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Let’s all give change a big hug

Let’s all give change a big hug
We should be used to this as member of the human race but it’s amazing how it still phases us. But it’s not just change is it? It’s the speed as well. If we all agree that the beginning of mass communications began with the printing press in the 1400s, then everything roughly stayed as it was for 600 years until the arrival of radio.

And just as we got used to sitting by the fireplace listening to war broadcasts and the King’s speech, three decades later we had pictures too with television. And finally in the last 20 years we’ve hit the information truly with the internet.

Now as practitioners of communication we should be used to all this. But as members of the human race change freaks us out a little bit, no matter how we like to think of ourselves as innovators or early adopters.

It’s the reason why I quite like the following quote, which I’ve recited a few times: ‘The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein, it rejects it’ - PB Medawar.

So being the open-minded challenger type (I hope), I attended on behalf of d.fferent ( two of last week’s IPA AdaptLab sessions on Diversification: how we can explore the way forward for branded content and innovation strategy.

AdaptLab1 was held at the Bakery, whose mission is to inspire, provoke and drive trial of a new model for brands; and AdaptLab3 at Google UK where we explored how to break normal thinking by using user data to build insights.

Here is my take on the sessions I attended...

What did you get from the sessions?

That partnership is the key to getting delivering the best solutions for your clients. Partnership also challenges thinking, as you get to work with people that are not from your world. After any pain should come some real innovation for clients.

What were your key learnings?

Don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s someone out there who’s come up with some new-fangled technology and spent far more time than you’ve had to think about how it will work. But they may not have routes to market and that’s where you come in. With your insight into your client brands you can find a home for that technology.

What ideas inspired you the most?

All were pretty cool. Yossarianlives (;jsessionid=C389B60265CADC5F088FF0B936840720) is a search engine using metaphoric terms. I could see it being useful for the creative sector. The guys at Evrythng ( can make all products smart and IDx, who specialise in wearable technology.

What is relevant to your clients?

We went through a process with The Bakery which identified brand problems and then looked to see if any of the technologies presented could answer those problems. It certainly got you thinking differently from what we’re used to.

How do you plan to develop diversification in your agency?

That’s a big question to know exactly what’s right for your company and culture. But the key thing from Ian Priest’s ADAPT agenda is Action.  And I got enough from the Google guys and The Bakery team that a combination of working in partnership, of having confidence in your client relationships to open the door to those partnerships was important.

But most importantly, I think creative agencies have lost touch with an understanding of environment. In the debate session at Altitude on Monday someone talked about the heyday of advertising being the 70s and 80s. I thought that was very interesting as it was at that time that ‘full- service agencies’ was the model to follow.

Today we are all talking about the need for partnerships precisely because the full-service model doesn’t exist as the relationship between media owners, the media agencies and creative agencies is split.

So, do creative agencies (or should I refer to us as content creators?), have the same knowledge of environment as they once may have had in the full-service days?  That’s the challenge and that’s what I hope to address over the coming year at d.fferent.

How feasible is it to move from a time-based model to an ideas-based one?

Whilst we are selling ‘services... media, creative, digital etc’ I think it will always be time-based as we are not selling physical stuff, we’re selling agency’s talent’s time.  But if we end up selling products (technology or media) to our clients then I can see how we could move to a different charging model with shared IP and royalties.

I don’t think it’s about how we get remunerated, it’s about ensuring that we are remunerated in line with the value added to our client brands. 

Yousaf Khalid is Group MD of e>erythingd.fferent

Last updated 14/02/2014

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