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Ogilvy Lab Day

By , November 22, 2012 11:50 pm

Friday 26 October 2012 was Ogilvy Lab Day, held at Ravensbourne next to the O2 Arena, London, UK.

I apologise if any details are incorrect (please notify me) as I am writing these notes from my hand written notes on the day. I can’t always read my own writing!

Ogilvy Lab Day has been running for 10 years (I think) and this was the first time they have held the event outside of Ogilvy. Another first, they allowed members of the public to attend . You had to apply and if they thought you matched their criteria you could attend.

The audience was comprised of media creatives, advertising people, marketing people and another group which they referred to as “coders”. Thanks but I’ll keep my software engineer title. Coder implies I don’t think, just do as I’m told. The reality is if you want anyone any good, you want a creative person, a software engineer/developer. Whether the use of the word “coder” is ignorance or deliberate I don’t know. Based on continued reference to coders through the day by various speakers I think they see the creativity completely on the media/advertising/marketing side and software people as merely people to do their bidding. I hope that isn’t the case. Given the increasing reliance on interactive marketing having good software people is and will increasingly become a must, even in the advertising industry.

The day starts with an introduction about education, DMIC (Digital Media Innovation Consultancy) and the relationship with Ogilvy and the future of the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund). Ogilvy and Ravensbourne have had a relationship for the past several years, which has benefited both parties, with Ogilvy hiring some talented graduates from Ravensbourne.

The room contained 3 large screens. One large screen at the front and smaller screens at each side. The event was filmed. Video clips were interspersed with the talks. The title of the day was “Storytelling”. As such, the day covered various topics and contained stories from two women during the day.

More people attended than could fit in the main room. Apparently these people could watch from monitors in another room. Many extra people crammed into the room and stood around the edges or sat on the floor. An A4 ring bound white paper (40 pages) was available on each seat – “Making magic, using logic”. This file described some of Ogilvy’s methods for creating their work. I was lucky enough to get a chair and white paper.

A couple of animated clips of points from Rory Sutherland’s Wiki Man book were shown on the screens.

Branded Entertainment

This talk was given by Doug Scott and Cody Hogarth.

Ideas can come from anywhere.

They demonstrated several examples from the 60s, 70s and 80s. One such example was a Flintstones cartoon promoting Winston’s Cigarettes from the 1960s. How times change!

This is called Brand Equity.

Fast forward to 2010 and it’s all about co-created content. This is Collaboration Equity.


  • 77% of TV viewers watch with another device at the same time.

  • 40% of viewers watch and surf the web at the same time.

  • 68 million on mobile.

  • 248 million on tablets by 2015.

The “Fear of Missing Out” (FoME) is driving all this.

2011/2012 is the tipping point. Content must work on multiple platforms. An example given is Coca Cola’s “content 2020” program.

The speakers observe that “creative excellence is going to be superceded by content excellence” and that “VC funds are redirected from tech to content”. This is a $1.8 trillion market.

Types of program

Digital – downloadable or streamed, Broadcast – traditional TV broadcasting, Event – related to an event (for example the Olympics), Property – or related to a property of some sort.

Example: Make It Possible (I have note next to this indicating Coke 2020). Entertainment first, advert second. It’s not even a balance.

Example: Red Bull content for brands. Started by paying for the content to be shown on networks. Now the content is so high quality and there is a demand from the networks for extreme sporting content Red Bull can charge for their content. There is never an explicit advert for their product, but the branding is all over it. Red Bull’s work is produced by their own in-house media company, Red Bull Media House. Red Bull also release their work on a dedicated You Tube channel.

We were shown an excellent extreme snowboarding video promo which I later found on the Red Bull Media House website. It doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but this page contains videos of similar quality for other sports.

Example:Carling Lager. Carling Black label football campaign.

Example:Intel. The “vice magazine” creative project.

Example:Canon: “Project imagination”. This improved Canon’s marketshare.

Example:Mont Blanc watches. This was a compilation of 1 second videos to celebrate the beauty of a second.

Example:American Express. The Hidden Talent program. Sorry I couldn’t find any examples of this work.

The barrier for participants in these types of programs must be as low as possible and must be social and/or viral.

Branded Entertainment Assessment Model

Content strategy leads to brand wealth.

Story about IBM’s Watson computer which featured on the US TV show Jeopardy. By the end of this unusual appearance of a computer on a TV game show, the results were 21x revenue with 3x profit. An estimated $50m marketing value.

The talk now moves on to discuss BEAM, the Branded Entertainment Assessment Model, which is described in detail in the white paper.

A reference is made to mip.tv which can be seen at ogilvy.com/miptv

Case Study #1 Storytelling

This story is told by Pat Cadigan, a female American science fiction author. Pat’s story is hilarious and involves nearly dying from anaphylactic shock (twice), once from prescribed drugs and the second from a contraceptive vaginal sponge that failed to work properly.

Two quotes from this story stood out.

“Children are wonderful, where do all the mediocre adults come from?”

and

“Make a difference, don’t hate your life.”

Case Study #2, Ford and Channel 4

This case study is presented by Cody Hogarth and Rob Romsay.

The case study is about “The Endless Winter (A very British surf movie)”. The movie is about surfing in the UK and features two surfers spending a year (I think) travelling the UK in search of surf, travelling, sleeping and living in the Ford S-Max on the days they are away from their families surfing.

The Ford S-MAX is an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle), not SUV and is aimed at people in their early 30s who have a family but are still active with sports. Surfing seemed an ideal vehicle for this, sorry I didn’t intend that pun. It’s a crowded market so they used content marketing to penetrate the market.

They created a website for The Endless Winter which garnered over a million views.

The aspriational product placement film was re-scripted to make it more like a “Channel 4” production. More graphics were added to the film to make it appeal more to non-surfers. This is known as surf-porn.

The film was 90 minutes in length. This was then edited into 3 films of 30 minutes so that it could be shown as a film or as three separate shows depending on the channel or time of day it was being shown.

2.7 million digital viewers.
14 million broadcast viewers.
167 million watches.

They also held 8 events (2 at beaches and 6 in cinemas).

The film won an award at a film festival.

The £3 million price was paid by Ford.

Case Study #3, Transmedia Skins

This case study talked about the TV series Skins and how different media were used in the creation of Skins and the overall strategy. Skins is not just a TV series.

The creation of Skins as well as involving the traditional TV script writers, actors, production crew etc, also involved a content design company, games and adverts.

The main problem is how to deal with multiple series of a TV show when sometimes the characters are different from series to series.

50% of views are not from broadcast TV. 4oD is also available as an app. Viewing also happens on iPad and XBox. Much of the viewing is time-shifted from the original broadcast time. Demographics are 16 to 34.

There are two timelines. The first timeline is the video/casting timeline. The second timeline is the offline timeline where they make the characters “live” using Facebook posts, tweets and interviews. This second timeline is independent of the video, although it has to be in sync and cannot reveal any spoilers for the video. To do this they hired extra staff to play the offline part of the characters and develop plot/storyline for the offline periods (between each series). They developed a custom software tool to do the job – a beats and stories tool.

Panel Discussion – The Virtuous Cirle of Transmedia Storytelling

The panel comprised Doug Scott (Ogilvy), Bruce Daisley (Twitter), Danielle Style (Tumblr), Ian Forrester (BBC R&D), Cait O’Riordan (BBC Olympics).

I only have rough notes for this.

BBC Olympics had:
57 million unique users
111 million streams of video
12 million video streams to mobile devices
Did not exceed BBC’s capacity planning despite the planning being guesswork (no baseline to work with – previous Olympics and Commonwealth games with less people having broadband, no reference point). All it all worked just fine! Result.

“Binders full of women” Obama campaign produces Romney misstep.

“Tidal wave of crap that comes at us”.

Tracking sentiment via social media during Olympics.

Viral is a dirty word

The speaker is Olivia Rzepczynski.

The talk starts with some examples of what constitute a hit. “overnight successes” to organised events to completely unplanned successes.

The Gangnam style hit by “PSY” is not an overnight hit. This is his 6th album.

Red Bull Stratos.
8 million view live.
60 million views.

490 million people viewed Charlie Bit My Finger. $500K earned by the family. Now pursuing a collaboration with Ragu.

Four percent of YouTube videos get over 100,000 views.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world.

5 Step Plan

  1. Have a plan of action
  2. Creative in context
  3. Optimise first
  4. Distribute and promote
  5. Measure what matters

1) Have a plan

You need to identify a trigger event for your video. What will cause this to be interesting?

You need to account for different screen sizes. 20% of YouTube video is watched on mobile devices.

Define your “post-play” interaction (PPI). This is the conversion. Examples might be signing up, watching a movie, downloading a white paper, etc.

2) Creative in context

What is the job to be done? (Clay Christensen will love that :-))

Entertain Brand reappraisal
Inform Product acquisition
Support Make lives easier

Sources of video:

  • Pro
  • Pro-am
  • Archive
  • User generated
  • Sponsored

3) Optimize

Work out the script beforehand.
All dialogue, stunts etc.
Tags, metadata, etc.
Channel naming (video SEO – VSEO)

4) Distribute and Promote

Distribution channels:

  • Paid
  • Owned
  • Earned

You need to careful how you do this. This advert for Liquid Plumr went viral and even ended up on porn sites.

5) Measure what matters

Measure conversions as well as likes/plays

Case Study/Panel Discussion

There was a case study but nothing I felt worthy of noting, followed by a panel discussion for which I have no notes. Can’t have been that interesting 🙂

Story Telling – Incredible Edible

The next speaker was an amazing lady from Todmorden Incredible Edible. She told the incredible story of how Todmorden went from an ordinary slightly run down town to a place covered in vibrant planters, disused land turned into viable allotments, crime reduced. And all of this done by volunteers spending time tending to plant beds, replacing weeds and flowers with edible food.

The talk was wild, funny and informative. The speaker (I think may be Pam Warhurst) was mad, passionate and crazy (in a good way). Brilliant. Talk about audience engagement. A great speaker at any event and a superb inspiration for what can be achieved in a community.

Food, creating a revolution.
“If you eat, you’re in”.
Every egg matters.
Vegetable tourism.
Green Route Map.
The power of small actions.

Sexy Little Numbers

The next talk was by Dmitri Maex, co-author of the book Sexy Little Numbers.

The subtitle is “How to grow your business using data you already have”.

You can also use free data. Free data is available in product reviews. For example look on Amazon at any product then look at the product reviews for that product. For me, I always read the best AND the worst reviews and include those as data points along with everything else I already know about a product.

Data Visualization, referencing Ed Tufte (giant in this field, Google him).

Useful guidelines:
Graphical Integrity
Data Ink (amount of ink must correspond to size of data)
Chart junk (don’t add stuff to a graphic that is decoration, that has no value)
Tag Clouds
Story Telling

An example is soso limited and the creators project.

Apparently a talent crunch is coming. There are not enough people with good, relevant statistics training. As such getting good analytics in the future may be hard.

“Everyone has got a plan until they get punched in the face”, Mike Tyson.

Agility. OODA loop, created by man that designed the F16 fighter.

Sense -> Orient -> Create -> Intent -> Sense -> Orient ->…

Data is used in the basement, but not in the boardroom. This needs to change.

Random notes:
New Data
Automation
Double Hub blog (sorry, I couldn’t find this)
attentionwizard.com

At the end of the day Dmitri signed and gave away a large pile of his books. I haven’t yet had time to read Dmitri’s book. When I do I’ll write it up. It looks really interesting.

Rory Sutherland

Rory was the last speaker of the day. He had been unwell prior to the talk but decided he was well enough to attend. He was talking about behavioural economics.

People are influenced by:

Habituation What I do
Contagion What others do
Context When and where I do
Social pressure

Market research, problems.

Sunk cost bias. Innovators dilemma.

Things need to be consistent.

The framing of student loans in the UK.
If you call it a loan people feel like their is a nose around their neck for the rest of their life. This is wrong because you only pay the money back if your income exceeds a certain threshold and even then you pay it back as a small increase on your income tax. There is no penalty for late payment and no bank to foreclose on you. If you reframe the student loan as simply a small increase in your income tax until the money is repaid it is clear for any student from any background, wealthy or poor to see that they don’t have a noose around their neck and the offer is a good one.

Start with theories then use the data to validator or invalidate it.

Reference to Peter Drucker (he gets into so many talks!)

I have an MP3 of this talk, but at this time I don’t have permission to post it. When I do I’ll make the MP3 available. When I get more time I’ll provide detailed notes of Rory’s talk from the MP3.

As usual Rory’s talk was very funny and entertaining.

Conclusion

I’m very pleased I could attend Ogilvy Lab Day and delighted that I was allowed to attend. I’m not exactly a media type, whatever one of those is. I don’t use that term as an insult. It’s simply that I don’t know what jobs most of the other people in the room do. I guess most were marketing, sales, media creation (design, graphics, video, audio), etc. There were some software people there as well.

It was an interesting experience being there. At first I wondered why I had attended. I was watching these lovely videos (some of which I’ve managed to include here and others which I could not find to show you) and listening to these interesting talks about an industry I know nothing about. And I was thinking “this is great, really interesting, but why am I here? What can I learn? And can I help anyone else that is here”. Anyway as the day progressed the topics turned more towards things relevant to the software industry and I started to understand more of what is involved in the transmedia industry. I have a much better understanding and respect for the work these people do than I did before I arrived. It’s clear the people in this industry are there for the same reasons people enter the software industry. They enjoy it. They thrive on being creative and having a challenge.

It’s the same and it’s totally different. If that makes sense.

I really enjoyed it. It was a blast.

And I got to see the Millenium Dome, now christened the O2 Arena. Much smaller than I expected. I just don’t understand where the money went. A billion pounds (1.6 billion dollars) for that? You’ve got to be kidding.

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The sedentary life of the software business

By , November 2, 2012 6:26 pm

Software is great isn’t it? Configurable, flexible, modifiable, bend it to any shape you want. In short it’s very very useful. It also causes you to tear your hair out from time to time, but that seems to be par for the course.

But the way we produce software generally involves a lot of sitting down. A few folks have gone for standing desks, but I’m not convinced that is good for you either (your body is designed for movement, not standing in one place for any length of time). Sitting in one place is also not brilliant, but it can and should be less damaging than standing.

So if I’m sitting down a lot of the time there are some consequences.

  • The first is that you are not doing any activity that will keep you physically fit.
  • The second is a lack of activity, so you won’t burn as many calories as someone with a more active job.
  • The third is that if you’re desk, chair and monitor are not setup correctly you run the very real risk of physical injury and pain, in the form of Repetitve Strain Injury (RSI).

Physically Fit

To counter your lack of physical fitness due to the nature of software engineering being a desk bound activitiy you’ll need to do some physical exercise. Due to my history with RSI I have injuries that I need to work out, I’ve adapted my swimming style to emphasize stretching (which means I don’t have to do all the physiotherapy exercises for 20 mins 3 times a day).

But if swimming isn’t your thing, you can run, cycle, go to the gym, badminton, tennis, squash, fencing. There are lots of sports to choose from, although I think the raquet sports are probably not a good idea as if you’ve got any wrist related RSI problems (carpal tunnel etc) then you’ll want exercise that doesn’t involve hitting things and the strain going through your wrist.

As a general rule I recommend exercise in the evening. All sporting world records are set in the late afternoon or evening. The thinking behind why this is so is that the body has warmed up and relaxed when you’ve been awake that long, whereas in the morning your body is not so ready to perform. Now I’m not expecting you to be trying to set world records, but it seems to me if it’s true for top atheletes then a simmilar affect will also be in place for anyone else working out.

I know some people recommend exercise in the morning and they say it wakes them up and envigorates them for the day. I find that incredible, I’d expect to be worn out and sleepy, certainly by the afternoon if I’d burnt a lot of energy first thing. But hey, everyone’s physiology is different, so experiment, find out if you prefer morning or evening and go with it (don’t fight your body’s natural rhythms).

Lack of Activity

To counter the lack of activity you can exercise before and after work.

What about at work? Well you can choose to take the stairs rather than the elevator. I made this choice every day (to go up and down 3 floors) for the nearly 3 years I worked at SolidWorks R&D in Cambridge. I could never understand anyone using the lift, and when you did see people using the lift, almost invariably they were severely overweight and unfit. It seems a no-brainer to me, but clearly not their priority.

You can also choose to cycle to work rather than drive (easier said than done depending where you live). Or park some distance from work and walk the rest (I used to park 1 mile from SolidWorks and walk the rest – mainly because in town parking was £10/day ($15)).

You can also get a device to help you monitor your exercise level. This year at Business of Software 2012 Noah Kagan asked the audience if anyone had a FitBit. Quite a few hands went up. I confess I don’t have one but I’d been out for a meal with Trevor Lohrbeer and Levi Kovacs on Saturday evening before the conference they had both sung the praises of FitBit and both were wearing theirs.

You can also set timers to ensure you get out of your chair on a regular basis. Maybe walk the long way to the kitchen/vending machine. I seem to remember Noah Kagan talking about the games he plays at his office to get his FitBit count up. Sorry I don’t have a reference for this.

Repetetive Strain Injury

Repetetive Strain Injury is also known as Work Related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD) in the USA. WRULD incorrectly characterises any injuries as being work related and also upper limb only, neither of which is correct. Repetetive Strain Injury is the correct term.

RSI is a very real risk to you if you type a lot (if you’re a software developer, yes you do type a lot). I’m not going to go into detail about RSI here as I’ve already written about this subject on the Object Media website.

Living your life

You can also choose to deliberately do some activities that business and money gurus such as James Caan and Ramit Sethi would advise you to spend money on (because your time is more valuable than the money). An example would be mowing the lawn, or taking garden waste to the recycling centre (or landfill, as the case may be).

They are of course right, your time as an entreprenuer is more valuable than the money it would cost to hire someone to cut your grass or take the waste to the rubbish tip. But spending money can’t make you physically fit or burn calories for you. Only exercise can. I’ve found that often the things like gardening tasks exercise different muscle groups than your chosen exercise regime. So you get a double bonus because you are improving what was being ignored.

I also happen to hate being physically unfit. When you’re unfit it’s harder to do things. Everything seems like a chore or is impossible. But when you are fit they are easy or actually attainable. As such I occasionally like to do manual labout tasks such as these.

I also happen to feel that you have a better idea of what people doing manual labour for (when you do hire them) are going through if you do it yourself sometimes. Very easy to forget what it’s like. Once you’ve lost touch with that you can be rather unreasonable with people. That isn’t nice.

Today I’ve been loading my car with all the garden waste from the front garden and the Cherry tree I cut prior to Business of Software. It took two trips, I got filthy, I did a load of exercise. And spent some time outside. Not thinking about software. Sometimes you are better to be away from the screen. Did the business keep running? Of course 🙂

I often find that cutting the grass is one of those occasions when I zone out and the next thing I know I’ve solved some important problem and amazing the grass has also been cut. And particularly aware of doing either activity.

Just to be clear I’m not saying you should do every task, I’m just saying why not choose to do some of them rather than always pay people to do them for you. You can can’t buy fitness.

Anyway, something for you to think about. Sure you can outsource all your manual labour tasks if you want, but you’ll just have to spend more time doing exercise later.

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