Dropbox CMO on Paper and disrupting agency models

Dropbox paper

For a decade, Dropbox has been servicing users around the world, helping them to save and share their work without the need for a physical storage space. But in this day and age, where saving to the cloud has become second nature, the business – which claims to have over half-a-billion - users has begun to diversify its offer to help the creative community work together to share ideas.

At the beginning of 2017, Paper was released to the world after several months of internal use by the company and already is evolving, recently opening its API to allow it to integrate with another burgeoning global platform, Slack.

“This new working environment means incredible opportunity,” stated Dropbox chief marketing officer, Carolyn Feinstein who took up her role from EA in October last year.

Feinstein is on an engagement drive to raise awareness of the product, which is still in its relative infancy and describes Dropbox as a brand that aims to help users to “unleash all of their creative energy."

She explained: “All of the technology that was meant to save us and to make our work life easier has in fact made it harder and we all feel this common sense of overwhelmingness and in an industry where by its very nature we have to work together to create extraordinary marketing or advertising outcomes. If you asked most people in the industry ‘how do you feel about collaboration?’ they would roll their eyes and say ‘collaboration is that thing I have to do.’ And they find all the work around facilitating that a terrible problem. What we want to do at Dropbox is to provide a distraction free environment and the focus it takes to do extraordinary, creative work.”

Feinstein explained how it views the company views the evolution of the creative workplace in the 21st century: “It has become really complicated by virtue of all the distractions and we want to make sure that we are helping bring the focus but also bringing the humanity of the experience back to it. There is so much talk about, like AI and machine learning, and what will the role of people be in the future? Will there be anything left for us to do? In our lifetime what is unique to us as people is genius creativity and idea creation and all the things that make what everyone in the industry is doing, really special. We want to make the humanity of that process and one of the defining characteristics as a company in terms of the way we design products and there is a real optimism around that. We see a way forward that can be really powerful this industry.”

The rise of such project management platforms as Paper, Workfront and Basecamp have potential to completely change working practices and join up professionals all around the world, without the confines of office space and general employment contracts.

That ability to draw together anyone who is anywhere with Wifi and using a connected device allows teams to form to work on assignments regardless of geography and time zone – a development in co-creation that Dropbox has recognized in its new product.

On how this creative freedom might move companies away from the need from full-time employment, and the impact the creative agency model, Feinstein suggested: “There are a lot of models that are going to work going forward – you see that already. There is still a role for agencies in their ability to bring strategy, creative perspective on the distribution of ideas together in one place and there are a lot of clients who that is really valuable for because they don’t have the ability internally to martial all of those resources. For companies that have creative strategy resident within their company and they have the vision and the contacts to assemble a team in the way that agencies would, there are going to be many more models going forward than there are today.”

Feinstein reveals that the the bulk of the marketing of Paper has taken place by sharing user stories on social media, although Dropbox has a relationship with 72 & Sunny and is in the process of securing a media agency. It was also the sponsor of the press room at the Cannes Lions Festival of Media where it displayed advertising around Le Palais to capture the attention of business journalists and creatives.

Despite its youth, Paper is proving popular having been used millions of times by people using 20 different languages. The platform has a long way to go, but initial signs are positive as it matures and offers creatives further online support and the ability to share and work collaboratively.

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