, leather-bound, collector's edition Wieden+Kennedy Moleskin notebook, right? Well, rejoice, for there are glad tidings of great joy: there are now three Wiedenabulous designs (The Rules / Walk in Stupid / The Work). Each one is based on a well-known (well known to us, anyway) "Wiedenism" - a saying or motto or code for life in general. The snag is, you have to work at W+K London to get one.
Is your brand ‘always on’? Well, it shouldn’t be. Truth is, even the most interesting brands in the world are not actually that interesting to real people, most of the time. And although as an industry I feel we’ve started to realise that brand love doesn’t come easy, there’s still a reality check needed for the way brands talk to consumers.
If we start with the assumption that your audience isn’t really your audience, and they’re not particularly interested in what you have to say, how do you get them to listen? Let alone buy something?
I think there’s a valuable but often neglected way of making our audience care: just be there when they have a reason to be. Identify the brief moments when your brand (or more specifically the service or product it offers) actually could be useful, maybe even essential.
On the sliding scale of ‘brand/user engagement’, your audience could quickly go from ‘I literally couldn’t care less’ to ‘I’m considering this now’ or perhaps even ‘this is all I can think about’. Take energy suppliers for example – most of the year no one is really interested or engaged with their energy supplier, but if a huge bill drops through the letterbox, or they’re suddenly sitting there in the dark, rest assured it’ll be the only thing on their mind.
So how do we identify these moments, and in turn make sure our brand is there to offer help before they’ve even thought they needed us?
Luckily, the answer is simple. (Unfortunately, the actual implementation of that answer less so). We use a healthy mix of technology, data and our brains. There’s an array of tech/services/people out there using data to better understand consumers. Take Google Now for example, kindly predicting what time I’m traveling home just so it can give me traffic and weather warnings.
We’re also connecting our fridges, washing machines and security systems together in order to make life at home more intelligent and, erm, connected. Then there’s programmatic media buying that, by using multiple behavioural data sets, can help make our ads more pointed and relevant (annoyingly including those banners that follow you around, reminding you of that shirt you’ve just bought).
While data is a powerful tool, there’s a fine line between it being helpful and just downright creepy. So how do we make sure to stay on the right side of that line? The best way, in my opinion, is to be so useful and so clever that it transcends creepy altogether. In theory, broadcasting your exact location at 3am on a Sunday morning to Prius drivers across London is creepy – but the fact they can come and pick you up, take you home, all without worrying if you’ve got enough cash, is magic.
The ideal scenario for us, representing those low interest brands and trying to interrupt someone’s day, is to be there at the moment that it might actually matter. We can use technology platforms, with all of the data available to us (individual user details, user profiling and behavioural data), to provide a relevant message/offer/service that can deliver on a need right there and then. What if, for example, an energy company could be there just as the huge bill lands – providing an alternative solution, a better way?
In theory, we have the data and the technology available to us to do this, so what’s the hold up? Why aren’t we helping brands be more relevant and useful all of the time? Well for one, it’s difficult to weave this into the creative process. We can’t just bolt on personalised executions once the TV script is nailed. It needs to be baked into the idea, right from the start. But at what point does the ‘programmatic media’ chat come up in the creative brainstorm? To be honest, I’m not sure. (I’ve tried – blank stares.)
For me, the best way to start identifying these moments that matter, and subsequently crafting creative solutions around them, is to first understand our audience. By using data and technology at our disposal, we can gain access to their mindsets, experiences, interests, wants, needs and desires, and everything in-between. And If we can do this, we can start to make our ideas feel more clever, targeted and personalised.
Approaching creativity in this way in order to get to new and interesting insights and ideas might seem scary, but it’s definitely worth embracing. Lean on new services and techniques to break the creative process, twist it around, and you might just get to somewhere you’d never considered.
Finally, let’s not forget to be humble enough to admit that people aren’t interested in our brands most of the time, but also to be ready when they just might be. So maybe it’s time to shift the focus from the ‘always on’ approach and instead work on being really, really useful at just the right time. Perhaps then, your audience might just find your brand quite interesting. Or at the very least not creepy.
Rob Meldrum is director of experience architecture at Wieden+Kennedy and member of the IPA's Brand Tech Group which provides an industry view on the impact technology is having on brands, consumers and agencies
It's starting to look a lot like Christmas. Especially in our Hanbury Street window.
It's that time of the year when Santa is finalising his lists. You know, the naughty one, the nice one. And because babies are booming and there are more of us than ever, how is the big guy meant to keep track of us all?
So of course Santa came to us to ask for our help. And who are we to say no? Introducing: the NAUGHTY-OR-NICE-O-METER. The only machine in the world that scans your body, reviews your year and tells you if you've been NAUGHTY or NICE.
For those of you passing the agency between now and when Santa sets off on his worldwide tour this Christmas Eve, come take a sneak peek at which list he's put you on. It's never too late to influence his decision. Maybe.
To celebrate the creative agencies that produced the best online video content of the year, YouTube compiles an annual Creative Agency Leaderboard, based on the agencies that landed the most ads on their monthly lists of the world's most viewed and shared ads.
Last night was the Wieden+Kennedy 'Camp as Christmas' party, held at Dalston's 'alternative super-pub', The Glory. It was a night of drinking, dancing, glamour, gender-bending and amazing outfits. Here are a few pictures from the evening.
Last Friday morning a group of Forever Curious kids from Newport primary school visited W+K. They were here to take part in the pilot workshop for the third instalment of Forever Curious – ‘My Creative Future’.
The idea behind My Creative Future is to get everyone thinking about their creative past, present and most importantly future. These thoughts are then manifested in vibrantly decorated cards.
Our volunteers eagerly awaited the children’s arrival and when they appeared; both sides were greeted with pleased enthusiastic faces. We gathered in a circle and remembered the fun we had at the workshops and exhibition in the summer.
After some warm up games the kids and their buddies gathered around a table that was full of various postcards. Everyone had to pick three postcards from the selection on the table. One that in some way made them think of their past, present and future.
These postcards were then used to inspire the making of artwork at three different creative stations on larger cards. The stations were themed, Black and White, Fluorescent and Primary Colours.
After much cutting, sticking, painting and drawing some dazzling work was made. The themes were individual and varied; from “clumsiness” to “tidal waves” from their past. One child showed how music made them feel inspired in their present. Their chosen future professions inspired some of the creative future cards - doctors, policeman and teachers to name a few while others showed how they wanted to continue learning creativity from role models like mothers in their future.
After everyone had a chance to say a word about their cards we sat in a circle and said our heartfelt goodbyes. We all had a magnificent morning and the volunteers from the agency were blown away as always, by the creativity of the children.
The Gunn Report has announced the top 20 ads from the 21st Century and we're made up to read that 25% of them were made by W+K! That's right. Five of the best 20 ads of this century (so far) were originated in our network.
We're also incredibly proud here in London that two of those campaigns are home grown from our Hanbury Street office with Honda 'Cog' and 'Grrr' amongst the top 20.
Also featured are Nike 'Write the Future' and 'Tag', and Old Spice 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like' from W+K Amsterdam and Portland respectively.
No time to rest on our laurels though. A quick pat on the back all round and back to making the best work of the rest of the century for us.