Fresh faces 2.0

This week we’ve completed our Innovation and Integration team line up by welcoming back Beth Bentley. After four and a half years away – at the Government and as Deputy Head of Planning at Adam & Eve/DDB – Beth returns as Digital Strategy and Innovation Director. She brings with her experience including running the Google, Google+ and YouTube business, as we welcome her back into the family fold. One of her main tasks will be identifying opportunities where innovation can support our clients' business in a meaningful and effective new way..

This is Beth:

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This is what she has to say: "We live in a golden age of planning. We've never had more ways to bring a creative idea to life. Treating 'digital' as an addendum to a brief, or even as a singular 'channel', is a shame and a waste. W+K is built on thinking, doing and making stuff that's never been done before. To play a key role in digital strategy and innovation thinking here, with these clients, and this team, is incredibly exciting."

Beth’s role sees her work alongside two recent starters whose faces have already adorned this blog. Mr Jim Hunt, our Technical Director, ensures tech excellence throughout the agency and across all departments. He already has one eye on making sure we partner with world class suppliers and the other making sure we ‘make more’ to prototype stage.  And Mr Luke Tipping, who helped shape 101, is already putting creative and media innovation plus emerging tech at the heart of all we do here.

This is Jim on the left. Luke is on the right:

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Two familiar faces complete our innovation jigsaw. Danielle Stewart includes Interactive in her production box of tricks in addition to her Head of Broadcast role and Graeme Douglas moves to ICD. In his own words, “We’re in the business of concepting and creating brilliant ideas that work. That will never change. They’ll just be more integrated and relevant that ever before.”

First things first: Beth will be straight back in at the deep end this week, hotly tipped to host tomorrow's drinks trolley. Dig out the Dubonnet, there’ll be Bentley cocktails all round.

Kaiser Chiefs – a vote for progress

Kaiser Chiefs Bespoke Album Creation Experience by Wieden+Kennedy London

It's no secret that the music industry is having a tumultuous time as it tries to work out how to survive the digital evolution. So when one of our creatives hatched a plan with the Kaiser Chiefs to allow fans to create bespoke versions of new album The Future Is Medieval we were rather excited.

The Kaiser Chiefs Bespoke Album Creation Experience (catchy eh?) has already won August's IAB Creative Showcase award. Hopefully the first of many – and that's where you come in…

The winners of the ever-so-prestigious Adobe Max Awards are determined by public vote. Wonderfully democratic, just as the internet should be. And as our Kaiser Chiefs project is a finalist in the Disruptive Design category, we need YOUR votes to win.

It only takes a couple of seconds. So go on: vote for progress, vote to save the music industry!

The case study film can be seen here. And if you want to take a look at a simulated version of the experience, you can have a play here (thanks to our friends at Special Moves).

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

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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.

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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