And I’m off. Goodbye Duval Guillaume!

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!

And now on to the next. Keep you posted.

Advertising should be about enabling stories to be told

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!

The big idea is dead. Long live the big idea

The big idea is dead. To quote Patricia McDonald in a recent Campaign article: “In recent years, the “big idea” has often seemed to epitomise everything wrong and backward-looking about our industry.” And that’s indeed true. In the traditional sense of a 360 campaign, the big idea was to be found in the 30″ commercial or a huge online activity and every other aspect of the campaign had to amplify that centre piece. The big idea was almost not much more than the ever so popular ‘key visual’, the one visual we can translate in all our media for one given campaign.

BigIdea360

It’s good that we most brands start to work differently these days. It’s good that brands start to understand that this idea of a 360 campaign all built around the one big idea isn’t the right way to operate. But as Patricia also highlights in her article, that doesn’t mean we should start thinking small. And therefore the big idea is still very much needed, only we think about something completely different today when talking about a big idea than when we talked about it a few years ago.

Today (and as a matter of fact we believe for the last few years already), that big idea is more of a central thought, a thought that allows you to develop a creative platform in which several small & big creative ideas can be found. It’s a thought that is based on a strong insight and for which the creatives feel the potential, a thought that offers a fertile ground to start creating. Because let’s be honest, ideas can be small and very beautiful or extremely big, bold and complex. But the overarching thought can only be big. It’s linked to the brand’s raison d’être, the link with the purpose and therefore the relevance of the brand in people’s lives.

Once this ‘big idea’ is defined, once we all agree on what that central thought or creative platform is that a brand needs, the quest for the ‘key visual’ becomes less important. It’ll help them understand for instance in the case of Nike that Nike+ as well as ‘Find your greatness’ can be part of the same campaign. In the olden days that would have been near to impossible since they would both feel like big ideas in the classic definition.

So maybe we shouldn’t be using the phrase ‘big idea’ anymore knowing that it has for long meant something else, something that we feel isn’t right anymore today. But whatever the phrase you come up with, let’s all agree that we shouldn’t start thinking small all of a sudden.

Image credit: Enver Atmaca

Step into this TV ad…

We’ve launched 2 new campaigns for AXA during the last few days. In line with our “i-Ad” campaign using digital to make a print ad come to life, we’ve now come up with an idea to get more out of a TV commercial using a QR code. The code doesn’t serve as a link to a nice extra piece of information, it actually let’s you enjoy the full story. Check it out in the video below.

Only a few days earlier we also launched a campaign for AXA’s new renovation loan, using a billboard on which we’ve created a QR code with 3.800 paint pots. Quite a bit of work as well to make that one happen :) See video below.

The crying invoice

Did you know that 1 in 3 invoices in Belgium are paid late?  That brought us to the idea for this campaign we created for ikki, a new service of USG People developed to support freelancers. From now on invoices will never go unnoticed again: the crying invoice.

Hats off to my colleagues at Duval Guillaume who developed the idea.

Some thoughts on Social CRM

Yesterday I did a presentation on Social CRM at Digital Marketing First (and no my thoughts on that event haven’t changed yet). It was our partner Selligent who had asked me to join them for this presentation and the following is what I prepared.

The original call for the presentation was around social media as a direct marketing tool but I found that too limited of scope and also I’m annoyed by the fact that many people just see social crm as a campaigning tool on Facebook and Twitter. But hey, nothing new there – online crm is also mostly translated as being sending emails to a database. While clearly crm is much more than that. And that’s kind of what I wanted to bring in this presentation to begin with.

‘The customer is at the centre of everything we do’. Customer centricity is a hot topic these days, it’s the primary scope for how we manage our business. But is that really so? I’m not too sure about that. From what I see and hear businesses seem to have quite a few other objectives that come first. Do we even know our customers? Because how can we even be real about being customer centric if you have no clue who you’re talking about?

In an age in which consumers constantly re-evaluate brands/products (cfr McKinsey) it’s even more important to put the consumer that the center (and for real) and to start building relationships. So the point in the end is to use a lot more of the tools/channels to get to know your customer a lot better so you can be more personal in the conversation. And luckily there’s an awful lot of automation that can be done to deliver on that promise.

For those that attended the presentation, hope you liked it.

Using digital to make print come to life

I didn’t have time last Friday to post it when this campaign was launched, so I’m bringing it to you know. Our client AXA launched their new iPhone app which helps you out when you have a car accident, making sure you deal with it in the right way. Since this is the first app to deliver such a service in Belgium, we wanted to find an innovative way to promote it as well. Here’s what the team created:

Do you know why you do what you do?

Check out this presentation from Simon Sinek at TEDxPugetSound, asking if you know the ‘know why’ you do business as it is the biggest reason why people will get inspired by your brand. Many of us know what we do, or how we do it… but do do we know why?

It’s an important question we ask our clients at the agency as well, a question of which Guillaume Van der Stighelen talks about a lot in his book ‘Hero Brand’ (unfortunately only available in Dutch). Here’s his take on the video:

“Companies love their know how. They are very proud of it. So proud that it often is the focus in their advertising. “Look how well I’m good at doing this. Much better than my competitor.” But in communications, consumers aren’t that much seduced by those kind of arguments. They are much more interested in your intentions.

In the book “Hero Brand”, I have explained the parallels between becoming a public hero and becoming a brand. One of the things we learn from heroes is that they rarely talk about how good they are. You never heard Superman say: “look at my biceps! I am so strong! I can lift a building!”. Nobody ever heard Einstein say: “I am much better at inventing theories about the universe than anybody else!”. Real heroes talk about something else. They talk about why. Why the things they do are important for a better world.”

The end of advertising as we know it

Or why everything old is new again. Read this great post by Guillaume Van der Stighelen (co-founder of the agency I work for) about advertising and bean counters. About how this new crisis gives yet again a reason to be average. Things will never be the same. Enjoy.

And while you’re at it, subscribe to the man’s Posterours. If you’re any bit interested in advertising you won’t regret.