Interactive Creatives—Unite!

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Last week at the Soho House in New York, more than 30 of the globe's leading interactive talents gathered to exchange ideas and get a shot of creative reinvigoration at the first U.S. installment of the European networking forum, the Creative Social, the brainchild of Daniele Fiandaca, COO of Profero and Strawberry Frog creative partner Mark Chalmers, sponsored by MSN. Guest inspirational speakers included street artist collective Faile, The Barbarian Group, Coolhunting.com founder/editor Josh Rubin and Bernstein and Andrulli's Louisa St. Pierre. Fiandaca and Chalmers discuss their thoughts on the state of interactive creativity and why they got this party started in the first place.

AdCritic: Why did you decide to get everyone together like this?

Mark Chalmers
Mark Chalmers
Mark Chalmers: One reason is because we're dedicated in our work, work is most of our life and we want to enjoy it. Creative Social works on chemistry, on a lot of people being friends, and it helps you make new ones. You can get lost in business and industry and forget your creative roots. Ultimately, we're all creative people and at the end of the day you want to be stimulated by ideas.

AC: What have you learned so far from this event, your colleagues-any trends?

Daniele Fiandaca
Daniele Fiandaca
Daniele Fiandaca: This is the fourth social now, and generally, what's growing is the massive positivity. The big thing I see is the collaboration, the ability of everyone to share information, share techniques. I've actually seen advertising come off the back of presentations from this. At one event a creative from DoubleYou in Barcelona started talking about the use of webcams, and in one project Mark ended up doing lovely stuff, online karaoke, using webcams. The creative had also said, "I've never seen drag and drop banners," so I went back to my agency's creatives and said, "Guys, I want to see this," so we did that, and it got in the annual in D&AD.

AC: Isn't this sharing of "secrets" kind of risky for all of you?

DF: No one cares. When it comes down to it, as a collective we can push digital agencies and the quality of their work higher. It's only a matter of time before the digital agency is actually leading the pack.

AC: What are you noticing from clients and marketers? Do you feel like they're more open to creative ideas these days?

DF: I think the big thing still holding back digital agencies in general are the offline agencies, simply because we do come up with ideas a lot of the time that the client says could work through the line. But as soon as they go to their offline agencies, straight away you will find the agencies will shut it down. There's no way these guys will end up working on something that somebody else has come up with. There's a bit of an ego there.

MC: I think that might be more true for the U.K.

DF: It could be, because we've seen today that The Barbarian Group is not necessarily finding that. But we're used to taking offline ideas, celebrating them, and saying how can we make this live online? We have no egos because traditionally we've had to take the work somewhere else.

AC: What about developments in technology, do you feel that's fueling you to move in new directions?

MC: It's definitely inspiring it. But I think the ideas are already there. We can always think bigger than the technology allows, but luckily technology has caught up with it. If anything, we always have to scale down ideas. I think what's really exciting now is the user-generated ideas. It's going to change the whole model.

AC: Yeah, how are things like YouTube affecting the work you do? There's so much to compete with now.

DF: Embrace it. Use it to your advantage, and work out ways to get people engaged. It's all about brand engagement now. Anyone who talks about click-through—that's so old, we haven't used that for years. Going forward, it will be about interaction rate. A lot of the executions we're doing aren't actually driving you anymore. You're actually interacting with an ad. There's the key metric. It's about people who spend time, upload their videos.

AC: You have an international audience here. From where do you see the most exciting work?

MC: I always thought historically the Nordics were always more connected, very advanced, but now that's not so much. Connectivity has broadened out, and that theory got blown out of the water as soon as we met DoubleYou from Spain. We're noticing a difference between European and Stateside work. A lot of the European work comes from an arts background, and a lot of the American work comes from more of a business sort of background. The influence is slightly different and it's sort of what's in the blood. That's not to say that any work is better creatively, it just comes from slightly different influences.

DF: The work from Europe is consistently very good. I'm hoping to see more original stuff from an [interactive] agency where you know the thinking behind it couldn't have come from offline. The people in this room are going to be in the juries, and they're really connected with the work. They'll be much more knowledgeable when they go into the judging process about what's going on. In an ideal world, I'd love to be able to do this at the global level, on a monthly basis, have a real finger on the pulse.
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