One of the thoughts that really crystallized in my mind judging the Clios was that there is an increasing amount of work that sets a new role for communication - to remove, or at least reduce, the friction between brands and people. They attempt to create frictionless brands. This can be done in a number of ways - from doing something for a group of people and then using communication to amplify it (think things like H&R Block or Dulux's Let's Color project) to using media and technology to remove barriers between the product and people (think Jay-Z's Decoded campaign or Epic Mix).
It really felt the best work this year had really simple ideas that removed the barriers between people and brands; between what people do and what you want them to do. Yes, there was some amazing execution and amazing use of technology but it finally seems that we are in a world where elegant solutions trump elegant things.
Flying back from the Clios, I was reading a piece in MIT's Technology Review about Jack Dorsey. It talks about the ethos behind Square and says this: "Square is elegant. The user's flow through payment or application has been reduced to the fewest possible steps; the app has minimal features. This emphasis comes directly from Dorsey, who says, "I'm really good at simplifying things." He espouses a tremendously attractive belief that good industrial design wins customers' trust by disappearing."
Maybe advertising is finally catching up with industrial design. But if it is, we are going to need to think about our models and measurement. Intrusion and noticeability (the AIDA model we tend to default to and most research companies measure by) are rather at odds with ideas that feel a little more invisible in nature.
So it's been three months since the last post. I've been caught between not having anything interesting to say and being crazy at work. It's been a time characterized by doing more than thinking, and looking more internally than externally.
But I feel recharged, inspired and very much humbled after spending a week judging the world's best work at this year's Clio Awards. I was lucky enough to be invited by Faris to sit on the jury judging the integrated and content and contact categories. To me, these are two of the most important categories that help tell us where advertising might be headed. I can't, for obvious reasons, go in to specifics as the results need to remain secret until the award ceremony on May 19th. But I think I can talk about some general observations. In fact, here's some video:
Integrated, unsurprisingly, showed how diverse this concept is nowadays. We saw stuff that ranged from classic execute the same idea across different media to brands that did something and then used media to tell more people about it to work that was more transmedia in nature.
C&C was perhaps the most fun to judge. As one of our jurors, Rahul Sabnis, brilliant put it it's essentially the incubator category. It's the stuff that seems to be at the front of the communications train showing us a new direction for the industry and as a result was hugely diverse in nature. There was a lot of great use of technology but I think the work that stood out tended to have an incredibly simple ideas at its heart. A simple thing that elegantly removed the barriers between what people currently do and what you want them to do. I'll talk a bit more about this in a later post.
Of course, no award show roundup would be complete without the cliches you pick up after watching 400+ videos over 5 days. And, in no particular order, are this year's:
QR codes. Tattoos. Town names that are puns or that are changed. No media spend. And then make sure you take it to the streets.
Thanks to everyone who entered work - contrary to my thoughts going in to the week, there was some brilliant work produced. Thanks to Dan, Karl, Lisa and the rest of the Clio crew for making the week so easy and fun. And thanks to all the judges - Faris, Jay Benjamin, Brett Craig, Amber Finlay, Guido Heffels, Jason Oke, Rahul Sabnis and Mark Taylor - for making me so much smarter during the debates we had over the work. It's amazing how much you can learn when you are the dumbest person in the room.