Love ideas early but kill darlings

Working in a culture that protects good ideas is really hard. It’s easy for something simple to kill good work early. Too early. But knowing when you’ve got something magical is even harder.

The next time a client asks you what you mean by ideation or why they need to pay for it send them this new spot by W+K for Honda. Great ideas are really fucking hard work.


The creative suit

Is account handling getting more creative? Jonathan Burley has some great stuff to say on this topic with the below.

Also the excellent Patrick Collister has some great training courses for helping account handlers get better work out. And in terms of educating clients check this.

Emotional content

Bruce Lee would be 70 years old in 2012 had his legend continued. Scanning back through you tube throws up all kinds of wisdom from the great man but the below really struck me. When you revist things in today’s landscape different meanings reveal themselves. It’s kind of the point that is made here about intertextuality. And it’s something that is likely to pop up through the Superbowl spots next weekend if we’re believe the buzz about a possible Honda spot being trailed with this:

Pop culture mash ups are nothing new but the reinterpretation of meaning based on our own ‘pop signature’ does seem to be very much on trend.  When a brand takes your collective pop signature & fuses it with a highly personalized digital footprint then stuff starts to get really interesting. I guess its kind of what facebook was getting at with it’s development of the like function & creation of timeline. This strikes me as an interesting way for brands to ’embed’ themselves in your life & I’m not sure anyone is really talking this way apart from maybe Google with this. This is what leads to brands (and agencies) needing to think about some of those other p’s rather than promotion. What about product design? What about price? What about packaging? What about placement?

A brilliant pub conversation the other night highlighted the fact that business generally faces one or a combination of three challenges. Is it a product issue (taste, colour etc)? Is it a brand issue (equity, trust etc)? Or is it a communication issue (media spend, creative etc). Maybe only by trying to help our clients reframe & define the real issue can remastered account handlers actually keep brands relevant. And then viewing this challenge through a much more kaleidoscopic lens where we create the conditions to assess much more important p’s mentioned above. In my opinion, there’s another great P that will help us locate brands in their pop culture timeline & build meaning through context. Perspective.

A great post on expands this thought here. And these guys are really on it.

It’s this kind of intertextual perspective & reframing that the great master could be instructing us on below. Focus on the finger & you’ll probably miss the opportunity to embed a brand in its most relevant cultural context. This is the place where emotional content really connects a brand experience together.



Shall we schedule a meeting about the meeting?

This has been doing the rounds for the past couple of days & just had to get my 2 cents down on it. We’ve all nearly been killed by powerpoint, seen ramblings, agenda’s written on the back of envelopes, poorly planned get together’s without purpose etc etc.

The C.O.M.A app signals when a meeting needs to be shut down. Just open the app, set the number of attendees and the average hourly bill rate, hit start, and let the app show you how much money is spent, or wasted, if the whole thing seems pointless.

Taking meeting efficiency to an extreme is Marissa Mayer at Google. This post is old now but has some good stuff in re: micro-meetings, break outs & ruthlessly keeping time.

The account teams that I’ve worked in the meeting should have 4 basic functions:

– to create and fuse a team (often with shitloads of booze)

– to impart information (briefings, creative presentation, preproduction meetings)

– to ideate

– to collect information & make decisions (research debriefs, media, status etc)

Agencies are notoriously bad on not agreeing an agenda up front either with colleagues or with clients. Deciding well in advance what the objective of the meeting actually is & making sure you meet that objective is basically rule number one.

The worst thing on any meeting agenda. Any Other Business. If it’s important – get it on the agenda & make sure someone gets it done. Otherwise it’s likely to result in someone getting stiffed & you picking up the pieces.

Try holding meetings at the end of the day rather than the beginning and see how much faster they go. People often want to get home & morning sessions can sometimes drift into digress/chat etc

Start all meetings on time. Never wait. And don’t recap. Latecomers can gather what they need to from others after the meeting.

Weird timing. I’ve tried this a few times to improve punctuality. Try 15.15 rather than 1500 & see if it makes a difference.

Schedule meetings far enough in advance – but not too far – so no-one can say they had something else on. Confirm the day before.

Each agenda point should result in an action.

Stand up. Set a clock. Be uncomfortable. Or try this app. 

Make meetings lively & memorable. But not like David Brent.  Lighten the mood. Change the location. Be confident & flexible. Not formal but firm. And most importantly -make them fun.

We go to extremes…

Tim & Eric’s new film has just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is getting great reviews.

Anyone who hasn’t yet been exposed to these guys then really should take note of why they win webby’s & consistently dominate you tube with some of the most screwed up content you’re likely to come across.

They go to extremes to offend & drop so much content that they were bound to eventually get a big picture release. They are making it available to stream over the web 2 months before it hits cinema’s on general release & you’ll here a lot about it in the mainstream media soon. Probably for the debate it’ll stir up about taste/the internet/morality & censorship. Word has it from some of the early previews on twitter tonight that it’s pretty twisted. Even for Tim & Eric.

There’s an interesting interview here about how these pirates ‘go to extremes’ & that Billy Joel’s track of the same theme was their anthem. Is this one of the ingredients to drive an idea for a connected experience? Is raw, gross out extremity more powerful than the borrowed interest of star wars myth/nostalgia that we see here?

Anyone not easily offended can check it out here & judge for themselves:

And compare the big screen stuff (which seems even more ‘extreme’ than what they were doing a few years ago):

Has a ramping up of our connectedness created what this guy warns about as ‘escalation’? Or is it just Tim & Eric?





We’ll take it from here guys…

You know that old Steve Jobs quote – the one that goes ‘be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected’. Well it kind of combines with this point about protecting agency value around the creative output that I talked about here. And it’s even more relevant when we consider that the ‘the environment’ we operate in is a highly unstable, techno-soup of volatility.

The margin between what we get paid to deliver for our clients & what they feel that they can manage on their own is constantly under threat. More now than ever. It’s a fine, fine line between the agency generating valuable momentum & the client releasing something that takes off with it’s own propulsion.

A recent high profile example of this is the way the viral content is being handled for what is potentially the largest entertainment launch this year. The dark knight rises.

3 years ago – Team Nolan engaged 42 Entertainment to build a sophisticated Alternate Reality Game (ARG) that most would take credit for building pre-launch buzz in what was (at the time) the largest box office opening day ever recorded. I’ve blogged about The Dark Knight stuff that did well at Cannes before here. 

What seems to be happening this time around is that Warner Bros have taken control of the viral work for ‘in house’. The core fan base have gone into meltdown on the forums like Superherohype as more mainstream entertainment websites like TMZ, Entertainment weekly, Variety etc are driving the pre-launch conversation. With the film release still 5 months away the level of interactive storytelling has been pretty poor BUT – and this is the important point – the first night tickets at opening IMAX cinema’s in the US have already sold out.

Is Warner Bros riding off the back of the buzz pre-generated from the fanboys with the 42 Entertainment campaign? Or have they infiltrated & weaponized them? Are the pre-production/location & production ‘spy pics’ that  were reported by papers such as Aftonbladet here in Sweden or The Mirror in the UK a clear indication that this films fan base has crossed the chasm?

Did 42 Entertainment become a victim of their own success & generate enough momentum from the last campaign to prevent their engagement this time around? Or has the landscape & connectivty changed so much in 3 years that the reality becomes the event. I.e there is no need for an ‘alternative’.

The world is getting smaller & smaller. With packs of ‘Fanboy Ninja’s’ following location to location to location (from Scotland, to England, to India, to LA, to NY) & capturing footage on handicams the drama unfolded in realtime with the production. The hyper-connectivity of the ‘Fanboy Ninja’s’ & exclusivity of this content  meant that they could co-ordinate their own treasure hunt without the need for a company like Entertainment 42 to create ‘interactive content’. Maybe some of the ‘controlled access’ to shoot locations & some of the photography released was to ‘tip gasoline on the fire’ as Eric puts it here. The fact that some of the ‘unofficial pics’ turned up on Getty kind of suggests that Warner Bros planted roster photographers into some of the more extra heavy scenes to leak this out to news outlets on purpose. If this proves to be correct (which WB neither confirms or denies) then it’s a brilliant, brilliant strategy but throws up a pretty big, shiny red flag for agencies.

The key lesson here is that clients are getting more & more switched onto to managing their ‘exclusive content’ than ever. And in this uncertain landscape it’s another key reason why the account handler has to be the client guardian not just of ‘the work’ but of the environment in which the work will work. This is the only way that we can keep protecting the value that clients expect us to provide & be that ‘yardstick of quality’.

Account handling: The remix

I’ve been lucky enough to be invited into Bergh’s School of Communication to speak about the role of the modern account handler. I’m really excited about this & can’t wait to get the debate started about the remix taking place around the discipline.

The need to have the tenacity to solve problems through complex projects is greater than ever. What happens when the answer to the brief isn’t a poster. Or a radio spot. Or TV. Or even online. What does the modern account handler need when the answer is ‘remix your city’. The below is just awesome but it could equally well have been created to promote London or Paris on behalf of their respective tourist associations. These kinds of opportunities are what the remastered account handler has to keep their eyes open for. We have to stay in the mix.

Also thanks to @waern for the below too: