Ideas worth protecting

Last week we teamed up with our friends at Bircham Dyson Bell to hold our very first event for Social Media Week. Our very own Creative Director, Andy Bolter joined a panel of lawyers and investors to talk about our most precious possession – our ideas, and how to go about protecting them.

At Pepper we have to worry about 2 things: protecting our Client’s work from leaving the office before it goes live, and protecting our own ideas before a Client buys them. As pointed out by a member of the audience, it is virtually impossible to protect an idea that’s inside your head. Whether that’s an idea for the next big ad campaign or a business idea that could revolutionise hot dogs. The idea is anyone’s until you have something tangible down on paper or in design. Then you can patent or copyright it and make it yours.

It won’t be long until the event will be up online but if you can’t wait that long, here are Andy’s golden words of wisdom on doing ‘Whatever it takes’ to protect your ideas from the get go:

  • Don’t base them on assumption. He’s seen ideas fail more times than Elvis had girlfriends, and why? Because 9 times out of 10 there isn’t anything to back them up. It’s very easy to fall in love with our ideas and it’s easier to convince ourselves that it will work than entertain the the notion that it might not. But as one of our clients likes to say “sometimes we have to kill our babies”
  • We can protect our ideas from failing by basing them on evidence. Make sure you know your stuff
  • It’s dangerous not to share ideas. You’ll soon find out if it’s been done before or if it has traction. But never share them with those closest to you – you won’t get the truth
  • Sadly luck pays a big part, so always keep a Leprechaun close by
  • Another panellist, Modwenna Rees-Mogg shared her best piece of advice for success: Focus on the problem, not the solution. Problems change.

We’d like to give a massive thank you to Kevin Poulter, Head of Social Media Employment at BDB for holding the event and getting us involved. We had a great time and look forward to more collaborations in the future.

And don’t forget the most golden of rules for ideas…

If you haven’t paid for it, it’s not yours.

Vicky McGarvey,

Posting for popularity?

After attending Creative Social’s event last week, to celebrate the launch of their new book ‘Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Theif: Advertising’s Next Generation’, an off-the-cuff comment about social has been playing on my mind:

“Something that was designed to make our lives easier, is now consuming all of our time”.

Seems obvious, really. But it got me thinking. Life’s short, so why are we spending our lives looking down at our phones?

From Myspace to Facebook, nearly all social channels rely on one fundamental thing – our compulsive need to share information about ourselves. What we’re doing, how many years our parents have been married and who we’re dating is now common knowledge to just about anyone with an internet connection. All things that 10 years ago we’d only tell our closest friends.

For years all these social sites have had one thing in common – they’ve allowed us to share photos of anything from fireworks to our cat’s birthday party. Whatever it is – we love to show the world what we’re doing. Instagram have taken ownership of this by giving us a platform that’s solely dedicated to sharing photos that make our life look a hell of a lot more exciting than it actually is. Usually with the help of pretty filters and witty captions. And if we’re lucky, after composing the perfect post, we’ll get at least 10 likes.

We’re creating online versions of ourselves, and perhaps that’s our addiction. We filter out the bad stuff and over-sell the good in hope that perceptions of us change. We’re living in a world where popularity is judged on how many likes our photos get and how many followers we have on Twitter, or where attending the best party in the world would be ruined if we couldn’t share it online.

So something that Mark Zuckerburg may have designed to make our lives easier by connecting us with our peers, has now escalated into a world where we’re more disconnected than ever. So what is in the store for the next generation? There’s a question that makes me a little nervous.

Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Thief: Advertising’s Next Generation

Last night Two nights ago, myself, Vicky, Sam and Marta wandered over to DigitasLBi
for the launch of Creative Social’s second book; Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Thief: Advertising’s Next Generation (Yes, they had a first book, let’s say it was more of
a cult classic).

As soon as I saw the lineup, which was loaded with people I’d been inspired by and followed (online) during my student days, I got excited and sent an office-wide email asking if people wanted to go (that way I wouldn’t have to pay for my ticket). Flo Heiss, Dave Birss and Dave Bedwood were the advertising heads I was most looking forward
to seeing.

Flo Heiss and Dave Birss weren’t there and Dave Bedwood, despite being an entertaining host of Room 101, didn’t present.

But despite this, there was some stuff worth enthusiastically regurgitating, which I will
do here:

Introduction by Daniele Fiandaca, Co-founder of CreativeSocial
The beauty of our industry is that we don’t know what the future will look like. It’s an awesome time to be in the industry because we have the power to make it what we want it to be. How do we do this? Buy the book to find out, of course.

Talk number one; Seb Royce, Chief Creative Officer of Rockabox
Seb crammed what was probably a really good twenty-minute presentation into ten minutes. He spoke very quickly. However, despite talking for ten minutes without breathing, he made the following insightful points (illustrated by some freaky GIFs):

  • Routine kills creativity. It’s stifling. Creatives in the advertising industry must escape it. We can do this by getting out of the office and living a life.
  • The internet doesn’t let you taste, smell and touch. These senses trigger memories that in turn trigger connections between otherwise unrelated subjects – this is where the good stuff comes from (I added the bit in red, smart aren’t I). So get off the internet and go out into the real world.
  • Follow the ad gurus. People with more experience than you’ve had years on this earth. People like Dave Trott and Rory Sutherland – there’s a list of some smart people and blogs I follow at the end of this blog entry. You’ll learn a lot. This is probably where I got the bit in red from.
  • Do something you enjoy. This is called intrinsic motivation. It goes a long way to helping you produce your best work. And it links nicely to the theory of flow mentioned by Jake Attree and Laura Jordan Bambach in talk number four.

Talk number two; Mark Andersen, Co-founder and Managing Director
of We Love Digital
Mark’s talk was titled ‘Like I give a shit’. He obviously does give a shit. His key takeaway bits were:

  • Don’t try to be all things to all people. We, and brands, are spreading ourselves too thinly. We should take the time to make something of value, not size – something we can be proud of. He then quoted Mark Twain. I thought I’d remember it so I took a sip of my wine instead of writing it down. I can’t remember it. Sorry.
  • Rip up the corporate rule book and talk to people as a real person, not as a big, nasty corporation.
  • He then gave some good examples and some bad examples of brands taking the time to make something of quality.

Oreos are gay?

Spearmint Rhinos Australia uploaded a camcorder screenshot of a baby doing the splits. The caption read ‘guess the future stripper’. As if this idea wasn’t seedy enough, it didn’t take long for the people of twitter to notice the date on the image meant the ‘stripper’ was 14 years old at time of tweet. Dickheads!

Talk number three; Mark Earls, Founder of Herd Consultancy
Hello, I am a copycat was my favourite talk of the night. Well done Mark. Mark used Elvis to illustrate that we’re all copycats and the sooner we get over this fact, the better. Seriously, get over it! Mark obviously has an affinity with Elvis, which shows, as Mark really doesn’t give a shit about copying. Because, from his clothes to his music, Elvis was one big crazy copy cat – he never even wrote a song.

Mark pointed out that copying and originality are very similar. And that it’s okay to copy an original. But to copy a copier, well that’s just crap (he name-checked a French Elvis here. I, again, took another sip of my wine instead of writing it down).

Mark said copying helps make new things, here’s how:

  • We should embrace ‘error’. Error when copying is your friend because it creates something new. It kinda resembles evolution – where an ‘error’ can produce something spectacular. This reminds me of a Mark Twain quote I do remember; “Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.” Bam! I’m on fire! But we must have a balance between error and order because a world full of error would be catastrophic. Pop music was born when some dudes messed about whilst copying old music and made it too fast. Someone said “that sounds good” and then we got The Beatles.
  • Copy from a distance. Mark used Team GB’s Dave Brailsford as the perfect example of how copying from other disciplines can benefit our own, such as washing your hands like a doctor – Dave’s cyclists went on to win bullions of gold medals at the 2012 Olympics.

See George Lois on his creation of the big idea and Everything is a remix for more good copying.

Talk number four; Jake Attree, Creative at Dare and Laura Jordan Bambach, Creative Partner at Mr President and President of DandAD
These two met at the mystical-sounding Hyper Island in Manchester. They talked about the psychological theory of ‘flow’, or Hyperconcentration or Hyperfocus. To briefly sum, this theory explains that period of time when you’re so deep in concentration (or, in my case, panic) that two hours passes like two minutes. Artists, writers, musicians can go a day without eating, drinking and pissing. Whilst in this state we can produce our best work, when the brain can make those magical leaps and connections that create error, accidents and original ideas. So, how do you get yourself into this state of flow?

  • Do something you’re passionate about. Werner Herzog said being excited when you work is good. If you’re passionate about your work, you’ll be excited and, in the case of the writer, the words will flow.
  • Create rituals – Laura likes wine in front of a crappy cop show, I like to run before work.
  • Create an environment you’re comfortable in. Some people like a silent, empty room, some people like the buzz of a busy office.

And when you are in this state of flow, don’t stop. This is hard to do in a world full of distractions. That email that just popped up on your screen, ignore it until you’ve finished reading this, dare you.

Procrastination is the enemy of flow. We all do it. My room at university was never cleaner than during exam period. Jake and Laura want us all to punch procrastination in the face. Go to (doesn’t seem to be working at the moment, it’s probably coming soon).

Talk number five; John V Wilshire, Founder of Smithery
Short, concise talks > Long, waffly talks.

John told us:
Making things people want > Making people want things.

That was about it.

Room 101 hosted by Dave Bedwood with a panel including Jon Burkhart, James Kirk, Marc Lewis and Daniele Fiandaca

You know how it works. Four panellists present something they hate, the host decides whether it deserves to go into the Ministry of Love’s torture chamber, Room 101. This one, of course, was related to advertising. I’m fully aware of how long this blog post is getting so I’m going to keep this super brief.

The two hates that Dave Bedwood awarded a kneecapping to were:

  • Clichés – such as using white, middle class, happy 2.4 families to advertise food. Or good-looking actors driving down long, winding roads in car adverts.
  • Badly-run internships – ones that only benefit those who can afford to live in London whilst being paid the equivalent of a bus fair. Although, since Dave has become an employer, he does find them very useful. Lolz all round.

A sort of conclusion
During Room 101, an audience member tried to defend clichés by saying they’re what the dumb general public want. This made me cringe my face off. The general public is not dumb – something Marc Lewis swiftly replied with and something I’m certain the rest of the room agreed with. Joe Bloggs and A. Person would certainly appreciate a little originality, whether it’s born from copying with error, killing your routine, living a life outside advertising, being human, spending time creating something of quality, punching procrastination in the face or making stuff people want. This is where I feel the future of advertising lies. I’m sure the book says this and a whole lot more way better than I ever could. So go buy it and find out for yourself.

Thanks Creative Social for another great night, I hope to get involved with you clever people sometime in the future.

People to follow and steal smart stuff from:
From Creative Social, click here for bios and twitter handles.

A selection from my bookmarks
Dave Trott @davetrott Dave’s blog
Rory Sutherland @rorysutherland
Simon Veksner Scamp
Farnham Street
Northern Planner
Canalside View
Brain Pickings

Daniel Simpson