Antiplanning: my talk for the 2013 Strategy Festival

I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Strategy Festival in Nashville as speaker.

My chat was part of the Inspire! competition and I based my ramblings on a subject I called Antiplanning.

I rescued some key concepts from Nassim Taleb´s recent book Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder, and applied them to Planning and the agency World

Am hoping to write a post on “learnings & anecdotes” soon.

In the meantime, below you may find the audio from my presentation with the slides I used as support as well as a link to the original transcript file.




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The Fable of The Guardian and the Three Little Pigs

In this post I want to briefly address the way technology has changed the way news are created, consumed and shared and how a brand like the Guardian has decided to use this opportunity to destroy preconceptions and place itself at the forefront of this change.


To begin with, lets lay out the two main business challenges for newspapers in the technological age (they both start with “L” but none are Lady Gaga):

1)  Leakage 2) Leveraging of social channels.

1) Newspapers are migrating readers from one platform (paper) to another (bytes), and there is risk that in the process of “moving house”, readers might choose to change to another news provider altogether. This is especially true of quality newspapers, the likes of the Guardian, the FT, etc. which tend to have a high concentration of ABC1 target readers. These are readers who are likely to own and use several digital devices (tablets, smartphones and the likes).

2) Another challenge for Newspapers is to remind readers (and non-readers) that whilst they can now be informed through social channels exclusively, they will not find a better place to do so than the newspapers themselves. Here it is more a matter of brain over brawns as News providers will need to use social to their advantage, as a complement to traditional reporting, increasing reader utility. Mintel’s research for their February 2012 report shows that people who use Twitter at least once a day are more likely than average to be daily newspaper readers and significantly more likely than average to be readers of quality titles. This suggests that Twitter might be a good tool to lure these quality readers. Facebook is also useful in that it is visited more on a daily basis than Twitter.

These two challenges have been confronted in the new the Guardian campaign, by BBH. Through the below execution they have reinforced the quality of the Guardian offer (anti-leakage measures!) as well as reminding consumers that the Guardian embraces de social ecosystem to its full extent (pro social!).

The core communication strategic framework in this campaign is built around the Open Journalism concept. This is similar to citizen journalism, participatory, crowd-sourced, you name it. Blogger, Tumblr,Twitter, Facebook, Wikinews,, Gawker, Huffington Post… have all helped this new form of news breaking and distribution take shape.

What are the characteristics of Open Journalism?

Speed for sureas its reactive nature does not wait for reviews, corrections, printers… it is ready on the go, wherever, whenever. It is fluid. Another characteristic of Open Journalism, is that it leaves no angle uncovered. Open journalism is boundless by nature, as anyone can help fill in the gaps. Anyone can contribute to the development of a news piece, whether with objective facts or passionate opinions.

Detractors of this new form of news publishing argue that news loses quality and rigor. That not everyone is fit to contribute to a news story (a “camel is a horse made by committee” and this applies to news as well). I agree that an “anything goes” approach to Open Journalism can only lead to a weakened news ecosystem overall, but this is where the role of the newspapers in this new environment is a key one.

Their task is one of maintaining relevance irrespective of the platform they appear in. Newspapers have to be the torch-bearers in all of this open participation. Not just moderators, but activators, innovators in the News space. They must lead conversations, educate opinions and complete facts. They must provide a 360 view of the news.

Jerry Seinfeld once said: “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper”. With technology this has changed. Now the space is unlimited, and the newspaper´s opportunity lies in not only providing the framework for the news to develop, but also provide the leadership and innovation for the news to breathe and grow beyond the newspaper. Quality newspapers like the Guardian need to provide breadth and depth of perspective (under their own point of view which should never be eroded).

This has been the road chosen by BBH in their above campaign. The concept is built around this premise of curated broad perspective (verbalized through the line “The Whole Picture”) where the Guardian is the container through which the whole news story is born, and through which the story grows through individuals direct participation.

The role of the Guardian brand is played out in a subtle but clear manner, and the execution shows the multiplatform possibilities (Webpage, twitter, iPad, laptop, etc.) , with the Guardian as the activator/facilitator.

It is a real product demo done in style, where the demo is secondary to the real protagonists: the people who consume news and enrich the news process through their participation. The spot shows empowerment first as a category insight, and functionality and quality second, in the Guardian multiplatform demonstration.

My sincere congratulations to the Guardian team (Alan Rusbridger its editor foremost), for evolving their product into what it is today. Examples like these seem like a step forwards and upwards and have no doubt ignited the creative process with powerful Reasons To Believe.

  • Recently launching a Facebook app that has rightfully gathered 4.200.000 monthly followers.
  • Developing interactive graphs (like this one on the Arab Spring) that is well documented and well executed which also seems like a confident step forwards and upwards.
  • Encouraging both public and experts to contribute alongside journalists
  • Open access to data

Congratulations also to the BBH people (DavidKolbusz in Creativity and Griffin Farley in Strategy amongst others from what I read), for accepting the challenge of portraying Open Journalism through the Guardian brand, and delivering highly on it. The spot is so complete in detail that I find it gets better with every viewing (and I´m secretly hoping for more versions: Little Red Riding Hood and Deforestation? Sleeping Beauty and Prescription Medicines? Hansel and Gretel and Adoption?)

And now for YOUR Collaboration/participation. What did you guys think of the Campaign? How do you think Newspapers should adapt to technology and consumer empowerment?

Thanks for reading and take care amigos,


(post finished to the tune of “Try” , by ALO)


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Ads of the World January 2012 winners

Last posts have been very wordy and not at all visual. In this one you will find I´ve gone the opposite way….

Please find below the January winners from the Ads of the World Site. Great creativity from around the Globe. Enjoy!


GOLD – LG THIEF – Advertising Agency: Y&R, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


SILVER – Atria: Dinner – Advertising Agency: TBWA\ Helsinki, Finland


BRONZE – Lurpak: Lightest – Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, USA



GOLD – Queen Bee Salon & Spa: Guide to Private Hairstyles – Advertising Agency: Hanlon Worldwide Industries, Los Angeles, USA


SILVER – Stabilo Boss: Highlighted, Maria Antonieta – Advertising Agency: Prolam Y&R, Santiago, Chile


BRONZE – Fundacion Padre Hurtado: Drunk – Advertising Agency: Prolam Y&R, Santiago, Chile



GOLD – Heineken: U-code – Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Warsaw


SILVER – Coca-Cola: Big Santa – Advertising Agency: Ogilvy Action, Argentina


BRONZE – Daffy’s: Peep show on Times Square – Advertising Agency: Devito/Verdi, USA



GOLD – Amnesty International: Amnesty Rescue, Call Of Duty MOD – Advertising Agency: Strange Day, Netherlands


SILVER – Scandinavian Airlines: Couple Up to Buckle Up – Advertising Agency: CP+B, USA


BRONZE – Air China: Check in at asian restaurants casefilm – Advertising Agency: Rodolfo, Sweden

Thanks for reading. Take care amigos,


(post finished to the tune of  “Dissident” , by Pearl Jam)

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Crowdsourcing in MAD AVE. Wisdom of the crowds applied to Advertising

Crowdsourcing business models are extremely interesting.  From the genius Wikipedia, to the funky Threadless and the popular Tripadvisor. All these applications of collectivity in business related scenarios have many advantages and also some limitations.

Today I wanted to take a minute to ramble about the wisdom (and in this case, creative talent) of the crowds applied to the Advertising industry. We are going to briefly discuss two interesting and fully operational projects on crowdsourcing in advertising: one closer to the traditional advertising agency model, and the second one more online than not.

One of the first times I heard about applying crowdsourcing to advertising was in the Fast Company article “The future of advertising”.

In the article, as Danielle Sacks, the author, insightfully and very methodically dissects the current turmoil within the agency world, I came about the first crowdsourced agency Victor & Spoils. A new project founded by ex Crispin Porter & Bolusky veterans, this agency boasts of leveraging the power of the web and the crowd to deliver just as good creativity as any other “old school” ad agency but, cheaper (although they express it with more enthusiasm in their introductory video). So far the Victor & Spoils agency model seems to be working quite well as it has lured in some high profile brands such as Harley Davidson.

As video establishes itself as a medium in its own right, new businesses and networks that utilise the abundance of the crowds for advertising will gain more importance.

The main selling point behind these new networks is that they can offer a practically unlimited pool of talent at a reduced cost for advertisers. The web offers these networks an abundant array of designers, art directors, strategists, filmmakers, etc, who are in competition with each other to provide the best creative solution for the client’s communications needs. These professionals do not belong inside the company structure and so are only paid on a project by project basis, which reduces salaries and overheads for the crowdsourcing agencies who in turn can command reduced fees.

All of this makes it sound like the old(er) agency model could start to become less relevant, but on the other hand it also seems like quite a big change of mind-set for more traditional advertisers, who might take time to warm up to the idea of not having their creative team controlled in one place, but rather scattered in all places.

Furthermore (and I haven’t clarified this point yet) I assume doubts would arise as to the following trust related aspects of this crowd based agency model:

Confidentiality: When a brief from an advertiser is passed onto the crowd collaborators, how does the agency make sure the advertisers information is keep within the need-to-know basis? Could competitors infiltrate themselves into the crowd and find out about the company’s objectives, their strategic course? Could there be leaks of advertiser-agency information?. If so, does the risk outweigh the benefit?

Professionalism: Although undoubtedly there is a clear pool of talent that can be outsourced online, it seems logical to think that some advertisers might be reluctant to try out this system because of the grey area of collective creative that lies between professionals and amateurs.

Another initiative that tackles these very same problems straight up is Genius Rocket, also mentioned in the Fast Company article. With regards to this project, self described as The First Curated Crowdsourcing company I wouldn’t even call it an ad agency but more of a crowdsourcing advertising platform. On their site, they directly address some of the concerns that advertisers might have, under the following headings:

Affordable Doesn’t Mean Amateur (establishes Genius Rocket’s process of selection whereby they will work with only collaborators who meet specific professional requirements).

You Don’t Have to Tell the World (addresses the confidentiality issue by detailing that the collaborators sign a non disclosure agreement and that work is shared privately through the platform).

The process at Genius Rocket is laid out in the following four phases (notice the insistence of the word “selection”):

  1. Creative Brief and Targeted Recruitment: The differential aspect for this first stage is that the Genious Rocket in –house creative team provide help in drafting this first important brief
  2. Written Concept and Selection: Pre qualified creatives submit their work (overview concepts)
  3. Storyboard and Selection: With client feedback, this phase develops the selected concepts
  4. Production and Selection

From the creatives point of view, they will get paid once they reach stage number four (Production). Genius Rocket in the part of the web dedicated to “recruiting” creatives to their platform makes a point at explaining that this is not a contest site, that peers who will partake in briefs will be screened for past work done, and that this is a process were continual feedback will be given.

All in all it seems that newer and exciting models are filling business model gaps and adapting to technological and social mindets advances. However there is still an important place for traditional agencies and their powerful ideas, specially for some more conservative advertisers. I am quite interested to see when these models will fully land in Europe…

If anyone has any other agency crowdsourcing models that they’d like to share, please do!

Take care amigos,


(post finished to the tune of You and Your Heart, Jack Johnson)

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Key success factors for a viral marketing campaign

Below I am outlining six factors that can help construct a successful viral campaign and some relevant video examples that help illustrate the role of these factors.

Of course, Virality is not an exact science (otherwise it wouldn’t be so valuable once achieved), so the following is to be taken more as a starting point/guide than as a recipe. The overarching principle that an advertiser should ask themselves is: Why would anyone care to pass this on? It’s true the subject of this post has been long approached. But it was a good excuse to add some cool videos!

1. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away – STORYTELLING

Whatever you are trying to communicate, it has to be wrapped around a powerful narrative. It needs a plot: a beginning, a middle and an end.

The below example is one of 8 short films by BMW which featured well known hollywood actors and directors, great storytelling (and high class production).

They were distributed online between 2001 and 2002 and in four months reached 11 million views.


2. You had me at hello – EMOTION

Despite what many may have us believe, most of our decisions are still governed by emotions. Be it humour, tenderness or fear: create an emotional connection through your viral. Move people in a certain direction and they shall be moved to pass on your message. Below a campaign for a Spanish NGO Accion contra el Hambre called “Sharing experiment”. In a very simple manner it conveys emotion around the subject of Famine. It has reached half a million views in two weeks under a very reduced budget.


3. Cheaper by the Dozen – MAKE SEQUELS

If you found the right formula, and you are able to maintain the momentum and originality without wearing the viral out, keep going! The challenge here will be to keep the content’s original freshness. Knowing when to stop can be a virtue.

The Old Spice campaign won the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes (the campaign included personalised Responses from the main character and was a viral hit). Below a recently launched a follow up campaign that has also had success where a new contender challenged the Old Spice Guy for his title…



If your content is worth sharing, make it easy for viewers to do so. Receptivity of messages are more effective if delivered from a friend so building bridges from content to social networks will increase receptivity and virality.

The below Blendtec example has now developed into a successful viral franchise “Will it Blend” (since 2006) and one of their key points was to link with Facebook and Twitter



Consumers are marketing savvy. They have seen and heard almost everything and can spot a lie. Be authentic as much as you can and you shall be rewarded.

Real people in real situations are a good way to provide authentic content that people will share. Below a T-Mobile campaign with a “Money for Nothing” theme and a happy ending.



We have a saying in Spain: “Good and brief is twice as good”. Most people have short attention spans (if you made it this far into the post you may be an exception).

The following is a recent ad for the UK brand Weetabix. A minute of intense Teddy bear dubstepping madness to end this blog post!

Thanks for reading, take care amigos.


(post ended to the tune of  God’s Comic by Elvis Costello)

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