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From Saying Things to Doing Things

Advertising communicates brand values, interactive involves the consumer. This deck gives instances of both. Examples are from Coca-cola, Volkswagen and Nike.

Drones to charge your electric car. Hmm. Maybe?

Amazon have a reputation of churning out consumer tech like there’s no tomorrow. They overclock their R&D machine to make us say “take my money” on an ever-growing range of proprietary products. And here I am trying to make sense of their new-product strategy.

To maintain the aggressive pace of output, they appear to have a “past, present and future” product development approach:

To maintain the aggressive pace of output, they have a “past, present and future” product development approach:

1. Past fails are revisited and reborn.

2. Current hits are expanded upon.

3. New, future-facing products and services are…

Definitely not a picture of Tim Berners-Lee enjoying all the data

The internet is 30 years old this year. To celebrate this, I could’ve reminisced about the sound of the first ever modems connecting with their weird sounds, my first Geocities blog, ICQ crush, surfing the web for the first time on an LCD-screened Nokia (pre-iPhone era), but I choose not to.

Instead I’ve decided to write about data. All the data the internet this thirty-year-old has generated. I agree, on a spreadsheet, data looks boring. But when you use it to discover patterns, or inform an idea, data gets interesting. More about that in a bit.

First, I want to impress on you that the amount of data you generate daily — it might surprise you.

  • You wake up, and send a text to your partner who’s beside in bed, less than two feet away from you (conversation data).
  • Groggily you exit your flat, walk to your Tube station and take…

I can explain.

Abstract concepts like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence or an APK file, can be difficult to communicate to stakeholders. And let’s be honest, we can be very lazy. It takes effort to figure out the best way to explain something complicated and intangible.

So we spout jargon, which is verbal camouflage. We hide behind a wall of big words to avoid the mentally arduous job of helping another person grasp what an innovative concept is or does. Plus, convoluted words have the added benefit of making us appear smart.

But our success as agency people depends on our ability to sell complex and novel concepts.

Analogy is our friend here. Find common ground, similarities between what you’re trying to explain and an idea your audience are familiar with — it could be industry-niche or general knowledge. Here are a few examples:

  • Think of…


There’s an interesting creative challenge in making things more usable — even fun — for people. I’ve a massive appreciation for “functional creativity” which I define as employing creative thinking to a physical or digital product or service so that it works better.

Functional creative ideas need not be dry, boring, mechanical. They can bring users a world of delight. A prime example of functional creativity IMHO is the iPhone and its ecosystem of hardware and software — it changed how we interact with and what we expect from phones, forever.

Some other examples of cool functional creativity:

  • How do we stop illegal logging?
  • Functional creative solution: Inject code that disables trucks when they enter a protected forest zone. Illegal logging, stopped in its tracks as it were. ( )
  • How do we make sleep-inducing sales presentations more engaging?
  • Functional creative solution: Let… is a text completion tool with a difference: it delivers more than just a line, it generates whole paragraphs with eerily good continuity. I wrote the line below in bold and the AI completed the text that followed. (I hit the “generate another” button about 4 times to get to the result below, as some results were less spot on.) The tool was based on an algorithm created by OpenAI.

I was so happy. But then again, was I really happy? I think happiness is subjective.

The truth is, the truth is that there are things that get in…

From Sunday School to the Sunday Service, the “good Christian” is exhorted to grow spiritually, to become more Christ-like in our everyday lives, but there’s this never-ending tension of wanting to be and not yet being — we despise ourselves when we fail; we loathe our lack of character and tell ourselves we need to try harder.

“The Life You’ve Always Wanted, spiritual disciplines for ordinary people” by John Ortberg attempts to illuminate another pathway to deeper spirituality. One that’s not about Trying but about Training. …

In the book Great by Choice, author Jim Collins shares the story of two explorers, Amundsen and Scott, who led separate teams on an expedition race to the South Pole in 1911. The journey there and back was roughly 1,400 miles, which is equivalent to a round-trip from New York City to Chicago.

Although both teams would travel the same distance as each other through extremely harsh weather conditions, each team took an entirely different approach to the journey.

Scott’s team would walk as far as possible on the good weather days and then rest up on the bad days…

There is a disturbing trend in the bulk of work digital advertising agencies do. We do a lot of tactical, one-off projects. And it’s a sign that we’re sliding down the creative value chain, fast. At one agency, we were tasked with launching a Facebook campaign for a new sedan. At another, the client requested ideas that would “spread like wildfire” online. Those briefs didn’t want anything substantial. They were short-lived projects.

Why do most digital creative agencies end up doing loads of tactical stuff: one-off web videos, campaign sites, social media campaigns, web banners, apps? It’s probably because they…

Joel Lim

Concise writing, precise thinking, zero waffling. I’m a Creative Innovation guy at Ogilvy London. Writing on tech, creativity and faith.

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