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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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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.

Vertical ambition welcome here August 11, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in Team Eleven, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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We’re now in our 8th month since starting Team Eleven. We started with just us two, two desks and two chairs in a two-person office. In that time we’ve grown rapidly, in a way that completely exceeded all our own expectations and ambitions. We’re humbled by the clients who wanted to partner with us as we forged our way in this world without the safety net of a big agency. And the people who wanted to work with us based on who we are as people, our vision and our way of working.

Fundamentally we believe in the strength and depth of relationships.

Relationships with clients to truly understand and add value to their business to add immediate impact but also to sustain that momentum – something that the agency pitch process and slash and burn approach to agency roster management seems to have devalued into an instant magic formula.

Relationships with people in our team because they are the key to making things happen. I remember a long time ago some sage advise from Richard Marshall at TMW who told me, “people buy people.” It struck a chord then and it is something that Sophie, myself and everyone who works with us firmly believe.

And relationships with our partners. Critical given our operating model – a small, nimble core of talented client partners and strategists augmented by best in class creative, producers, designers, social media types, videographers, editors, copywriters, technologists, UX and more.

We’ve worked with a ridiculously talented award-winning  sports marketing creative genius from New York, a video editor in Sydney, social experts in every major European country and a user experience and digital creative polymath from New Zealand. And some people just up the road from us too. We look after these people. We treat them right. And the upside for clients – and us – is we get to work with the best talent in the world, not just the next available person in the room.

Our approach also means paying interns. Our industry is notorious for making interns work like dogs and paying them in belief that having the hallowed agency name on the CV is something that people would chew their own feet off for. Ridiculous arrogance and pomposity. We have an intern and we’re paying her because it’s the right thing to do and we want her to enjoy the experience without having to worry how she’s paying for her bus fare or her next meal. We also want to make sure she feels that she can contribute, learn and grow with us.

Because the ‘debate’ is obviously not over. Kevin was obviously wrong. It seems that, for a lot of people, perhaps the nostalgia of Mad Men had become reality rather than period entertainment. Aggression and arrogance often misplaced as qualities that drive successful businesses. Where people seem to think that boorish, arrogant, bullying and outdated behaviour is good and wins the day and this is the way you all need to be. Traits like those, as much as they are rightly getting pilloried now, had previously been held in high regard and rewarded in the endless agency quest to climb the ladder and deliver growth above everything else.

The creative industry shouldn’t subscribe to that. We certainly don’t subscribe to that at Team Eleven.

We’re hugely proud that our board is 50-50 male-female. And that our team is 85% female. Not because of some quota chasing tick box, but because they are the absolutely best people to improve our team and deliver against our mission. And encourage the now infamous vertical ambition.

And ambition is something we don’t lack. Although Team Eleven only started up in January from a 2-person office, we have recorded phenomenal growth on the back of impressive client wins for Invisalign Europe, Renew Health and Asics Europe. We recently moved into a bigger office and have expanded the team from the initial two partners by making four additional hires in the last few months helping them, us, and our clients, with all our own vertical ambitions.

 

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