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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.

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.

 

can american apparel recover from bankruptcy? October 7, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, thought leadership.
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Article I penned in The Drum on how American Apparel can recover from bankruptcy following lurid accusations in the boardroom, porn as advertising and poor performance at the tills.

Recovering from bankruptcy is the easy part.

There have been plenty of resurrection stories down the years with some big names surviving because of their importance to the national economy – American Airlines, General Motors.

Or those brands that survive and learn from it, coming back stronger and better with a renewed energy, work ethic and a revitalised core that is true to the brand, business and customer – Chrysler, Jeep, Aston Martin (several times now).

Then there are are brands that have come back from a seemingly never-ending downward spiral in results because of smart leadership changes, strategy changes, product changes and a deep-rooted love of the brand in the public – look at Marks & Spencer.

And then there is American Apparel. A brand whose founder has been dogged with allegations and whose advertising went beyond provocative into the lurid, disturbing murky waters of overt sexualisation and pretty much porn as advertising. The decisive change was not the filing for bankruptcy this week, it was the removal of the controversial CEO Dov Charney last year.

Sales are down, shops are closing. American Apparel made some bad choices. A lot of bad choices. Not least of which was Charney turning up to a meeting allegedly wearing nothing but a strategically placed sock. I don’t believe that was in Dale Carnegie’s playbook on ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.

Yet the brand allure remains strong. The crazy guy at the top did some incredible things like making sure every garment was produced inside America to truly live up to the brand name. And he did this by making sure the largely Latino workforce was well paid and well looked after. For a brand that essentially made average underwear and t-shirts, it created its own myth, fuelled by provocative porn-a-like advertising that shocked in a world we thought was largely unshockable. Ads that looked more like the edgier editorial of high-end fashion magazines played out in RHS full exposure.

This worked to cut through, but lost its edge when people realised they were paying over the odds for some average undergarments. It was undone, not by cheaper brands, but by brands that people wanted to associate with. Brands like Hollister with its sunshine California sheen with beautiful people became more culturally and socially acceptable. And better quality. And it’s not cheap either.

So how can American Apparel truly recover?

As much as possible it needs to keep the ongoing lawsuits separate to the ongoing concern that is the business and the brand. It needs to reconnect the American values, ethic, sense of doing things differently and free spirit that ignited the company in the first place, and one that continues to have consumer resonance globally. It needs a retail experience overview as it looks tired, dated and less enticing than brands like Primark.

Lastly, it needs to find the people who can mainline into the fashion industry trends and be part of the ‘must have’ list again. Preferably they will know how to wear their socks correctly.

i blame the gorilla July 30, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, thought leadership.
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The Independent ran an article highlighting the number of ads that featured music from the 80s. The Drum asked me to write a response to it. I blamed the gorilla.

You can say it’s all about fashion and trends and everything comes around again. And again. But I blame the gorilla.

It’s his fault. Sitting behind the drum kit waiting patiently until erupting with madness and glee and yes, ‘joy’, to thrash them to death alongside Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight’.

It’s his fault. He answered the one line brief,’show me how I feel when I eat Cadbury’s chocolate’ by resorting to an iconic 80s music track and going batshit mental on the drums.

The 80s: big hair, big shoulder pads, big news, big everything. Especially big ‘choons’. And now the people who grew up in the 80s with their knowing ‘Frankie Says’ t-shirts and Phil Oakey side-flange partings implanted deep in their hearts have grown up.

They are now in the bullseye of the mainstream brands. Still watching vast swathes of telly and still swayed by big telly ads and wondering WTF emojis are. Still knowing someone could have picked them out and shook them up when they were working in a cocktail bar and turned them into someone new.

If you’re a 40-something to 50-something, you will have witnessed a fair bit of familiarity in advertising of late. A bit of Europe here, a surprise airing of Fleetwood Mac there. All dropped into drive familiarity and layer the emotional element to the advertising to get you to notice, to consider. To strike at the heart of your wallet via your retro fluorescent ear canal.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that 80s music was the most popular choice among all brand advertising in 2014. Queen adding little riffs of fun to Tesco Christmas spots. Fleetwood Mac helping a Shetland Pony moonwalk for Three. What surprised everyone was Bonnie Tyler topping the charts. But it was epic. So it makes your brand epic. And you’re epic if you buy our brand. Epic.

Some are wonderful and actually make sense. Others just use the track like audio attention grabbing ‘Like a Virgin’ era Madonnas because Queen selling sofas to the tune of ‘Someobody to Love’ is just really selling out isn’t it? They were a band that famously refused Stallone rights to use ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ in Rocky III forcing them to find their own anthem in Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. And they’re now happy for their back catalogue to be used to flog sofas. Bloody gorilla’s fault.

And then we have the re-imagining. The John Lewis ‘make ‘em cry to make ‘em buy’ approach. A soft, tinkly-tinkly re-imagined, slowed down version of a well-known classic that acts as an ear worm and makes its way silently into your heart. Alongside penguins, bears and gorillas.

Music is a hugely important part of advertising and any film based content. Music can make or break an ad. The rhythm, cadence and the power tell their own story but magic can happen when the story, the music and the lyrics work hand in hand. An edit suite is often a painful torture chamber in the creative process and equally a pleasuredome when things go right.

But is the rise of 80s music in ads also because modern music is incomprehensible to anyone over the age of 30? Where new music is dictated by the Radio 1 playlist which deems La Roux and Lily Allen over the hill and therefore primetime picking for middle-aged, middle-class department store advertising tales?

The brands mentioned above largely appeal to that demographic so going for familiarity over a new artist is a much safer bet. And in a corporate environment where the average chief marketing tenure is under two years, safety and immediate impact is the order of the day.

Unless you’re going to go big and buy yourself instant stardust with Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift (how many times have you seen ‘Shake It Off’ in a creative WIP this last year?), then it’s time to break out the shuttlecocks in your shorts, re-live who shot J.R. and dust off your 12” of ABC. Because then success will be so easy for you but don’t forget it’s the gorilla who put you where you are now and he can put you back down too.

Nicholas Gill is planning director at Doner UK

This article also featured in the Global Doner D\Construct thought leadership series.

NME change in content strategy keeps them front and centre July 9, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in brand experience, content strategy, Marketing Week, NME, though leadership.
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NME

Some words from me in Marketing Week on NME’s change in content strategy. The link requires (free) subscription. If you can’t be bothered to click the synopsis is NME are going free, increasing circulation, broadening the content beyond music and extending into more digital content channels. Here’s my thoughts:

Nicholas Gill, planning director at integrated ad agency Doner UK, says the change in strategy should help keep NME “front and centre” rather than something to look at through the misty-eyed look at history. He predicts it could help NME avoid the fate of its one-time rival Melody Maker.

Broadening the content base, both in terms of platforms and type, should help attract new consumers, says Gill, extending the reach for brands.

“Focusing on content including video and live events is particularly appealing to brand partners and advertisers because it offers a much deeper and more meaningful opportunity to connect with an influential, young and interesting readership beyond just a standard press insertion,” he adds.

Print version below:

NME print

the new integration August 10, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in integration, social media, thought leadership.
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Right now, there’s a lot of talk out there about integration being dead. Almost as much talk as there is about social media, the death of the ad agency – and the Old Spice viral.

But I think it’s all nonsense. Find out why and discover some simple truths by reading this ‘New Integration’ thought leadership piece. It’s the first in a probably highly irregular series of thought stuff from us at DCH.

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