Thinking outside the channel

We’ve recently been involved in a lot of work across the entire building (with BBDO, Proximity and NetX all involved), that have been great ideas for our clients that aren’t just about focusing on specific or traditional channels. The result is great ideas for our clients that weren’t born out of channel-driven thinking, but rather a great solution that works in whatever channels we need it to.

So this got us thinking, how relevant is the channel model of thinking in an effectively integrated agency (or group of agencies)?

Going back to basics first. Why do brands need agencies? I’m sure Bill Bernbach or David Ogilvie have some deep and insightful answer to this question, but at a basic level brands need agencies because:

  • We are experts in communicating clearly with consumers
  • They are experts at creating products.

This was a simple concept to grasp in the past. There was a clear delineation between the brand creating a product, and that product being marketed to the consumer. Advertising often bent the truth; ads appeared mostly in broadcast media; finite broadcast space meant there were a small number of brands that could be successful and recognisable globally; and the consumer had no way to talk back. It was a one-way street, one that we’ve now obviously done a sharp left from, to enter a multi-lane freeway.

We need to rethink why a brand needs an advertising agency, and then we can start talking about integration and better process. The result of this, is that channels are no longer as relevant.

Advertising has evolved beyond communicating product benefits to consumers in clever and memorable ways. We have become the custodians of the brands. And if we want to survive, we need to actually have the capabilities in place to achieve this. A brand extends out through myriad ways to reach the consumer. We used to work only in the channels of broadcast, DM, outdoor, print and in-store, in relatively short lived campaigns. If we want to become custodians of the brand we need to have a long-term brand strategy, and then take ownership of shaping that brand, particularly in the digital space.

Once we move beyond the campaign and channel mentality we can be going out and listening to consumers, responding to them, and working with our clients to actually respond to consumers and grow amazing brands. That does, admittedly, sound like marketing rhetoric, but the truth is that it is now possible for any brand to become amazing. Where before broadcast channels limited ‘amazing’ brands to the Marlboros, Cokes, Fords and Nikes, the digital world now means any brand can become a legend in their own market.


In the wonderful world of web2.0 (or in this case 3.0 is the buzzword of choice) most product names are completely stupid, and usually involve dropping a vowel. But today Mozilla (the people behind Firefox) announced Ubiquity. What’s great is it does exactly what it’s name says.

From here:

You’re writing an email to invite a friend to meet at a local San Francisco restaurant that neither of you has been to. You’d like to include a map. Today, this involves the disjointed tasks of message composition on a web-mail service, mapping the address on a map site, searching for reviews on the restaurant on a search engine, and finally copying all links into the message being composed. This familiar sequence is an awful lot of clicking, typing, searching, copying, and pasting in order to do a very simple task. And you haven’t even really sent a map or useful reviews—only links to them.

Today we’re announcing the launch of Ubiquity, a Mozilla Labs experiment into connecting the Web with language in an attempt to find new user interfaces that could make it possible for everyone to do common Web tasks more quickly and easily.

While this might seem ultra geeky, what it does show is how the web is developing and how people actually want to use the pipes. It’s not just about people visiting your site anymore, it’s giving them the tools to do whatever they want, wherever they want. Something that should be a part of any digital idea we do.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo. - Australian TV goes social

Scorched is a new ’social media television series’ being produced by Channel 9. It’s a story based in 2012, when Australia has run out of water and evidently a great disaster is looming. The site features video bits, character blogs, and the climax of the whole thing is a 90-minute show on Channel 9 later in the year.

Sounds like a moderately good idea, however the only problem I can see is that there’s nothing social about it. The few comments on the characters blogs are just confused people, and the way users submit content is by emailing their ideas to the writers. Oh and there’s no rss feeds for new videos, but you can subscribe by email.

So it misses the mark in the social sense, but it’s a good first time effort, generating mostly positive talk.

How to tell a charity story online…

Girl Effect

We get so used to the conventional ways in which sites are constructed that we get caught up in what is expected sometimes.  But every now and again someone comes along and creates something different, something that uses the medium in the way it should be used. is a great example of how a charity site could look. Like all charity sites they need to convey their story in an emotional and compelling manner, most fail at this first hurdle but manages to captivate the viewer from the very start.

It is also a good example of how a site can be made to be distributed and shared

Nike are behind the initiative which just shows that every sector can learn from the big consumer brands experiences with digital; it tend to be those brands that are at the cutting edge.

Customised NYT


The New York Times have partnered up with Linkedin to offer people a more personalised front page of the paper’s website. Stories are presented based on your industry and network, and you even have the ability to easily send stories to anyone in your linkedin network. Very cool, and things like this and Facebook’s latest plans for world domination mean that advertising is just getting more and more and more personalised and personal. NYT/Linkedin detail is covered here in detail.

Google Lively

Google launched Lively today, which is basically their effort at Second Life. But it might not be all nerds and emos like Second Life, it actually looks moderately cool. It runs in a browser (doesn’t need any software download), and Google already have about 40 million users using Gmail, which includes Gtalk, which is now part of Lively.

Users can create their own avatars (which are also more comic-book like than Second Life), and then create rooms where they can meet their friends. There’s not one big world where everyone is like in Second Life, but apparently that’s on the way.

Google didn’t just launch this so people could see avatars of the friends they’re talking to, if it does take off it will be a massive advertising platform, and it will be completely controlled by Google (which everyone said about Second Life too, but that’s still just nerds and emos).

Seven Brains

The Clemenger Group wants the very best students knocking down its door. To do this the 
Seven Brains
graduate program came to life. The brain collector who lives deep in the bowels of the Clemenger building is on an obsessive search for the 7 best student brains to fill the 7 graduate spots for 2009. The website just recently launched is based around opening titles of a film. The navigation of the site is scattered throughout the video with rollover hot- spots giving the site a stark eery feeling to fit in with the overall idea of the brain collector.

Seven Brains

The PubCamp Report.

Tubby and I went to PubCamp yesterday arvo. Contrary to popular belief and rumours floating around the agency, this doesn’t involve camping out at a pub. PubCamp is an offshoot of BarCamp (which in turn is an offshoot of FooCamp), and is:

A Conference and Unconference” — a free event about the future of media on the Web — and get some group therapy for dealing with this precocious teenager and its seemingly limitless potential.

That whole teenager bit came from the intro on the website, which Tubby really liked, so here it is too:

The Web is now sixteen years old. Like most teenagers, it’s obsessed with its social life and wears strange clothing. It thumbs its nose at convention and is impossible for most normal grown-ups to understand. It’s not mature yet, but growing up fast. And while it may be out to change the world, it also seems intent on smashing up everything that has come before.

Unorganised events like this can be very hit and miss. Yesterday was pretty good, and was certainly worth it. I jotted down some random thoughts during the whole thing (speakers Bio’s are here)…

Tim Noonan
The ABS says 19% of Australians have some form of disability. And yet accessibility in the online world is treated as a ‘nice to have’ feature, rather than a core consideration. He can’t ’see’ any flash content via his screenreader.
In the future people may well be consuming their media via their preferred sense, rather than via the sens that it is offered to them in. In this case, the rest of us will be following the lead of the impaired people.
Tim’s accessibility studies have found that Web 2.0 apps are 38% less accessible than ‘the old web’.

New vs. Old Media Panel
This was actualy a complete debacle. Almost everyone up on stage was from oldskool media, and the audience was dominated by nuskool practitioners. In the end the crowd turned, and the final summary was actually delivered by an audience member. But here’s what I did note down…
New media supports old media because the new media can tell publishers more about their audience than they’ve ever known before, therefore creating greater ad value.
“New media needs old media to get people to find their sites”. This was an interesting point and one that never really got discussed any further. One of the new media panellists pointed out that he’s never spent a cent on marketing, almost bragging about that fact. But I wonder if he’s considered how well his site might be going if he’d spent some money.
Journalists have always been aggregators.
“Print is the life support for your online until online becomes the life support for your print until you close your print” - Ben Gerholdt from IDG.

Debate: That the new world of media choice is a dagger to the hearts of producers and creators alike
Value can only be created in content that has an inherent value that cannot be replicated digitally. That unreplicable element may only be a tiny element of the content, but it is immensely valuable.

Matt Moore on Value Networks
“The difference between the $4 bottle of water and the water that comes out of your tap is the intangible” (that probably makes bugger all sense outside the context of what he was talking about).
Analysing a value network and optimising your business for it requires addressing each exchange your business has with anyone and asking

  • Who is involved?
  • What does each role get and how does it benefit them?
  • What does each role give
  • Are these exchanges tangible or intangible

The above can apply to everything from selling mobile phones to creating a viral video.
Social media has turned the intangible (conversations in pubs) into the tangible (conversations on blogs)
Once you have analysed your value network, it’s important to understand that you only own your role in that network. Do that as best you can, and don’t try to own roles you can’t control.

Ian Lyons on putting the consumer at the centre of the universe
If a company (like Facebook) is valued at $3B, why am I not getting a cut? Why shouldn’t I get 10c for every ad that appears on my profile? If a service was created that followed this model, how much would it influence people in their choice to leave something like Facebook and join up to your service? Redefine the shareholder.
There is a point where data cannot replace the personal and innate things we know about ourselves and which we can recall in a split second.

Tim Noonan (again), this time just randomly taking questions.
Cloud computing means a new hardware interface could be possible for vision impaired people. Rather than try and read the code, look at the visual structure and allow the user to traverse and make sense of structure, then dig down into content.
JAWS (screen reading software) is really expensive ($3k). Is it possible that it could be made free to the vision impaired and be supported by targeted advertising?
Deaf people are linguistic minority. But there are a lot of languages in the world that are spoken by less people than the number that can read braille.

Also worth noting (and the reason I put in the BarCamp and FooCamp links) is that these events are a real-world manifestation of what’s happening online in terms of sharing knowledge and putting value in intangibles. The whole unconference/unorganisation aspect of it works amazingly well in some respects, but also there were some problems. All up however, I’m always impressed that events like this run just as seamlessly as your Ad:Tech’s and AFA forums.

Another interesting aspect of PubCamp was that an entire back-channel of conversation was going on the whole time through Twitter. While this creates a behind-the-scenes conversation of people in the audience, it also at times was brought up on the big screen so people on stage could address the conversations and questions happening in this backchannel.

Get used to feeling posh.


For the launch of Premium Economy, Virgin Atlantic have decided to do something different and offer punters the chance to win a real title. But first they have to take a ‘poshness’ test at

Whilst online, users can also explore the new Premium Economy cabin and all it has to offer. To drive traffic to the site, NetX developed a big offline campaign, ‘poshing up’ Martin Place rail station and turning it into ‘Martin Palace’. Practically every poster site, along with floor and escalator media in the station has been usurped by Virgin Atlantic. And cabin crew handed out samples of a new fragrance, Le Cuir - the scent of real leather (seats).

With the promotion running throughout May, it won’t be long before we discover who will be the first Baron of Bondi. Or Marquis of Malvern.

A collaborative effort between our friends at One Green Bean and Mitchells and NetX.

Big Chicken 08

Forget Big Brother 08. Check out Big Chicken 08. A twisted version of the original with chooks replacing the err, adults (?) Eight Chickens. One Hen House. Only one winner will make it through to the flame grill. A gripping six part serial for Nando’s. Get online and get addicted. Find out which chook will be Australia’s favourite fowl. And whether there will be any turkey slapping. Vote for the bird that takes your fancy here: