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To AR is human…

AR is the most tangible manifestation of how our digital and physical worlds are combining, but by no means the only example.

Our mobile devices already mean we have a constant online connection to each other, to brands, to society and limitless information – providing an informational and transactional layer on top of the physical world.

What many define as ‘AR’ is the pointed version of this, literally overlaying information in front of our eyes to make many actions more effortless.

Voice is another example of this digital and smart layer on top of the real world. Wearables. IOT. All examples of how connectivity is being fused with every aspect of life.

“every brand manager must be falling out of their seat to think about how they can leverage this”

There is absolutely no doubt that AR is of significant opportunity to brands and marketers. The examples at yesterday’s F8 paint a picture of the world being interactive and shoppable – and every brand manager must be falling out of their seat to think about how they can leverage this sort of technology.

The danger is, as always, to think technology first, rather than people-first. The question must always be “How can we help our audience do what they want better”, or if inward looking, “How can we deliver on our organisational purpose better”.

“AR can play a role for brands who want to provide additional functionality layered on the real world.”

AR can play a role for brands who want to provide additional functionality layered on the real world. Ikea have already demonstrated smart ‘in home experiences’ of their furniture for instance. This comes from a consumer need and a business problem – rather than ‘what can we do with AR’. Digital commerce struggles with ‘try before you buy’ and AR gives you a sense, perhaps, of what that product could look like in-situ, as just one example. Dulux have dabbled with this, allowing you to paint your front-room virtually. Fashion retailers have virtual dressing room apps to see how clothes look on you. These all come from a real-world problem, and looking to how new technology can address it.

“Start with ‘what can create the best experience for customers?'”

That said – it is critical to explore and test and learn with new technologies. To see think around what they could do, to try and fail and try again, until you discover the right shape for you, rather than copying another brand’s use case or using the first idea which leaps to mind.

Starting with ‘what can create the best experience for customers’ and then looking to a toolbox of new technologies and techniques as ways of answering that question is the lifeblood of good innovation. Starting with ‘what can this technology do?’ is the lifeblood of faddish and non-strategic behaviours.

AR – or perhaps to use its full meaning ‘Augmented Reality’, is fundamentally what digital does best: an additive, augmenting, intelligent layer which improves and eases the physical world – and to this goal, AR is not new, but accelerating and accessible to people beyond high-end engineering businesses like Google or Facebook. The platforms are available for any brand to dabble, and this makes the future of AR a wonderful vision – from cynical marketing to life-saving applications, providing we ask …

…is what we are doing augmenting reality in a valuable meaningful way?

(A portion of this response was quoted in The Drum.)

#agencyvoices #carat #ar

Make Brave Happen presents C The World

This month, we held our second annual Make Brave Happen pitch event. At the start of each year, we ask the agency for ideas of how we can be more connected, more curious and more confident – to enable our cultural mission – to Make Brave Happen. Anyone in the agency can pitch an idea – 60 seconds, one slide, and everyone gets to vote on the ideas which will be realised.

This year – the winner was a concept called “Day in the Life…” and revolved around spending time in our client’s businesses, in consumer facing roles, to understand the reality of the product we create strategies for – and the team are now developing a plan of rolling this out across the business, with complete support from leadership.

Last year – one of the winners was “C The World”, developed by Ella Sy in the comms planning team. I sat with Ella to talk about her idea, and how it is developing since she pitched it to the agency.

MK: Ella, can you explain to us what “C The World” is?
Ella: C the World is an exchange program within Carat worldwide network entering into the ‘Make Brave Happen’ cultural initiative. The aim of this exchange program is to help Carat offices create stronger, better & more fluid live connections regarding intelligence sharing whether it is at an account, opcos, department, culture, process level. Anybody at Carat can pitch an idea to help add value within the network. The candidates have 6 weeks to start implementing their plans & get first results thanks to connections made across the world. At the term of these first 6 weeks of implementation, they will have to deliver a written presentation & as well as pitch their project’s progression to a panel of jury that will enable a handful of them to develop their project further by sending them in the market of their choice & ensure the longevity of their initiative.

MK: Why did you pitch this idea? Why do you think it’s important?
Ella: We are lucky to be part of a wide & sprawling organisation gathering various expertise. Communicating these expertise, sharing them & make them visible & accessible is less easily done than it would appear – all the less within a media / comms agency actually – a poorly shod shoemaker :P
We have so many insightful resources of all sorts… but I felt they were not exploited or simply considered to their full potential. All of this is all the more important, as it is not only putting systems & tools are the core of our daily business deliveries, but also People, empowering & harnessing their relationships among one another, their idea & their impact on the business.

MK: Since pitching the idea, how have you turned it from one slide into what it is now, and what support has the agency provided?
Ella: The Make Brave Happen team has been really supportive while still enabling me to remain the lead on my project. Good advice, insights & organisational tips have been shared to help me start in the best conditions. Since my project is APAC related, I have been able to deal directly with Vanessa Cox (HRD at Carat), but also Fiona Lloyd (Head of Carat Global Network) and Clay Schouest (CSO of APAC) to start more concrete discussions to progress.

MK: What stage is the project now? What is happening currently?
Ella: First contacts via email & Skype have been established to first present my project and give my interlocutors the context & my vision for the future – though it is still a bit blurry and will be reshaped as we move forward. Now, with Clay we have decided to start very simply yet fundamentally auditing on both an EMEA & APAC scope the tools, departments & types of intel & platforms currently at our disposal & how they are being used. Any duplication or gaps will be identified, helping us to get to the root of the issues / challenges we are facing & try to find solutions.
Also, from a very regional approach, we decided to make it more concrete & helpful by using my project to help on the LEGO pitch, currently undergoing. I believe this will be exciting & really concrete to see how making better connections can elevate our services & products for our Client, especially in times of pitches, where resources & enthusiasm are all the more amplified. My next step is to get closer to the New Biz team & see how I can densify their battle plan.

MK: What do you think the benefits of the programme will be, beyond someone getting to fly to another office?
Ella: Of course, being able to be sent in another market by Carat is a great thing, but this is clearly not a tourist trip – hence the 6 weeks of preliminary work we ask our candidates. Getting to know another Carat / market culture, ways of doing and above all meeting people face to face are game changers to really established strong relationships. As part of the MBH culture, the benefits are clearly to push one’s & also the company’s boundaries, think out of the box, enable to quench curiosity, gain confidence and be stronger as a whole than the sum of its part. Once there, the candidates will have to report in a blog, report or Yammer style their daily progressions.

MK: Because this is your idea, does that mean you aren’t eligible to be picked?
Ella: Well J I negotiated with the Team to actually develop my project, be sent to Singapore & be used as a guinea-pig! Just a simple reward after all to have shown bravery, especially in the first edition of MBH J

MK: How do you think Make Brave Happen helps Carat and our people?
Ella: We are working for a great company that employs hundreds of people in the UK, thousands all over the world. I do believe that MBH will help employees to shine where they are not expected, nudge more shy or quieter people to stand up & raise their voice – which will create a virtuous circle as we will feel listened, taken into consideration & given the resources to achieve a project that is out of our daily job scope. Because MBH is based on a vote system, some ideas that were great, didn’t make it to the podium, however, the board still decided to make them happen to some extent. I think it’s great.
In a Carat perspective, calling out to any level of employees, and not only leadership / senior teams, is refreshing, put things in perspective and this is definitely an edge to put Human first.

Each week, over the next six weeks, we’ll be catching up with people who are running their C The World projects, to understand their ambition and see how they are getting on, and when the judging has taken place – we’ll follow the winner to the market they choose, to see their plan unfold further.