‘I share, therefore I am’ – creating content to get into ‘My World’

Young people outwardly like to see themselves as individuals, however we all know that ‘belonging’ to a tribe or subculture, or indeed belonging to many at one time – is the key way  young people create their  identity.

Today, young people are more than just connected, they are hyper connected on a digital planet. They can all control, create and distribute content. They can all have their opinion spread, shared and discussed. They now have remarkable influence over  brands.

Today, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE THE MEDIA and brands need to respect their social influence.

They’re evolved to copy and now brand decision making very much happens amongst the ‘swarm’ within social networks. Gen C prefer brands they hear about from friends or social networks.

Their constant exposure to status updates occur independent of face to face interaction. The rapid fire nature of these updates,  provides almost constant exposure to new ‘news’. Their response is to filter the information they receive, and prioritise what they pay attention to – what matter to them. They start to prioritise ‘my world’ over ‘the world’.

Put simply, youth view the world as ‘Me, My World, The World’ (a concept first introduced by Peter Fisk a few years back in a presentation called ‘The Consumer Agenda)

‘My World’ is a representation of who I am, and also adds meaning to my life by connecting ‘Me’ to the things I care about or want.

‘The World’ is everything outside of ‘My World’ that does not have immediate meaning to ‘Me’. The vast majority of advertising operates in ‘The World’.

I gain and maintain credibility in my friends worlds’ by expressing opinions, sharing ideas, observations and thoughts. ‘My’ influence within my friends world is based on what I share, and how frequently.

The new youth mantra is ‘I share, therefore I am’.

Gen C ‘The Connected Collective’ rely on social networks to ‘protect’ themselves from info overload. As a result, info that comes to ‘Me’ through ‘My World’ will be prioritised, receive more attention and go ‘viral’ so to speak.

Brands today looking to engage Gen C have to create content that has ‘conversational capital’.

Content that is relevant, useful and entertaining.

Content they can actively spread through ‘My World’. That content could be anything from film, to games to online experiences to applications and utilities.

Content that begs a reaction and has a fun social interface.

Content that connects them with each other, not just with a brand.

Content that they can participate in, play with or produce themselves and pass on.

Content which enhances their social status within ‘My World’ and says something about who they are and which tribe they belong to.

That’s how you get into ‘My World’

Big thanks to my old DDB colleague, PC  (now Digital Planning Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland) who authored the descriptions and insights above on  ‘Me, My World, The World’  from a DDB Yellow Paper he co wrote with Brent Annells earlier this year.

Welcome to the Era of Collective Creativity

Alot of people have been talking about how social media has effected creativity in terms of how brands communicate with people. It’s fair to say over the past few years we’ve seen a real democratisation of creativity through social media platforms, whereby anyone can be an author (blogger), photographer (Flickr), social commentator, DJ, artist etc. We’ve also seen the explosion of crowdsourcing as a tactic used by brands, particularly youth brands to get their communities involved in co-creating the communications.

For me, ‘collaboration’ is and will continue to be the key theme impacting creative output of all communication agencies in 2010. As Mike Aruz correctly points out ‘It’s not the stories we (as brands tell) , it’s the stories we get others to tell for us“.

We have definitely arrived in the era of ‘Collectivite Creativity’, where creativity is an evolving process, it isn’t something that really starts an ends. In the past creativity was solid and stagnant, you created it and people reacted to it. Now you create it and it can evolve, continue, be built upon, torn down, remixed.

 Brands/agencies have to create SHARE VALUE for people (and I don’t mean in the stockmarket sense). It’s about makingme want to share your idea as it reflects positively on my status within the tribe eg: Being the first person to find out about a new uber cool collaboration between two fashion designers.

1. Talk value is not enough, ideas have to enable ‘particpation’ at some level so people feel involved in the brands story.

2. Ideas also have to be easily ‘passed on’ or shared, there’s no use in creating interesting engaging content or utility unless it can be shared easily.

3.  Most importantly, to drive share value, people have to be able to ‘play’ with your ideas and co-create. It’s about thinking of about your marketing programs as SOCIAL GAMES with lots of players. The role of the brand is to spike the ball in to play (by igniting an interesting conversation) and then the players (your community of advocates) run with the ball and play with it.

4. Share Value has to be instantaneous, it’s all about real time conversational currency. No one wants to share news from last week, so the speed in which ideas are diffused in social networks are critically important to the success of an idea. This is where your ‘beach head’ works, getting your brand fans to tell your story for you.

I’ll end this post with a comment from a mate of mine and a guy who really understands how brands are having to adapt to the modern communication environment:

In the age of social media, creativity has both an acid test and genuine advocate in one place. Good work is embraced and gathers momentum and the bad stuff dies on the vine very quickly. The important thing to understand is that the brand, creative director or client’s voice is just one of many now and all have an equal share in the destiny of great work!” Sudeep Gohil, Partner/Exec Planning Director, DROGA 5 Sydney.

Has social media influenced creativity in brand communications?

 I’d say the answer to this question is a resounding YES. We all know great creativity when we see it, it’s easier to define what it isn’t than often what it is. For me, it’s when I get that little rush of blood and I think WOW, if only I came up with that idea. For me, creativity has and always will be the ability to simplify and turn the ordinary into something extraordinary. I read an interesting post by Edward Boches recently about ‘Creativity in the age of  Social media’ and I’ve pulled some key thoughts from that post as well as some of my own thoughts and quotes from people I respect in the marketing communications industry.

In todays social media context, brands have to embrace being far more free form in their approach to creativity.  Being agile, adaptive and continually culturally relevant is far more important than being structured and ‘right’. Creativing ideas is about being fluid.  Trends are moving at hyper speed so creativity in the era of social media is about constant experimentation with popular culture, bouncing your brand off different aspects of culture to find fresh tensions and conflicts to exploit. As one blogger put it ‘people becomes fans of culture, not advertising…so cultural relevance is always the key for creativity

As marketers we may give birth to an idea, but it’s the collective community who sculpt it into something interesting that makes it go viral. Today in the era of social media, ideas live and die quickly, it’s not about the size of the idea, it’s the VELOCITY the idea has through social networks that it’s success should be measured by.

Some thoughts on what creativity in the era of social media is all about from some industry leaders:


“It’s not the stories we tell, it’s the stories we get others to tell for us” Edward Boches


“In the age of social media, creativity has both an acid test and genuine advocate in one place. Good work is embraced and gathers momentum and the bad stuff dies on the vine very quickly. The important thing to understand is that the brand, creative director or client’s voice is just one of many now and all have an equal share in the destiny of great work! “ Sudeep Gohil. Partner, DROGA 5


“Creativity in the age of social media is about sparking and participating in conversations. Success is making something go viral. Ideas must not only be great stories that want to be shared but are also shareable. In this new age, creativity has been UNSHACKLED. No longer does the elite own it; it is now a commodity. It’s what you do with it that counts “ John Winsor, Partner, Victors & Spoils  Author  of ‘Baked In’


“In the past creativity was solid and stagnant, you created it and people reacted to it. Now you create it and it can evolve, continue, be built upon, torn down, remixed. The creative process in social media isn’t something that ever ends”  CC Chapman, Creative Director, Campfire NYC




Just some thoughts, certainly there are other viewpoints, just putting some stuff out there I found interesting.

‘Baked In’: some great thoughts on how to ‘bake’ marketing into your product

I’ve just finished reading ‘Baked In’ by John Winsor and Alex Bogusky from one of the world’s best agencies, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. John was kind enough to give me the opportunity to review the book prior to official launch.

What a great read. As many of you know, I write a lot about Generation C – and some of the key dimensions of Gen C are their need for Co-Creation, Collaboration and Control over brand stories. Brands today need to engage their ‘communities’ in all aspects of business and this book brings it to life with some great examples. In a nutshell it’s about the blurring line between product and marketing – the need to ‘bake’ marketing into your product.  This book is short, sharp and easy to ready with some great case studies and examples from Crispin clients.  It’s the book that keeps on giving as every chapter has a twitter feed associated with it so you can join in a conversation ecosystem that’s created by readers of the book. The guys are practising what they preach when it comes to stimulating conversation within communities.


Baked In by Winsor and Bogusky

Baked In by Winsor and Bogusky



I’ve pulled out some of the most interesting statements/points of view in terms of how brands can ‘bake’ marketing into their product innovations and stories:

  • To be successful a brands story must connect with a LARGER CULTURAL CONVERSATION that’s happening
  • The MIDDLE IS TO BE AVOIDED by marketers at all times
  • Every product has a story, the JOB OF MARKETING IS TO MAKE IT SING
  • CREATIVITY IS LIKE ANTHRAX, extremely potent, hard to distribute, so to ‘weaponise’ it is to find out how to distribute it quickly and widely
  • Real innovation comes from the POWER OF RANDOMNESS
  • Culture always wants to change, especially pop culture, WHAT’S THE CULTURAL CONVENTION YOUR BRAND CAN FLIP?
  • EXPLOITING CULTURAL CONFLICTS and tensions is the key to big ideas, use them as levers to create change (this is where the boys at Crispin continue to set the standard in terms of cracking culturally interesting ideas)
  • Live your product. service to FIND TRUTHS AND INVERTED TRUTHS
  • Always allow members of your brands community to take self guided explorations of your brand
  • Brands built on INTUITION are more likely to be disruptive and adapt to a rapidly changing environment
  •  MINE YOUR BRAND’S HISTORY for interesting stories
  • Steal from other categories to innovate
  •  STORIES and the ability to share them are what make us human
  • Great product names are essential to design – bake in names that mean something in culture eg: MINI, Flip, Red Bull, ipod
  • If possible, innovate to CREATE AN ABSOLUTE – don’t bother communicating if you are ‘faster’, ‘lighter’…ER’s are meaningless

Thanks John for the chance to review ‘Baked In’ some great stuff here for marketers who are looking to engage people in the new marketing environment.

Converse – a canvas to express yourself

Design your own Converse at Brooklyn Pool Party

Design your own Converse at Brooklyn Pool Party

A super cool mate of mine Dennis Hurley was in Brooklyn a few weeks back at one of the ‘Pool Parties’. I asked him if there was anything interesting going down at this event. He mentioned something quite simple but very cool that Converse was doing. As a sponsor of the event, rather than plaster their logo everywhere, they had a big white wall with outlines of their famous Chuck shoes and they then had a bucket of coloured textas on the floor. Basically kids were then prompted to go up and create their own artwork on the shoes. It was essentially a blank canvas for them to create and express themselves. It was a nice little gesture that ADDED VALUE  to the festival go-ers experience, sparking their creative side. I like it. It’s no Nike ID studio, but it is on the ground grass roots and fits with the retro cool personality of Converse.

One Young World – collaborative creativity to change the world

Global youth are now empowered like never before via the social web, but also probably because there’s so much crap going on in the world. Youth marketers like myself often talk about how we can use creativity to create conversations with youth and build our brands we work on. But the real challenge/opportunity is how we can use our creativity in collaboration with the leaders of tomorrow to create real global change. My old boss David Jones/ CEO of Havas has created One Young World – a brilliant initiative whereby 1500 Under 25yr olds are going to get together next February in London to come up with ideas on how they can influence the world positively for their generations and beyond.  Potential delegates can submit a video on the OYW  youtube channel as to what they would do to change the world. They’ve got some heavies like Kofi Anna and Bob Geldof behind it, so that will assist in making the idea very social in nature as the OYW tribe has these guys to inspire them. It’s brilliant, and I wish I was five years younger so I could go. This is Part 1 and 2 of Davids’ speech at Google Zeitgest where he speaks about what One Young World is all about.

He uses words like ‘collaborative creativity’ which I think are spot on and really capture how Generation C behave and want to interact with brands and each other in todays environment.

2010 – The Era of Open Source Ideas

If 2008 and 2009 are the years of ‘participation’ and user generated content in youth marketing, 2010 will be about open source ideas, taking participation to the next level. Open Source is already big amongst geeks, you’ve probably heard of UNIX platforms, open source code allowing users to add their own spin and improve the platform for others. Brands will evolve to do the same thing. Right now, youth brands are getting teens involved to ‘make your own ad’, ‘design a flavour’, ‘choose an ad ending’ but this is already starting to get tired. Brands are learning to let go and get youth involved, but in the future, the best brands will really get consumers involved in both communication and NPD at an earlier stage. Communication ideas will need to be far more flexible and marketers will have to plan for content they don’t create. Skittles recent experiment in the social media space is one step towards complete open source, where they leave the keys to the brand in the hands of their brand fans. The question is, how much participation and interaction is too much? I believe brands still need a core brand idea, like Axe/Lynx with ‘giving guys the edge in the mating game’, but they should allow consumers to put their own spin on these brand ideas through complete involvement in the brands future direction. Thoughts?

Three Universal Needs for Youth – Collectivism, Expressionism, Escapism

There are three universal needs of young people across the globe:
1. Collectivism – the need to belong to a group and share cultural capital
2. Expressionism – the need to express their creativity and develop their self identity
3. Escapism – the need to have fun, be entertained, compete against one another

Which of these three does your brand tap into? Whether it’s digital or real world think about how your brand is talking to a specific tribe and what you are doing to get them talking about your brand within that tribe. Think about how your brand is helping them express, evolve, create their self identity. Successful youth brands all have a strong point of view, they’re not fenc sitters. Especially for young males, think about how you are fostering their need for constant stimulation and entertainment. How are you fostering their competitive side. For young girls, how are you helping them be in the know, be seen as interesting within their tribe? Some things to think about…

Like to go to school here?

How could you not be creative studying here?

How could you not be creative studying here?

I feel no sympathy at all for any kid in Berlin who complains about school if their school is Erika-Mann Grundschule II . The entire school was recently re- designed by the kids themselves with Baupiloten, a group of architecture students.

A group of just under 10 architecture students worked on the Erika-Mann Grundschule II project. The kids who are using the space participated actively in the design process, giving the architecture students their views on how they will actually use the space, how it should function and what they’d love to see in their school.
Together they sought to lighten and cheer up the heavy and authoritarian air of their old school building from 1915. They developed a playful concept based on a fantastical world of the Silver Dragon. The farther into the building one moves, the stronger one feels the presence of the Silver Dragon whose spirit changes, moves, glows and shimmers.

The different spaces are called Snuffle Garden, Snuffling Room, Chill Room and Dragon’s Breath, each starting with a clean white background and offering freedom of expression in the form of flexible furnishings. I think a few of the schools in Australia could do with a makeover like this???

Generation C- A look into their world

I wrote this deck late last year, my first presentation exploring the world of Generation C and how they’re different. In subsequent presentations I’ve spoken a lot about Gen C being the ‘connected collective’, whereas this presentation gives more of a quick overview of what this community of digital natives are into and some tips for marketers looking to engage them. These guys and girls are digital storytellers who use social media to express themselves and demonstrate their belonging to a community.