FAB Awards 2014: The Highlights

10 Jun

Some of our industry’s finest recently gathered at the Hurlingham Club London to celebrate the prestigious FAB Awards—the only award ceremony to focus solely on the creativity of food and beverage around the globe.

If there is one lesson in creativity we can learn from this year’s FABulous winners, it’s this: don’t just say it, prove it. The brave winners of 2014 embody the heroic idea that actions speak louder than words. But not just for the sake of it mind you. They all stood for something meaningful, and took the appropriate action to prove it.

Dill restaurant by Lidl

To demonstrate the quality of their goods in Stockholm, supermarket chain Lidl set out to prove that “good food doesn’t have to cost more”. Even if it meant deceiving their very own customers. They opened a Michelin-inspired pop-up restaurant under the name “Dill”, with food sourced entirely from Lidl, unbeknownst to the happy diners. The risky hoax paid off, reminding us that sometimes you need to do things that are risky—otherwise everyone would be doing it.

Neglect by Marmite

Love it or hate it is more than just a message, it’s a brand promise that permeates everything they say and do. Their latest iteration of the long-running campaign caused some offence by mimicking animal cruelty—the ad follows a fictional team visiting houses to rescue jars of neglected Marmite. But in dividing the nation, they elevated love/hate to an entirely new level.

Literacy Store by McDonald’s

Marketing for good is no longer just admired, we expect brands to be good corporate citizens. McDonald’s had already given away over 20 million children’s books to help tackle illiteracy in the US, but now they’re taking a more active role in the cause. They won hearts and minds (and even induced a few tears) by proving that “life is hard if you are illiterate”. By replacing all the words in their Chicago store with nonsensical words, from menus to signs, they immersed unsuspecting customers into their confusing world.

Android KitKat by Kit Kat

Brand of the year Kit Kat have moved beyond just telling us to enjoy more breaks, to actually facilitating more breaks through technology. Google surprised the tech and so-called real world alike by announcing the name of its hotly anticipated Android operating system as ‘Android KitKat’. This unlikely partnership gives Kit Kat breaks a whole new meaning in the digital era.

For more on the FAB awards, check out the website.


The Challengers Almanac

1 Apr

The Challengers Almanac is no ordinary book. It’s a collection of stories and wisdom written by people who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo, and I’m thrilled to be included.

It all started with a talk I did for She Says, alongside other ‘disruptors’ including the wonderful Olivia Knight from Patchwork Present, following which I was invited to contribute. My story is about how to do Marketing ‘Gangnam Style’ (stay with me now), because there’s much to learn from one of the greatest cultural phenomenon of our time, in fact we owe it to ourselves. As uncomfortable as it may feel to operate outside of your comfort zone, it’s better to be a disruptor than to be the disrupted (the only real alternative).


The Challenger’s Almanac has been curated by Mark Em and Meg from Sideways, while photographers Alastair SoppRasmus Keger and tattoo artist Josh Vyvyan have provided the stunning visuals.

We’re fuelled by people who have created businesses that are worth more than just profit. People that are led by their ideas, that take the road less travelled, that see business as an opportunity to create positive change. Built by a group of creative people who have given their skills and time to the project, The Challenger’s Almanac is a year round resource full of inspiration and practical advice.


The team have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the first issue. With just three days to go, they have already tripled their target with backers from all over the globe (but still appreciate all the support they can get!).


Make a pledge here for your copy and become part of this extraordinary bunch of challengers….

The godfather of Challenger Brands. The speaker of one of the most watched TedTalks of all time. The A-list celebrity revolutionising family products. The accountant who is redefining client relationships. The man who is getting his town making jeans again. The women who is helping to fix the future. The eyewear brand that’s given 500,000 pairs of glasses to people in need. The clothing company who wrote a manifesto celebrated by over 100 million people. The market researchers that take inspiration from freaks and geeks. The scheme that takes a small amount of turnover and changes the world with it. The designers who have visually branded some of the world’s most successful Challengers. The guy heading up the rise of the maker.The paint company taking on its industry. The certification that represents the world’s most responsible brands. The young entrepreneur whose business is a force for good. The beer club that champions the little guys. The founder of the nicest creative blog in the world. The women who champion equality in the workplace. The cartoonist who consults for the world’s biggest brands. The creatives carving out time for creativity. The travel company with a thirst for new challenges. The guys who stand for doing the things that matter. The agency that rebels against traditional marketing. The sustainable apparel company creating a new category. The confectionary company with a penchant for good. The woman who will change the way people give. The serial entrepreneur who thrives on failure. The King of Shoreditch.

What the F

31 Mar

Feminism is a hot topic right now. Popstars from girl-kissing Katy Perry to twerking Miley Cyrus are jumping on the feminist bandwagon. Bootylicious Beyoncé protests “gender equality is a myth”, while pro-woman Lily Allen sings she has a “baggy p***y”. 

The f-word has been enjoying a welcome resurgence, but shouting (or singing) about it alone will not change the world.

When it comes to feminism, the discussion seems to focus on girl power (circa 1990’s), inequality in the workplace, and the underrepresentation of women in the media. While these matter, the way to change behaviour goes beyond exposing the problem (or your body – I’m looking at you, Miley). We need people with feminine sensibilities to create more balance in the world.



That’s why TedX Brooklyn set a challenge to reimagine an existing product or service from a feminine perspective that everyone can benefit from (not ‘by women for women’). A challenge I could not resist. Not because the stuff invented by men is bad, but because we don’t have the balance of another angle.

My idea started with an anti-trend – owning stuff, it’s so passé. Instead we’re borrowing our music from Spotify, our TV shows from Netflix, our holiday homes from Air BNB. I believe that through female sensibility we can leverage this anti-trend to solve not one, but two problems.

 1:   The physical and emotional baggage of owning stuff you never, or rarely use.

 2: The desire to own stuff you don’t have the resources to buy.  

My reinvention is to create a sister website to eBay – eBorrow – to facilitate the borrowing and lending of consumer goods, for the mutual benefit of both borrower and lender. Consider the student who’s going traveling and wants to borrow travelling essentials and lend out goods they won’t be using while gone, the vintage fashion collector who wants to lend out items in order to fund new ones, or the musician wannabe who wants to strum a guitar before making a permanent investment.

While men typically place importance on individuality and competition, I believe the desire for interdependence and cooperation is born out of inherently female values. This new heightened level of collaboration will save us money, de-clutter our lives, and ultimately connect us with others like never before.

View my wining entry and all the great ideas here on Shout (SheSays crowdsourcing platform). 

Web of wood

5 Aug

In the digital age the line between online and offline continues to blur. The web of wood sees the line disappear altogether…

When DraftFCB were briefed by Toyota to create an online experience for an outdoors-ey audience, they took their interactive experience to the real world. The result…a real website made of wood, linked to the online world. The audience could even navigate and tweet as if it really were an online experience.

A great use of technology that’s not just for technology’s sake. Enjoy.

FAB awards 2013 – you be the judge

6 Jun

Recently I had the opportunity to help judge the ever-fabulous FAB awards with submissions from food and beverage brands around the globe. Albeit the only female judge (one is certainly better than none), being part of the judging process was an incredible experience. This year’s awards spotlights the brands who are driving creativity in new and exciting directions, be it in new media or old media. Or sometimes blending the two.

I hope you’ll agree its been another remarkable year for creativity. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Coke Amplifier

An innovative modern day use of an old print medium


Ho Ho Ho

Proof that the simplest ideas can stir the strongest emotions


Our Food Your Questions

Bravely tackling people’s suspicions head on in the age of transparency


Small Currency

A genuine brand utility in response to a huge financial problem (Indonesia’s shortage of coins)


The Candidate

Not just a badging exercise, simply one of the most entertaining uses of sponsorship I’ve ever seen


Polar Bowl

The best use of second screen media consumption I’ve ever witnessed

The Collaboration Economy

9 May

Yonks ago (I forgot to hit publish on this post!), Glug held a notworking digital event in Shoreditch, loosely based on the theme of collaboration. I’m a bit of a stickler for sticking to a theme. That said, the evening got me thinking about how technology has driven this new surge in collaboration, a lot…

Your comfort zone vs. where the magic happens

Making awesome things that have never been made before requires partnering with experts, mixing talents, and undoubtedly doing things outside of your comfort zone. Collaboration enables you to go places you couldn’t go alone. Take B-reel’s VW Bug Run – a beetle race but not with cars, but with real life beetles. A project that wouldn’t have been possible without an array of talents, including a dedicated bug wrangler – Magnus Forsberg – overseeing the bugs.

B-reel made a good case for fighting for values, not the end product. Agencies that focus on the end product will ultimately suffer. Clients problems come in many forms, and undoubtedly the same old solutions won’t always be the answer. Modern communication agencies need to be agile and mentally flexible in order to solve diverse client problems in a multitude of ways. It’s time to break out of the silo and make operating out of your comfort zone the norm, because that’s where the magic happens.

The best and most rewarding projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on have all encountered the ‘holy shit’ moment, i.e. the moment you ask yourselves…are we actually doing this?! I wouldn’t have it any other way.


(image via 9GAG)

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

The web is a wonderful tool for bringing people together. It is now easier than ever to collaborate with different people, from different cultures, from all walks of life, all without even leaving your desk (which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t). And when people come together, no matter how far or wide, powerful things can happen. Distance is increasingly meaningless. The speedy success of #IncludeDesign, the web-based campaign to get creative on the curriculum, wouldn’t have been possible without the Internet and a shared passion for creativity.

The people behind this fantastic project understood that there’s nothing more else powerful than the collective voice.  So through the power of the web (and potentially a few phone calls) – they recruited 350 companies, celebrity ambassadors (including Stella McCartney) and an astounding 5,500 responses to the Government’s EBacc consultation. Here’s hoping their collective voice is heard.


Blended reality

For years we’ve been debating the digital agency versus the traditional agency. When the lines are increasingly blurred, not only will we collaborate across disciplines, but disciplines will overlap and integrate. The lines have blurred to the point where digital has become reality and the digital revolution has become blended reality (or post digital as some might say). We will probably be the last generation to ever utter “I’m going on the Internet”.

“One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real.” – William Gibson

Collaborative culture is not a temporary phenomenon, but a trend that is likely to accelerate over the next decade. The reality is in a few years from now, most traditional ad agencies will have gotten rid of their digital titles. As Brad Pitt would say, it’s inevitable. We need to build collaborative cultures to support fuzzier relationships between people, departments, and even outsiders.

Perpetual beta

The web has created a more participatory consumer. Which means collaboration is not limited to behind closed doors; collaboration in this economy is public too. The mindset of Google’s “perpetual beta” provides a way of collaborating with the end user, to make awesome things even more awesome. Google regularly launch things in a trial state (Gmail was in fact in beta for five long years). Google’s Web Lab (the latest project from Google Creative Lab) is a series of interactive Chrome experiments which brings the magic of the web to life – live from the Science Museum, and even open to the world online 24/7. Which means Google can continue to collaborate with users, anywhere in the world, even after the museum is closed for visitors.


This shift from the “we know best” mindset to the perpetual beta mindset is spreading, and prototyping in public is everywhere. Digital campaigns were once perfected and polished before they were released to the world. With the beta mindset, digital is unfinished, experimental, iterative, and never complete.

Powered by Actimel, HyperNaked recently launched the Family Wellbeing Index – a brand new way of measuring family wellbeing (disclosure – I am proud to have worked on this project). Everyone knows what family wellbeing feels like, but the concept of family wellbeing is difficult to pin down – it has been described by experts as “intangible, difficult to define, and even harder to measure”. Due to the enormity and uncertainty of the challenge, we launched the site in beta. We spent the first five months testing learning and optimising in real time. The plan was always to iterate and optimise the index with a small group of real mums and mummy bloggers, before taking an improved version to the masses. A rather brave move by Actimel.

The thing is, technology has fuelled the collaboration economy, but collaboration is ultimately about people not technology. Magic happens when you have a shared vision and a bunch of passionate people. We can make more never-seen-before awesome stuff together by collaborating with insiders and outsiders. Who’s with me?

Marketing ‘Gangnam Style’

22 Apr

The ever-inspiring SheSays (Hey, sexy ladies…) invited me to talk at their latest event on the theme of ‘Women Disruptors’ – women challenging the status quo. So naturally, I spoke about Marketing ‘Gangnam Style’. Love it or loathe it, Gangnam Style is probably the most disruptive piece of communication in recent times. It’s more than a music video, it’s a global phenomenon. So I figured Psy could probably teach us all a thing or two about how to disrupt (in a profitable way). My presentation touched on three themes: 1) The underdog effect, 2) Born to spawn, and 3) Experiment to innovate. Hats off to Psy.




5 things that will be obsolete by 2020

12 Mar

#1 Saying “I’m going on the Internet”

As the lines continue to blur, it will be increasingly difficult to distinguish between online and offline activities.


#2 Multiple passwords and logins

Say goodbye to the constant need to remember your passwords. Hurray!


#3 Losing data

You can access all the data you want, anywhere you want, via the cloud.


#4 Your privacy

Your privacy went out the window when social media arrived.


#5 Digital titles in traditional agencies

There will be no more excuses to not ‘get’ digital.


How to do real-time advertising

4 Feb

Last night saw a blackout out the Superbowl. But what may have been Superbowl’s loss, was evidently Twitter’s gain.

According to Twitter HQ, chatter about the power outage peaked at 231,500 tweets per minute. Shish.

So forget the $4Million price tag per 30 second spot. Oreo tweeted this real-time ad, for free. Which has since been re-tweeted over 14,000 times (not to mention the reach far they would have achieved far beyond those who re-tweeted). Not bad for free advertising. Oh, well maybe it was Twitter’s loss after all.


So what made it all possible? Brave and committed clients. Who willingly attended a “mission control” at their agency’s office. Making speedy approvals a piece of cake (or biscuit in this case). Clients with balls. Magic.


Brand partnerships. So what?

15 Mar

Who pays any attention to brand partnerships these days? Me, apparently. I’ve spent the last year working on various brand partnerships. In all honesty, the concept of brand partnerships had rarely entered my thoughts before Cake. But the last year has opened my mind to the perks (and pitfalls) of brand partnerships.

If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that the best brand partnerships are just that –  a partnership (stating the bleeding obvious I know). The best partnerships are those that are genuinely and truly mutually beneficial. Both parties benefit (in some way) from the partnership. Often, with no exchange of money between the two.

Brand partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. Here are just some

There are of course more uses of brand partnerships than this, but I think that’ll do for now (yes I was possibly distracted by Beckham in those pants).

Any who, I’ve been asking myself – why bother? And I’ve boiled it down to four key reasons. There are definitely more (and I’d love to hear them). Obviously it largely depends on what’s you’re trying to achieve (see above).

#1 to reduce costs 

Or make money, depending on which way you look at it… Any who, O2 reward 1.8 million Priority Moment customers with everyday rewards – retail / eating out / travel / indulge / days out – but without exchanging money with their 100 + partners (at least as far as I know). So what’s in for the partners? Well apparently, retail and entertainment brands are seeing 30 – 40% conversion, while restaurant brands are seeing 60% conversion in-store (Source:  O2 Media). A smart way for O2 and their brand partners to reduce costs and boost business don’t you think?

#2 Access new customers

Audience fragmentation means it’s increasingly difficult to reach large groups of consumers. Well integrated brand partnerships have the power to reach new audiences. The once cool Polaroid partnered with Lady Gaga to serve as Creative Director. Polaroid accessed millions of Gaga fans around the world, and momentarily pulled back from the brink of extinction. Shame it didn’t last…

#3 Increase customer loyalty

The Starbucks Digital Network serves up fresh premium content – including free access to The Economist, and Marvel Comics. Starbucks profit jumped 29% in the fourth-quarter 2011 primarily owing to continued loyalty among U.S customers.

#4 Build equity 

Stella Artois have directed their brand image in a new direction using class, cool, and the Cannes Film Festival. Their ongoing association with film has allowed Stella to shake off their so-called “wife-beater” brand image.

Well, that seems to me like four bloody great reasons. Of course, some brand partnerships fail. Most critically, delivering the desired ROI requires a good deal to be well executed.

If you have an opinion on brand partnerships, I’d love to hear it. It would mean talking about something other than social media for a change wouldn’t it?! Heaven forbid…

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