May 8, 2011 - No Comments!

YCC Visits Sunderland University [06.05.11]

"Monkey hanger" is an affectionate term by which Hartlepudlians are often known.

According to local folklore, the term originates from an incident in which a monkey was hanged in Hartlepool. During the Napoleonic wars, a French ship was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. The only survivor was a monkey, wearing a French uniform. On finding the monkey, some locals decided to hold an impromptu trial on the beach; since the monkey was unable to answer their questions, and many locals were unaware of what a Frenchman may look like, they concluded that the monkey was in fact a French spy. Just to make sure, the animal was thus sentenced to death and hanged from the mast of a fishing boat on the Headland.

Bloody good job I wasn't in Hartlepool then!

Although to get to Sunderland by train Monkeys do have to pass through that treacherous place.

So Friday 6th May brought me back to my old university in Sunderland. I spent my whole life growing up in Sunderland and studied the Advertising & Design course there for 3 years, so seeing a bright eyed bunch of first year ad students was a really poignant part of coming back knowing that in 3 years time they'll be hot on my tail.

So after a quick intoduction we set to work. I wanted to use the session as an experiment and to be as prolific and productive as possible. I wanted to take the students out of their comfort zones and get them thinking in new ways.

So instead of setting a brief written on a piece of paper for a small insignificant product I got the guys to be brave and pick a big brands at random out of my little red hat. The likes of Walkers, Tetley, Nike, Nokia, Cadbury, Pedigree, Panasonic were in there to choose from. And why the hell not. We don't want to be producing students who shit themsleves when a big opportunity comes their way. We want students that see creativity as a playground! For they should be brave, daring, experimental and having a ball.

When the students had their brands I dropped the second bombshell. NO PAPER. I told the guys I wanted big, thought provoking ideas but their ideas had to be submitted on an online platform of some form. A Tumblr, WordPress, Twitter page, Facebook page, YouTube pages for example.

The way we communicate has rapidly changed and so has the way that brands are communicating with us. Brands can no longer tell people what to buy. As consumers we now have the upper hand and we choose what we interact with and when - that's why we need good ideas.

The fundamentals of a good idea are the same as they always were... we need brave, original, bold and engaging ideas lead by exciting and compelling strategic insights, but we need to use the platforms that are readily available as a way to not just execute but more as a way of influencing the type of ideas we have. Check this out from Andy Sandoz - he has a sweet little diagram on his blog and elaborates on being digitally cultured.

So once we had the thoughts down (baring in mind how they were going to be executed) we started having some fun. The guys really enjoyed the new ways they were using these platforms for brand communications. By the end of the session [around 4.30pm] we had eveything from blog novels about dogs for Pedigree, to a user generated Facebook store for Nike, to electronic orchestras for Panasonic, Walkers owning Friday nights down the pub via Tumblr and Twitter and even ideas for augmented reality swap shops for Nokia via Tumblr and Twitter.

Ok so the sites need a little brushing up and expanding upon but for some of the guys it was their first time they'd even made a Tumblr. They experimented, played around with the platforms and were thinking in new ways. But look at it this way, the guys now have ideas that are living and breathing in the digital world and that for me is pretty damn cool.

I must say a huge thanks to the first years of Sunderland. You make the Monkey's proud.

And for the rest of you - save some trees will yer !

Viva la digital revolution.

Dani & The YCC

Published by: admin in College Visits

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