This week will be my last week at Duval Guillaume, the Belgian agency I joined after quitting Microsoft mid 2009. While at Duval Guillaume I enjoyed some of the best professional moments in my career together with the team at the agency – especially after we merged both the Brussels and the Antwerp office into one agency. An agency with the ambition to be among the best in the world.
Coming from client side I still remember my first conclusion in advertising after working there for a month or two. The highs are higher agency side and the lows are lower. It really has been an incredible rollercoaster ride with lesser moments like we all have, but I really only want to remember all these great special moments. Campaigns that we released that still today I’m very proud of and especially being at the verge of what is now commonly known as ‘social film’ in advertising with campaigns such as ‘Bikers‘, ‘Push to add drama‘, ‘Poker‘, ‘Coke Zero 007‘, … just to name a few. Especially TNT’s ‘Push to add drama’ generated some results that we could never have imagined – proof being the +50 million views and +5 million people that shared the video on Facebook, out of nowhere really. Anyway, too much great campaigns I will always remember.
And the (for Duval Guillaume) record streak of awards in Cannes, Eurobest and other festivals especially the last 3 years. Becoming agency of the year in Belgium 3 years in a row now. All the jury duties at award shows or keynotes given about our agency at all these fantastic events at sometimes wonderful locations. Good times. The photo featured above taken on top of the stairs at the Palais in Cannes captured all of that perfectly.
And all of that is at the same time the reason why for me it’s time to leave. Why it’s actually time to go do something else, something new, something I haven’t done before. Because that in essence is what I enjoy most. So time to find new boundaries. I am still figuring out what that will be exactly but first it’s time to leave and time to say goodbye to the fantastic team at Duval Guillaume for an incredible 6 years. Thanks!
Interesting take on innovation and originality on aeon.com:
“… according to a cluster of like-minded researchers, we’ve misunderstood how innovation really works. Throughout human history, innovation – including the technological progress we cherish – has been fuelled and sustained by imitation. Copying is the mighty force that has allowed the human race to move from stone knives to remote-guided drones, from digging sticks to crops that manufacture their own pesticides. Plenty of animals can innovate, but no other species on earth can imitate with the skill and accuracy of a human being. We’re natural-born rip-off artists. To be human is to copy.”
Pat Fallon shares his thoughts on how to get your clients to take creative risks:
“Taking risks is part of our business. One key to persuading clients to take a risk is tightly aligning strategy with the creative approach. Although some observers think advertising comes down to crazy people sitting in a room brainstorming, strategy is the rigorous, behind-the-scenes part of our process—it’s driven by research and consumer insights, and it helps to precisely define what the company is trying to accomplish with a campaign, who the campaign is meant to reach, and why it’s going to trigger a specific response that drives sales. An idea that may seem risky during a presentation will look less so when it’s clear that we’ve thought it through. The client realizes, “These guys understand my business. They understand the flow of money. They are putting my success at the forefront of decisions.” That creates enough trust for the client to say, “OK, I’m going to hold my breath, hold my nose, and jump into the water with you.””
In one of the best talks at this year’s TED Conference in Vancouver, Joi Ito (Director of MIT Media Lab) said the following:
The idea is that the cost of writing a plan or mapping something is getting so expensive and it’s not very accurate or useful. So in the Safecast story, we knew we needed to collect data, we knew we wanted to publish the data, and instead of trying to come up with the exact plan, we first said, oh, let’s get Geiger counters. Oh, they’ve run out. Let’s build them. There aren’t enough sensors. Okay, then we can make a mobile Geiger counter. We can drive around. We can get volunteers. We don’t have enough money. Let’s Kickstarter it. We could not have planned this whole thing, but by having a very strong compass, we eventually got to where we were going, and to me it’s very similar to agile software development, but this idea of compasses is very important.
As you might have ready I started with a new email newsletter called WARPED in which I curate some of the best ideas, data, trends and other awesomeness I came across the last week on the worldwide interwebs. You can read #1, #2 in the archive and #3 will arrive tomorrow – and if you like it sign up you can do so here.
The choice to do this in an email was simple. I can more easily share things than I can on this blog and it has a longer lifetime than links shared on Twitter. The decision to actually go with the email format was inspired by some other folks that have their own newsletters – and yes that you should all subscribe to.
A few weeks ago I did a talk about the ‘Rebirth of Advertising‘ at TEDxLiege. Rebirth was the theme of the TEDx event that day and I wanted to bring a story that proves it is actually a great time to be in advertising today. That is if you don’t think about advertising as the intrusive, obnoxious thing that interrupts interesting experiences. Here’s how I define advertising:
“Advertising should be about enabling stories to be told. Whether those are brand stories, product stories, consumer stories, … Why would I listen to anyone if it they don’t have something interesting to say?”
Also when I started developing the talk I wanted it to have no advertising in it, I wanted it to excite people about a business I am excited about without showing entertaining work. You can see the 18′ talk in the video below.
Thanks to the team at Duval Guillaume for trying to push the boundaries of advertising every single day and special thanks to Mike Arauz (Undercurrent) whose thinking influenced me quite a bit lately. Thanks Mike!
This internet thing has been one gigantic playground for me pretty much since the first day I got sucked into it sometime in 1997. Whether it was the projects and experiments that I could do for the different employers, the evolution of digital on its own and my own personal experimentations (such as this blog in 2005) the internet never stops to amaze me. Today I started out something new – although it’s kinda old. I’ve just sent out the first edition of WARPED, an email newsletter I will be sending out from now on on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. It felt like I needed a way to share interesting information, insights, ideas, … found around the internet to those interested in a way that is in between what this blog allows me to do on the one hand and sharing things on Twitter on the other. Hence the creation of WARPED.
I found this video from the interactive prototype Room-E on the 72U project blog. It’s a prototype showing what will be possible in the near future when you think about a more responsive environment.
“The future of the computer is to essentially make it disappear—a disconnected interface, so the house or the office or the building or the city is the computer.” —Mark Rolston, Chief Creative Officer, frog
A lot has been said about creativity and this sure won’t be the last thing written about it either. At the agency we often get a question to quickly think about something, quickly help on finding an idea for something small. We have the creatives right so can they not just help on that, it’s just an idea.
This brings up the most difficult and the easiest part of our job. We do have a group of really good creatives, really talented and all award winning creatives. So finding ideas is quite easy. For them. The thing that we forget here is that they are ‘trained’ creatives, they’ve lived their whole private & professional life to be good at what they are. So talking about finding ‘just an idea’ is as disrespectful to their talent is it would be to ask a baker to ‘just bake a cake’ or a tax consultant to ‘just find a way to avoid some more tax’. If that is your talent, if that is what you learned to do well then it deserves every bit of credit and isn’t just a small thing.
So it’s easy. For them. Then again it’s difficult. When you want to find ideas it’s important that you know where to go look for them. You need to figure out what is exactly the problem you’re trying to solve and how to develop the best possible ‘creative boulevard’. It needs to be right, relevant and inspiring enough for the creatives to start searching for ideas. Ideas that will answer the client’s needs, however big or small that need is.
So, if I may, I’m not a creative but please never ever again ask for ‘just an idea’ when you need talented creative people to solve one of your problems, big or small. Create value, value creative remember.