A Note on Blogging

Blogging may have become a bit like start-ups in 1999 where everyone seems to have one and if anyone mentions the word it at a dinner party everyone rolls their eyes and runs for the bar. Is it narcissic verbosity?  I couldn't disagree more and just came across a great quote to remember from Rory Sutherland who I've got the good luck to go to meetings with on a regular basis. Blogging — before your traffic hits proper media property levels — is definitely "drivel" but still incredibly useful.

RE: Campaign i-Q: Do planners spend too much time blogging? – 28-08-2007 22:22by: Rory Sutherland JP Sartre once observed "I write to discover what I think". At a time when Excel and PowerPoint are the normal modes of communication, and where few in advertising write more than a couple of fully formed sentences or paragraphs from one month to the next, a blog provides a welcome opportunity to write to a decent length.  It is a wonderful value exchange. The blogger gets to refine his thoughts by writing them in longhand and by gaining an immediate and responsive audience. The audience, one hopes, gains a little enlightenment along with an opportunity to refute/nitpick. Nor, to anyone who writes regularly, is it all that time-consuming to write a few hundred words of tolerably grammatical prose each day – not if you do it regularly. I venture many of those who are amazed anyone can possibly turn out a few blog entries each week without neglecting their day job are those people so addled by Powerpoint that they need a lie-down to recover between bullet-points. The more ideas you have the more you write. And vice versa.

Advertising v Interactive Advertising

It is a common theme in the traditional advertising world, and direct marketing world, and sales promotion world that creatives come in sets of two. Art Director and copywriter. They work as a team, are hired as a team and even move agencies as a team.

This makes sense when the agency’s work is primarily a concept — it would be a tough job if the creative blackbox had only one lone hipster sitting in a dark corner, eyes rolling back in his head, trying to reason out whether it should be “Did somebody say McDonald’s?” or “Hey, sombody say McDonald’s!”

In this traditional world where what is given to a client is often a print ad or a script or mail pack, doubling up the creative team makes perfect sense. The account team scales based on the complexity of the client. The planner is a senior consultant and can work on his or her own. Design is a afterthought handled by “mac operators” that are part of the studio once the big idea has been cracked. Production just happens. The real magic is at the concept and with the account folk tapping their fingers, it is no wonder the creatives insisted on working in pairs.

So is this still relevant when our work is so much more complex?

A great campaign now has multiple channels, contact strategies that have to be delivered and synchronised over time, technical executions with data dependencies that require NASA-level project management and fifteen thousand different client teams that need to give their input.

In this world is it fair to put the weight of the delivery on even a superstar copywriter and art director? Can we expect them to know if a flash movie can branch based on if-then logic? If the layout breaks all of the information architecture rules Jacob Nielsen has so painstakingly taught the industry? Whether when a customer starts a card application, a promotion should be offered based on home address, income or key benefit? Whether an e-mail can come from a the sales team, and which of 15 key messages should be delivered in the opening paragraph? How to organise and edit 30 pages of text to make a good argument?

Mark Kingdon on Organic’s site says:

Great advertising was often created in “pairs” — a copywriter and an art director. In the digital world, the creation process is more complex. Strategists, designers, information architects, media specialists, and technologists must come together to create great experiences.

Organic Threeminds Blog

The next step is to look at how the digital agencies are structuring themselves — does RG/A have creative teams? AKQA? LBi? We know Sapient doesn’t, just as Accenture has never heard of them, so where will advertising move to?

Some Recent Work

Creatives coming in to interview always talk about “their book” or “their portfolio” — and can talk for 5 minutes or 5 hours on each piece.  They take pride and seeing as this is a big part of what we sell, they should.  I’ve always thought account people and strategist should maintain a book as well.  Even useless overhead locked off on executive row or in the ivory tower should has their personal projects.  Everyone at an agency needs to be attached to and proud of the work.

Here are a couple of campaigns I’ve been involved in at Ogilvy that I like and why.

Brand Republic Redesign
In my first week at Ogilvy I was handed a folder by Annette King as part of her transition notes – Haymarket’s brand republic was looking for an agency to help redesign their magazines / content portal. Great opportunity and high profile project.   After proving we were the right agency and working through that we couldn’t do the job for free, we kicked off a classic front-end site redesign with strategy, IA, design and functional specification for the Haymarket team to build.

I love the project because we were able to get a lot of community features integrated into the content of the site, got to redesign the brandmark, and came up with some fun interface ideas to allow quick browsing of content.

Brand Republic – Before

Brand Republic – After

Castrol Index

This Castrol Index site came about as Castrol realized they were spending a big sum on the Euro 2008 sponsorship and wanted to make more of it then supplying banners at the events.

The part we did the most work on was the overall site design, homepage control and the teamsheet.  Great use of flash and an early nod to the ipod album finder interface that has run rampent across the web.

Royal Mail Appoints Proximity to Handle All its Interactive Marketing

Royal Mail appoints Proximity London to handle all its interactive marketing

Source: nma.co.uk | Published: 11 July 2003 07:45

Royal Mail is consolidating all its interactive activity through a single agency as it works to transform its business.

Proximity London has been appointed as Royal Mail’s sole agency for the next three years, following a pitch that shortlisted four agencies.

Ogilvy Interactive was previously Royal Mail’s lead agency.

The appointment sees Proximity London taking responsibility for Royal Mail’s digital strategy, online advertising, emarketing and the redesign of royalmail.com.

Last month it was appointed as Royal Mail’s lead below-the-line agency. This was part of the selection of an Omnicom Consortium, including Wolff Olins and AMV, to work on new branding and above- and below-the-line advertising.

According to John Baker, head of digital services at Proximity London, the appointment will enable a more efficient flow of information and concepts with a higher level of integration. “You have a single conversation above the line, in the mail, through press and poster and online; integrated creative concepts with a single strategy,” he said.

Head of interactive marketing at Royal Mail Steve Sefton said it was a combination of strong solutions and Proximity’s connection with Omnicom that influenced the final decision.



A fun work week

It isn’t every day you get invited to judge a really big awards event.  Here is one in 2001.

Really fun week in a down time in the industry.  Can’t say expensed much of it but met some really bright people, saw some former folk I worked with and did some good judging.

Nike ID & an obscure German web illustration company won Cyber Lions.  Need to look up the Germans.

Cannes Lions Jury 2001
Cannes Lions Jury 2001

In the picture:  GM O’Connell, Carla Hendra, Lars Bathstom, and quite a few good others.

Internet Magazine – Top 50

Internet Magazine’s top 50

This year’s top 50 internet luminaries according to Emap’s Internet Magazine

Abby Hardoon, Host Europe
Adam Twiss, Zeus Technology
Adrian Baker, DoubleClick
Alex Dale, Virgin.net
Alex Kovach, Lycos
Andrew Crane, Inweb
Andy Hobsbawn, Agency.com
Benjamin Cohen, CyberBritain
Bill Allan, Thus
Bob McNinch, Netscalibur
Brent Hoberman, Lastminute.com
Carol Dukes, ThinkNatural
Charles Nasser, Claranet
Cliff Stanford, Redbus
Danny Kelly, 365
David Gerken, Ask Jeeves
David Harby, Nokia
Derek Wyatt MP
Everton Wright, Darker Than Blue
Fiona Coughlan, Macromedia
Gary Lockton, DeepGroup
Gavin Patterson, Telewest
Geoff Sutton, MSN
Hugo Drayton, Hollinger Telegraph New Media
Jason Drummond, Virtual Internet
Jennifer Mowat, eBay
Jerry Roest, NTL
John Baker, Organic
John Pluthero, Freeserve
Jonathan Robinson, NetBenefit
Katherine Everett, BBC
Lord Cope Mark Bennett, Graphico New Media
Mark Curtis, formerly of Razorfish
Martin Turner, Peoplesound.com
Martyn Lewis, Youthnet
Michael Murphy, FT.com
Oliver Roll, Microsoft
Richard Latham, Bluewave
Rick Latham, WHSmith Online
Ricky Liversidge, Adobe
Rob Lawrence, IBM
Roger Green, Emap
Roland Perry, LINX
Shaun Johnson, Netscape Online
Simon Preston, World Online
Simon Waldman, Guardian Unlimited
Stephen Balkam, ICRA
Steve Frazier, Amazon
Steve Smith, Dresdner Kleinwort Capital
Tamir Garip, SohoLondon
Toby Robertson, e-street
Wayne Lochner, Affinity Internet
Willie Black, Nominet

Organic Launches Next Generation of BT.com



Release Date: 15 September 2000

bt.com offers greater functionality and personalisation to help customers
find their way on-line

London, 15 September 2000 — Organic, Inc. (Nasdaq: OGNC) today announced
its completion of the first stage of a major re-design of BT’s portal
http://www.bt.com which acts as a gateway to information on
all of the services the company offers its consumer and business users.
Organic Inc., a leading international Internet professional services firm, has
worked with BT to revise the existing site and to put in place a framework
for future development. The new site features innovative navigation,
enhanced functionality and greater personalisation to enable BT to
communicate more effectively on-line.

The primary home page has been restructured to make key areas within the
site easily identifiable. Organic has revamped the navigation to include
a pull down menu system and quick links to key BT services, unearthing
hidden areas on the site that have the potential to generate high traffic
including directory enquiries, bill payment and call management. In addition, the site has been updated to highlight BT promotions and encourage greater customer interaction and feedback. Organic has also developed BT’s
implementation of BroadVision, using the platform to introduce new levels
of personalisation to support the company’s service delivery to its different
customer segments.

Organic will also be working alongside BT and its portfolio of other
agencies to migrate over 100 existing sites into this new simpler single
site, using a design system it has created. The system defines not only
look and feel and layout, but also a strategic and technical framework.
Organic will continue to provide guidance to BT internal stakeholders and
their agencies on how to work within the design system.

John Baker, Managing Director of Organic’s London office commented, “We
were faced with an enormous challenge. Firstly, identify and bring forward the
services of real value to users within the existing site, BT’s hidden
gems. Secondly, create a simple framework and design system which BT can use to develop an online dialogue with its wide range of customers.”

Huw Williams, General Manager of BT Electronic Channels said, “People at
home and work want to use bt.com for a range of activities which were
previously done either by phone or by post. The site supports our
commitment to deliver consistently good service. The innovative design
and use of BroadVision provides new levels of personalisation that will help
us strengthen our relationship with consumers and respond to their changing needs.”

This is the first phase in an ongoing project to provide BT with a unified
presence on-line, bringing together its existing portfolio of sites.
Organic recently completed work on BT’s flagship SME portal http://www.bt.com/sme and Business Store, http://www.bt.com/businesstore

About Organic:

Organic, Inc. (Nasdaq: OGNC), a leading international Internet
professional services firm which targets the customer-to-business market, is built around a “buyer driven” service model that encompasses both traditional
business-to-business and business-to-consumer engagements. Founded in 1993
and based in San Francisco, Organic (<http://www.organic.com/>) has a
history as an industry innovator, having developed the Apache Web server,
and worked on the design of some of the Internet’s earliest Web sites,
including Yahoo! The company’s C2B Internet professional services include
strategic consulting and research, site design, software engineering and
technical program management, online marketing services including media
buying and management, and customer service and fulfilment consulting and
transaction management. Organic has performed work for over 250 clients,
and has gained significant experience by working with both the Global 1000 and emerging Internet companies. The company’s clients include
DaimlerChrysler, British Telecommunications plc, Tommy Hilfiger, Blockbuster, Washington Mutual, and Federated Department Stores, Inc. Organic has offices in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Europe and Latin America. In July 2000, the company
was added to the Russell 2000* Index.

ORGANIC and leaf design, and C2B are service marks or registered service
marks of Organic, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and in
other countries. Other trademarks and service marks referenced are marks of
their respective owners.

About BT.com:

British Telecommunications plc is one of the world’s leading providers of
telecommunications services. Its principal activities include local, long
distance and international telecommunications services, mobile
communications, Internet services and IT solutions. BT has operations in
more than 30 countries worldwide, with ventures in the Republic of
Ireland, France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Sweden, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Latin America and
India. BT and AT&T have also created Concert, the leading global
telecommunications company serving multi-national business customers,
international carriers and Internet service providers worldwide.

For further information

Please contact

Bernie McAndrew/Christian May

Organic Press Office

Gnash Communications

Tel : 0207 243 4443


Source: Sourcewire

Decoded: Organic — no call for booing

Feature: Decoded: Organic – no call for booing

Decoded: Organic – no call for booing

Date: 25 July 2000

Along with Razorfish and Agency.com, Organic is one of the main US players operating on both sides of the Atlantic and, like many US interlopers, it’s quick to claim its relative years of experience as a competitive advantage. But Organic can legitimately claim to have been involved in one of the most salient experiences the sector has so far seen; one of its clients was Boo.com.

Not that the company bears any malice. John Baker, who moved across from the New York office to become UK managing director, says they parted on good terms and that Organic still stands by the work it did. “We still have people tell us that it was one of the most innovative sites,” he enthuses.

He does emphasise though, that Organic’s contribution was a small part, creating the Flash applications for the products and dressing room, as well as all the rich media advertising for Boo’s online campaigns. And, not surprisingly, there’s no longer any mention of the failed online sports fashion retailer in any of Organic’s press material; not so much standing by as saying bye.

Nevertheless, the experience is just one in Organic’s portfolio. Like it or not, the big US players are big precisely because they started earlier, and in a young industry, experience is all the more valuable.

3 card trick

Founded in San Francisco in 1993, Organic now boasts nine offices and 1200 employees worldwide. It opened its first international office in Sao Paolo, Brazil, at the end 1997, and is now operating in London, Singapore and Toronto, as well as across the US.

Having opened in London in June last year, the company has 90 employees based in its Queens Park office, including 25 engineers, 15 designers, 15 project management, 15 marketing solutions and 10 strategy consultants.

“We tend to operate with dedicated core teams, and build them out as we go,” explains Baker. “Unlike some agencies, we give the client around five key contacts -[for example] an engineering lead, creative lead and strategic lead, as well as the project leader.”

This, he says, helps keep communication open. “Experience shows us that if you only have a single point of client contact, like an account manager, it can become a bottleneck.”

As befits an agency located in Queens Park, just a stone’s throw from dotcom mecca in Notting Hill, its focus is on the more glamourous end of interactive services, specialising in design and marketing. Organics UK services are split into three departments: online marketing, i-business development and strategic consultancy.

Each of the sectors do operate standalone but, pressed for a particular strength, Baker says: “it has to be the integration,” meaning the offering of its three strands as a complete service.

Baker says i-business, the engineering part, forms the core of Organic UK’s work accounting for about 60% of its business. “We have strong skills in Flash, and with the ATG and BroadVision platforms. And we don’t think of WAP as a separate thing either,” he says. “It’s important to keep the engineers centralised, because they need to know how to make applications extensible to all devices.”

On the marketing side, which accounts for around 20% of business, Organic offers full online media services, from planning and executing basic banner campaigns to striking portal deals and running email campaigns.

Strategic consulting, which accounts for the last 20%, also includes offering its US-based customer services and fulfillment brokering. Baker explains: “We also offer consulting on everything after the customer hits the buy button – what kind of warehousing or packaging do they have? In the US we have relationships with warehouses and call centres, and can integrate our clients with these services if they require.”

Again, the Boo experience has bearing: “Boo had great (order) fulfillment in place and well-branded packaging. It’s just that their e-commerce engine was so horrendous.”

These services are currently only offered to UK clients on an ad hoc basis, but Baker says a full roll-out will take place here later this year. In the US, Organic is facilitating fulfillment for clients including Tommy Hilfiger and Iomega.

Clients and partners

Organic is one of IBM’s Global Services and Pervasive Computing partners, and does a lot of work with its WebSphere platform. It also has formal relationships with BroadVision, ATG (Art Technology Group), Open Market and Pandesic.

As Baker points out, such a range of partnerships is important because no one platform fits all clients. But while the company is not limited to these platforms, he also advises that the relationships are more than just marketing deals, providing training and technical support to Organic’s staff.

The company has a lot of its experience in industry verticals, such as electronic retail and telecoms. Clients include BT.com, for which Organic has recently completed its SME portal and Business Store on the BroadVision platform. It also built the front-end of IP telco Quip.co.uk’s site and eyestorm.co.uk.

As well as BT, Daimler Chrysler is Organic UK’s cornerstone client, working on its pan-European site. The company’s major US clients include Law.com, Blockbuster and Hewlett Packard.

Organic works on both fixed payment and retainer-based accounts, preferring the former for dotcoms and the latter for large corporates. Baker says this is because they tend to hand completed projects over to dotcoms, because, unlike traditional companies, the website is the dotcom’s core business.

Keeping to the front

Organic’s focus is very much on front-end solutions, with its skills in Flash and e-commerce systems. The company doesn’t do backend, preferring to work with other solutions providers for this, such as Unisys on the Quip account. “We don’t have a systems integrator approach,” explains Baker, “so we don’t do ERP or legacy integration.”

As is becoming increasingly common with larger agencies, last May it opened an R&D lab in its New York office, principally to experiment with wireless and broadband solutions. The lab operates in two ways. Firstly, the company funds research in areas it feels it needs to develop, to generate case studies and best practices, and secondly it co-funds with clients developments that directly benefit them. It’s currently running a WAP project for an undisclosed UK client.

Organic offers the usual company incentives to try and attract and keep staff, with “benefits, a recreation room, bagels, beer bashes and the like,” says Baker. It also stubbornly clings to one of the internet’s original business differentiators, proudly claiming its professional services take a “C2B” approach. As Baker puts it: “This reflects our user-centric development and the change in control from manufacturers to customers.”

Despite such platitudes, Organic is one of the few agencies that can point to some longevity. So what was the biggest lesson from the Boo experience? “I think it’s definitely a preference to have full service engagement on a project, to be accountable for what we do,” says Baker. “There were eight partners working on Boo, and we saw a lot of changes taking place that we couldn’t control, and all we could do was end on good terms.”

Source: Netimperative

Campaign Agency Report – 2000


Organic London grew from two people who came over from the New York

agency and were reportedly ’drop-kicked into London with laptops’. The

London agency opened its doors in 1998, and over the past year the

co-founders – John Baker and Fred Fields – have built the team up to 65


Although almost a quarter of the company is owned by Omnicom, the rest

is owned by Organic London employees. The company went public in


Organic London has created a varied client base. Recent wins include

BT.com, CDNow.com, Eyestorm, Uproar, the international direct dialing

account, Quip.co.uk, and special promotions for Emirates. It has

produced an online service for DaimlerChrysler, available to customers

and dealers.

Its media group has been working on Uproar, CDNow and PetsPark.

Organic is also behind one of the most talked-about brands this year,

boo.com. Despite the negative press surrounding the site’s now notorious

marketing problems, it remains true that boo.com reset the parameters of

brand building and customer service within the industry.

Organic London aims to bolster its offering by working on e-commerce

site development, interactive design, marketing, and media planning.

Managing director: John Baker

Declared income 2000         pounds 4m (est)

Declared billings 2000                   n/s

% new-media work                         100

Staff 2000                                85

Clients: BT.com, Daimler, Chrysler, LAW.Com,Tommy Hilfiger, Quip.co.uk.

Organic Opens London Office


San Francisco – Organic, the preeminent builder of online businesses, today announced that it has opened an office in London, to service the burgeoning European Internet market. Just as the company’s offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, Organic’s London office will offer a complete range of interactive services including e-commerce site development, strategic marketing and technology consulting, interactive design, and media planning and placement.

John Baker, previously director of strategic planning of Organic’s New York office, has been named vice president, managing director of the London office. Fred Fields, also from Organic’s New York office, has moved to London, and has been appointed to the position of senior director of operations.

One of the London office’s first clients is boo.com, a U.K.-based global sportswear retailing site that is currently the highest-valued Internet start-up in Europe. Organic will provide interactive design, front-end application development, e-commerce strategy, media buying services, and globalization of the boo.com site to launch in five European countries and in the U.S. in mid-1999, with additional markets to follow.

“London needs an experienced online business builder like Organic to help multinational companies and promising start-ups to go online,” said Ernst Malmsten, CEO of boo.com. “Working together with Organic we are building an end-to-end online business that will revolutionize the way our customers buy sportswear. It’s always a thrill working with people who ‘get it.”

Another client of Organic’s London office is Hewlett-Packard, for which Organic is creating the design and strategy for its European e-commerce initiative. “Organic has proven themselves a true partner,” says Emmanuel De Rycker, Hewlett-Packard’s European E-Business manager. “They understand our pan-European strategy and sensitivities, and their execution is flawless.”

According to Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass., European Internet commerce is predicted to reach 69 billion U.S. dollars by 2001.

“The European market for e-commerce is about to boom, and London has a pool of Web-experienced talent that will help us build a solid presence in the center of this flourishing e-commerce marketplace,” said Jonathan Nelson, Organic’s CEO. “Our expansion to London will enable us to service existing clients that have a presence in Europe, as well as to seek out new clients with global aspirations. In addition, we are looking to obtain and nurture European start-ups who want to develop global and local online businesses.”

Organic, London contact information: John Baker, vice president, managing director, 70 Salusbury Road, London NW6 6NU UK; Phone: 0171-644-2600.

About Organic

As a pioneer in the industry, Organic ( http://www.organic.com/ ) has been helping clients build online businesses since 1993. Its integrated structure, comprehensive capabilities, strategic insight and experience has enabled Organic to create unique and effective e-commerce and communications solutions for its clients. The company offers expertise in: e-commerce site development; strategic marketing and technology consulting; online advertising and media placement; public relations and enhanced online communications services; research services; interactive design and production services; and software development. Organic’s clients range from global brands and e-commerce category leaders such as Starbucks, Iomega, Lucent Technologies and CDnow to non-profit organizations such as Impact Online. Organic has offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.