We’re currently doing some very exciting work with East Village. If you’ve not heard of it, East Village will become London’s newest neighbourhood after the world’s best athletes vacate the current premises after the 2012 Games. It will become a living, breathing community – providing homes for thousands of people and a long lasting legacy for East London.
East Village is driven by three core values: more time, more space and more choice. We’ve used these as the inspiration behind our work, to develop engaging and interesting ways to evoke a sense of community, excitement and anticipation around East Village.
After an intense brainstorm late on a Friday afternoon, with the goal of encouraging people to talk about time, the team came up with a peach of an idea. We’d offer someone the chance to have their very own PA for a day.
Asking people on the East Village blog, London Living, just what they would do with ‘more time’, we awarded one lucky winner the services of yours truly for a whole day (absolutely free, I might add).
The aim here was to provide a personal and unique experience, giving the East Village brand a recognisable face and a human quality at the same time. Like a personalised random act of kindness, this was about us going that one step further for our client, and one leap further for our audience – and about taking something online, and making it happen offline.
I never really considered being ‘auctioned’ off as a prize to a member of the public as part of my first permanent career role, but I nonetheless looked forward to it with a lot of excitement (and a bit of trepidation).
It was with a nervous skip in my step that I went to meet Julia, an aspiring writer currently working in film, at 7am sharp (I know – an early start!) at the Shoreditch Grind, a lovely East London coffee house that sits next to the bustling roundabout by Old Street station.
It seemed Julia could not get over the novelty of the situation at hand; she’d clicked onto our blog, commented under a post, and now she had someone at her beck and call for the whole day. She thought it was a fantastic idea and said she’d dreamt of having a PA for years!
Having got thoroughly stuck into Julia’s mass of short stories, creative scripts and sonnets, editing and collating material as I went along, I spent the day organising her work into digestible prose. It definitely wasn’t light work!
Yet it was clear when the day came to a close that I’d really made Julia’s day that bit better. We know that 90% of recommendations come from face-to-face conversations. In this sense, Julia experienced the East Village ethos through a personal experience, and we amplified this message through proactive engagement with a member of our community.
It’s amazing what physical interaction can do, and Julia was full of praise for the concept and the execution.
I’d like to think Julia’s nascent opinion of East Village is now very much one of advocacy and that we’ve shown East Village is more than just London’s newest neighbourhood.
This week, I claimed that companies like ours are the agencies of the future but somebody put me in my place by pointing out that 1000heads is a child of the last century. Day to day work normally gets in the way of reflection, but this made me pause for thought and consider the journey we’ve been on and the journey that lies ahead.
It was indeed in 1999 that plans to launch 1000heads were first laid. To put this into perspective, there was no Facebook (can a $100billion business really grow that quickly?), no Twitter, no YouTube, no MySpace, and social media meant no more than sharing a newspaper in the park.
We may not have partied like it was 1999 ever since but it’s been an action-packed, white-knuckle ride from our early days in a (thankfully converted) cowshed in rural Oxfordshire. We now have around 75 talented and inspiring people working out of our offices in Soho, we have a dozen more in New York under the leadership of North American CEO Mike Davison, plus growing teams in Australia and Germany.
As the grizzled veterans of social media, we have seen a global industry grow up with us, and around us, and we are proud to be a part of it.
In addition to clients such as Nokia, whom we have had the pleasure of working with for the last seven years, we are delighted that Mars Petcare, Skype, Toyota, Rebel Sports and Gala Bingo, to name but a few, have recently joined the 1000heads family.
Social media is in our DNA but today brands want so much more. We talk a lot about social communications, helping brands’ stories to travel further and faster. People talk and share information wherever they are, whatever they are doing, and whoever they are with.
Meeting that challenge is sometimes scary but always exhilarating and I’m delighted that we are able to welcome some fantastic new ‘Heads’ to the fold, as well as promotions for existing Heads, who together will be part of the leadership team taking 1000heads forward.
Joanne Jacobs takes up a position as Chief Operating Officer in our Sydney office from March 1st. Joanne describes herself as a ‘geekgirl’ and has a passion for all things social. A former lecturer in the MBA program at the Brisbane Graduate School of Business at Queensland University of Technology, Joanne is returning to Australia after a four year stint in London during which time she was Client Director for Xenial and more recently Chief Operating Officer for Hibrow, an online arts offering from British-based film-maker Don Boyd.
It’s a real coup to have Joanne join us and I know she will build on the great success we are already starting to see in the Australian market.
Here in London, Phil Borge has been appointed to the newly created role of Strategic Planning Director. He joins us from PR agency Eulogy! after 10 years of service, where he was most recently Senior Account Director and strategic lead within its marketing services division.
In short Phil is a guy who gets things done and he will be responsible for developing the agency’s approach to client strategy, working with the insights, project management and creative teams across multiple projects and campaigns. He will also spearhead the addition of PR activation within client campaigns.
He will be working alongside Frank Grindrod, previously Group Account Director, who has been promoted to Client Services Director. Frank has been with 1000heads for six years and while ‘social media guru’ is a term he would shrink from, we call him it anyway.
Simon Adamson, another long-serving ‘Head’, has been promoted to Group Account Director and will continue to keep calm while all around him ‘chaordic’ enthusiasm reigns.
We also shortly hope to be announcing the appointment of our first Community Director, another key hire for the business. The Community Director will be responsible for our 20-strong Community team, running social presences, advocacy programmes, and community events.
Our journey may have started in the last century, and it may feel like we have been travelling 100 years at times, but the reality is that we have only just left the station and the tracks are infinite. We are delighted to welcome our new travelling companions on board.
When international recovery and compression sports clothing brand SKINS wanted to replicate the grassroots loyalty they had secured in Australia and the USA in Europe, they knew that word of mouth chimed with both their early underground viral success and their ambitions to be a challenging and empowering brand.
Proving that with SKINS ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things, 1000heads discovered Quentin Field Boden – a 51 year old UK blogger and amateur road cyclist who had grand plans to ride the entire Tour De France route – and made his dream happen. While Quentin trialled SKINS’ new products by cycling the route three days before the professionals, uploading his experiences and engaging with cross-Channel sports communities along the way, a further set of influential cycling enthusiasts in the UK and Australia were sent SKINS products to trial at home through challenges that reflected the hardships of the Tour.
Spanning three countries simultaneously, Tour de Velo dramatically increased traffic to the international SKINS sites, generated high volumes of positive, independent WOM – and positioned SKINS as the company that promoted the voice of the ordinary fan amidst the saturated brand promotions at one of sport’s biggest events.
Back in December last year, we kicked off a huge global word of mouth campaign for Nokia entitled ‘N8 Producers‘.
We’re about one week away from the final closing date and the standard of entries we’ve had in is absolutely astonishing. Covering off extreme sports, special effects and just plain awesome story telling (sometimes a combination of all three) we can quite honestly say that there cannot be a more fantastic collection of campaign-based user generated content anywhere else in the world.
Here are some hard numbers (as of ten days ago)
9million opportunities to view content
10,000likes & comments in social
250,000 views across both YouTube and Vimeo
(withoutany bought media support)
3,700 episodes of conversation
With one awesome entry even being shown on ESPN!
(average audience of 275,000)
Every single entry is brilliant in its own way but, to whet your appetite, here’s a selection of what we’ve had in so far… and remember: each and every producer shot their film with their very own Nokia N8.
If you’ve not heard about it yet, it’s pretty big (with events being held all over the world) and it’sonly going toget bigger.
Globally, we’re going to be keeping ourselves busy supporting different activities on behalf of the headline sponsor (who also happens to be one of our clients) while locally, here in London, we’ll be doing our bit in the office with our very own:
“What the hell is that then?” – I hear you cry…
Allow me to explain:
To kick Social Media Week off with a bang, we’ve decided to setup the official#smwlondon / 1000heads Social Media Surgery.
With resident ‘Doctors’ Molly Flatt (WOM Evangelist), James Whatley (Marketing Director) and Tim Denyer (Group Development Director) each giving up their day to help all and sundry with their social media ailments, why not make an appointment now?
Tim’s your man if you want to talk integration, performance and measurement
Molls specialises in ethics, training and social business
And James (that’s me) will bring you the low-down on engagement, tools and presences
One-on-one private sessions are available (as are larger group sessions for up to eight people) throughout the day, and coffee and biscuits (quite nice ones) will be provided. While we can’t guarantee all problems will be solved immediately, we can promise to bring a little TLC to those in need.
There are two or three exits from Piccadilly Circus which people can use to get to and from the office.
[pic courtesy of Wikipedia]
Having walked to the tube with various colleagues it is fair to say there is a healthy split between the people who go down each route.
That’s fair and natural enough I suppose.
However, what is unhealthy, is people’s support and passion for their route.
‘This way is definitely quickest’, ‘Why do you go that way, look at the amount of people’, ‘Don’t go that way it must stink down there’ etc…They care about this. Deeply.
When I ask each person why they choose their particular route however, their answer is pretty universal: ‘Ummm, I’ve always gone this way‘.
At a recent IAB event a bunch of us agency folk and media owners were talking about the #fail culture that exists within social media and word of mouth. People are very quick to criticise other people’s approaches or feel like the industry is not delivering what it should.
As with the analogy above, they have chosen their route and their approach and won’t let any others in.
They deride those that go a different way even if they aren’t willing to try something else.
For me, this stems from the fact that too many individuals and agencies have an irrational support for the way they do things. More often than not this is for selfish reasons. They desperately want to prove to clients that they can do this type of work and, more worryingly, that they don’t want the budget to go to another agency.
Not enough people have walked enough routes. There is not enough evidence of people actually having done something. People are talking a lot but doing very little.
As we move forward, this needs to change.
From an agency perspective this is poisonous. Client budget spend in our area is, on the whole, minuscule in comparison to other disciplines. So for people not to evolve what they are doing, or not to offer support for other people or not learn from others mistakes is self-defeating.
At 1000heads we of course have an approach. This is always evolving though. It isn’t rigid. We aren’t blindly stubborn. We learn and borrow from others mistakes or successes. Having been doing word of mouth for 10 years we know a lot of stuff that works and doesn’t work in particular areas so we apply that to our work for our clients.
So I guess this is a call to arms moving forward.
When an agency wows you by talking a good game, find out what they have done in practice.
When a colleague tells you that they have tried it but it didn’t work, find out why it didn’t work.
When the client gives you a brief you know is wrong, tell them why it is wrong and how you can make it right.
No matter how much you need the work be honest and fair with your pricing.
When you know the brief is more suited to someone else, recommend them.
If we start doing this today, tomorrow those that should benefit, will.
More good news on the client front. I’m pleased to report that 1000heads have been appointed as Universal Music’s WOM metrics partner across all their labels (Mercury, Island, Polydor, UMTV).
Although it’s not the first time we’ve worked for Universal, the new scope gives us a wider remit and will help Universal follow the evolving conversation and opinion around their key artists. It’s an exciting brief and one we’re looking forward to getting stuck into.