Good ad agencies fight for world firsts, Annette King, CEO at Ogilvy & Mather UK, tells The Memo.
Advertising Week has officially kicked off across London, with events across the capital.
Just one of the major marketing companies attending this year is Ogilvy & Mather, and with 32 years of experience, 15,ooo events each year, and over 800 celebrity clients, it is very much a bastion of the industry.
Within the organisation, there are few as ad-savvy as UK CEO Annette King. An honouree at last year’s proceedings, King will tonight be heading to The Orangery at Kensington Palace for Cosmopolitan‘s panel ‘A Celebration of Female Talent’.
We caught up with the Ogilvy & Mather boss and learned why its fighting for world firsts that matters in 2016…
Virtual reality may be stirring up excitement at the moment, but it a good agency won’t be satisfied by simply producing yet another 360° film, King told The Memo.
“Yes there’s virtual reality, but virtual reality has actually been around for a long time now,” she explained.
“Try something else – technology allows you to experiment.”
“To try new things is kind of an imperative, the technology is out there, it’s changing every day, and it’s our job to see what you can do with it. There are a lot more firsts, a lot more breakthrough concepts, to be had,” she added.
Risks may not work out every time, but they are worth it, said the CEO.
“World firsts will break through the clutter. Some experiments will fail epically, but others will succeed as epically at the other extreme.”
“If you’re not failing a bit, you’re not experimenting enough.”
Indeed, Ogilvy & Mathers are known for creating cutting edge experiences that have simply never been done before.
“In 2013 we did the now famous BA ‘Magic of Flying’ campaign in Piccadilly Circus,” said King.
“We triangulated the data from the plane, and the location of the poster site, and whatever flight number was flying overhead, the advert would interact with it, and change depending on whether the weather was cloudy or not.”
The campaign drove over 43,300 unique visits to the BA’s ‘Look Up’ website, with its accompanying video viewed over 1.3m times online.
“You could look up and imagine the people flying in from Barcelona,” said King.
“It had never been done before at the time.”
Building on the success of the BA campaign, the company followed up with another experimental outdoor campaign last year, this time for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
“Leaflets were given out to people walking through the shopping centres like Westfield, but the leaflet had a chip in it,” King explained. “Then, when you walked past various outdoor sites with the leaflet in your hand or your pocket, a dog would look out at your from the poster and follow you throughout the shopping centre.”
Good advertising is about challenging what people think is possible says King.
“When something peaks the consumer’s interests and makes them wonder ‘How did they do that?’, that’s a really good sign that you’re onto something pretty breakthrough.”
While current projects are being kept firmly under wraps, Wimbledon has always featured innovations from Ogilvy & Mather and championship sponsor IBM.
“IBM’s technology is always running in the background helping Wimbledon tick,” said King.
“Years and years ago we came up with the IBM ‘Seer’ phone that could see through walls and show what was going on on centre court. That’s old technology now, but every year, whatever the size of the budget, the brief is always do something using technology and make it a first.”
Last year the company created a game called MakeTheTeam which challenged players to speedily capture data points from Wimbledon matches. It was played 44,736 times.
“Everything can be gamified these days; technology facilitates that and hence what we’ve done with Wimbledon most recently and over the years,” said King.
“Wimbledon will always be one to keep your eye out for from Ogilvy.”
Hear more from Annette King tonight at 6.30pm at The Orangery, Kensington Palace, as part of the Advertising Week panel Cosmopolitan: A Celebration of Female Talent.
Kitty Knowles is a Senior Features Writer at The Memo. Kitty previously worked as an online journalist for GQ. She can be found tweeting @KittyGKnowles.