50/50 Encouraging Innovation - 4 days to go...

Phew. It’s 4 days till we officially start our 50 day experimental fund-raising mission. The pace at which we’re moving is astonishing, when you factor in that everyone involved is also holding down client/paid work and family and real world stuff - it’s remarkable. But there’s something about this which is also extremely energising. Hard to articulate.

50/50 is an experiment, we’re building this on the fly, driven mainly by a desire to see if we can do something to help the massive aid effort required in East Africa, but also because we really believe in the possibilities of creative energy and networks of passionate people to do great things.

This is urgently needed right now with the East Africa famine crisis, but what also of the value in the future in an increasingly uncertain world, where crises are likely to show themselves much closer to our own backyards?

It’s a fast ride we’re on. Seatbelts and parachutes needed daily.

As we talk to people all over the world about making a project and running it, while there’s lots of enthusiasm, there’s also lots of silence (i’m not apologising for my harrassing) and from agency friends quite a bit of ‘we really want to do something but we're really busy’ too much client work etc’

We understand that, that’s the way of the first world right.

It is to me at least fairly surreal, that in a hyper connected world of finite resources while 4 million people are on the verge of starvation, many of us are flat out burning our creative energies on building things to convince people to buy more stuff they don’t need or more food than they could possibly ever eat.

But that’s the (creaking) system that we all play in right now and this isn’t the time for a rant about that.

It was reading this post ‘5 things Ad agencies have got to get good at’ from Edward Boches and then watching this short interview with Gareth Kay followed by a run in a rain storm last night that got me thinking.

Watch the clip if you haven’t see it, it’s very short and it helps make sense of what we're suggesting here.

Encouraging Innovation from edward boches on Vimeo.

50/50 is a great opportunity to ‘encourage innovation’ between agencies and their clients.

It’s a 50 day window of opportunity to ‘do’ something positive with some of the current frustrations and tensions between agency and client ways of working and the brand building thing and the future and all that stuff.

50/50 is as Tim says, about 50 little bets, creative experiments housed and connecting with the interweb, which have the potential to spread through networks, delight, provoke and inspire people and hopefully raise some funds to save lives.

50/50 is, we think, all about these things that Edward suggests 'ad agencies need to get good at' ‘focusing on innovation’, ‘embracing speed,’ ‘mastering engagement’ and more.

Gareth talks about a functional need: for clients and agencies to allocate time and resources (the thing we know is a barrier for many on committing to a 50/50 project) to make some small bets - small money and time to experiment with. He also talks about an emotional need, to get client and agency excited by the possibilities of what we can do particularly around the human application of technology.

Surely the best way to explore that is to do something - and we wonder what the creative constraint of 50 days, a small amount of money and time could offer as a way for client/agency teams to work in more agile and experimental ways.

So here’s the pitch -

Why not approach one of your clients you’ve been having these ‘being more experimental’ conversations with or who you think is open to dialogue.

Tell them about this 50 day project looking for 50 little creative experimental bets.

Ask them for a small contribution for 50 days - to cover some time for a small team to make and launch something - will likely be a bit more time intensive for a few people initially, but once a project is up -  likely to involve more people in an agency/client team doing little micro things within their days to keep it running. Easy, interesting and fun.

Use the opportunity for your client to get involved with the team in the nuts and bolts of the experiment, to roll up their sleeves and learn on the job. A learning experiment for all. More useful than a conference. Not much more expensive.

Ask your client to double whatever funds you manage to raise - it’s 50/50 right?

Tell them also that a child is dying every 6 minutes in East Africa, and the latest on the ground suggests a humanitarian disaster brewing like no other with 4 Million lives at risk.

The worst that can happen is a project doesn’t quite make it, no one donates etc, so what? A shed load will have been learnt, at a tiny shared investment with no risks.

The best case scenario is you create an awesome project which goes ballistic, raises tons of cash for the relief effort, you give the financial rewards away this time (which will feel amazing) your brand partner gets massive kudos, and your relationship and way of working moves to a different and better place.

The way ‘you get good at’ something is by doing it, learning through doing. It’s often messy, chaotic and scary at times, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and fun.

You learn a huge amount about yourself (not always nice things) and others, but above all, things happen, good stuff emerges, new skills are created, new knowledge is shared, relationships flourish, new opportunities arise.

And surely that’s what is going to build resilient client/agency relationships for the future.

What do you reckon?

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