Cannes 2014: Saatchi Worldwide’s Tom Eslinger on Sarah Jessica Parker, work he envies and publishing books

Saatchi & Saatchi NZ’s communications director sat down for a chat with Tom Eslinger, Saatchi Worldwide’s director of digital and social, author of “Mobile Magic” and inaugural jury president of the mobile lions at Cannes.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen or heard this week?

I saw Sarah Jessica Parker, which has nothing to do with technology, but she was really cool. One I’m really looking forward to seeing is Bono speaking with Jony Ive, Apple’s chief designer about project RED. Technology meets humanitarianism.

What’s one of the major changes you’ve noticed this year at Cannes?

I noticed that the Mobile Marketing Association have a huge tent right beside the Palais this year and that’s not something you would have seen two years ago. In fact, all of the finalists and the shortlists aren’t going to be in the Palais this year they’re going to be in the MMA tent outside. So there’s lots of attention being paid to mobile and the stuff that I saw on the shortlist was pretty impressive. It was a brutal shortlist. It was very short. But we had three things on it which was good.

What’s the one piece of work out there this year that you wish you’d made? 

The Nike skateboard app (Nike SB) is fantastic. They took all the Nike sponsored skateboarders and shot them with motion controlled cameras from every possible angle, so then anyone can take their mobile phone and watch exactly how the trick was done from any view. You tilt it back to make it go faster, backwards to go slower, you can scrub through it and view it from any angle. Then once you learn the trick you can upload your own film, which Nike is then using for advertising in their stores. And it’s a truly mobile idea. When I was a kid you watched tapes of skateboarders on VHS. Now you can take the history of skateboarding with you in your pocket anywhere you go.

You’ve recently released a book ‘Mobile Magic’ – can you tell me more about what it covers?

The book essentially starts out with a brief history of where mobile came from right up to where it is now. I deconstruct the entire process we go through to make work – from production, to choosing your team, the importance of legal, social, content and include three big cases around Saatchi & Saatchi projects, all written with the clients. It’s everything from where do you start when you need to write a mobile strategy, how do you choose a partner, why would you do an app rather than a mobile website. At the end of each chapter I also give you five practical things you can do with what you’ve just learned. And finally, there’s a little in there about where mobile is going to go in the future.

So what’s coming next in mobile?

I think that pretty soon we’re going to be giggling at our iPhones in the same way that we were giggling at brick phones in the 90s from Wall Street. There are a number of factors converging right now that will drive change. We have mind-frying amounts of Wi-Fi almost everywhere in the world. Facebook and lots of big corporations are bringing the internet to developing countries to further spreading the signal out. There’s more and more people spending more time on their mobiles than watching television. China and the US have just seen mobile surpass TV in terms of time spent on a device. Lay on top of that the fact that we don’t use buttons anymore, we use touch, we have games that read our gestures, devices that measure our brainwaves and on top of that everyone wanting to share whatever they’ve got. When all that stuff collides, I think we’re going to see wearables synced to everything around you. We’ll see super specialised bespoke content sent directly to us and the ability to move around massive amounts of data really easily. I think it’s going to be very similar to the set up they depicted in ‘HER’ a tiny receptor in your ear and then everything else on voice command.

You’re someone who has multiple Cannes Lions. What’s you’re advice to young creatives who’d like to be on the podium in Cannes next year?

Everything should be really simple and social. Anything where you can connect people is important here at Cannes. I don’t think there is anything that’s won here in the past few years that isn’t socially connected. Use tech in a surprising and unexpected way, but don’t let it overshadow the idea. Reward the consumer with an amazing idea that’s blindingly simple. Especially with mobile, remember that the best ideas are the ones that you don’t have to teach people to use. Make it intuitive and something that will bring them joy.

This interview was originally published on Isobel Kerr-Newell’s blog.

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