Christchurch Reimagined campaign – ‘Bob Thinks Big’ #chch


Really proud to see the launch of our Christchurch Reimagined campaign to get Australians travelling back to Christchurch, NZ, post Earthquake

Check out the 3 episodes of Mayor Bob Parker making a shout out to his Aussie cousins.


Nice to see Channel 7 news in Australia pick up the story as well.

This is supported by our ‘Discovery Stream’, click here to check it out.  In a bid to get them back to the city, Christchurch needed to replace the images of devastation, with images of the beautiful, ever-evolving city that it now is. The Discovery Stream provides Christchurch with an ongoing digital platform that crowd-sources and broadcasts the city’s tourism experience in real-time. Using #ChCh tagged uploads from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, it provides potential tourists with a window into the city.


Change the rules, not the game: principles for #participationbranding..Spikes Asia 2012

Change the rules, not the game: principles for participation branding

Excited to be presenting at Spikes Asia 2012 in Singapore in a few weeks on ‘Participation branding’ and the principles we see at Iris Worldwide that drive brands forward in the social economy. I’ll be running a forum with my Regional Strategy Director colleague Paul Gage (@gagey501) from our Singapore Office and two of our awesome regional clients Amit Dasgupta from Adidas and Andre Khoo from Heineken – both whom are doing some great work in the participation space. If you’re in Singapore, come along and check it out, guaranteed to be interesting 🙂

#SXSW 2013 panelpicker: ‘Your brand’s next boss was born 1 minute ago – engaging youth with participation branding

Attention Bloggersphere: I’ve just put in an entry for the 2013 SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas with my fellow Regional Planning Director APAC at Iris, Paul Gage @gagey501 and we need your vote. Please click on the link below and vote for us if you find the idea of ‘participation branding’ through the lens of youth culture interesting.

Here’s the spiel:

Put your money away Granddad! Building a successful brand with youth comes at a price, but its currency is participation. The rewired brains of tomorrow’s teens will only buy into brands that are cultural from the core and redefine how hey interact with people. This is ‘participation branding’ and it’s how business now needs to think. Participation brands have involvement hardwired into their DNA – from small scale programs to long term platforms. Involving youth in extraordinary content, experiences, conversations and communities will be essential ingredients to move them to produce, play, propagate and play for your products, services and ideas. In this talk we’ll explore the 5 principles of participation branding and also give you a glimpse of what participation branding will look like in the future – by sharing how our global client partner adidas is preparing for the 2020 Olympics.


Ten learnings on how #coolyouthbrands behave

I am well aware that writing a post about ‘cool’ is fraught with danger as it is such a subjective topic and is the topic of annual contemplation amongst cool hunters, psychologists and people way cooler than myself (that’s not that hard by the way :). Firstly, I’m no cool hunter, just an interested observer of youth culture and how brands are trying to stay relevant and meaningful in todays social world.

Having said that, I thought I’d put together some observations of brand behaviours I consider ‘cool’ in the youth marketing space. Here are 10 behaviours  in no particular order that brands I think are cool are displaying.  I’m sure there are others I’ve missed 🙂


  1. BELIEVE in something bigger than yourself, an ideal young people can belong to

Love her or loathe her, pop princess Lady Gaga is cool. She stands for something bigger than herself and has complete conviction in her beliefs, which young people gravitate towards. Her activism comes through in her lyrics/music videos giving her ‘little monsters’ something to belong to.

  1. Leverage MYTHOLOGY and MYSTIQUE in your brand narrative

One of my favourite Aussie brands is custom motorcycle brand Deus Ex Machina. They do a brilliant job of building an interesting, discoverable story around the brands origins. To me, they feel mysterious and never ever over market themselves. For youth brands, less is more in terms of the storytelling.

  1. Be ORIGINAL,  creating tales and crafted cult

It’s obvious, but originality is and always will be a key pillar of cool. A recent campaign by K Swiss really caught my attention. It’s polarising, but that’s what makes it cool.  To launch their Tubes shoe, they totally took the piss out of the corporate side of sport endorsement. They used Kenny Powers and crafted a highly engaging tale that’s generated a cult following in the US. Check it out here


Indie hipster brand, Converse do a great job of creating culture through their co-opting of hip hop music culture.  An oldie, but a goodie.

  1. Enable STIMULATION junkies to capture and share their lives

Make no mistake, Gen Y and Millenials are stimulation junkies. Boys and girls alike. They are hardwired for risk taking behaviour. So brands like Go Pro, have tapped into this behaviour and been the enabler for self expression. In the world of action sports, Go Pro cameras on your helmet are the must have item. They are becoming mainstream but still remain super cool. They are the perfect compliment to the Red Bull culture.

  1. Give youth genuine OWNERSHIP, appealing to the core and potential fans

 I think it’s such bullshit when people say cool brands have to be scarce. Brands like Modern Warfare 3 are perfect examples of a game which is appealing to both hardcore gamer and novice gamer like myself. Check out their recent epic spot here

  1. EMPOWER youth to do more, be more

 Youth movement,  One Young World is an annual summit where the leaders of tomorrow start leading, bring the best and brightest minds together to talk about stuff that really matters.

  1. Play a genuine role in making a SUBCULTURE better

 Many big brands try and co-opt a culture and piggy back on a trend. This is a major no no. Footlocker with their Sneakerpedia social wiki is genuinely making sneaker culture better by helping peeps keep on top of their sneaker game. Check it out here.

  1. AUTHENTICITY in being real and doing stuff, not preaching

It’s also noting, that I don’t believe ‘cool’ is reserved just for the fringe brands for the super early adopters. Thanks to social media ,cool is now diffused to mainstream so much quicker than say five years ago, so the incubation period for ‘cool’ is alot shorter. I also believe that it has and always will be typically the younger creative class that start cultural cool which brands then often co-opt.

  1. Help young people be more GENEROUS to their friends

In the social economy brands that help me do something of value for a friend are the brands are perceived as cool.


Would welcome thoughts on other brand behaviours people think cool brands are displaying.

Billabong a MEDIA company, not just a surf brand

Billabong really get it. They create content, not ads. 40hrs of it a week actually, distributed via Fuel TV, mobile phones and the web. They have an army of loyalists following their pro surfers every move. If I was going client side, I’d go here…or Red Bull 🙂   Here’s an article I found..

Billabong is not just a surf brand, it is a media company, says the person in charge of producing the hours of surf-related content.

“This just ups the ante,” says Scott Wallace of the deal announced last week with Sony. “We are turning into a media company as well as a clothing company.” The strategic partnership between the companies marries Sony’s expertise in video technology with Billabong’s street cred cool. Sony gets access to Billabong’s audience of tech-savvy surfies and followers while Billabong gets help in creating the content and getting it to as many people as possible.

Wallace, a former executive with the sports marketing company IMG, now vice-president, new media and strategic partnerships, is a busy man. Two weeks ago VAS, the company contracted to sell Billabong content around the world, was at a MIPCOM TV sales conference in Cannes marketing a 13-part series to potential buyers. “It’s centred around our athletes. It is less about the sport and more about the lifestyle of the athletes,” says Wallace.

The surf label produces up to 35 hours of high-definition video a year, drawing on events around the world – there’s almost one every week – and its small army of athletes as the subject.

“We use everything. We cut it up and use it for the web and then we use it for phone content.”

Each week Billabong produces 40 minutes of material to be used on mobile phone networks. When asked if it was working, Wallace is unable to share any figures but says: “It must be okay as they keep asking for more.”

A 25-strong audio visual team will be at the Billabong Pro Tahiti – one of four events in the world series the brand sponsors – in May to film the event, which will be made into a one-hour film that IMG sells around the world. During the tournament Billabong streams live feeds to its website, which attracts 1 million unique visitors during the event. Since last year the average visit has increased from 18 to 27 minutes, according to Billabong’s figures.

Now it is giving Sony Handycams to its athletes, who include surfers Joel Parkinson, Andy Irons, Taj Burrow and Tiago Pires, to film every aspect of their lives. Apparently there is demand to watch them eating breakfast, or at least the edited highlights, says Wallace.

For Sony’s marketing director, Toby Barbour, it is a way of getting his products before a younger audience. “We want to get them early so that we can follow [them] through the life stages with products such as Sony Ericsson mobile phones, Handycams and Bravia [TVs].”

But to what end does all of this serve Billabong? Wallace says it is hard to measure the return on investment of producing all this content, the cost of which he will not reveal. “I guess the ROI [return on investment] is about raising the profile of the sport, our athletes and, yes, ultimately our brand.”

He admits the proliferation of such content will help all surf brands but it is down to Billabong to bring that to life in its stores. As part of the Sony deal, the videos will be shown on Sony screens in 300 stores it owns around the world.

But it is clear that traditional communications such as TV ads do not work for the surf brand. “Our market is very tech-savvy … they all have a good still camera or a Handycam. [TV ads] are just not something they accept. “

Tim Flattery, a director of Carat Engage, a branded content agency, says the announcement of a new broadband network has galvanised the industry. He predicts more companies will view the high-speed network’s ability to allow video content on demand as the turning point and move into areas such as that pioneered by Billabong.

“I think that will put to the sword the interruptive model. What we will see more of in the future is a sponsorship model for television.”