Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nov 10 - Dinosaurs roar

Over the last few years what started as a whisper has gradually turned into a social media enhanced roar – the advertising agency is a dinosaur and it’s on its last legs!

I do believe I may even have said it myself once or twice. But is it really the case?

Many of the ad agency doubters are people who are not from what have come to be called “traditional” agencies. And the fact that they bandy about the term traditional says a great deal I think.

Why? Because there is nothing traditional about an agency in 2010.

Actually that’s not completely true. There are many procedures and processes that have been used for years that work and work well. But when it comes to creative thinking and problem solving there really is no such thing as a traditional approach.

The idea of making a 30 second television ad may be traditional, but the answer to that brief is sure to be anything but. And that I think is where the naysayers and doubters of agency land come unstuck.

Agencies are in the ideas business. End of story.

Sometimes those ideas appear in what is known as traditional media, sometimes not. The primary focus is, and always should be, the best way to reach a consumer. This should be dictated by the consumer themselves, not the agency.

So if a 28 to 35 year old woman loves watching Junior Masterchef, and your product or service is targeted at that consumer group, then the creation of a TV spot to run during the show is a must have. That’s not traditional. That’s common sense.

But what about digital, cry the naysayers. Wouldn’t it be smarter to target her using digital media? What about a Facebook group or some sort of social media presence?

Well guess what – so called traditional agencies do that stuff too.

Maybe 10 years ago they didn’t. In fact, they probably weren’t doing it 5 years ago either. But these days, any agency that’s looking to survive into the 21st century offers a hell of a lot more than a corridor of hip young things pumping out television ads.

A couple of months ago I sat on the direct marketing jury for the MADC Awards. The category was dominated by what we used to refer to as mainstream agencies.

And according to one of my art directors at Wunderman, the same thing happened when he judged at this year’s ADMA Awards.

Which is proof, if proof is what the naysayers need, that the big agencies are perhaps a little more relevant than the people taking pot shots at them may realise.

Of course they’re still making great TV ads, they probably always will, but there’s so much more to a “traditional” agency than that. As well as moving into the direct marketing space, the big guys are making serious inroads into digital as well.

Don’t believe me?

Well it was Australia’s oldest agency that won the pitch earlier this year for this country’s biggest piece of digital business. And they did it in conjunction with a 50 year old direct marketing agency.

Yet the doubters and naysayers, with their blogs and twitter accounts, continue to proclaim the impending extinction of agency dinosaurs.

To be completely honest, I have no idea what the future holds for advertising agencies. But unlike the dinosaurs way back when, I very much doubt that they will become extinct.

In fact, I suspect they will continue to evolve, just as the landscape in which they operate does.

So much so that 50 years from now, people will look back and wonder how on earth anyone could have come up with the term traditional agency.

Bernbach broke tradition. So too did David Ogilvy and Lester Wunderman. May the agencies they created continue to do so.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 10 - No advertising

Not long after the dust had settled on yet another year of over-hyped self-congratulatory advertising industry back patting at Cannes, a much more interesting awards related story began doing the rounds of the blogosphere.

Esteemed US adman Alex Bogusky wrote a post on his blog petitioning for a new type of award, to be given to companies who manage to do something good without having to resort to advertising.

Chatter around Bogusky’s post was all over Twitter when it first dropped, leading to a misconception that what he actually wanted was a new non-advertising award. Which is anything but what he was arguing for.

It does however show that social media channels often fall victim to Chinese whispers.

In actual fact, Bogusky’s post was written to raise awareness of advertising to children and the ethics and responsibilities thereof. In his own words, he wanted an award to recognise “Brands that have decided to take into consideration all the potential effects of their marketing and have built a plan that carefully avoids abusing the power of advertising.”

Now that’s a pretty lofty goal, I think you’ll agree. Sadly though, I think it got lost in some sort of an “OMG! Bogusky wants a non-advertising award” haze on Twitter.

Luckily for me, I clicked on one of the dozens of retweets and mentions of Bogusky original post and found myself printing out his blog post so I could read it over the weekend.

Away from the hysteria of social media. Bogusky’s post laid out a calm considered argument against advertising to children. And that was pretty much it.

As the policeman at an accident would say, nothing much to see here. Move on.

But then I got to thinking.

Doesn’t Bogusky’s agency have Burger King as a client? Yes. And hasn’t his agency produced several X-Box computer game tie-ins with Burger King? Yes again.

So now, not only was the blog post nothing like what I expected it to be about. Nor was the man who wrote it.

Bogusky is one of the superstars of modern American advertising. So why would he write something, in the style of a manifesto, which decried the use of advertising, in an area his agency had very obviously benefited from?

So I put aside the printout and did a bit of digging online.

It didn’t take me long to find out that Bogusky’s agency had chosen several years ago not to handle any advertising of Burger King products to kids under twelve. I also found out that the man in question had recently resigned from his own agency.

After a lifetime in advertising, Bogusky had seen the good it had done, for companies, for economies and for his bank balance. But he could also see how much power advertising wielded.

His aim now, as he moves into the next stage of his obviously stellar career, is to get the industry to monitor some of that power.

Self-policing, if you will.

In his own words, “What if we decided that advertising to children was something none of us would engage in anymore?”

Now I’m not sure about you, but if he manages to pull something like this off, Bogusky could well become adland’s answer to Jamie Oliver.

Which as anyone with an opinion on advertising will tell you, is the last thing they ever expected from the man most of us industry observers considered to be the consummate adman.


Click here to read Bogusky’s blog post in its entirety.

Friday, September 10, 2010

August 10 - Private stuff

A couple of weeks ago I got an email advising me to update my status on the Do Not Call register. Like most Australians, I hate it when telemarketers ring me. Especially when it sounds like they are ringing from another country!

So as you can imagine, I did not hesitate in clicking on the link in the email and updating my status. Which should ensure that my wife and I get to make dinner in peace for the next couple of years.

We were discussing the Do Not Call register in the office the next day while working on a creative brief. The brief in question involved finding a way to combat door-knockers.

Of course my immediate reaction was to exclaim, “How about a do not knock register?”

This garnered quite a laugh, but I was in fact being deadly serious. To me, door-knockers are just as intrusive as telemarketers.

In fact, considering the way they work and the type of households they target, I suspect door-knockers may actually be worse.

Anyway, before I go off on a crazed door knocking tangent, I’d like to talk about the issue of privacy and some of the benefits of being open to not being overly precious about privacy.

Privacy, as we’ve seen with the many debates around Facebook, is a hot topic right now. But is it an issue for everyone?

I recently signed up to do the Around The Bay in a Day bicycle race in Melbourne. To help me monitor my progress whilst I’m in training I downloaded an app for my iPhone called Runkeeper.

Apart from the fact that it’s free, and has many ingenious features, one of the best things about Runkeeper is it allows me to share my training regime on Facebook.

Sounds good huh? But in order to enable Runkeeper to do this, I need to allow it to share my personal information with Facebook.

Now of course I could easily decide not to do this, but I find that sharing my training progress and cycling routes online is far more motivating than keeping it to myself. It’s also highly motivating when friends comment and offer messages of support.

So as you can see, being open to sharing some of your personal information can have its benefits. And I believe that if something benefits you, then you should probably do it.

To be honest though, I don’t think this applies to Facebook as a whole.

For starters, I’ve seen friends tagged in photos that I really don’t think they’d want to see shared with their work colleagues or clients.

I’ve also seen smart people make some seriously stupid comments in their Facebook status update. But that’s a topic worthy of a whole ‘nother column!

Suffice to say, when it comes to privacy online, it pays to read the terms and conditions of everything. That way, you only have yourself to blame.

Although in the case of Facebook, this isn’t always the case, as they do have a habit of making unannounced changes. Many of which seriously affect your privacy.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is to set your privacy settings to maximum on Facebook, especially when it comes to photos and tagging. And to be more flexible when it comes to apps.

I’m sure there are lots of people who get as much out of their favourite Facebook apps as I do out of Runkeeper. But these apps cannot work if you don’t allow them to access some of your personal information.

And whilst it’s only one man’s opinion, I’d rather Runkeeper shared my information with the world than have my best friend share drunken photos of me on Facebook. Not that there are any drunken photos of me, obviously!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

July 10 - Time Out!

Seems like hardly a day goes by in 21st century adland where someone or other doesn’t proclaim the imminent demise of something or other.

I’m probably as guilty of this as the next person, but I currently have an overwhelming urge to stand up and shout, time out people!

Never before have so many people been so dogmatic.

Self anointed social media gurus proclaim the death of television. Digital divas constantly deride so called old fashioned advertising agencies. And kids armed with nothing more than a blog comment anonymously deride the work and words of others.

Like I said - Time out people!

There no valid excuse for much of the bad advertising we find ourselves surrounded by. Thing is, many of those bad ads started life as a great idea. So how does a great idea become a bad ad?

To be honest, that’s a story worthy of an entire issue of this magazine. Everyone involved in making an ad has the best intentions. But somehow along the way the original idea simply gets whittled away. Bit by bit by bit.

So rather than sitting on our high horses deriding the product produced by our industry, how ‘bout we start looking for a solution. Because if we don’t, we may well see the death of the 30 second spot.

Talking of which, when Joseph Jaffe coined that term for his popular new marketing manifesto he made what seemed at the time a valid point - People don’t want to be interrupted by advertising.

So why are many of the most popular videos doing the rounds on YouTube ads? If the public don’t like them, why do they seek them out on YouTube.

Because they’re good, that’s why.

Which makes me think that Jaffe’s original manifesto may need to be fine tuned a little. Rather than simply saying that people don’t like advertising, perhaps he should write a new book about how people don’t like bad advertising.

And one place where we see a hell of a lot of bad advertising is on the internet. Honestly, when was the last time you saw a banner ad and thought to yourself, gee I wish I’d done that? Probably never I’d imagine.

Of course the social media mavens will seize upon that last sentence and say that banner ads are interruptive, so are part of the advertising problem.

They’re right of course, but again the problem as I see it isn’t interruption per se, it’s bad advertising.

If banners ads were created to engage, perhaps people would like them more. But at the moment most of them suffer from poor production values and even poorer quality creative.

Regular readers of this column will know that I have long been an advocate for the use of social media in new generation marketing. But social media isn’t the cure all panacea that vocal Twitter users claim it to be.

Sure Facebook has more users than even Mark Zuckerberg thought possible, and Twitter continues to grow in influence and importance, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon everything that has gone before.

As I said about 500 or so words ago, we need to declare an industry time out.

Rather than digital agencies taking pot shots at traditional agencies, and social media opinion makers paying out on anyone who’s never uploaded a photo to Facebook, how ‘bout we all take a few moments to take stock.

Every medium has its place in the marketing mix.

An agency is an agency, what’s important are the brands they work with, not the media they choose to run their work in.

And the one thing we’re all guilty of is mistaking the consumer’s hatred of poor quality advertising for a dislike of advertising generally.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

June 10 - Tinkering

I can’t remember how many cars my parents owned during the course of my childhood, but I have vivid memories of two of them; an orange VW Beetle and a white Mini.

It isn’t that the cars themselves were particularly noteworthy, although the colour of the Beetle was definitely not what you’d consider subtle, it was the attention that my father lavished on them.

Actually maybe attention isn’t the right word. Because he was never that big on washing or polishing cars. What he loved to do was tinker with them.

On a Saturday afternoon when I was either at the football or listening to it on the radio, he’d be under the bonnet, tinkering.

The saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it meant nothing to him. Fiddling with the carbies, adjusting the spark plugs, cleaning the air filter – he just could leave them alone.

You’re probably wondering why on earth I’m taking on this trip down automotive memory lane. Well believe it or not, it has absolutely nothing to do with cars or the automotive industry.

What prompted to think about my dad and his endless tinkering was a video that landed in my inbox that had been created to demonstrate the design changes that had been made to the YouTube website.

As I watched the video, all I could think was why? No, not why make a video, but why make so many changes that it required a video to explain them?

Not a short video either. This one ran for over five minutes.

I’m a regular YouTube visitor, as I’m sure many of you reading this column are, and I have been perfectly happy with the layout, design and usability of the site. So why change it?

And why change it so drastically? Because they can.

Sounds simplistic I know, but the catch of many of the most successful offerings of the web-2.0 era have been built on the catch cry “always in beta”.

And “always in beta” is a philosophy I work by too. At our agency we constantly test and refine our work based on results and analysis of data.

But what I’m talking about here isn’t testing and refining. It’s change for change sake. Well I think so anyway.

Of course YouTube are not alone in this. All the popular social media sites have a tendency to needlessly tinker under the bonnet.

Facebook seems to get overhauled every couple of months, much to the dismay of users. Twitter is constantly fiddling with things and even Foursquare, a relatively new social offering, has recently had a revamp.

As a regular user of the above mentioned social media sites I consider myself a brand advocate. And every time they go and mess with their design or usability I consider it a bad brand experience.

So I decided to write about this on my BrandDNA blog. Suffice to say my post received some interesting and passionate comments, including this one from Lauren Brown, who blogs as She Sees Red;

“Considering the internet is such a public space - maybe not by technical ownership, but certainly by modes of engagement, it disturbs me that there is this constant flip.

Like continual renovations or redecorating your local train station - nice in theory, but when you just wanna be able to buy a ticket and run onto the platform before the doors shut, annoying.

I would like to see a little more conversation about changes happening - like a DA notice or something. Most of the time I probably won't care and will adapt, but it's nice to know, prepare, or at least forget and remember again. 

Personally I think unnamed, unspoken changes to sites that leverage their power on their “social media ├╝berlord status” does have a whiff of arrogance about it.”


She sees Red

Saturday, June 19, 2010

May 10 - Engaging consumers

Many years ago, brands spoke to us via advertising and generally we believed what they had to say. And why wouldn’t we, when they spoke to us via the omnipresent box that sat in the corner of every lounge room.

We swallowed hook line and sinker the promise of fun in the sun from Coke, the virtues of hard work and mateship celebrated by Victoria Bitter and the international jet-setting lifestyle of a popular cigarette brand.

Today however things are a little different. Not simply because of the internet, but the unimaginable connectedness of people it has given rise to. I’m talking of course about social media.

Thanks to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, people are more connected than they have ever been. The concept of losing touch with someone, no matter how close you may or may not be to them, is completely unimaginable to the youth of today.

Once you’re hooked up with someone via Facebook, you’re connected forever. Unless you have a falling out and delete them as a friend, obviously!

I can’t remember the names of most of my classmates from my final year at school. Mind you it was a long time ago. Kids today however will stay in touch with school friends, however loosely, for life thanks to Facebook.

It has become an important source of information and recommendation for people. So much so that people are putting less and less trust in the messages spouted by the brands their parents trusted.

In fact, according to Mike Arauz, a Strategist at Undercurrent in New York, “There is no longer any interaction that an individual may have with a brand or service that is disconnected from the people they know.”

Given the sheer number of brands setting up Facebook Fan Pages you have to wonder how much longer social media can sustain itself as a place where friends gather. Once it becomes overrun with ads (or ads that don’t appear to be ads) will people move elsewhere?

I reckon they will.

Regardless of which social network people use, they will always trust the recommendations of their friends. Or will they?

I thought they would, but it appears this may not actually be the case. According to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer report, we seem to be putting a lot less faith in the opinions of our network of friends than we did two years ago.


I’m not sure exactly, although I suspect it may have something to do with the impact of the global financial crisis. With job security weighing heavily on peoples’ minds, they tend to turn to authority figures for reassurance.

According to Patricia McDonald of BBH Labs, “In difficult times, we are drawn to authority: we want there to be expert opinions and definitive answers.”

If this is in fact true, why are we putting less trust in our personal networks?

McDonald believes that, “As the network expands, connections weaken.” I think she may be onto something here. A girl who works occasionally in a friend’s fashion store told me she has over 2,000 Facebook friends.

2,000! That’s just ridiculous. However it may explain why people are not putting as much trust in their network as we imagined; their networks are becoming so large that close friends only make up a small part of it.

Which presents a bit of a quandary for marketers and a tremendous opportunity for switched on agencies.

If people don’t trust brands like their parents did, and if people don’t trust their social network like current wisdom says they should, then how on earth do brands engage with consumers?

Answer that question and you should be able to name your own salary or set up an overpriced consultancy. Just don’t expect your social network of peers and colleagues to recommend you.


Mike Arauz

BBH Labs

Edelman Trust Barometer

Saturday, May 8, 2010

April 10 - Changing habits

When I first started my BrandDNA blog I was an avid reader of advertising and marketing blogs. Over time I built a repertoire of blogs that I visited on a daily basis.

If a particular blog had not published new content on the day I visited, I made sure I went back for another look later in the day.

I did this because blogs were a constant source of news, information and opinion on the industry in which I work.

What I really loved about blogs however, was that I was able to comment on them. This meant I was able to engage in a dialogue with the publisher of the content.

Not only that, but commenting also enabled me to debate issues with other commenters as well.

Blogging truly was a whole new way of publishing. One that sought opinion from the reader and encouraged interaction between reader and publisher and amongst the readers themselves.

Fast forward a mere four years and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have changed everything for me. A change of habit summed up perfectly by this quote I found on the web by Josh Miller;

“In the past, people would blog about a topic they thought was interesting. Now they just link to it on their Twitter. They do this also in place of comments since the Tweet will contain a comment.”

So what does the future hold for blogs, with more and more of the industry thinkers I respect shifting from longer opinion pieces on blogs to short snatches of thought via Twitter?

J. Paul Duplantis, from Quired, took a look into the future and came up with this insightful question; “Fast forward 5 years and tell me people are going to still login into 20 different networks to post?”

Obviously 20 network sounds like an exaggeration, but I’m pretty sure I have login names and passwords to close to that many social media and other online platforms.

In the future, people will, says Duplantis, “Post from their own website which will feed out to 20 different networks. Comments will be pulled in to the main website from all of the networks which will carry their branding and possibly their advertisers.”

This is already happening, believe it or not. The best, and most obvious example, is Google. My Google login and password work for a number of sites and services. As do my MSN and Apple account details.

So, if Duplantis vision is realised, and I suspect it pretty much already is, commenting on and reading blogs may actually become more commonplace in the future. As we consolidate our reading repertoire into our preferred social media channel.

The only thing preventing this from happening at the moment is the rise and rise of Twitter.

Of course many industry people, myself included, use Twitter as a source of links to information and opinion. But not everyone does.

Spend a couple of minutes in the “general” Twitter stream and you’ll soon discover that 90% of the people on Twitter are talking absolute crap about absolutely nothing. All be it in 140 character chunks.

But then most of us never visit the rest of Twitter. We stick to our followers and followees. People like us.

But even these people, smart as they are, have less to say in 140 characters than they do on a blog. Leading Russell Davies, the Godfather of marketing blogging, to say this;

“We were seduced by the speed and reach of twitter and started putting our fragments there instead. But bits of thought on twitter are ephemeral, they slip away from us.

Whereas on a blog a fragment of thought is pinned down, tagged, permanent and can become part of a larger body of accreted thinking.”

If Russell is right, and he usually is, blogging will be around for a long time. It just needs us to find a way to fit it back into our daily schedule.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

March 10 - Things change

Many of my clients didn’t understand what a blog was when I set up BrandDNA about four years ago. In fact many of them thought I’d created some kind of online diary.

Of course this was what most people thought a blog was when the concept of a weblog, to give it its full name, was first launched.

In 2010 however, blogs are commonplace. I doubt anyone would not know what a blog is. In fact the only question about blogs these days is whether they are personal blogs or corporate.

How much longer blogs remain part of our media repertoire is open to debate. Five years ago I read a lot of blogs every day. Most of them via my RSS feed.

But not anymore. I haven’t looked at my RSS reader since the Christmas holidays. Nowadays I spend a lot of time on Twitter and most of the blogs I visit I discover via links posted by my Twitter friends.

The thing is, this shift in my online reading routine has happened without me actually noticing it. I’d thought that my social media habits were pretty stable. Yet on closer examination they are constantly changing.

It seems that each time I adopt a new social media tool it impacts on the others. Some amount to no more than a passing fad. Others have impacted heavily on my media consumption as well as my day to day life.

I was an early adopter of the online photo website Flickr. Yet I haven’t posted a photo there in close to two years.


Because once I got involved with Facebook I started posting photos there instead.

I was sceptical of Facebook at first. I even documented my first few months as a Facebook user in this column. Yet I quickly became a convert, adopting it into my regular social media routine after just a few weeks.

When Twitter came along I resisted that too. So much so that I proudly displayed an anti-Twitter badge on my blog. Eventually, after chats with a couple of my social media friends, I decided to give it a go.

Suffice to say this also impacted on my social media habits. In fact you could say it consumed them. The more I used Twitter the less I looked at Facebook. After a month of Twitter I had lost interest in Facebook completely.

However, because of Twitter, I also found myself visiting a lot less blogs than I used too. As I mentioned earlier, this is primarily because I now visit blogs by clicking links in Twitter rather than actively seeking them out.

Over the last few months my social media habits have started to change again.

I now have connections with such a large number of people on Twitter that it has almost become a broadcast medium for me. The people whose tweets I used to read religiously have been swallowed up in my ever expanding list of followers and followees.

Meanwhile my long neglected Facebook account has been rediscovered anew. I don’t know why, but I’ve started enjoying it all over again. I suspect it may be because it is more intimate than my cluttered, noisy Twitter feed.

And as I write this column, I have two new social media tools to play with - Google Wave and FourSquare. Both of them at this stage are sitting unused and unloved. I doubt this will be the case for long though.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb 10 - Interactive TV

When I was living in the UK a few years back, MTV regularly broadcast shows where the audience was encouraged to interact, and seemingly participate, with a show by sending text messages.

During the course of the programme, the text messages ran across the bottom of the screen. Much like the news feed used by CNN and other news channels these days.

More recently I’ve noticed this type of viewer interaction has shifted from text messages to Twitter. From Masterchef to New Inventors, if you logon to Twitter during any popular TV show you will always find people commenting on aspects of the show.

As yet, this Twitter stream is not being utilised by the TV networks, but it can’t be far away. In fact, I predict that coverage of the next federal election will almost certainly feature a Twitter stream scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

The best use of Twitter/TV interaction at the moment is the ABC’s panel discussion programme Q&A. Throughout the show viewers are invited to add the programme’s hash-tag, #qanda, to their tweets about the show.

By entering the hash-tag #qanda into the Twitter search function, users are able to follow a stream of Q&A related tweets. For me, and many others I’m sure, this greatly enhances the viewing experience.

It does, however, require you to watch TV and follow Twitter at the same time. Some people might roll their eyes at the thought of that, but it’s probably a lot more common than you realise.

In a study conducted by YouTube in December of last year, 36% of broadband users in the UK said that they had the TV and internet on in the same room every day.

On weekdays, the time when this TV/internet multitasking was most likely to happen was 8pm. Ask any TV executive and they’ll tell you that’s primetime in TV land.

So if primetime TV is also the time when around a third of people are also on the internet, how much longer can it be considered primetime? Unless of course you are able to create TV programming that utilises the web to expand or enhance viewing.

This type of viewing has given rise to the term continuous partial attention. This is a much more accurate description than multitasking I think.

When you multitask you are focussed on doing more than one thing and doing it well. When I “watch and web”, my attention is on both media, but with constantly varying levels of attention.

The best explanation of continuous partial attention comes, I think, from noted technology writer and consultant, Linda Stone;

“Continuous partial attention is motivated by a desire to be a live node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter.”

So why do so many of us feel the need to do many things at once, when we could be relaxing? According to Stoner, “We pay continuous partial attention in an effort not to miss anything.”

Of course it could easily be argued, that doing multiple things at the same time, that none of them are getting the attention they deserve. Given the disposable nature of much TV programming, I doubt that’s really a problem.

If it is a problem, and I’m not convinced that it is, then how do we explain the success of the interaction between Q&A viewers and twitter? I suspect it comes down to the audience of the show.

Q&A is intelligent television. It is a programme that generates debate. By encouraging viewers to tweet, it is inviting them to become participants in the show.

Obviously they’re only participating with other viewers. But I’m sure it won’t be long until Q&A style twitter streams become commonplace for many of our TV shows.


Linda Stone


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jan 10 - It ain't easy

When I began writing this column over two years ago, there was very little if any coverage of blogs in the advertising or marketing press.

Whether it’s the growth in importance of social media, the explosion of interest in Facebook or the latest celebrity to hop onto the Twitter bandwagon, I learnt about it all by reading blogs.

Which is one of the reasons why I pitched the idea of an agency blog to our management team at Wunderman.

Given the success and wide readership base of my personal blog, the agency was very keen to pursue the idea. Which we did.

We learnt a great deal developing our agency blog. I thought I’d share some of our experiences with you.

The first thing I did before pitching the idea, was to put together a list of my favourite agency blogs, with the always enjoyable Wieden & Kennedy London at the top of that list.

Their blog has a charming DIY feel, with short posts about the day to day goings on at the agency. It captures, I think, what it’s like to work at W&K London.

Sadly our attempt at a blog turned out to be anything but.

So where did we go wrong? Well first up we gave our designers too much leeway with the build and design.

Blogs don’t need flashy design. Blogs don’t need stuff that’s going to impress other web designers. Blogs need nothing more than good content and storytelling.

Ours was beautifully designed. It looked, if I say so myself, pretty damn slick. It had lots of little design touches.

Problem was, behind the beauty lay a backend that was far from intuitive, even for a seasoned blogger like myself. Which meant that posts to the blog became less and less frequent.

Not because we had less and less to say, but because it was so bloody tricky to actually post something. As a result, our blog started to gather dust. And after just six months I made an executive decision to shut it down.

As the guy who dreamed up the idea of an agency blog, this was not an easy decision to make. And yet it was, because the blog we had built, was not the blog we wanted to build.

So, unbeknownst to anyone at the agency, I set about creating the blog I had always envisioned. My starting point was, as it had been all along, the Wieden & Kennedy London blog.

They used a free blogging software rather than a custom created website. So I followed their lead, and set up a new version of our blog using Google’s free blogging software package.

This took no more than about 15 minutes! I then chose a clean, simple design template from one of the many available from Google. This took about 5 minutes. Next step was to create a masthead. This was as simple as cutting and pasting the masthead from the original blog.

And so our blog, which we had named Wunderings, was born again.

Over the next few months I posted several snippets and photos capturing day to day life in our agency. Other than my creative partner, no-one at the agency knew I was doing this.

When the blog was three months old, I began to drop hints about its existence. Obviously curiosity got the better of many of our staff, who searched for Wunderings on Google, and fell in love with it.

I’m proud to say our blog is now thriving. It is, as I always intended, a window into the day to day life of Wunderman in Australia.

Candidates at interviews have remarked on it. All staff contribute to it. And best of all, it helps position our agency as a great place to work at (and with).