The Bees create sweetness at W+K

Bees in a booth

These are The Bees. They joined us at W+K today to play a short acoustic set of selections from their new album. Shockingly, they put their feet on our furniture. I wonder if they'd do that at home.

They sang songs, strummed strings and generally won hearts. Nice one, Bees. Many thanks to you, to Universal and to Donna for organising. You can buy The Bees' new album, 'Every Step's a Yes' here.

post-digital or die!

Digital is not a channel; it’s the context in which everything lives.

Digital is not a channel; it’s the context in which everything lives.

Digital is not a channel; it’s the context in which everything lives

As Madonna nearly sang, we are living in a post-digital world. New media are now just media. Digital is not a channel; it's the ubiquitous, continuous context in which everything lives. Declaring in an article in Wired way back in 1998 that the digital revolution was over Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab, observed that, “Like air and drinking water, being digital will be noticed only by its absence, not its presence.”

Today we are breathing Negroponte’s post-digital air: pretty much all media are now digital. People can watch TV shows on their laptops, read 'newspapers' on their phones, absorb video content from 'poster' sites, read eBooks on their Kindles and get the news from Twitter.

 How Nike’s ‘write the future’ campaign wrote some history


This post-digital world calls for a new marketing model. Wieden + Kennedy’s (with Mindshare and AKQA) recent global ‘Write the Future’ campaign for Nike Football premiered not on TV but on Facebook and Youtube. The epic film, which presented alternative versions of footballers’ futures, including a ginger-bearded Wayne Rooney living in a grim caravan, set a new record for viral video. In one day the film was viewed online 12,000,000 times and Nike Football facebook fans tripled from 1.1 to 3.1 million. The spot was deliberately complex and multilayered, designed to reward multiple viewings and to encourage online debate and discussion. The broader campaign used social media to allow fans to get involved, shape elements of the campaign and write their own futures. The campaign could never have achieved the global impact it did without a combination of bought, owned and earned media that was impossible only a short time ago. (And the fact that there was a hugely entertaining three minute film at the heart of the campaign didn’t hurt.)

Some of the best ‘digital’ work is being done by ‘analogue’ agencies

In the olden days, digital agencies often said that when it came to interactivity their ‘traditional’ competitors just didn’t get it. This is still true of many old school shops, but big changes are taking place. At the Cannes Festival 2010, Grands Prix in the ‘Cyber’ category went to Wieden + Kennedy for Nike Livestrong's "Chalkbot" and DDB Sweden for Volkswagen's "Fun Theory." The Cyber Agency of the Year Award went to Crispin Porter + Bogusky. And at the 2010 Webby Awards, Agency of the Year went to BBDO. (Of course, this is not to say that pure-play digital agencies aren't also doing great work.)

This isn't new: W+K has been doing interactive work since the innovative CK One campaign back in 1998. What has changed is the nature of 'digital’ marketing. We've reached a tipping point where the tech and the audience have reached a level of maturity where digital is everyday and normal. Now, what agencies and marketers need to understand is how people behave in relation to content, community, technology and media. This isn't easy because it's evolving rapidly and constantly.

Post-digital campaigns combine an understanding of tech and media with 'traditional' skills

It used to be that digital shops were far better informed and connected to digital culture. But now that culture is mainstream. Our ‘hackerbox’ initiative for the launch of the Nokia N900 used traditional direct marketing techniques. But it combined these with an awareness of the new trend for the posting of ‘unboxing’ videos for new gadgets and an understanding of the influencers amongst online tech communities. We identified a dozen or so of the most infuential tech bloggers and sent them an awesomely mysterious black cube containing geeky goodies and the new N900. The box could only be opened by hacking its secret access code. The recipients made and posted their own unboxing videos and the tech community went wild for hackerbox,. Huge online buzz was generated. Engadget described it as ‘the best unboxing ever’.

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Another example: Wieden + Kennedy’s recent online campaign for Old Spice featured the ridiculously handsome Old Spice Guy, who responded directly to YouTube comments, Tweets, Yahoo! Answers and blog posts about him in over 180 personalised video messages, created and posted to YouTube in a 48 hour period. It has been described as ‘the fastest-growing and most popular interactive campaign in history’ and has already been acclaimed as a textbook example of how a brand can use social media to influence popular culture. Total video views reached 40 million in a week, campaign impressions topped 1.4 billion and Old Spice Bodywash enjoyed a 107% sales increase.

But this online overnight success started as a good, old-fashioned TV campaign. The clever bit wasn’t just a sophisticated piece of software engineering (though we did have one of those that glued the process together and helped identify who to respond to), but smart, funny writing combined with an understanding of how to bring the brand character to life in real time using the most popular social channels. Without a genuinely integrated team including social media experts, technologists, interactive producers, traditional skills and a very trusting client, this couldn't have happened.

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Digital and traditional labels are an anachronistic way of categorising agencies

Hence my suggestion that labelling agencies with categories like 'interactive' or 'traditional' is anachronistic. In the past, the ‘pure-play’ digital agencies had the technical knowledge, and the traditional agencies had the big, emotional ideas. But now some digital agencies are trying to grab a bigger helping of the pie by extending their offering into ‘traditional’ media. (For example, Glue Isobar’s integrated campaign for the 3 Network.) Meanwhile, old school agencies are trying to get to grips with new technology by having developers sit with ‘traditional’ creative teams. The race is on, as 'digital' agencies hire strategists and storytellers, and 'analogue' agencies scramble to employ technologists, UI designers and information architects. At Wieden + Kennedy we've always hired broadly – product designers, artists, doers – now we've added coders, designers and tech leads to our teams. And over the last couple of years we’ve been hiring some of the world’s best talent from digital agencies to help move our storytelling and brand building strengths into the post-digital world. That doesn’t mean we have all the answers – far from it – we’re continuing to ‘walk in stupid’ every day and figure it out as we go

Post-digital or die

What kind of agencies should marketers be looking for to help them win in the post-digital world? Not ‘digital’ agencies. Not ‘creative’ agencies. Not networks or boutiques or platform-agnostic transmedia nodes. Just smart people who get it and who care about doing great work that makes a difference, regardless of medium. Crap advertising already spams up every available media channel like hair in the plughole – ugly, unwanted and irritating. Nobody needs or wants to ‘have a conversation’ with a dreadful piece of film, a dumb microsite, or an unwanted activation. As marketers and advertisers we should be making stuff that is useful, delightful and engaging. Not polluting the world with lame and embarrassing work.

The smart marketers and agencies have adapted to the new world. They continue to evolve as the pace of change continues to accelerate. Those who fail to change will go the way of the dinosaurs. Forget 'digital' vs. 'traditional'; in the new world there will be two types of agency: the post-digital and the dead.

This post is an extended version of an article that appears in this week's Marketing Week, related to their report which found that Wieden + Kennedy had ranked top in a YouGov survey of which digital agencies were perceived as best by UK clients.

TED fellow – Stefana Broadbent helps Platform find digital anthropologists

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So, today I met one of the most amazing cognitive scientists, who has spent decades observing people as they use technology.  She looks at the way we use our brand-new tools, and at the evolving practices for each tool that speak volumes on the way we think about our relationships.

She is also a visiting researcher at University College London, where she teaches students about the practice, theory and study of digital anthropology.

I invited her into W+K to discuss how we might work together, to find the future stars of the digital anthropology world, who might be interested to work at Platform Season Two.

Platform Season Two is Wieden and Kennedy London’s R&D unit. It is currently hiring specialist technology and anthropology specialists, to explore what the future of cultural engagement will involve and what tools will be used.

They will research themes such as play, sustainability and storytelling using their specialist skills, which could be one or a combination of augmented reality, physical computing, social media, gaming and/or interaction design.

She really likes the idea of a communication agency experimenting with the future of cultural engagement and is drawing up a shortlist of potential candidates.

Oh, and I asked her if she’d be up for doing an inspire session with everyone at W+K and she said yes!

You can watch Stefana at TED sharing her observations into how the internet enables intimacy.

By Sam Brookes

Wieden + Kennedy tops league table of UK digital agencies

Marketing Week’s website Pitch has commissioned YouGov to do a survey amongst clients of who are the UK’s ‘best’ digital agencies. Wieden + Kennedy has come top of the league.

Marketing Week’s website Pitch has commissioned YouGov to do a survey amongst clients of who are the UK’s ‘best’ digital agencies. Wieden + Kennedy has come top of the league.

Pitch digital survey

Marketing Week's website Pitch has commissioned YouGov to do a survey amongst clients of who are the UK's 'best' digital agencies. Wieden + Kennedy has come top of the league. Here's what they say.

"We’ve used the answers from our digital Agency Reputation Survey to compile a league table of the most-lauded digital ad agencies.

It turns out that this league is topped by an agency with a heritage in classic 30 second TV campaigns. It invented Nike’s brand positioning and has created stand out ads for clients from Old Spice to Honda. The agency UK marketers have rated most highly for its digital advertising is Wieden & Kennedy.

W&K’s storming performance may have been helped by the timing of the survey. It took place during World Cup mania (June to July 2010) and immediately after the Cannes Advertising Festival. Two of W&K’s creations were all the rage online at the time. Nike’s Write the Future World Cup ad became a Youtube hit as did its the Old Spice “the man your man could smell like” execution after the original TV ad scooped this year’s Cannes Film Lions Grand Prix.

It’s a real coup for the agency, especially after a vast personnel investment in positioning itself as an interactive specialist – something 13% of respondents said they were aware of. Its Portland office recently lured Poke founder Iain Tait  to be its global interactive executive creative director, while in London Andy Cameron, a creative director at Benetton’s research centre Fabrica, has joined as the interactive creative director."

Well done, team. I can only apologise personally for the fact that 'senior management' was one of only two categories in the survey where we didn’t come top. Must try harder.

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golf as it should be at the Ryder Cup

It’s Ryder Cup time! And Wieden + Kennedy London has created a portfolio of campaign materials for The Welsh Assembly Government to celebrate Wales hosting The Ryder Cup for the first time in the tournament’s history.

It’s Ryder Cup time! And Wieden + Kennedy London has created a portfolio of campaign materials for The Welsh Assembly Government to celebrate Wales hosting The Ryder Cup for the first time in the tournament’s history.

'Golf as it Should Be' spot

It's Ryder Cup time! And Wieden + Kennedy London has created a portfolio of campaign materials for The Welsh Assembly Government to celebrate Wales hosting The Ryder Cup for the first time in the tournament’s history.  The integrated campaign is made up of many elements, including films, TV idents, print and branding on the road to the tournament, at the host city Newport and at the course itself at Celtic Manor.

The campaign delivers a complete Ryder Cup experience, and features the people of Wales, highlighting what it means to them to host the world’s biggest golfing event.

The TV spot above, ‘Golf As It Should Be’, presents Wales’ unstuffy take on the game of golf. It was shot on the rather splendid coastal course at Nefyn. This film will run on NBC America and on Sky Sports in the UK for the duration of the tournament.

We have also created a three minute doc called, ‘Our First Ryder Cup’, featuring a range of people, young and old, who are involved with the sport. This was filmed around the many beautiful courses In Wales. The film also features Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales; Matthew Rhys, the actor who currently appears in the American series ‘Brothers and Sisters’; Lions rugby legend Gareth Edwards; and comedian Rhod Gilbert, who has been the voice of Visit Wales’ advertising in the past.  They all speculate on the significance of Wales being the host nation of this event for the very first time. The film is running at the opening ceremony at the Millennium stadium, on S4C and around the Twenty Ten Course during the Tournament.

'Our First Ryder Cup' film

We also created 42 (phew!) TV idents for Sky Sports, which again feature people from all over the country. And Goldie Lookin' Chain. The idents can be viewed here on the Visit Wales Facebook page.

The print element of the campaign includes posters on the Hammersmith flyover on the way out of London and an outdoor campaign by Newport City Council. On the way to Newport on the approach to the toll booths on the M4 there are huge branded flags for the European and US teams, as well as flags bearing the Welsh Ryder Cup logo.  Even the Severn Bridge itself has been branded, together with messages at the tollbooths, with barriers being dressed as golf flags that lift up and down.

Finally, The Welsh Assembly has created branded supplements showcasing Newport’s heritage which will run in The Times and The Financial Times.  The supplements include press ads created by W+K.


welcome wai

Wai Chung Lau

Some great news to get our week off to a good start, Wai Chung Lau has finally agreed to join the London W+K family, another great addition to the design department.
Wai has been freelancing here for several months now, beavering away mostly with the Nokia team.

Previously on the Wai show:
Wai played a key role along side Mark Holt (founder of 8vo) seven or so years ago in developing key brand assets for the Nokia brand design team. He also worked at Rosie Lee on mostly Nike business (where he rubbed shoulders with our very own Marcus Price), then a short stint at BB Saunders before setting up his own shop

If you work with/for Nokia and you are ever down in the Soho office, go check out the sexy mural for Nokia’s UX design team’s studio. That was Wai – Nice.

Welcome to the fam, Wai – congrats.