Are we entering a new era of professional collaboration? Or do we face a creative showdown?
An interesting question and one this event organised by Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in association with d & ad set out to explore.
'Pixels at Dawn' took place last Tuesday night (November 17, 2009) at a huge venue called Rich Mix on Bethnal Green Road.
I went along to meet @pixandu and tackle some quick-fire briefs set by and worked on by folk across disciplines such as broadcast, advertising and design.
Why can't we all just work together? This event was a fun way of nudging us all to just that. So as soon as I arrived, I grabbed a free chair (after my free beer) and when the time came to start the first brief, I hooked up with the strangers next to me (this was the idea, plus @pixandu had to work late), Fan, Ed, Axel and a girl whose name I didn't catch because she was as quiet as a mouse.
I should also point out that while the crowd were working away on the briefs, so were the three groups of professionals from the following companies: BBC, Ogilvy, RDF, So TV, Six to Start, Kessels Kramer, Mint Digita, Somethin' Else and Puregrass Films.
You should also know that these teams were not made up of copywriters and art directors, although I think one team had a designer from Mint Digital (who incidently I had heard speak at Media140 London).
Brief one - Young at Heart - set by Joe Ferry, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Create a product, service or comms strategy that creates a brand idea to attract an aging population of flyers (over 60s). Communicate how we can benefit this group.
What the professionals came up with:
A whole bunch of crazy ideas, such as: Spend the inheritance, Relive the 60s, Branson's gang and even a Mile High Club, although I have no idea what this involved.
What we came up with:
Name and campaign TBC but the product is basically an over-60s club that you automatically get access to, for free, if you are, yes you've guessed it, over 60. So a bit like a bus pass, then. You get your own card but the main benefits are the, um, benefits. Here are a few that we thought of in the ten minutes or so:
Priority seating near gate
Over 60s toilet
Help with bags
In-flight TV and radio specifically for over 60s
You can go as crazy as you like. I wouldn't want to patronise this audience too much but I'm sure you can have some fun - the idea is supposed to be young at heart, after all, because of Virgin's younger image.
I should point out that one of the pro teams had the same idea as us. Perhaps other groups in the audience did as well. It wouldn't surprise me. It doesn't annoy me that other people had the same idea. I think it's one of the best. I think it provides a real product around which you can build all kinds of communications.
It was interesting that both our group and one of the pro groups also came up with the idea of allowing the over 60s to meet up online before they travelled, in case they wanted to meet up and chat - or maybe spark a little romance as one of the pro teams suggested.
So it was nice to see we had a digital element, although don't forget folks, the Interwebs (all six of them) are just media. It's the big idea that counts.
Brief two - Jedward - set by Graham Stuart, MD, SO Television
@iboy will like this one. The brief was to make Jedward musically credible, giving them a career beyond the past week.
Bit of a funny one, as I can't help feeling that there have been many manufactured acts down the years who couldn't sing. And that anyone could be made to sound tuneful in the studio. So why not Jedward? Because everyone knows they can't actually sing?
Like I say, not sure this has stopped a few people in the past. So wouldn't some producer simply work on them to make them sound ok?
Anyway, once we got over that intitial question, we had some fun. So did the pros. Here are some of their ideas:
Basically watch Jedward 24/7 and humiliate them in 000s of ways.
An experiment with the Royal College of Music to see if we can teach Jedward to sing (had this one)
Children's TV presenters (heard this one on twitter but I'm fucked if I'd want my child watching those two)
Sing Star off-key singing competition
Get Jedward to make a record in every country around the world.
Work with charities (had a version of this - see below)
Some of our ideas:
Yup, see if we can teach them to sing.
Get them to work with deaf kids.
Ant and Dec and Jedward (where each on of Ant and Dec had to have a Jedward over each shoulder).
Brief three - New political party - set by Ben Casey, CD, The Chase
Piece together a set of attributes for a new kind of politician for a new political party. What might the party be called? How would you create the campaign to launch it?
Well time was short here but it was interesting to hear that so many different people had had such similar ideas. Here are some of ours:
All female party
Talented people only party
Not real people - like Gorillaz
Tell the truth party
And that was that. The MC went around the room getting the crowd's thoughts and ideas after we'd heard the pros present their work up on stage. Pretty impressive when you consider they'd had 10 minutes or so on each brief and were working with 2-3 other people they'd never met from different companies; different disciplines, even.
The future of collaboration? I hope so. And it was nice to catch up with Matt, Phillipe, Matt and Theresa from D&AD's autumn 2009 digital advertising workshop, too (Hello Rhiannon!) We even managed to get to work on a couple of the briefs together.
I'm not sure if there's going to be another PAD, but if there is I'll see you there.
PS. If you've ever read any of my previous posts, you might know I'm intrigued by Google, SEO and search rankings. So you'll forgive me for pointing out a little Google ranking wierdness relating to this particular post - I was ranking 8th on page one of Google for the term 'Pixels at Dawn', whilst I was still writing the post. I goddammed love the Interwebs. It's so goddammed fast. A bit like me on the draw (sound of ricocheting bullet.)