The Warc Blog

When a medium isn't

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

Ev Williams is in large part responsible for the social web. He co-founded Blogger and helped popularise the idea before selling it to Google. He co-founded the 'micro-blogging' product that spun out as Twitter, and became the CEO there before founding Medium. Medium feels like Blogger for the modern web, with a peerless content management system that renders copy beautifully across any device.

All of which is to say that Ev has the kind of experience of building and running web-based media technology companies that is very hard to equal. And he thinks something is rotten in the state of it:

22 February 2017, 00:00
The paradox of buying influence

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

Influencer marketing is somehow both buzzword of the moment and The Next Big Thing. As adblocking grows, two-thirds of marketers intend to increase their influencer investment in 2017, according to eMarketer. Brands are throwing money at influencers and agencies have even opened studios to help them create content.

Mercedes-Benz announced a collaboration with influencers called 'MB Photo Pass' with this Möbius strip of strategy: "The more people who want the car, the more exclusive it becomes. And social helps draw more young consumers to Mercedes-Benz."

19 January 2017, 13:00
Crowdsourcing creatives

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

In the October issue of Admap, we considered how the homogeneity of agency briefs, across disciplines and geographies, is antithetical to the goal of differentiation. Jane Newman, referring to the development of account planning, pointed out that "to achieve our creative philosophy of relevant distinctiveness, we've applied that same creativity to how we structure ourselves both internally and dealing with clients".

Account planning was a great innovation in agency structure but success was rapidly imitated, especially once Jay Chiat proclaimed that "account planning is the greatest new business tool ever invented". The account/planning/creative/production assembly line spread. The structure surrounds the art director and copywriter pair, as the proton and neutron of advertising creativity. In actuality, as my partner Rosie pointed out in a speech called 'It takes a village to tweet', some ideas are better served by different combinations of thinkers and makers, be that an engineer or an artificial intelligence. If you want different kinds of ideas, not just different ideas, you need different kinds of people.

13 December 2016, 00:00
It all begins with a brief

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

In August I delivered a Warc webinar entitled 'Beyond boring briefs: How to inspire great work' and it garnered the most attention and follow-up requests of any that we've done together. Lots of people seem to agree that briefs have become boring. Planners feel as if they are endlessly writing the same briefs, filling out the same forms, regardless of which agency, client or project they are working on.

Looking back in time and across agencies and geographies, we found a great deal of similarity. At the emergence of planning in the USA at Chiat/Day in the late 1980s, we can see the modern form of the brief emerge and solidify: a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers to target with messaging, a single thought, reasons to believe it, and some sense of the brand. My partner, Rosie, uncovered an internal memo written by Jane Newman at Chiat/Day that explains the problem with this sea of sameness: we are in the differentiation business, yet we fail to differentiate. The agency adopted account planning for a reason: "To achieve our creative philosophy of relevant distinctiveness, we've also applied that same creativity to how we structure ourselves both internally and dealing with clients." But what was heresy became orthodoxy and in many advertising agencies around the world, the structures and briefs are identical.

24 October 2016, 10:53
The branding of research

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

Recently, we undertook a project with a lovely market research agency to understand the evolving aspects of the industry and the agency's place in it. Readers of Paid Attention may remember that it contains a chapter entitled "Why all market research is wrong" but also that I didn't say market research wasn't useful. Rather, I said that people rarely know why they do what they do and don't predict their own behaviour well, so claimed responses shouldn't be taken at face value.

We began the project by doing some research into the industry discourse from reports and news and through interviews. We spoke to twenty research practitioners, a dozen buyers of market research at large client organisations, a few agency CSOs, a few academics and a market research industry consultant. Some of what we learned was only tangentially germane to the project, but exposed some fascinating narratives inside what is now called the 'insight industry'. In the literature, we found this:

19 September 2016, 15:20
May I ask a personal question?

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

When someone says that, what are they asking? They're asking for permission to enquire about something you may not be comfortable talking about because it's private. It's not something you would normally share publicly, hence the need for permission. (Especially if you are British.)

What makes something personal? Uniquely yours, concerning your private life (is that still a thing?), your emotions, desires, hopes, dreams, relationships, secrets. This is an interesting inversion, since the root of the word - persona - literally means 'mask': the kind worn in Graeco-Roman drama.

08 August 2016, 11:10
Brutal Forces

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

In 2014, my friends at Admap asked me to write a piece about the impact of Big Data on creativity, to promote their annual essay contest on the same. I looked at Big Data and couldn't find anything that anyone had done with it except retarget banners more invasively, in a way that I felt would drive greater rejection of digital advertising (which it did, as evinced by the meteoric rise of ad blocking over the past two years).

I went further, musing that since creativity is a combinatorial act -the process of combining inspiration in non-obvious ways to solve problems -then some day the creative department of an agency might look like IBM's Watson.

04 July 2016, 15:14
Talent just wants to have fun

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

A few weeks ago, the leader of the Watford Advertising Course, Tony Cullingham, gave a stirring commencement speech to his graduating students. These speeches have become something of a thing – inspiration that culture latches onto for direction. Cullingham certainly didn't hold back addressing these graduates: "Advertising is rubbish. It's broken. Busted. Kaput. There are no standout agencies. No standout campaigns. No hot shops. No creative boutiques. There's no creative jealousy. The words 'I wish I'd done that' are words rarely uttered by writers and art directors these days."

Indeed, this has become part of the established narrative of advertising, in the wake of the defection of the global CCO of Grey to Apple. We hear that the talent isn't happy, and is being stolen away by technology and other cool types of companies.

24 May 2016, 15:06
Of fiction and funnels

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

I was recently speaking at a Google event in Sydney. The topic I was asked to speak on was 'Digital storytelling', so let me tell you a tale.

Humans love stories. We use them to make sense of the world. When we cannot understand something, we use stories to explain it to ourselves, and each other. Stories are everywhere because everything is literally complex, the product of many things interoperating and creating endlessly emergent effects.

26 April 2016, 10:23
The cult of branding

Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals

Blog author

Just recently we were walking down the street in La Paz, Bolivia and saw one of the frequent parades coming our way, so we ducked into a coffee shop to watch. As I stared out of the window at the phalanxes of military marching by, my wife Rosie drew my attention to the back of the menu, and I was, for a second, speechless. Here is what it said (in English and Spanish):

Mission: Provide exceptional service, with high-quality products and the best team of associates.

29 March 2016, 09:19
Older
   
 

Blog Search