Another piece for Advanced Media at Boulder Digital Works. We were asked to put together a piece that reflected a two word phrase comprised of a noun and a verb. I chose “Eyes Tell”.
Posts Tagged ‘university of colorado’
Over the past month, two points of view and one Super Bowl spot wove a narrative for me that triggered some big questions. Wieden+Kennedy’s Tony Davidson via Vimeo, W+K’s Dodge Charger Super Bowl spot and design legend Bruce Mau speaking via Skype at The University of Colorado all came together in my head around big questions of how designers and agencies may tackle big problems in coming years and how I can help.
In the first piece, a 30-minute video, Davidson just sits on a stoop and riffs on everything from culture to technology and creativity to how agencies may operate in the not so distant future.
One thought that resonated with me was his idea that at some point agencies may have teams of people who figure out how to solve big problems and then take those solutions to relevant brands who can foot the bill for implementing the strategy. I want to be on a team like that.
Davidson’s thoughts were an interesting juxtaposition with W+K’s Dodge Super Bowl spot, Man’s Last Stand. The moral of the spot is that guys put up with a bunch of shit in life, but it’s all worth it because they can drive the car they want: a Dodge Charger.
The spot was well executed, but in the end didn’t leave me with much. I already knew that a lot of dudes bitch about their wives and like to drive muscle cars. This felt like ground that has been plowed before and overall very safe. Being the agency’s first work for the American car company this probably makes sense.
It’s clear W+K continues to work magic with a 30 second spot as evidenced by their brilliant new Old Spice campaign, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. However, the Dodge spot has since been all but forgotten.
The final piece of my thought provoking triumvirate was Bruce Mau staring down at me and 99 other people during the University of Colorado Innovator series. Mau was supposed to be speaking in person, but had to cancel. From his home office, Mau spoke via Skype of the end to interruption and the dawn of a new type of creative content that actually enriches people’s lives.
A recent and much lauded example of a company providing a utility instead of interruption for their customers is Nike with their Nike+ system that let’s runners measure and save run data via a connection between their iPod and their sneakers. What’s great about this effort is it further embeds Nike into running culture while meeting a need of many runners to capture data about their workouts.
A very different example is IBM powering National Geographic’s Genographic Project. According to the project’s web site, the effort seeks “to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. In this unprecedented and of real-time research effort, the Genographic Project is closing the gaps of what science knows today about humankind’s ancient migration stories.”
The entire project is powered by IBM technology. It includes a robust web site, television specials, and a traveling consortium. As the project expands it provides great brand recognition for IBM and the company gets to show off its capabilities while contributing valuable information that is reshaping what we know about human history. How many campaigns can you say that about?
I bring these two examples up because they seem to be the types of projects more brands will need to be a part of to be relevant to people in the modern world. These types of efforts display product capabilities, enrich people’s lives, and don’t take the form of something that interrupts a person’s media consumption like a television spot or YouTube overlay ad.
When clients come looking for a spot, site, or any deliverable I think it’s time that agencies start asking “does it have to be a spot or are there other more meaningful ways to reach people.”
What if instead of producing their Super Bowl spot, Wieden+Kennedy and Dodge decided to create a campaign based around An American Car Company Reinvesting in America? Maybe Dodge could have sent 1,000 trucks down to New Orleans to haul away all of the dilapidated houses and wreckage remaining from Katrina. To help with the work, they could hire unemployed contractors. Once they hauled everything away they could give the trucks a special paint job and sell them as pre-owned (Saints colors anyone?).
The effort would definitely be filmed and a companion site could launch telling the story of Dodge reinvesting in America after the country bailed it out. In the end you would see Dodge vehicles in action and a company showing its value to prospective customers in a way that actually solves a problem and isn’t vulnerable to TiVo.
I explained this idea to my wife and she thought it was crazy. Maybe it is, or maybe people have just become accustomed to brands communicating in a certain way and anything outside the standard forum is hard to fathom. I just know it would be awesome if brands considered such efforts. I can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t solve real problems and put brands on display at the same time.
It seems there could be much more impact than a few million spent on another Super Bowl ad that fades away in a matter of days.
Boulder Digital Works Idea Studio numero dos included Warren Ng and Riley Gibson from Napkin Labs recounting their recent trip to CES and taking some time to talk about their company’s crowdsourcing model.
Warren’s presentation about CES was enlightening. He described football fields of convention center space filled with gadgets, doodads, 3-D TVs, augmented reality and cool remote control helicopters.
He showed video of super thin TVs, TV interfaces you control with your hand, cameras and all sorts of stuff. Warren was overwhelmed at the show and I was overwhelmed looking at all of the gear.
Thinking more about all of the technology on display got me thinking that there should be a Cabinet level Technology Czar. I know all the new stuff at CES is for early adopters, investors, hard-core gadgeteers and people whose job it is to stay on top of the latest technological trends. However, I think for many people, walking into Best Buy feels like CES.
Part of the new lineup of offerings in this phase of The 60 Weeks Program at Boulder Digital Works is called Idea Studio. It’s a weekly spot for someone with cool shit going on to come in, talk about it, answer questions and interact with the BDW crew. Idea Studio may or may not be open to the public. That’s still being ironed out.
Up first was Andrew Hyde; entrepreneur, start up guy, organizer and a bit of a rabble-rouser. Andrew’s Idea Studio effort included a run through what drives him, how he operates online, what shiny stuff on the Internet he was likes, his opposition to much of what is being done in the crowdsourcing world and some talk about mashups.
What resonated with me most about our time with Mr. Hyde was his proclamation that you cannot care more than him. Andrew is a driven dude and he claims that it is impossible to care more deeply about ones work than he cares about his own efforts. I both believe him and want to challenge him on this.
It is refreshing to have people out there challenging others to care more about what they’re doing. This forces people to put up or shut up, find something they care about and work to realize their vision.
I have these characteristics in me and I liked hearing Andrew put this part of himself front and center for the world to see.
I think this mindset comes down to execution. There are people who have ideas and do nothing with them. Then there are people who put forth every effort to execute on their ideas. Until that idea is realized, it eats at you to work to get it out.
I execute. I am at BDW to learn how to better execute and how to expand my arsenal of ways to execute on an idea. It was great to spend time with someone who goes at his goals as aggressively as Andrew. It forced me to dig deeper in my own efforts and see just how much I can care and how hard I can work.
For a minute I thought my phone was vibrating. Then I realized it was the air.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s Boulder office was literally buzzing when I visited last Tuesday along with my fellow Boulder Digital Works students, the program’s coordinators and one of our interns.
We rode some of their low rider bikes around the entry area, watched a dog piss on a pole and got the grand tour of the place that we had been hearing so much about during the previous six weeks.
The tour was an eye opener. There were people everywhere. In much of Colorado’s Front Range people don’t have big yards so they head to parks, open space and trails to spend time outdoors. At CP+B, a similar principle seems to apply.
All but the top dogs have insignificant workspaces. This spreads people all over the warehouse space to work. There were people on the patio, in the kitchen, in the entry, on the bleachers and everywhere in between.
They call it a factory and in a lot of ways it looks like one. The ducts in the ceiling are exposed, the floor is a smooth grey and there is plenty of exposed plywood. A second “floor” was added as the office grew from the original 40 that started in Boulder to the hundreds there now.
We saw familiar faces, checked out their 3-D printers used for product prototyping and finished our day with a two hour session in one of the conference rooms learning about account management with Acct. Manager Jeff Graham.
Throughout the session footsteps above were audible and outside a constant smattering of voices could be heard. The mildly chaotic scene was a stark contrast from life at Boulder Digital Works.
Things at BDW are relaxed, safe and quiet, like a womb. Seeing that real world out there was important. But equally as important was hitting the snooze button on that wake up call, knowing we have another year to try, trip, fail, succeed, experiment and dream within our safe training grounds at BDW.
Week two was a “Creative” week on the calendar at Boulder Digital Works, although the previous week’s “Business” focus and this week’s “Technology” leaning have brought out plenty of creativity from the 12 of us.
The main focus of week 2/60 was Design Thinking. We started by watching a couple videos from Tim Brown of Ideo, moved on to redesign the water fountain and a system for getting people to drop bottled water and then were exposed to Lane Becker, founder of GetSatisfaction.com and Winston Binch of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky.
Two crucial elements of design thinking that we explored throughout the week were returning design to the big time by using it to create tools and systems not just objects and products and putting the user at the center of everything you do. These notions are changing the world of design and that’s almost hard to believe because they’re so basic. If the user isn’t at the center of design considerations who is? Wouldn’t every system and product be better and more successful if the creative team behind it considered the end user in the design process?
The concept of user centered design doesn’t blow your mind, but the idea that this hasn’t been the norm does. Alex Bogusky and John Winsor explore this in their new book Baked In.