Innovation Fest 2010 Ogilvy London

This will be a bit of a whistlestop tour of the day. It is the third Innovation Fest run in the UK as a joint venture between Brainjuicer and Ogilvy & Mather who supplied the venue. I attended the original one in 2008 (and blogged it here )which was jointly run by Brainjuicer and Unilever so jumped at the chance to go again – this time as a speaker.  John Kearon Chief Juicer describes the Innovation Fest as the sort of event he had to start because it wasn't happening anywhere else – a safe place for clientside researchers and innovation managers to hear about the latest research techniques and debate them in an environment devoid of hard sell – and pushy suppliers. 

So on the slate today – high about Docklands we began with Hanne Kristiansen former European head of innovation at Kelloggs and Diageo and now running her own show Flexiblebrains. She introduced us to the 5 Creative Creatures who epitomise the 5 most common creative behaviours: the stimulator, the selector, the spotter, the sculptor and the supporter and asked us to identify our own dominant two roles. There was discussion about the role of spoilers and whether this is a creative role or a negative force always to be resisted.  But the main focus was on how to build an innovations team with a blend of the creatures and to be sure to have particular creatures on hand at key points in the product development process. A flying start.  

Orlando Wood then took us through the latest iteration of his paper about tracking emotional responses to advertising using facial expression. Its shortlisted for best paper at this year's MRS conference but there was some more recent material to discuss. Using 3 question areas – how does this make you feel, how strongly do you feel it and why do you feel that way? it is possible to build up a picture of positive and negative emotions around watching TV commercials which is far more predictive of their market sucess than conventional brand trackers which rely on conscious recall, messaging and brand noting. By testing the emtional impact of a series of recent IPA effectiveness award winners – it was possible to show that emotion was a far stronger driver than rationality and the method explained the sucess of campaigns like Cadburys Gorilla which performed poorly using conventional pretesting.  What was new in this presentation was Orlando identifying 3 different emotional shapes to a commercial one of which delivered far better results. And music was shown to be unsurprisingly a key component. What I like about this method is that it is non verbal – which means it translates better across languages. As well as being a much better way to evaluate an emotional medium such as television.

After lunch Rory Sutherland took the floor. And spoke without notes for an hour about behavioural economics and why persuasion is the opposite of seduction – the overrationalising of communications messaging being directly unproductive. Pre-eminent among the contrarians Rory isn't just clever – he's fantastically entertaining – I think the Rory effect is so powerful because he assumes you're as clever as he is – which warms the audience to him because he is so lucid as a speaker. I include the link to his TED talk last year in case you haven't seen it. 

Muggins here had the unenviable task of following rory. I suspect its one of those career firsts. Everybody has to do it at some point. Today it was my turn. John Kearon had asked me to give latest despatches from the Cloud of Knowing Project – which had spurred me into writing a presentation and exercise called Creating Communities of Interpretation. I have a long standing interest in how to use group work to grow and spread ideas. In this session I suggested that analysis – long the preserve of researchers in ones and twos, should become a collaborative activity by at least 5 researchers. To get the amplifying effect of a small network instead of what is so often worthy linear spadework (and that's when analysis and interpretation for research is done properly). We finished this part of the day with a group activity involvign the entire conference grouped around laptops with 10 teams collecting information from the internet about a particular product. The wifi wasn't particularly reliable so many gave up and used their smartphones instead to surf the internet – a fine example of breaking away from conventions! Coming in from 10 different channels at once we were able to get a fast and rounded take on the product in a matter of a few minutes. Using a much broader scope than is typical in most research studies. 

After the tea break John Kearon Chief Juicer introduced the conference to Digividuals the research robots that caused such a stir at the MRS conference. These text based robots have now been used on several projects. There were a lot of concerns about privacy and how data was being used. The key was really whether the internet is a public space or not – if you write a blog or twitter and don't restrict access to designated individuals then you are in effect publishing to a a public space. So your content is fair game. Nicole one of the earliest digividuals is actually drawn from a sample of 5000 bloggers and tweeters. So digividuals do represent substantial numbers of people – and if their behaviour modifies itself this is genuniely a trend not an aberration. I think its fair to say that the conference took most of the time understanding what Digividuals were and decided whether they would take the plunge. And so we came to drinks at the end of the day. 5 speakers and a lot to absorb. What I thought worked well unlike several conference I have attended recently is that there was enough time for debate and assimilation without which a conference is actually pretty pointless.  

I met lots of interesting people chief of which was Nicole Yershon about whom I shall post separately. So there!



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