Results tagged “MIXX” from IABlog

A Conversation with Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer, R/GA, and IAB MIXX Awards Judge

This past May at the What Works & Why in Digital Advertising: Insights from the IAB MIXX Awards event, Nick Law described his thinking on the alchemy needed in today’s digital world to achieve creative success. Although he took just five minutes to lay out his thesis, it crystallized for me the answer to a question I had been furiously pondering over the past four years: what is the right creative model to achieve the level of brilliance in the digital world that marketers have come to expect of the best agencies in the analog one?  I wasn’t the only one who found his thinking revelatoryNL2.jpg; I saw dozens of pens busily scribbling during his short talk. 

While Nick was at the IAB Ad Lab in New York to judge the 2014 IAB MIXX Awards, I asked him for a chat about this notion so we could share his thoughts with the industry. Our conversation is captured below and in the accompanying video.

Peter Minnium (PM), IAB: R/GA has a unique model of deploying talent in teams to get the best results; can you tell us the genesis of this thinking?

Nick Law (NL), R/GA: About a decade ago, I looked at the creative skill sets that we had at what was then a very different R/GA, and it occurred to me that if you were to be brutal in your division of skill sets, you would cleave the world into storytelling and systematic thinking. The important point about this realization, as much as understanding that these two ways of thinking exist, was to recognize that  are both creative ways of thinking. So if you’re from Madison Avenue, over the last 50 years, what has been considered creative is storytelling, because the mediums that we’ve used are narrative mediums. And since the advent of digital, this type of architectural and spatial way of thinking has become very important. In the advertising world, I think the problem is that this hasn’t been considered creative. It’s been relegated to a sort of an executional or technical path.

So when people talk about the “big idea” in advertising, they still really refer to the ability to tell a story and to distill a brand down to a little narrative. And when they think about this sort of interactive, they think about it from a technical point of view. So then, having come up with the big idea, they wonder how to push that down into this new set of formats and channels. But what I realized was that the sort of creativity associated with systematic thinking was very powerful and very different. 

Why is the distinction between the different skills sets important?

NL: This is an important thing to recognize, because if you don’t recognize the difference between storytelling and systematic thinking as sort of categorically different ways of thinking, then creators—because they’re all vain and because there’s this sort of hubris associated with creative people—will say that because they’re creative, they should be doing it all, right? So I would have an instance where someone who grew up designing interfaces and was a systematic thinker couldn’t wait to get over to the content studio and do a film, even though for 10 years, that wasn’t the way they thought. And vice-versa. I think that early on in this sort of emergent digital world, there were many creative executions that came from an art director/copywriter type of narrative team, which in a systematic world, failed dismally, right? I won’t mention any big platforms, but there’s quite a few. And a lot of money was wasted. 

PM: Are people born Systemic or Narrative Thinkers?

NL: So if you look at a human brain—and I sort of found out later that we don’t know a lot about neuroscience—we do know that the left-hand brain processes things sequentially and that the right-hand brain processes things simultaneously. So it’s this play between time and space, between the temporal way of thinking and the spatial way of thinking. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you’ve been doing something and you’ve gotten good at something from a creative point of view, the paths in your brain are in a very specific place. So for me, that explains why it’s very difficult for a narrative thinker to connect and design a systematic piece of work, and vice versa because they’re in a habit. 

PM: Bill Bernbach revolutionized creative teams in the 1960’s by pairing art directors and copywriters. Is the model different now?

NL: So at R/GA at least, we think that the atomic team is not an art director and a copywriter, but rather a storyteller and a systematic thinker. Another way of looking at this is as a tension. Storytelling is the act of simplifying, because it’s about the revealed moment and good storytelling, good brand storytelling, is really about that distilled moment and how it’s revealed. And there’s this tension between that simplicity and the possibility provided by systematic thinking. So systematic thinkers are good, very good at possibility because they understand how each node plays with each other and can look at all these relationships simultaneously and generate many ideas. 

So when you have a systematic thinker and a narrative thinker, you get this lovely tension between simplicity and possibility. When that is absent, when all you have is simplicity, you just have simple brand storytellers, really just a lucid brand but without innovation. And when you just have systematic thinkers’ input of possibility, then you get really interesting and multiple tactics that don’t ladder up to a simple brand idea. So that’s how I can tell whether or not we have the balance right—whether things are simple but not innovative, or innovative but not lucid. That balance becomes very important, that interplay. This doesn’t mean that underneath that organizing principle, we don’t have all sorts of different combinations: art directors, copywriters, data scientists, and strategists, and all sorts of other combinations, but that’s the sort of balance we’re trying to achieve, between storytelling and systematic thinking.

PM: Thanks, Nick; I now better understand the magic behind the award winning work at R/GA.

To learn more about creativity in digital advertising download the IAB MIXX Awards 2013 Insights Report: What Works & Why, which showcases examples of award winning digital advertising campaigns and the genius behind the creative work from thought leaders across the industry.

About the Author
peter-minnium-headshot.jpgPeter Minnium 

As the Head of Brand Initiatives at IAB, Peter Minnium leads a series of initiatives designed to address the under-representation of creative brand advertising online. He can be reached on Twitter @PeterMinnium.


Responding to the innovation boom and an increased focus on the burgeoning mobile revolution, the international IAB MIXX Awards has expanded its mobile categories this year. IAB President & CEO Randall Rothenberg explained how mobile is changing the industry in an Adweek interview earlier this year. “There is an unusual intimacy with mobile—literally a physical intimacy. You’re holding, swiping, pinching ads and content. That represents a real change in user experience and content and advertising. That requires rethinking,” he explained.


In advance of the judging for the MIXX Awards, we asked the judges to share insights on how mobile marketing has developed over the last year.

1. Mobile Integration Across Platforms
It takes a period of experimentation to discover any medium’s true capabilities. Agencies and brands alike are finally discovering how versatile mobile can be as a marketing vehicle. Alberto Ferrer (@albertoferrer), Managing Partner, Marketing and Operations at The Vidal Partnership, says he “particularly likes the integration of mobile with other channels−controlling an experience on your computer via your mobile phone, interacting with a video or TV campaign via your phone.” MIXX Awards judges Lincoln Bjorkman, Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, North America, Digitas (@viabjorkman), and Lori Senecal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, kirshenbaum bond senecal (@digitalori), mentioned campaigns such as AMEX Sync with Twitter, which integrates mobile and social, and BMW’s Evolve app, which expands the product experience of an electric car for consumers as good examples of work that’s out there. Work like this proves that mobile can be successfully integrated with other platforms and unify a campaign.

2. Branded Mobile Apps
MIXX Awards judge Alan Schulman, Vice President, Chief Creative Officer, of SapientNitro NY (@DIGschulman), is particularly interested in the growth of mobile applications that “bring brand messaging and transaction together in 4- 5 simple steps. This is the real opportunity—to bring brand messaging, service platforms, and CRM together in a simple seamless way that yields business results.” Andreas Combuechen, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Creative Officer of Atmosphere Proximity, mentioned the Nike Golf 360 app, which brings together golf techniques and Nike attire, as an example of “mobile experiences that are being developed to deliver sales instead of just buzz.” Branded Mobile Apps is also one of the new mobile categories for this year’s MIXX Awards.

3. The Future of Mobile
We sensed an energy of excitement when we discussed what might be ahead for mobile with our MIXX Awards judges. Benjamin Palmer (@bnjmn), Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Barbarian Group, feels that mobile is “actually where the most movement is. We’re in the very early stages of figuring out how we as marketers can do something that’s effective for the brands but also appreciated by our audience.” Dyshaun Muhammad, Senior Marketing Manager of General Mills (@DMBiteandChew), concurs, adding “mobile is rapidly expanding beyond the ruthless focus on utility to embrace being beautiful and visual.” With more interest in mobile than ever before and a newfound flexibility to include form AND function, the future of mobile is powerful.

If you’re a mobile advertising innovator or are creating outstanding interactive advertising, be sure to check out the new MIXX Awards categories and submit your entries before our extended entry deadline on July 20!

*These campaign selections are independent of the MIXX Awards competition. They may or may not have been entered in the 2012 program.

About the Author

sp_keller_tracy.jpg Tracy Keller
Sr. Manager, Events Marketing, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

Tracy is responsible for the strategy and execution behind marketing all IAB events, including managing marketing partnerships.



The international IAB MIXX Awards has always been focused on advancing the cause of interactive advertising by celebrating groundbreaking digital work. Never has this task been more exciting and dynamic. As the advertising industry continues to shift and transform with the growing digital marketplace, we see more creative and impactful work than ever before.

As we accept entries for the 8th annual international IAB MIXX Awards, we asked our esteemed judging panel to share which campaigns* from the past year impressed them most. Here are four campaigns that are early stand outs:

1. IBM Smarter Planet
MIXX Awards Judges Alan Schulman (@DIGschulman) of SapientNitro NY and Brad Brinegar (@bradbrinegar) of McKinney both find IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign to be smart and well-executed. Created by the team at Ogilvy New York, Smarter Planet encouraged innovation through technology. “The Smarter City” element of this campaign won the 2011 GOLD Business-to-Business MIXX Award.

2. Nike+ Fuelband
The Nike+ Fuelband, which recently won both the Titanium Grand Prix and Cyber award at Cannes Lions, was released earlier this year — with its tracking capabilities and social integrations, the Fuelband quickly became the must-have accessory for gadget lovers and fitness fans alike. Lori Senecal (@digitalori), Chairman and CEO of kirshenbaum bond senecal, recognized this campaign from Wieden + Kennedy as an example of “brand ideas that take positive action and create new behavior, [giving] valuable returns for both the brand and the consumer.”

3. KONY 2012
The controversial KONY 2012 viral video was created by the founders of the non-profit Invisible Children in order to draw attention to their campaign for the arrest of Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony. It took the Internet by storm in March and piqued the interest of MIXX Awards Judge and Chief Creative Officer at Digitas North America Lincoln Bjorkman (@viabjorkman). “KONY 2012 showed the power to be had from bold integrated campaigns in the hands of people and causes, not just agencies and brands,” he said.

4. Ready Pa’ Tu Mundo
Ready Pa’Tu Mundo” was created by Zubi Advertising for Ford to help to relaunch its Fiesta model. Ford decided to focus on a young, bilingual audience and utilized a variety of digital platforms to do so. MIXX Awards Judge Marla Skiko (@mskiko) of SMG Multicultural, recognized this campaign as successfully “incorporating great bilingual content across social and mobile. Custom content came in from urban Latinos who epitomize their young, trendsetting target. The design of the website allowed them to ‘slide’ between English and Spanish versions, or a blend of the two—exactly how they see their day-to-day world.”

Does your digital advertising work have what it takes to catch the eye of the MIXX Awards judges? It’s not too late to enter the international IAB MIXX Awards! The Extended Entry Deadline is July 20. Enter now at

*These campaign selections are independent of the MIXX Awards competition. They may or may not have been entered in the 2012 program.

About the Author

sp_keller_tracy.jpg Tracy Keller
Sr. Manager, Events Marketing, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

Tracy is responsible for the strategy and execution behind marketing all IAB events, including managing marketing partnerships.


Live MIXX Blog Day 2 - Back for More

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4:20 PM

Reinventing: The Self—that sounds a little scary. This is a panel of former agency heads who have changed their career direction by shifting to a digital focus. Why did they make the move? To try new things, build new relationships, excel in other areas and get in on the ground level of things with great potential.

Scott Donaton jokes about the combined salary of the panelists beside him

Matt Freeman really enjoys building companies and felt a victim of his success at Tribal DDB

David Verklin talks about how he felt he took Carat as far as he could and was ready to try something else with a chance to reinvent television

Alec Gerster felt the agency business was a fantastic ride, but now sees a great way for television to change for everyone’s benefit.

It wasn’t easy but definitely worth the challenge.

OK folks—this wraps my official debut as a live blogger. Check in at some other IAB events and you might see me around (or read me?).

I’m looking forward to a nice, relaxing night at the MIXX Awards Gala. Visit late tonight to see which campaigns are recognized for creativity and effectiveness. It’s another sold out IAB event!

I don’t know about this whole live blogging thing. Next year I want to wear a walky-talky!

3:10 PM

HELLO! I just shook hands with Tim Kring. But, on to things the rest of the world cares about. (Truth be told, I’m noticing more than a few camera flashes going on behind me in the audience.)

Tim is being joined onstage by Mitch Kanner, Principal of Two Degrees Ventures.

Transmedia is the term Tim and Mitch are using to describe reaching across multiple platforms to tell a story. For “Heroes” it’s driven by the hub of deep narrative content with an unlimited amount of tentacles. Then those tentacles start to feed off each other, building content for other vehicles. Characters that are introduced online make the move to the TV screen and those that don’t last on the TV screen may live on—online. Online viewer engagement can drive show content and keep people coming back for more.

One might say Tim Kring is the inventor of “transmedia.”

The writers understood the need to build credibility in the comic books space and be sensitive to how the show was introduced to the audience through the corporate entity of a major network. They introduced it at a comic book show, which created an unbelievable buzz before the show aired for the first time. It’s own web site (originally unaffiliated with the network) lead to a following that included a social network that still lives on the NBC site.

Brand integration is important to the show. As Tim says, it’s all about baking something into the DNA of an idea. They look at brands carefully to make sure it fits the audience and the story. It’s much more that just product placement.

Mitch Kanner explains how Heroes is at the crossroads for a new paradigm of what constitutes a show.

One more session to go!

2:30 PM

It’s not the same drama as last night’s third season premiere of “Heroes”, but having the show’s executive producer / creator Tim Kring on our stage at MIXX is still pretty exciting. They’ve immersed all media avenues with “Heroes” content—no doubt about it. We’ll find out how it all works in a moment.

12:02 PM

As the morning sessions wrap up the crowd is still thumbing through their Life books as they exit the room. You can see the wheels turning as they think about what they will be able to create.

Andrew Robertson from BBDO Worldwide and Randall just spent some time talking about how BBDO reinvented itself to prosper in the digital world. One of my favorite shows, “Mad Men,” stole a few minutes of the session and they discussed the qualities needed in a good creative person today. Andrew said he doesn’t think there are many brilliant creative people out there now that can do it all. The goal is more about putting the right resources together to get the best end result—creative, digital and whatever else you need. It’s not as simple as one copy editor and one creative director making it all. That’s culture is long gone.

Andrew Robertson talks about BBDO’s fundamental goal - delivering the world’s most compelling commercial content.

I’m long gone for now. Tune back in later today for Tim Kring, the creator of”Heroes.” You won’t want to miss that any more that you wanted to miss last night’s season premiere.

11:35 AM

The online image space is huge and this last session is going to change it all!

JUST ANNOUNCED AT MIXX: A joint venture between Getty Images and Time Inc. to create

Sign me up!

It will put the images that have helped generations experience world events, and many other pictures that have never been seen by the public, online. They will all be accessible at no cost with just the click of the mouse. The site, which users won’t see until 1Q2009, will go live with 6M photos and eventually approach 15M professional images—with 3,000 new pics posted each day.

Based on the short demo shown in the room, the site will be searchable on a variety of levels and includes some pretty cool features. Easily create a picture timeline or a customized hard back picture book. The photos can be supplemented your own personal photos, transported into other applications, all with the Life brand association. Now you can play, share, download and more.

User-generated content will have a place on the site, but the photographs will be segmented to keep the professional photo front and center.

The panelists took a minute to joke about what a wide variety of photo interests they found in their research. (You’ll notice a large Animal section once goes live!)

10:50 AM

There’s excitement in the air! The IAB staff is feverishly dropping huge, hard cover Life books on the chairs in the General Session room. What’s that all about?

10:30 AM

Randall Rothenberg and Leslie Moonves, President & CEO of CBS Corporation, are chatting onstage right now about CBS’s purchase of CNET and all the things that come with it. The local aspect vs. the network aspect was first on the table.

According to Leslie, the main reason people go online isn’t too watch full seasons of TV shows. It’s more than that. The most loyal viewers goes online to pick up the shows the missed, but primarily to find things they won’t see on the network.

“It’s a brave new world,” said Leslie Moonves. Anyone who thinks TV is the only place to find quality content will be quickly left behind. People are still, and will continue, to watch TV, but it’s got to work together with the Internet and other locations to increase revenue and attract new viewers. CBS is also using interactive for researching and testing. Viewers can see clips, offer feedback, and help produce better content. It’s easy outreach.

Leslie Moonves believes the internet is for premium content that’s not on the internet. It’s not for regurgitated television content.

The monetization of news content came up as a result of an audience question. Leslie expects that the CBS structure and promotion will allow them to continue to monetize and build the news site.

I’m off to grab a snack and rest my fingers for a few minutes.

10:00 AM

Charlie and Clay just left the stage after a riveting discussion. It was Charlie’s fourth appearance at MIXX over the years and he was quick to say that each time he realizes how much information he still has to learn—and that his attendance, even to just sit and listen, is definitely worthy of his time.

They talked about Clay’s focus on the cultural implications of the web - the idea that there is a new potential out there to organize. People are adapting these technology tools not out of economic need, but a total social need. As a marketer, you must find out where the consumer is, then go to them to meet the needs. Create organic growth around them. In each social environment, they already have a way of doing things, so you need to be careful. Listen and figure out exactly what’s going to work. It won’t be a 30 second commercial right out of the gate.

Clay Shirky says, “You can’t build a community anymore than you can create a friend.”

The impact social sites are having on the presidential election was also touched on briefly—the issue of individuals creating and distributing media about a campaign without the actual campaign having control or the ability to manage anything. Now people can operate at a wide variety of social levels. There’s a lot of room between a personal network of 10 and 10M viewers reached by a TV commercial. Social media users now have access to multiple levels.

Charlie Rose takes the interviewer chair for his fourth MIXX Conference.

That was a great conversation. This short message doesn’t do it justice!

8:45 AM

It’s Tracy again—back for MIXX Day 2. Thanks for joining me! I’m settled in for another exciting day of speakers representing all facets of the advertising ecosystem. The stage is set for writer, consultant and teacher on new media and the Internet Clay Shirky. He’ll be interviewed by journalist Charlie Rose.

But first, an action-packed highlight reel covering Day 1 and a warm welcome from the chairperson of the IAB Board of Directors—Wenda Harris Millard from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Man, everyone’s having a great time.__