4 May 2012

IPA Creative Pioneers Conference Write-Up

I spent Wednesday morning this week at the IPA Creative Pioneers conference held at Shoreditch Village, apparently the site of the first ever theatre in London and in the heart of London’s Tech City, so a perfect venue to talk about the intersection of creativity and technology.

I summed up the morning on my Twitter feed as – try more new stuff, more often, more quickly, more collaboratively and put people first, not tech – but for those of you who might be interested here’s a more complete roundup of the morning’s speakers who came thick and fast (and delayed lunch!)

First up Marc Nohr and Jason Goodman summarised what they learnt on the IPA’s recent jolly fact-finding mission to Silicon Valley. Given we were sitting listening to this in spitting distance of Silicon Roundabout they were honest enough to front the “why did you have to go to Silicon Valley to find this stuff out” question. They drew parallels between the two geographies around themes including Vision (we all need one), Now (don’t dilly dally), and Constant Beta (do it, test it, ship it, do it again). So far, so old news.

Sarah Passe from Creative Artists Agency talked animatedly about changing models of content creation and brand co-creation as higher quality productions start to make their first appearances on the internet rather than via TV or Cinema, including plans by YouTube to introduce 25 hoursof original new content a day. I’m still not sure I understand the funding model for this but more high quality content can only be a good thing, right?

 Ex Ad-man Eric Edge, now EMEA marketing supremo at Facebook, gave us an insight into how the company has driven its own success through the application of a few pithy maxims posted up around their offices – Done is Better than Perfect / Move Fast and Break Things / Stay Focused and Keep Shipping / What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

Most interesting, however, was their culture of hacking (no, not like  Matthew Broderick in Wargames), hackathons where people work on projects they normally wouldn’t to find novel solutions.

David Scheine, European head at Yelp, described their social business model that relies on user generated content from unpaid reviewers. Heretically, in a room full of Ad Men and Women he admitted that they never advertise preferring to throw parties for their most frequent reviewers to keep them sweet. Joshua Graff, from LinkedIn terrified the room by showing how Big Data is being used by KLM in their Meet and Seat programme to allow customers to pick their seats based on others LinkedIn or Facebook profiles – one senior ad man overheard saying “I’d rather kill myself”.  

Surely there must be an option to allow the stalkee to refuse the advances of their stalker? Who wants to be sat next to someone on a transatlantic flight who won’t stop pitching at you? Eamonn Carey from Kiip then made a short but entertaining pitch for Kiip, the game rewards system that allows brands to provide either real, or virtual, prizes for gaming achievements on your phone.

Andrew Humphries and Kam Star delivered a passionate portrayal of Shoreditch’s transformation from shit hole to Tech City and announced London’s answer to SXSW, Digital Shoreditch, as the focus turned away from Silicon Valley and toward Silicon Roundabout.

Next came another panel/not a panel, this time centred on creative advertising uses of technology. I’ll be honest, I must’ve been a bit distracted by this point as I’ve forgotten the names of the three speakers but one thing stood out for me:  Mother talking about their HTC ‘skydiving’ ad. 

What was most interesting to me was the approach they took in creating lots of content, across multiple media platforms all at the same time rather than having 3 or 4 separate shoots. Well, you’d have to if you were trying to film a guy taking photographs while skydiving. Presumably this should mean that the media planning has to take place at least at the same time as the creative development, if not before. Otherwise, how do you know which platforms you’re creating for?

Steve Henry of Decoded next gave an entertaining little pitch for his “learn how to code in a day” proposition promising he could teach your Granny to code in a day. Coding is the new black it seems. Alex Hope OBE made a worthy case for his NextGen project to improve the teaching of information technology in schools. I was shocked to hear that fewer people today are studying computer science at University than were 15 years ago. Then Matt McNeany from Code Worldwide made a compelling case for agencies to catch up with clients in the race to join marketing to technology. His presentation below:

Finally 19 year old Steven Bartlett showed his energy and enthusiasm for his latest startup (his first was an events company run on Facebook before Flashmob parties had been heard of) dazzling the crowd with lightning fast mental arithmetic he showed that you’re never too young to start something new (nor should you ever be too old but that’s a story for another day).

And breathe! If you’ve got this far then I’ll buy you a drink the next time I see you. (disclaimer: you may need to remind me)