Food for thought from Crystal Apple 2013 right before the 2014 Festival

Be provocative. Find the consumers’ tensions and provoke them to overcome them. “We’re moving from insights to provocations to have bigger thinking in the heart of our briefs.” – Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy & Creative Excellence, The Coca-Cola Company

Be human. Pay attention to the emotional context of consumers to form a strategy of humanity.  “Our strategy has been simple: listen, learn and act accordingly. The power of emotions proved invaluable. In our quest to find new things to say, we realized the human side would never wear out.” – Jose Miguel Sokoloff, Chief Creative Officer, Lowe/SSP3

Be restrictive. Narrow your briefs, schedule time and make space for creativity in daily schedules.  “Too much freedom is not a good thing-limit the size of the playground!” – Eric Quennoy & Mark Bernath, Executive Creative Directors, Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam

Be authentically useful. Prove that you have a right to play by doing what you say. “Brands need to be both authentic and useful now to fit into people’s lives.” – Matt Gee, Director of Development, R/GA

Be collaborative. Know how to motivate with passion to unlock potential for your brand and your consumers through co-creating ideas. “Co-creative consumers are motivated by the 4F’s – fun, fulfillment, fame and fortune” –François Petavy, CEO, eYeka

Be dynamic. Constantly take advantage of your followers’ content about your brand experience and curate it meticulously. “Aim to foster a following community so strong that you rely on them for generating the bulk of your content.”  – Mailine Swildens, Head of Zoo Creative Services CEEMEA, YouTube

Be compelling. Master how to capture, hold and reward attention through great experiences in slivers of time. “Steve Jobs was right. Most of the time people don’t know what they want until to show it to them. But first you need to create an experience for them, read them well, tell them great stories. You need to be able to capture them in a 6-second video.” – David Shing, Digital Prophet, AOL

Be open. Look outside of your own category to raise your standards of excellence. “Users don’t compare the dashboard capabilities of a BMW to a Benz. They compare the experience to how easily they use their iPhone” – Henry Mason, Global Head of Research and Managing Partner,

Be beautiful. Do not settle for any execution less than visually excellent. “Ugly doesn’t sell. That’s why we’re constantly pushing our advertisers to come up with great visuals and attractive ads. It’s what you call a win-win situation. You get to enjoy pretty pictures and our advertisers get to enjoy high click-through rates and unprecedented levels of site traffic.” – Nalden, Founder, WeTransfer

Be heroic. Even when failing. “Celebrate when you fail after audaciously trying your best. It’s better to attempt something great and fail than to be mediocre and never even try.” – Tor Myhren, President and Chief Creative Officer, Grey New York

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Crystal Apple Festival of Creativity – Making a Difference 2013

When our good friends at the Turkish Association of Advertising Agencies and Advertising Education Foundation and Campaign magazine’s Turkey office approached us some months ago to help out with selecting speakers and curating some of the content for Crystal Apple, we were delighted that a new festival of creativity was being born. Historically an awards night, conceived of by the late Eli Acıman of Manajans/JWT in Istanbul, the time was ripe to take it to the next level. When Alper Üner claimed that the vision was to make Crystal Apple the Davos of Creativity, some may have faltered a little, but after the first-ever week of the festival, we believe in our hearts that it is a dream to come true in just a few short years’ time. We love big dreamers!

As Idea Bakery, we also dreamt big. The first day of the festival was a triple-whammy for us, as Serfi ran Creative Confessions, cross-examining Jonathan Mildenhall (VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at the Coca-Cola Company) and Tor Myhren (Grey New York’s President and Chief Creative Officer) in front of a live audience, from topics ranging from creative jealousy and failure to nourishing your inner child. We hope to have a video to share with you soon, until then you can read about the highlights of the session below in our ‘recaps’). Day 2 found Idea Bakery at our partner eYeka’s CEO François’ workshop on co-creation and on Day 4, dedicated to young aspiring creative minds, Serfi gave a seminar on Purposeful Brands while Jose challenged conventions with the advantage of Crowdsourcing and Co-creation.

Serfi with Alper Üner and Tor Myhren at the Idea Bakery booth

Serfi with Alper Üner and Tor Myhren at the Idea Bakery booth


Throughout the festival, the Idea Bakery booth became our grounding hub in the middle of the daily hustle, where our Idea Caterer Simin made sure all who came by got a delicious cupcake or two (baked by our friend Esra’s 175 Cupcake Bar), made new connections and walked away with a batch of inspirational ideas.

Below are some recipes we snagged from the plethora of inspirational panels, seminars, workshops and activities that made Crystal Apple shine in its first year of graduating to a festival. We hope they spark something for you as they did for us, until Cannes next summer!


Day 1

The day began with a big bang, just when we were wondering if a latte would be enough to wake us up, Jonathan arrived to energize us!

Early morning start with Jonathan on Day 1He made a wonderfully delivered off-the-cuff speech to a select few at the CMO Club with candor. Even though his job is making sure Coca-Cola’s happiness is shared worldwide with creative excellence, he explained how Muhtar Kent keeps him going by being ever so constructively discontent. This fuels his efforts to build more liquid connections with consumers, the end result being that consumer-generated stories are now outnumbering company generated ones at Coke. So keep going, even when you’re at the top! Mildenhall set the tone for a day of not settling…

Jonathan, Serfi and Tor

Jonathan, Serfi and Tor

“Creative Confessions” – Serfinaz Altun, Founder & Idea Chef, Idea Bakery; Jonathan Mildenhall, VP of Global Advertising Strategy & Creative Excellence, The Coca-Cola Company; Tor Myhren, President and Chief Creative Officer, Grey New York

After the opening ceremonies, we finalized our preparations for our own workshop and Serfi blasted “I Will Always Love You” to kick off Creative Confessions with Jonathan’s first confession – his penchant for Whitney Houston. Our rules of engagement were being brutally honest, telling us something that wouldn’t be found on YouTube or a case study. Serfi cross-examined Jonathan and Tor on the value of failures, brands they are jealous of, if too much collaboration can be a bad thing (it is, says Jonathan, as it brings the tide of excellence down) and what they do to keep their inner child alive. Please watch this space for a post devoted to the entire session.


“Creative Culture: Build It and They Will Come” – Tor Myhren, President and Chief Creative Officer, Grey New York

Right after ‘Confessions’ we followed Tor to his wonderful keynote on Grey, failing quickly to turn around business, and building a sustainable culture in the agency. Grey was famous for its business acumen but not much for having a strong creative culture, and he took it upon himself to change that. It began with how the agency actually related to its internal and external partners. “Agencies talk about themselves to clients, but they should talk about what they can do for their clients” and “Culture leads to work” were our favourite points. Tor himself cultivates the creative culture by creating space and time for it – a huge section of the agency is a cork wall for posting ideas, and every Thursday morning until noon is ‘no meeting’ time, reserved for creativity only.

Tor talking culture at The Hub

Tor talking culture at The Hub

“The Digital Ambush” – Mailine Swildens, Head of Zoo, Google

We love Google and YouTube, we loved Mike Yapp at Cannes this year, so we went to get our dose of Zoo again in the afternoon from Mailine. Mailine emphasized how brands can become so much more effective and efficient as meticulous curators of user generated content. To get to the point where you manage your brand purpose, essence, benefit and pinpoint your community so well that the brand’s advocates become your advertisers as you cut your advertising budget. Such was the case with GoPro; about 80% of their video content is produced by users all over the world, and YouTube helps them scale their reach. You can check out their YouTube channel for thousands of inspiring user videos here.

“Content 2020” –Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy & Creative Excellence, The Coca-Cola Company

Just as it began, the first day of Crystal Apple ended on a high note with Jonathan Mildenhall’s keynote on the thinking behind Coke’s Content Excellence Vision for 2020, we can never get enough of this presentation and the concept of “Liquid Ideas”! Coke is a brand that is well aware that to keep growing sustainably and transcend time, you need to understand your consumer very well, have a resonant brand purpose, and start acting as more of a medium or curator than an advertiser. So how do you do that? To become a global incubator of great creative ideas, Coke’s idea model accommodates flexibility within boundaries: 70% of ideas are low risk, and hence ‘pay the rent’, 20% of ideas lead innovation from what already works well and 10% of ideas are high risk, high gain. This way they can take risks test ideas and innovate and play with conflict to be able to enable more creativity. Within the stream of ideas, the brand owners’ role requires them to be ruthless editors of content excellence and dynamic storytelling. We love how Coke constantly reinvents itself.

“We’re moving from insights to provocations to have bigger thinking in the heart of our briefs” – Jonathan Mildenhall, The Coca-Cola Company

Great examples of provocation and dilemma opening up new creative ground:

You can watch and listen to the story of Liquid Ideas here, narrated by Jonathan himself.

Day 2

“Think Differently” – Christophe Cauvy, European Head of Digital & Innovation, JWT

In the morning, we found ourselves staring at a peculiar experiment on shopper perception, presented by JWT’s Christope Cauvy, opening a string of discussions on where the consumer is headed and where agencies are headed:


In the image above, Chauvy explained that when the former price of a discounted item is larger than the markdown price, it sells more because the new numbers literally shrink in comparison. Conversely, participants in a focus group discussion claimed they’d be more likely to buy the box of cookies with large product images but in reality the sales of the small cookie packaging outperformed the large ones, possibly due to the perception of quantity. Chauvy recommends ditching the regular focus group setting for neuroscience and looking at the cognition patterns at the level of decision-making. Likewise, he emphasized the need for agencies to also reach for the more tangible, urging them to start developing products and services for brands too, not just creating communication campaigns from afar.

“People keep saying there’s too much going on, too many new things coming out. But this happens every decade. The fact is, the level of innovation achieved between 1870-1970 is still unsurpassed and probably unreachable ever again. The phenomenon of information overload was already noted in 1907, it is not a new syndrome.” –Christophe Cauvy


“Do It with Them, Not for Them: Leveraging Co-Creation” (Idea Bakery partner session) – François Petavy, CEO, eYeka

Our co-creation partner eYeka shared excellent cases of co-creation from Coca-Cola, Schick, Volvic, Nescafe from around the world and CarrefourSA in Turkey, which we were happy to form the briefs and strategic analyses for.

As François reminded us again, the secret of success in co-creation lies in forming the right context for the creator, just as a good brief can open the door to creativity anywhere. The creators on eYeka are motivated by the 4 F’s – fun, fulfillment, fame and fortune – so our brand must reach out to them with passion and potential to make their star shine while reaching business and communication objectives. Co-creation is win-win!

Nescafe’s eYeka brief was to reinvent instant coffee, cafe style:

Coke reimagined as an energizing refreshment:

“Creativity on Facebook” – Mark D’arcy, Director of Global Creative Solutions, Facebook

Facebook’s Mark D’arcy opened by reminding us that in the face of information overload, at least we all become superpowered online (our voice is louder, everything is faster and more available) – there’s much more going on while there are still the same number of hours in a day, so we rely on the wisdom of our network. Facebook’s opportunity is the need for quicker wisdom, connection, search and discovery in times where experience is becoming more valuable than money against time. Similarly, brands that are learning to rely on the wisdom of consumers by truly listening and dynamically responding are the winners of the cloud and the crowd:

A Facebook fan brings back an old brand in New Zealand:

One last word of advice from D’arcy regarding what not to do when starting to have a conversation with consumers is a great analogy: think of your brand as a person cocktail party — you wouldn’t push yourself into a conversation of strangers and be ‘that guy’, would you?

“Embrace Change and Make It Happen” – Jose Miguel Sokoloff, Global Creative Council President, Lowe

Sokoloff captured the entire audience in awe as he took us through each step of strategy leading to the continuing demobilization of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) members in partnership with the Colombian Ministry of Defense. You may remember the Christmas Operations case study below, which has continued with the “Beacons of Light” campaign and a formal effort to re-engage ex-guerrilla members in new vocations.

A purposeful cause with sustainable effectiveness (17.000 demobilization cases out of the 24.000 when the first campaign was launched) that reminds us to keep digging for the deepest human truth, listening to all sides of the story, and to keep strategies dynamic in relation to changing contexts.

“Is Technology Redefining Creativity?” – Nalden, Founder, WeTransfer

WeTransfer and Dropbox are two services we cannot live without at Idea Bakery. The top reason besides security and storage capacity is that the experience is so simple and non-intrusive, which is the thinking behind the venture. Nalden explained that they set out to redefine digital advertising and disrupt the convention of non-interesting and even bad design, leading to a partly crowd-sourced showcase model. WeTransfer’s upload screens now feature work curated from independent illustrators and artists from around the globe, beautiful advertising from design-minded brands like Sonos, and custom screens for company use.

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Their philosophy explains it all and contains a message that can be applied to communication anywhere:

“Ugly doesn’t sell. That’s why we’re constantly pushing our advertisers to come up with great visuals and attractive ads. It’s what you call a win-win situation. You get to enjoy pretty pictures and our advertisers get to enjoy high click-through rates and unprecedented levels of site traffic.” – WeTransfer

“Making Things That Matter” – Matt Gee, Global Development and Growth Director, R/GA

R/GA’s historical intro reel is a gem for the archives and we never tire of watching it! We love how they half self-analyzed and noted that they reinvent themselves every 9 years, many times ahead of the market – they started out as a computer-assisted film-making and special effects company (they created the motion graphics for the Superman film in 1978), then became a digital studio and production company, then an interactive advertising agency and now are defined as an experience design company and the digital agency of the future.


As pioneers of the experience era and the masterminds behind Nike’s Fuelband platform, R/GA urged more brands to migrate to an ecosystem mindset based on their own model of collaboration. The model emphasizes collaboration across disciplines by partnering technologists, copywriters, designers, analysts, and planners in order to create a mix of advertising campaigns and brand platforms for the ever-changing needs of the consumer in the current and future landscape.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 03.56.56

R/GA's storytelling model

R/GA’s storytelling model

“Our ‘Dam’ Life” – Eric Quennoy & Mark Bernath, Executive Creative Directors, Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam

Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam’s seminar was more of a disruptive rock party than an industry panel, and who better than Eric and Mark than to deliver a few painful truths home while helping us all remain optimistic? The legendary creative directors are living proof that you can work hard (Heineken, Nike, Old Spice, Coke Zero are some of their clients to name a few, and they just received the Creative Effectiveness award for Heineken this year at Cannes Lions) and play hard too, which is essentially the golden balance in creating engaging integrated communication campaigns. They reminded us that first of all, any piece of content a brand produces is always competing for the attention of the consumer against latest hipster meme, YouTube tutorial, home-made cat GIF, and the finale of Breaking Bad; and that if your idea is weak, no amount of holistic or integrated planning is going to make it stick. Second of all, they urged us all to get the ‘wrong people’ on projects – for example, not to just get the person who has been on automotive accounts for 10 years for a car pitch, but to get someone who maybe doesn’t even drive – because that’s where fresh perspectives and ideas can be found. In fact, Eric and Mark claimed that someone who hates the account can really shift the idea pool into unconsidered territory.

Of course, it all begins with a great brief – contrary to popular belief, creatives love limitations because they are challenging and provide a context, a framework. And when you’re listening to the idea, as a client, please give them some sort of feedback, any emotion is good, even frowning, let them know how they feel! Because, as we always remind you in our training sessions and workshops, no emotion is worse news than a scowl. Lastly, being open to the unpredictable together as client and agency is the gateway to greatness.
We love this partnership testimony with Heineken:



Day 3

On day 3 we all decided to spend some time breathing in the festival air and spending time with friends, especially the highly inspiring David Shing, catching up before his talk.


“Recalibrating Digital Conversations” – David Shing, Digital Prophet, AOL

The man with the best hair in the industry, known widely as Shingy, opened his quest for the future of digital with reminding us that of the 8 billion people in the world, half of them are under the age of 25 and they have a very different on how life should be. Shing believes that components of what will be ‘the future’ is already here, drawing a parallel to JWT’s Cauvy’s point that the innovation rate may have decreased. Our tools are already here!

So what do we need to focus on the make the most of our connection with this new generation? Social networks are not new to them, they don’t care about site names, not even about brands. They care about what brands do in public and the experiences they create. Shing reminded us that attention is the new currency and that the right content in the right context, no matter whether it’s digital or analogue, is still the winning key to lasting engagement.

Shing also argues that the advent of social TV and the increased use of smartphone and tablets in the home will prompt SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) to be renamed Home-Mobile, since mobile already implies social and local.
Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 04.29.59

The most important piece of advice from the digital prophet was that we’re past the information age and well into the socialization age where interests form the basis of everything, it’s about time we moved from accumulating big data to converting it to make use of communities of interest in relation to our brands’ context. Once this integrates with social shopping, the next big step in e-commerce, the race will begin for the Amazon of this new social experience era.
Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 04.29.44


“Steve Jobs was right. Most of the time people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. But first you need to create an experience for them, read them well, tell great stories. You need to be able to capture them in a 6-second video. “
-David Shing

How to get Shingy-fied, in a nutshell:
Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 04.30.32


“Perform Or Perish! Consumer Trends That Will Make You Kick Ass In 2014” – Henry Mason, Managing Partner & Global Head of Research,

photo’s dispatches in person are even more engaging – Henry walked us through the “why” before the “what” in terms of consumer context and upcoming behavioral trends for 2014. The Why: We have transcended the information age and surplus age straight into the age of creative destruction, where there is such a high saturation of omnipresent content that nevermind the shortening of attention spans, experiences themselves are quickly losing meaning too. So the great question is, in these experience-abundant times, how do you keep people excited while still addressing human needs?

To answer, facts and “What”s that form the basis of 2014 trends are:

-Consumers don’t care about how unique you are, they care about how unique themselves are. So stealing a great idea and appropriating it is OK. To improve experience delivery, brands need to start looking outside of their own categories – users don’t compare the dashboard capabilities of a BMW to a Benz. They compare the experience to their iPhone, to other standards of excellence of ease of use and responsiveness.

-Consumers will not care if 73% of all brands that exist disappeared tomorrow. They care about brands with purpose and transparency, which also eases the guilt of consumption, especially Coca-Cola and McDonald’s (Check out the “Track My Macca’s” augmented reality app that tells you where your Big Mac came from and what kind of grass the cows were fed and on what farm)


-Consumers are becoming both more and less predictable. More because there is more real-time data available on them, even when they are in motion down the street, but also less, because spontaneity and discovery are rising in value. When the need to discover newness intersects with big data, we see the future of Real Time: perfectly spontaneous discovery apps, such as FieldTrip, which recommends nearby places to scour, and real-time customer review engines. Managing customer experience has to be realtime too – news of bad encounters and bad service travels fast.


-What all of this means for businesses is that it really is all about the experiences, products and services. Older brands’ heritage may become a burden for the transparency-demanding consumer. What will matter is the consumers’ narrative, not the ages-old story of the brand. Purpose can lend old brands with loads of baggage a clean slate. Biz 3.0 brands are all about being responsive, open, clean and meaning what they do; Trendwatching’s top picks are, Ben & Jerry’s, airbnb and Zipcar. They all have great experience and reinvention at their core, just like Google and Amazon (and Virgin) did when they redefined their respective industries.

From Trendwatching we jumped straight on over to the design perspective at AKQA to see just how these experiences need to be conceived…

“Evolution of an Interaction Designer “– Rob McIntosh, Executive Creative Director, AKQA

Traditional agencies and marketing organizations can learn much about reinventing processes, orchestrating their partners and the content creation roadmap from AKQA. Their vision is inspired by the great architect Frank Gehry and quite possibly, Steve Jobs– “to continuously question the process while protecting the art form”. Like R/GA, their approach is that of an ecosystem, with an emphasis on simultaneous collaboration. They are abandoning the notion of waterfall processes for what they call “SuperPrototyping”, real-time synergy and making while keeping the user’s narrative central.

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As the notion of design evolves and the titles of designers grow ever so long, AKQA proposes the notion of the “hybrid designer”, which they define as someone who transforms art and data together into an experience. In the same vein, we need hybrid agencies and hybrid-capability chief marketing officers.

A multi-disciplinary commanding view on the new consumer landscape will be extremely necessary to handle what comes next after Google Glass. AKQA predicts that cities themselves will be the new computer, and that omnipresent computing is near, when our phones will interact with our immediate context on their own, without us having to give commands. Ambient awareness sensors will prevail, a concept that forms the foundation of AKQA’s True City project for Nike with today’s technologies.

Editor’s note: This reminded us of the Lapka sensor system, which gives you bio-organic data on objects and the environment such as how organic an apple is or what the humidity in a room is. Time for full transparency, especially for food and beverage manufacturers…



Day 4: Future 25 Day

The final day of the festival, Future25, aimed towards university students aspiring to build careers in advertising and communications, found us all in a much more training and learning focused mindset. The Idea Bakery team had helped form the brief for the Future25 sponsor gnçtrkcll’s open call to applicants, delivered via 6 seconds of video for each section, to co-create a campaign using non-traditional mediums (no TV, print or radio) to improve smartphone penetration among their peers. Serfi was proud to be a jury member of the Future25 competition, which meant evaluating presentations from university students all over Turkey for most of the day. During jury breaks, Serfi argued for the importance of Brand Purpose in a seminar via cases from Coke, Dove, Red Bull and more, while Jose’s lecture on Co-Creation prompted the audience to re-consider the traditional iterative processes of creation at advertising agencies.

We hope we were able to plant some freshly baked ideas in young minds!


Serfi charting Evian’s purposeful strength and relevance since its birth

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Jose launching his intellectual attack on the traditional model of creative business

The day culminated in a collective and creative speed-dating session with a seasoned group of creative directors and strategic planners including BBDO New York’s Toygar Bazarkaya, Alice BBDO’s Haluk Sicimoğlu, Happy People Project’s Yaşar Akbaş, and JWT/Manajans’ Sami Basut among others. The Future25 winners were announced — not just one team for 1st place as planned, but 2! We wish them the best in their endeavors and lots of energy as they enjoy their award of attending Cannes Lions next year.



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From Cannes Lions with Love: Inspiration Feed 2013

Cannes 2013

Cannes Lions never ends for Idea Bakery! We spend half the year baking inspiration sessions from Cannes and the other half preparing to inspire students at Cannes. Serfi was a tutor at Cannes Lions this past June for the second time in a row, training 55 young marketers from 18 countries and 23 companies at the Cannes Creative Academy for Young Marketers and contributing to the first-ever CMO Accelerator Programme run by Jim Stengel.

Please click here to download an exclusive copy of Idea Bakery’s Cannes Lions 2013 Inspiration Feed and here for learning reminders from Cannes Lions 2012.

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Future Shock

The image above is not a still from a poorly investigated failed blockbuster, nor is it from a Woody Allen sci-fi comedy film. It’s a seriously conceived live installation from a 1970s science and technology conference fair in the U.S., hailed as the “Typist of the Future”. It went viral this spring, with many a Facebook chuckle as it was passed on from one fan’s disbelief to another. The reason why so many of us find this image particularly amusing because the future is here, and it certainly does not look like this.

In fact, the future has happened faster and better than expected. It is certainly not rigid or contained. It’s liquid, it’s responsive, it’s lean and it’s on the move all the time. This is evident in the way consumers now experience our brand, how media is converging, how we develop products, how we engage through our content, and how we track our success. We have evolved past our own expectations and must now keep up with the new landscape we have created. Take a moment to pause time and review where your brand is in its evolutionary state:

1.Consumer Experience:

The first step is evolve with, and preferably a step ahead of, the next generation. The upcoming generation of consumers are digital natives. Which means that for them, media is already social. For a brand to still be questioning ‘what to do about and how much to invest in social media’ is therefore unacceptable.  The YouTube Generation, or Gen C for their passion to create, curate, connect in their community, will be our prime prospects. According to Google and YouTube’s research, 91% of them sleep with their smartphone nearby and for the majority it’s the first thing they check in the morning. The combined influence of Gen C communities will make them the largest consumer generation ever, estimated to spend 510 billion USD in the USA alone this year. 85% of them consult their friend network –online and offline- before making their purchase decision. More and more they will be influenced by brands that share their greater values, brands that have a philosophy they can believe in – a brand purpose.

Red Bull gives you wings (or an astronaut suit)

2.    Purpose:

 Brands that evolve to not just survive but also thrive with be those that adapt to these expectations with a strong sense of their own purpose. What is brand purpose? Quite simply, it is why your brand exists in the world. It is what makes your team and all the other employees motivated to get out of bed and work every day.  It’s what you want to do for your consumers. What’s more is that your purpose will drive your business. In his book Grow, former P&G CMO Jim Stengel explains how 10 brands from Millward Brown’s top 50 list, tracked for 10 years, outperform in terms of ROI by 400% when compared to Standard & Poor’s top companies list. Purpose and the ideals a brand stands for are what make the difference between a Red Bull and its efforts to energize the world, giving its community ‘wings to fly’, versus any another energy-providing drink. It’s the difference Dove makes towards its ideal of real beauty while it supports young women’s self-esteem through an active cause foundation against body image disorders. Purpose resonates. Dove Beauty Sketches became the most viral video ad of all time in May 2013, with 114 million views and 3.74 million shares in its first two weeks.

Google Glass

Google Glass

3.    Product Experience:

Your brand’s purpose should radiate through your products and services. It should help you anticipate needs to reach breakthrough consumer innovation. Google defines its role as being ‘your personal assistant in everything you do’, which leads the vision for its development of better search, email, maps, and its entire range of information-organizing products. Google saw an opportunity in how consumers struggle with accessing information on the go, innovating to create the ‘heads-up’ technology of Google Glass. And slated to launch in 2016, Google Car promises a safe, helpful and smart driverless car experience, already successfully beta testing in San Francisco and Singapore. Great products are about seizing an opportunity for an unsatisfied, emerging need and delivering a relevant experience.  With the advent of 3D printers becoming available to more and more people, the future of products lie in the power of communities. Brands will make prototypes available to consumers to customize and share their own designs, ultimately building a personal experience of the product in their own homes and sharing with others.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches reveals a heartbreaking and heartwarming truth

4.    Shareability:  

What makes something shareable? It’s not “great content” alone. Think of when someone tells you a story – you may be shocked/amused/impressed/laugh. But wanting to retell that story to a friend is another process altogether. There is a science behind what is highly shareable and what makes videos go viral. First of all, you have to get them in the first 10 to 15 seconds. No one has time to spare hoping that investing in your story will be worth it in the end. Second of all, content must evoke a sharp emotion –funny, surprising, exhilarating- from your audience. Preferably positive, as according to Unruly Media and Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science’s research: videos that elicit high intensity, positive emotions are three times more likely to be shared than videos that elicit low intensity, negative emotions.’ Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches was analyzed to be shareable mostly because of being positively true, heart warming and exhilarating.

Lastly and most importantly, make sure you are doing everything in your power to ensure your content is shareable.  Do you have the right sharing tools provided on the platforms they are active in? Do you know what you want the audience to do once they are done with the content? Is there a role for them to participate? Is it based on a hot topic in cultural context? Is the title explanatory and inviting? Oreo’s 100th year campaign to make the historical cookie cool again yielded a 230% increase in Facebook fan engagement, powered by a brand team making sure each piece of content was highly relevant every day and moment, capturing links between the Mars Rover, the Tour de France, Batman’s Dark Night and more. The greatest example of shareable content in the home appliances category is still Blendtec Blenders, which holds the all-time consistently viral record. Since launching their YouTube channel in 2007 to show exactly how their blenders can blend anything, they have successfully proven their point with the iPhone 1,2,3,4 and 5, iPad, Kindle, Nexus. Their sales drove up 500% in 2008, 700% in 2009, have 580.000 subscribers on YouTube, an average of 28 million views per video and lead the market having won the ‘most durable Blender’ mindshare.The numbers back up the power of sharing.

Oreo celebrating the Mars Rover

Oreo celebrating the Mars Rover

4. Social Science: Make big data work for you.As the confusion about what to do, how to share and what to track on social media settles and algorithms have emerged, the best thing about digital and social media are the plethora of tools we have to measure ourselves by.We now know that the power of traditional paid media alone is weaker than the power of earned (conversation related to your brand online and user generated content), owned (content and platforms you own) and shared media  (communities where you collaborate with fans). According to Forbes’ AdVoice, we will no longer be able to segment social content based on how it originated – it will be “owned by origin, paid to scale, earned due to its quality” – because of the sharing cloud. Therefore, we should be looking at not just “likes” but engaged users and the engagement ratio among our Facebook fans and Twitter followers, examining which post types and stories perform best, their viral reach beyond our fanbase, and what methods we can use to amplify our content. Google, for example, recently introduced the value of mobile calculator, which Adidas used to examine how mobile searches drive in-store visits and purchases. They now know that 20% of mobile store locator searches result in visits and that they can use mobile to bring a 680% incremental increase in ROI and are modeling future path to purchase communication and pricing accordingly. Keep in mind that the rules of engagement and success are also constantly evolving, and tweak your goals as you go. Take your Facebook page for example – you may have a different goal before you have 50.000 fans, when you have 100.000 fans. Once you hit the million fan point, you will want to be focusing less on acquisition and more on keeping your current fans engaged, and getting close to your future fans.


Now, flash forward to your brand’s future. What do you see? Are you aligned with where your future consumers will be? What equity can you translate and transform to be more relevant? Are your products and services aligned with all you could be? What needs to be eliminated so you can move faster? What do you need to evolve?

Digital, social and mobile, the world is yours.

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Dear CMO, This One’s For You…

The future is bright for the creative CMO

Whether you’re people watching at your 5-star hotel on the Boulevard de la Croisette, sipping on your Moët Chandon Ice Imperial or trying to take a break from the line of people at your lofty office door, create a moment to read this. Reflect on what creative codes you represent and live by to deliver business results and really give justice to that C-M-O title of yours.

The blue chairs on the Croisette in Cannes help conjure inspiration from where you sit

Throughout the years, I’ve observed Cannes Lions become an attraction center for CMOs globally.  In fact, it was my CMO at Procter & Gamble in 2005, Jim Stengel, who made my first Cannes experience as a delegate possible. A few years later, after setting up my Brand-Building Communications Company, Idea Bakery in 2009, I made it a personal mission to influence all the CMOs I train and consult with to arrange to attend Cannes every year. And to my amazement, I’ve observed that once they did experience Cannes, the rest of their organization followed – to the extent that the next year, the delegates from that company doubled at the very least.

The 2013 CMO Accelerator training team - Idea Bakery founder and Idea Chef Serfi with tutors Susan Tosolini and Jim Stengel

The 2013 CMO Accelerator training team – Idea Bakery founder and Idea Chef Serfi with tutors Susan Tosolini and Jim Stengel

So step into the shoes of the next generation CMO and accept that creativity in your company is your business. No one else’s. What’s more, it is creativity that will build your business.

Just take a look at the business results of Mars, Ikea, Unilever, VW, P&G, Honda, Adidas and Sony that flourished with the world-class creative campaigns that won each of them an “Advertiser of the Year” award at Cannes Lions. In his book The Case for Creativity, James Hurman reveals a significant increase of business performance above market average in correlation to these brands’ high creative standards of marketing.

We now live in a world where success requires exactly this kind of right and left brain union. Your biggest buyers in 2015 will be the infamous millennials, the ‘generation of impatient and amazing’. You will need to rely on creatively collaborating and curating with them. Your greatest tool will be what you do with big data in a creative and mobile context to strike a meaningful conversation. It comes as no surprise that the 1500 top CEO’s of the world have identified creativity as the #1 leadership competency of the future based on a global CEO survey by IBM.  The C in C-suite is evolving, and so should you.

What can you do to embrace creativity?

Inspire to be Inspired! Build your brand into an inspiration zone.While you do, forget ‘out of the box’! Instead, define the ‘right box’ for your people and agency to create within.  To do so, ask yourself which human truth your brand is built on. What is your brand’s purpose for existence? What would the world miss if your brand got wiped off the earth, social web and cloud overnight? What makes your team want to get up and come to work everyday? In one word? Has it been the same for the past 10+ years? Does your brand have a distinctive and consistent personality? Or does it have “wishy washy” disorder? Does it have executional equities like sound, color, slogan, smell, texture, shape or a temple that don’t require your logo for consumers to know it’s you? Be a champion of big brand ideas that can last through decades. Inspire your agencies to create and sustain your own ‘Keep Walking’, ‘Axe Effect’, ‘Real Beauty for Real Women’ idea.

Dove continues to urge us to rethink our definitions of beauty. 

Enable creativity within your organization. Create an environment and systems where creativity can flourish. Raise the bar high, very high! As Leo Burnett said – ‘Reach for the stars, you may not touch one, but you won’t end up with a handful of mud either!’ Eliminate layers as great ideas get lost in layers. Be there at the key stages of creation as the approver. Be the simplifier . Take things out rather than ask things to be added in during the creative process. Live by the philosophy of ‘single-mindedness’. Have the courage to accept work that may make you uncomfortable in a good way. Ensure all your work evokes intense emotions!

Be a role model! Live in the shoes of your consumers and encourage your team to meet eye to eye with them regularly. Be friends with your agencies.. Approve creative work with no revisions once in a while. Be open, honest, applaud great work with compassion, talk with them and nip it in the bud when things are off. Be involved in planning and join training sessions with your team. Know what they’re learning. Continue training yourself – go intern at Google! Stay connected, join co-creation communities, collaborate. Be a curator yourself.

You will be setting the creative bar at your company. Accept this role with zest. Whether you prefer ‘Creative Miracles Officer’ or better yet,  ‘Creative Mentor Oracle’,  ignite your inner creative lion. Ask yourself: ‘Do I have the courage of a lion to make it all happen?’ Then roar, ‘Yeah!’.

Enjoy creating your new vision, dear CMO – it’s high time to lead by inspiration!

For You:

 CMO Accelerator Programme with Jim Stengel -  The Next Generation CMO

This year, I have the pleasure of contributing to the organization of the 1st ‘CMO Accelerator’ Programme in Cannes under Jim’s leadership. This exclusive program is designed for a select group of CMOs with some of the below inspirational, interactive and actionable focus areas:

  • ‘The Key Themes of Cannes 2013’ curated by The Guardian,
  • A Panel on ‘how big data and technology will shape the CMO role in the future’ moderated by AdAge,
  • A behind the scenes with the big winners of Cannes Lions 2012,
  • Leadership discussion with the iconic Jean Marie Dru,
  • What it took to be the marketer of the year by Joe Tripodi of Coca-Cola
  • Ideas worth spreading and their impact on the Next Generation CMO with TED.
  • Individual CMO ‘nightmare’ presentations and group work to resolve issues
  • Personal Action Plan creation to put learning into action.

Make your plans for 2014 ahead of schedule!

For Your Team

Young Marketers Academy – Raising the Bar for the Future

In my second year as the co-tutor of the ‘Young Marketers Academy’, we will be hosting 60+ top talent young marketers from all over the world across a variety of blue chip companies like Google, Unilever, Diageo, Adidas, P&G, Ülker, Arçelik, Eczacıbaşı to immerse them in a week of inspiration and learning.

We will cover exciting topics on the case for creativity, communication strategy excellence, the modern brand (innovation, interaction, integration) and best in class agency client relations. Keynote speakers will include Jonathan Mildenhall of Coke,  Michael Wall of Lowe, David Shing of AOL,  Laurie Coots of TBWA. We will interact with our guest speakers from Google, Twitter, Instagram and learn from world-class CMOs at two separate custom panels.

Most importantly, the participants will build strong relationships, learn from each other and leave Cannes with the energy, passion and inspiration to change the world  : )

Visit the academy’s page for more information and start planning for 2014.

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Co-Creation – Consumer in the Driver’s Seat

Recently we were visiting NY and went into the Nike store. I needed some training shoes, as I finally had to say goodbye to my old Nike’s that I had been wearing for 10+ years. While in the store, I asked my daughter Alara, if she wanted a pair too and picked up some alternatives from the shelf. She kindly rejected and told me she wants Nike ID shoes. She took me to a computer nearby and to my amazement started creating her own signature shoes with the exact color combo, material type and even the name she wanted to put on each shoe!

nikealara-01Like Alara, consumers are no longer satisfied in making ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decisions about what companies offer to them as products and services. They want more – the freedom of choice to interact with companies through a range of experiences. This is where co-creation comes into play, as the practice to develop products and services in collaboration between companies and consumers. Co-creation of any form imbeds that experience. If our co-creativity experience is a pleasurable one, we become advocates quicker since part of us is part of the brand.

Today, I would like to share with you some best in class examples of co-creation that demonstrate varying levels of ownership and control from the angle of consumers and companies and with individual participation of consumer or as a part of a bigger group.

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‘Why not’ – the Key to Innovation…

Hello friends!

“Why not?” My favourite question!  The antidote of ‘but’!

The curious, optimistic and open mindset that provides the key to open the doors of innovation.

And once the door is open, you need 3 ingredients that will get you to deliver innovation with excellence. Realizing and leveraging your own and your team’s power, being consumer centric and applying simplicity through each step of your journey.

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The best of Cyber

Hello Friends,

In the ‘Chef’s Special’ I will share with you delicious recipes on marketing, communication and innovation. My objective is to whet your appetite and sample you some new tastes to inspire you to create your own ones.

Today’s recipe is from a ‘young’ medium – internet. Born into our lives in 1996, a 16 year old teenager. A fast, dynamic, multi-faceted and fun medium.

The best in class examples from this medium are awarded with the ‘Cyber Grand Prix’  in the Cannes Creativity Festival every year. In 2011, we had 3 winners. Let’s check out their ingredients, recipes and the great outcomes!

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