On Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th Bristol was graced by the great and good of advertising, marketing and creative thinking. Vision Conference delivered on all levels and the Den is bouncing with new ideas. Hopefully this summary captures some of the inspiration that was shared over the two days. Huge thankyou to Bristol Media.
Quick summary : Humanness, mystery and intimacy in a digital world
You’d be fair to think this chap was just a cynical academic with voluminous hair, but for me at least, it was refreshing to hear some well-formulated and expertly communicated theories on why the perma-connected socially-extended world in which we live is not quite the digital utopia it’s cracked up to be. My summary : we need to show a little more restraint and privacy in the web 3.0 world (following the 1.0 of ‘need data, search data’ and the 2.0 of ‘you and me exploring our identities online’) Data is the new oil and we are spewing forth great quantities of the stuff into the hands of a select few. Goobook anyone? (To be deliberately oblique, this is my clever concatenation of Google and Facebook, internet superpowers)
After iTunes, iPhones and iPads the real ‘i’ word we crave is intimacy. In order to maintain our humanness we need to withdraw a little, retain what remains of our ability to be mysterious. Apparently there is a growing rejection of Facebook and Twitter among the tech-savvy teenybop-tweenagers. Let’s see how that goes.
Quick Summary : We need more right-brained visionaries
There’s no escaping it – we’re all creative, it’s a hard-wired competitive instinct. Regrettably the enduring image is of the “creative tossers” with fussball tables and minscooters in their shiny Shoreditch offices. But a world without creative right-brained thinking would be pretty shit. Maintaining the status quo is a fool’s game.
1/5 of us SEE the world. 4/5 of us READ the world. The right side of the brain (think vision, random, holistic) enables us to understand the whole. Apparently open-plan working does not do creative types any favours, but gone are the days of Don Draper and his private whiskey stocked office. Bring on the new visionaries! Top Tips:
1) At every meeting you have, make sure there is a decision-maker present
Quick summary : The weird shit is the good shit
Creativity is the only unfair legal advantage a business can use. The unspoken truth of adland us that 90% of advertising is shit and doesn’t work. If your output isn’t 9/10 there’s no point trying. But getting clients to buy big and brave ideas is tricky. Steve Henry suggests a bit of disruption – get them into the studio and fill a wall with the work of their competitors. Only then will they beg for something different.
So doing what you can’t do, what you shouldn’t do, feels like magic. It’s not just advertisers who revel in breaking the rules – games provide us increasingly life-like worlds in which to make mischief. So persuade clients to buy your radical work by disrupting the traditional models they use to evaluate it. Top Tips:
1) Break the Rules
2) Do it in a way that emotionally engages the target audience
Quick Summary : Follow your dreams and desires to make stunning work
What a bloody clever and thoroughly nice bloke. There was so much more to this talk than the sheer quality and captivating imagination of his work. Harry took us on an honest, surprising and emotionally frank journey. I was sold from the first slide and merest mention of typography. It’s hard to know in what order to arrange the superlatives. The work he showed was beautiful, intelligent and funny. Who knew type could be so fun! Check out his new book Typographic Conundrums. Top Tips:
1) Write down your dreams
2) Take photos of funny/odd things you see, like the schizophrenic road sign “Avenue Road”
Quick Summary : Look at things the other way round.
I’m riding on his coat-tails here, but join in, it’s fun. Why spend £6bn speeding up the Eurostar by 40 minutes when you could spend 0.01% of the budget putting Wifi on the trains and serving free Dom Perignon to all passengers? Who would then, of course, beg for the train to be slowed down. Essentially, creativity is forever being policed by logic. A million great ideas have been lost to SWOT analysis. But when are creatives asked to evaluate the emotional implications of a rationalised campaign? Or to find a completely different solution for that matter? Google the ‘300 million dollar button’ for an example of a creative tweak going overdrive.
Rory is a master raconteur and a clever sod; Behavioural Economics is at the heart of this man’s thinking. His dazzling array of illuminative and witty anecdotes made a compelling case for looking at things backwards. You can’t change behaviours by attempting to change attitudes first. People won’t be converted into raving environmentalists before they start composting. If we make it easy for them to change their composting behaviour their attitudes will adjust accordingly. Top Tips:
1) Behaviour not attitude
2) Look at things backwards
Quick Summary : Help! My Mom’s on Facebook.
Sharing some of Andrew Keen’s scepticism, Bernie riffed on the challenges faced by the users and architects of social networks. The crux of his argument is social networks do not currently understand the statuses that exist in the real world. LOLing and ROFLing to friends is one thing, but this mostly unfiltered stream of chatter probably isn’t relevant to your mum / boss / son.
Google+ makes efforts to compartmentalise your social groups but Bernie argued this was only the tip of the iceberg. Brands are finding it harder and harder to talk with niche groups online since they must forever cater for the lowest common denominator of that group. It has to do with synchronous and asynchronous relationships but I have no chance of summarising that here. Bernie might help. Top Tips:
1) Map your network at socialnetimporter.codeplex.com
2) Manage your privacy settings
Quick Summary : Creatives fear the obvious, but clients love it
A proper cockney geezer! And an ad legend, I should add. Dave explained how to sell big ideas to difficult clients. Thankfully, he proposed a few nice little formulas and gently walked us through them with the help of a flipchart; a conspicuous and low tech approach that was very effective. It’s simple stuff! If you put shit in, you get shit out.
Every dialogue, commercial or otherwise, has a basic formula. Impact (Crying Baby / Drumming Gorilla) Communication (Why is it crying? / That Gorilla’s having fun) Persuasion (I’ll get the bottle / I want some chocolate fun as well!) So client understands need for impact. Beyond that it is about using a language-frame the client understands. Be clear about what they want out of the project. If it’s 15 separate objectives, think of these as tennis balls. Chuck ’em at Joe Bloggs and at best he’ll catch only two.
A binary approach is quick and effective. Market Share or Market Growth? Opinion Formers or Opinion Followers? Product Focus or Brand Focus? Top Tips :
1) Understand the meaning of people, what they want, do, love, hate
2) Always be different
3) Target opinion formers over opinion leaders
4) Put clarity in, get clarity out
All images *borrowed* from Vision Bristol