Empathy is transformative.

The queue to get into the underground is backed up. More people are pushing ahead. Mumbles are turning into frustrated tuts and darting eyes.

At the front of the queue is a woman fumbling with the gate. She clearly is struggling. You know what this annoyed and crushed swell of people did? 

They gave her space. A boy, clearly late for school, asked if she needed help. It turned out she was partially sighted and was confused where she was. She's visiting from America and didn't know she could ask for assistance from the tube staff. 

The tense crowd became a wave of helpers. Some helping her, others offering to show her the way. 

Empathy. 

All it takes is just one person to have that spark. To see the world from someone else's point of view. To take the time to review the situation. That's powerful.

This is the power that all humans have. We forget we have this power and even fewer of us ever think to use it at work. Most ignore it when thinking of audiences and personas. 

They're a target market to hit. To impact. To sell to. To persuade.

It doesn't need to be like that and it shouldn’t. Our audiences are amazing. They're living full and wonderful lives without us. We can take time to feel what they feel. Let's not talk at them but listen more. We must stop paying lip service to audiences. They're important. We can understand them on paper, sure, but let’s really understand them by sharing that feeling. The industry has been talking about it for years. So we should start doing it.

It has to start with one little action. One spark that can turn a room around and change the focus from selling to an audience to making the audience’s lives better. Isn’t that what we and the brands we represent should be doing? Making things better? 

All I ask is next time you’re in a brief or writing even writing one, is to speak for the audience.

Feel for them. Put yourself in their position. Understand what keeps them up at night, appreciate their needs. Not in a spreadsheet or powerpoint but deep down. Feel it with a human touch.

Then you will see the transformative power of empathy.

  •  

Your Audience are Cyborgs.

Totally legit robotising. 

Totally legit robotising. 

I’m sitting in a bar. There is a conversation about 80s movies, the question comes up about TRON. Was it the first film to use CGI to create its digital world? Without thinking I slip out my phone and load up the answer in seconds. I’m sitting around and everyone else is doing similar. We’re augmenting our brains and connected constantly. We’re cyborgs.

From the early days of strapping on watches and correcting our vision we’ve been adding inorganic bits of wonder to make our lives better.

 

We enhanced our brains, took the lead in the relationship but now machine learning and AI is taking the next step. With the rise of Fake News, Spoofing websites, Phishing and social media pranking we’re our organic parts are overloaded and we’re turning to our AI allies to help us to sort it all out. We’re about to be going steady with AI.

For us, as creators and makers it paints for an interesting future. Our audiences are cyborgs. We’re not just talking to them alone. We’re talking to machines too. Safe guards that want to filter out, curate and protect our audiences from messages they deem unworthy. This means we’re going to have to start thinking of not only the idea itself but an idea of how we reach people. While people increasingly trust AI, we are innovators and creators we can’t let machines talk to machines. More than ever brands need to connect emotionally, have purpose in people’s lives. That for now is something that humans are rather good at.

Soon, an effective and emotional advert won’t just pass the test of an audience but the filters that will deem it worth to reach them.

The good news is, you’re already plugged in. Your office is full of cyborgs, and you’re on the frontline of it all. You don’t need to think like a machine, you’re already doing that. The trick will be to reconnect to human truths and the illogical of life which no algorithm understand.

Then you’ll be thinking like a cyborg.

The Break up, it’s not them it’s us.

This is evidence of my coolest moment. Global Hypercolor T-shirt, oversized for extra kudos. 

This is evidence of my coolest moment. Global Hypercolor T-shirt, oversized for extra kudos. 

We need to talk. No, don’t worry it isn’t about your overuse of the word ‘game-changing’ or your tendency to equate innovation to what you just read in Wired magazine. We need to talk about us. Not a me and you thing, don’t worry about that – we’re solid.

It’s about the kids.

More to the point it is about the future of our industry, our agencies and the role we play in the creative industry. Look there is no easy way of saying this but I think I need to remind you of something. It’s been said before* and by much better people than me but we’ve forgotten.

Okay, I’ll just say it. We’re not cool. There I said it. Don’t worry I’m one of you too. I work in the industry, an industry I’m proud to call home but I’m just as uncool as you are. You might be sitting there drinking your Soy Chai latte and thinking “whatevs, I’m totes cool #Amazeballs” but it’s an important message, one that I think needs an explanation.

The advertising industry produces amazing, witty, clever and frankly sometimes breath taking communications and ideas. We make things that can be cool but that doesn’t make the industry that puts it out inherently cool itself. In our long relationship with the outside world we’ve gone from Madmen, cheeky heroes through to gurus of Marcoms. We’ve felt powerful, we’ve seen the impact and good our industry can do. We’ve let it wash over us, soak us in our own importance and for a while, that was all that was needed.

The brightest and best, the smart and crafty came flocking to us. Follow us, and be shaped to become the stars and darlings of our industry.

Cool by its very nature is ever changing. Cool ages quickly and is replaced by its younger brother ‘cooler’. Only we didn’t change, we still waited for all the best and brightest to come to us, to bash down our doors and join our great industry.

Only now the diverse, weird and wonderful creators of tomorrow chase a different type of cool. They chase down tech companies, start ups and go it alone. Cool is changing at a pace that even I, a fabled millennial, actually have no idea what’s cool.

So that means we need to change to bring in the type of people that can continue to push this industry forward. Let’s be honest, we’ve been lucky. Damn lucky that all the juniors and young creatives that are with us now are here at all. They’re here not because of what our industry is, they’re here despite it. They’ve pushed past our flaws and seen the good in what we can do together. For that I’m truly and utterly grateful for ever junior that steps through the doors. To every young creative, I can’t thank you enough. You make this industry we share amazing.

As a whole though, this industry needs to stop expected to be chased. We need to do some chasing of our own. No, recruiters chasing for us doesn’t count. The odd chat at a university or creative club doesn’t either. We will have to go out there and start finding the creators where they create. Follow their blogs, read their writing, see their short films, listen to their ideas. Then we need to remind them the power of creative advertising, the good it can do not just for brands but for people too. Finding them will be hard but selling to them what we do, that should be the easy bit. We’re ad folk after all.

Then we can fill our offices with creators, makers and collaborators. The real game-changers and the people not just reading Wired but the people who could very well feature in the pages themselves.

It won’t make us cool, we’ve learnt that lesson but together we’ll make some of the smartest, funniest, clever and beautiful advertising that we’ve ever seen this industry make. It’ll be exciting and some of the best work of your career. I promise.

So start together, go high-five and fist bump** your junior members of staff, rejoice that they’ve accepted our kirks and dad-at-the-disco moves and celebrate what’s coming next.

*“Don’t tell my mother I’m in advertising – she thinks I play the piano in a brothel” - Jacques Seguela

**See told you I’m not cool.

OH NO, ANOTHER CHAT ABOUT CONTENT.

I know, its passed peak buzzword territory and now lapping the old hat shores of blog fodder. There has been a ton of articles written about what exactly is content marketing, what it isn’t and how to do it well. You’ve probably seen them all on sites that claim to specialise in ‘content’, the ones with the weird URLS like ‘SE0-Masters-Social-Gurus.agency*’. This I hope will be a tad more interesting, as at the end of it I’m not planning to sell you my snazzy new content marketing e-book.

You might have noticed how I slyly moved from the title of content into content marketing all in the space of a paragraph. So I guess I owe you to first talk about content itself. Content is, as boring as it sounds, the bits and bobs that fill up the internet. No magical insight there. The interesting bit about all this content is that most of it doesn’t come from agencies, brands or companies. In fact a big chunk of the most successful content out there comes from small bands of creators or individuals. Unlike the old media where you needed media agencies, printing houses and a host of other third parties to get messages out there, now you don’t.

Every tool you need to create content is available to the consumer. From cameras to editing software through to free hosting platforms and open source tools. The creators don’t need us anymore. For a lot of agencies, they’re waking up to the fact that some of the brightest and most creative people are now going it alone. Advertising isn’t the shiny bright start of the creative industry, the lure of having access to audiences has diminished. The smart agencies are working harder than ever to reach out to these new creators, going beyond the classic avenues of university graduates and expecting people to come running to them. But for now that can wait and I’ll pick it up with another post in the future.

So, let’s get back on track. Content. Marketing. So what is different from good ol’ marketing? As simple as I can put it – Content Marketing is playing in the same playground as our audience. We create, communicate, make in the same spaces and in the same ways the very audience does.

We can upload a video, like they do. Host a photo, like they do. Create a page, make a blog, tweet out, email, make sites, bots, conversations, like our audience is capable of.

This means two things for me. One we don’t influence culture as much as we have to be part of the culture we want to play with. We let it influence us, shape us a little and give up a bit of our ego when thinking of ourselves as master communicators. We’re smart but so is our audience. Let them influence us and help redefine what we think a great advert can be.

Secondly it means our life is harder. If we want to go play in that content playground we have to remember we have no right to expect that we’re wanted there. We have to add value to this. The value exchange. What value are we offering to the audience and not only that what are we doing for our brands? If we’re turning up with the weight of a brand and agency behind us, the audience we’re in will have expectations. This is where the power of advertising still lies, still has that sheen. We’re the curators of value between brands and audiences. Brands can speak for themselves and audiences can respond directly but we are the ones that can speak for both sides and craft the value between the two so everyone can benefit.

So next time you think of creating content for brands, stop thinking of how to reach the audience but start thinking of how can you be part of the culture, not starting conversations but curating what’s out there. Not starting with a presentation but beginning by listening.

Then hopefully you’ll not just have good marketing but great content too.

Originally featured on http://tinderflint.tv/words-wise-dan-evans/

YouTube - Made for You.

Today is the big day. After months of team work, collaborating with the client and pushing the idea as far as we could We Are Social and YouTube launch our #MadeforYou campaign. Today is just a teaser of what's to come. Over the next few weeks you'll be seeing it all over the capital and online.

Our task was to help celebrate YouTube to make sure it stays front of mind for both consumers and media buyers.

How do you celebrate something so big and so diverse that it can be difficult to know where to start? You celebrate the small, personal moments that the platform can deliver.

It all came from the insight that YouTube, despite feeling big always feels personal. The YouTube creators have a relationship with their fans like no other connection out there. It is a celebration of how even the biggest YouTube stars still feel approachable.

So we created Made For ____ , working with creators, YouTube and the fans to show that YouTube is for whatever you're into, whatever your passion. It is made for you. The idea is that this line will remain dynamic and ever changing - just like the platform itself. 

We wanted with this campaign to celebrate the power of YouTube. It is so much more than a collection of videos, it is a platform for both the gamers and the game-changers. Where you shape what you see and your view is counted.

It is something we're very proud of and hope you'll enjoy. It was a huge team effort from everyone at WAS. What's made me proud how this agency approached the task as an united team, with nearly everyone feeding into the core team to deliver this campaign. 

A new campaign, a new approach and a new new wave of YouTube.

It'll be on Targeted Cinema, Underground, Digital out of home, Metro cover wrap, Buses, Oxford Circus digital and of course - YouTube. In fact there are hundreds of placements across the city. 

On top of all this, the YouTube creators will be making their own elements to the campaign and celebrating what makes YouTube great for them and their communities. Truly making it a wide reaching campaign with a social heart.

You can read some of the coverage here : 

 

I'll be putting up the full campaign once everything is out and about but for now, I hope you spot it on your travels across London.

The passing of Vine.

As of this week Twitter announced that it'll be ending the six second video platform Vine. 

While it is sad to see the closure of any platform, I have to admit I think the impact and creativity of the platform has passed. When it first launched it created a wave of excitement and a race for brands to be the first to showcase themselves on this new shiny format. 

Overtime though the brands and creators evolved, they found that the content style could work on a very old format that somehow came back into trend. The GIF. 

The GIF gave all the advantages of the limited format but with none of the limits of been locked into an app or platform. The ability to be seen around the web natively meant that the humble GIF took a lot of the shine from the looping format. 

Ultimately the end for Vine came from stagnation. Not from the user base but from itself. It didn't look at what the world was sharing, instead it wanted the world to share its vision. 

On another note I always found Vines very hard to share and embed - which meant that in the end vine creations either ended up in an echo chamber or just got re-uploaded to YouTube, thus creating a new set of creators for their platform. 

The big question remains will Snapchat and Instagram evolve enough to keep pace with changing tastes? Early signs look good, but as Facebook has shown at some point you stop chasing the 'cool' crowd and cement yourself as a function of digital life, not a highlight. 
 

 

 

How to look good when running.

From time to time you not only get a good brief but a really good brief. That doesn't just mean a creative brief but a brief that can actually do some good in the world.

This Virgin Money Giving brief is just that. We were tasked with creating a video that spoke to runners and included the message that unlike JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving doesn't make a profit on your donations.

That means more money goes to the charity of your choice.

Which isn't just good but really good.

As Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit, it meant that budgets were tight. In the end it took a nimble crew and a rickshaw but we created something that we're all pretty proud of.

Put a bit of anarchy in your pocket.

A busy few months. Moving agencies, setting up shop and writing campaigns. I thought while I get a few minutes to myself I'd update what I'm up to.

Next month I'll be firing TVs live over the internet and you can be part of it. Check out the video below for more information.

Interesting point on this video - it has been made for Facebook as the main video portal with Youtube only as a back up. Facebook now serves up more videos natively than Youtube and has become the primary destination for viral video content.

Get reading.

In between freelancing, writing scripts and changing the world with kitten pictures, I've got a brand new selection of must read books. Some adland, some not. All worth your time.

First up this book by Rick Webb is a must for any creative looking at setting up their own shop. In fact it a must for any creative. It is everything you've felt needs to be said about agency culture, pitching and making money without loosing your soul.

Fan of the Mad Men TV series? Well read the book that inspired it. Simple as.

In this provocative novel Mark Blacklock portrays the true and complex history of John Humble, aka Wearside Jack, the Ripper Hoaxer, a timewaster and criminal, sympathetic and revolting, the man hidden by a wall of words, a fiction-spinner worthy of textual analysis.

You'll always remember cancelling but not what for.

I want to share with you something I heard when I started out in the industry. For some reason the phrase above stuck with me and guided me over the years. 

"You'll always remember cancelling but not what for" , many times in life you'll be asked to work late, to work weekends and to work above and beyond. That is a fantastic feeling, to know you're all pushing together to make something happen. However for me that phrase is a reminder of how many times you'll cancel on a family event to get that presentation ready, only to forget in six months all about the project but still be living with the shame of letting down loved ones. 

We need balance in our lives, we need trust and flexibility with our teams. We need to all push in the right direction so that we can make sure we attend important events, that we can be there for loved ones as well as work. 

That's why today, on the start of the Easter bank holiday, I ask you to switch off, no checking up on work. Just enjoy time well spent doing something else. Let your creative fuel replenish through adventure and relaxing. 

 

Keeping the peace.

For those that might be interested, I made illustrations and prints. You can pick up a print from here

Gone in an instant.

A few people have pointed out my phone's wallpaper so I thought I'd share it here. 

I doodled my camera collection. 

You can download here

Small
Large

Have a listen to this.

Take your headphones off but keep listening. 

Music, podcasts and audio books are all fantastic and I enjoy spending time listening to all of them but, there is always a but in these types of posts, I don’t put my headphones on when I’m commuting. 

I travel to work like most Londoners, on an array of public transport. Its stuffy, packed, often noisy and a fantastic place to observe. A huge part of observation is listening. Listening to conversations, hearing people talk about their lives. Even an quiet tube can be revealing. Listen out of the tiny sounds coming from other people’s headphones. 

What are they listening to? Where are they going? Where do they work? It can trigger all sorts of ideas and insights. Working in advertising and marketing, it is easy to think we know an audience just from paper - we don’t. We need to interact and really see people to understand them. 

Whenever you get a brief try to imagine the real end user. Not just a persona but dive deeper than that. Try to get to understand your audience, care about them, respect them. We want to create something that enhances or compliments their day. We can only do this when you spend more time observing and engaging with the world around us. 

Take the time to truly observe a situation, understand someone, train yourself and hone in. There are always chances to practice. Every long queue, every latr train is a chance to really stop. To watch and to listen.

So next time you’re tempted to pop on your favourite soundtrack from a 1980s cringe fest (we all do that right? Not just me?) , stop. Take it all in around you. 

There are no Single Creatives.

I’ve worked in big network agencies, small start ups and everything in between and one thing that remains true is that there is no such thing as a single creative anymore.  We work now in a more collaborative and open environment and the idea of a team has and should be evolving.

Agencies are beginning to open up to the idea of the fluid team; a more flexible team, adaptive to the needs of a changing industry. So if you’re a single creative about to join the industry you’re probably wondering what exactly I mean. Well, it means that you’re not alone. You might be hired as a single creative but you’ll never work in isolation. We are at the point in the industry where we can redefine the concept of a ‘creative’ team. You can expand it, re-shape and curate it for every project you work on.

The creative department should now include the whole agency. This is an empowering moment for creatives in the industry. Yes you might not have a dedicated partner but you will have access to a world of creativity to play with. Your partners should now include the planners, technologists, artists, art buyers, finance team,film makers and anyone who the project needs.

A movement all about the co-collaboration approach that opens up opportunities and routes that can go beyond traditional comms. So while it might seem hard to start off as a single creative, keep pushing and keep networking.

You can now define your creative team as all of those around you. Those in more ‘traditional’ teams too, this is your time to break down those walls and think of your team as a team within a bigger adaptive group. Teams are a fantastic way of creating ideas and now you have the chance to explore not just concepts for your clients but the very concept of a team. So go out there and make your team your own.

Make and re-make your team. Illustration by Daniel Evans for thiswolf.com

Make and re-make your team. Illustration by Daniel Evans for thiswolf.com

Experimenting with the Fujian.

I recently picked up a cheap "CCTV" lens online. I mean really cheap. Less than a trip down the local chippy level of cheap. I picked up a Fujian 35mm 1.7 CCTV Movie lens for my Olympus Pen Camera. 

It is best to think of this lens as a special effect lens. It is one step up from shooting with a plastic Holga lens but of course wouldn't match the optics of even a third party lens like Sigma. 

It creates a soft focus and dreamy effect. The lens is fully manual and mostly suited to the smaller mirrorless cameras. On my bigger SLRs it'll only work as a macro lens. 

I've included a few sample shots from the camera. I would recommend picking it up if you see it for cheap but I'd avoid paying too much for this.


I've seen some sellers putting it up as a "Lomo" lens in the hopes that some would be hipster wouldn't mind paying over the odds for that Lomo feeling. 

Give it a go and tweet me the results. I'd love to see what others do with the lens. 

Why every creative needs to think of the pub more.

How long does it take to explain your idea? Do you have to grab several pieces of paper with intricate scamps on them, or play several clips from YouTube to get the idea across? Then stop. I want you to think of the pub.

I have a process at work, one that many of the creatives I’ve worked will have experienced, called ‘The Pub Line’. This isn’t quite as exciting as queuing up several drinks at the bar, it is something much simpler.

It comes down to this. Can you imagine explaining your idea to someone you’ve just met at the local without having to waffle on or pull out examples? Does it still make sense, does it resonate with them? Do they understand?

The Pub Line Creative. Illustration by Daniel Evans 

The Pub Line Creative. Illustration by Daniel Evans 

Many moons ago, long before the rise of wetransfer and dropbox I had the chance to work on FedEx. The agency I was working for came up with the idea of FedEx creating a digital delivery service. Here ‘The Pub Line’ was ‘Fedex can now deliver digital downloads across the web just as safely as they do physical goods around the world’ - this was the whole idea all in one handy sentence. It is one that is easy for anyone to remember and to ponder on.

Another would be when I worked on Skype – ‘To show you can call a land line on Skype I put a guy in the middle of nowhere on camera that anyone can call’

It didn’t require and fancy visual or detailed plan. Those things are there to enhance an idea, not to be the core of one.  

Plus in today’s age of face moving campaigns it means you can include your entire campaign message in that single sentence. In a time hungry, choice rich world, that can do wonders for your brand.

This is nothing new, the ‘idea on the fag packet’ is an industry classic. And of course, the ‘Elevator Pitch’. However I think we’ve mistaken these techniques as being about delivering big ideas. ‘The Pub Line’ could be a big idea but it is more than that. It is grounding the idea, it is making simple, stripping it down to its core.  Big ideas are ones that resonate with people, ones that seem to come from universal human truths. So this, like many other ways is about testing and refining what you’ve created.

Start by asking yourself what is it about the idea that only your brand could do? What element is the most important? What feeling are you aiming to create? Imagine your idea out in the open, picture how others would talk about it. What is the undeniable human truth that connects with people? Use these elements to help you get your 'pub line'. 

If you can build an idea, one that just when explained in its simplest way, that still grabs you then you’ve got a solid, powerful idea.

So this is a call to arms, for creatives to think about the pub. To imagine going up to someone there and telling them the idea that’s bubbling in your brain. To nail that perfect pitch the simplest way... Then, and only then I think a pint or two is called for. 

Hyper funding the future?

Are you supporting a dreamer or schemer? A passion project or a get rich quick scheme? 

Are you supporting a dreamer or schemer? A passion project or a get rich quick scheme? 

Imagine your friend asked to give him some money, so he could fund his dream of building his ideal cinema. He promises you that when the cinema is built you'll get an early hands on and free entrance while it is new. You agree as it is something you think the world is missing. 

Now imagine just before the cinema is opening your friend sells it for millions. Not only that but he sells it to a huge corporate chain, one that doesn't seem particularly interested in film. 

You've still got some free tickets but your not even sure you want to go to this new version of the cinema. Worse still you're friend is a millionaire and that was all the reward you received. 

You'd be pretty gutted. That is exactly the situation that lots of early backers of the Oculus Rift are feeling right now. They backed what they thought was the future of gaming, now it is a tool within Facebook's future experiences. Many have been demanding their money back, or for more of a reward. 

The thing is though, there is no real ground for that according to the rules of crowd-funding. Crowd funding is more like a gift and the rewards are optional. You can't demand anything. It is only now that the start ups funded by crowd-funding are beginning to sell to larger companies that it has become an issue. 

So what is the answer? How can people kick start companies but feel like they're getting a just reward. 

Well according to some in Silicon Valley, Hyper-Funding. On the most part Hyper-funding works exactly like crowd-funding only that rather than the money you give being a gift, it is an investment into the company. 

This should mean that investors would get a cut of any sell out later. 

Hyper-funding hasn't so far got a massive presence online. Now I personally think the only thing holding back a sturdy Hyper-Funding rival to kickstarter or IndieGoGo is a slick bit of design and a clearer communication plan. 

Ultimately though it comes down to transparency of your company's business plan. If Oculus Rift were more open about there intention to sell or to secure corporate funding, would we be seeing the backlash now? People are frustrated because they thought they were funding an independent movement. So perhaps what Hyper-funding offers is transparency, that you know these companies might sell out but that you'll ultimately benefit. A open deal, one that you know what to expect. So if crowd-funding wants to adapt to survive more companies must put a sell out clause in their outreach campaigns. 

Either way there best way to get involved with these things is to invest with passion. Don't put any money in you can't afford and don't expect anything back. Even with Hyper-funding, only look at companies you want to see success. That way anything from there on out is a gift, only this time to you.