Using technology to make people care about your brand


Our Director of Experience Architecture, Rob Meldrum, features in The Drum with his perspective on Technology, Data and why 'always on' isn't necessarily a good idea…

Here's what he says:

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

top 20

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. 

Some fashionable new business

It was a true ​Summer of fun for us getting to know the team at TK Maxx. ​From a store based briefing where we jumped into their buyers' hot seat​s, through to a hotly contested​ final round creative shoot out last month, our new friends at TK Maxx have been a delight to work with.

​All of which is exciting news as we will be seeing a lot more of them now as we take up the reigns as ​their ​lead strategic and creative agency. Our scope will cover all the European countries where TK ​Maxx ​currently retail and we will work with them to launch in new markets as their business develops.

We are incredibly excited about the work we pitched and are already underway to creating the Spring 2016 campaign across Europe. This is how TK broke the exciting need to us.

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And this is how we responded. Spot Paul Colman mortified at the the all agency shot.


We are all off to find ourselves even ​more big labels for small prices to celebrate over the weekend… 

how do you build a winning ad campaign?

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Seeing as pretty much everything else seems to be happening online these days, why shouldn't we shift the classic panel debate format into a virtual space as well?

Our head of planning, Beth, was invited to take part in a Guardian live webchat about advertising, which is like a very clever and polite version of the debates that play out in a YouTube video's comment section.

The topic today was "How to build a winning ad campaign." Want to know the secret formula? So do we. But for now, you can see the discussion (in reverse order) in the comments section below this article on the Guardian's site, and see what Beth and some of her peers have to say on the topic, including Gerry Human, chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather London and Trevor Robinson OBE, executive creative director and founder, Quiet Storm. 

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feeling good

In Campaign's Private View this week, Trevor Beattie from BMB and Andy Jex from Saatchi & Saatchi gave our Honda Civic 'Feeling' ad two rather nice reviews. Thanks!


Private view



Honda 'The Other Side' was also included in Campaign's 'President's Picks' feature, where D&AD president Mark Bonner dissected the best and most innovative work from this year's awards. 

Have a read:

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Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business


Each year, Fast Company magazine puts together its list of 100 Most Creative People in Business. This year, we were absolutely delighted to hear that W+K creative director and all-round exemplary Aussie bloke Scott Dungate made the cut, for "steering advertising in a new interactive direction" with our Honda 'The Other Side' campaign. Not only that, but he seems to be the only creative individual from an ad agency on the list.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 08.51.30Scott was interviewed by Fast Co about what inspires him, his morning routine and what he does to shake himself out of a creative rut. Check it out here, and then dive in to the full list on Fast Company here.

Calling all milk drinkers

This spring, we’re bringing Cravendale back to British TV screens with a fresh new campaign which pays tribute to the most dedicated of milk drinkers. 
Did you catch our latest spot on telly this weekend? 
We like to think of Cravendale as “the milk drinker’s milk,” because it’s never better appreciated than when enjoyed on its own. And we think drinking milk is cool, so we wanted to find a way to salute milk drinkers whilst reminding the nation of the pure and fresh taste of Cravendale milk.
We teamed up with brilliant directing collective CANADA at CANADA London / Riff Raff to create a 30″ TVC, which introduces viewers to a cool, slightly mysterious character showing his love for Cravendale. And because he’s such a fan, he’s never seen without a glass of the white stuff in his hand. Whether he’s riding a mechanical bull or throwing shapes on the dancefloor, he never spills a drop. 

Shot in a movie trailer inspired visual style, the mustachioed milk drinker’s tale is told through a montage of scenarios that show his unfailing dedication to his trusty, ice-cold glass of Cravendale. 


Tell us milk drinkers… can you manage to look this cool whilst drinking a glass of milk? We’re still practicing…