Category Archives: Creative Thinking

David Droga’s Emotional Rallying Cry to the Ad Industry at Cannes Lions Centres on Caring

“There goes my facade of being a rock.”

David Droga choked up several times during a heartfelt and surprisingly emotional speech at Cannes Lions last month—in the end, it was one of the highlights of the festival—as he accepted the Lion of St. Mark award for creative excellence across his storied career.

The Droga5 founder used the moment to look back at his brilliant career so far and to thank the people who’ve helped make it happen—a long list of work colleagues, of course, but also, most prominently, his mother and his wife.

He also had words for the advertising industry, which he initially cast as advice for his four children in attendance—about the single most important thing, in his view, that helps make a person, and a career, successful.

“Wanting something—wanting a career, or wanting to make something—doesn’t really mean much. It’s about finding something you care about. Because caring is the only thing that really matters,” he said.

Caring leads to everything else, Droga suggested.

“I would put down everything in my career to the fact that I cared—about what I do, who I work with, what I make,” he said. “Caring makes you want to work harder. People can’t pay you to care. People can’t teach you to care. But when you find something that you care about, you give it everything you’ve got. You never settle. And you are always pushing to learn and be better and support those around you. All I’ve tried to do in my career is care.”

He added: “That’s all we need to do. More agencies need to give a shit, work hard and try to make beautiful and impactful things.”

See the full speech video on YouTube.

3 great ads I had nothing to do with!

In the tradition of the popular Thinkbox series of shorts that explore some of the greatest TV advertisements in the company of leading Creatives ‘who know a thing or two about making them’, I’ve decided to put forward my own three choices of great advertisements that I had nothing to do with. Now, I’m no Chief Creative Officer of a huge agency, but I feel like I still know a good ad from a bad one. So here goes.

In the age of digital television recorders, advertisement skipping, product placement, overlay ads, Google and pretty much the internet in general, making a TVC stand out above the rest has become tough. Attention spans have shortened, and the point now is to make a TVC that instantly grabs attention and is genuinely engaging. I’ve selected three TVCs that have recently inspired me in my journey through studying advertising; brilliant commercials, old and new, that I admire. (Oh and by the way, if you’ve never heard of it, check out advert.ge on Facebook – absolutely brilliant page constantly posting great TVC’s from around the globe.)

Ad #1: It’s now or never.

As the rest of the world runs for their lives and civilization crumbles around them, the bar-goers enjoy their last moments together and make the most of theirs. The bartender pours shots of Cuervo, a man plays Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never” on the jukebox and couples tango while destruction around them ensues, because as for these brave souls; ‘tomorrow is overrated’.

The coolness factor is stratospheric here. CP+B’s campaign, directed by Ringan Ledwidge, features stunning visuals and uses an end-of-days scenario in charming fashion as a metaphor for living in the moment. The Elvis ballad, which was the second best-selling single of his career, is conceptually perfect and cuts right through the mayhem. The end tagline, “Tomorrow Is Overrated,” is a fun way to highlight tequila’s reputation as a liquor that can lead to unparalleled nights of abandon – and a way to emphasize the primacy of now in times of uncertainty.

Ad #2: Only time.

Who would have thought that more than 85 million people would watch the Muscles from Brussels doing his signature split with two Volvo trucks moving in reverse on a highway, backed by Enya’s “Only Time”? Volvo knew.

Directed by Andreas Nilsson, Volvo filmed the short on a runway in Spain in one take after three days of rehearsals. The short was, at the time, the latest in a series of videos Volvo used to promote how easy it was, and is, to steer its new high-tech big rigs – others have featured a woman walking a tightrope between to moving trucks heading toward a tunnel and a hamster steering one up the edge of a cliff.

The series, and the Jean-Claude Van Damme video in particular, are an insanely clever way to get attention to a type of vehicle most consumers usually don’t care or even think about while proving to other brands that they can use short clips to generate a Super Bowl-sized audience for little money when upping the creativity level of their campaigns.

Ad #3: Satisfaction.

While they sleep, a man’s tongue crawls completely out of his mouth and embarks on a journey to a house party down the road, bringing back home a cold Tooheys Extra Dry.

Yes, another alcohol ad. But prove to me that this isn’t one of the greatest Australian ads ever. I distinctively remember always rushing to the TV whenever I could hear Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” playing. “The tongue beer ad is on!”, I would say. I was 12.

This Tooheys TVC, created by BMF in Sydney, drew dozens of complaints but ranks as one of the best television commercials in the world. The Advertising Standards Board rejected a deluge of complaints about the ad, while Tooheys claims it reinvigorated Australian beer advertising. The advertisement is deliberately distinctive to reflect the diverse and growing consumer appetite for the brand, with a particular focus on younger consumers. At the core of the ad, the tongue is a simple yet strategic device to highlight the importance of taste.

The overall theme of my three advertisements, it seems, is that they all effectively make use of one huge feature amongst the impact of the visuals; that of music. Each advertisement conveys a strong message, but through the added characteristic of music, and specifically popularised music, the ad becomes something else. It becomes engaging.

Rowan James Slade

It’s all about the Idea!

You could have the greatest production team, the best global agency, and an amazing client. But just remember this does not mean anything with a bad idea.

Let me give you an example of a simple idea that was a pure genius. Do you remember the power cut during the third quarter of Super Bowl 2013, which caused the lights to go out for 34 minutes? The sandwich cookies brand, Oreo was quick to think in this situation and posted on social media ‘‘Power out? No problem. You can always dunk in the dark’.

 It revealed a simple picture of an Oreo cookie in a dark room. You could argue how Oreo was a great success compared to the other brands that paid for a spot in the memorable, global game. However I disagree with this theory as great ideas also went into all of those other commercials even If they didn’t think of it in 10 minutes. For example the Budweiser commercial- brotherhood, it worked because of the idea behind it. It was a surprising advertisement away from the typical alcohol ad. It told a warm, hearing story between a man and his horse that were separated, yet three years later they were reunited. It engaged the audience from the start as we questioned what the advertisement was for as it had a cinematic feel to it.

According to SJ Insights the number of ads that adults are now exposed to across all five media (TV, radio, Internet, newspapers and magazines) is about 360 per day; of these, only 150-155 are even noted, and far fewer make a strong enough impact to be recalled, make an impression, and ultimately, make a sale. It is vital that there is a strong idea behind any campaign; if your ad is noticed out of those 360 per day then you are on your way to success. One campaign that has stood our for me this week as my bus goes past it everyday is a campaign that was advertising Mardi Gras. It was the simplicity that made me love the outdoor advertisement. Instead of using a billboard outside Westfield in Bondi Junction they have simply made a mural to advertise Mardi Gras using a colourful set of wings, which, people can stand next to and take photos. This always grabs my attention, as the advertisement looks different every time I look at it with different people laughing and smiling, whilst taking photos with the wings. It is memorable as it made me feel happy. You could spend fortunes on a TV commercial or a print ad but if the idea is not relatable or doesn’t make your audience feel an emotion then it gets lost in the world of advertising.

Just remember the greatest ideas are the simplest.

Chloe Alexandra Geggus

Digital Design Goes “Hands On” with Positive Education

Macleay College is the only Australian Higher Education institution running a Positive Education program. As well as teaching our students industry based skills and practical theory, we also address their personal development and mental health through positive psychology.

This holistic approach in learning, is aimed at enriching the student’s wellbeing and emotional intelligence through tailored individual support and encouragement.

It gives the student a better understanding of themselves, their passions, their strengths and their goals. It helps them to better manage their life, relationships and  future careers through a greater understanding and use of empathy, gratitude and other positive emotions.

In a nutshell, the program aims to increase the student’s confidence, sense of wellbeing and happiness.

As part of the program, Macleay College has installed PosEd Kits in many of the classrooms across our Sydney and Melbourne campuses and students in the Digital Design Unit have been putting them to good use in Term One of the Advertising & Digital Media course.

One of our tasks was to take the free VIA Character Strength Test. This is a short ten minute assessment that takes students through a series of questions to determine their top character strengths. Armed with this list, the students are then asked to step away from their iMacs and use their hands to construct or draw visual representations of their favourite strengths.

The PosEd Kits are full of great stuff to get them started like Play Doh, feathers, buttons, coloured fabric, wood and paper. There are also ample large rolls of paper and Sharpies.

To begin with, the students had a lot of questions and curious looks. As they started to move around the room and choose their materials the noise levels increased and they were off and running.  There were lots of comparing notes on each other’s different strengths with most agreeing that the VIA Test had done a good job.

As I moved around the group, there were some initial awkwardness with speaking about their strengths but they were encouraged to start thinking beyond that and  how their personal brand could be visualised into an abstract object or pictorial form.

There was a sense of enjoy in the room so I popped on some music and spent the next hour watching their creations unfold. The next part of the workshop was to take their physical objects and turn them into a digital piece of artwork. The students could take photos, load them up into Illustrator and use this as a template to create a kind of personal logo.

This was the first time I’ve been involved in a workshop like this so there  is some tweaking I’d still like to do but it was one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve run. It was  one of those days when you get home, put your feet up and smile!

Jason Gemenis is Macleay’s Digital Ninja
lecturing in Digital Design, Advanced
Digital Design and Visualisation across Macleay’s
Dip Advertising & Media, Dip Digital Media,
BA Advertising & Media & BA Digital Media.

Sell Me Content… ‘A New Word To Help Sell An Old Concept!’

Content marketing is a strategic way of attracting and engaging a defined targeted audience. Brands distribute valuable or relevant information to ‘pull in’ consumers, rather than using traditional advertising, which focuses on ‘pushing’ out a message.

Content is designed not to interrupt, but to interact.

From simply uploading an image or news article to Facebook, to putting peoples names on coke bottles or Jack Daniel’s sponsoring a YouTube video that shows ‘behind the scenes’ of a music producer, content marketing is on the rise. Boosted by the growth of social media, its effective and getting more and more creative and innovative.

I don’t believe people are ‘fooled’ by it. They know that its marketing based, but it doesn’t matter, if they like it, they will engage and interact.

However, Content is not a new concept. It is simply indirect information or entertainment targeted to a consumer segment market. Brands have been doing this forever…
Whether it’s a Magazine article in “Women’s Weekly,” informing you on how to get the cleanest clothes from your washing machine (brought to you by Cold Power) or MTV interviewing a popular rock band.

Content is not a new concept.It’s just a new word. And we have a shiny new potential lathered platform to use it.

It’s a word advertisers like to throw around to sound smarter. To add a little ‘pizzazz’ to what they’re talking about.

The idea hasn’t changed. It’s been around since the beginning…

How do we advertise without annoying the consumer with the same repetitive message over and over?

Lets give them something they’re interested in, and throw our logo in there somewhere or good measure. BOOM. Content.
But you still need a great idea, and how do you sell an idea? What can you use to help sell something that has yet to be proven to work?

You use jargon.

An internally constructed ad language that makes you sound like a wanker, but a wanker that knows what his talking about. Words like programmatic, channels, platforms, integrated, traffic, ideation and organic reach.
You use it to make old concepts sound new again.

Advertisers have the ideas, but they need to sell them to clients. They need to sound fresh, on top of it and impressive. They need to have a bit of the dodgy car salesman approach, or they might lose the account. All agencies have good ideas. But it’s a hard fought fight to see who can sell theirs the best.

Smother the client in so much jargon that they can’t understand what you’re saying, but they think you’re a genius… a wanker, but a genius as well.

Daniel Fitzsimmons

Programmatic – ‘Rise Of The Machines’

Programmatic has arrived and the machines are taking over. The idea of tailored advertising per person is now a reality. So, what does this mean to advertisers and consumers?

Consumers

Imagine a world where you only got what you wanted?

If you got asked the question, would you like to control the ads you see? Most people would say yes. But if you told them they would have to give up some of their privacy, would they be more reluctant? Then remind them that most of this information is already being collected…

Everyone loves something for free and on the net this has never been more available. Though nothing is entirely free. With most free information or services including entertainment on the net, the only price you have to pay is being exposed to advertising. Most of us as consumers have learnt the best ways of getting around this and know we only have to wait a few seconds to hit skip or wait for the little ‘x’ button to close it. However, what if the advertising you were exposed to was only what you wanted to see or what was relevant to your life?

Being able to choose the types of ads your interested in would be a great option. If you have to see the ads anyway, why not choose to make them relevant, maybe even interesting and engaging in portraying your own desirable needs as opposed to just trying to close them as soon as you can.

Advertisers

Imagine a world where you only hit where it counts…

For the advertisers this could be a enormous game changer. If, they were only paying for the media space for consumers, that were interested, or deemed a good candidate. This could potentially save the advertiser plenty of money and let smaller businesses advertise to target consumers who would use their good or services, leading to a chance to grow their business through advertising without having to pay for pointless reach or product outlet.

Driving traffic to your site is always a big push for businesses online and with programmatic you are maximising your potential while saving money wasted on uninterested parties.

Programmatic

So what is programmatic?

Programmatic is the ghost in the machine. It collects data on consumer’s behavior online and through powers much faster than most media experts, which decides who and when is the best time to deliver a piece of advertising. There is a lot more to it than that but like me, is still in its early stages and has a lot more growth and potential.

Once the scary part of ‘they are watching you’ passes and people get the idea they are here to make life, on the overwhelming amount of information on the net more relevant.

Lets work with programmatic to change the perception of  ‘advertising’ into ‘relevant information’ and everyone is a winner.

Benjamin Sopronick

THE DEMOCRATISATION OF CREATIVITY

As creativity moves into the very public realm of the Internet, we’re seeing an explosion of user-generated creative content – from video, photography, design, illustration, art, animation and music, on a myriad of online publishing platforms from Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, YouTube and beyond. But we’re also seeing an increasing commodification of areas that have traditionally been created by creative cottage industries such as graphic design, illustration, information design, web-design, animation, video, music and sound production. So how do young creative people best prepare themselves for the digital future? How can they best use their creative skills to create effective art and unique visual communications in this very public digital arena? As the creative process becomes increasingly democratised, who and what will survive?

20160616_TheDemocratisationofCreativity_Pic

The flow of information made possible by the Internet has made the world a very open place. Not only can we instantly connect, interact and become informed by others from virtually anywhere on the planet (and beyond), but information, business deals, the transfer of goods and services, political and social experiences, philosophical models and ideologies have become globally accessible, more transparent and often free.

Hello, ‘Generation Share’.

The rise of the FREEMIUM economy has created an expectation among millennials and other digital natives (who have grown up in the age of digital communications), that information and services available over the Internet should essentially be free – because if not, they’ll just search an alternative that is. They understand how advertising on such platforms works, and expect that publishers source their revenue from those wanting to exploit our eyeballs, and not necessarily that publishers charge the end user directly. But where does this leave the creative authors of the content that has the potential to create audiences and engage and entertain large, specific segments of society?

We want democracy, but at what cost?

This empowerment means that the consumer is now in a prime position to drive the business arrangement. The democratisation of creative services on a global scale has created a world-wide market place, where young Creatives effectively compete with others from all over the planet. And the competition includes many young creative people working from countries with considerably lower business, labour and living costs.

This creates an attractive palate for the business community, wanting to access creative services such as graphic-, logo- and web-design through platforms such as Fiverr.com –  a global online marketplace where freelancers to offer their services to customers worldwide.

Currently, Fiverr lists more than three million services on the site that range in cost from $5 to $500. The platform was launched in early 2010 and now hosts over 1.3 million Gigs. The website transaction volume has grown 600% since 2011. Fiverr.com has been ranked among the top 100 most popular sites in the U.S. and top 150 in the world (Wikipedia 2016).

Even video and commercial production through creative-sourcing platforms like GENERO.TV are revolutionising the video production market for both clients and young film-makers.

Launched in 2009, Genero offers a platform for clients to source and generate quality video content that is faster and cheaper than commissioning production through conventional video production models. Genero claims it also “engages online audiences through authentic storytelling. In parallel, it helps grow the careers of the huge number of talented video directors and filmmakers globally, looking for opportunities to make a living doing what they love.” (Wikipedia 2016).

As much as this is an opportunity for business people and Start-Ups wanting to take advantage of a wide choice in a global marketplace in order to get creative produced for low cost, it presents a challenge for those young people wanting to work in these creative spaces. It’s becoming less financially viable for young creative people to sustain careers in first world economies in traditional creative skills-based ‘cottage’ industries such as graphic design, illustration and video production unless they can devise a way that they can complete.

Where to now?

So where do young creative people channel their creative energy and potential, if careers in more traditional skills-based creative jobs are being offered a lot cheaper from Creatives offshore and online?  This is where it’s important to focus on the door that is opening, rather than the one that is closing. Young creative people need to focus on two important areas of education and training to get an edge, and be able to create sustainable and successful creative careers in today’s democratised creative world.

Develop Strategic Thinking

It’s important that as early as highschool, to develop strategic-thinking and problem-solving skills in the upcoming generation of young creative people. Although there may very well be someone else on the other side of the planet being able to master design, technical and production skills, the question of whether the solution they come up with, is as strong strategically as someone who has focused their education on this is where the opportunity exists. Talent and creative intuition count for a lot, but the most effective creative solutions to business and communications briefs are research based and strategically driven.

The reality of getting a foot in the door as a junior in an agency, production company or Start-Up needs a hybrid approach. The notion of T-Skilling, or the now more often quoted Pi- or Two-Pronged-Skilling is the best approach to making a strong career start. By combining strategic thinking with one or even two, well developed sets of skills is how young Creatives can be useful in a job from day one, and then as the opportunities arise, prove themselves as strategic trouble-shooters and cross-platform problem-solvers. Become a Photoshop Profi, a Premiere-Pro Hotshot, a Digital Imaging Specialist or a Social-Media Know-It-All – these are all great for launching your career, but just make sure they don’t limit it.

And never stop learning. Careers in the post-digital age will be defined by strategic problem-solving that goes far beyond any one technology or skill-set. The technologies we use today may  no longer exist in the next few years. Solve problems for and with technology, but never limit solutions by it.

Become your own Brand

In addition to developing strategic skills, the second essential aspect to launching a creative career today is to promote yourself as a brand. Think of yourself as a product that you need to develop a brand or advertising campaign for. What are your strengths? What do you do better than anyone else? What is your USP? Then get out there and start generating content that focuses on what makes you unique. More than just your own website, LinkedIn profile, Instagram account, Blogs and Vlogs – how can you be creating and publishing relevant content that will sharpen your profile and build a reputation in your chosen area of specialisation.

A great example of a young creative person building a successful career by promoting himself as a brand is the YouTube Vlogger Casey Neistat. Casey was a passionate but poor film-maker, living in a caravan on the outskirts of New York. But by consistently producing his own, very distinct style of video blogs (always kicked off with his quirky stop-frame title sequences), he was able to build an audience. And with his following, came the advertisers and brands wanting to jump on his 3,5 million subscriber bandwagon.

 

Giving it away

It may be a paradox, but to make a buck in this user-generated jungle, we very well may need to start by giving our creativity away for free. Who manages to build an audience and offer eyeballs, will soon have the brand evangelists knocking down their door with deals and dollars.

But before we look at who is making a career out of their creativity in the online space today, let’s look at a couple of pioneers who have actively used the borderless virtual space of the Internet to experiment and create creative projects and new models for remuneration.

What David Bowie can teach us

The master of the modern Avant Guard, David Bowie is remembered for more than just his music. His courageous and innovative use of technology in his own creative practice, is a role model for the fearlessness needed to approach change. As early as 1998 he set up BOWIENET, a creative Internet platform where (for a monthly fee) fans got exclusive access to audio recordings, music videos, chat rooms, interviews and even personal photos, paintings as well as access to some of his journals. In a time before Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or even MySpace, most artists provided little if any online material to their followers. Bowie’s platform not only offered a wide variety of exclusive content, but also several ways to interact with the singer himself. Always a step ahead, Bowie spotted the potential of the Internet as a venue in which to make, share and expand upon art.

 

What Bowie started has become status. The music business has been massively disrupted by digital and downloadable technology. Meaning money is made less from the sales of a single track or album, but more through the audience a musician or band has online and how this can be monetised. In 2007 English alternative rock band Radiohead self-released its seventh studio album In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-want download. Radiohead was the first major act to understand that the old income models were being broken down and it was time for a new approach. They made headlines across the world and sparked heated debate, many claiming they could only afford to do so because they were already a highly successful band, but nevertheless it set a precedent about the implications for the music industry. Time called it “easily the most important release in the recent history of the music business”. 

 

Art for the People

In 2011, Google in cooperation with 17 international museums including the Tate Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Uffizi in Florence launched the Google Art Project – an online platform where the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative’s partner museums. The platform enables users to virtually tour partner museums’ galleries, explore physical and contextual information about artworks, and compile their own virtual collection. As part of the project, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that the more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use and can be used at no charge and without getting permission from the museum.

This opens up complete new realms for creative inspiration, re-interpretation, re-mixing, re-sampling, mash-ups and other fusions. The notion of copyright and originality are becoming blurred in a world where there is an increasing value in the originalcombination of existing elements, rather than purely the origination of the unadulterated ‘new’. Here too lies opportunity for young creative people to use this approach to their own creative practice, and to also develop clever and pragmatic ways of making this financially sustainable for themselves.

 

Coding our Way to the Future

One of the more recent artists projecting his work out through the ethers of the Internet is the artist/designer/coder Joshua Davis. Best known as the creator of praystation.com and winner of the Prix Ars Electronica. Joshua started out as a graphic and web-designer. As an early adopter of open-source, he developed visually complex graphic patterns and animations as computer artworks, then would offer the source code to the public. Davis’ intention was initially not to charge for each individual artwork, but by gaining great media exposure and building a strong following he has been able to monetise his creativity by creating a subscription model.

So to return to the question of how do young creative people best prepare themselves for the digital future: In addition to deepening one or two of your creative skills, develop your strategic thinking and look at how you can promote yourself as a brand in order to offer a creative service that cannot simply be replicated somewhere else, by someone cheaper. It will be the clever thinkers with a unique personality that will move and change with the creative industries and the developments in technology, and come up with innovative solutions to creating sustainable careers and memorable art.

 

Ian Thomson is a writer, filmmaker, facilitator of innovation workshops and is the program leader of the Advertising & Media faculty for Macleay College’s campuses in Sydney and Melbourne.

About Macleay College:

Established in 1988, Macleay College offers highly regarded, industry focused education in Business, Journalism and Advertising & Media. These tertiary courses have an emphasis on multi-media qualifications and offer students a hands-on approach to fast-track their career. Macleay College has campuses in Sydney and Melbourne.