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postcards from the beach October 7, 2016

Posted by nicholas gill in thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


See you by the beach next year.

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.


amazon’s deal with top gear trio indicative of global trend August 24, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in Uncategorized.
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Article in M&M Global I penned on the content streaming trends and the impact of Amazon Prime signing the former Top Gear trio Clarkson, Hammond and May.

The former Top Gear presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, signing up with Amazon is a real coup. Not only does it make a firm statement of the brand’s intent to go toe-to-toe with Netflix on original content, but it also continues to signal a shift away from traditional content providers.

We’ve already seen actors and directors wanting to work for organisations like Sky because they offer greater creative freedom and are able to take more risks because of their advertiser and subscriber funded model.

We’re now seeing the (currently) ad-free subscription streaming services take this to another level with original content also being distributed in a way that plays straight into our desire to time-shift our way of consuming content – they understand their audience and, like any clever brand, are designing their products to meet their customers’ needs, rather than the other way around.

Binge watching is now the norm and an entire generation has become used to watching every series and even the entire canon in one extended sitting rather than waiting a week to see the cliff-hanger resolved.

Spotted an opportunity

This change in consumer behaviour was also in evidence when Amazon Prime stepped in in response to a petition by fans of the BBC TV series, Ripper Street, to bring the show back for a third series. With the BBC not listening, Amazon spotted an opportunity – marking the first time that a subscription-based video-on-demand service became the main backer of an established TV show.

While we often hear the populist ‘TV is dead’ argument, it couldn’t be further from the truth. We are watching more TV than we ever used to. But across more devices and in different ways, for example, in the UK 11% of our daily total video consumption is now ‘playback TV’ and 67% is live TV (source: 2014 ThinkBox). While quality output is still winning, people will keep watching.

The shift in ways of consuming content is more evident in the US than in the UK where pay per view is further established and where breakthrough content such as Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards, which literally dropped overnight, has enabled fans to consume the entire show’s opening series in one supersized gulp followed by cult viewing such as Orange is the New Black.

But the approach works hand in hand with traditional superpowers like HBO continuing to invest in cinematic scale and quality series such as Game of Thrones which continues to stick to the traditional model and make people wait for series finales. And who can argue with the global viewing figures and Emmy awards for dragons, swords and Peter Dinklage?

Bete noire

Yet the streaming services are also attacking the bête noire of almost every television viewer – the mid series break. Sure, your PVR will pick up on it again when it comes back but you’ve forgotten, fallen out of love again. And then it stacks up on your PVR not watched list. The mid-series break feels outdated and with the technology we are now used to, it feels like the equivalent break in the film when they had to change the reels. I still haven’t watched the second half of Gotham because of this.

But, back to talent poaching. Having the former Top Gear trio on-board gives Amazon a real string to its bow, and it will undoubtedly have an impact when it comes to people choosing between streaming services.

It will be interesting to see how many of the global Top Gear audience follow Clarkson, May and Hammond and choose to sign up to a subscription based model rather than relying on free broadcasting. And also how the new Chris Evans-helmed Top Gear on the BBC will compete in content and viewing figures.

In my view this move has the potential to have a major impact on the growth of Amazon Prime in the immediate future – and it is a trend we’re likely to see in numerous markets around the world – as long as the content is up to scratch.

say hello to your little friend – travel light August 11, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in business travel, gadgets, nomad, nomadkey, technology, Uncategorized.
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photo 2 photo 1

I’ve been doing a lot of business travel recently and one of the major pains is carrying all the leads and power cables for your various devices. So it was pretty timely that the guys at Nomad asked me to try out their new Nomadkey – a USB cable that’s well, key sized.

It’s small (yes, key sized), rubberised material and bendy and flexible. It fits snugly on your key ring or just in the many pockets of your bag. And it’s nowhere near as bulky as your phone charger. I travelled with both for a couple of trips because without phone power, you become paranoid but I left it at home the last couple of times. I seem to take my laptop with me so it’s easy just to plug it into that or the TV USB in the hotel room that I discovered on this.

It’s great. I use it all the time at my desk too rather than fiddling around with many wires and sockets.

I haven’t yet used the credit card version but I’m off again soon so will give it a whirl and update.

photo 3

Thanks to Olivia at Nomad. I have not been paid for this post.

Distraction and the Internet April 17, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in distraction, internet, productivity, social media, Uncategorized, website, webtrate.
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65% of us get distracted by the Internet. Distracted form doing stuff by doing more stuff like emails, general web surfing and of course, social media. 53% also admitted that the reduction in productivity caused them dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

I can empathise. I’m far too easily distracted at present. I need to switch off. And now you can with Webtrate. Despite the site looking like it’s come from the 90s – deliberate given the context of what they’re trying t do I hope – you sign up and get a number of options to turn off all these distractions and focus. Anything from a simple timer to a complete lock down. Splendid.

Image source.

Soundbites from MediaPost OMMA London Panel: Channels, channels and more channels. April 12, 2014

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I was invited to be a panellist at Mediapost’s OMMA London conference on 2 April. The panel was Channels, Channels and More Channels with a large focus on mobile and video content. Although you’re welcome to watch the 45 minutes in full here, I’ve done a little deck of the soundbites from me just for fun.



never lose your stuff again July 25, 2013

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I get sent a lot of press releases, seemingly at random and often with content that is is so wildly removed from anything I do that I often want to send made up press releases back. And then there are the gems. The ones that actually make me go, “oooh, I’d like that”.  Things that are new and interesting and have a purpose. Things that use technology in interesting ways rather than just because. And also, they use my name rather than just, “hey blogger”, or nothing, or worse, “hey bluurb.”

Tile. It’s a tiny tile. That fixes or fits into things. It emits a signal using low energy blue toothy internetty things and you can find it using your smartphone or tablet. We’ve all lost our bag, keys, laptop and more at some stage. Just track them down using the Tile app. And if your stuff has gone beyond 100ft, i.e. not just been buried in the kids toys, you can use the Tile community passively to find your lost or stolen gear.

Originally a crowd-funded idea, it’s proved so popular it’s now shipping globally with over $2.6m orders in the bank.

Thanks to Lucy for sharing. I have not been paid for this post.

Tile - Hero Shot - Black

Pheed me January 2, 2013

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I’ve been hearing a lot about Pheed of late so thought I’d better check it outPheed is aimed at making your social media life a lot easier and simpler. Rather than having Twitter for texts, Instagram for photos, Viddy for videos, Soundcloud for sound, etc., Pheed allows you to do all of the above, in one simple and easy-to-use platform. I’ve not Phed the Pheed* yet myself but I’ve snooped around and I like it. I especially like the built-in subscription to channels to monetize from the off. Not that anyone would pay for my shizzle but for brands and the trend to becoming content creators, owners and distributors, this could be one to watch. 

*I’m sure there will be other Ph related terms much as there was much Twonking about with Twitterisms. Would love your Pheedback on what you think. See what I did there?

Image Source.

(Thanks to Chrysta for the heads up. I have not been paid for this blog post.)

I am certified January 2, 2013

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I am certified. Some of you may have thought I should have been long ago but for different reasons. You may also remember the Just Ask Gill project. Well, since I pressed pause on that, I still find myself helping out folk informally and on one of my frequent work-related trips to the ‘dam, I saw an ad about training to be a mentor. And you could do it online. For free. So I did. And now I am a certified Mentor and a member of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs as a result. I now have to help someone formally through one of the mentor channels on the IOEE or MentorsMe. I’ll keep you posted.

frijj swamp soccerettes – mad, but good February 27, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in facebook, frijj, richard pittham, swamp soccerettes, syzygy, Uncategorized.
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I’ve always thought drinking Frijj was like drinking gloopy, chocolatey mud. And now with their sponsorship of Soccer AM, they’ve created the Swamp Soccerettes. Girls, mud, football. Mad, but what’s not to like?  And a bit of augmented reality thrown in too.

The campaign comes alive in the Facebook space, so much more than the microsite which is essentially transaction of the on-pack code. A fine, muddy example of creating an experience that you can continually explore and get muddier as you go deeper into the campaign. And topical too with the Terry/Bridge content.

Here’s the proper version of what the campaign is all about on the Syzygy site. And big shout to me old mucker Richard who looks after this and other cool stuff at the unpronouncable and even harder to spell Syzygy.

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