'New digital' excitement builds in London

'New digital' excitement builds in London

So what’s new and going on in old London town?

As an Aussie expat of many years, I’ll resist the standard old piss takes of old blighty and also resist the urge to try and convince you I am cool and clever. My big crap hair will never fool anyone that I am one of those Shoreditch hipsters anyway. But what to talk about that’s happening and interesting?

Hey, there’s Robin Wright walking past my desk. What a legend…“The future’s bright. The future’s Orange”.

The future? Now there’s a thought. I don’t need someone to read the leaves of my cup of tea to know what’s starting to emerge as a recent undercurrent in London. It’s something I call New Digital.

Digital defines a new era of great invention where idea and technology consort together to create completely new brand experiences – experiences that add a powerful new dimension to the relationship between brand and consumer. That's what inspires and distinguishes The New Digital.

At the core of this new approach is the belief that digital has now grown up and can be in charge – it can be big, sexy and channel agnostic and of course not be restricted to play just a fucking supportive role. The time of the banner is dead and today its about big ideas and storytelling with a twist of tech surprise and delight.

Creatively, it's likely to have a deeper physical/ digital integration (or call it 'physical'), and storytelling craft skills peppered with social flavouring at its very centre to drive conversation and influence.

My last agency (Jung Von Matt) created the Mercedes-Benz’s invisible car work and this type of thinking has rapidly jumped across the English Channel and we’re seeing more of this type of work emerge out of the UK.

Emerging technologies and the rise of social has made these possible – presenting real opportunities for storytelling and tech to come to together and work in partnership to deliver bigger ideas for brands. The result being the sort of stuff that jumps between channels and physical barriers. It blows old school channel isolation away.

Today marketers are jealously talking about Redbull Jump, Nike + and other brands that get the space – with a wanting aspirations in their eyes. But it's still early days as very few have fully let go of thinking outside the comfort of their traditional channel world.

Here are a few examples of brands that have started on the New Digital journey recently out of London:

Red Stripe by Kessel Kramer London and Stink Digital

Dave Bell and team have made a real gem here. They’ve taken the Red Stripe lager brand and transformed an unassuming corner shop in Dalston (where else in London?) into a living interactive experience. Every time someone picks up a can of the product the shop comes alive in a very Red Stripe way.

I love the idea and the execution – so does the brand’s audience.



Women’s Aid Commercial by WCRS / Engine

Forget thinking of commercials as only a broadcast medium. Now they can be two way interactive opportunities. You can second screen them, tweet them, and now you can even edit them. My colleagues at WCRS have created an ad first with an audience-edited 3D commercial for Women’s Aid.

Viewers are able to edit the hard-hitting narrative in real time by opening and closing either their left or right eye one at a time. During the course of the film, two scenarios simultaneously play out: one shows a seemingly normal story of a woman preparing dinner; the other however shows the harrowing addition of an abusive husband. The audience has the ability to shut out the abuse and pretend it’s not happening, or they can choose to view the reality of living with domestic violence – storytelling and tech working beautifully together.


Samsung Liquid Pixels by Jam / Engine

Sorry for being bias but Liquid Pixels is another good example of a brand leveraging this new space.

It features a young creative technologist who had an idea and Samsung made it possible and into a piece. He programmes 400 fish tank pumps, enabling them to be controlled wirelessly from a Note II to be able to write in real time on water. People’s conversations on blogs and twitter then took it even larger.

Physical and digital, it was created to just do its own thing and because no one knew it was even possible it flew in the face of accepted marketing practices. Well done to Samsung.

The UK might still be coming out of recession but New Digital risks pay off.



Ballantine's programmable T-shirt campaign by Work Club

A brand campaign that takes digital to new level and turns a programmable, internet-connected T -shirt into "a canvas for digital creativity".

Users could programme a message to appear on their Ballantine's T-shirt, as well as playing music tracks from iTunes and take pictures using a small in-built digital camera.

Great stuff and who wouldn’t want to try this idea on.



Digital is everywhere and anywhere now – and in the UK at least New Digital is rapidly rising to take a higher ground and challenge the traditional channel isolationism from yesta-year.

Across a lot of famous agencies in London, people are starting to look up and see a new approach taking shape. Like the states, Brazil and other places, lines between digital and ATL agencies are briskly being rubbed away as consumers search for more from a brand relationship.

Call it what you will. I call it New Digital and think it’s the future of things to come.

Wayne Deakin is executive creative director and partner at Jam / Engine Group. 

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