Putting an Agency to The Test
Moonshot Innovation Lab
If you happen to walk past ad shop Barkley in Kansas City, Mo., you might notice it has set up a rocket ship on the roof. That's more than just a gimmick. Committed to integrating the latest technology with the smartest ad ideas, Barkley fires up the creativity of its own employees by putting them through what it calls the Moonshot Innovation Lab. A "hackathon" in which employees go from brief to finished product in one week, the immersive group experience has produced a range of ideas that include a bicycle-powered video game and a vending machine that dispenses free samples in exchange for Facebook likes. Moonshot not only has resulted in patent applications but also has achieved stratospheric results in new business and recruitment.
Heading Off The Ad-Claims Police
With marketers tapping out claims in social-media posts and tweets, who's making sure what they’re writing won’t get them slapped with an FTC fine? Responding to a clear need for advertisers, millennial marketer Kat Hennessy developed Risk AD*Vantage, a software package that instantly reviews ad claims and assigns them a risk percentage, allowing marketers to steer clear of language that’s likely to get them in legal hot water. Just imagine: Sound legal advice without actually having to talk to a lawyer.
Agency Wants Employees to Get Happy
Inspire Happiness Course
Global media agency MEC hit upon a sobering if not entirely surprising discovery for any manager: Miserable workers don't produce much. The solution? Learning happiness. So GroupM’s MEC, whose clients include AT&T, Marriott and Citi and which employs more than 4,000 people worldwide, instituted the Inspire Happiness course. Six weeks of workshops led by executive coach Helen Mumford Sole schooled staffers in how to approach their jobs with a smile. The result of the pilot program, which included 20 U.S. staffers of MEC starting last September: Encouraging veteran employees to forge closer relationships with junior people increased job satisfaction among each group. As MEC CEO North America Marla Kaplowitz puts it, "Focusing on our talent’s overall happiness will help improve productivity both in and out of the office, which in turn will positively impact the overall agency’s success."
A Life Saver of an Idea
Thousands of Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest every day—and most passersby don't know how to help. Convinced that the Web offers a better alternative to those old videos of people blowing in the mouths of rubber dummies, the HeartRescue Project created the Save-a-Life Simulator, an interactive, click-through video that teaches the basics for keeping a heart attack victim alive long enough for paramedics to arrive. Designed to be sharable via social media, the video has already been viewed by thousands of people around the world.
GE's Lightbulb Moment
The GE Incubator
There's no shortage of nervy entrepreneurs with ideas out there, but as a global brand like General Electric knows all too well, all the innovation in the world won’t amount to anything without the mentorship and resources to bring it to market. In partnership with OMD, GE created a startup incubator, a 10-week program that walked 16 young entrepreneurs through the launch of seven enterprises, from concept to finished product. The program not only supported what was dubbed "the next generation of digital talent" but also served as a bridge between young talent and the business establishment, enriching both sides by fostering open dialogue. An added incentive: a $10,000 cash prize to the most-developed startup idea.
An Art Museum At 30,000 Feet
The business world suffers no shortage of strategic partnerships. Some can come off as self-serving or uninspired, but not this one: a joint venture between a major airline and an art museum. It was the classic case of two parties each having something the other wanted. New York's Museum of Modern Art wants to attract tourists while the international carrier Lufthansa sought in-flight entertainment of the more sophisticated sort. The result was a 30-minute video featuring Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren walking viewers through the wonders of MoMA’s world-famous collection fed into Lufthansa’s in-flight video options. (A 60-second teaser is shown throughout the cabin just before takeoff.) The idea—unique enough to warrant coverage in The New York Times—was the perfect marriage of high culture and a high-flying brand.
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