Olive CooperOlivia Martyn is a creative, caring and incredibly diligent entrepreneur. I met her through the New Entrepreneurs Foundation programme. For the past year she served at Seatwave, as the CRM and Social Marketing Manager. All the while however, she worked on a secret project…

I am absolutely delighted to announce that Olivia will be launching Olive Cooper, a luxury women’s handbag brand, at the ‘Best of Britannia’ exhibition in October 2014! Her inspirational first collection is featured on the Olive Cooper website

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Over the past few years, I’ve followed the RSA ( Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Animate Series with great pleasure!

Thus, you can imagine my delight when I was invited to become a Fellow of the RSA, a few weeks ago. Today, I am thrilled to announce that my Fellowship has been confirmed! I look forward to a lifetime of creative collaboration through this incredible organisation. In the words of Neil Gaiman, “Let’s make good art”.

 

In 1975, Andy Warhol famously claimed:

“You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

His point regarding Coke’s egalitarianism is enormously profound. Coca-Cola is definitely the world’s most democratic soft drink!

But how has The Coca-Cola Company achieved this? Their dominance can, of course, be attributed to a multitude of factors, from excellent strategy to brilliant execution. But I believe that something larger is at play here: A cause. A belief. A purpose.

Now I’m not an expert on the history of the firm nor am I a huge evangelist of their product(s), but their message, on multiple occasions, has moved me:

“We’re in the business of spreading smiles and opening happiness every day all across the world.”

There will be many who scorn this (and perhaps their cynicism is justified) but the company’s recent campaigns serve as pure testament to their aspiration. Here is just one beautiful example:

As a British Indian, I have witnessed first-hand the unfortunate acrimony between the citizens of India and Pakistan. It is clear that a peaceful solution does not lie (solely) in the domain of politics.

But Coca-Cola recently brought together these very peoples, through a truly magical medium.

Their ‘Small World Machines’ initiative, in collaboration with Leo Burnett, has touched the hearts and minds of Pakistanis and Indians worldwide. As one observes from the video, the futuristic vending machines equipped with full-length webcams, allowed shoppers to see each other, interact, touch hands, dance, trace peace signs and smile! When folks finished collaborating, the machine dispensed a free can of Coke to reward them for their efforts. During the campaign, Coke gave out 10,000 cans of soda.

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group, often commentates on how advertising creates intangible/subjective value. Now Coca Cola’s staple product has not physically changed in terms of ingredients, but our experience- the user experience- has. On spotting a dusty Coke can in the fridge this afternoon, I could not help but smile.

This is game-changing. They’ve woven a story. They’ve surprised and delighted us. They didn’t intrusively push their product- in fact, the soft drink was just an after-thought! They’ve leveraged gamification not to divide, but rather, unite. They’ve seeded our subconscious with emotional affinity! And they’ve helped bring together two countries that have been at war with each other physically, verbally and psychologically for many years.

For me, a Coke will never be the same again. Here’s to “spreading smiles and opening happiness”.

Today, I’d like to share (and briefly) discuss the work of two great artists…

Stefan Iyapah is a student at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. I had the pleasure of working with him this summer. His creative approach and aspirations truly inspired me. Stefan is one of the creators of the following paper cut stop motion animation, Synesthesia:

At the time of my first viewing, I was unware of the story and context behind Synesthesia. Nevertheless, I admired the way that the artists infused life into inanimate objects- the collection of 3D paper shapes. Later, I learned that synesthesia was in fact  a neurological condition in which one sense (e.g. sound) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses, such as sight. The word is derived from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception)- thus synesthesia literally means “joined perception.” In the case of Stefan’s piece, sounds express themselves as colours and shapes. After this enlightening insight, I was simply at a loss for words at the cognitive brilliance, non-linearity and psychedelic style of his animation…

Next, Joseph Prior, a Yorkshire-man and an Architecture graduate from The University of Manchester. Joey and I went to high-school together- he was one of the school’s most talented fine artists. Last week, I  was lucky enough to happen upon another of his creations, Elemental:

The scenes are so beautiful and of such high quality that they could each stand alone as independent final pieces. But, for me, it is the fluidity and progressiveness of the story that makes Elemental so unbelievably powerful. The changing natural world is a pool brimming with inspiration- Joey has really tapped into this pool and delivered a unique and masterful painting experience…

 

Online search engines aren’t really the most ’emotional’ of products (as Jonah Berger – Marketing Professor at The Wharton School – notes in his brilliant book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”) The majority of people do not feel warm or cuddly when (if ever) thinking about the intricacies of the (all be it brilliant) front- or back-end engineering involved. The end user simply wants the most accurate search results as fast as possible.

A man named Anthony Cafaro, who joined the very first Google design team- called the “Creative Lab”- in 2009, found a way to foster an emotional connection between the end user and his/her Google Search experience. Together with the Creative Lab team, Cafaro developed the following video entitled “Parisian Love”:

This was simply inspiring and the learning here very much links to Simon Sinek’s mantra: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” Rather than highlighting the features and technology, i.e. the what, the Creative Lab outlined why Google Search even exists: to help people learn, grow and connect! They told a story. They moved us.

As one member of the Creative Lab team said, “The best results don’t show up in a search engine, they show up in people’s lives.”

Seth Godin’s  blog post yesterday, titled “Oh, that’s just a hack someone put together…”, really struck a chord… In a nutshell, he explains that every profound innovation is the result of perseverance, inspiration, leadership and drive. Everyday we interact with so many amazing technologies but we don’t always (consciously) appreciate the immense work that happened behind the scenes.

My friends and I are building something for you: HaikuJAM. We’re currently finalising our functional specification and will soon commence technical development. The ride thus far has been phenomenal and humbling. Since inception of the idea, we have been testing and learning. Our journey has really helped us appreciate the grit, tenacity and energy that go into developing anything worthwhile. On a personal level it has really honed my experience of technology and the world in general – I cherish (more so than I ever did before) the nuances of a smooth user experience; the composition of an intuitive interface*; the fluidity of screen flows… and so on… These were not the by-products of chance; rather, the offspring of diligence, passion and insight.

As summarised perfectly by Seth, “The ideas that change the world are changing the world because someone cared enough to stick it out, to cajole and lead and evolve.”

*Speaking of user interfaces, I was telling my dear friend and HaikuJAM’s brilliant technical advisor, James Cole, just the other day that “you know when you’ve seen an awesome user interface, when you want to use the product before even knowing what it does!”- I was referring to this service: Webflow.