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Best Practices for Operating at the “Speed of Culture” – sparks&honey and Reebok Break it Down

As a part of Advertising Week 2014, the 4A’s hosted its Competitive Edge series on Sept. 29, bringing together top agency and brand executives to debate the value of operating at the intersection of cultural intelligence and business innovation.

The session kicked off with a video clip from the new HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” in which anchorman John Oliver explored recent examples of brands’ Twitter #fails. From the DiGiorno mixup with the trending #WhyIStayed hashtag to various brands tweeting misguided 9/11 content, the clip raised some very interesting points about when it is the right time for a brand to engage in real-time social practices.

Terry Young, CEO/Founder of ad newsroom sparks&honey, and his colleague Imari Oliver, VP, Director of Creative Strategy, and good friend, David Oksman, U.S. Marketing Director at Reebok, spoke about best practices for brands that want to operate at the “speed of culture” in a session entitled, Leading Culture and Collaboration.

Why do so many brands struggle with creating authentic social conversations? According to Young, brands need to identify places, trends, dialogue and topics that they want to be attached to as a first step. When thinking about everything that is happening in social – it can seem overwhelming and random, so brands need to sort through everything and zero in on the select areas of opportunities, he said. Moving at the “speed of culture” isn’t an easy feat but it’s essential for brands that want to be successful in today’s world.

Oksman’s advice: Brands need to be strategic rather than opportunistic.  Just like an athlete, brands can develop muscle memory when it comes to identifying trends/cultural elements to attach to  – that is what drives nimbleness, Oksman said.

Culture is the pulse of the social world and there are two types – “slow culture” and  “fast culture,” according to Young. 3D printing, autonomous cars, and the sharing economy are examples of “slow culture” – these affect companies and brands over a long term. Memes and viral videos though are examples of “fast culture” that impacts culture and consumers in the short term.

The panelists concluded that when brands are looking to operate at the “speed of culture” they should be asking themselves three things:

  • What makes sense for their brand?
  • Which aspects of real-time trends and culture are a fit with the brand’s core messaging and essence?
  • Does the brand want to enter an existing conversation or create a new one?

Because isn’t creating conversations what it’s all about?

(INSERT PICTURE FROM PANEL)  From left to right: Terry Young (CEO/Founder of sparks&honey), David Oksman (U.S. Marketing Director at Reebok) and Imari Oliver (VP, Director of Creative Strategy at sparks&honey) with panel moderator, Advertising Age reporter, Malika Toure

From left to right: Terry Young (CEO/Founder of sparks&honey), David Oksman (U.S. Marketing Director at Reebok) and Imari Oliver (VP, Director of Creative Strategy at sparks&honey) with panel moderator, Advertising Age reporter, Malika Toure

DGC Live from Advertising Week: Unlocking Client Creativity

Advertising Week X is in full swing and our clients wasted no time today talking about the creative process and what creative success looks like. In a session titled, “Unlocking Client Creativity,” Forbes’ Jenny Rooney talked with executives from DDB New York, sparks&honey, and 4A’s, as well as PPG, about the idea of co-creativity and how it impacts creative results.

Speaking on the panel were Peter Hempel (President & CEO, DDB New York), Nancy Hill (President & CEO, 4A’s), Rebecca Rehder (Account Director, DDB New York), Terry Young (CEO & Founder, sparks&honey) and Rob Horton (Director, Marketing, PPG Architectural Coatings).

Execs from DDB, sparks&honey, 4A’s and PPG Architectural Coatings chat with Forbes CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney about the importance of co-creation in advertising.

Execs from DDB, sparks&honey, 4A’s and PPG Architectural Coatings chat with Forbes CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney about the importance of co-creation in advertising

Centered on DDB’s “The Beast” campaign for Glidden, a paint brand, the panelists talked about the importance of not stifling client creativity, and thinking with an open mind when trying to engage with consumers.

Peter Hempel said co-creativity is not just a philosophy, but a way to attach all things creative to campaigns and ultimately to the consumer. He also cited that under DDB Founder Bill Bernbach’s leadership, the agency began to partner art directors and copywriters, an innovative idea for the time that led to inter-agency collaboration across the industry.

Working with other departments, which is a major part of co-creativity, provides a chance for agencies to re-align with a new idea and to let people from neglected departments and internal marketing teams back into the creative process, according to Nancy Hill. Nancy compared outside agencies to personal trainers for brands, saying they push brands a little harder to take risks they might not take themselves.

Continuing the idea of co-creation between agencies and brands, we caught up with Terry Young to elaborate on the number one thing that drives successful co-creativity. Check out the video below to hear what he has to say.

Terry Young, CEO / founder, sparks&honey shares his perspective on enabling client/agency co-creation following a panel at Advertising Week X.

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