That Startup Show starts up

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I am quickly coming back to my earlier post about Reactive working together with start ups. Now everyone can inhale a whiff of modern entrepreneurialism by watching  the live YouTube project ‘That StartUp Show”. It kicked off in a Melbourne pub-come-studio, which is by no means a statement on the city’s tech-edge over Sydney. Yet judging from how many times Fed Square, Flinders Street and downtown Melbourne were pushed in the interstitials (hello sponsor Melbourne Tourism!) they kind of think it is. But we’ll let that slide, so please watch the first episode down below.

http://youtu.be/9yMJ9uTIbGs

Picking strong cues from ‘The Gruen Transfer‘ and a sprinkling of ‘The Dragon’s Den‘, it pairs stand up comedy with a bar-camp like crowd and light-hearted yet informative chat with founders, journos and (dare I say it) online gurus. I think the wild dancing sequence in the beginning of the show was a bit ill conceived. But keep on watching, the shows gets much better afterwards, decidedly more professional that lo-fi channels like Silicon Beach Santa Monica.

Thanks to host Dan Illic pounding on Google’s social media endeavours, we now have that catchy line “Google Plus is the Adelaide of social media“. Guest and Google Australia’s engineering director Alan Noble just had to sit tight, grin and bear it. More entertainment came from Dan re-combining 2 random expressions to create start up ideas: Pinterest for Babies, SnapChat for Kebab lovers and Procrastination Tool for Bored People (‘That’s Facebook!”). Other guests included the founder of startup incubator Blue ChilliSebastien Eckersley-Maslin. Blue Chilli is actually a place I have spoken at a while ago.

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While incubators like them and Muru-D don’t rival our own agency offering, they do sometimes provide or connect to UI/UX and development resources. This is another sign of our two worlds overlapping, in my view for the greater good of agility, creative ideas and innovation. But maybe you disagree, what experiences have you made at the intersection of agency- and start up land?

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Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin sitting in the middle

Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Thief – Advertising’s Next Generation

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I have contributed a chapter to the upcoming Creative Social book “Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Thief – Advertising’s Next Generation“. My chapter is called ‘Proving MC Hammer Wrong” and deals with how much we love to touch: our fellow human beings, well designed objects and naturally all those shiny new screens and interfaces. The whole book will soon be available on Lulu and I’ll be sharing news on the launch, chapters and the other contributors here soon. Suffice to say, the book’s authors include some big hitters from the best digital companies, startups and creative agencies around the globe. If you happen to be in London on Tuesday, September 2, do make sure to get to the launch event at Digitas LBI. You can get the last few tickets here on Eventbrite.

Questions addressed in the book are for example: 

  • What does the industry need to do today (not tomorrow) to stay valuable and relevant?
  • What the f**k do clients know about great advertising?
  • How can copying make you more original?
  • How do we ‘do’ innovation?
  • Should we make things people want rather than make people want things?
  • How do you find emotional resonance in real time marketing?
  • What’s the best way to punch procrastination in the face?
  • And why are we so excited by the next generation of advertising?

Here are some rave reviews:

“A punchy, provocative and perceptive trip through some of the bigger debates of the moment, from a gang of the most pioneering creative minds in and around the industry. As a collection, it’s like an idea grenade. It should be required reading for agency CEOs and leadership teams.”
Ben Malbon, Marketing Director, Creative Partnerships, Google

“Forget the past, the future is where it’s at – and this is your guide book.”
Rosie Arnold, Deputy Executive Creative Director, BBH London

“Less of a book and more of a lively debate. So rather than read it, ‘listen to it’ and get stuck in. It’ll make you want to ask questions, nod vigorously and heckle from the back.”
Graham Fink, CCO, Ogilvy China

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Digital agencies teaming up with start ups

I am sure you have already noticed: a lot of what goes on at a digital creative agency overlaps with the start up world. I am hardly the first to notice that talent, ideas, formats and processes are so similar in nature. No wonder some great staff leave their agency to pursue a start up idea. Or whole agencies go and fund a suite of ventures.

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Photo by Heisenberg Media under CC

Look at the photo above: is it a group of start ups or a digital agency? Click through to Heisenberg Media and find out. But in many ways there is so little difference, right? The reason we are still somewhat different is how we agencies deal with a variety of industries/clients and most importantly, in the way ‘our businesses works’. The way we agencies and how start ups handle risk and reward differs a lot. More often than not, we would love to follow up, optimise and perfect ideas for apps and services Yet the budget isn’t there for the last hard yards. On the start up’s side they must often re-adjust their idea and pivot. And still their genius might hit a wall. The money might run out. Or the market might not react at all.

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Photo by Heisenberg Media under CC

Despite those differences, I thought there is much to be gained from getting closer to each other. We investigated our own Reactive agency & start up relationship further. So as part of our constant Research and Development, we started a relationship with Telstra’s incubator program Muru-D.

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And through them got to know a Sydney start up called ISSUE. Their venture is a browser-based authoring tool that creates mobile/tablet ready magazines with e-commerce and affiliate marketing, all built in. Or as they would call it: “Mobile magazines with shoppable stories”.

Issue application site

Last week Reactive Sydney turned into a film set, hosting the ISSUE crew as they shot a demo reel for their start up with us. Reactive is acting as their partner agency in the video, with yours truly among the amazing cast. The final video will feature fashion & design bloggers Lisa Hamilton from See Want Shop and Terri Winter, founder of Top3 by Design as they work together with us to create an amazing interior design and fashion mag.

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We will post the ISSUE video once it’s finalised. In the meantime you can check out the elaborate set and suave actors in these ‘Behind the scenes’ shots:shoot02 shoot04 shoot05 shoot06 shoot00 shoot07

My Ode to the Transformers – Dutch Digital Day

Today I will be speaking at the ‘Dutch Digital Day‘ in Amsterdam, an event held by the Dutch equivalent of AIMIA, called PIBN. Speaking with luminaries such as Joshua Davies, Gadi Amit (FitBit founder) and Sam Hashemi (UX for NASA) will be a treat (full line up of speakers here). In advance of my talk at Amsterdam’s hip location Undercurrent (below) I got interviewed and wanted to share some of my answers below:

The theme of Dutch Digital Day is Ode to the Transformers. What’s in your opinion the most transforming power in digital nowadays?

Simple: it’s still our brains! All means of production have become democratised, low cost and achievable. There are distributed teams, plenty of APIs, agile workflows and crowdsourced funding models. Even 3D manufacturing has gone into constant iteration and rapid prototyping. One day it’s getting produced in backyards or upstairs studios, the next day it’s in the app store, on the streets or in online shops, ready to be ordered and be transported to anywhere. There is absolutely nothing stopping any of us. And there are no more excuses why you can’t just create whatever you can think of.

Probably the most famous work you’ve been involved in was The Most Powerful Arm which changed thinking about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in Australia. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned working on this project?

That your best work comes from trusting relationships, from working with people you know, from small teams, from cutting the bullshit and just doing the work. Some things you will get wrong and you never have enough time or money. There are actually many things we could have done better with The Most Powerful Arm. But unless you are actually creating something, you are just talking about it.

It’s a beautiful demonstration of creativity, technology and data coming together. Do you have practical tips for people how to make this work?

Plenty of tips and most of them I will share on DDD. To keep it interesting till the day I am just giving away the headlines: Get Physical, Stir an Emotion, Go Mobile, Set a Goal, Simply the Tech, Build It and They Will Come, Re-use Your Ideas. And it will all be wrapped in an even bigger topic: football! Believe me, it will make sense (in a way).

You’re only 20 years old with a resume of someone who’s 35. What’s your story? (;-))

You’re so kind but I am not 20 years old anymore, unless you’re counting in robot years. I’m more like the 35+ you mentioned. So it might be that I simply spent my time like everyone else, inching forward day by day. ;)

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Blind to Homelessness? Make Them Visible!

Carl Panzcak and his crew at Reactive NYC created this gem of a charity campaign together with Silver+Partners and Smuggler. It is a social experiment and campaign for making homelessness a more visible problem. Great work by our fellow team in New York, made me quite teary actually…

Check out Reactive’s work on http://www.makethemvisible.com where you can find some beautiful portraits of real homeless people in New York. And donate to help.

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You can also read a couple of write ups on Creativity Online, Fast Company, Huffington Post and our own Reactive blog

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This project initially began through our trip to the IAB Mixx Awards in New York with The Most Powerful Arm. As part of being over there, we hosted ‘Tomorrow Evening’, an event with the Reactive NYC crew where we presented our work and thinking. This event in turn created a personal connection to indie agency Silver + Partners which led to ‘Make Them Visible‘. I think it goes to show that you can’t quite know what will come out of hosting creative events. Except that you’ll always make a few interesting connections.

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Agency: Silver + Partners
Production Company: Smuggler
Editing: Now Corporation
Audio House: Sound Lounge
Finishing/Titles: Suspect
Music: JSM 
Website: Reactive

Mobile Masterclass at the Apple Store Sydney

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Two of my creative colleagues are holding a Mobile Masterclass at the Apple Store Sydney (CBD). Called ‘Designing for the Mobile World’ it will give you designers and developers some must-have knowledge. Do you want to be able to deliver mobile-centric experiences in a physical environments? Then join David Brown and Gabriel Tamborini from Reactive Sydney on March 12 as they discuss the current state of the mobile space, and how to deliver an inspiring and delightful mobile user experience. During this session, you’ll break out into groups and develop a digital experience that could be delivered on a mobile platform.

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Wednesday, 12 March at 6:00 pm
Apple Store Sydney CBD
367 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 8083 9400

Cannes Young Lions 2014

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The Cannes Young Lions 2014 competition for creative teams under 28 has just opened (deadline is April 4). In past years, digital entry levels have unfortunately never  reflected the size of our industry or the depth of talent within it. I have been Chairman as well as juror of this competition and have seen and written about how teams have struggled to enter top quality work. The entry levels reached only 25% of the Print entries which in light of where the work is going, didn’t make any sense.

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Reasons for it were twofold in my opinion. Firstly, it was (and still is) challenging to succinctly explain a digital campaign. Keeping the core idea separate from the complexity of execution is a skill that not every junior team has mastered yet. Secondly, the competition had until now required the teams to actually build their concepts. Which had to be in the format of display banners. This “smallest common denominator” approach led to a watering down of concepts. Teams entered what, according to their technical skill level, they thought they could actually build in Flash and HTML.

In 2014 it it is now no longer required to build the concept a.k.a. a display banner. This is going to broaden the scope of the ideas significantly, for both the local competition and the international version in Cannes, France. Reactive’s young ones in Melbourne and Sydney will challenge themselves to be among the best young digital creative teams in Australia. And I am looking forward to their results.

If you feel like you got what it takes, stop lurking behind your more senior colleagues. Enter, win, make your way to Cannes and take out the prize for best digital creative team in the world. But before you practice your acceptance speech, you should probably start by entering the first round before April 4:
http://www.newscorpaustralia.com/young-lions-digital-competition

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