Creativity needs collaboration

While the trend for in-house work continues to gather pace, the best creative ideas come from collaboration, argues Michael Litman, senior consultant at Contagious

REI, the outdoor goods retailer, launched its Opt Outside campaign back in 2015 with the announcement that all of its stores were going to close on Black Friday. For the third year in a row, instead of joining in the annual shopping extravaganza, it has given its 12,000 employees a paid holiday, encouraging them to enjoy the outdoors.

Opt Outside is arguably one of the strongest creative ideas of the decade, very successfully executed. The surprise to some is that it was entirely created in-house.

This trend of moving creative in-house is increasingly on the rise and here to stay.

However, I’m not going to add to the noise about the demise of the agency.

Having worked at some of the top agencies in the UK for the large part of my career, I am acutely aware of the inflection point agencies are experiencing. It requires a rethink in how they service their clients and what they offer them.

But this is not the end.

Lucozade, Pepsi, Unilever, P&G, L’Oréal, BMW, Pernod Ricard, lastminute.com, Booking.com and Safestore. They’re all household names and have, in recent years, moved significant internal resources out of agencies to fund their own in-house content production processes.

Unilever, for example, plans to double efficiency savings from its brand and marketing investment from €1bn to €2bn by 2019 according to a Unilever shareholder report from April 2017. The number of ads it creates will also be cut by 30% and the number of creative agencies it works with globally will be halved (from 3,000).

P&G has also cut its agency roster by 50% over the past three years and made a pledge to make significantly less but better performing advertising and marketing campaigns.

Self-storage company Safestore has a primary company target for 2017 to bring everything in house. All content campaigns, outreach and PR are currently carried out in-house and it is looking to produce more video content internally.

Lucozade brought its creative and production services in-house after launching its own agency, TED, in April 2016. Not the amazing and inspiring conference platform of the same name.

The creation of Lucozade’s TED was also a move to “reduce fixed costs”, as well as to create faster, more efficient work that worked harder.

According to Jon Evans, the marketing and business development director for Lucozade Ribena Suntory, launching a fitness app in house meant the brand could cut down significantly on development times and eliminate the need for handovers of knowledge and process.

‘By having an in-house agency, we’ve reduced fixed costs compared to costs that go on consumer activity. That’s been the main driver,’ Evans told Marketing Week. ‘We spend £50m a year on advertising and promotion, and we haven’t changed that level of investment. We’ve just made that investment work much better.’

Let’s take a look at the other side of the fence too though. Lucozade is still engaged with ‘two or three strategic agencies’ whose role is more to provide longer term thinking and ‘a global perspective on market activity’ rather than day to day activity.

That is to say, agencies still have a seat at the table, but the cushion has changed and the seat looks different. ‘External agencies give us the best creative talent and strategy, and then TED gives us the ability to go and execute it,’ says Evans.

This is telling.

Brands are now becoming the makers.

Agencies are still doing the thinking, but brands are doing increasingly more of the, well, doing. The benefits to this approach is not only in time efficiencies but also cost. A further illustration of this: it was reported that a recent sampling campaign for Lucozade Energy was funded entirely through the savings made by bringing work in house. Now that’s getting more bang for your buck.

The shifting (communications) sands

Brands as makers is arguably one of the biggest changes in the brand and agency dynamic in recent history. 

But. And there’s always a but isn’t there? The recent Pepsi campaign that was subsequently and very quickly pulled shows that creativity in absolute isolation with no other filters can be a recipe for brand disaster. It was widely commented that the ad spot tried to appropriate the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement for commercial gain when instead Pepsi was “trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding”.

A key takeaway from the debacle is that outside, independent perspectives are vital to help marketers avoid creating echo chambers. 

Pepsi Fail

The best outcome would be that agencies, as a result of these in-house moves, would be able to focus more attention on what they do best: the creative ideation and strategy. And brands would use their increased in-house firepower to execute quicker and move more efficiently. This is a compromise that makes a lot of sense for both parties.

Regardless of the death knell stories about agencies, which are often one-sided views, I don’t buy into the argument that the agency is dead or dying. But it is evolving (see Karmarama and myriad others for an idea of where *some* agencies’ futures are heading.)

I believe that, in the long term, the realigning of both parties’ core strengths is a good thing for both brand and agency. The reason this has all come about is a rampant drive for greater efficiency and ROI. This much is not new news, but after an increasing number of brands have put their money where their mouth is, it is starting to prove effective.

Agencies are under far more intense scrutiny and measurement of effectiveness than ever before. The endless data points that are at our collective fingertips have sent traditional thinking and processes into a tailspin. No longer is a gut feel creative idea enough to get through ‘the system’.

This has forced the ideas business (creative agencies) to work out their very reason for being, and what they will need to do in order to exist in years to come.

Maybe 2017 is the year brands and agencies finally agree on the best way to work together, and can take this forwards to 2018.

This article originally appeared on Contagious.com

Alexander Wang X Adidas Collection sold in unmarked trash bags

While meant to mimic the surprise drops of high-profile albums lately, there were actually clues posted around New York days in advance. Posters appeared that were emails between officials at Adidas Originals and Alexander Wang, discussing the collection and the use of the logo. The names and brands were blacked out, except for one of the email addresses with an Alexander Wang URL.

On the day before Wang’s show for his own new collection, someone went around and stamped the name of someone at Alexander Wang on the posters. Then, on the day of the show, just hours before the news of the Adidas collaboration went public, the Adidas Originals’ logo was stamped on the posters.

Adidas Originals’ vice-president of global brand communication Alegra O’Hare says it was the most unique launch the brand has worked on, and has set a benchmark for future projects. “Someone asked me the other day about which one of the Originals projects I’m most proud of–and I’ve been here for 10 years–and I said, hands down the Alexander Wang launch,” says O’Hare. “Because it was so unique and groundbreaking on all levels, we worked on everything to make an impact.”

Via

Diageo, Amazon Prime partner to produce ‘shoppable’ films

Spirits company Diageo has partnered with Amazon Prime for “shoppable” 20-minute films featuring premium brands like Dutch Vodka Ketel One, Don Julio tequila, Cîroc vodka, Ron Zacapa Guatemalan rum, Johnnie Walker’s luxury variants and Haig Club whisky, according to a report in Ad Age.

Guinness: Friendship and wheelchairs

The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.

Another great ad from Guinness.

LG Job Interview: Ultra Reality

Well done LG, racking up over 4m views so far.

What would you do in this situation?

Taking brand partnerships to a whole new level: Android KitKat

How about this for a joined up campaign.

Originally called Key Lime Pie, employees at Google soon realised that a) people don’t really know what Key Lime Pie tastes like and b) it didn’t resonate with a global, mass audience. So the jury was out, what to call the new 4.4 Android OS. Then they struck gold.

Let’s call it Android KitKat, and we’ll partner with KitKat themselves to make it happen. (I’m evidently massively oversimplifying this.)

2013-09-03kitkatintl_verge_super_wide

No money is changing hands, the ideas was to do something “fun and unexpected”. But this isn’t something that Google just came up with overnight and went ahead. They’ve been talking with Nestle about the idea since November 2012, with some 11 months of planning having gone in to it. It only got finalised in February 2013 when Nestle executive vice president of marketing Patrice Bula, decided within an hour to go ahead.

It used to be Apple that would announce a new product without anyone previously knowing about it, shrouded under secrecy and mystery. Now even they get leaked sometimes months in advance. So this partnership will have come as a surprise to even most Googlers i’d imagine.

Here’s where you can start to understand the scale of the partnership: 50 million KitKat bars in 19 countries will have Android branding and consumers will have the opportunity to win a Nexus 7 tablet and Google Play gift cards. That’s incredible scale, Google have just tapped in to creating awareness about 1) Android 2) Nexus 7 and 3) Google Play.

Production of the wrappers started 2 months ago – it’s just amazing that it hasn’t come out until now.

KitKat-Android-edition-001

Nestle is also producing a small run of 500 limited edition KitKats in the shape of the Android logo and have been sending them out to influencers. Here’s The Verge proudly showing theirs off. Clever influencer tactic too, getting the big hitters creating even more interest and demand.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 12.01.37

All of this talk is making me hungry for a Kit Kat now…

Reboot

It’s time to reboot this blog and what i’m using it for. If you’re coming here for infographics, i’m sorry but i’m no longer curating these as much as I used to.

I’ve been a little busy with BRANDSONVINE.COM and Share This Too which has just hit the shelves in all of the finest book shops.

Bear with me while I add a lick of paint around here. Thanks for your support.

Share of Device Page Traffic Throughout the Day

How It Feels [through Glass]

The future is now.

Separated at birth: Dulux and the Damien Hirst 2013 Brit Award statue

Some nice reactive social content here from Dulux, noticing the colours of the spots by Damien Hirst on the 2013 Brit Award statue match their colours for 2013.

Compete study: Mobile users in the UK

Digital Trendsetters And How They Interact With Brands

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Wifi on the London Underground. An updated map.

wifi-map-jan.pdf Download this file

This is great, loving that they even thought of this. Still not going to pay £15 a month to use it though. 

People have more brands as friends than ever on Facebook

The Illusion of Choice in Marketing

3 Strategies That Keep Apple #Winning

Crowdfunded projects on Kickstarter in 2012.

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Featuring money raised, average pledge and success rate per category. 

The Secret To Better Sleep

What does the car of the future look like?