The simplest ideas are so often the most complicated to execute. That was the case with OgilvyOne London’s Cannes Grand Prix-winning ‘Magic of Flying’ project. As Emma de la Fosse, joint-CCO of OgilvyOne EMEA, explains the outdoor ads that saw a little boy respond with delight at every passing British Airways flight were a feat of negotiation and innovation. LBB’s Laura Swinton spoke to Emma to find out why Magic of Flying heralds a new era of creative outdoor advertising and to pick her brains about the big challenges facing the advertising industry.
LBB> What is it about OgilvyOne that’s makes it so unique right now?
EF> OgilvyOne has a very curious and interested approach to the world. We actively embrace new ideas and technologies. I guess we are early adopters. That includes being the early adopters of new types of people; some of whom we are fortunate enough to have in the agency right now.
LBB> Tham Khai Meng described your Cannes Grand Prix-winning British Airways work Magic of Flying as ‘Outdoor 2.0’ – why do you think outdoor is having such a ‘moment’?
EF> Back in the 1980s and 90s, outdoor was the platform for some of the most inventive and adventurous creative ideas in advertising, from sticking cars on posters to blasting holes in them. But then the medium went into a decline, creatively speaking. It was often used just as a support for TV ads. Now, happily, experimentation and creativity are back. People are using many of the emerging technologies, from using linking posters with satellites to using billboards as water filters, which is adding a whole new dimension to outdoor.
LBB> For an idea that is so beautifully simple, Magic of Flying involved a lot of complex negotiation with the media owners and the brands whose ads you were disrupting – how did you manage to negotiate all of that and persuade all the other parties to get on board?
EF> Like any successful business deal, every party needed to get something out of it. Matthew Dearden at Clear Channel was looking for a highly creative idea to showcase the capabilities of their new digital poster sites, Darren McKay at Storm was seeking to innovate within media serving platforms, and LG, the main advertiser at Piccadilly, was keen to attract extra eyeballs to a site they had bought for the year. What BA got out of it were 2 highly visible, iconic locations (Piccadilly and the elevated section of the M4) for a fraction of the normal cost.
LBB> Why do you think it chimed with the Cannes juries?
EF> Magic of Flying makes you feel happy. As Jon Andrews (our creative technologist and one of the core team members on Magic of Flying) observed, a lot of work in digital and interactive is clever but it’s not emotional. Magic of Flying was different. Jon worked really hard to ensure that the tech was, for the most part, invisible and that the emotional aspect was to the fore.
LBB> Aside from the big wins, what do you think were the main hot topics of conversation at this year’s Cannes?
EF> Worthy work. Brands adopting causes. Nivea making GPS wristbands for kids to stop them wandering off and ANZ bank raising money through their ATMs for Lesbian and Gay awareness. 37 per cent of the Grand Prix and Gold winning work at Cannes fell under the Corporate, Social Responsibility umbrella. (That is different and separate from charity advertising which is not allowed to win a Grand Prix in the main categories.) It’s a trend that has been emerging for a while, but now it’s well and truly emerged!
LBB> From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now?
EF> The biggest challenge for agencies is getting paid for the work they do. Firstly, some clients have recognised that agencies need to produce a certain amount of very good creative work every year in order to maintain their creative reputation within the industry. In fact, awards are so important to them that they are happy to pursue more creative projects for little or no cost. Some clients have taken advantage of that. Secondly, the model for how we work is changing. We are increasingly inventing products and services but we have not yet worked out a way to charge for value, not just hours. Lastly, there is the increasing number of procurement led pitches where agencies are not adequately compensated for a process which can last months. The creative industries are one of the biggest earners for UK Plc and agencies need to be a part of that.
LBB> And what are the most interesting developments?
EF> If you are a ‘Customer Engagement’ agency, as we are, there is now an expanding world of interesting creative opportunities. Really there shouldn’t be a single thing in a customer’s journey that is not well thought out, well designed and creative in some way. Every element a customer comes into contact with should reinforce their engagement with the brand.
LBB>You’re co-CCO for the whole EMEA region – which countries have been particularly exciting recently in terms of creative?
EF> EMEA splits roughly into two; the sophisticated, developed markets and the emerging ones. South Africa, a developed market, has always been a creative powerhouse but I am also really excited and optimistic about what the rest of sub-Saharan Africa will do. There is a lot of investment in Africa right now. Our challenge is to channel it in the right way and foster an ethos of creativity. The central European area - Germany, Spain, France and Italy - has been very challenged by the financial crisis and resulting recession but I’m hoping things will start to recover soon.
LBB> What do you think is the key to nurturing an effective creative department?
EF> Making sure that the opportunities are there and helping to make sure they happen. We have a saying at OgilvyOne; ‘Work hasn’t happened until it has run’. Creatives, in my experience, need to be actively making work on a regular basis. They get bored and depressed otherwise. Also, we impress on our department the importance of taking responsibility for their own stuff. Coming up with an idea is only 50 per cent of the job. You also need to have the ingenuity, the energy and the passion to make your idea a reality. Ours is a manufacturing industry, not a service industry. I think that ethos also gives creative people a sense of empowerment.
LBB> What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you were first entering the industry?
EF> God, I don’t know. Maybe ‘don’t worry so much’!
LBB> What’s on the cards for OgilvyOne for the rest of 2014?
EF> We’ve spent the past 12 months setting up our Content studio (which I wanted to name ‘Social Services’) and it’s producing some quality stuff at a rate of knots, so we’ll carry on growing and developing that. We’ve got some very exciting stuff on the go for PHE and Land Rover and we’ve actually just launched the first phase of the new global Land Rover site. And then at some point we are going to have to start ordering the crates as we begin packing for our new home at Sea Containers House.