A few thoughts on adapting global marketing campaign had been brewing in my mind for a while.

It all started with the ‘T’ word

In the past 10 to 15 years, when brands started to go truly global, one of the key steps they had taken was to align their brand advertising to achieve synergy in every market they advertised. At the same time, they started to realise that translating the marketing message in foreign markets was no longer enough, that’s when ‘transcreation’ (in global campaign) came about.

That was the time when I was recruited by a London agency specialised in this revolutionary approach. I moved from Asia and joined the original visionary team that determined to make it happen. I started to leverage my creative agency background to build a network of creative writers around the world, expanding the company’s talent pool from just key European markets to pan European, Asia Pacific and beyond.

Nowadays, the creatives that I have handpicked, have collaborated with global brands across the whole industry and had become the early adopters of this discipline.

At that time I didn’t really refer the service as ‘transcreation’. I defined the approach the same way as any local copywriter creating brand stories for the local market – the only difference being the global idea formed the backbone of any creation.

In many ways, my philosophy has never changed.

What does ‘transcreation’ really mean?

It reached the point when more and more people talked about ‘transcreation’, and marketing agencies (even translation companies) started to reposition their services to match the growing trend, the true essence of the meaning had become blurred.

In previous blog posts I have already expressed my view on the many misguided definition of ‘transcreation’.

Many people over the years had attempted to define it, with little clarity.

In the world of global marketing, the term has been loosely adopted to describe the kind of adaptation work that adjusts to the culture of local markets.

Within the marketing implementation industry, the term had been used just because this is, up till now, how most marketers understand it.

In fact, I have always had a concern about how people actually understand it.

It gets a bit ‘cloudy’, and does not help in showing the true value of the work when it is being done properly.

If you think all it involves are avoiding all the cultural pitfalls in foreign markets – expressions that does not mean anything in a foreign market, colors that create negative connotation or customs that is frowned upon in a different culture, then think again.

Let’s take a step back and consider the brief origin of this term:

Transcreation was originally used to express a literary tradition of India especially after the emergence of modern Indian languages. It was used to describe the people oriented and the time oriented creative translations of the ancient Sanskrit spiritual texts. This term originally used by contemporary writers like P. Lal for his English translation of the Shakuntala and Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (1974), is applicable for the whole tradition of creative translation of great classics like Ramayana, Bhagarata and Mahabharata in the regional languages from Sanskrit.

The methodology of ‘transcreation’ all makes perfect sense until companies start using it as a fancy term without fundamentally understanding the true impact of the output.

Part of the arguments in the past on ‘transcreation’ was on cost savings – one ‘master asset’ to be used for multiple markets. This argument is also gradually breaking down with the introduction of smart production process and technique, and the costs of recreating asset could be substantially reduced.

And that’s the reason why I like to challenge it and rethink what’s relevant in the current global marketing landscape.

Is ‘transcreation’ the only answer?

I developed the ‘creative adaptation’ service for some of our clients just because of this. By approaching it pretty much the same way as in approaching a brief from fresh, but taking the global brand and platform as part of the backbone of the local execution. By thinking 360° and activate the ideas in all touchpoints relevant to each local market.

The only challenge is, the line is so fine that only when you involve in the creative process, you often find it difficult to distinguish the differences.

I believe it is also intensified by the growing popularity and importance of digital and social media, where local executions are often the more preferred way to execute the idea. Locally developed executions are beginning to challenge the integrity of the global platform.

I think it’s time we approach it from a fresh angle.

Enter Trans-origination

Rather than approaching it in the contrived and often tightly framed manner – i.e. based on a master source and ‘transcreate’ it by applying necessary adjustments and changes to make it suit the local market – we approach it the same way like the thinking process of ‘origination’.

Origination: The act of starting something for the first time; introducing something new.

Only when we stop just trying to ‘shadow’ the master source materials, will we be able to think out of the box like a local.

Part of the arguments in the past on ‘transcreation’ was on cost savings – one ‘master asset’ to be used for multiple markets. This argument is also gradually breaking down with the introduction of smart production process and technique, and the costs of recreating asset could be substantially reduced.

How to be a ‘trans-originator’

How should we approach ‘trans-origination’? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t get boxed in the literal context. Spend more time to identify the true universal truth and more importantly, what each market actually needs. The universal truth is more likely to be deeper than the copy message itself or just the ‘campaign tagline’
  • Understand the local market beyond just the confinement of the ad campaign in question. Consider every expression holistically – from naming through to corporate culture, from marketing communications to even model of after sales service – because these are increasingly important in creating total consumer experience.
  • Apply T-shaped thinking: if transcreation goes for the depth, trans-origination goes for the breath. Think about extending the campaign to media apart from the pre-determined channel of the ‘master asset materials’ – sometimes spending the resources to re-interpret it in a totally different media that works better for the local market will prove to be more effective and guaranteed better return of investment.

In a nutshell, don’t just do it, start asking why.

Some signs of the growing trend of ‘trans-origination’

  • Coca-cola’s ‘Open Happiness’ positioning was trans-originated as a social campaign in Philippines, a good-will ‘Make Tomorrow Better’ campaign in Egypt or as a fun-filled marketing stunt in America – all are designed to be the manifestation of the ‘happiness’ platform in a local context
  • Johnnie Walker ‘Keep Walking’ platform is trans-originated in the ‘Jonnie Walker House’ experience in China
  • Levis was trans-originated as a local brand dENiZEN primarily for China and will be marketed across Asia, transferring knowledge of the mother brand to a newly developed local brand
  • French fashion label Hermès trans-originated as a luxury brand Shang Xia for China in 2010
  • InterContinental hotel is going to trans-originated a new luxury hotel brand in China riding on the operation support of the master-brand but in a totally local brand identity

Less theory. More practice.

All the ‘T’ words that I have mentioned are not attempting to replace each other. They should be considered as different tools in a tool box – use the right one in the right time.

Trans-origination is not just a fancy term or an upgrade of the same service but a fundamental shift of thinking and approach in developing and adapting global marketing campaigns in the digital age.

For this reason, I think trans-origination™, is the future.

I like to hear your thoughts.

(No need to Google the term yet, cause you read it here first!)

Stop press: Just when I am writing this on my holiday I read that Starbucks will open its first coffee shops in India in August or September in 2012, and aims to have 50 outlets by year-end through a tie-up with the Tata group. With India’s strong tea drinking culture, I can see a perfect case for trans-origination in the brewing.

How our lives changed with social network.

If you don’t believe this, just look at this screen shot I just took from a magazine page where they provide a handy way to share the article with your friends by using addthis.

It’s absolutely, and literally, the A to Z of social sharing platforms that are available. Many of these I have not even had time to explore.

Meanwhile, I am watching a replay of the drama ‘Black Mirror’ on 4OD. The drama is ‘a twisted parable for the Twitter age’ and taps into the collective unease about our modern world. In fact, the story is woven together tightly with a plot enriched with everything from youtube, twitter and the lots. It feels like it’s a bit too deliberate, but just reflecting our own lives, we are indeed living the ‘social network’ driven life.

I have to admit that I enjoy the culture of social networking, it has never failed to amaze me when ideas and information from different spaces converge into one and all of a sudden new insight comes alive.

Daniel Gulati wrote in his recent blog on Harvard Business Review argued that Facebook is making us miserable. His research found that among young businesspeople he had interviewed, behind all the liking, commenting, sharing, and posting, there were strong hints of jealousy, anxiety, and, in one case, depression.

I think otherwise.

I think the more transparent information is, the less anxiety there is among us. @pepsico is following @CocaCola on twitter, I think that is brilliant. When media mogul @rupertmurdoch started tweeting on New Year’s eve, we know there is no way anyone can neglect this form of communications anymore.

The truth is, When everyone is watching over everyone, barriers are broken down and true innovation happens.

Stop press: Today (4 Jan 2012) Instagram revealed in a blog post that Barack Obama had registered to use the photo sharing platform, apparently as part of the channels to communicate to all his supporters as the 2012 US Presidential Election nears.

If you want to search for something to watch over the holiday, this could be a fantastic alternative. It’s also probably one of my favorite movies I have watched in 2011.

Life in a Day is a movie sourced from 80,000 video clips shot by volunteers from all over the world. It’s a snapshot of what’s happening in the world on a single day last year.

Life in A Day trailer:

The film, on its own and judged from the traditional point of view of a documentary, may not appear to be anything so spectacular. The editing resembles a typical vignette type of short film or film made for corporate message. But what’s special about this film is the story and the vision behind it, as Director Kevin Macdonald put it in one of the interviews:

My aim was to create a whole movie from intimate moments – the extraordinary, the mundane, the preposterous – and thereby take the temperature of the planet on a single day, 24 July.

I think it is significant also because it was totally an offspring of the ‘now’ culture we all are so accustomed to. It is current and can easily be considered as a cultural milestone in the history of filmmaking in the future.

  • Instead of following the crowdsourcing model it is actually curated crowdsourcing, skillfully balancing democratization of content and professional manipulation
  • Breaking the mould of a traditional documentary, which typically require a point, narrative, conflict and goal, it’s a different genre altogether
  • The engagement with the audience started well before the process of completing the film, not to mention until the film had been released for the public. The public is then not being guided by any specific storyline or theme but create their own meaning out of the experience

Achievements like this do not come often. In fact it has already had its legacy. In October 2011, BBC News announced that Britain in a Day would be funded by BBC Learning as part of BBC’s “Cultural Olympiad”, with the Britain in a Day YouTube channel accepting video contributions from the public about their lives on a specific day: November 12, 2011.

Britain in a Day trailer:

Now, enjoy the movie ‘Life in a Day’ in full here:

Happy New Year, wherever you are!

With 2011 coming to a close, we begin to see top trends prediction from the point of view of various different sources. Here I would like to draw on my own observations, and mostly derived from instincts (using the power of ‘blink’) to predict on the trends that I see will emerge or continue to thrive in the new year.

The trends that I am listing here do not happen in isolation, and like any cultural movement, they are heavily intertwined and highly dependent on the development of one another.

Information is cheap. Meaning is expansive.

2011 was a year when information flow had become intensified. We heard about Mubarak’s resignation in Egypt almost instantly regardless of which timezone we were in. Web portals such as Huffington Post advocates democratisation of new content, while emerging ones such as Worldcrunch takes it one step further by selecting, translating and editing content from top foreign-language outlets. The flow of information will further enhanced with mobile phone device – by 2016, 80% of the world population will own a mobile device.

When information can be so easily acquired and accessed and beyond geographic boundaries, what’s important is on the depth and quality of the information and how it is being put into context and in relation with each other. I predict in 2012, sharp analysis, unique point of view and foresights are going to make the real difference. We also have to reconnect with human intelligence rather than simply relying solely on technology. After all, media can only take a message so far: success comes when that message is enhanced by humans.

Open innovation

Transparency of information is becoming a reality. People will no longer keep knowledge as secret and will openly embraced exchange of information. Discussion forum will flourish and it will not only be happening just among the amateurs.

The desire and openness to embrace exchange of ideas takes us to the development of ways to discover innovative ideas.

Dell IdeaStorm: Dell adopted the open innovation model by using social media for product development. Dell’s ‘IdeaStorm’ platform, launched in 2007, according to the website (www.IdeaStorm.com) had accumulated 16,000 active users, and has generated over 500 ideas the company has implemented to date.

Unilever VIP: The app was set up on Facebook in August this year inviting consumers to develop the product they love, changing the traditional model of incentives in consumer promotions. It currently has 30,000 monthly active VIP (users).

OpenInnovation Sara Lee: Sara Lee Innovation portal (www.openinnovationsaralee.com) was set up to ‘commercialize innovative ideas, technologies and solutions’ that best support their strategic direction. On the website it says:

Today, innovation is about much more than new products. It is about reinventing business processes and developing new markets and networks that meet untapped customer and consumer needs. We do this by making connections beyond the boundaries of our organization and reaching out to our customers, consumers, partners, knowledge institutions, adjacent industries and global markets.

Our vision is to create open networks that link broad bases of knowledge to better serve consumer and customer needs.

Maildives renewable energy initiatives: Nation brands are also catching up with open innovation. The island nation of Maldives has become the first country in the world to crowdsource its overall countrywide renewable energy strategy, by seeking advice from targeted experts.

Open innovation will become an alternative form of consumer research combined with the drive to cultivate new inventions. All these initiatives, when properly implemented and monitored, will become one of the most valuable sources of consumer insights that any company can tap into.

From personalised message to personalised products

Although mass media like TV and print will never lose its value, there is an increasing urgency for brands to develop communications that not only will talk to people in a more personalised manner, but also even develop products that reflect their ability to connect.

Burger King “Have it Your Way” promotion-stunt: Ogilvy Brazil took the Burger King “Have it Your Way” tagline to new heights and presented diners with a “customized” surprise when they ordered a Whopper. They have installed a secret camera at Burger King restaurants and took customers’ pictures. Their photos were then printed instantly onto the wrappers of their freshly made burgers, giving a super personal meaning to “having it their way”.

Updated WHOPPER FACE stunt by Ogilvy Brazil:

Coca-Cola Freestyle: The specially designed vending machine is popping up everywhere in the US this year, whereby consumers can create their own sodas right at the vending machines equipped with dozens of different syrups – currently offers 100+ drink choices to mix and mash up. It also facilitates consumers to give feedback to the company. The project also has an environmental and financial upside: the concentrated syrups reduce shipping. (www.coca-colafreestyle.com)

Social media strategy going global

On social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter every local market is currently developing their own space, with little connections between different markets. While this is logical since what makes social networking work is that it has to be customised for each market rather than a uniform ‘standardised’ approach, however, this approach will result in fragmentation of brand message and tone of voice, and also miss the opportunity of leveraging appropriate initiatives to a global scale and create a truly global sensational brand message.

I predict that the personalisation of communication will continue to flourish in social media, however, global brands will develop social media strategy to interacting with consumers in each market – with specific content and in their local language, but riding on the universal global platform. The existing decentralised approach will no longer be considered as effective. Creative agencies will need to develop new thinking in curating social media content globally – combining their global vision and local resources to help global brands communicate in one voice all over the world.

Gamification of brands

‘Gamification’ started off as a term to describe the trend to inject ‘play’ elements – by adding badges, leaderboards, competition device or simple turn-based gaming elements – to websites and social media platforms. But what we see increasingly happening is that the ‘play’ elements have started to infiltrate into the DNA of global brands. It could well be because of the consumers who have been raised in the ‘game culture’ were starting to demand such personalities from brands, and those who spotted the trend quickly had jumped on the bandwagon.

This year, Novotel and Microsoft teamed up to launch the ‘hotel room of the future’. The room, named Room 3120 at Novotel Paris Vaugirard Montparnasse, showcases the latest in cutting-edge technology and innovative design, with Novotel and Microsoft working closely together to create the revolutionary room that allows guests to sample the ultimate in hi-tech hotel rooms. The visionary room takes guests on a technological journey with features including a Kinect interface, Sensorit mirror based on Kinect technology, a fitness interface and a Surface multimedia table. (http://news.fr.msn.com/novotel-concept-room)

‘Gamification’ of brands will further influence the product and service design of brands in enhancing engagement with the consumers – this ‘playful’ element will become more important in the coming year.

Brand for good

Companies need to go beyond just making a profit; they need to find a way to balance profits and principles. In this age of transparency, a brand’s reputation needs to be carefully nurtured and developed, and building ‘trust’ with the consumers is proved to be a powerful emotional connection.

These are some examples of brands, big and small, have put meaning in their brands over just making money:

Coca Cola’s ‘Happiness’: As part of Coca Cola’s 125th global anniversary, Coca-Cola celebrated happiness around the world. In Philippines, the OFW project tells the true stories of ‘happiness’ when families and loved ones reunite, as more than 11 million Filipinos have left their families to find better opportunities abroad. The video went viral quickly, attracting more than 700,000 views within 5 days of launch on YouTube.

The OFW project:

Pepsi ‘Litre of Light’: Pepsi Philippines partnered with My Shelter Foundation to install solar bottle lights this Christmas, via a campaign devised by BBDO Guerrero. Designed to spread support for the grassroots solar lighting campaign in the Philippines and beyond, this seasonal initiative is one of the first under a new global identity for the project – called a ‘Litre of Light.’

‘A Litre of Light’ official version:

The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen: In October, Jon Bon Jovi has opened a new “pay-what-you-can” restaurant, hoping to give low-income families an alternative to unhealthy fast food. The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen is located in Red Bank, New Jersey, near the singer’s hometown of Sayreville.  (www.jbjsoulkitchen.org)

The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen:

Levi’s Water<Less Jeans: Levi’s wanted to reduce the impact they were having on water usage; after all, it takes 45 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans. They are planning to turn their production process upside down, and successfully come up with a process that reduced water usage 28%-98%, ultimately saving 172 liters of water.  Furthermore, they released a small amount (1.6 million units) of these jeans in the spring of 2011, in an effort to balance both profitability and broad appeal.

Levi’s Water<Less Jeans:

In 2012, brands will continue to invest in initiatives that will further enhance their reputation as a good corporate citizen, hopefully not only will it benefit the consumers but to the world as a whole.

To be continued:

These are just some of this year’s observations. I like to hear your thoughts and especially trends that are relevant to your country. Please drop me a line to suggest links and check back for updates.

Further inspirations:

Check my tweets @louiechow under #trend2012 for further inspirations and additional insights.

When Laura Kuenssberg left BBC where she was news editor, there was something that she apparently liked to take with her – her official BBC Twitter account where she had 67,000 followers. As Twitter is such a relatively new ‘channel’ for journalists, there hasn’t been any established guideline whereby an employer will allow their employee to depart together with their official ‘profile’ page. Afterall, ‘followers’ are almost identical to ‘audience’ these days and command the same value to a corporation like BBC. Laura also commented on the importance of the Twitter account, she said: ‘having started tweeting as an experiment two years ago during the party conference season, it became almost as important to me to break stories on Twitter as it did to get them on air on the BBC rolling news.’

In fact according to the BBC social media guideline dated June 2011, under the category ‘Activity for core news (e.g. breaking news), programmes or genres carried out officially in the name of BBC News’ it actually stated “…if you move to do a different job or are off sick, someone else will have to take over.”

However, at the end, BBC let her took the profile away and in return for a plug for their new business editor Norman Smith’s account. Her profile apparently has now rebranded as @ITVLauraK.

I guess afterall, the boundary between ‘private’ and ‘public’ activities is largely blurred nowadays. The Reuters Handbook of Journalism have very clear and simple advice in this area:

The distinction between the private and the professional has largely broken down online and you should assume that your professional and personal social media activity will be treated as one no matter how hard you try to keep them separate. You should also be aware that even if you make use of privacy settings, anything you post on a social media site may be made public.

As far as I am concerned, I follow very strict personal guideline when I engage in social media. I do mention that I am working for my current company and my capacity in my twitter profile, partly because I think it adds context to what I do and clearly indicates what my tweets will most likely be about. It helps people who don’t know me yet decide whether they will follow me or not.

Here are a few rather common sense advice I like to share with you:

  • Make clear that the views expressed are personal, and not those of your employer
  • Focus on tweeting about topics that are, directly or indirectly, related to your core business, expertise and roles at the moment – that’s usually why people follow you
  • If the message is impossible to be communicated clearly in 140 characters, do it with other form of communication or post a link to your blog – subtly may not be the best policy on twitter
  • It’s perfectly fine to tweet about activities or personal pursuits that you actively engage in, it shows what drives you and what you are passionate about – all adds to you as a personal brand
  • If there are any remarks you like to make about your current clients’ business activities, always do this with supports and evidence and link to official source
  • Follow your current clients’ competitors because you need to know what’s happening on their side in order to input efficiently for your clients’ business
  • If there are any negative news or comments either on your clients’ or their competitors’ business, always cross check with other established sources before you retweet it
  • Do not avoid responding to comments since it will appear as avoiding the topics – people generally don’t like talking to the wall

Oh yes, don’t always tweet about the weather, how low you feel on a Monday morning and how much you thank god on a Friday – it is not fun. (I unfollowed quite a few profiles simply because of this!)

Do you tweet under your company’s brand? Any advice you like to share?

Are there any specific guidelines that is relevant to your country?

Drop me a line in the comments below and let’s continue the discussion.

Useful resources:

Journalist blogging and commenting guidelines: http://www.guardian.co.uk/info/2010/oct/19/journalist-blogging-commenting-guidelines

Reuters Handbook of Journalism: http://handbook.reuters.com/index.php/Main_Page

It has become official that social media has a “meaning”, and it has imbedded very much into our everyday lives.

On 25 August, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has announced that it will add “tweet” and  “social media”, in addition to more than 150 other new words.

According to the Dictionary, Tweet (listed as both a noun and verb) is defined as:

1. a chirp note.

2. a post made on the Twitter online message service.

The definition of “social media”, which the dictionary lists as being used for the first time in 2004, reads:

Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).

However, this is of course just the beginning, and by large, only a western definition. Although at Merriam-Webster, they now feel that the meaning of the word had ‘stabilized’ enough to include them in the dictionary, we are at a time when we are still not quite sure about what tweeting means to our lives. And just like any cultural phenomenon, its meaning, its usage, its adoption rate by the public and its public image are all different in different culture.

As a communication tool, different culture also has a slightly different point of view and hence perception towards what’s acceptable.

In the Middle East, the dramatic events of the Arab Spring and the recent scandal that brought down Congressman Anthony Weiner, tweet is a word that has been part of the story. And had certainly gained international recognition. Tweeting is becoming a widely acceptable form of personal expression. At a seminar during this year’s Cannes Advertising Festival in June, Ama Salama, the Egyptian filmmaker who took part in the Egyptian protests said: “Some corporations are using the same brainwashing techniques that those government used to sell their bureaucracy and propaganda, social media is going to get them because we shall tweet about it and write about it. That s the power of the people.”

In the UK, after the London riot, Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that the Government was trying to establish how to stop the internet being a tool for troublemakers to organize disruption. Social media, all of a sudden, had been blamed for being a disruptive tool. Although it has been reported that the government already appears to be rowing back on Cameron’s initial suggestion, it did cast a shadow in the medium which should actually can be a very useful intelligence assets.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, remain positive about this. In the lecture he had given at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on 26 August 2011, when asked about his opinion on Cameron’s proposal, he said: “I think it’s a mistake. It is a mistake to look into the mirror and try to break the mirror. Whatever the problem was [that caused the riots] the internet is a reflection of that problem. If you have a problem, use the internet to understand what the problem is.”

Meanwhile in Germany, Facebook was being challenged in August to disable its new photo-tagging software. The German government said that they were concerned that Facebook’s facial recognition feature amounted to the unauthorized collection of data on individuals. Johannes Caspar, the data protection supervisor in Hamburg, who has been aggressive in investigating the online practices of companies like Google and Apple, also warned that the feature could violate European privacy laws. The case is still under review.

In China, “tweet” remains only the meaning of a tweety bird, and the platform, together with other imported social media platforms like facebook, are still being blocked. Artist Ai Wei Wei started blogging in 2006 (he was among the few ‘celebrity bloggers’ who were actually invited by sina.com.cn to promote their new platform), by 2009, the blog was started to be censored and its entire contents deleted from cyberspace. However, if you think that the tight control on social media is limiting its growth as a medium is wrong. In fact it had been reported that social media is more popular in China than UK. China also has a thriving ecosystem based around dozens of networks with home-grown platforms such as QZone, Baidu and 51.

One tweet different reactions – it’s important to know what social media actually means in your culture; no matter whether you are tweeting to express your personal views or as the face of a commercial brand.

In the coming blogs I will be exploring in more depths some of the following topics:

  • How different are the use of social media in different markets?
  • What are the proper “social behavior” in social media, what are widely considered as good manners in tweeting and blogging?
  • If you are tweeting and blogging on behalf of your company, are there any useful guidelines?
  • If you are maintaining a twitter profile for a brand as a marketing tool, what are the most effective approach to remain authentic while meeting the commercial objectives?

I welcome to hear your viewpoints and inputs especially from different cultures. (@louiechow)

Links and reference:

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary Updated for 2011: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/something-to-tweet-about-128379408.html

Ai Wei Wei’s Blog: writings, interviews, and digital rants, 2006-2009/ Ai Wei Wei: edited and translated by Lee Ambrozy. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press 2011.

Google’s Schmidt sees more partners for Google TV (Georgina Prodhan, uk.reuters.com, 27.08.2011)

Germany Investigating Facebook Tagging Feature (Kevin J. O’Brien, nytimes.com, 03.08.2011)

Today I spotted a great idea. An idea probably had taken the creative team a short time to conceive, and then pull it together swiftly, efficiently and more importantly, creatively. The campaign that I felt so strong about did not need a multi-million budget. It did not need two months of revisions, three months of execution. It was not done by an award-winning team. But in my opinion, it is one of the best campaigns I have seen this year so far.

The campaign was in fact created by an intern team at BBH London (well done Bjorn, Sophie, Omid their mentors and the agency that had given them space to be creative). They read about story of an 89 years old barber, Aaron, whose business was ransacked during the riots this week. Aaron has been in the Tottenham area for 41 years, and has no insurance and no way of rebuilding his shop. The team reacted by setting up a website called ‘Keep Aaron Cutting’, a simple design with a richly touching story. After just a few days, the website through the power of social networking, had raised almost £19,000. The money not only will be able to help Aaron to rebuild his business, it will also help the Tottenham community back on its feet.

I was touched by the story of Aaron. At the same time I salute the power of storytelling of the young creative team. They were able to react quickly and made great use of the power of social media technology to mobilise people.

Did the creative team know for sure that their idea work? Were they so convinced that the message will be able to connect with people in a meaningful way? I doubt they were absolutely sure. But that’s exactly that – they did not rationalise it but simply reacted with such genuine compassion that it transcended into a beautiful idea naturally.

It’s so hard to be truly creative these days when nothing is entirely original anymore. Creatives not only have to perfect the craft side of their work, they also have to think in a 360° manner, and in perfect timing. If we want to engage consumers who are now so used to reacting to twitter feeds every second, we do need to give them the timely stimulation, so we can be consider to be worth connected to.

In an ever-changing culture, we cannot stand still.

As creatives we also need to be sensitive to what’s happening around us and act quickly. We need to think less, and act fast. John Naisbitt once said in his book ‘Mindset’ (who was also the author of Megatrend) about ‘understanding how powerful it is not have to be right’. As a creative we need to let go of details sometimes and take some risks.  He said:

‘…If you have to be right, you put yourself in a hedged lane, but once you experience the power of not having to be right, you will feel like you are walking across open field, the perspective wide and your feet free to take any turn…’

Keep aaron cutting blog: http://keepaaroncutting.blogspot.com