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

Want a good review for Four Lions? Ask twitter…

This is interesting…

…the honourable Rupert Britton, Dark Lord of Content Strategy here at PHD, has had a tweet picked up of his thoughts on the new Chris Morris film Four Lions, and it’s been used in an ad.

It’s the second one down…

He’s not the only one though… they’ve used about four or five, mixed in with reviews from proper journalistic organs.

Oh, and the Evening Standard.

Anyway, it’s really interesting, for several reasons.

Firstly, if you were a little short of good write-ups of your film (which I’m not suggesting Four Lions is, it’s just a hypothetical ‘if’), you could just find the tweets by people who did like your film, and use those.

Secondly, it highlights the fact that we increasingly trust (or at least marketers believe that we trust) the opinions of other people at least as much, if not more so, than those of the so-called ‘experts’.

Thirdly, if you are going to use someone’s tweet in a review… is it polite to ask? The first Rupert heard of it was when a friend called him up and told him…

Rupert says he wouldn’t have minded at all.

So why not just ask?

(If you’re listening, Four Lions folks, the very least you could do is send him a poster or something…)

UTweet! from Uniqlo. Very cool.

Put in your @name on Twitter and see what it does. Very nicely done.

http://www.uniqlo.com/utweet/

Unemployed Man Google Mapped His CV —Someone Give Him a Job For His Creativity Alone!

A link I picked up on got Gizmodo’d. It was rather lovely.

I had to turn off the iPhone app Boxcar because of all the @replies coming through after @gizmodo tweeted it and linked to it in their blog post.

The Five C’s of Engagement

Life was much easier when..

Love this.

Future Media. No More Middle men.

Consistently brilliant stuff from Helge.

Incredible t-shirt stop-motion video

How they do this I have no idea. Amazing.

GAP: Turning shopping on its head

Isn’t this brilliant? I thought so. It’s from a few months back now but no they aren’t a client, lets get that out of the way first.

To announce and promote their customer loyalty programme Sprize, the GAP store  in Vancouver, BC completely flipped everything upside down and adhering to their tagline rather nicely of turning shopping on its head. This I like.  So all of the mannequins, displays and signs were flipped, as well as some cars and a hot dog stand outside of the store. Brilliant.

It seems to me like a clever customer retention tool and keeping those existing customers happy. I think its only open in Canada at the moment but they can sign up for a free Sprize account at participating Gap stores for an opportunity to collect SprizeMoney. Put simply, if you buy a shirt at £25 and within 45 days it goes down in price then you get credited to your account the difference. Now thats something I’d sign up to for sure. Isn’t it annoying when you buy something full price for it to be discounted some weeks later?

This is smart because the idea / hope is that people will return to GAP more often to see what they can get for their Sprizemoney and undoubtedly pick up a few more purchases than they had intended. Potentially increasing footfall and volume of purchases.

Nice.

Via PSFK and Suite 101

Branding can make anything look good.

The wonders of branding. How many can you recognise? .

Real time counter of worldwide tweets

Sweet visualisation.

A pop up that I didn’t instantly close..

So here’s a pop up that I didn’t automatically close. Guinness just have that knack of doing stuff which catches your eye and this was no exception.

A video and a call to action. That was it. But it did the trick.

Funnily enough when I actually went to click through to see where it would take me, it went nowhere.

Barclaycard Rollercoaster: The Making Of

Love this sort of stuff. Satisfies the creative and production sides of me.

Angus Kneale of The Mill NYC, the cast and crew give us an insight into the creation of the advert, which was filmed in New York and involved state of the art technology notably the Spydercam.

Epic stuff.

You may have already seen the new rollercoaster Barclaycard ad, pretty neat isn’t it? Well here’s some behind the scenes feastings for you to enjoy. The Spydercam is quite fantastic, as is the backing track.

Finally a use for floppy disks

Pretty cool geek art.

Nicolas Roope from POKE talks about “things vs ads”

Well worth your time.

Social Media Hierarchy of Needs

This is pretty smart.

The ultimate creative brief

There’s no perfect template for creative briefs. But with the iPad there could well be. This template would be interactive and customizable in real-time – just drag ‘n drop the elements you need. Or download new ones.

The name of this software? iBrief of course.

This. Is. The. Future.

Do Knot Forget

Novel approach to advertising the fact that Bluetooth comes with every new Ford model.

Smart interactive anti-chewing gum advertisement

Your print out and keep thought for the day