Brad Brinegar

Brad Brinegar
Chairman and CEO, McKinney, 2013 Jury Chair,
IAB MIXX Awards 2013

Trends That Matter

What are the three top trends you noticed in this year’s work?
  1. Physical. Somebody coined the phrase “phygital,” meaning the idea of using technology to create brand experiences as physical experiences. Nike+ Fuelband was certainly one that caused a lot of conversation on that topic last year. This year with Best-in-Show being The Coca-Cola Company’s Small World Machine, as well as The Last Barfighter winning the gold for Brand Awareness and Positioning, the physical interaction was a stand-out.
  2. Visual. There was a lot more this year that was visually compelling. A simple example is the Game of Thrones campaign. As we debated in the room, a lot of that content comes from the show itself, but they did such a masterful job of using all of the background and character pieces. They took advantage of being in a production environment to create a digital experience that went beyond what the show would deliver.
  3. Social. Even though there is a social marketing category, social was pervasive in much of the most interesting work that we saw. It goes back to physical. You can’t have a physical interaction without having a social interaction. By design, once you have a physical interaction, you’re creating social interaction.
Looking at this year’s best work, what signals did you notice about what the future will bring?

Everything is going to be more experiential and less tethered to device or media. This isn’t to say that there won’t be traditional media and plenty of established digital work happening. But we’re going to have less tethered opportunities, allowing for people to connect in new ways, such as the executions with physical components.

Anything that takes existing assumptions about technology and applies them in new ways to new ideas is what IAB should be rewarding. If I were a publisher I’d be looking at these trends thinking: “Now that we’ve gone digital, can we go more experiential?”

In your Business Insider piece, prior to judging, you asked: Will new digital scale opportunities lead us toward a new golden age of creativity? Do you now have an answer?

We saw some great work, and I do think we're heading toward a new golden age of creativity, but it's going to be unlike that which we've seen before, because of how scale in digital is notably different than scale in traditional media. When I sat down to judge the MIXX Awards, I was struck to realize that I had only seen about half of what I was judging. One of the advantages of interactive is far more precise targeting, with fewer so-called wasted impressions. And people experience interactive advertising on their own time, in what is likely to be an individual experience.

It’s the antithesis of a Super Bowl spot – where everyone, in or out of the target, sees the same advertising at the same time. There are two things that happen in that shared experience: when we all see it at once, it really ramps up the talk value of the work (“Hey, did you see that spot for Coke last night?”); and by reaching people outside the target, it further validates the brand for those in the target. Social media certainly helps recreate parts of this shared experience, and this is where physical/digital expression of the brand can be so powerful. I think it was that combination of people coming together – and us seeing them come together – that made Small World Machine so powerful.

How do you gauge effectiveness then? How do you know if it worked?

If someone tells me they reached 40,000 people that’s one thing, but if I know that it caused a 5% increase in sales in a hard-to-grow category, that tells me something meaningful. With SPENT, an online game McKinney produced for the Urban Ministries of Durham, we had more than 3 million plays. With no paid media, it obviously connected with people in a very powerful way. On the other hand, 40,000 people joined the Mizuno USA Mezamashii Run Project, resulting in a 37% increase in sales. You need the context to see the power.

What other questions did you ask of the work as you were judging it?

I tend to be results-focused, and I value the inclusion of results in the conversation. But as jury head, if something felt truly fresh and innovative—even if it didn’t have results that blew me away—I would still err on the side of inspiration, casting a spotlight on that which could change the industry.

Big, new ideas sometimes start without clear business goals. It’s never been done before so you don’t know what to measure. Small World Machines is an example of that. The results were not as impressive as some of the results from other work, but that’s likely because it wasn’t deployed broadly enough. But it was so delightful, fresh, and innovative, that took precedent. Anything that inspires us judges has to be inspiring to people in the real world.

“…We’re heading toward a new golden age of creativity, but it’s going to be unlike that which we’ve seen before, because of how scale in digital is notably different than scale in traditional media.”