You donâ€™t half meet some interesting people in this business.
Just the other day, I was sitting in the Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell (a terrible place to plot a start-up, even if the wi-fi is working, because you’re in danger of being spotted by lots of other ad-folk from all round – in fact a better bet would probably be Look Mum No Hands in Old Street, which is a really brilliant cafĂ© too). I was having tea with one of the smartest media strategists in London, when my “next” coffee turned up.
I’d been introduced to him via email by an old friend of mine, Anne-Fay Townsend, who now works for Dentsu.
You should meet this guy, she wrote, he’s brilliant.
The only problem was that “this guy” had decided to call himself “King Adz”. So when he walked up to our table, I had no idea how to introduce him to the strategist.
I just couldnâ€™t bring myself to say â€śThis is King Adzâ€ť.
I just couldnâ€™t do it.
It was an awkward moment … fortunately followed by a brilliant 60 minutes.
Adz (his real name is Adam, and I refuse to call anyone â€śKingâ€ť) is a complete maverick who’s worked all round the world, shooting stuff, making stuff, writing books, working with the coolest brands, etc, etc, etc.
So – here are some of his thoughts, with a few interpolations from me.
“It’s all about â€¦ the shit that can’t be bottled”.
(I agree. Creativity, taking risks, is â€śthe stuff that canâ€™t be bottledâ€ť â€“ the real magic in our industry. Not the smoke and mirrors jargon of tech-speak.)
“One take on the future of creativity is creating ‘entertainment’ or distractions from real life and hooking the viewer in with something completely original and authentic. It’s only after you’ve grabbed them by the shirt collar, spun them around a couple of times and dropped them back into their seat, street, or feet, that you reveal that, just perhaps, there may be a brand involved in all of this.”
(Again, love it. Itâ€™s all about creating immersive content. And Iâ€™m always looking for ways of “hiding” the branding in a commercial message. Not out of sheer arsiness – but out of a commercial realisation that clumsily-done branding kills more marketing messages than anything else. Even Millward Brown with their gear-stick test can tell you this. I once experimented by trying to brand a Britvic film by hiding the letters B R I T V I C through the film.)
Back to Adz.
“The ideal for me is to work with brands who will let me create great content and not necessarily insist on having a logo revealed at the end. This would â€¦ take creativity to the next level.’But they have to show their logo!’ I hear you shout! Not necessarily. With the advent of social media, once the creative has dropped and has hit the mark, word can be leaked (via Twitter) that Brand X is actually behind all the goings on. This makes a much more powerful proposition, as the public will still respect the creative even after they find out it’s for a brand, as the creative was kept clean of any tainting by the brand.”
(Again, bang on. We talked about how Sony Playstation screwed up a graffiti campaign in Berlin once by making it too sell-y and pissing off the very people they wanted to impress. Selly-ness is the enemy. I’ve always said to clients – look at the work as a consumer not as a marketing director.)
“This is not just about Youth brands, but from past experience I’ve found that it’s the more youthful end of the market that will allow me more freedom to do good work “.
(HHCL toyed with the idea of positioning itself as a youth agency for exactly this reason. Youth brands are allowed to experiment more – is it any surprise that they’re the most interesting and the most talked-about ?)
And to sum up – “1) Use Creativity to grab attention. 2) Engage with the viewer and get their empathy, create a connection. 3) Don’t treat them like they’re idiots, as they know instantly when something sucks. 4) Create something original, work hard, and be nice to everyone.”
(I love all those but Iâ€™d say it’s just down to two things. 1) Break the rules, otherwise you’re going to be invisible. 2) Do that in a way that makes an emotional connection.)
This week I’ve also been reading the â€śDigital Advertisingâ€ť book brought out by Creative Social – it’s brilliant. I’ll get onto that next week.
But for now – thanks, Adz. Sovereign words, mate.