From the pulpit

Ian Haworth Chief Creative Officer, Wunderman EMEA

Issue 50 | February 2019

The first thing to say is congratulations, Directory, on getting this far. 50 issues. And as one of only two people to have subscribed from the very start, that gives me permission to take over the pulpit.

In the twelve-and-a-half years since Issue One, we've all seen some big changes. And that's what I love about Directory. It has been a barometer for both where the industry is and where it's going. For me, the curation of great ideas has been what sets the magazine apart. If you go online to find what's new, you can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that gets posted up every day. It takes time and effort to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Every three months, I get a supply of wheat delivered. It's from Directory I get to see things that are genuinely inspiring, though often for very different reasons. I remember being completely blown away when I read the "Driving Dogs" case study back in Issue 27. I'd never seen a charity pair up with a commercial brand before let alone a dog driving a car. But I also remember "$hred" for BNZ and thinking that the craft behind it was superb.

Looking back at Issue One, over half the contents was Direct Mail. Today, there is a lot less of it. Personally, I still believe that Mail is an important part of the marketer's armoury. Younger creatives at Wunderman, when they get given the chance to work in 3D love it and come up with some amazing ideas. Well, like the "Garden Drop" idea for BT Sport that appeared in Issue 49.

That said, Directory has reported on the transformation of creativity with the arrival of a range of new, tech-driven skillsets in the business.

At Wunderman, we now have creative technologists and experience designers who have brought with them completely new ways of solving problems. So, back in the day, when innovation didn't mean technology, we won an innovation award for mailing out a MUAC tape for a third-world charity. It measures malnutrition and when you see how tiny a malnourished wrist is, your imagination does the rest. It raised a lot of money. Compare that with the sort of things our teams are working on now. For a healthcare client, we are developing a digital speech-therapy tool. For another, we are prototyping the tech that can scan a selfie and tell you the state of your gums. Elsewhere we have partnered with Spotify to create an alarm-clock that wakes you every morning with the sounds of the Amazon rain-forest. And we are working on a haptic experience so that blind fans can follow a game of football through their fingers on a screen. 

Directory has watched and noted as brands have learned to communicate through how they do things. In offering new products and services, they become valuable because they are helpful. I’m thinking here of the app for a Telco in New Zealand that gave the Maori word for the things its customers photographed on their mobiles. (Issue 49, Colenso BBDO for Spark). 

Or the haptic dress from Schweppes that shames men in Brazil into being more respectful of women by recording how they touch women without their consent in bars and clubs. (Issue 47, Ogilvy Sao Paulo.) 

Over the same period that I’ve been a subscriber, my job has changed too. I call myself a curator of talents. I am still a generalist, because someone needs to be able to take an overview but we now need an array of specialists with skills that simply didn’t exist in 2007. 

The one thing that hasn’t changed in all that time, though, is the value of a good idea. And that’s what Directory has been true to. Identifying clever, innovative, effective ideas before anyone else. 

I hope you’re still at it in 2031 when Issue 100 will be due. 


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