Last week we held our first-ever MakeShop at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. The event was our excuse to get some of our favorite partners, clients, friends and family together to dive deeper in the behaviors we explored in our latest Game Changers report.
In the spirit of making, we worked with Henrik Werdelin and Philip Ingemann Petersen, of Prehype, the venture development firm that’s helped companies ranging from Verizon to News Corp incubate and spin out new businesses. We heard from Jake Barton, principal and founder of Local Projects, whose media design firm reinvents public space through collaborative storytelling experiences like Storycorps, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Change By Us. And we wrapped up the day getting our hands dirty (as dirty as littleBits will get you) learning how to prototype our product ideas with Bethany Koby, the founder of Technology Will Save Us.
With the winter Olympics in Sochi fast approaching, the issues surrounding these games are generating increasing attention. Russia’s oppression of human rights, specifically gay rights, has spurred outcry from a number of groups for a boycott by the United States team. Team GB has received similar protests to their participation. Both countries have declined to withdraw, largely on the basis that it would be unfair to the athletes who have prepared their entire life for the event. It seems a legitimate argument – the Olympics are central to the identity of many of these athletes and to deny them participation would be a cruel punishment to the wrong people.
In actuality, it’s choosing to participate in the Olympics that’s the bigger opportunity. Rather than stepping out of the spotlight, nations and brands can step into it – but with a message. Participating in the Olympics can bring human rights issues to the world stage in a positive and proactive way. President Obama put it quite well, “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which would, I think, go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there.” The US could bring the identities of these athletes to the forefront of its own Olympic brand – unifying in a celebration of the accomplishments of gay athletes, maybe even selecting a gay athlete as the flag bearer. Such uplifting events could rally a global community in support of human rights.
A tactful engagement of other brands could help make the point. As gay rights have progressed in the United States, a number of brands have made a point to show their support. By collaborating with these brands, the US team would fortify its own position. A company like Kenneth Cole, Levis, or Banana Republic could design the ceremonial uniforms. JetBlue, Expedia, or Orbitz could be the official travel partner. All the brand partners could be encouraged to bring their human rights advocacy to their team USA relationship in some way or another. Could Nike modify the US flag on uniforms in some way? Or create a special version of the multicolor flyknit sneakers?
The United States is making the right decision by participating in the 2014 Olympics. Participation can send a powerful and poignant message. It can convene and invigorate a community of advocates – from the biggest brand to the single person. And it can catalyze a massive, international push for equal rights.
Harry Rosenbaum is a strategist at Wolff Olins New York.
As we’re all finding out, consumers no longer simply consume. They’re active, skeptical, creative and entrepreneurial — and being an activist consumer is no longer a minority pursuit. This year, Wolff Olins and Flamingo have partnered to uncover consumer behaviors that are moving from the fringe to the mainstream. On September 23, come join our conversation moderated by WIRED on the changing relationship between people and brands, why it can’t be ignored by marketers, and lessons that can help you profit from these cultural shifts.
Netflix is on a roll, right? House of Cards was catnip for West Wing withdrawal sufferers, Arrested Development whipped comedy nerds into a frenzy and now Orange is the New Black is taking TV (as we now know it) by storm. Even Ryan Seacrest was moved to humor on Twitter: “Orange is the new black is the new gluten free diet”.
So, what’s their secret? The creation of a TV hit is (I imagine) a complex mixture of talent, timing, funding and magic. But the New York Times also identified a more fundamental variable that boils down to a shift in TV business models: from a “third-party-decider economy” to viewer-first. In short, where shows were traditionally created for “broad, unobjectionable appeal” to please advertisers, “Netflix predicates its model around the person watching the show, [and] needs to provide content that the viewer deems worthy of $7.99 a month”.
Good news for us as viewers. And just one example of a larger TV renaissance spearheaded by Netflix and HBO, but also embraced by broadcasting pioneers (like the BBC) and some cable players (see AMC). Technology that allows viewers to binge, time-shift, and watch on a variety of screens is encouraging a new type of TV. Storytelling can be longer form, less reliant on the episode-ending cliffhanger, more niche, less conventional. Stars, directors and writers can find freedom of expression not possible in the blockbuster rat race of movie making.
Is this the golden age of TV? Perhaps that’s a little hasty. From an economic point of view there’s still a long way to go before any one company breaks through the network strong-hold in the US (although Aereo is trying hard to trample that path). But there’s no doubt that TV is back on the map as place to go for quality entertainment. Because TV is finally putting us first, and it shows.
Amy Lee is a Senior Strategist at Wolff Olins New York.
Refinery29 was founded in 2005 with the idea of providing a highly curated, edited take on all things cool in New York City. Fast-forward 8 years later… Refinery29 has grown from local to global, from 4 to 120 (and counting), from start-up to one of the most visited lifestyle sites online – and one of Inc.’s fastest growing private companies in 2012.
Talk about growth at Internet speed!
Not only has Refinery29 deservedly garnered an avid community of users/consumers – they’ve been continually successful on the investment front, recently securing an additional $5.6M of private investment to help scale the business into new categories and new geographies.
Today marks another historic moment in the company’s impressive track record – the launch of a redesigned website and new brand identity that reflects Refinery29’s ambition to keep pushing boundaries and challenging the conventions of what it means to be an online media business.
In the fall of 2012, Refinery29 asked Wolff Olins to help crystallize and position their brand for the next chapter of development and growth. The co-founding team was looking to establish both a strategy and an identity that better reflected who they are, where they came from and where they are going.
In a rapid three-month sprint, we worked hand-in-hand with the Refinery29 team to establish a clear brand strategy and decision-making filter to help guide internal beliefs and behaviors moving forward. We then used that strategy to inform the development of a bold, new identity – a process of collaboration and iteration, ultimately landing on a final expression that stays true to their cool kid core, while pushing them into the future. The mark itself is an evolution – an unexpected but magnetic mix of lines, curves, and alignment that caught our eyes from day 1 and over time came into its own, much like the brand it represents.
For Refinery29, this process was all about articulating and owning their inherent juxtapositions as a brand – how to defy the mainstream while defining the mainstream, how to get big and stay cool, how to be mass and stay indie – maximalist yet edited, how to be content and commerce, advertising and editorial – all at the same time. For a brand with such big ambition and opportunity, it’s only fitting to see them stand amongst a crowd of highly deserving peers.
It has been an absolute honor to collaborate with the Refinery29 team – we can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next!
“He thinks he’s tough (his favorite movie is The Godfather)…but really, he’s not (Shawshank Redemption is a close second)…and he definitely has a sense of humor (Caddyshack rounds out the list of favorites).”
That quip - along with a few other gems- came from a talk with Bonobos' VP of Marketing, Craig Elbert, during last week's OpenCo event in NYC.
This retailer’s spot-on understanding and articulation of its audience is one reason Bonobos is a rising brand, one to watch and learn from over the next few years.
Here are a few others:
They’re online first and foremost
This may seem obvious now, but it’s amazing how few retailers actually treat the web as #1. For Bonobos, the original insight was realizing that many men don’t like the pressure-filled, often overwhelming experience of shopping in a brick and mortar store (it’s not laziness, it’s more like aversion).So they started all-in online, making sure to go well beyond the costs of entry.Things like Bonobos’ customer ‘Ninjas’ (all college graduates) and free shipping/returns help to alleviate the otherwise “high-friction” situation of ordering an expensive, fit-sensitive item online.
Sensing that some men do, in fact, want to feel certain items before ordering them (“There are two things people like to touch before buying: suits, and Tupperware”), Bonobos made an early small bet, turning the lobby of their NY headquarters into what they call a Guideshop.The thinking was: why not invite people in, let them have a beer, and give them a one-on-one consultant and a casual environment in which to try on clothes.The approach proved successful – both in terms of purchase metrics (Guideshop visitors place double the average order value, and come back to Bonobos faster for a second purchase) and in helping the company better understand their customers. Craig Elbert told us at OpenCo “before the Guideshops, we just knew the majority of our customers were guys…now we can actually have conversations and learn.” They’ve since opened 5 more experiential spaces (in addition to a much publicized partnership with Nordstrom).
They’re smart about sub-brands
Bonobos has already shown an eye for spotting new opportunities.After one employee realized there was nowhere for him to buy “Arnold Palmer inspired, bad-ass classics,” Maide was born.While clothiers like Nike and Callaway are making performance-focused items, Bonobos is bringing fitted style back to the greens.
If you’re not following these guys on twitter yet, be sure to check them out: @bonobos (for announcements, general brand talk) and @bonobosninjas (to see how they’re using twitter as a two-way conversation tool)
Sam Liebeskind is a strategist at Wolff Olins New York. Follow him at @samliebeskind
Buycott is a new app designed to support voting with your wallet.
Created by Los Angeles-based developer Ivan Pardo, the app helps people scan the barcode on a product to see which companies own it, and avoid companies whose principles they disagree with – such as those owned by the Koch brothers, or who oppose labeling GMOs. The app provides contact information for each company, and includes a family tree of corporate lineage, linking smaller brands to the bigger ones that own them, and as Fast Company points out, “reminding consumers that seemingly indie brands are owned by much larger companies” – i.e., that size is often a branding effect.
Buycott’s “knowledge is power” approach to consumer activism reminded me of the recent New York magazine profile of Buzzfeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti, in which I was surprised to read that Peretti had actually started out as an internet artist and activist. In fact, his first notoriety came from culture-jamming Nike in 2001, by trying to make a pair of Nike iD sneakers that said SWEATSHOP. The resulting email correspondence, in which Nike repetitively refuses, went viral.
Since then, Peretti has reconfigured the line between activist and capitalist. An interesting moment in the New York magazine profile describes how he had created a mass-email tracking program called ForwardTrack, and although it was originally intended for liberal political groups and charities, “when Procter & Gamble wanted to adopt it for use in connection with a detergent promotion, he confessed no hesitation.”
I realized I’d first heard of Peretti in the excellent book Brands: The Logos of the Global Economy by Celia Lury, where his Nike iD sweatshop stunt is put in historical terms. Coincidentally enough, the same chapter in Lury’s book includes an earlier, much weirder run-in between Proctor & Gamble and viral activism: the 1985 redesign of their 134-year-old logo in response to rumors that it as a mark of the devil. (When viewed in a mirror, the man’s curly beard was said to resemble a devilish 666, which is totally true if you look at it that way.) After a multi-million-dollar anti-rumor campaign that included private investigators, lawsuits, and a toll-free hotline, the company gave up and changed its logo to today’s plain old P&G.
At the time, the decision was described by marketers as “a rare case of a giant company succumbing to a bizarre and untraceable rumor” (New York Times News Service). Today, it’s clear that it was an early example of trolling – an effective, asymmetrical assault levied by an anonymous source on a visible public body. Which might not be so different from how branding works, itself:
“Traveling anonymously, without clear meaning, authority, or direction, rumors colonize the media in much the same way that commercial trademarks do, subversively undermining the benign invisibility of the trademark’s corporate sponsor while maintaining the consumer’s own lack of authorial voice.” –Intellectual property expert Rosemary Coombe
To put it another way, rumors, trolling, and corporate branding have two important features in common: anonymity and amplification.
Whitney Phillips, an anthropologist who wrote her PhD thesis on trolling, has a lot of great perspectives on this topic. She did an interview in The Awl that does a good job of showing how the new landscape of branded content is troubling what we take for granted in “authentic” media – specifically the elements of spontaneity and immediacy. Phillips defines memejacking as “the process by which marketers attempt to tack brand identity onto an existing meme, like some sort of unholy game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey” as well as TheBuzzfeed Effect (paging Peretti) as the behavior of a“nest of insanely influential organizations acting as ex post facto gatekeepers who have the power to make a meme by saying that something IS a meme—a process central to any smart ad-revenue-based business plan.”
The difference between memes and brands, of course, is that brands usually have a much more intelligible source, if you know where to look. And it’s precisely this possession, in the case of corporate branding, that the Buycott app is designed to figure out, cutting through the information soup to the money source. Let’s see if it works.
Yahoo is the slowest-growing U.S. Internet company in its class—a trend the company is furtively trying to reverse. With Marissa Mayer at the helm, and former Goldman-banker-turned-‘Chief Development Officer’ Jacqueline Reses at her side, Yahoo has been busy restructuring and acquiring. With its latest high-profile acquisition, Yahoo has specifically promised not to “screw up” Tumblr. It’s a big bet, but there is still a ways to go.
In recent months, the magnifying glass on Marissa has kept the company even more tight-lipped than usual. Obviously a company in Yahoo’s position can’t reveal all of its strategies, but if the leadership have a clear purpose and vision for their brand, then it’s time to leverage the attention, and start to tell that story. Here’s a way to go about it:
First, define your journey.
We know Yahoo wants to win in mobile and personalized content, its last six acquisitions have been about building the capabilities, products and people to help get them there. Those bets are good – and are an indicator that Yahoo is moving from click centric to consumer centric, but it needs to reconcile the fact that at its core it’s still an ads-for-content company– and that core is not doing so well.
From the outside, its efforts could be seen as a series of quick fixes to magically shape shift, while it leaves its core business to languish (maybe Yahoo Stream Ads will change this!). As a perpetual optimist, and believer in Marissa - I don’t think this is the case - and the Yahoo journey of transformation is well planned. They just haven’t let anyone know about it yet. Let us in! We want to know where the business is going, why – and how the legacy business will play a role along the way. We’re not asking to give away all the secrets – but get us excited, and admit when you’ve gone off the path a bit. A bit of honesty and humility would also be welcomed in a world of platitudinal investor chatter and empty press releases.
Defining a brand purpose that explains Yahoo’s role in the world will show customers that this journey is rooted in the needs of real people, and it will motivate and focus the business along the way.
Second, remember what made you great.
Most companies begin with an ambitious leader on a mission to solve a problem, to fill a gap in the market, or bring a genius idea to reality. They are new, exciting, different. Customers flock to them, everyone wants to work for them, they grow at a dizzying rate, they go public, get rich, they are hugely successful, mission accomplished – or is it…? Wait, what was that mission again?
But it seems a law of physics— as many businesses get older, bigger, more diverse, more complex, more siloed, have more mouths to feed, and increasing pressure to serve shareholders – they slip into a gentle, sometimes imperceptible, state of decline. Think of a struggling Starbucks in 2008, before Howard Shultz returned as CEO to bring them back to customer-centric strategies and their original, neighborhood feel.
Yahoo’s problem, similarly, was not adapting its collegial, quirky, creative DNA into a sustainable competitive advantage. And now more than ever, with all of Marissa’s focus on the new, she can’t afford to forget the old. Not only is it disheartening for Yahoo’s legacy employees to see the focus on the new kids and their toys, there is a treasure trove of value in Yahoo’s history and culture that seems to have been neglected.
They were once the pioneer who defined the creative, non-corporate culture of Silicon Valley. To consumers, Yahoo has never been “evil” or abused its size and power (when it had it) and many want to see them win. Channeling the atmosphere of a younger Yahoo will set the right conditions for their new people to thrive and work together with their existing teams. That DNA will lend them credibility and authenticity not just with talent, but with audiences and advertisers too. Its low ego and willingness to collaborate are exactly right for the next era of this tech company’s growth.
Finally, build your brand on collaboration.
Collaboration is fundamental to Yahoo’s DNA, and it’s key to winning in tech. Already, Marissa has made overtures to partner with Apple to take on Google which is a great first step. But it’s not just about business collaboration – it’s collaborating with the public too.
Yahoo should take a cue from one of its contemporaries in the tech world, Mozilla— a brand that’s built entirely on collaboration from inside and out. Mozilla’s mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web is their ultimate decision-making filter. They have a global community of thousands of volunteer contributors whose opinions and perspectives are at the center of all their business moves. Moreover, they trust that community to be stewards of their brand – to share it, improve it, and love it like their own.
Yahoo needs to realize that people have a stake in their success too. And if they want to understand what would “make their daily routines truly delightful,” they’ll need to get way more intimate with their consumers. Beyond users, beyond clicks. A passionate partnership that leverages all of the ways a brand can listen to and work with its audience today is the best way to build products and programming that are thoughtful, relevant and attention grabbing.
Despite the media scrutiny of Marissa, I feel people are genuinely excited to see where she can take Yahoo right now (I know I am!). And the path could be a bright one by clarifying where you want to go and building a brand purpose to get you there.
Nick O’Flaherty is strategy director at Wolff Olins New York. A version of this article originally appeared on iMedia Connection.
…Or so the new “Take Off” advertising campaign for Acela Express would have us believe. And maybe they’re right. According to the New York Times, 75% of travel between NYC and Washington DC occurs on Amtrak trains. And Acela ridership specifically accounts for nearly 3.4 million passengers on Northeastern corridor rail transit every year.
Here’s a video from the campaign:
When Acela was launched in 2000, it focused on business travel with its offer of speed, efficiency and flexibility. Today, the new “Take Off” advertising campaign hits this proposition well, with a sharp elbow-jab toward the Northeast corridor airlines that comprise the main competition for the business travel dollar. But the “Take Off” campaign pitches Acela even more ambitiously – it speaks of “reimagining business travel”. We wondered if Acela is really doing that and what it would take.
To create a brand experience that delivers on that promise, Acela needs more than a well-articulated ad campaign. They have to start looking for ways to use innovative spaces, better services, and powerful partnerships to shift the current perception of business travel time from “wasted” to “optimized.” Here’s how we’d get started…
The basics matter
In some ways, today’s Acela merely represents the basic standards that business travel should be delivering. What could their “reimagined” business travel look like? Could Acela be the ‘ultimate mobile office’, and what would it take to be that? Maybe it isn’t so much about luxury or premiums, but about the most reliable basic necessities.
Could Acela ensure that every passenger has a super clean and comfortable seat that doesn’t remind you of the 3.4 million other passengers who are using them? And of course…a working power outlet, maybe even two per passenger?
And how about consistently reliable hi-speed Wi-Fi? While both the Delta Shuttle and many express bus services also offer Wi-Fi, Acela’s ‘ultimate mobile office’ would need to go the extra mile to deliver a fast, consistent service. (Easy for us to say, as we don’t have to figure out the location of cellular towers, router reception, demand load, etc.) Acela could look for an opportunity to partner with a best-in-class mobile Wi-Fi provider, and create an utterly compelling Wi-Fi delivery that locks them in as the go-to choice for Northeast business travellers. Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa, Italy’s state-owned TGV, gets high customer ratings for its Wi-Fi Internet, an experimental network available through a co-operation between Trenitalia and Telecom Italia.
Delight with fresh food and dining
Given that many busy business travellers often have to travel during mealtimes, quality, healthy food and beverages could go a long way in this “reimagination” of business travel. Would a franchise partnership with Whole Foods or Le Pain Quotitiden enable Acela to differentiate from the low-grade food options served on most airlines? Acela’s café car facilities, compared to airplanes and buses, could provide their brand a real advantage. The ‘ultimate mobile office’ might even offer its first-class passengers the option of hot or cold gourmet meals served directly at your seat. They could take a cue from Virgin Rail’s Intercity line in the UK and the TGV in France for example, which both offer a gourmet food service that creates a distinctly enjoyable travel experience.
Optimizing the space advantage
Given that air or bus travel makes most think of cramped and stuffy space, could Acela maximize its comparative space advantage to help reinvent business travel? We played with some more ideas to put space to work in a way that would change the game.
Conference Call Pods:
Acela’s Quiet Cars are wonderful – no need to blast music in your earphones to drown out your fellow passengers’ important discussions or telephone calls. But given the reality that business travellers do indeed have pressing matters to discuss, could Acela take full advantage of the space offered by a train and provide a car fitted with sound-safe conference call pods?
Executive Meeting Room:
As time-optimization is high on the list of priorities for all business travellers, wouldn’t it be cool if you could simultaneously nail a key meeting or presentation whilst traveling? Could Acela offer executive meeting rooms equipped with conference table, Okamura or Aeron inspired seats, and a large-format HD screen that connects to a PC for video projections.
Building on our imaginary executive meeting room, could Acela further optimize its space advantage and offer a fitness car? Maybe partner with Equinox Fitness or CrossFit and install stationary exercise machines so travellers could optimize their time and workout while traveling instead of sitting still.
One of the great things about an Acela journey is the low number of service announcements compared to the seemingly never-ending in-flight announcements suffered on your average flight. Could Acela further focus on reducing travel stress and become known for memorable and delightful employee service? Could they model a program on the Ritz Carlton’s “Legendary Service” training program for employee and customer engagement? Or survey their passengers to really understand what comprises the ultimate in service on-board Acela? Per our service-announcement point, they might find that less is more.
21st century rail travel
Rail travel in the US has a long way to go to catch up to European and Asian standards, and perhaps that is more a political question than brand experience. But hi-speed rail tracks that are designed for hi-speed trains would really help Acela deliver on its core promise of speed. And ensure it could truly differentiate from the legacy of Amtrak and freight trains! As the US becomes increasingly conscious of carbon-foot printing (again some way to go to catch up to European standards), hi-speed/hi-efficiency rail travel could give Acela a valid advantage in offering business travelers the greener mode of transport.
Acela brand potential
We wanted to play with the possibilities that a meaningful brand experience could deliver, and imagine what it might really take for Acela to “reinvent business travel”. By providing innovative spaces, services and powerful partnerships that enable business people to travel and work more efficiently, Acela could potentially reinvent the current perception of business travel time as wasted, and reinvent business travel in a way that delivers high value with a low carbon footprint.
We’re onboard, are you?
Angela Riley is a Strategy Director at Wolff Olins New York.
I went shopping the other day. To Sainsbury’s, but that’s not important. As I ambled along the aisles I saw two things that made me question if what I do for a living is evil and a third that restored my faith in the power of brand and design. Let me tell you about them…
The first was in pride of place in the bread section – a little poly-wrapped loaf of ‘crustless’ bread. Now don’t misunderstand me, I like my snacks to be maize based, my wheat in puffed form and my MSG bountiful. A man who eats as many crisps as me is no food snob but, really, crustless bread? That’s one step away from me getting a trolley full of baby food every week because ‘it all goes down the same hole’.
It’s not the quality of the loaf or the packaging that was unnerving – it’s the brand idea. What is this in the world to do? The fact it exists at all means someone thought the idea had legs. I blame all of us.
This is a product not born of passion and determination but of consumer research and focus groups. We asked the public what they wanted and they said this. Not everyone can make their own hummus or sun-dry their own tomatoes but this isn’t about convenience, it’s about laziness; too lazy to cut, too lazy to chew. This is Henry Ford’s premonition of faster horses brought to life as an anaemic blob of carbohydrates.
Focus groups are fascinating places to be - in an anthropological sense. The ones that I have been in seem to always follow the same patterns. Loud person dominates the room for a bit, then everyone turns on them, nothing much gets resolved and the occasional bit of gold comes from the quiet one in the corner. Focus groups have their place but not as a way of ‘testing’ a brand. You can’t test the unknown. You just bring a carousel of baggage from other things to it. Viewpoints from a wider audience have to be baked in as you develop a brand idea but not taken wholesale as the answer. A large part of what we do at Wolff Olins is to balance what the world thinks it wants with what we think it really needs to succeed in the future.
The second thing I saw was a copy of a national newspaper. Its entire front page was devoted to the split of a band who were runners up in a talent contest in 2008. It’s a shame. But is it the single most important thing 3.13 million people need to be told about on Wednesday 24 April 2013?
I know tabloid newspapers are there to entertain as much as to inform, so it’s not the paper or even JLS that bother me, it’s how the JLS brand came to be and the plain safeness of it all.
The band are universally liked; sister, brother, granny, mother, everyone agrees they are/were definitely OK. And that’s the issue. Like the crustless bread JLS were born of consensus. 28 writers are credited on their first album. 34.66% of 8 million viewers thought they were better than Alexandra Burke. Of course Marvin and JB will sell more papers than Syria – it’s a safe bet.
The Manic Street Preachers once said “we don’t want to be anyone’s second favourite”, all or nothing, you’re with us or you’re with someone else. The best brands think and act like that – fearless and peerless, they take risks and know that if they are striking out on their own they are, at least, doing one thing right.
Bringing a great brand to life needs strong creative leadership and similarly bold approach with singular decision-making. A clear vision for people to get behind, coupled with a desire to not play by the rules. It’s about maintaining that passionate startup mentality no matter how mature your business is.
Which leads me to the final thing I saw (not surprisingly, in the drinks aisle). A single bottle of Swedish Vodka by a 134-year old brand, and next to it another perfectly un-identical version, row upon row of discordant bottles, sat like interlopers at a tea party.
The idea of limited edition bottles is nothing new but this bottle was one of four million, each one different from the next. I saw the idea for this a few months ago at an awards ceremony. Naturally, it did well but on the shelf it makes even more sense. I watched an old woman put three in her trolley; the care with which she chose each specific bottle from the shelf implied she wasn’t planning to get off her head. What I like the most is this is a perfect extension of the spirit of the brand. A brand that has spent years building the idea of their bottle being a canvas for creativity and now, in an ultimate act of confidence, taking their production line apart to make it a reality. It’s different, brave and it just works.
This is particularly relevant for the UK in 2013. Hell, we even run a government on a consensus driven timeshare basis. But today, more than ever, we need great brand ideas and innovative design to hurl us forward rather than nanny us with vanilla blandness, telling us what we want to hear. We should be making a concerted effort to shake ourselves out of a triple dip funk by embracing the different and difficult. There’s a great opportunity in these times of austerity to break the rules, make some new ones, to put some noses out of joint.
Great brands are peerless, they rebel. They say ‘I’m doing it this way, you do what you like.’
Let’s be more like that.
Chris Moody is Creative Director at Wolff Olins London.