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The art of starting up: Reflections from the Digital Shoreditch Content Shopfront

By Scott Manson | Editor-in-chief

May 12, 2015 | 6 min read

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Exposed brick walls, bare bulbs, a gritty urban setting and intermittent Wi-Fi – Ogilvy’s temporary home at the Digital Shoreditch event definitely ticks the right boxes when it comes to replicating a start-up agency.

Ogilvy's Digital Shoreditch Content Shopfront

We’ve set up shop here at the heart of the event to report directly on the topics being discussed, grab keynote speakers for individual interviews and run a working content studio, all to the soundtrack of sirens as police cars barrel down Brick Lane onto Bethnal Green Road in the heart of London’s start-up creative scene. As I said, it’s gritty.

It’s also proving to be a great space to work. Besides our rolling output for current clients, we’ve also just had a pitch brief come in this morning for another potential client. This gives us a great opportunity to work as a super-tight team, generating social media insights to inform creative ideas and have a response fully ready by the end of the week. As someone who’s spent time at several small agencies over the years, it all feels wonderfully familiar.

The theme of today at Digital Shoreditch was ‘Make’, with talks and demos coming from a creative brew of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, designers and hackers. As you’d expect, wearable tech and 3D printing featured highly, with wearable tech, from our own social listening reporting, proving to be the most discussed topic in social.

The revolution of food marketing with social tech

Among the other highlights was a talk from iStock’s Rebecca Swift around stock photography, and why it’s not all about images of women laughing at salad. There was also a great session with Martin Morales, founder of Ceviche, Andina and the newly-opened Ceviche Old St – a trio of Peruvian restaurants that are some of the hottest dining spots in London right now.

Straight after his talk, I grabbed him for an interview that you can see here. It was fascinating to discover how even the most traditional business – they make food, they sell it – was embracing digital and new technology. From algorithms that help create bespoke dishes for diners to a YouTube channel, an artist information app for his in-restaurant art gallery and, neatly, the fact that his restaurant empire was founded on a single initial tweet – Martin is a true twenty-first century restaurateur.

How to win with data and new tech

I also caught up with James Kirkham, global head of social and mobile for Leo Burnett, and co-founder of Holler. He swung by our pop-up content studio to reveal some personal insights around the ‘Make’ theme. You can see what he had to say here.

“The language we use around data needs a rethink,” he says. “People talk about scraping or mining data, but we should talk about earning it. It can help us to make a great product, but data shouldn’t be used to hoodwink consumers into linking a brand’s page in exchange for a flimsy reward.”

In terms of new developments, James pointed out that while it was key for agencies to keep on top of innovative tech, they shouldn’t feel like they had to immediately use it to demonstrate their cutting-edge credentials to clients.

“On one hand, don’t dismiss ‘old’ tech, such as augmented reality, just because it’s no longer a hot topic,” he says. “But equally, ensure you’re providing a solution that is relevant and useful. Periscope and Snapchat are brilliant, for example – genuinely ground breaking – but don’t feel like you have to shoehorn them into every brief.”

A fun and revealing first day then. So good, in fact, that I’ll be back.

Scott Manson is editor-in-chief for OgilvyOne, UK. The Drum and Ogilvy UK are working in partnership to share the latest thinking from Digital Shoreditch 2015. Read more at The Drum’s Digital Shoreditch hub.

Follow @ogilvyUK for the latest news from Ogilvy’s Digital Shoreditch content studio.

Digital Shoreditch Ogilvy Leo Burnett

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