from the One Show Creative unConference

Lessons

What puts the “un” in the unConference?
First, you begin with absolutely nothing. A blank agenda sits on a wall, with one-hour time slots down the side and six to eight session slots across the top. Anyone who wants to convene a session writes the topic on a piece of paper and posts it, adding some color and personality to an otherwise barren space. Almost immediately, the agenda springs to life. Second, you never know which way it’s going to go. Completely participant driven, every unConference is different from the one of year that precedes it, welcoming a diverse group of leaders from traditional and interactive agencies and clients from a broad range of industries. There are no rigid formalities or expectations. Since one can only attend a limited number of sessions, the task is to choose those that sound most compelling. The result is a string of the most unique presentations you could ever encounter – from ones highlighting the latest groundbreaking mobile trends to those promising that, at some point, the presenter will “set himself on fire.” This is no ordinary conference.

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This year, the One Show Creative unConference had as many as 54 sessions drawn from assembled participants. Favoring a collective of interactive discussions over talking head presentations, the unConference prompted conversations on a wide range of subjects, from the interplay between social networking and media to the cutting-edge ways that creatives are bridging their work into the real world. BBDO is happy to share with you the key takeaways from this special event. Hopefully, these refreshing paradigms will open your imagination to the ways in which we can find meaning in media platforms and technologies. Let these insights challenge you to generate some discourse of your own.

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Set yourself on fire.
(Presenter: JD Michaels, SVP, Director of Creative Engineering at BBDO)

If there’s one thing that JD Michaels learned when he was a six-year-old budding stuntman, it was to bring unmatched passion or “fire” to everything you do. The same “fire” that JD brought to his childhood desire to become a stuntman (a passion that eventually led him to learn how to safely set himself on fire), he brings to his passionate approach as a SVP, Director of Creative Engineering at BBDO New York. In his talk at the OneShow Creative UnConference, JD delivered his homegrown lessons on the importance of bringing passion or “fire” to the creative profession of advertising. Although he initially drew a big audience at his session by promising to set himself on fire, JD actually “brought the heat” by sharing the following sparks of inspiration with all the creative professionals in attendance:

Earn their trust.
Oftentimes, clients are uneasy with the thought of handing over thousands of dollars for a campaign. When pitching to a client, it is not enough to just explain a good idea and leave it at that. You have to hold their hands for the entire journey before, during and after the idea is sold, continually reminding them why the concept remains consistent and cool.

Take the risk before they do.
Though the outcome is uncertain, you have to be the person to take the idea and move it forward. They have to believe that you yourself are willing to take that risk first and make it work.

Set yourself on fire.
“Fire” is not just enthusiasm, but the drive to get something done. JD’s fire recently helped bring to life a new Autism Speaks campaign executed by BBDO. The project, a product of both inspiration and perspiration, sought to recreate the heartbreaking experience of talking to an autistic child through an interactive platform. Using cuttingedge Kinect technology, BBDO was able to captivate and educate people on the truths of the disorder.
(Writer’s note: JD did, in fact, set himself on fire for demonstrative purposes during his UnConference session, proving that he can both talk the talk and walk the walk. Neither JD nor conference goers were harmed during this particularly “hot” session.)

Think backwards.
Most people think, “What can we do and how can we make it creative?” But innovative people think, “What’s the coolest thing ever and how can we actually do that?”

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What is Facebook or Twitter worth?
Facebook and Twitter are platforms for delivering news and information as well as for fostering ongoing conversation. But these outlets can also be magic for brands. By allowing brands to communicate with fans and audiences everywhere, social media provides an invaluable channel to foster the best in customer relationship management. Here are what brands need to keep in mind to fully maximize their return from investments in social media:

Build sentiment.
Customers are used to conversing, listening, and having a point of view. The key for brands is not to give a lecture, but to join a conversation with the consumers. Brands should join in on the discussion, listen and engage. Make an ethereal brand into a tangible one, and you can maintain positive sentiment.

People are selling your brand’s message.
Facebook makes it easy because people are already there. People can post instantly to share their experiences with brands, whether they be good or bad. Social media users have the potential to become advocates for the brand. When that happens, brands thrive.

It’s a question of value.
You need something bigger than a promotion to bring in your audience. It’s not just about short-term sales lift: there needs to be a strategic, creative and smart reason behind using social media.

Extend the experience.
Facebook “likes” are useless unless you know exactly what you are going to do with them. Connect the real world with online feedback. American Airlines, for instance, exchanges “likes” for miles.

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Photo by Flowtown

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Mobile matters.
(Presenter: Jesse Haines, Head of Marketing, Google Display Media)

Mobile is revolutionizing our lives. The physical and digital worlds are colliding, with mobile serving as the connective tissue that brings these worlds together.

Some interesting facts:
• 400,000 Android devices are being activated everyday –three times the number of newborn babies! • One in four searches on Android is a voice search. • Mobile users search with urgency. According to Priceline.com, 85% of those booking a hotel searched it the day before.

Mobile helps you learn about the world around you.
Google Goggles is an app that lets you conduct a visual search. After taking a picture of a real object or place, you can use Google Goggles to retrieve information from the Web on what was photographed, unlocking a dynamic interactive experience.

For mobile sites, flash is not the future.
There is currently a lot of activity around building mobile apps, but less effort being put into creating mobile websites. Eventually that will change. Although the functionality of mobile sites is still limited at the present, HTML5 will soon up the ante and help a new, dynamic wave of mobile sites be introduced.

Tablets are exploding.
People are at ease with tablets and enjoy using them. Their increased adoption will bring about new business models, services and market opportunities for commerce that didn’t exist before.

Mobile changes the in-store shopping experience.
The “bricks to clicks” phenomenon suggests that we go into stores to touch and feel products that we later buy online. With mobile, on-the-spot price comparisons and online purchases can happen instantly. Retailer search queries can range from 50% to 60% of all search queries.

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Photo by Square

Creating time, not buying time
(Presenter: Mark Sabec, Product Marketing Manager at Youtube)

Brands don’t sell brands, people do.
With today’s digital ecosystem, people are now more vocal about the brands they patronize and co-op branded content to reshape as they wish. It is scary for brands to give away that control and put the power into consumers’ hands. But you need to let consumers take a part in the brand experience. Trust them, and you will reap the benefits.

Don’t put media platforms in silos.
For clients who have a Facebook page and a Twitter page, find a way to have each platform’s content feed off each other. Think about the digital behavior of an audience and how you can make that a core part of your strategy.

Traditional advertising no longer works alone.
Print, TV, radio and billboards are no longer the end-all, be-all. Various other media are now used to catch people’s attention. YouTube alone gets 2.5 billion video views per day. A lot of great campaigns employ specific types of content on each platform, so the user can choose their own adventure. Tipp-Ex is one such example – they made paper corrective solution sexy by creating a fun and unexpected interactive campaign on YouTube. They aggregated 40 different videos that can be unlocked depending on what the user chooses to do.

The Internet is democratic, and so should campaigns be.
Turn the campaign into a participatory vehicle to drive a story by letting users comment, parody, and actively participate. Instead of forcing them to watch something, find an invigorating way that will make them happy to be involved.

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Increase digital literacy across all teams.
Attaining digital literacy is the first step any company needs to take in addressing the full spectrum of opportunities that the space has to offer. There are some guiding principles that should be followed in trying to get everyone in your organization on the same page from a digital perspective.

Don’t use technology for the sake of technology.
Not every campaign needs an app. The “cool idea” created around a technology just because the technology makes it possible might not always be the most effective way to meet clients’ needs.

Digital is a moving target.
Each person, whether a client or someone in the agency, has a different perception of digital. Create your own definition and standardize it, investing time in educating all levels of staff.

Collaborate with other companies.
Invite over another company in your industry and discuss what is working and not working.

Fill in these knowledge gaps.
Inform people of the opportunities made possible by new digital developments. Bring in a tech vendor, not with the intention of a sales pitch but simply to generate awareness of the product.

Come up with incentives to get people excited.
Challenge everyone to get 200 followers on Twitter. Use Foursquare around the office. And let the mayor of any conference room boot anyone out of their seat!

Set up a “digital playground.”
14 Create a break room, a place where people can collaborate, experiment, and become inspired. Introduce an “app of the week,” and have the staff play around with it.

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Photo by eboy

WRITTEN BY ALEXANDRA ATILANO TAO DONG EDITED BY EDWIN PHILOGENE

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