From rethinking classic campaigns today to imagining the future of Brand Bristol: Vision 2014 day two review

Patrick Collister photographed by Harry Oliver

Mel Beeby Clarke, a director at Ambitious PR, reviews the second and final day of the Vision 2014 creative conference in Bristol.

Where else can you meet a real life navy captain, watch a chicken being deboned and see women comparing moustaches? Vision Bristol day two of course…

Faced with a typically windy and rainy start to the day on Bristol’s harbourside, and hearing great things about day one of the Vision ‘Creative Freedom’ conference, my fears of the second day slump (read hangovers) dampening the proceedings soon disappeared.

It was smiles all round from the audience of 30- and 40-somethings when keynote speaker Patrick Collister, head of design at Google, kicked off the day with a trip down memory lane with his ‘Gotta Lotta Bottle’ milk campaign of the 1980s.

I say campaign, but as Patrick was quick to point out, in the days before the internet and social media, it was 40 seconds of content by way of a TVC and one chance to engage the masses. While modest about what the campaign achieved, no one can deny the memorability factor of the line uttered by a young Liverpool lad after being told if he didn’t drink more milk, he’d only be good enough to play for ‘Accrington Stanley’. Cue the retort “Accrington Stanley? ‘Oo’ are they?” and the birth of a classic which has had over 400,000 views on Youtube.

Which brings us neatly to Patrick’s next point – how he would handle that brief now with the explosion of social media channels such as YouTube. He takes us through a campaign fit for 2014 centred around bringing back the now defunct Milk Cup, offering boys across the country the chance to be in Ian Rush’s super team and play against Accrington Stanley.

His campaign is based on a ‘Hero, Hub & Hygiene’ concept. In this case Hero being the video or content that becomes the big hitter – the YouTube video of the four-year-old with amazing football skills. The Hub is the website, YouTube channel or Facebook page where this Hero content is driving people. The Hygiene factor is the extra details when they get there – an opportunity to tell more stories about the brand and start engaging people.

Patrick also makes the point that we should never forget to check the data. He illustrates this point beautifully by explaining that had he done his homework before deciding to relaunch the Milk Cup, he’d have discovered dance is the big thing these days and instead theme his campaign around that. He says where 25 years ago creatives were the rock stars of the agency, driving the Porsche 911s, it’s now the ‘data geeks' driving his Porsche.

A theme touched on throughout the day was a reminder of the need for collaboration to make it all work. With the lines blurred between disciplines, we need to drop the ‘kiss and punch’ attitude as Patrick puts it – agencies around the table playing happy families only to be at each other’s throats over who gets what slice of the pie the minute the client leaves the room.

Picking up on the collaboration theme, Drew Benvie, social media legend and founder of Battenhall, told a packed auditorium that as MD of a 250-strong PR agency, he found it so hard to get the PR and digital guys to work together that he left to set up Battenhall.

Frustrated by the PR industry's approach to digital – offering it at as ‘bolt on’ when in fact it was at the heart of nearly every brief – he turned the existing agency model on its head, creating a structure where digital and more traditional communications expertise could happily co-exist.

This of course benefits the client, who as Collister pointed out, we should spare a thought for as they too are having a pretty tricky time navigating this new landscape. A client perspective delivered by Royal Navy captain Ian Stidston in his ‘Lessons from the sea’ session, alongside e3’s Liam Tuvey, served as a reminder of this.

While navigation is certainly something captain Stidston knows a thing or two about (sorry, couldn’t resist), when it comes to building a brand that will engage and inspire, the Royal Navy has just the same questions and concerns as any other client. What are its challenges? Who are its key audiences? How should and could it be engaging these audiences in the ‘always on’ social media climate?

The client wants its agencies to work together to help it answer these questions – regardless of which discipline they are from or who ‘owns’ what part of the work.

This focus on collaboration got me thinking about the creative scene in Bristol – while by and large we are a pretty open, collaborative bunch, what more could we be doing to drive forward our own unique ‘Brand Bristol’?

Using the Hero, Hub & Hygiene model, how could this work? Well, we have the Hub, Bristol Media and the Vision conference providing a focal point for us to come together, both online and in person. We have the Hygiene factor covered, lots of compelling success stories and stats on the economic value of the south west creative industry and the jobs it creates. Then of course, we have the Heroes – the BBCs and the Aardmans; but who will be the next hereos of the region? As an industry we need to pull together and raise our game to secure our future.

So where do we start? Well, as Natalie Horne, strategy director at Prime Decision put it in her session on behavioural economics, small shifts can make a huge difference to the outcome. She also said that it’s OK to put forward hypotheses and suggestions without having all the answers – just in case anyone’s expecting me to answer the question at the start of this paragraph.

With Vision acting as a catalyst for industry collaboration and Bristol Media celebrating its 10th birthday next year, there is every opportunity to build ‘Brand Bristol’. Wouldn’t it be an awesome achievement to be celebrating Bristol as one of the world’s most recognised creative capitals come Vision 2020?

Read the Vision 2014 day one review

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