R/GA Agency of the Year – Adweek

R/GA really may well be setting itself out as the agency for the new millenium.  They do a lot of things differently — a lot smart, some less obvious.

Take the smart set.  Here is a set of quotes from this AdWeek article that are really sharp in my book and when you review them — and other notes about the agency — you see a theme:  the importance of technology, the idea that you create applications that are fixed rather then campaign-based, and that brands must commit to be successful.

R/GA has been the fastest growing agency since the 90s, has done amazing work and retains clients with big relationships.  That is by definition success in our industry.

“There’s a difference between us and someone like Crispin Porter + Bogusky. We’ve taken the direction of building brand platforms rather than viral stunts or one-off things.” [Robert Greenberg]

The key, as Greenberg has long and frequently advocated, is technology, which enables forward-thinking companies to build systems that attract and retain customers while weaving marketing and product together.  “We’re looking at customer behavior and seeing how to create something bigger than a TV spot or print ad,” says Greenberg, an architecture buff.

With a relationship dating to 2001 — a lifetime in the interactive world — Nike and R/GA are deeply enmeshed. “We have people on the ground at Nike,” says Nick Law, chief creative officer for North America at R/GA. “We have deep technical relationships with them.”

One of the crucial aspects of R/GA’s work in 2008 was to make real the promise of blurring the physical and digital worlds. This is an old quest for the digital industry and has, for the most part, come up empty over the years. Not so anymore.

“Software is a medium,” says John Mayo-Smith, R/GA chief technology officer. “Having people who understand software and a high-quality user experience is really important.”

Greenberg saw something different: He saw technology forming a new kind of creativity that relied less on the metaphors of talking animals in TV spots and more on brands connecting people. If the “traditional” notion of digital creativity is the hot viral video, Greenberg counters with an application that uses data in a new way to help people live better.

The key to apps: tech chops.

“They understand the Web, engagement on the Web and e-commerce,” says Michael Mendenhall, CMO of HP. “But they also understand advanced TV, mobile and all the other touch points that are part of the digital ecosystem.”

Entry to the executive suite also has given Greenberg an opportunity to sell his religion: that agencies must have technology at the core to help clients navigate the new world of digital media. While traditional shops might thrive in creating the hot viral video of the day, he preaches, they will fall short when it comes to building sustainable brand platforms and useful applications that blur product and marketing. That even applies to a shop like Crispin. When it comes to the core of Nike+, “they couldn’t even have the conversation,” Greenberg says.

A key area for the model Greenberg envisions is production, a discipline in which R/GA began its existence back in 1977. While most agencies rely on outside production, R/GA has kept its in-house. In 2008, revenue from the 30-person production facility grew by more than 300 percent compared to 2007. The digital studio shot over 250 video projects during the year, working for R/GA clients and other agencies and firms.

R/GA: Digital AOY 2008

The IPG shop’s mantra of utility over gimmickry proves its relevance as the stakes rise

Feb 16, 2009

-By Brian Morrissey

Stepping into R/GA’s New York headquarters, a visitor notices, amid
the general bustle of a busy shop, the beautiful, sometimes
haunting images on the walls.

They are pieces from Bob Greenberg’s personal collection of
“outsider art,” more

Why it is fun working with George

This is an email George sent around the other day that is a classic collection of links cranked out as a “last thing before I run” e-mail.

Amazing set of links around only one subject — imaging. Not that I’d recommend missing the Porter on a Friday night at 9 pm but it is great to see serious obsession shared.

From: George Nimeh
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 21:18:22 +0100
To: SEUK, Sony Ericsson Global, Planning
Cc: digitalgroup
Conversation: Thought for the day
Subject: RE: Thought for the day

> Ps anyone seen anything particularly interesting in the world of
> imaging recently? Please share, it seems to be Cyber-shot heaven round
> here at the moment

Below are a few “interesting” things that I’ve come across. Some of them may have already been sent around, but I think they’re all worth a review.

If any of you would like to chat about how iD could help SE understand/activate these ideas and themes to create buzz and traction around Cyber-shot (and thus help people buy), lemme know.

Have an excellent weekend,

I think this is spectacular.
http://labs.live.com/photosynth/view.html?collection=NASAColl/LaunchPad/index.sxs&st=coll <http://labs.live.com/photosynth/view.html?collection=NASAColl/LaunchPad/index.sxs&st=coll>
Photosynth is a software technology preview from Microsoft Live Labs and the University of Washington that analyzes digital photographs to build a three-dimensional point cloud of a photographed object. Pattern recognition components compare portions of images to create points, which are then compared to convert the image into a model. Currently, users can view models built by Microsoft or the BBC, but not create their own models.

Mobile/online imagery that create “conversations”.
This week’s application is Radar, a phenomenally well put together service that enables picture conversations online and on-the-go. If photo sharing site Flickr is Web 2.0, then Radar is Mobile 3.0. Or something like that… The entire service has been conceived to run from your mobile, not as a bit-part of the overall experience. Yes there’s an online element for those sat at desks, but Radar is all about mobility. You can easily upload photos from your handset and all your subscribed friends can instantly see — and crucially, comment — on the photo. You can then easily see who’s been commenting and reply back and, before you know it, get into a dialogue with your friends about the picture. All by phone. That’s the way to do it.

Hypnotic global entertainment, all based on geo-located photos.
Flickrvision shows realtime, geolocated Flickr photos. Just like Twittervision, it’s hypnotic to watch. The map moves around to show the location of the most recent tweet or photo. Both visualizations hail from David Troy, a VOIP consultant who has suddenly found himself doing a lot of geo work. See: http://www.i-boy.com/weblog/2007/05/site-of-day-flickrvision.html

Picnik and Fotoflexer
Two free tools that make photography easier.
If you use Photoshop for basic photo editing, you’ll love ’em. They’re simple, free, web applications that do the job very well. I love the Flickr/Facebook/Picasa/Photobucket/Webshots integration. In addition to being fully integrated into Facebook, both apps lets you pull in your Flickr photos, edit them, and then save them back to Flickr. Sah-weet! See: http://www.i-boy.com/weblog/2007/11/picnik-and-fotoflexer.html

Incredibly easy to use … and creates fantastic content.
Animoto is a web application that automatically generates professionally produced videos, each a customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Using patent-pending Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology and high-end motion design, the result is a user’s own personal creation with the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.

And finally … Interestingness!
Besides being a five syllable word suitable for tongue twisters, it is also an amazing new Flickr Feature. There are lots of elements that make something ‘interesting’ (or not) on Flickr. Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing. Interestingness changes over time, as more and more fantastic content and stories are added to Flickr.

Management Techniques for the Digital Age: BzzAgent Blog

I’ve always been impressed by the information that Dave Balter and the team at BzzAgent share through their BeeLog.

It makes sense — no confidentiality is broken and it allows people that are evaluating the company (clients, potential employees, partners) to educate themselves about their business and be smarter when working with the company. It also broadens the number of people that can give their input into what the company is doing — input which generally makes the company smarter.

It also a great tool for management — a forum for instant public recognition. Whether putting someone’s “name up in lights,” or “naming and shaming,” a company blog is a sort of a light-weight version of the more traditional atomic bomb, the press release.

Here is a great example BzzAgent did thinking about how they are working with their advisory board.

Basically the team at BzzAgent inserted a joke slide in their advisory board presentation entitled “Investor / Advisor Litigation Update.” Clearly a title that should get peoples’ attention. And of course under half noticed the slide or commented on it in their feedback to the company.

It is the bane of the world we’ve created that no one has time (or being busy has become fashionable?) and that business people don’t read, they only scan. Pretty soon we’ll need comment buttons on the bottom of e-mails and powerpoint presentations where people can indicate they actually reviewed them.

Advisors Advising

August 21st, 2007

Since early 2003, BzzAgent has had an Advisory Board.

In the early days, before we had an official Corporate Board, we met a few times and we worked with a number of individuals to help us with specific projects such as patenting our WOM process and the best approach to certain partnerships. But as the company accelerated, and we’ve added board members, executives and staff, it’s been immensely difficult to utilize this group of experts. Individually, each would gladly help if we reached out, but as a whole this cluster is relatively distant. [more]