Google Adweek 2010 - Designing an agency for the digital age

Uploaded by FastForward on 27.09.2010


MALE SPEAKER: Advertising week is over the moon to present to
you Nick Law and Barry Wacksman from R/GA.
Thank you, boys.

NICK LAW: Thank you.
Hello, hello.
I'm Nick.
This is Barry.
We work at R/GA, which is just down the road.
It's about two blocks down the road.
And we had to escape because Bob doesn't know we're here.
He thinks we're working.
We crawled out the window of a bathroom.

I don't know if I want to sit on this.
I feel like I should have an acoustic guitar.
So this is a presentation very similar to one that we gave at
Cannes, but it's a good one.
And yes, it's about designing an agency for the digital age.
So we've divided the presentation into two.
The first piece, Barry's going to speak, who is the smartest
man in advertising.
BARRY WACKSMAN: Self-proclaimed.
NICK LAW: Well, he's the smartest man from advertising
from Cincinnati who's a Jew with hairy knuckles.
NICK LAW: Which narrows it down a little bit, but he's
pretty smart.
And he's going to talk about why.
Why do we need to redesign the agency?
And, of course, everyone has a version of this presentation.
But Barry's is without doubt the most insightful.
And then, I'm going to talk about how.
So I'm going to talk about the nitty-gritty and grind you all
into a fine powder with specifics because I think it's
really important.
Everyone has a PowerPoint presentation about the new
environment, what needs to be done.
But I think it's important to talk about
what do we about that.
So we're going to be rewind a little.
I'm going to stand up.
This is sort of weird.
Do you mind if I stand up?
BARRY WACKSMAN: No, I think you should, Nick.
NICK LAW: We're going to rewind back to 2005.
We've been talking about agency models for a while now.
This is the first time that we actually made a presentation.
Bob presented at Cannes.
What was the name of the presentation that he gave?
Do you remember?
BARRY WACKSMAN: Towards a New Model, or--
NICK LAW: Something about models and stuff.
But it was five years ago.
And Bob, at that time, was known as this very strange,
tall, Asperger's inflicted gentleman that people sort of
paid attention to, but now they should have paid more
attention to him because a lot of things that he talked about
have come true.
Now, we talked about the model in terms of the icons.
And this is what we thought the old model was, which was
strategy plus creativity times the mass media equals
ambiguous results.
And so we came up with--
NICK LAW: --the new model, right?
And of course, it's purposely complicated because we want to
pretend it's a lot more difficult than it is.
But it basically is something around collaboration data plus
strategy plus creativity times media neutrality times
efficient production equals measurable results.
And we have t-shirts and everything.
It was a lot of fun.
And the reason, obviously, we're all trying to come up
with new agency models is not because we want to make more
advertising, or at least I don't think it is.
I think it's because we want to sell stuff.
And so I'm going to start by talking about this quest that
has been going on for a while that has nothing to do with
advertising, right?
And I'm going to start by going back to just before the
turn of the century when they were trying to sell--
"they" being the McKinley campaign-- were trying to sell
their presidential candidate, William McKinley.
So what was interesting about this was that he was
outmatched by his Democratic opposition.
And one of the ways that you advertised your candidacy back
then was you got in a train and you
traveled around the country.
And his opponent, Jennings, was a great orator.
He couldn't because his wife was sick.
So he chose to stay home in Canton, Ohio, beside his wife.
And as a result, there were lots of advertising
innovations that came out of that, the first time pins were
used for campaigns and memorabilia.
And the killer piece of memorabilia/campaign was
something that a gentleman called Sam Lloyd designed.
Now, Sam Lloyd at the time designed these games.
And he was famous for it.
He was very, very famous.
And games were these cardboard games.
It's a disk that you turned around.
And when you turned it in a particular way, one of these
guys falls off the earth.
And so it's a puzzle.
And McKinley's team printed something on the back,
incidental, right?
But the point was this game or this puzzle was thought of as
a very important piece of advertising medium.
And in fact, 20 million of these were distributed.
20 million.
We get excited when we get a million hits on YouTube.
And it caused all sorts of compulsive gaming behavior.
People driving trains off the tracks because they're trying
to figure it out.
It was like texting and driving.
So interesting way to solve the problem, right?
Go forward a little bit, and we're in France, and we're
trying to sell tires for the Michelin brothers.
They're trying to sell tires.
And so they came up with something pretty ingenious
which has stood the test of time, and that is
the Michelin guide.
Originally, they gave it out for free, but then they
decided that was devaluing it, and they charged for it.
And it's still around, and it's still the measure for all
those things associated with driving, right?
Going to restaurants and hotels and such.
Ingenious, right?
And the final example is we're now in the advertising age.
JWT is trying to sell this stuff here, which-- when we
presented this at Cannes, I had to tell the French this
was cheese.
Because that is actually illegal in France.
But they were trying to sell this.
And whether they invented the cheeseburger or just
popularized it, it became a product extension that helped
sell something.
So there's three ideas that if they had been entered in this
year's Cannes, I think would have taken away titanium.

So what happened, Barry?
BARRY WACKSMAN: I don't know.
NICK LAW: I think it's your turn.
BARRY WACKSMAN: Can you turn that thing
towards us a little bit?
We can't see.
Thank you.
NICK LAW: Oh, I didn't even notice that.
BARRY WACKSMAN: Look at that.
Did you even notice that?
So I think we all know the answer what happened.
This little gadget came alone, or that little gadget,
And television completely transformed our business.
Probably most of us wouldn't even be in the audience today,
we wouldn't even have advertising week if the TV
hadn't come along and completely transformed the
advertising industry.
It's probably 10 times the size it is today because of
the power of television.
And so this is the invention I think changed the business in
a way that we have to now come up with new agency models.
And there's a good reason for it.
TV was the most powerful thing at selling stuff.
If our clients spent money on television, they could pretty
much be guaranteed of getting sales results.
And so the entire industry reorganized itself around this
fact, that mass media equals sales.
Agencies organized themselves that way.
Clients organized themselves that way.
And to this day, it's still pretty much the paradigm that
most of our businesses operate under, whether on the agency
side or the client side.
But there's a big problem with this which is that all of our
clients are telling us that this paradigm
is no longer working.
They can no longer reliably get sales by just spending
money on mass media.
And so it's begging for a new solution, a new answer to
exactly what Nick said at the beginning.
We're in the business of helping our
clients sell stuff.
So there's three reasons why I think
agencies need to transform.
The first obviously being the fact that mass media has
changed and we're demanding of our clients a
new investment model.
And in many cases, they don't really understand this model.
And so it's somewhat foreign to them.
So we have to change their thinking about what agencies
actually do and what kinds of things they should be
And the second thing is about context.
This is an idea that I think we at R/GA have really been
adamant about popularizing, this idea of context.
We think the digital age represents the multiplication
of context in a way that has never really been seen before.
And I'll explain a little bit more about what that means.
And I'm going to share with you what we think are the 10
most important contexts of the digital age today.
It could change, actually.
And the last thing, the last reason we need to change is
because most of the brands that we work on behalf of are
very, very commoditized.
So in a commoditized world, it's really hard to grow.
And the only way you can grow is by being innovative.
So we're going to go into each of these a little bit.
We'll start with the new investment model.

This is pretty much the model of mass media.
Our clients spent a big pile of money, a big
pie, really big pie.
About 80% of the money that they spend goes to media
the NBC's, the CBS's, the Turners of the world.
And about 20% goes into the creation and the
production of ads.
That's the old analog model of advertising.
This is how most agencies made business.
The lion's share of money was spent against mass media.
The agency's production companies had a small piece of
the pie to actually come up with the ads
and to produce them.
And this was great.
As I mentioned before, if you spent money this way as a
client, you could pretty much be guaranteed that you were
going to have very good sales results, very good growth.
And so everyone understood this model, and they all could
work the numbers in their head.
And they could understand how the investment worked.
If you spend a little bit more, you can maybe get a
little bit more sales.
You might hit a point of diminishing return at a
certain point.
But the model was pretty transparent, pretty easy to
In digital, we've had almost the inverse model.
In digital, we have to build software.
We're often doing things that don't rely on
paid media at all.
And the bigger part of the budget has to go into the
production of the idea.
So we have much bigger teams. We're coming up with ideas.
And we might use a little bit of paid media to spark some
initial awareness of what it is that we're doing.
And when we first started doing digital work, we didn't
get very big budgets because we weren't able to produce
very interesting or big results.
But I think what's happening now is the tables have
completely turned.
There's diminishing results from mass media, which is what
all of our clients are telling us.
And we're showing that we can take the same investment, even
less, and get very powerful results.
And you'll see that in some of the work that we
share with you today.
So this is the first thing.
It's complicated for clients to understand this because
they don't understand that they have to invest in ideas
rather than in media.
So that's a big disconnect that we're dealing with on an
ongoing basis every day.
The second reason why I think the agency business needs to
transform itself is because of context.
The fact that we've seen this multiplication of contexts
that have arisen since the introduction of the
web first in 1995.
So I was born in 1964.
I'm just going to use this as an example to share with you
the idea of context.
I like to think of what my dad's media life was like.
He was a businessman.
He worked for a drug store chain.
He was in charge of buying merchandise for the store.
And his media life was pretty uncomplicated.
He woke up in the morning.
First thing he did was he grabbed the newspaper off the
curb, brought it in the house, read it over morning coffee.
He drove his car to work, listened to the
radio, heard some ads.
At the office, he might have read some trade publications.
He certainly didn't have the web to browse
during his lunch hour.
On the way home, drove past some billboards, listened to
some more radio.
He got at home at night, turned on Walter Cronkite, the
evening news, and maybe he read Time magazine.
It's pretty easy to reach my father.
Those are all the things that he did.
Very predictable and pretty much his media life mirrored
just about everyone else in America at the time.
Interesting to notice that the only way to reach my father in
this paradigm is through interruption.
So that's the idea of context to start.
The only way to reach him was to interrupt him
from what he was doing.
The context was he was watching TV. And if you wanted
to reach him, you had to interrupt him.
And so the context of interruption is really the
major one of the mass media analog age.
It's the only way in which
advertising was ever delivered.
We interrupted people.
We roll the clock forward to 2010, and we still have all of
these original analog media formats.
But to this, we've added this entire slew of stuff.
Every one of these things is a new context in which some sort
of marketing can occur.
And I think, as you look at it, you'll note that many of
these things have absolutely nothing to do with paid media.
Yet every single one of these-- we've proven we can
help drive growth for our client's
brands with these things.
So that's one of the big changes is this multiplication
of contexts and in a way in which interruption is no
longer the most important one.
So I'm going to take you through 10 contexts.
Everyone take notes.
There'll be a quiz afterword.
Actually, I think this is really useful.
It's a paradigm to think about things.
And what you'll see is that these are 10 contexts, but
there's a ton of new ones that keep getting invented over and
over again every day.
And in fact, we don't think that there's just 10.
We think that there's infinitely many possible
contexts in the the digital age.
We're going to focus on 10 just to help you think about
this idea of context.
And then it's something I think you can take back to
your agency, or if you're a client, back to your marketing
department and think about how these things
relate to your business.
So the first context is information, and this is
probably the original and still to this day the most
important context of the digital age.
And it's certainly exemplified by things like Google.
Google is the most valuable media company in the world.
It's worth more than just about all of the other major
media companies combined.
And it's based on this simple paradigm of connecting
information seekers with information providers in a
one-to-one way.
And so Google is certainly one of the exemplary pieces of
context of information.
But it's also represented in all the websites that we
create for our clients which are-- and
it's a starting point--
full of information.
Any modern website is going to deliver the important
information about our client or our brand.
And so the information context was the original
context of the web.
And to this day, I still think it's the most important.
The second context that I'm going to talk about is
And this is really the main context of the .com era.
It was all of the e-commerce things that emerged in the
wake of the development of the web.
And it's certainly exemplified by things like Amazon, which
has completely transformed shopping.
But what we see with our clients is that sometimes by
innovating the way that we transact, we can drive growth.
So this is Nike ID.
This is something that we created for Nike back in 2003.
And to this day, it's still a major driver of Nike's
e-commerce sales.
But just by giving people the ability to customize a product
as part of the transaction.
So that's context number two is transaction.
The third one, participation.
This is probably the primary context of the Web 2.0
It's all the ways in which people participate somehow in
the digital medium.
And it's certainly exemplified by things like Facebook.
Here's Nick's Facebook page.
You can all be his friend.

But we've done tons of campaigns for clients where we
ask for people to participate in them.
And this particular one we did for Pepsi got hundreds of
thousands of participants, but many millions more are people
who just came to watch.
So this is the third most important context of the
digital age, participation.
Number four is conversation, and it's certainly exemplified
by Twitter.
And I often give the example when I talk about conversation
of the movie Bruno.
How many of you in the audience saw the movie Borat,
which was the original Sacha Baron Cohen?
So almost everyone's saw that movie.
And we all thought it was great.
When the studio that was producing Bruno knew this
movie was going to come out, they spent over $100 million
marketing this movie in the US.
And on the first night, it had huge box office.
Everyone went to see this movie.
Not everyone, a huge number of people went to see this movie
on opening night on a Friday night.
And the next day, the ticket sales
had completely plummeted.
And they attribute it to the fact that Twitter had
interrupted the media spend and it gave people a
one-to-one way of hearing from their friends
that the movie sucked.
And so they all stayed away from it.
So that's an example of the power of conversation as one
of the drivers of context in the digital age.
And it's also exemplified by things like twelpforce, which
Crispin won a titanium lion at Cannes this past year of
showing how conversation can be integrated back into things
like customer service.
The fifth context is application.
We're all familiar with all these majorly powerful apps
that have transformed our lives.
Things like Flickr that allow us to upload
and share our photos.
There's a powerful piece of software sitting behind most
of the things that we do online whether
it's Facebook or Flickr.
But it's also powerful for our clients.
We see the example of many applications that are created
that help transform the relationship that a brand has
with its customers.
So application is the fifth context of the digital age.
Number six is location, and this is really the key to the
mobile revolution that's going on right now.
So it's certainly exemplified by all the mapping
technologies where we're giving people the ability to
look for things on a map, search on a map.
And that's actually really an interesting point about the
power of context.
We often start with a context like search.
And then, we allow people to search on a map.
And we've created a new context where we're searching
for a location.
So that's what happens is that new contexts get invented by
mashing together old ones all the time.
So location, we've developed applications for our clients
that use location as a primary tool to help drive the sales
of a mobile phone.

Diversion, this is a pretty obvious one.
A lot of agencies have done work in this space.
It's certainly exemplified by all the things that we do
online like Hulu to spend some time watching some
entertaining programming.
But many agencies have really built a business around
creating diversions that attract millions of people.
Crispin's particularly good at this, going all the way back
to subservient chicken, up through all of their work that
they've done for Burger King over the last half
a dozen or so years.
Distribution, another critically important one.
YouTube has over seven billion videos.
Seven billion, that's a mind boggling number.
And the context in which people are using
YouTube keeps changing.
So it might have started with people sharing little silly
videos of their pets or their babies.
But today, there's a huge library of content on YouTube
that is about how-to stuff.
How to do, how to change your oil in a car.
How to use a particular product.
How to update a piece of software on your
iPhone that's crashed.
So there's just people sharing with each other all this great
information that's relevant to a particular
issue in their lives.
But we've also seen now the power of distribution to power
these big ad campaigns.
This is probably the hottest thing that happened this
summer, the Old Spice campaign.
A series of videos on YouTube mashed together with a Twitter
feed to drive the experience in a very unique way.
So distribution is something that advertisers didn't have
access to except through paid media up until fairly recently
in the digital age.
Number nine, visualization.
Simplified by things like Mint.
The power of data to motivate us.
We see how much we spend on restaurants each month
relative to people who live in the same zip code as us or the
same income.
It's also been a powerful driver for our Nike client.
This is Nike+.
Showing people their running data has been a huge driver of
the sale of running shoes.
We think data visualization is going to transform a number of
different industries--
health care, nutrition, fitness, many of these
financial services, many of these things.
People looking at their data are going to be hugely
motivating in terms of their purchasing behavior.
And the last one, of course, is interruption.
We still have that as a key context of the digital age.
It just turns out that it's not the only thing, and it's
probably not even the most important.
But it's represented in all the banner ads, and all the
pop ups, and all the things that we annoyingly try to turn
off and ignore most of the time.
I was on a panel earlier today, IAB, where AOL was
introducing their new advertising
format called Devil.
And we do think that there are some very interesting new
formats that are coming into the market to help with this
idea of interruption being an important context in the
digital age.
But I guess my point is that it's not the only one, and
it's not been the most important to our work, at
least, to date.
And there's new contexts being invented every day.
Right before we gave this speech at Cannes, there was a
cover story in New York Magazine about this new
generation of start-ups that are happening just a few
blocks from here all over New York City.
These young kids, funded by a new wave of VC investing, that
are inventing new contexts every single day.
And some of these things are going to turn out to be very
important to our clients and to our job as agencies of
helping them sell their products, their services.
And so I think what we've seen is that we've gone from this
era where the agency was the master of interruption to this
new era where we have to be the master of context.
And I've just shared with you just 10.
But I think you can all imagine dozens of other ones
that are important to your clients and their business.
So the third reason why agencies need to change is
because of this very acute problem that all of our
clients are facing.
Their brands, their products, their services are
And I think this has really been accelerating
for the last decade.
Consumers today have more choice than ever before.
You walk into any drugstore, any supermarket, and just the
range of products on the shelf for any particular category is
somewhat overwhelming.
And so they're all operating in this commoditized world
where, for many decades, they were able to get growth in
exactly the way that I described.
They would create new extensions, new and improved
flavors, varieties, new packaging.
And then they could rely on mass media to drive sales.
And as I mentioned, this formula is not working for any
of our clients any longer.
And so what we're seeing is that we've got to move more
into the space of innovation, creating completely new
innovative things, and then using our technology to help
demonstrate the power of these.
And I'm going to get to our first case study video.
This is for Verizon for the launch of Droid.
-Millions of people visit Times Square every day.
But how many even know how much there is to do right
around the corner?
This out of home experience for Droid helped them find out
using Droid's most compelling feature--
location-based voice search.
The result was Droid Does Times Square, a first of its
kind experience that lets callers search the Times
Square neighborhood just by speaking into any
phone on any network.
Callers simply dialed the number and said what they
-Then, a giant Google Map showed the results that were
closest to Times Square.
-That's my search.
Hamburger-- they made it!

-To deliver this experience, we put Droid devices at the
core of this system.
The result connected every caller to an actual Droid that
performed real-time voice recognition.

-Secret phrases also displayed animations, like turning the
signs off or running them over with a subway train and
playing time-lapse video.
And we promoted it throughout the web.

And what better way to test drive the Droid than by using
it to navigate the crossroads of the world with just your

So that's our take on why we need to
redesign the agency model.
Now, I'm going to talk about specifics.
And I, too, am going to talk about three topics.
The first one is brands.
So what are brands now in this new networked age?
How are they different than they used to be, and how do we
re-imagine them?
The second is the people in the agency world that work
against these things for brands.
How do we redesign those teams?
Because obviously the same old skill sets aren't going to be
the only skill sets we need.
And then, there's a different process.
Everything is more complicated now.
Everything is more matrix.
There are far more options, far more decisions to be made.
So we need a new process.

So what is a brand?
First thing we're going to do is forget
about advertising again.
I'm going to keep asking you to forget about advertising.
A brand is a relationship between a company and a
customer, all right, or an audience.
And as agencies, our job is to mediate that relationship.
Since the advent of television, the most powerful
storytelling technology for the last 50 years, has meant
that the way we mediate it is that we told stories about
brands to customers.
So the company is telling customers what they should
know about them in a storytelling medium.
But with the emergence of these network technologies in
the digital age, we now have a lot more of a relationship
with systems of behavior, right, that have these
multiple contexts.
And what this is is a two-way relationship between a company
and a customer obviously, right?
So it's no longer a company just telling a customer what
they should know about them.
It's us behaving in an interface.
So what's interesting about that is that, in the case of a
story, it's really the company forcing its way into your life
via interruption.
That's the context, as Barry said.
What's interesting about the right side, when you have a
sort of systematic relationship with the brand,
is that you are forcing your way into the company's world.
You are being active and interactive.
So you can see that that's a great place to be.
If you can get people forcing their way into your brand,
that's better than just relying on haranguing them
with [? outbound ?] advertising.
So a lot of the things we're going to talk about as far as
our intentions as marketers is to get people from the story
to the system, right?
Recognizing that often the starting point is a story--
what is the thing that you're trying to sell?
But hoping that the ending point is a relationship that
is ongoing, which is the frame within a system of behavior.

So one of the things that I keep hearing about from my
colleagues in the more traditional agencies is how
important storytelling is.
Now, I want to balance that first of all by talking about
systems and how important systems are because they're
different sensibilities creatively.
But also, to get more nuanced with what a story is.
Because for 50 years, we've been telling a particular type
of story about brands.
And I think that the great challenge now is to decide
what other modes of storytelling are going to be
most effective in this new environment, right?
So the system is represented as a platform.
In this case, I'm going to use a case that you may not have
heard about.
It's Nike+.
No one heard of that?
I know, and I'm sick and tired of talking about, too.
So if we have a platform, Nike+, and we want to get
runners actually behaving within that framework, then
the most traditional way of telling a story in the
advertising world is a metaphor or using some sort of
device like heightened reality or symbolism.
That's just a really easy way to tell a story in 30 seconds.
And it is this sort of Pavlovian response to a brief
that a lot of agencies have when they engage a client.
And there's a good reason for that because metaphors are
very good at evoking a feeling, an emotion.
And this is why we're told by our traditional cousins that
storytelling is so important.
So by saying that what I'm trying to sell you is like
this, you're hoping that people know what
the "like this" is.
It's like method acting.
I've never actually killed a man.
But if I want to be a method actor, I can imagine when I
killed an ant or something, and it evokes a certain thing.
So you use a situation as a proxy to evoke a certain
relationship, a certain emotion.
The problem with that is that it has relation to the
behavior that you're trying to get there.
So there is this cognitive gap between a metaphor, which is,
the thing I'm trying to sell you is sort of like this, and,
but what I actually want you to do is behave like this.
So the most easy, passive way to receive instruction through
a story is a demonstration, right?
And I think the best example of demonstration as
storytelling to sell a product is Apple.

Chiat has done spots where they show the iPhone, and you
can see how it works.
They're very elegant.
There's a story behind the demonstration.
But it is essentially a demonstration of a product.
You would risk all sorts of things by going completely
Even the Mac versus PC ads that they do, which are sort
of metaphorical-- well, they are metaphorical.
But they still are demonstrations in a way
because they talk about very specific benefits, right?
So we're getting closer to the system of behavior by showing
people what that behavior is.
It's running with a chip in a shoe that talks to your Nano,
or your iPhone, and records your run.
Plus a new way to train.
Plus a reason to get your ass out of bed.
Plus that little voice in your head urging you on.
Plus saving your runs.
Plus making real progress.
Plus not forgetting that really bad run.
Plus remembering a really great one.
Plus knowing how far you've gotten.
Plus knowing how far your friends ran.
Minus monotony.
Plus just to the next mailbox.
Plus motivation.
Plus just 10 more miles to your goal.
Plus a power song making you kick your own ass.
Plus looking good in a bathing suit.
Plus looking good in nothing.
Plus a challenge from a faraway friend.
Plus trash talk.
Plus beating you like a rented mule.
Plus bragging rights.
Running is just the beginning.
NICK LAW: So we did that as--
it's a demo, basically.
It has an emotional tempo woven through.
And there are reasons that you should believe in the
But it showed the interface.
You see that, and you know why you're going
to go and get Nike+.
And we did that for--
in the digital space, it's not a great, big production.
But it works.
We know that it works.
When people see that, they want to use Nike+.
So the last mode of storytelling which I think is
probably the most important in this medium is what I'm
calling game.
But what I mean by that is when the story is created by a
participation in the platform that you've created.
So the user generates a story by being engaged and there
being interaction.
So the first two modes of story, metaphor
and demo are received.
The third mode of story is created
by a system of behavior.

Actually, some of the Old Spice stuff that Barry was
showing, I think, is the digital social
enabled piece of that.
I think falls into that space.
When there's this game mechanic and you can get
people experiencing the platform before they actually
go and buy the product that the platform is associated
with, then you've got a good chance that you're
going to get them.
Now, I use a metaphor to describe these three modes of
behavior because I think it's very instructive and metaphors
can be useful.
And I use this metaphor because I think what these
three modes of storytelling tell us is something about the
way we think, the way our brains work, right?
Again, it's got nothing to do with advertising.
It's got to do with humans.
So if I'm a paleolithic hunter, and I have the same
brain you guys all have, but I live in a
very primitive society.
And what I'm trying to sell to my son is hunting.
Then I could use a metaphor.
I could tell my son, when I kill that woolly mammoth, it
was like killing the world.
And there's a good chance that he's going to get very choked
up and say, that's awesome, Dad.
I really want to hunt.
But he's no closer to knowing how to hunt when
I've told him that.
I haven't sold him the behavior.
I've sold him the feeling.
It's very useful, and he's probably crying at this point.
But if I pick up the spear and say, son, this is how I killed
the woolly mammoth.
Then, oh, now his mirror neurons are engaged and he's
imagining himself in this position.
He's getting closer to that behavior.
And he's more engaged emotionally, right?
Then this is an important point because we're told that
traditional advertising is better at getting emotions and
digital stuff is about being functional.
It's not true.
If you can get people involved in a behavior, they are, just
by nature, more emotionally involved.
And then the last mode of storytelling, I could pass the
spear to my son and say, hit that rock.
As soon as he picks up that spear and starts playing the
game, I've got him, right?
I've I've got him in there.
The brain is more engaged when you're physically engaged in
creating the story yourself.
So there are three modes of storytelling.
The last mode of storytelling, in the case of Nike+, was
something we did a year ago.
-On August 31, 2008, history was made when Nike hosted the
world's largest running event, the Nike+ Human Race.
The first global 10k, it featured races in 28 cities
around the world, each with its own live concert at the
finish line featuring top artists.
But it wasn't just the size that made it historic.
It was the fact that it couldn't have happened without
the Nike+ platform.
Because for the first time, participants had a choice.
Run in an official race city, or run anywhere in the world
by using Nike+.
As the lead agency, it was our job to connect people to the
race in the digital space and beyond.
Excitement for August 31 began to build until finally race
day arrived.

When it was all over, the numbers were unprecedented.
800,000 people ran in 142 different countries, running
2.5 million miles and competing in 280,000 new Nike+
But perhaps more importantly, millions of dollars were
raised for three global charity partners.
And it couldn't have happened without putting a sensor in a
shoe and pairing it with the world's largest
online running club.
NICK LAW: So after the human race, we had a few hundred
thousand more people join Nike+, register with Nike+,
who on average visit the site three times a week.
And it's because we engaged them in a game.
That was a story that they wanted, a story that they
created themselves.
So they're the three modes of storytelling.
I'm now going to talk about the talent that we put against
creating stories and systems.
So when a client buys us, is what they buy--
a bunch of big, squishy brains, right?
The get the building from Bob for free, but
they get the brains.
That's what they're buying, right?
At an atomic level.
But you're also buying the brain of the agency, the
collective brain of the agency.
So interestingly, and by coincidence, if you look at
the brain, the left-hand side is really the center of story,
and the right-hand side is the center of system.
What I mean by that is the language lives in the
left-hand side of the brain.
And the way the left-hand side of the brain processes things
is in a temporal manner, at a one-at-a-time manner.
The right-hand side of the brain is the systematic.
It understands spatial relationships, and it's good
at pattern recognition.
And the way that that side of the brain processes things is
all at once.
So we've got one-at-a-time processing on the left, and
all-at-once processing on the right.
And that's a profound insight when it
comes to creative people.
Because as creative people, what we are is a collection of
thinking habits.
I think one of the problems in our industry from the creative
point of view is we think creativeness is this magic
thing that we come up with in the shower.
It's not true.
You get good at being creative after you've been
doing it for 10 years.
Or in the case of Brian Collins--
I don't know.
I got 30 years now, Brian?
You get better when you do it more often.
I think it's pretty well established.
And so the hubris of someone who spent the last 10 years
writing TV scripts thinking they can come up with out of
the blue great systematic ideas and vice versa needs to
be forgotten, right?
You need to curate teams that represent both because we
think in a particular way.
The powers in our brains have been worn, and we need to be
using what we're good at.
So let's recognize that these are different aptitudes
because they're different parts of the brain.
So story and system is on each side.
And the other thing that we need to do as agencies, apart
from doing both those things now, is we need
to be able to think.
And then, we need to be able to make.
And the relationship between these two things, we know, is
very important.
And it always has been because there's lots of cases of
agencies that can think very well, but it doesn't matter
because they can't make it.
And agencies that make stuff really well, but they're
frivolous because they're not really thoughtful.
So we need to be doing both of those things.
So what I'm going to do is map against this little graph
aptitudes, because this is everything
we do in the agency.
Now, for 50 years our industry, from a creative
point of view, was driven out of that top left hand corner.
And the reasons were, as we said before, that advertising
was about storytelling because the technology that delivered
advertising to us was a storytelling technology.
So we have an art director and a copywriter.
They're both conceptual, and they come up with stories.
And when they come up with a good story, they hand it off.
This is an important point.
They hand it off to a production company.
So this is an art director and copywriter.
They hand it off to Smuggler, and then they get
Fincher to direct it.
It's going to be pretty good.
The most important thing to understand about this is
because what they're creating down there, what they're
making in the left hand bottom side, is a template--
All you need to worry about is the craft
because it's template.
You're not thinking about context or all the things that
Barry talked about.
We know were the context is.
We're going to interrupt them when they're watching
I Love Lucy, OK?
So just worry about the craft.
Get the right directors.
They're going to make this 30-second spot.
It's going to be great.
So I can write a script.
It can be just OK, hand it off.
Go and get some craft services, come back later, and
it'll be great.
And we've been doing this for 50 years.
It's a well-oiled machine.
Brilliant talent because it's mature, there's
great people in it.
And it's a proxy for Hollywood, so you get all
these people who want to go to Hollywood going through
advertising first. So we've got all this
extraordinary talent.
And you can hand it off, right?
Now, the problem is that on this side of the world it's
much more complicated.
It's not a template.
We're creating media as we go.
We're inventing it as we go.
It's always bespoke unless you're
doing ad banners, right?
Which we're not.
So when you hand it off, you're handing off half of the
thinking, not just a production.
So there's two problems with a traditional team heading it
off to a production company, a Swedish production company in
the digital space, for example.
One is that our medium does more than tell stories, right?
It creates utility.
It forms habits.
It delivers information.
It doesn't just tell stories.
So why have we got storytellers?
It does that.
Our suite of mediums can do that.
So it's important.
But it's not the only thing to do.
So if you're only telling stories in our space, you're
looking at our space through a key hole.
The other problem is, if you're handing it off, then
you're not getting the benefit of the people that make the
stuff because they're not just doing production.
They're inventing the medium, too.
So if I'm a traditional company and I want to work
with Barbarian Group, I get them in straight away.
They sit at the same table as me.
The technology sits at the table with me.
I don't go and tell them what to do after I've
come up with the idea.
That doesn't work.
So the other thing here is that there is a creative
missing, or at least a creative sensibility.
And that is conceptual systematic thinking at best.
Example of that from a title perspective
is interaction design.
We have about 60 interaction designers currently?
How many interaction designers do we have?
NICK LAW: 90 interaction designers at R/GA.
So they're about the same as copywriters.
Visual designers, a bit more.
This is a very, very important creative discipline.
Now, the reason that we don't recognize it as creative is
because it's not storytelling, and it's really difficult for
our industry to think of anything creative if it's not
It's a design sensibility.
And it's really important.
When Steve Jobs held up the iPad and you wanted to buy it
straight away before you saw any ad when he held up the
iPad at the press conference.
You wanted to buy it.
Why did you want to buy it?
Because the interface made the functionality apparent.
The interface told a story.
The interface was so beautifully designed and
branded that you knew what you were going to do before you
even touched it.
That is a very important skill, very important.
And there are lots of agencies out there that have
information architects right at the end of the process.
They should be right there with visual thinkers and
It's important, right?
So we then have a relationship with the technologists who
create these things.
And we choose at R/GA to have that in-house.
We've got over 100 technologists in-house because
we think it's important that you sit next to the people
that make it because they're creative, too.
They're creative.
They're not just production, right?
So this is the sort of relationship that you have.
And, of course, it doesn't mean you can't have this sort
of thing going on, too.
We have people that tell stories.
we do campaigns also.
And we make that stuff.
And we do all sorts of other stuff, and it's really,
really, really complicated.
Which is why we're telling you this because we know it's
difficult for us.
I can't imagine how difficult it is for somebody who hasn't
built it for the last--
BARRY WACKSMAN: Speed up, come on, go.
NICK LAW: Yeah, yeah, OK, all right.
So this is what we're trying to get.
We're trying to get a lateralized brain.
As an organization, we want a lateralized brain.
And I'm going to show you a case study now which I think
is a good example of storytelling sensibility,
systematic sensibility, thinking and
making coming together.

-We're talking about cyber abuse at the hands of other
teens through social networking sites, text
messages, and emails.
-Three teenage girls were charged with disseminating
child pornography.
-Everyone [INAUDIBLE] photos of her.
-Somebody hacked into her profile on Facebook.
-Some of these teens may not realize they're really being
stalked by their boyfriends.
-The Ad Council asked us to help
curb teen dating violence.
When we started talking to kids, we found that teen
dating had gone digital, and abuse had followed.
We had stumbled on a huge problem that had no laws and
no defined boundaries, a problem that no one was
The more we talked to teens, the more we realized they
wouldn't listen to adults preaching at them about such a
personal subject.
So our was to develop an integrated, 360 campaign that
empowered teens to decide for themselves what is right and
-You think you could get her to send some nude pics?
-Click A, B, or C.
-C, send her pics of my junk.
Yeah, that's it.
Take it off!
Get nasty, you nasty apple!
-Web banners, social networks and YouTube, outdoor and
print, TV.
-Wakey wakey.
I love you.
Holla' back.
Holla' back.
-I'm really pissed.
Send me some.
-Your name makes me vomit.
-And a mobile site.
-I can't get away from my girlfriend for 10 minutes with
her texting me.
-I feel pressured.
-Turns out if you give teens the tools to start a
discussion, treat them with respect, and get out of the
way, they'll take it from there.

NICK LAW: All right, quick, quick.
We're running out of time.
Next bit.
So the process is very different and complicated.
So the process is basically going from
thinking to making, right?
That's always the process in agencies.
And there is a chain of contingencies, which I think
is true for any creative discipline when you're working
with a client.
You've got to figure out what's true, right?
Hopefully, you figure out what's true.
Out of all those things that are true about the client,
what's relevant and what do you want to tell people?
Out of all those things that are relevant and true, how do
we make them understandable?
How do we make sure they're legible?
And then, hopefully you can make them interesting, right?
So this is the process that we go through.
And there are all sorts of different ways of talking
about this process.
But basically, they're the hurdles we need to go through.
Now, what's important because things have become so much
more complicated and those hurdles are a little bit
higher because of the media environment being so much more
Then that methodical march that the company starts from
truth, to relevant, to legible, to interesting.

We can sometimes forget that the only thing that the
customer sees is the interesting piece, right?
I say this because there's lots of digital agencies now--
I'm going to pick on digital agencies--
that are very good at coming up with things that are true
and relevant and legible, but they're bloody boring.
We can't forget we've got to be interesting.
It seems obvious, but I see so much work right now that seems
so strategically on that I can see the
PowerPoints that were presented.
And I know all the nodding people in the room.
But it was just bloody dull, right?
So the way you get around that, and this is sort of what
prototyping is, is that you get a hunch.
And as creative people or creative technologists, you
have well-developed hunches.
You go straight to interesting, right?
So sometimes you've got to short circuit that methodical
march to get good work.
And once you've made something, just check.
Make sure it's legible and relevant.
That's why you may make it.
So this is the idea of prototyping.
You make something so you can think some more.
Make something so you can think some more.
This is a very different sort of process
that we have, right?
Now, this process is a little bit different when it comes to
the creative piece depending on whether you're on the story
side or the system side, right?
If you're trying to make something legible in the story
space, then what you're trying to make legible
is a message, right?
So that's why I think that metaphors have a limited use
in the storytelling space.
In the systematic space, what makes
something legible is interface.
So going back to interaction designers, almost all content
now is behind an interface.
TV is behind an interface.
You better make sure that your brand makes good interfaces
and that the functionality's apparent because if you don't,
then you're hiding your best ideas.
And then the last thing is interesting, and this is, of
course, important.
We know that in the storytelling realm that
entertaining is a thing that makes it interesting.
And we should know that even when we're in a systematic,
behavioral area, it's got to be useful.
I'm interested in if it can help me.
I'm not interested if it's just a bit of fun--
chewing gum.
It's got to be useful.
So this next case study, I think, shows how you can go
down those two paths, storytelling and systematic,
and create something larger without any collaboration.
So you're going to see work that was done by Wieden and
work that was done by R/GA in this case study.
And we never met them during this process.
There was no collaboration because we knew exactly what
we were doing and what we were tasked to do in our mediums.
-They live for the hit.
The fingertip catch.
The pancake block.
How do you keep high school football players pumped for
the game when they're not in their pads?
You create an interactive tool that's useful in every aspect
of their football life.
With Head2Head Nike Football introduced a platform that
changed the way players scout their opponents, motivate
themselves, and train to become
better at their position.
At its most basic, Head2Head is a stat comparison generator
that produces a visualization of your stats versus an
opponent, any opponent, of your choice.
Let's you say set your bar high and you'd like to see how
your seasons is measuring up against NFL
MVP Ladainian Tomlinson.
A couple of clicks, and your stats are side by side.
If LT's got an edge on you in 2008, a quick scroll will show
how your stats compared to his last year when he was in
college or even high school.
With Head2Head, you can compare yourself to any player
at any level at any stage of their career.
And that includes your current competition.
Want to see how your numbers stack up against your
cross-state rival?
Simply enter their names, and an instant Head2Head
comparison materializes on the page.
For the high school player looking to take his game to
the next level, Head2Head is an essential tool for knowing
where he stands in the
ultra-competitive football landscape.
But that's only half the story because what's a Head2Head
comparison if not a motivator for improvement?
Are your receiving yards coming up a little short?
Simply click on that stat column to watch a video
tutorial from all-pro receiver Hines Ward.
Or maybe your open-field tackling could use some work.
A quick click, and Pro Bowler Lofa Tatupu is taking you
through the proper form and technique.
So behind the stat-driven motivation is a video-driven
education from the NFL's best players, one that's easily
downloaded to an iPod and taken out to
the practice field.
And how do you launch a tool that's going to bring both
football training and scouting into the digital age?
You promote it in the right online spaces, and you see
that it drops at the same time as an epic TV spot featuring
two of your premier athletes going Head2Head themselves.
Part number cruncher, part data visualizer, and part
video trainer, Nike Football's Head2Head gives players the
tools they need to get stats, get motivated, and get better.