Blog : innovation

Want the best creative solutions? Then prepare to go to Mars

Want the best creative solutions? Then prepare to go to Mars

Where’s creativity heading in today’s marketing context?
Well, there’s a ship about to leave the pod and it’s heading out-of-this-world.

Having recently attended the D&AD Festival 2019 (physically) and The Adobe Experience Festival (virtually) my take outs are looking into the stratosphere.

Just as we’re all feeling comfortable that we’re digitally up-to-speed, private space travel is bringing together entrepreneurship and enterprise in an explosion of converging technology, and futurists are now telling us to prepare for the post-digital era.

Boom! The sonic pop of this concept is blowing my mind.

So why should this matter to me as a Creative Director?

The answer is that these missions are working examples of how the combination of creativity and innovation is the key to the future. Not just as a savvy business model but as the way we need to think.

Right now, what better creative platform is there than to say you’ll be the first human on Mars? What higher technological challenge is there than to be responsible for the innovation to actually get there? What’s not entirely genius about owning both the creative and technological thinking of the journey and the experience?

Sophie Hackford, a speaker at Adobe’s 2019 Experience Festival, tells us how augmented and virtual reality are set to have a significant impact on the customer experience.  Looking at trends in the most popular gaming platforms such as Fortnite and Secondlife, gives us a glimpse into the commercial landscape of the future; spaces where avatars of ourselves are building lives, interacting, buying and selling virtual commodities.

The internet is becoming more and more immersive. UX and digital design trends are a response to these interactive and 3D environments. Communities are already engaging with flawless virtual influencers, and even our Hollywood stars and CEOs could be succeeded by both digital and synthetic avatars of themselves.

Hackford continues that if ‘virtual intelligence can automate experience’ then events in the future could become so good, no-one will want to leave and if you do miss a must-go social event, then there’s no risk of FOMO, you can travel back in time to take part in the 3D virtual world.

Where does this leave creative communications professionals?

In a fascinating, expansive place…but am I concerned? A little. Not just of the monitoring and morality issues, but more by the capacity my brain has to take all this tech on board. Time to grab an innovation geek and make them my new BFF.

And here’s where we go back to basics. Creativity can’t be automated and when fuelled by great strategy and insight it’s the driver of all enterprise, especially in communications. Looking at this year’s D&AD pencil winners, and observing as a judge at  the ‘Pioneering Spirit Awards’ for the Marketing Society Scotland, it’s clear that creativity is agile as well as migratory. If there is an understanding and skill to adapt, then creativity fits seamlessly into any new habitat and is the vehicle to get you there too.

What should we take out of all this?  Well for me it’s that creative and innovation in marketing terms should no longer be considered as separate skills. ‘Creativation’ is the future. See you on Mars.

Sophie Hackford, Futurist, Technologist, Researcher and Anthropologist Keynote Speaker, Adobe The Experience Festival 2019 https://www.adobe.com/uk/events/experiencefestival19/recordings.html

#DandAD2019 https://www.dandad.org/en/d-ad-creative-advertising-design-festival/

Virtual reality: friend or foe?

Virtual reality: friend or foe?

Limitless experiences and fantasy becoming reality are two of the most exciting prospects for us all. Imagine being able to be anywhere, with anyone, at any time – it’s a dizzying prospect.

Well, we may just be in luck. Tell our ancestors 100 years ago that come 2017 we’d be able to make video calls in real time, track friends’ whereabouts on portable screens and that flying cars are actually going to be a thing? The would say flying pigs would be more likely.

At the moment Virtual Reality (VR) is a phenomenon that seems more talk than action – merely a tease, or a medium inhabited by the hardcore gamer. Devices such as the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive provide a VR experience that is pretty much accessible by all. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has already pounced on its potential and has described it as a social technology in addition to a gaming one, which is probably a fairly good indication of its future impact.

It seems this is just the beginning of what will be an almost unbelievable human experience, and many brands and entertainment bodies are getting familiar with how it can intensify experiences in unbelievable ways.

Last year, Biffy Clyro fans could immerse themselves in the performance experience by being on stage with the band in a virtual music video, which toured festivals around the UK.


In tourism, VisitScotland recently utilised the technology by offering prospective visitors a ‘try before you buy’ approach.


Traditional media have also started to get on board – providing 360 imagery on their platforms, trying to keep up with what consumers are excited by and taking them closer to a story by giving it a completely different angle (literally).

It’s all very cool, but if you’re a fan of shows like Black Mirror, you might share my futuristic concerns; it’s not hard to see how there could be a more sinister, totally weird side to its development that could replace the beauty of real experiences. Can you really re-create or better the high of being on someone’s shoulders in a sea of people belting out your favourite band’s song, or bombing down a hill on a set of skis with the wind in your hair?! I can’t help but imagine this is the start of our devolution back to some prehistoric sea creature with no capacity for human interaction. Dramatic? Maybe.

Nevertheless, VR is just at the beginning of its journey. Experts are already exploring its scope for the treatment of conditions such as depression and phobias. It might also improve quality of life for the ill and immobile, giving them the chance to explore the world, or cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. It’ll let people play or dance on stage alongside their idols at Glastonbury, and maybe inspire the next generation to pursue a particular education, career or lifestyle after giving them an ‘almost-real’ taste of what something is like.

VR is almost its own worst enemy as the technology enabling it is evolving so quickly that people don’t even know where to begin. A bit of scepticism is healthy, but for society, the media and brands in particular, the opportunities it presents are worth exploring.

Snapchat: the gift that keeps on giving

Snapchat: the gift that keeps on giving

It’s been quite the summer for Snapchat. The introduction of Memories, Instagram causing outrage by basically stealing Stories, CEO Evan Spiegel popping the question to Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr – every tech geek’s dream – and now its rebrand to Snap Inc. and of course the launch of Spectacles.

We’re a bit obsessed by Snapchat at the moment, everything they do seems to work. But Spectacles? Spectacles caused a bit of a discussion on Monday morning. What’s the point? Can anyone really be bothered buying and wearing a pair of sunglasses for the sole purpose of capturing a video? Have they learned nothing from Google Glass?

We weren’t sure. However, having dug a little deeper we think this might actually work.

 

What are ‘Spectacles’?

If you haven’t heard – which from a bit of research (a question in the girls’ WhatsApp group) not many outside of the communications industry have – a bit of background for you. Spectacles are the latest piece of wearable tech. A range of sunglasses from Snap Inc. that will record 10 to 30 second video clips with just a tap, the video footage will then wirelessly transfer to a user’s Memories in the Snapchat app. Spectacles look nice, nicer than Google Glass anyway, and will be available in three colours when they launch in the US this autumn for $129.99.

Initially, I had no idea who would want these. Why wouldn’t you just use your phone like we have been? But, actually, imagine being able to capture one of your favourite memories or events, then going back to see that memory exactly the way you experienced it. For me, it feels like they’ve introduced the GoPro for everyday members of Gen Z. Instead of capturing outdoor, extreme activities you can record everyday moments – the last day of school, the family BBQ, your best friend’s wedding. They’ve introduced the fun factor that was missing from Google Glass.

 

How will this work for brands?

A recent piece of research by Cisco Systems predicted that 80% of consumer internet consumption will be video content by 2019, and just last month Facebook sheepishly confirmed that text posts are declining on the platform in favour of video and images. We know video is becoming more and more important and it looks very much like its popularity will continue. The technology Snap Inc. are introducing means that the circular video can play full screen on any device, in any orientation, and captures the human perspective with a 115 degree field of view. Meaning even if you aren’t there, you can experience it, not just watch it – exactly what got people so excited about VR tech this year.

I think the popularity will depend on the early adopters. Will Gen Z influencers get on board; can we imagine the likes of Kylie Jenner, Zoella and Calvin Harris, some of Snapchats most loyal users, wearing Spectacles? I’m not sure. But, I’m looking forward to seeing how it works.

Love, Emojis and Heroes – What’s Rockin’ 2016

Love, Emojis and Heroes – What’s Rockin’ 2016

2016 is the year of the consumer. Through all platforms, across all trends, the customer is claiming back their mind and their body and is in full control of their media space. So adapt or die.

Digital comes of age. It’s still the media juggernaut, but this year we’re digging deeper into the analytical matrix.

The consumption of digital content is through apps and is fully mobile. Our desire for portability and our rejection of always digesting information in real time is set to continue, so we must continually maximize content to match and strive to work out where, how and when.

What’s new this year is the way we’re evaluating our digital data and its impact on strategy, which aims to make social more viable and valuable. Businesses want ROI and so ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ aren’t enough. Although they demonstrate awareness, in 2016 we’re looking for love.

Creative virility is super for vanity, but advocacy now reigns supreme. Excellent consumer experience converts consumers to brand activists and thus maximises social connectivity. The focus is on follow through, so perpetuating the circle of client happiness and truth. Even our beloved emojis, (now used more than not) are to be scrutinized for the data they can yield. (Insert happy face with wrinkles, drinking a nice Riesling).

Content will see a further move away from static to video. Interactivity will keep your customers clicking in the appropriate direction. Understanding the right degree of personalization and making content relevant is crucial too. Know your platforms, be ready to pounce on the new. But the big technological trend that will impact content is virtual reality, already popping up on Facebook and YouTube with the emergence of 360 Video.

It’s an Olympic year, so sport and our pursuit of a healthy lifestyle are on the podium. Keep up with the gurus and influencers in this spectrum; the frontrunners will be worth their weight in gold. And let’s not forget there’s an American election in November so corporate and financial businesses should be on high alert with their spin on this.

Creativity, our stalwart, is always about the story leading the customer through the media jungle, entertaining and delighting them on the way and delivering them a happy ending. A campaign with a conscience is a seasonal vogue, but if there’s one thing that’s always in style, it’s an honest to goodness, strategically grounded, fantastic idea.

Our affection of all things seventies has been turbo boosted into the stratosphere with the sad death of David Bowie. As music is fashion and fashion is music and Bowie’s creative brilliance is the embodiment of both, never has he been so culturally pertinent. See his genius penetrate through both artistic mediums and long may it continue.

And that’s it, health and prosperity (with a bit of strategy, innovation, creativity and integration) for 2016 from Stripe HQ.