Todd LaRoche, EVP, Managing Director of Creative, Palio
Just last summer, Hyper Island brought their brains to Saratoga Springs and about 50 of us Palio folks devoured every minute of their Hyper Island Master Class – an intensive 3-day immersion into digital media and strategy development.
If you’ve never heard of Hyper Island, take a look at their Web site. In a nutshell, Hyper Island is a Swedish-based, global learning leader that helps companies “stay up to date with the latest trends in interactive media…” and “fully understand how to create efficiency within [their] organization.”
There was a lot of excitement and anticipation leading up to Hyper Island’s visit, and once they got here, things took off quickly. The three days we spent with the Hyper Island team had an immediate and lasting influence on our organization; one that is paying great dividends in terms of how we’re engaging our clients and how we’re structuring and managing our Agency resources and overall growth.
Overall, and among other things, the Hyper Island training has helped us:
• Identify ways we can jumpstart our digital thinking on any given brand,
• Brainstorm digital tactics as part of an integrated, 360-degree media plan, not simply as “add-ons,”
• Bring more depth to our strategic thinking,
• Attain a higher-level understanding of the Web and digital media,
• Wield practical tools that have helped us to better understand the interrelationships of social media and traditional media and bridge the two.
Here’s what some folks were saying once the training was underway. Following are a few post-Hyper Island learnings/observations.
Going Digital – It’s a Frame of Mind
One of the most important things we learned from our Hyper Island experience is that no one group or individual should, or can, own digital strategy and deployment. Today, no one can escape the grasp of digital (screen-based) technology, and no brand can ignore the power of social media as a communications conduit. Digital/social media is ubiquitous and it has to be something that all of us – in creative, account, planning, media and production – leverages and shapes in each of our brand engagements. In other words, everyone is, to some degree, an expert in digital communication because it impacts all of us constantly. And that leads to the realization that smart digital thinking can come from anywhere in the Agency – it’s a frame of mind, not a skill to which some siloed, techno-savvy group lays claim.
The furious growth of digital/social media has spurred some fundamental shifts in the marketing world, and these shifts, at a macro-level, need to be understood and embraced in order for any marketing or advertising agency to stay competitive. Here are some randomly related thoughts/learnings from our Master Class that capture this (and check out this footage of folks talking about their experience after the training):
• Digital technology is now allowing for content-based marketing strategies, designed to “pull” rather than “push” brand awareness and messaging, to become the rule rather than the exception
• Digital/social media has put never-before-seen power into the customer’s hands
• Having a digital footprint is essential to brand survival
• Marketing is now very much about conversations… and brands need to partake
• Don’t always be a slave to the big idea… thinking tactically first, in some cases, can be the best way to meet a specific marketing challenge
How Is Palio Different After The Island’s Visit?
In fundamental ways, Palio hasn’t changed at all: we’re still an idea company, we’re still all about connecting brands and consumers. But how we go about that has changed in places. Here are just a few examples of how the Hyper Island experience has brought change to Palio:
Now, when we present campaign concepts to our clients, we include what we call a 360-degree Worksheet. It’s a way for us to develop and present our creative thinking in the context of media channels, traditional and digital alike. If an idea doesn’t easily spawn executions around the media horn, it’s probably not something we’ll want to pursue.
We took what we were calling our Incubator, or our digital production group, and eliminated its name as a formal reference. This has served to help break down lines of distinction between digital and non-digital work teams. And though this might sound like an academic change, it has actually gone a long way to promote an efficient and homogenous work environment whereby all of us in the company, not just those in the “Incubator,” are engaged in developing digital strategy and tactics.
As well, we centralized our multichannel production services in the Project Management group and shifted our role definition of Project Managers to Producers. And we evolved the title of our Digital Strategists to, simply, Brand Strategists. Again, it’s pretty amazing how these rather academic-sounding changes have served to unify the company in a media-agnostic fashion.
We looked at our own brand’s digital footprint and made it bigger and more robust. In part, that included creating a new Website and deploying a more focused and active SEO strategy across all of our social media outlets, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. We also developed a pharmaceutical app wiki called Pharmapps. Right now we’re building the mobile app for it.
We founded our Social Media Council – a committee of cross-functional roles that is tapping people across the organization to help expand our brand’s awareness and develop messaging to potential clients and employees as well as industry watchdogs.
Internally, we’re using Facebook and Yammer more and more for various closed-group communications. That shift has created a more dialogue-driven type of thinking and behavior across our organization… one that also brings a more immediate sense of involvement among team members. How much longer will office e-mail be around?
In a nutshell, Hyper Island was a brilliant rallying cry that brought our organization a new focus on digital media and strategy. Check out the video here/above to get a sense of how inspiring the entire event was for us. In some respects, it was a reaffirmation of what we already knew: digital media is not rocket science, and since we’re not trying to put our clients’ brands on the moon, that’s a good thing. We’re still here to put our clients’ brands into the hearts and minds of the consumer, which digital media can help us with in more effective ways than anything we’ve seen in the past. As Guy Mastrion, Palio’s Chief Creative Officer, says in the video, “Now it’s just a matter of aligning the opportunities and the resources with the right clients.”
Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.