Category: Planning

back with a post on procrastination


After an extended break (of half a year, but whatevs), The Service Depot is back. Not in black, actually you will notice in a shade of hot pink. This also just so happens to be the shade of polish that’s currently on my toes. Anyway, today we shall be discussing something that’s been on my mind for a while now and I’d love to get your read on it, especially how you do it at your place.

As a creative person (BTW not currently a Creative n.), I constantly fight with my inner procrastinator. No, this isn’t the classic high school brand of procrastination, where you substitute your assignment with an episode of whatever is a la mode. This is the kind where (despite your best intentions) you think, dream and think some more; then do the screaming things and then leave what you really wanted to be working on until the last minute. Most of the time this works out, but you’re always left with a feeling of ‘if only I’d started on it earlier’. One of the worst feelings you can feel in your creative work.

I get the feeling that I’m not alone here in my plight and potentially procrastination is quite prolific. My hunch tells me that give a Creative two weeks, he will probably take two days. The last two days available.

72andSunny have tackled this issue head on with their Work Wall. They give creatives and strategists alike 48 hours to get stuff up and once it’s up it’s fair game for comments, but more importantly iteration. Failing fast in action.

Have you developed something similar at your shop? Do you think the Work Wall is a good way to work?


the creative brief, re-brief survey

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my intention to reshape the creative brief for the year 2012. First up, I got the conversation started and now I’m wanting to get all quantitative with the power of a survey to get a handle on what’s working and what’s not. Finally, I’m going to partner with someone with specialist knowledge in the land of academia to help me blow it up and start again. Incidentally, if you or anyone would be interested in this, please get in touch.

It has to be said that the brief should never be an exercise in ‘strategy by numbers’, but as it’s the template for all work that gets produced it’s important that it reflects the agency’s POV and the POV and purpose of where the advertising category’s headed, not where it’s been.

It’s important to note that for the purposes of keeping this project at a manageable size, I’ve focused on the actual brief versus the brief + the experience around the brief. Perhaps we can solve that problem next.

Before jumping into the survey, take a look at a couple more links to really get those juices flowing.

–       Google’s Coders & Creatives ‘Agile Creativity’ Hangout

–       Google on Agile Creativity

–       RGA ‘next nine years’ Caanes 2011

Thanks so much. Here’s the link!

undertaking the unimaginable: reshaping the creative brief for the year 2012

The catalyst for this post is the many conversations I’ve had with planners, creatives and people not even in the business of advertising* recently, about THEE CREATIVE BRIEF being A TAD broken. Being a HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE THING, the very nature of the brief has been debated probably since Adam first showed Eve the mind map. However, some people still fail to admit that there is a problem with the brief, despite a list of MISGIVINGS longer than my (admittedly rather short) arm.

What’s astounding is that despite the debate surrounding the notion and composition of a brief, the template and the questions that we ask ourselves really hasn’t changed that much. Given we’re an industry that gets paid to solve problems, it seems a bit sad. It’s a prickly issue for many reasons we won’t discuss today; needless to say, most of the people I’ve talked to have an opinion on it but choose not to speak up or agitate for a solution because they think the following:

a) It shows a type of treason toward the agency they work for. (fear)

b) They don’t have all the answers at the ready and don’t want to appear stupid or worse, out of touch. (fear)

c) It’s just the tip of the iceberg of much larger and looming issues. (fear)

d) The brief is what keeps them in a job. (fear)

e) All of the above. (fear x 4)

We all know that fear’s a strong emotion, and more importantly it’s probably stopped a lot of great things happening over the years. But being a low-mid planner, and thus not having the responsibility and therefore risk of someone more senior, I’ve decided to have a crack at the problem: reconfigure the creative brief for the year 2012. But before we re-wire, we need to get to the bottom of what’s really wrong and in typical planning fashion, I’m going to deduce this with the power of A SURVEY. Yep, I have my own two cents on what’s working and what’s not, but I could use your collective brains in coming up with questions for the surveys: one for creatives and one for planners. Yes, we’re staying true to 2012 and we’re going to do this thing together.*** And because the issue’s a sensitive one, I’m going to use the power of Survey Monkey****, so you can all anonymously answer and add your thoughts.

 Here’s some research fodder (yep, others have been here before me):

Here’s some more proof of the problem if you need it:

Here’s a pick and mix medley of more proof:

Thanks for reading and hit me back with some questions for the survey*****.

Pirate. Navy.



############ ############ ############ ############

*up for debate.

**also up for debate.

***/ you do the work for me.

****thanks for being free.

*****Yes, it’s g33ky, but it works.

how to understand and analyse cultural trends

Photo credit: Time

Sharon Ann Lee’s session kicked off planningness and at the start I had great ambitions of Storifying the un-conference. Alas I had an iPad fail and with it went my notes of what Sharan had to say, but fortunately I can remember some of it (hopefully the best bits). Before I get too far ahead of myself I’d better tell you who Sharon is. Her Twitter profile says she’s:

Cultural trend analyst, writer, maker. Founder of Culture-Brain: a think tank on trends, culture & creativity. I’m like a Jane Goodall for humans.

She’s also got an extremely sunny disposition. I would add that in if I were writing her Twitter profile. Anyway, here is what I’m hoping are the highlights:

–      Cultural trends: the big idea current that shapes and changes what we do like create and believe.

–      She can be tracking anywhere up to 25 trends at one time and she only tracks the longer term trends.

–      Always remember cultural biases: e.g. rugged individualism (American) v’s the homogenous (a lot of Asian countries).

–      A trend she’s tracking right now is ‘design your own success’. She describes it as: The growing trend among young people who are jettisoning traditional ideas of success in favour of a customised model that balances financial reward with community, contribution and personal meaning. Below is a great slide that illustrates it… (please excuse the poor & stolen quality). And here’s a great presentation featuring Sharon on the topic.

Credit: Sharon Ann Lee / Culture Brain

–      She also believes that traditional marketing can’t retrofit for much longer in a climate where people are always trying to adopt ‘new’.

What I liked best about Sharan’s approach to what she does is much of the time she doesn’t actually know what she’s looking for, she’s just looking. Like her, I’m a huge advocate of living like a tourist, everyday in your own city. That way, you can spot those things that you otherwise would probably just pass by.

how to leverage social data

Photo credit: Android Guide

I left Dr. Andreas Weigend’s session thinking we’d just participated in an experiment to fuel his Social Data Revolution project. But, then I realised that this is how he goes about his business, his life. He’s one big experiment, constantly honing his hypotheses about humans and how they interact with each other, things and the world around them. Head to weigend dot com and check out exactly what information he shares with the world. You could be amazed… You’re back. What do you think?

Andreas was fascinating to listen to and even more so, watch. There was something about him and the way he performed. Imagine perhaps part mad scientist, part artist and part detached observer. He’s also got quite an amazing resume. Instead of rattling it off, here’s his ‘about’.

Dr. Andreas Weigend studies the ongoing revolution in social data and its impact on consumers, business, and society. He teaches at Stanford University and directs the Social Data Lab. Andreas was the chief scientist of where he focused on building the customer-centric and measurement-focused culture that has been central to Amazon’s success.

He’s the type of guy that doesn’t fit into an hour and a half slot and probably not even into a day, give him the chance. And as a result he kind of brushed over the surface of a lot of subjects. But here are some fragmented thoughts that stuck:

– Community: people come for the benefits and stay for the community.

– Commerce: moved from e-commerce to me-commerce. Individuals as the centre of the architecture of interaction.

– Connection: purpose of information is to serve as an excuse for person to person communication.

– Markets are conversations and conversations have become markets.

– Collaborative consumption: is airbnb the social craigslist room lease section?

– He believes that people share online to get attention, not approval and from it breathes belonging and connection.

I thoroughly recommend having a peruse through all his content that he’s kindly made available online, start here and here. Most interesting to me is his five step process he developed because the companies he was working with were focusing on the collection and analysis of data, without first defining the real problem. He calls it PHAME (Problem, Hypothesis, Action, Metrics, Experiment). He says be doing this companies expand their focus beyond just the technical issue at hand.

I’ll leave you with the task he asked us to complete: what is the one greatest social data experience that had the greatest impact on your life? While you’re at it, add it to the experiment/film:

how to design a service

Craig LaRosa‘s session on designing services was mainly concerned with the customer journey and how to design around it, of course for the better. Ever since White Star Lines had service in steerage, everyone’s been doing it. But, perhaps not always well. Craig works for  LA’s Continuum, where they design services, brand experiences and products. Essentially, linking up services, products, touchpoints and communications.

The task we were asked to do was watch a short ethnography video showing a guy going from exiting the airport door, to getting on to the Hertz rental car shuttle and exiting to his car. Or, navigation, waiting, embark & load, ride, disembark & unload and navigation. We had to write down what we observed, so the agents, the props, the setting and the process. From there, we had to write down all the various things that could be improved from Hertz’s perspective. So, the ideal customer experience.

It was a useful exercise to go through and one that could be the most useful when creating inventive ideas.

how to create celebrity

Photo credit: Funny Web Park

To be honest with you, I didn’t expect Brad Haugen to be very frank or forthright. I expected a script, PR army and a wire connected with Bieber HQ. This is because Brad’s Justin ‘the bieb’ Bieber’s social media manager and 2IC to thee Scooter. As an aside, if you don’t know who Scotter is, you need to watch Never Say Never. Seriously, you do. Anyway, what we actually got was a funny, frank, down-to-earth guy who’s all about the bieb. As he was so open and forthcoming with information, I feel like blogging what he said wouldn’t be that cool. But, I will share this. They invest a lot of time in to tapping into the fans and it’s clearly working. Brad’s in daily contact with the equivalent to online panels, which they clear with the parents, (yes, it does seem a little creepy at first). If something isn’t gelling with the fans, for example a bad photo they act straight away and the ability to be agile seems to be working.

I’ll leave you with some Bieber fan art. Oh, and shout outs to any Beliebers reading this.


Photo credit: katarama411