In the latest AdAge, Redscout Founder and Chairman Jonah Disend and Uber Head of Brand Strategy Ian Chee spoke about embracing risk as an asset rather than a liability. Here's an excerpt below:
If we really loved risk, we would be scaling mountains, performing stunts or cave diving. Not working in marketing. But often, the way to create real business impact is tied to taking risks. The trick is that this requires marketers to stop associating risk with impending doom and to start viewing it as a gateway to new opportunity. In fact, a willingness to take risks is a marketer's greatest asset right now.
Now is the time for brands to go big or go home. It's time to stop mitigating risk by treating it as a debt we take on that needs to be paid off. Let's start viewing risks as assets that accrue toward a mission of greater magnitude. Understand risk as making something new, rather than giving something up: The idea of taking risk shouldn't ignite fear; it should move us to create something totally new.
We’re kicking off 2018 with some exciting U.S. leadership promotions here at Redscout. Colin Chow has been named Chief Executive Officer, as our founder Jonah Disend officially becomes Founder & Chairman to focus on furthering Redscout’s work, talent and culture across offices. In addition, Ivan Kayser is being promoted to Chief Strategy Officer, and Natalie Smith becomes General Manager of the New York office.
Based in San Francisco, Colin’s promotion to CEO comes after driving Redscout’s impact as West Coast Managing Director, working with clients like Airbnb, PepsiCo, Fox Sports, Gymboree, TGI Fridays and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, among others.
Ivan has been promoted to Chief Strategy Officer. In his prior role as New York Head of Strategy, and throughout his career, Ivan has focused on applying an experimental and iterative creative process to strategic business challenges and venture design, while leading innovation projects for clients like Best Buy, Google, ADP, Disney, and Peloton.
Natalie becomes General Manager of Redscout’s New York flagship office. In her most recent role as Head of Client Services, she was responsible for building Redscout’s client services team and capabilities, and for enhancing operational excellence.
Redscout is putting our design stamp on New York’s Greenwich Village with the launch of an iconic new NYC brand - Haar & Co. - located at 45 Christopher Street. We’re partnering with Master Barber Michael Haar to bring his original vision for a modern, sophisticated and accessible barbershop to life, backed by Italian shaving product purveyor Proraso.
Channeling Haar’s unique personal style, Redscout combined 1930’s influences with classic art deco design to create a distinct identity system that gives a nod to geometric forms of the past while bringing in contemporary sensibilities. We then worked with Haar and architects Moschella & Roberts to carry the design through the entire shop and experience, from the logo, business cards, and website, to the gold foil details, window displays, custom barber jacket detailing, espresso cups and even a bespoke inlaid mosaic gracing the entryway. Already the iconic new shop is striking a chord with customers, as the shop attracts bookings and walk-ins alike.
“When it came to the design process, I was blown away by Redscout’s ideas and the series of mood board inspirations that carried my design vision into the real world,” said Haar. “I wanted something that felt foreign, yet familiar, and they nailed it. If I came to them with an idea that they didn’t feel would resonate, they told me, which kept the entire process honest and grounded. It showed confidence in what they do best, and the result is stunning."
Haar, a New York City native, hopes to preserve the tradition of the corner barbershop and the unique social experience of the barber chair while appealing to modern customers who care about their appearances. From the art of the clean shave, to the comfort of the scalp massage, Haar & Co. is poised to become the go-to standard for Greenwich Village grooming.
We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with Haar to launch an iconic new brand and an authentic piece of New York culture.
Redscout Head of Strategy West Alex Cripe recently weighed in on how companies can use innovation as an opportunity to build brand equity.
Here’s an excerpt from the full article, which ran on Campaign:
Meaningful transformation isn’t about tacking on a new capability, product, service or audience. It’s about designing a total brand experience that is real and true to your brand’s DNA.
So, how do you pursue the brand you want to become without losing sight of the brand you are?
First, understand what business you are in.
When kicking off with a new client, ask a seemingly dumb question to understand whether this is a moment for evolution or revolution: "What business are you in?" While simple, this question often sparks a more thoughtful way of thinking about how partners can build, not just borrow, brand equity.
Second, understand what consumers love you for.
At a time when many are sprinting to reimagine their brands to attract the latest, "most valuable segment," it’s important to push for deep insight about how your brand actually connects with people.
Recently, Redscout’s Ministry of Culture invited Ji Lee, Creative Lead at Facebook, to come in and talk our team of strategists, designers and innovators about the transformative power of his own personal projects.
Lee started by reminding us that anyone can be curious and creative, and not to confuse this with artistry. By sharing examples of how he’s brought his own ideas to life, he encourages others to indulge in the joy of making. Here are some takeaways from the talk:
Joy = Opportunity
In many work environments, it can be easy to lose touch with our creative sides. While we all have ideas, they are often inhibited by process, meetings and the deluge of e-mails that come with a day’s work. For years, Lee has been engaging in word play as a creative stimulus that allows him to transform letters into geographic shapes with character and personality. It was seeing words as images that first inspired him to turn his ideas into real products, like the “Redundant Clock” and the “All-In-One Card Stamp,” proving that finding joy in your work can create new opportunities.
Learn by Doing
In our line of work, we often see great ideas get killed long before they ever come to life. It comes with the territory. In the early days of his advertising career, Lee found himself in a similar position. Not to be defeated, he found the courage to launch “The Bubble Project” on his own, posting more than 30,000 empty talk bubbles on posters and advertisements, and documenting the commentary that sparked from them. Not only was it a helpful therapy session, but it turned into a global viral phenomenon, teaching him new skills that fueled his future projects and career pursuits. He quickly had to learn about funding, production, coding, marketing, media, and PR, discovering that doing is the best way to create opportunities for yourself. His personal experience teaches us that every individual has the power to overcome perceived limits, to create, and to make an impact.
Lee credits his inner voice and intuition for guiding him toward his biggest successes like the “White Feed Project,” a simple hack to create white space in a cluttered Facebook feed, and @Drawings_for_my_grandchildren, a passion that started with teaching his father Instagram to keep him connected with his grandchildren and grew into global social phenomenon with more than 306,000 followers.
While not everything will go viral, we all have the power to make an impact – for our brands, for our businesses and for ourselves. Lee’s examples remind us that our individual creativity can make great things happen. So pursue your passions, overcome your fears, and trust your intuition.
Go on, get it made.
Ad Age’s new Ad Lib podcast series features conversations with influential changemakers in media and marketing. Ad Age recently chatted with Redscout Founder and CEO Jonah Disend about how innovation and insights have motivated his life and work.
His approach to brands—which he applied to the Domino's Pizza turnaround, and to helping launch the G Series for Gatorade—is to ask "How do you behave differently, do different things, make different products or services; then use marketing to amplify?” he says. “Instead of trying to convince the consumers you're different, actually be different. The marketing goes so much further."
On data vs. insights, Jonah says, "...In the early days it was about insights. And I feel like we've gotten to the point where we're subsumed in data—we're so data-rich but insight-poor. That's a dying art. I don't think people know what an insight is anymore. If I tell you an insight you will feel it. Physiologically you will feel it. If it's not an insight you won't feel it."
On September 14 and 15, a team of Scouts headed to Pittsburgh for Google’s SPAN Conference. We spent two days learning, listening and mingling with artists, designers, researchers, strategists, writers and technologists. The clearest theme: everything intersects. So often we think of brand “Design” and brand “Strategy” as two totally separate beasts. In actuality, we’re using similar parts of our brains to create, whether we’re working with a set of images or sentences. Both contribute equally to the way a brand shows up in the world, which is why we closely link these specialties in our work at Redscout.
Some of the the things we overheard offer broader lessons for brand strategists and designers:
“How can you make this a sculpture for the blind?” - Lenka Clayton, Artist
In two days at SPAN, we heard more than 20 technologists, artists, designers, writers and academics share their work. Hands down, the most interesting stories focused more on “what inspired me” than “what I did.” They led with great, curiosity-provoking questions. Lenka Clayton described the frustration of seeing Constantin Brancusi’s “Sculpture for the Blind” sitting behind an inaccessible glass case at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After suggesting quite a few alternative display options to the museum, she set about rectifying the situation herself, describing the statue to 17 visually-impaired artists so they could make accessible versions. The work itself was just one beat in her story. It made us wonder - What if we thought of our own output as more of a story than a solution?
“We need to stop thinking of AI in colonialist terms.” - Heather Kelley, Game Designer
It became immediately clear that you can’t talk about the intersection of design, art and tech without talking about machine learning and artificial intelligence. Speakers pushed and pulled at the “machines are going to take over the earth” narrative. Molly Wright Steenson started her talk on AI and architecture by questioning the sterile faces, Tron-like lines, and futuristic blues of Artificial Intelligence. Madeline Gannon presented a curious, playful vision of AI with her pet-like industrial robot, Mimus. And Heather Kelley introduced the idea that AI is worthy of empathy with questions like, “What’s the cyborg version of cake?” and “What does a robot poem look like?”
Some audience members, however, remained skeptical. In a workshop about design writing, one asked: “What are you going to do when computers write as well as you?” As AI becomes a larger part of our day-to-day lives, branding and design will have an important role to play in helping people to embrace and understand these technologies.
“It’s not a good program if it doesn’t do something you didn’t expect.” - Molly Wright Steenson, Designer, Educator and Writer
Alex Wright, Director of User Experience at Etsy, called the modern era “an age of unintended consequences” - particularly in tech, it’s a time when new tools and programs often result in totally unexpected uses. We heard quite a few examples of creations that produced surprising results. Molly Wright Steenson described Generator, a collaboration space with programmable rooms designed by architect Cedric Price in the late 1970’s. The system’s “boredom program” automatically started reorganizing the site if it hadn’t been changed in a while.
As brand strategists, we’re afraid of things that don’t work - or that aren’t perceived - as we intended. But what if we embraced that idea, creating work that is designed to yield surprising and unintended results?
“Turns out, cows, on average, face North.” - Golan Levin, New Media Artist and Engineer
This “age of unintended consequences” has produced a wide variety of underleveraged tools and programs. Golan Levin found inspiration in a computer vision satellite intended to help hedge funds jump the gun on sales reports by analyzing the number of cars in big box parking lots. He saw a tool with broad potential being used for a hyper-specific task, so he developed Terrapattern, an open-source platform that provides access to the satellite and its geo-spatial intelligence. Levin hoped his program could be used by artists, scientists, hobbyists, and other curious humans to make discoveries not for profit, but for knowledge, or even just for fun. One of its current uses? Tracking the angles of cows standing in fields. Why not?
We have more tools at our disposal than ever to create, innovate and communicate in service of brands. The trick will be finding and leveraging them.
Cassidy Krug is a strategist at Redscout and contributed to Redscout's event presence and reporting.
In celebration of the 4A’s 100th anniversary, The Drum interviewed 100 agency problem solvers on what fuels them at work and in life. Take a look at what Redscout Founder and CEO Jonah Disend said when he went ‘Beyond The Brief.’
What’s the biggest issue the industry faces? How would you solve it?
Early on, I learned an important lesson from an amazing boss — we rise together and we fall together, but always together...
The toughest conversation you had with a client. With a boss?
Agencies are too willing to accept what clients ask of us at face value. We lose a tremendous amount of capacity, energy and creativity going down the rabbit hole in front of us, rather than taking a step back to ensure we are solving the right problem. At Redscout we call this the Problem Genome, and we believe if you don't crack the problem first, you will miss the real brand building opportunity.
What’s a virtue that you live by?
My background is in theater and performance arts. For me, I see life as a performance - only without a script. The same goes for brands. It’s critical for brands to realize that every behavior is currently on stage for consumers to see.
At Redscout, we are constantly out in the world scouting culture, and finding new innovation and design inspiration. Our insatiable spirit of exploration helps us understand how people see and experience the world. From Jakarta to São Paulo to London and even Chicago and back, check out some of the cool sights, sounds, and stories we've lived this summer at Redscout. #ScoutTheWorld
For more #Scouting adventures, follow us on Instagram.
We recently worked with General Mills to articulate a modern purpose for Yoplait, which is coming to life through the brand’s new “Mom On” campaign.
The new campaign recognizes it is tough for moms out there who feel the pressure of constantly feeling judged, which is why Yoplait is empowering moms to “Mom On.” In the first display of Yoplait’s renewed brand purpose, it seeks to resonate with moms in more meaningful ways through empathy, humor and ads that reflect the diversity of consumers.
In a recent Adweek story, Yoplait’s senior manager of marketing communications Susan Pitt said, “Yoplait has always had a special connection with women and been a champion for helping moms get their mommying done. We know how much moms love their kids and don’t want to be boxed into one right way to mom, so Yoplait is surrounding moms with support and telling them, ‘You’ve got this! Mom On.'”
Redscout partnered with Yoplait and our sister agency 72andSunny to bring the new brand purpose to life.
Our London team recently partnered with the pudding purveyors at Gü Puds to create a new product line - Gü Mousse Fusions – launching the brand into a new segment of chilled desserts.
The new line elevates the mousse segment of the chilled dessert category by addressing an unmet consumer need for more permissible desert occasions that bring together a fuller, richer taste and sensorial experience with lighter textures. Redscout London partnered with Gü’s culinary experts to take one hero ingredient, master it in two sumptuous sensations and inject an indulgent twist, to deliver a more multi-dimensional taste experience. The new range also features innovative stacked spherical packaging with an inviting window that is designed to highlight the product and grab shoppers' attention. Flavors include:
- Sumptuous Chocolate & Toffee Mousse, paired with a Silky Chocolate Crème
- Luscious Mango Mousse with a Punchy Mango & Passionfruit Coulis
- Smashed Strawberry Bubble Mousse, topped with a Strawberry & Tangy Compote with hint of Balsamic
Now rolling out in stores, the new product will be supported by a multi-million-pound marketing campaign launching this fall.
Gü Marketing Director, Chris Heyn said: “We are very excited to partner with Redscout to create our delicious new Gü Mousse Fusions range. It offers the same high quality and culinary expertise consumers have come to love and expect of our brand but in a totally new form.”
He added: “The current chilled mousse segment is often characterized by kiddie products, but extensive research has identified a desire for an adult premium permissible dessert. Gü will solve the consumer trade-off between choosing a lighter healthier choice with a lackluster flavor, and a richer fuller indulgent dessert with our new Mousse Fusions. This product will deliver the delicate balance of lightness of texture and explosions of multi-dimensional flavor, suitable for the adult pallet. With a heritage in innovation and raising the ‘dessert’ bar - we want to continue to lead innovation and we believe Gü Mousse Fusions has the potential to redefine the category, like we did in 2003 with the introduction of our ramekins.”
Visit http://gupuds.com/ for more information.
In a recent interview with Harvard Business Review, Wharton professor David Robertson, author of The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation, discusses a “third way” to innovate, in addition to being disruptive and sustaining innovations. Robertson cites the work Redscout did in partnership with Gatorade to create the G Series as an example of creating complementary innovations around a product or service, which work as a system to carry out a single strategy.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
Gatorade was being challenged by Powerade. And Powerade was coming into the market. They were backed by Coca-Cola. They had a cheaper energy drink.
They were taking share away from Gatorade. And Gatorade started spinning out more flavors to combat power. And all that happened was that sales didn’t go anywhere, costs went up, and Powerade continued to gain share.
Well, what Gatorade did is it went out and looked at those serious athletes to try and understand what they really wanted from the drink. And what they found is that serious athletes really cared about doing well at athletic events and that doing well often involved much more than hydration during the event. It involved preparing for the event, and then hydrating during, and then recovering after. And so Gatorade worked with other parts of PepsiCo, their corporate parent, like Quaker Oats, to develop sports bars and energy chews and protein shakes and things like that to help support the entire athletic event.
It diversified the sources of income for Gatorade. And if one of those fails, it doesn’t really matter. The risk is much lower. When you look at just the drink, what you’d see back in 2009 when this strategy really kicked in is that there were fewer varieties of drink, but the drink sales went up, because they had this whole solution around the drink. And it brought people back to the drink.
Read or listen to the full interview over at Harvard Business Review
Read our case study here
Campaign recently spoke to members of the LGBT+ community in the marketing communications industry to explore how they are represented in the mainstream media, and discovered brands still have a long way to go.
Redscout founder and CEO Jonah Disend weighed on a problem with media representation of LGBT+ people – their frequent portrayal in a heteronormative way, as we continue to see a cultural bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships. Media continues to treat gender as binary – the idea that there is an either/or option of male or female, rather than a spectrum of gender identities.
"There is no nuance or insight in how we are portrayed sometimes – it just feels like casting – oh, look, two men or two women, generally with adorable children," said Disend.