Wednesday, August 8, 2007

July 07 - Adland Exposed

For all their talk about the merits of digital as a communications channel, very few advertising agencies have actually taken the step of setting up their own blog. Which is probably not surprising given the cut-throat nature of new business and agency client relationships.

A great example of an agency blog is the wonderful Welcome To Optimism, by Wieden & Kennedy, London. W&K is regarded as one of London’s most progressive agencies and their work for Honda such as Cog and The Impossible Dream appears regularly on our TV screens here in Australia.

There are very few secrets at W&K London, at least it seems that way if you’re a regular reader of their blog. They post about almost everything, from their ever smiling new receptionist to the accounts they’re pitching for.

Of course not everyone is happy about this openness, and there was a lot of talk in the advertising trade press recently, after the agency blogged about its involvement with the global Nokia pitch.

They posted several photos taken at the pitch briefing at Nokia HQ in Finland on their blog, in a piece they called ‘Visit to Nokialand’. As well as the W&K staffers involved in the pitch, key people from competing agencies were also featured in the snapshots.

When quizzed on the matter W&K MD, Neil Christie, said, “I hope we haven't breached any confidentiality agreements.” He then cheekily added, “Not every client likes you using your cameraphone in meetings, but that isn't an issue for Nokia.”

‘Visit to Nokialand’ received plenty of warm praise in the blogosphere, with well known British strategy planner, Charles Frith, describing it as a “Terrific piece of blogging. Probably seminal for the ad business.”

I suspect one of the other agencies participating in the pitch may have been responsible for feeding this story to the media, not Nokia, as the agency has posted other Nokia related posts since.

In fact they recently revealed on their blog that they had made it to the final three in the pitch, and capitalised on this with a cheeky plug for the photo quality of the Nokia’s just released N95 mobile.

Here in Australia, setting up a blog played a key part in the Sydney office of Saatchi & Saatchi winning the advertising account of job site Seek, which is based in Melbourne.

Following their initial face to face meeting at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, the agency commissioned a limited access blog, to enable them to stay in touch with the folks at Seek and vice versa.

Research, concepts and stats were all posted onto the blog by the agency, as well as videos of interviews. Getting into the collaborative spirit, Seek also contributed feedback, research and comments to the blog.

Suffice to say Seek awarded their account to Saatchis. And the whole process was covered, albeit not in great detail, on Diablogue, the personal blog of the Saatchi Sydney Digital Creative Director, Sean Gannan.

“From such a simple seed grew an exceptional and unique experience,” blogged Gannan. “ A true, two-way participatory conversation between us and our prospective client.”

Saving the best till last, Gannan then went on to add, “And in case you didn't gather already, we also won the business.”

Someone else from Saatchi & Saatchi who’s also started blogging recently is New Zealand born Worldwide CEO, Kevin Roberts. As you’d expect from the man behind the innovative branding idea Lovemarks, Kevin’s blog makes for an interesting read.

Obviously there’s no shortage of Saatchi related material, but what makes Kevin’s blog so worthwhile are his posts on the things that he’s passionate about, like music, movies and New Zealand, where he lives and works for a large part of the year.

He recently posted on the launch of Monocle, the intriguing new magazine from Tyler Brûlé, the man behind Wallpaper*. Kevin wonders, “When people are going to stop predicting the death of print magazines and get inspired by their transformation?”

Monocle is described by Brûlé as, “A briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design”. Which, according to Kevin, sounds a lot like The Economist, but apparently looks and feels nothing like it.

Rather than just drool over Brûlé’s work, he also takes him to task, especially over the magazine’s cover. “They feel a little self-conscious,” says Kevin. Almost as if they’re “Determined not to attract or entice us.”

What I really love about Kevin Robert’s blog though, is the way a Worldwide CEO is able open up and show the world that they’re as ordinary as the rest of us. His post about bidding on a painting at Christie’s New York has a childlike innocence that can probably best be described as Warholesque.

Which makes for a refreshing change from the usual corporate speak we’ve come to expect from large, impersonal company websites. And may well be playing a key part in helping Saatchis build and maintain strong relationships with its clients.

Stop by and visit:

W&K London


Kevin Roberts

1 comment:

Steven Noble said...

Password-protected pitch blogs can be really useful, but if advertising agencies are, as you suggest, not generally out there blogging in public, then they're passing up an invaluable opportunity to connect with others and to share and test their ideas.

In any professional service — whether advertising, PR, management consulting, whatever — what you're selling is your people and their knowledge, passion and ideas. Keep all that behind closed doors, and you can't expect the word to come knocking forever.

Of course, if you're showing off your people, then you'll want them to show they can be professional and discrete. Airing your own laundry is one thing; airing anyone else's is unforgivable, unless you don't have or want a lasting relationship with them.

But learning what's OK and what's definitely not when blogging is just of the process of maturing as a blogger, and as a consultant or creative professional