Facebook's Mark D'Arcy on Colenso's double at the Studio Awards and why Kiwi agencies punch above their weight

  • Awards
  • April 30, 2014
  • Damien Venuto
Facebook's Mark D'Arcy on Colenso's double at the Studio Awards and why Kiwi agencies punch above their weight

For the third year running, Facebook has distributed Studio Awards to agencies that delivered the most effective campaigns through the website's platform. And with each passing year interest in the competition has grown, as evidenced by the fact that Facebook received thousands of entries from across the globe for the latest edition.

As in 2013, Facebook again only handed out two Blue Awards, the most coveted gong at the competition. The difference this year, however, was that one of the Blue Awards—the Facebook for Good award— was awarded to an agency for work done for a not-for-profit organisation.

And the emergence of this change came with good news for Colenso BBDO/Proximity, as the agency won the first gong in the newly created category for the ‘Trial by Timeline’ campaign, which was executed for Amnesty International.

Although Colenso missed out to United States-based Droga5 for the other Blue Award, the Kiwi agency also won a Silver Award for its well-awarded ‘Smart Phone Line’ campaign for Samsung, making it the only agency to win two awards on the night.

Kiwi-born Mark D’Arcy, the chief creative officer at Facebook, who also served on the judging panel, heaped praise on Colenso's efforts and spoke particularly glowingly of the ‘Trial by Timeline’ campaign.

“The idea was so simple and human ­– to take the freedoms of expression that we take for granted on Facebook, and then to use the platform to demonstrate so simply how different things are in other parts of the world,” he said from the UK.

He explained that the execution of the campaign perfectly typified what is required in order to create an effective Facebook-based campaign.

“The thing I say to creatives a lot is that your idea has to be a lot bigger than the idea of doing an application.  Doing an application isn’t an idea; it’s means by which to express a much bigger idea. This is a wonderful example of the idea being much bigger than the app.”

And while he admitted to feeling a sense of Kiwi pride about Colenso winning the Blue Award for the campaign, he says that the robust judging process ensured that there was no bias involved in the final decision.

“Every year, we get a lot of entries, and then we review them for eligibility … Next, we have people on the creative team, who look technically as to whether things are eligible, and this eventually gets us down to a group of a few hundred that go through to the jury panel that’s primarily made up of members of the Facebook creative council and other special guests that we bring in. We then split up into groups and we debate, argue, fight and arm-wrestle about what to score them.”

Interestingly, D’Arcy says that this year the team at Facebook noticed a shift in the way advertisers approached Facebook-based campaigns.

“Last year, we awarded Oreo for the ‘100 Days’ campaign … [and] the interesting thing is that this was really the start of people seeing the possibility of publishing and producing topical content on Facebook.”

“This year, the number of entries we had that were bodies of works around publishing had increased markedly. We had hundreds and hundreds of entries from people who were using the platform to tell publishing stories. The shift in that kind of story-telling was amazing in 12 months.”

He attributes this change to the creative evolution that is occurring alongside continuous technological advancement, says that it shows that creatives are becoming more adept at using digital channels to relay their messages.    

“We talk a lot about this massive shift in technology to mobile … and I think that’s wonderful, but what I worry about is where is the creative revolution that’s equivalent to the technical revolution … and one of the things I love seeing in the work is how the global creative community is starting to build around the way in which people consume content,” he says.

“All creative things are canvas and paint. And we just have more ingredients now; there are more variables now, and there are more different things you can use to tell stories … there’s an infinite number of combinations of things you can do.”

And he says the limitlessness of this creative possibility is further enhanced by the amount of relevant data that can be attained via modern channels. 

“The wonderful thing is that the insight we can derive from platforms like Facebook should unlock creativity for us; and it should focus our energy so that we can make more beautiful, relevant and meaningful things for the people that matter to us and to our business. And if we marry the craft skills with the ability to tell who we’re really talking to, then we can also have the scale … to empty warehouses and sell cars and other things.”

And if the successes of Kiwi agencies on the international stage are anything to go by, then it seems that New Zealand’s advertisers are responding to digital changes as quickly as bigger, richer countries by consistently producing innovative work that gets noticed on the global stage. 

D’Arcy, who started his career on Kiwi shores in the late ‘80s, has noticed this trend over the years and believes it's attributable to several unique aspects of Kiwi life.

“I think there are three things: firstly, you have human capital. You have a country that’s so beautiful and lovely to live in that it attracts a lot of outside talent relative to the size of the market …  and this gives it a combination of local talent as well as talent from around the world … Secondly, you have a deep culture of innovation and a business culture that doesn’t have many layers …  [and] the lack of bureaucracy allows for better work to be released. And thirdly – and I used to say this all the time when I worked in New Zealand – we are gifted with lower budgets. When you have less money, you have more incentive to do something that’s really going to stand out … and so people have more bravery.”

“On its good day, it’s the perfect storm for making world-changing work that’s going to lead the way. And that’s proved true if you look back … at the tradition of [Kiwi advertising] over the last three of four decades—and this is picked up by new generations every five or ten years, as they take on their place [in the history of Kiwi advertising]. Long may it continue.”

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Nick McFarlane on Hunting the Killer Idea

  • Design
  • May 1, 2017
  • Nick McFarlane
Nick McFarlane on Hunting the Killer Idea

How hard is it to write a book, exactly? What about one that's about how to harness your best ideas? FCB Senior designer and author of the book Hunting the Killer Idea Nick McFarlane explains the highs and lows of the creative process of writing a book about creativity (creativity-ception). Plus: Win one of three copies of his book up for grabs - see below for how to enter.

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