Category Archives: Marketing

Kent Healy – Maverick on a Mission

A chat with author, publisher, entrepreneur, speaker, coach and real estate investor Kent Healy – a Maverick on a Mission

Capital I Innovation Interview Series – Number 7

The recent loss of an Innovation Giant in the technology world gave me pause. His name, so well known, was often mentioned in this series, in particular in answer to the question, “Who would you give a ‘Capital I’ Innovation Award to?”  It also led me to ask, who next – who will step into, or at least grow into Steve Jobs’ shoes?  Who is the next creative thinker, the ‘Capital I Innovator’ who thinks out of the box enough to engender real change?

With that question in mind, I chose to share my interview with a young man who leads the way in encouraging entrepreneurship and Innovation from a young age. Instead of teaching students how to pass standardized tests, Kent Healy believes in teaching them to think, to understand, to yearn to learn.

I’m going to begin with one of my ‘foundation’ questions, Kent.  If you could give a ‘Capital I’ Innovation Award to anyone, who would that be? 

Gosh, that’s a great question.  There are so many people we rely on that remain nameless… people that don’t get the PR.  [However] people who obviously come to mind immediately are Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.

[Editor’s Note: Steve Jobs was the entrepreneur Richard Branson most admired according to a recent statement by Mr. Branson.]

I say that because I use their products and every time I do, I think: “Duh!”  I put my palm on my forehead and [think]: “Why didn’t someone do that earlier?”

How essential has innovation been in your career to date?

Extremely important.  At fifteen, I was living in New Zealand… I went to California and saw skim boarding, which I loved and wanted to bring back to New Zealand.  Once I returned I went to my surf shop and started looking for a skimboard.  I couldn’t find the type that I was looking for anywhere, so I decided to make my own.

Long story short, my brother and I ended up making different models and selling them to local surf shops and internationally.  It was a lot of fun.  And that opportunity would never have come about if I didn’t ask: “How can I fix this problem?”

Kent Healy (right) with his brother Kyle (left)

When I was about nineteen I finished my first manuscript.  I started working with an agent to get a publisher;  I met with a lot of them but I just didn’t see eye to eye with what they wanted.  I stuck to my guns and my brother and I started a publishing company.  We did everything from the cover to the marketing, and I think it turned out to be a better product.

Why do you feel so strongly that collaboration is important?

It goes back to an underlying maxim, ‘one mind is never smarter than two or more combined’.  I think that the mind is designed as a collaborative tool and I don’t think humans were made to live in isolation.

"We do better with collaboration and we feed off of different ideas."

The brain is a network filled with synapses taking one idea and trying to link it to another.  I think there are many time when ideas are simply inspired… when a connection is made, which never would have been made if somebody else hadn’t thrown down a random idea, completely unrelated, that managed to bridge the two separate ideas.

When you’re thinking, it’s still somewhat linear if you’re on your own.  If you’re working with other people the conversation can take many unexpected turns, and that can lead to an immense Innovation.

I think if you’re working on a specific solution isolated research can certainly help.  But, if you want to improve something and do the giant Innovation, collaboration is extremely helpful.

That could be a useful example to young people who may feel disconnected, if you will, from the possible positive outcomes their Innovative ideas could develop.

Absolutely. I think that we learn so much from example. It’s easy to write about innovation, but it is a nebulous topic. It’s really hard to say: “This is how you innovate.”  I think it’s much easier to say: “Here is something that this person did. Isn’t that great?”  That’s what inspires me. Earlier you mentioned New Zealand, are you a natural born Kiwi?

I was born in northern California, San Jose.  But, when I was ten, my family moved to New Zealand because they thought it would be a great place to raise kids.  So, we packed up and left, not knowing anybody in New Zealand.  We lived there for eight years.  Those were my teenage years, which were very formative, so New Zealand is a big part of my life.

With that in mind, do you think that location matters… does Innovation have a nation?

Absolutely. In more ways than one. I think there is your immediate environment, be it a coffee shop, library or busy mall.  I think all of those things, as energies, are going to influence the way that you think.

Culture is another big thing –  how do people in that culture look at Innovation. Some people really encourage it, and some people don’t.  I think it’s really important to be around a group of people that encourage it, that will say, “I like where you’re going with that,” and start looking for the benefits before they shoot down the idea.  It’s always good to have a devil’s advocate, I agree; but you want more supporters than you do devil’s advocates, if you want innovation to continue to occur.

And then, finally, there are magnet cities that draw in certain like-minded people. Silicon Valley is an example probably everybody [knows].  If you want to do a start-up venture in the tech world, there really are a few places to be that are as buzzing and as influential as that.

Bearing that in mind, could you compare New Zealand to the US as far as being an ‘Innovation nation’?

That’s a really good question. In New Zealand I really admire the propensity that people have to come up with a solution.  If it’s a problem… fix it!  That means, go into your shed, pick up your tools and your tape, and try to figure it out by yourself before going to the store and buying a replacement.  I was so young when I was there that I didn’t really notice the difference, but I do now.

I pretty much grew up in a shed.  My neighbor had a massive shed full of tools and we would spend every day building something and improving it again and again and again.  I developed the attitude, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” which was very important.

I do think it’s a little different when it comes to business, though.  I would say that business innovation is definitely more supported in The United States than it is in New Zealand, where there is still is a little bit of that ‘tall poppy’ syndrome. However, I think the global culture is starting to stamp that out a little.

For entrepreneurship I’ve found the States to have a very supportive community, which is now moving on-line, so it doesn’t really matter where you are.

Do you think there is such a thing as a ‘natural entrepreneur’?

I think that people vary so much in their natural abilities and their tendencies that it’s hard to generalize.  [But] I’ve met some people who, to me, are absolutely born entrepreneurs; they just look at the world from a different perspective.

I’m pretty divided on the issue, but if I had to give a short answer I would say, as human beings we do have a propensity, a drive and an interest, to innovate.  I think it becomes suppressed largely because of our environment.  That includes culture, role models, authority and laws… all those things make a difference. As Pablo Picasso once said, “All children are born artists, the challenges is remaining one when we get older.”

That’s a lovely quote, and leads me quite tidily to ask you about your interactive eBook, ‘Maxims for Mavericks’. How did that inspirational bolt strike you? Maxims for Mavericks came about when I was really [getting] into quotations and thought: “Gosh, these are great; there is so much intelligence, and so much wisdom in so few words!”  I started collecting quotes I thought were great, and then had the idea of writing a short reflection on each quotation.

What makes quotes unique is that they really express peoples’ personal belief systems.  Once you understand, or adopt, a new belief system, everything about yourself and your life begins to change… your perception of yourself, your perception of the world around you.

How did the title come about?

The more research I did,  the [more the word] ‘maxim’ came into my head, and then I always loved the concept of being a maverick. I married the two together and I thought: “Wow, that makes perfect sense.”

In the 1800s, Samuel Augustus Maverick went to Texas and became known for not branding his cattle. He was more interested in keeping track of the land he owned than the livestock on it… unbranded cattle, then, were called ‘Maverick’s.’  The name came to mean anyone who didn’t bear another’s brand. – New York Times

I put a few together and published a little book, in physical form, that I would give away when I would speak.  I started getting messages and e-mails from people around the world who really liked it, and I thought: “I need to make this more available.  Now that we are in a digital age, let’s start applying this maverick mentality.”  And that’s what I did.

I created an eBook to give away.  I asked myself: “How can I reach more people efficiently and cost-effectively?”  The obvious solution was to create it in digital form.

Would you then equate mavericks and innovators as being the same thing? 

I definitely think there’s a huge amount of overlap.

I think a maverick is somebody who is simply original, [someone] who embraces who they are and is willing to take risks by pursuing something they think is important.  They question the status quo, conventional thought, old systems and tired assumptions.  That’s what mavericks do as people, and that leads to innovation.

Do you think your education assisted your savoring the maverick within you?

For me the division between education and action started at such an early age.  It’s hard to say if education actually changed me.  What I will say is that starting businesses at an early age changed the way that I looked at education and, therefore, it really changed my relationship with education.

If I were relying on my education to be innovative, to be a successful business person, I think I would fail miserably.  I don’t think that school inspires or encourages the innovative entrepreneurial mentality.

So where would you direct young people to go to get inspiration or to find a path they can follow?

First of all, the earlier [they start] the better.  Just like you develop physical habits, you can develop mental habits.  Start young.

It pains me so much to hear a student say: “Well, I’m a student now, so I’m just going to enjoy.  When I’m out of school then I’ll do ‘this’.”  I call that the ‘defective student’ label.

If you’re a student that means that you’re trying to educate yourself, in some way, shape or form.  And that’s exactly what you should be doing.  Join groups!  I think that business groups are fantastic to organize or be part of.

They have something called NFTE here in the States, the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship, and it’s fantastic.  Its an entrepreneurial program for people to get involved, to start thinking differently, at a young age. You can turn to books and you can also turn to places like Youtube… Yes, believe or not, there’s more than just animals doing silly things on there.  There’s unbelievable videos that you can learn from: speeches, keynotes and so forth.

There is mentorship as well. Reach out to people and say: “Would you mind spending some time with me?” Once a week, twice a week, once a month. [Youth} can be a huge benefit here,  you can use it to your advantage and get to people who wouldn’t normally do it, or who would normally charge a fee.

You’re proud of the relationships you’ve formed with world leaders in the field of personal development.  Who are some of these world leaders and why did you seek them out in particular?

Just to name a few Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Richard Carlson. Those were the three most important.  Of course I’ve met a lot of others along the way that I have exchanged e-mails and conversations with, but in terms of personal relationship, I’d identify those three.  It started with each of then when I [began] writing my first book. When I started ‘Cool Stuff They Should Teach in School’ I was consumed [by] self-help and non-fiction.  I would do anything: read it, listen to it, go to it, talk to somebody who embodied it.

It started to rub off on me and eventually I wanted to think bigger and bigger and bigger.  So I asked myself: “Who is the leader in this field of self publishing?”  Jack Canfield came to mind as co-creator of the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series, of course.  I thought it would be excellent to meet this person, so that’s exactly what I did.

I put him on my vision board, sought him out and told him a little bit about my idea.  That was pretty terrifying as a teenager, but I caught his attention.  I asked for his support, he agreed and we stayed in touch. The same thing happened with Mark Victor Hansen, who is also the co-creator of the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series, and Richard Carlson, who was the creator of the ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ series.

Unfortunately [Richard] passed away, but he was unbelievable as a role model in terms of showing me a bright, supportive, constructive side of the world.

Of course I’m going to have to ask, what is the ‘Cool Stuff They Should Teach in School’?

Good question. The book (since you’re referencing that) covers everything from basic ideas about psychology, motivation, attitude and goal setting to more practical skills such as money management and communication.  Those were all topics I thought were extremely important that should be taught.

And where can people get their hands on the book?

It’s available at Amazon [and] at

Ironically it’s become required reading in schools.  I never thought that was possible, but a lot of teachers have really embraced it.  They order it every year and have classes based on it. In your eBook, you talk about the importance of unlearning. So, I’m wondering, what is the most unimportant peace of information you’ve unlearned.

Ironically, it’s that you don’t have to have a college degree to be educated.  You don’t have to have college degree to do something important and to make a positive impact.

Growing up everything was about: “Get good grades and then work your way towards an excellent job.”  That’s what I was told and I had to unlearn that.

I think unlearning that has been unbelievably liberating.  It took a lot of pressure off. [But] the problem with doing that is you become very critical about what you are learning.  Which is both good and bad.  I now question everything.  If it doesn’t make sense to me and I really can’t come up with a reason to do it, I’ll usually put up some sort of a fight until I can understand why it’s worth my time.

Is it safe to say that yours will be a never ending study of life?

Absolutely. I subscribe to the maxim that says: “Investment in self yields the greatest return.” I think you’d be silly to stop your education, because that’s the only edge you have.  Without it, it’s really hard to stay inspired and be creative.

The Uncommon Life Blog

You can’t associate creativity and innovation with stagnation, it just doesn’t work. You need to be in motion at all times.

The minute you stop doing something I think you really put yourself in a very risky situation, both in your physical and mental health.  This is why studies have shown that a lot of people end up dying within two to five years after their retirement.  You know, they fail to engage in something.

With innovation that is absolutely true. You have to not only consciously try to be creative and innovative, but you have to seek it out, you have to look for it… you have to actually want to learn.

Steve Jobs… what a loss. Kent Healy, quite a find.
Kent Healy is twenty-eight years old. One can only imagine what he will accomplish in the coming decades! 
Readers are invited to follow Kent on Twitter as well as join his The Uncommon Life groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and his Maxims for Mavericks group on Facebook. 
If you would like to know what Kent’s favourite Maxims are, watch this video to find out!  

Barry Flaherty – A Trend Spotter’s Perspective

Barry Flaherty has worn many hats on his route to his current incarnation as a digital media expert. These include being an International Business Development Director, and a technology early adopter for over 15 years, driving global innovative solutions in marketing, digital media, and mobile technology. His client experience has covered Vodafone, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Nike, and the Qatar Foundation to name but a few.

An avid blogger and trend spotter, Barry is currently engaged on projects with a variety of clients ranging from start-ups, fast growing organisations, corporates, broadcasters and digital media agencies in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Added to this, he sits on the Advisory Boards of several high profile digital media networks.

Currently working with Mediaventura in London on M&A advisory work and fund raising for fast growing digital businesses, Barry is also crowd sourcing digital case studies for inclusion in a new version of ‘Understanding Digital Marketing’.

This follows hot on the heels of the recently launched, ‘The Best Digital Marketing Campaigns in the World‘ published by Kogan Page.

Barry, you’ve been searching for, and driving forward Innovation for many years. How do you define Innovation?

Innovation to me is like a Rubix Cube. Multi-faceted, full of different colours and almost impossible to crack UNLESS you happen to be very good; be that as an individual or an organisation. I suppose a good place to start is understanding the essence and meaning of Innovation.

A convenient definition, from an organisational perspective, is given by Luecke and Katz (2003):

“Innovation is generally understood as the successful introduction of a better thing or method. [It] is the embodiment, combination, or synthesis of knowledge in original, relevant, valued new products, processes, or services.”

Do you think entrepreneurs are born or ‘made’?

Good question. Depends what life throws at you. There’s probably ten or twenty different ways in which entrepreneurs are created.

There’s a great quote from Twelfth Night:

“some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Many entrepreneurs are born out of many years of relentless effort – pushing themselves, and those around them, to the limit – and of course, having many failed business ventures before they finally become successful.

Right now trying to raise money from the market is like a trip to the dentist for root canal surgery. So if you have got a rich mummy or daddy or family member who can set you up on the path, well…

Many of today’s so called Entrepreneurs have had a helping hand in life. Sometimes this comes from billionaire families or trust funds, which have allowed many to start with the necessary ‘oxygen’ and capital to make turning their ideas into reality that much easier. Stelios Haji-Ioannou from Easyjet is an example of this. Kerry Packer, the  Australian media mogul, created an opening for his son James to flourish and take over the reins of their Empire.

Kerry and James Packer

We need entrepreneurs in society. They provide inspiration. They provide case studies for the plethora of Business Schools and MBA courses, and keep income rolling into the country. Innovation fosters dreams. The end product is a conveyor belt of ‘leaders of tomorrow’ entering the workplace armed with MBA’s and case studies in their heads from some of the world’s greatest innovators and entrepreneurs.

Speaking of a helping hand, you are about to become a father for the first time. What do you want to pass on to your child?

Common sense. This is where someone like Paul McCartney is a good example. He’s got hundreds of millions in the bank from years of royalties, and he still sent his kids to a normal school. Its about arming your kids for life.

Do you see a difference between ‘little i’ and ‘Capital I’ Innovation? 

Innovation is an important topic in the study of most things in society, be that economics, business, entrepreneurship, design, technology, sociology or engineering.

Innovation is, unfortunately, one of those words that you hear lots but is rarely practiced. I’ve attended many Conferences at the European Union, and within industry, on the topic of Innovation; and there seems to be a whole industry of people hell-bent on commentating on Innovation and policy making to foster it. But, these are not the true innovators. I hardly think a policy ‘wonk’ in Brussels is going to become the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.

Once innovation occurs, innovations may be spread from the innovator to other individuals and groups. This life cycle of innovations can be described using the ‘s-curve’ or diffusion curve. The s-curve maps growth of revenue or productivity against time.

In the early stage of a particular innovation, growth is relatively slow as the new product establishes itself. At some point customers begin to demand [it] and the product growth increases more rapidly. I think it would be fair to say that lots of little i’s make up one big I.

It could be argued that innovation is one continuous journey rather than the final destination. Innovation is fluid, continuous and ever evolving. It’s a shame the big CAPITAL I seems to be the one that gets most column inches as there are innovative discoveries and successes happening on this planet on an almost daily basis.

Do you think innovation is an overused term?

I think it would be fair to say that it’s a term that is timeless but slightly jaded around the edges. There are a lot of so called ‘ambulance chasers’ who like to pontificate and tell the world they are innovative without really demonstrating or executing this.

We like Innovation. It’s like a warm blanket on a cold night. We are proud of it and we like to tell the world how innovative we are.

So what do we like to do?

That’s right! We create awards. Here is a recent example of one from the network in the UK. We have become good at giving ourselves a good pat on the back for just about everything. There seem to be more award ceremonies, for just about everything, than there are Companies!

Enter the IET Innovation Awards to raise the profile of your invention amongst those leading the way in science, engineering and technology innovation. Typical Award categories include:

  • Asset Management
  • Built Environment
  • Electronics
  • Embedded and Critical Systems
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Healthcare Technologies
  • Information Technology
  • Measurement in Action
  • Power / Energy
  • Product Design
  • Software in Design
  • Sustainability
  • Team
  • Telecommunications
  • Transport

How essential has innovation been in your career to date; and how important do you envisage it being going forward?

I’ve leant towards creative industries and this has led me to come into contact with many entrepreneurs and creative minds that have built successful businesses from scratch, or created true measurable value for the Organisations they work for.

In the organisational context, innovation may be linked to positive changes in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitive positioning, market share, etc. All of which can be affected positively by innovative forces. All organisations can innovate, including, for example, hospitals, universities and local governments. Some will flourish under its influence. Other will die. It’s survival of the fittest.

In my digital world, the ‘King of the Jungle’ one minute can be obsolete the next. Take MySpace or Friends Re-United for example. They were top for a matter of months, then swept aside by the likes of Facebook and Google. And even they have reached saturation now in many mature markets. They need growth in developing countries to stay on target for their target of 1 billion users and their over justified and bloated valuations.

On a wider level, car companies and manufacturing industries are making way for knowledge economies, knowledge clusters and an increasingly mobile workforce. The travel industry has been taken over by online offerings, disinter-mediation is ripping through more industries and supply chains than ever before.

Going forward, I want to stay involved with working at the sharp end of Innovation, thus working in Mergers and Acquisitions with fast growing organizations. That way, I stay close to the capital markets and also get to court the Innovators and entrepreneurs, feeding my desire for knowledge and having a pulse on the future.

As an extremely avid fan, Barry also stays close to Celtic FC.

You can read Barry’s piece on Celtic and New Media in the August edition of CQ Magazine (pgs 38 & 39) here

What do you think is imperative to allow ‘Capital I’ Innovation to occur?

That is of course the million dollar conundrum. Innovation isn’t always welcome in practice, in my experience. I’ve spent/wasted years of my life delivering solutions that promise change and progress and, let me tell you, they’re not always welcome!

Governments talk about creating innovation, Science & Technology parks and Innovation parks and, to their credit, most governments in the Western world have built these. They’ve created jobs and been responsible for breakthroughs in medicine, technology, life sciences and so on. The UK has clusters of Innovation Centres and Science Parks, and the European Union is one big Innovation hub, mostly because it sits on budgets of billions to throw at ‘so called’ Innovation projects.

Innovation with a CAPITAL I without cash will never materialise – governments realise this. Expensive public sector modernisation projects, transport infrastructure, new schools and educational institutions need private enterprise and money to allow this.

In the digital world, places like Silicon Valley play a crucial role in funding innovation, leading to new frameworks including user centric design, interoperability, co-operation, portfolio management and processes to shorten product development cycles.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the Middle East working with the Qatar Foundation and other projects such as  the Qatar Science Technology Park, Internet City in Dubai and AppsArabia in Abu Dhabi. They can attract the world’s brightest minds and talent as they can afford the money to prise the talent out of countries like the UK, Australia, USA and other western economies. Innovation tends to follow the talent and the capital, be that financial or human.

Private and public sector partnerships are crucial as not everybody has 100 years of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or oil sitting under their shores. We need only to look at Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, Sudan, and Greece as examples of countries who do not have the manpower, innovation, cash or energy resources of the BRIC economies or a region like the Middle East.

On the upside are the new business models, which predominantly aren’t reliant on huge cost bases – you can set up a business today for ‘$17 online and in only 5 minutes’ – you don’t have to have an office, a factory, or lots of staff.

Does location matters?

Of course it matters. Being born into the right country at the right time is tantamount to winning the lottery.

That said, Innovation is universal. It’s being created, dreamt about and implemented in classrooms in China, the boardrooms of Brazil, universities in India and in R&D labs and Universities the world over. Innovation travels. It has a passport; it speaks many languages and knows no bounds.

Like all journeys in life, it’s not always plain sailing for Innovation. There are barriers, obstacles and challenges, yet with the right network, funding, energy and drive, Innovation does eventually prevail.

The internet has created a level playing field where SME’s and individuals can go toe to toe with large organisations. People have a direct line to brands, governments and people in authority. It’s power to the people, and the people holding the levers of power and control had better start listening.

The recent overthrow of governments in the Middle East and Asia demonstrated this. In this ever connected world, there is no hiding place.

A man not backwards in coming forward with his opinion, there is likely no hiding place from Barry Flaherty either.

Innovation in Marketing…. Cannes Do!

Capital I Interview Series – No. 1:                                                              

KimmiC chats with multi-award winning, ‘Capital I’ Advertising Innovator, Matt Batten

Each day the average person is exposed to hundreds – some say thousands – of advertisements. Generally they range from boring to the utterly banal. In fact, I’d posit that most slide out of our consciousness without us realizing what it is they’re actually advertising.

However, occasionally there are a few fantastic pieces of artful, magical marketing, which embed themselves in the psyche of a nation – sometimes a generation.

Personally, when I think of favourite commercials, and yes, I have a few, each of them tends to reflect the times in which they were created – be it for bologna or beer. I know I’m not alone in thinking that occasionally the commercials are more entertaining than the purported entertainment they are slotted in around.  There are, in fact, a myriad of websites dedicated to these entertaining, award winning ads from around the world.

Without doubt, the preeminent award ceremony for the advertising industry, is the annual, week-long, Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Its a time when global Innovators in advertising and marketing gather together to celebrate excellence in their industry and honour the most creative campaigns from around the world – in 2010 more than 24,000 entries were received.

This year, for the first year, Matt Batten, the Executive Creative Director of Wunderman Sydney, was invited to be a judge on the Cannes Lions Direct jury. On his return from Cannes we grabbed the opportunity to explore his thoughts on ‘Capital I’ Innovation in general, and how it applies to his creative  industry in particular.

Matt’s impressive bio includes:

  • Creative of the Year 2010, APAC – Digital Media Awards, Beijing.
  • Collecting more trophies than any other Australian creative at the 2008 ADMA Awards.
  • Being the only Art Director in the world with two campaigns in the Top 10 of Won Report’s World’s 50 Best DM Campaigns 2005.

A man with a myriad of interests and talents, an intelligent eclectic, Matt is probably never short of a dinner party invitation. His many interests include antique books, all things old (and French) swordplay, archery, photography, screenwriting and winning – yes, definitely winning.

Matt, do you think that having a wide range of interests has helped you as a Capital I Innovator?
I’m a curious mind. I have a head for mathematics and science and often investigate the hidden relationships between numbers or objects. To that end I will always endeavor to find out the answer to something I don’t know.

This job is all about problem solving. Which is why my fellow Direct jurors and I
unanimously selected the ‘Rom‘ campaign for the Grand Prix. As did the separate Promo jury, totally independent of us

When it came down to three contenders (don’t ask who the other two were), one was an example of the technology and future of advertising, one was a perfect embodiment of the brand’s higher positioning, while the third, Rom, saved a business. And that’s what we do as advertisers. Every communication is to solve a business problem and prevent it from losing market share.

How was jury duty – what were the perks and the pesky problems?
This was my first time as a Cannes Lions juror. I found it exhilarating and draining at the same time – a 14 hour day followed by a 12 hour day.

The biggest perk is being in Cannes throughout the whole process in the lead up to the Festival and witnessing this town metamorphosis from sleepy seaside town to the largest and most opulent celebration of creative advertising. Following that is the honor of meeting and working alongside my fellow judges from around the world, all of whom are talented, interesting and funny people. Of all the judging panels I’ve been lucky enough to be part of, I have never laughed so hard than in the past five days with the Cannes Direct Lions jurors.

I like to think that the Cannes Lions crowd will be inundated with Capital I Innovators… am I right?

I hope so. These guys are our peers, and our future replacements who’d better be
twice as innovative as our generation of advertising Creatives has been.

What was your favourite campaign, and your favourite win?
When I first saw Ogilvy Argentina’s ‘Friendship Machine‘ for Coca-Cola, I thought I had found my pick for the Grand Prix. It’s honest, emotional, beautiful and effective.  Then I saw Ferrorama’s campaign and suddenly had two choices for Grand Prix.

But when I thought hard about the campaign for Romanian chocolate bar ‘Rom‘, I knew the issue was solved. Here, an agency solved a true business issue in a creative way.

How do you define Innovation?                                                                Innovation is being the first to do or create something using the tools currently
available. In this way it differs from ‘invention’ which would be to create
something which doesn’t rely on existing technologies or understandings.

Do you see a difference between ‘little i’ and ‘Capital I’ Innovation in your field?                                                                                                                           A little i innovation is a small improvement on an existing technology that could
lead to new and useful ways of doing things. It doesn’t necessarily fundamentally
change the world but it could lead to change.

A Capital I innovation is when someone makes an enormous leap forward from the status quo and manages to change the world in some way.

Do you think innovation is an overused term?
That’s why I prefer ‘world first’.

How essential has innovation been in your career/business to date; and how important do you envisage it being going forward?  Innovation is core to creativity. It’s about understanding the existing thinking and technologies and pushing them further to create originality. A lower case innovation isn’t different enough and is often met with the sentence “that’s just like…”

A Capital Innovation makes the idea transcend everything we have done to date. It is ‘gold’.

While most Creative Directors and their Creatives are always looking for ‘original
ideas’ – the little innovation – I’m constantly on the hunt for ‘world firsts’.
Capital Innovation.

In fact, my own office of Wunderman Sydney has produced several world firsts in the past year alone.

Wunderman prides itself “on being at the forefront of technology and creative thinking.” Why? Can you tell me about your favourite examples of this?
You don’t get to be one of the world’s largest agency networks without applying

Coupled with insights and knowledge from our vast array of tech clients, including Microsoft and Nokia – two of the world’s leaders in technological innovation – Wunderman is well placed for applying creative muscle to future technologies in order to truly stay at the forefront.

In terms of Wunderman’s innovation, our work includes burying cash on the Internet in a world first campaign for Microsoft, inventing a media channel and whole new ‘fertilising’ printer’s ink for Earth Hour, and the world’s first audio-based Facebook app for Nokia – a campaign that simultaneously provided the social network with a whole new technology they hadn’t done themselves.

Can you be too innovative in marketing?

But you can get too complex with the marketing that envelops the innovation. You often see overly complicated campaigns wrapped around some technology, and the innovation gets buried under the complexity. There must always be a simple, relevant idea that requires the innovation – always idea first.

Are there agencies who stand head and shoulders above others with regard to how the incorporate Capital I Innovation?                                     I think there are several agency networks with a proven track record of having a
great sense of applied innovation, including Weiden + Kennedy, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, Crispin Porter, and DDB.

How have recent technological innovations changed the way you approach digital strategy?
There is a danger in using someone else’s innovations of simply replicating – the
original innovator and all the OTHER Creatives who also use that technology in their advertising. We must be inspired by innovation rather than re-use it. Inspired to either create our own or push existing technologies even further than anyone else ever has, or could.

Two years ago, when everyone else was using Augmented Reality to create pretty 3D images, we added geo-coding, personalization, live data streaming, and social
sharing to take the technology further than it had ever been, innovate a world
first, and create a totally immersive experience for our client.

The best way to approach a brief is to start the proposed solution with “what
if…”. And then find a way to make that crazy idea a reality. Sometimes that
involves researching for existing technologies and innovations that can achieve it, either in whole or in part and then extending or repurposing the technology to suit the campaign idea. Or create your own innovative solution.

And at the Cannes Lions awards, Ogilvy’s gold-winning ‘Watson’ for IBM campaign is a superb example of utilising existing technology AND creating your own innovation to make a brilliant piece of communication.

Where do you see Social Media being used most effectively?            Social media is a tool through which brands can have a relationship with consumers, and through which consumers can share brand content.

This can bring a greater immediacy to the product being in the consumer’s hand when they want it. And it provides massive potential to spreading communications faster than ever before.

But with it comes a price. The consumer now controls the conversation. And as fast as brands want positive socio-viral spread for their comms, negative socio-viral spread will always be faster.

Brands cannot afford to do any wrong.

What piece of innovation did you expect to happen/take off, that didn’t?                                                                                                                          Tough question.

We live in a world that moves at such a fast pace, and advertising moves
considerably faster, especially in creativity. So what was an Innovation yesterday
is instantly de rigeur today, observed with the all too common “that’s been done
before.” This means that even the best Innovations (after winning an award or two) are no longer useful for original creativity and therefore they never ‘take off’.

However, there will always be capital Innovations that continue to be used as
Creatives attempt to squeeze every bit of life out of then with little innovations.
For example, Augmented Reality was a capital Innovation about 4 years ago and
continues to surface in award shows.

And QR codes will continue to be used by brands to show digital superiority and try to engage consumers, but in most cultures the QR code is ignored by consumers.

In judging the 2011 Cannes Direct Lions, we did discover a truly relevant and
superior use of QR codes in a Korean campaign for Tesco that the jury unanimously agreed was worthy of double gold.

But now that the QR code has been used so extensively by brands (and so successfully by Tesco), they will be the furthest thing from the minds of most Creatives.

If you could give a ‘Capital I’ Innovation Award to anyone, who would you nominate? This could be individuals, organizations and/or companies.                                                                                                                  Many would be quick to name Apple as an Innovator. But I think Microsoft is by far the greater Innovator. You may think I’m doing my duty of defending one of
Wunderman’s primary clients, but as Malcolm Gladwell said in his Cannes Lions
seminar, “Apple win by being late to every innovation. They perfect, not invent.”

Whereas, Microsoft invests serious money into R&D to produce technologies far beyond their competitors. Most consumers just don’t realise it.

I also think HBO is an innovator in terms original, quality and highly-watchable

And there is probably no bigger innovator than Facebook. We’ve seen the movie and we’ve poked our friends and this brand continues to find new ways to engage and connect people and serve as a content and communication provider.

Do you think that location matters? Does Innovation have a home/nation?

Innovation exists in just one place in the world. The human mind. While that means location is irrelevant, there is obviously greater stimuli for the human mind to use for innovation in some cultures more than others. But to counter that, developing nations have a greater need for innovation and therefore potentially have a greater effort to achieve it.

On a personal note, there are two Wunderman campaigns in particular which I’m very fond of, one is the Legacy pitch for the Gruen Transfer – its aim, “to convince the Australian public to allow refugees arriving by boat into the country” –  and one for one of Melbourne’s best kept foodie secrets, the Taco Truck , which turns up on random street corners, and purports to serves up “some of the best tacos this side of East LA” . What I want to know is – and I know its a purely selfish question, but:
Is the Taco Truck coming to Sydney? Please!

I’ll see what I can do.

Sí, sí, sí por favor!!!

For more information about Matt and his adventures, visit his website.


If you could ask Vint Cerf ‘father of the internet’ any question, what would it be?

I am very pleased to announce that I will soon be interviewing Vint Cerf, known as ‘one of the fathers of the internet’, for the Capital I Interview series.

In the spirit of collaboration, and net neutrality, which Vint supports, I am offering followers of the KimmiC Blog the opportunity to ask Vint a question of their very own.

All you have to do is sign up to be a blog follower, and then post your question in the comment section below. The three best questions will be included in the interview. (Of course I will credit the person who asked the question!).

I look forward to exploring your ideas!

Capital I Innovation Series Introduction