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Postcards from the beach – 2017 edition December 12, 2017

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, digital advertising, influencers, silicon beach, social media, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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At the end of September, I spent two days by the beach listening, learning and starting to live again. Curated by the self-styled most selfish event organiser in the world, Matt Desmier, Silicon Beach is a complete mystery. You have some idea of some of the speakers but no idea when they talk, what they will talk about or indeed what may happen.

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I went last year and was completely smitten with the format compared to the typical bloviation from other conferences so had high hopes. Hopes that were fulfilled. And then some. And while I wrote some digital postcards last year to some people who really stood out for me, I wrote some actual postcards this time.

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You may have got one in the post. There are still one or two who haven’t even got one yet because it really has been impossible to find the addresses of some people; easier to find an address in Montenegro than Marylebone. But let’s get back to the beach…

Matt makes a thing of there being no theme, just people he wants to listen to and learn form. And that seems to be good advice for life in general, let alone a conference.

But there was a theme for me.

To get on and do things.

Because time is short. Because we’ve been hoodwinked that timesheets are the most important thing in advertising. That the colour by numbers dumbing down of creativity by Facebook et al is the temple we should all be praying at because they dominate over 2/3 of the internet.

That actually, we should be more rebellious in our behaviour and intent. Because life is short. As Billy Connolly once observed,  you should be anarchic and put stink bombs under the rim of the toilet or cling film over the porcelain on train journeys because…

“Do these things. You’ll improve your life no end.”

A theme that really came alive and punched you in the face with Chris Barez-Brown’s talk right at the end with him sharing that you spend 80% of your life on auto pilot with a need to Wake Up!

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A theme that Paul Armstrong showed in high-speed fashion (I may have to buy his book to try and remember what he speed-talked through) with his tiny square of paper showing you what little time you have left to do something.

A theme that Scarlett Montanaro recognised and that advertising wasn’t fuelling and did her own thing. Being the dependable back-up and timesheets are not the reason we got into advertising. Scarlett encouraged everyone to spend at least 20% of their time at work working on side projects or things you really give a shit about. Because while the industry still requires you to be chained to a desk for hours on end, you may as well be productive and doing stuff you like and can make a difference rather than endlessly staring at social media.

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A theme that came up with Sally, with Victoria and with Vanja about attention, sleepwalking, doing the same thing. We think we know our problems inside out, but history shows that sometimes the excuses we make are preventing progress (or survival). When we say ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ or ‘that’s just how it is / has to be’ there’s a danger in complacency, and that the competition will overcome that challenge first.

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Where advertising has become colouring by numbers to feed the digital machines of Facebook and Google. Where our short-termist, instant gains culture has created an obsession with quantifiable metrics. We need to embrace the chaos (Bo Hellberg) that we seem to process out of everything in search of efficiency. Chaos is the part of every story where the magic happens, and it’s the same with work. We can start with data, but it should never form the whole solution. If we want to affect real change, we must change our centre of gravity from chasing data to embracing chaos.

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And put penis’ on 20 foot presentation screens. Because life is too short. Do these things, they’ll improve your life no end.

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That we over-complicate, we spend time on the wrong things and that we need to wake up, do things that matter and do things that excite us. To think without the restrictions growing up places on us (Richard Gerver).

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To demonstrate our value, we’re overcomplicating things and obscuring potential solutions. Embrace the clocks and clouds in life as Matt Ballantine would say.  Clocks work in a very specific way and require expertise to make them work and carry out a necessary task. Clouds are intangible, transient and ever changing – this is where we should experiment, not knowing the exact value of the activity going in.

Be inspired, be braver (Dave McQueen) and think about what our own legacy may be. Don’t follow the herd (Up Your Elvis as Chris B-B would say, a nod back to Mark Earls from last year there too).

And in a dystopian manner, I loved Marcus’ ‘The Passing’ to bits. I say talk,  it was art. Beautifully conceived and delivered. Truly stand out. But also terrifyingly believable following on from several of the talks about the rise of the influencers.  The man is a genius. Read the Forbes review if you don’t believe me. I hope he does get a book deal.

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It’s hard to really tell you more. I have lots more notes. I have lots more actions and ideas. And in a way, that’s the joy of Silicon Beach. You really should be there to experience it. To try and do a post about it really doesn’t do it that much justice but I have tried.

Do these things. It’ll improve your life no end.

See you on the beach in 2018.

 

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Be nice. November 27, 2017

Posted by nicholas gill in agency life, pitch, Team Eleven, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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I9780099592136n John Niven’s book, The Second Coming, God returns from holiday to discover the world has gone to shit. And he’s none too pleased about it. So he sends his son, Jesus, back down to Earth to sort it out. Along the way via much debauchery and swearing, we see JC come to prominence through the modern cathedral – the talent show. In his journey, JC also reveals that there was actually only one commandment. It’s just that Moses thought one was too simple and decided to write some more. And add more complexity and confusion.

The original commandment was: Be Nice. Two simple words that everything hangs off. If you subscribe to Be Nice, you don’t need any other rules or nonsense.

Be nice.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

I was reminded of this recently when working on a multi-agency, multi-country pitch. Locked in the bowels of an agency meeting room in Torino for 4 days straight over a weekend, I was an outsider to a team that had already been working on the pitch for the past week at least. Be nice – drop in, say hi, ask how you can get involved, listen and learn. Go out for dinner even though you’re knackered and would rather curl up in the hotel? Yes. Because that’s nice and you really get to know people over dinner. And also a very strange mountain drink that you pass round and keep drinking until you pass out.

Be nice and offer opinion in a constructive, non-confrontational manner. Debate, listen and discuss. Be nice and learn from those with a different experience, different culture and point of view and enrich your own experience along the way.

Be nice and surprise and delight people when you take their words and really focus on making the presentation as best you can. Be nice and make sure everyone feels comfortable, prepared and ready to go.  Join in, be collaborative and immerse yourself fully and commit to the cause. Be nice and send a note of thanks for the experience and make new friends along the way who you never know may be the gateway to future opportunities. Because people like to work with people they like which is a fundamental principle we have at Team Eleven.

I write this because I also experienced the opposite of Be Nice that weekend. Of people who would arrive late, be aloof, detached and not be part of the team. With some distance its easy to see but only vindicates what you believe in when you see the opposite. Being part of a team means you commit to it and behave with professionalism and dignity.

Be nice.

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Playing catch up: collaboration, automation, FinTech and CMOs. November 24, 2017

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So it’s been some time. Here’s a round up of some articles, comments and thoughts I’ve penned in the last few months while we’ve been busy launching pan European campaigns, creating content, expanding our minds, developing business and brand strategies, winning pitches and generally fuelling business growth for clients. More on that soon. Enjoy these in the meantime…

July – automation will give human insight a boost not the boot. Commenting in CMO.com

July – Stop wasting time & collaborate efficiently. Thought leadership editorial in Virgin Entrepreneur on why remote working has been subject to much scrutiny.

June – commenting in CMO.com on how the role of the CMO must be more than just marketing to build a strong consumer-facing brand.

April – commenting in Shots magazine on ‘that’ Pepsi ad, highlighting why the distance of an agency from the inner-workings of a client business allows for objectivity and critical analysis that many not always be possible with in-house creative teams.

March – what does the future hold for FinTech in Finance Monthly.

February – comments in Digiday on how brands could use Houseparty as a live research environment.

 

 

Should social media be allowed at work? February 2, 2017

Posted by nicholas gill in social media, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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With employees ‘wasting’ up to a third of their day being distracted with things like social media, office chat, going online in work hours, I was asked to comment this week in Times supplement, Raconteur on whether social media should be allowed at work. What do you think?

We don’t limit what our teams can and cannot do when it comes to social media, web surfing or office chat. We think they should be grown up enough to know how to manage their time and distractions without a rule book. In the service industry, our work hours and projects are rarely predictable so there has to be ebb and flow to balance the demands we will ask of our teams to deliver projects.

We use social media a lot for our clients so there is a natural need to spend time being involved to understand the changes, the content and what competitors are doing. The one thing we do ask is that in meetings, phones are not on the table as the clarion call of the notification bombardment is overwhelmingly distracting and you need to present and attentive to ensure meetings are effective and timely.

 

 

 

Digital vs Traditional: what works best for you? December 16, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, digital, digital advertising, Team Eleven, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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Latest thought piece in Marketing Business Forum on digital and traditional marketing.

Print circulation numbers are down. On-demand and streaming services – sans un-skippable ads – are on the up. So what’s a marketer to do? Ditch the dinosaur channels and throw the entire budget at Larry, Sergey, Zuck and their contemporaries? Targeting, re-targeting and the ‘viral’ promise are all reasons to believe digital and social now reign supreme for the modern marketer, but in this we neglect to acknowledge the in real life (IRL) experiences and halting moments that also drive word of mouth and brand consideration – online or otherwise. So before you do throw everything at the digital plan, please ponder the following…

Magic in the mundane

If you haven’t heard the term ‘mindfulness’ this year then you’ve probably been living underneath the proverbial rock (and who would blame you in these turbulent times). It’s a reaction to our age of hedonism and the breakneck speed at which we’ve been living our lives, and like most trends, this desire to slow down and simplify is being reflected in publishing and advertising. In April this year, Ronseal decided to take a risk with a live TV spot which offered Channel 4’s Gogglebox audience three minutes of the unthinkable – watching actual fence paint dry. It was an inspired and effective product demonstration that earned them a trending spot on social media.

Stop the press

The digital evolution of the print industry is representative of the consumer’s move to more accessible, tailored and instant news without the barrage of irrelevant print ads. Despite the declining print figures, some brands still have the foresight to take advantage of reactive placements in bulk circulations, which often hit a captive, educated audience of commuters who will be reading cover to cover. Norwegian struck an extremely timely note in September this year following the news of Brad and Angelina’s break up, with a stark but cuttingly comic ad promoting their LA price promotion. The result: a viral campaign that puts it firmly in the hall of fame with Oreo’s ‘dunk in the dark’.

The great outdoors

Out-of-home and experiential marketing are truly challenging media. Bus wraps are hardly remarkable and being chased by a sampler at Waterloo while you try to catch your train isn’t entirely conducive to positive brand perception. The Economist challenges that notion. The publisher is infamous for its minimalist and innovative OOH creative, but it turned its hand to an unsettling on-the-ground activation in 2015 which was rebooted in the US this year. ‘High-protein’ is the new “on trend” claim for the food industry, and The Economists’ ice cream samplers achieved theirs by adding insects, the new proposed solution for the global food crisis which it covered in a ‘future of food’ feature. The campaign generated significant online press coverage and was branded ‘eye-catching genius’ by Business Insider.

The learning? Search for new value in formats that have become hackneyed and contrived. Opportunities to reach a cynical populace using these traditional methods still remain and can be extremely successful for the creative and confident marketer. Whether you’re aiming for ‘disrupt’ ‘be bold’ or ‘surprise and delight’ don’t miss the simple proposition with cut-through messaging that’s right in front of you.

Rebrand shakes off naff 70’s image of ‘Spritz’ November 22, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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Commenting in The Grocer on the revamp of the Blossom Hill Fruit Bloom (Membership required for the link – see images above).

From a wine consumer perspective it makes sense as ‘Fruit Bloom’ doesn’t help you to distinguish what the product is or why it is different from the main Blossom Hill range of rose, whites and reds. ‘Spritz’ has shaken off it’s perhaps ‘naff’ 70s image, particularly with the resurgence of the Aperol Spritz in the last two years and this association will help to firmly place the revised product packaging into the light and refreshing category, something which a lot of people are looking for as an alternative to serious wine consumption.

 

 

 

Equal Pay Day: How you can stand up to the gender pay gap at work? November 16, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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Team Eleven Client Partner, Sophie Gibson, comments in today’s Telegraph on how you can stand up to the gender pay gap at work.

Sophie Gibson, founder of marketing firm Team Eleven, advises: “Asking to leave early can sometimes be difficult. But, given that awareness of the pay gap is growing, seize the opportunity to bring it your employers attention. Why not ask your employer for a quiet word.

“Say something like: ‘I am sure that the company does value my time in the same way as my male peers, but I’d like to leave an hour early today to ensure that my time reflects the salary I am paid. This is part of the equal pay day campaign. Should the pay gap be corrected, I’d be only too happy to stay. But unless the company can explain their position on this matter, then I’m sure you would agree it’s only fair.’”

Picture: John Lamb from Telegraph article.

Need some help with that, love? November 16, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in thought leadership, Uncategorized, work.
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Team Eleven comment in The Telegraph from Client Partner, Sophie Gibson, on how to respond to patronising comments at work.

“Being patronised is often the result of an unconscious bias, so wherever possible, it’s important to address the issue or it could become a barrier to progress or collaboration,”  Sophie Gibson, founder of marketing firm Team Eleven, says.

“Keep the dialogue professional, but explain that what they’ve just said doesn’t feel like a fair representation of your ability, or that you’d prefer it if you weren’t referred to in that way as it doesn’t communicate a sense of respect.

“Confrontation on something which seems quite minor can be intimidating, but if it has bothered or even upset you, ignoring it could leave you with a sense of being less worthy in the workplace, even when you’re contributing above and beyond.”

Photo: people images.com from Telegraph article.

How do convenience stores attract students? Think laterally. November 15, 2016

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Commenting in The Grocer on how convenience stores can attract students. (Membership required for the link – see images above).

The challenge for convenience stores with students is to dissuade them from the established and new ‘metro style’ convenience supermarkets and also, crucially, online shopping.

A simple search for ‘student food shopping’ will bring up a large volume of super helpful hints, tips and strategies for stretching the budget ranging form avoiding the supermarket and doing everything online, not going on student loan ‘pay day’ or an empty stomach to planning in advance and only sticking to the list. Variations on advice for most people really. But what they all seem to not touch is the convenience store. Likely this is because of the rise of Tesco et al into convenience stores is equalising the advantage convenience stores once had. Consider that sales of Tesco Metro, Sainsbury’s Local and Waitrose Mini grew by 16% Vs only 2.3% against Spar and Londis (Bernstein Research 2015). There has also been a great deal of movement in the non-supermarket brands with Nisa, Premier and CostCutter also joining the throng.

The independents have a a perception that convenience really means a higher price point to penalise you for the act of convenience. But this is not true when you see supermarket brand convenience stores charge prices up to 6% higher than the main supermarket with some in Central London up to 12% higher (Bernstein Research, 2015).

The opportunity to attract the student audience, however, needs to be more than just price. While budget is a key element and one expense that students cannot live without, the need to fit into they need to exploit the faster-living, smaller basket demands of this generation. Do not expect them to fill up with ready meals as these are expensive and also likely to be nutritionally unsound. Instead, think laterally – this generation is used to social communities, making new friends, connecting and helping. Embrace the sharing economy by helping them to facilitate this on a food basis. Create a localised ‘grub club’ where the power of the student community can participate and receive regular, wholesome – and likely spectacular meals – for a contribution rather than having to do everything themselves. Using social tools to the help them plan for meals; make it easy with store cupboard and ‘in the moment’ ingredients that are price sensitive. Giving them a reason to think about and continue to use you rather than just as a convenient grab and dash to refuel between lectures or nights outs.

postcards from the beach October 7, 2016

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I haven’t been to any conferences or networking events for some time. Partly because of agency learning and development starvation but also partly because I had become tired of them becoming endless sales pitches or regurgitation of statistics or campaigns. I also detest networking events.

Silicon Beach is unlike any of this. Curated by Matt Desmier in an unashamedly selfish manner of people he thinks would be interesting and has spent the last year – or more – stalking on twitter and in real life to speak. And you know what, there was no filler – it was all killer. The boy done good.

For two days we had no idea who was next, what they were speaking about and pretty much no wi-fi. Which sounds ironic it being a an event with digital at heart but you know what, it was brilliant. It made you focus rather than trying to capture that oh so perfect tweetable quote.

It’s a week later and I’m still reeling from the inspiration, passion and the hypodermic needle of thoughts that we were subjected to.

It feels like what happened at the beach should stay at the beach because I don’t know how I could do Phil Adams’ ‘guns’ any justice beyond saying what a most incredible piece of storytelling it was.

Or how Pete Trainor made us all well up and make ‘big data’ feel real and powerful but also so incredibly ineffective when it comes to anything other than make giant corporates even more giant and corporate.

Or how Marcus Brown gave a piece of performance art that just blew my tiny mind but made us question everything.

If I were to write some seaside postcard thank you notes, it would be these:

Dear Phil,

Thank you for making me think about the importance of language and that caring about this will have impact on the overall quality of thinking and output. Your point about sharable versus share-worthy shall forever be at my beckon call. And for reminding me that ’Cashmore’ and his ‘guns’ have a place. But it’s not every place.

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Dear Lauren & Jody,

I’m still gawping at the work The Unseen do. Technology, fashion, biology, creativity. And black clothes. None of this is easy. It’s constant experimentation. Thanks, Jody, for the reminder to stop chasing the next big thing and focus on the problem, not the solution. That experimentation and pivoting is good. And they ‘how do we fix things?’ top tip that was super useful but so super simple: what’s the problem and how can you fix it? And then just go for it.

Dear Mark,

What would David do? Shamelessly copy, adapt and pivot. His whole life. And he was a genius. So why do we think we have to start with a blank sheet of paper every single time? Work out who has done it already. And copy. But copy with a degree of error. Because that’s where the magic lies.

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Hey, Hey Human!

Get out of the deep end with consumer relationships and spend more time with the shallow moments. The moments that really matter. A bit of friction for the right reasons can be good. In our attention deficit world, creative primers that act as brain jolts are supremely important; fragments that consistently prime our reactions, our resonance and our relevancy to consumers.

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Dear Glyn,

We get bombarded with the next big thing, the shiny new trend. You reminded us to look beyond this. Even though you couldn’t prove your bundling/unbundling theory, the provocation and the thought process reminded me to lift my head up and look at the wider world and what’s happening at the macro level.

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Dear Marcus,

Getting off the grid is good for the mind, body and soul. A chance to breathe, to think, to escape. That by leaving the traditional agency world liberates you to do the things that make you happy but also that you would never be allowed to do in that world. And I’m never going to ingest any pill you give me. And thank you, Marcus for our conversation, it was very humbling and helpful. I look forward to walking with you when I’ve had my knee fixed.

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See you by the beach next year.

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