Category Archives: Uncategorized

detroit digital summit 2016 – things i noted

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-10-46-33-amThis is my first year at Detroit Digital Summit and I thought it would be useful to jot down some of the more interesting or relevant moments from the conference. (Mainly because Detroit is not yet a bucket list type of place).

Firstly a note about food. Ok it’s a little bit irrelevant, but having lots of coffee and things to eat is essential at a conference because (and I always find this wierd) it’s really tiring sitting about learning stuff.

The food was ok – check out the fruit for breakfast on the second day – but there wasn’t enough coffee!

Anyway, to the meat of the discussion. You can read my selection of the top 4 presentations from the summit here.

Full prezi on the Digital Summit here

Workshopping and shopping

shanghaiCurrently I’m in Shanghai. I’m here to workshop with the Imagination team in the Shanghai office. We are working on the first stage of an Asian expression of one of our key experiences.

Workshopping is tiring. I think it’s because you have to concentrate so hard consistently often for longer hours than one would normally be working.

I’ve also been shopping in the local markets, which is far from work!

But I think there are principles from shopping in Shanghai’s markets that are incredibly important when you are running a workshop.

  1. Don’t go in there if you don’t know what you want – You want to spend unfeasible amounts of money on ‘bargains’? The quickest way is to have little idea what you want. It means you get attracted by the shiny shiny eye-candy and end up spending far more than you really meant to, or come away with fr more ‘stuff’ than you really wanted.In a workshop, not knowing what your final objectives are is also a recipe for spending unfeasible amounts of money and time. It’s so easy to follow ideas dowm rabbit holes and realise to late that you have missed fundamental outcomes.Make up your mind what you want – construct the experience to get it.
  2. IMG_1394Stick to your budget – Bargaining for some chinese pyjamas in the local market the most valuable tool I had was that I knew how much I wanted to spend. And how much I ought to be paying. Without a budget in mind when you try and bargain in China you are likely to end up paying far more than you really need, or paying a price you aren’t happy with. And there’s nothing worse than paying over the odds in a bargaining situation.The same is true for running a workshop. There is a time budget. It’s tempting to go over on it, to allow the creatives to keep ideating, just because they want to. But the end result is that you get poorer ideas (boundaries drive better creative) and that you run out of time to do all the work you need to do. That results in late nights and panic.
  3. Don’t be too rigid – After I bought my chinese pyjamas (at a very attractive price of course) the slightly scary booth owner grabbed my arm and manhandled me towards her scarves. I didn’t really need a new scarf but I did already have what I wanted, at the price I wanted and so what the hell?Ladies and gentleman, I am the proud owner of 2 lovely, soft scarves I intend to use as presents for my family at such a good price that the booth owner was practically crying ( I kid you not) as she insisted I pay double their real value. Don’t worry, I caught the flash of her smile when I handed over the money. She knew I’d paid that little bit over the odds so she was happy, and I really liked the scarves.And workshops? Sometimes they take  strange and wonderful turn and you owe it to the team to break with your carefully planned structure and follow that rabbit. You never know what fantastic creative ideas you might unearth.



Generation X – Help us with research

The Imagination Insight team have a regular cadence of releasing reports, but to deliver those reports we need to do some research!

We are well into a set of research into Generation X, those people between the ages of 37 and 51 who are often considered by marketers as Parents or Singles, Working Women,  but not often considered as a generation. What does that mean? It means that fundamental drivers of Generation X’s thoughts and opinions are lost in the scramble to get their money. It also means that products and services that might be genuinely useful to Gen X are never even dreamed up – because the focus is on their functions more than their identities.

This doesn’t happen for Millennials, Gen Z or Boomers by the way. Marketers are all over them and their motivations. If you are a Gen X (like me) you are probably shrugging your shoulders or laughing cynically. It’s always been like this for us, right?

So I would like to invite you to share some of your opinions and experiences. It might be fun for you and would be incredibly useful to us in creating new experiences that really work for Generation X.

Visit Survey on Survey Monkey – click here


Winner Telly Awards 2016

The Detroit Imagination team has won two Telly Awards for films we created for Ford’s giant LED (130ft x 15ft). The Escape Urban Adventures film for which the team won the Silver is below (the Silver is the highest award in the Tellys – go figure)  They also won a Bronze award for a film about the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid

It’s always nice to win awards and particularly when you are proud of the work. I think the team did a great job making work that really conveys the identity of the products and speaks to the audience. I didn’t work on them myself so I’m allowed to big them up!


Non-planning books for planners 4 – Invisible Romans

19241863Another in the series of books I think are useful for planners to read that appear to have nothing to do with planning/strategy. This book is, as the title suggests, about the Romans who never appear in the works of the great writers – prostitutes, slaves, merchants, people like you and me.

Culture is consumed by the average person but we get fixated on the super stars, the rich, the famous, the extraordinary. This is particularly true when we think about history. It’s not surprising and may not even be wrong, but it’s not helpful if you are trying to create interesting experiences today. To do that you need to focus on the average Jo because they are the ones who are likely to engage with and be influenced by what you’ve created.

So don’t go looking for the extreme, look for the common, shared experience of the nobodys and you will find that you create communications that actually mean something.

This book is also a great reality check on local states of privilege in history as compared with our own state of privilege. Are we the senatorial class of the modern Roman empire? That’s a different blog post.

the Indian netflix of books

juggernaut-2What a great idea – create a netflix for books. Indian app Juggernaut is exploring delivering books to people including social recommendation, allowing writers to talk to their readers and specifically designed for smartphones.


interestingly, the approach is focused on short form and serialised works and there is an editorial focus on popular and commercially successful in India, such as romance, sex, crime, self-help and fantasy, non-fiction, and books for young adults and teens.

According to Mashable India has the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world with 220 million smartphone users. This, combined with a clear focus on the user’s needs both from a content and a usability perspective makes me think Juggernaut is going to live up to its name.


Best experiential programme

Very proud that Ford’s redesigned experience at the New York International Autoshow won the award for the Best New York International Auto Show Experiential Program.

A team from across Imagination in Detroit and London worked really hard to drive this vision through and bring it to life ,with great client support. It’s lovely when your hard work is recognized.

Here’s a quote,

The company’s live “social square” as well as other changes the automaker made to its display stand pushed it over the edge, says Scotty Reiss, co-founder, SheBuysCars.comand president of the International Motor Press Association.

“The entire stand has been completely redesigned for this year’s shows and integrates the lifestyle experience into the models,” Reiss notes. “So, for instance, you don’t just see a crossover, but rather a lifestyle you can identify with. There is merchandise that consumers can buy, a social media station, a button-making stand and in the truck area on the lower level they have a BraunAbility Explorer that lets customers see and experience how they can still have the style, capability and fun they want in an SUV.”

What’s particularly different is our approach to social which focuses on connecting with people who might ordinarily avoid autoshows altogether. Check it out…