In 1970, Dr Peter Haller and his partner Rolf O. Stempel changed the conversation of the advertising industry by offering the first fully integrated approach on the market – with the simple plan of serving a client’s complete needs. Hence the name Serviceplan. That quickly grew into an exceptional, independent agency model combining media, traditional and non-traditional creativity (and more) under the unique banner of the House of Communication – all your needs under one roof. Therefore, long before anyone else even started thinking about it, integration was already at the heart of our agency’s daily activities.
But as times change, like everyone we have to constantly evolve in order to remain relevant and ensure we can continue to add value to our clients’ business. We are living in the “screen age”. We have never had to fight so hard to grab people’s attention. In the nineties, there was a common theory that every day we were bombarded with over 8,000 messages of which we remembered only three. Two negatively and only one positively. Today a single living room might contain five to eight active screens, so just imagine how much harder we have to work to cut through the clutter in a consumer’s day.
On top of that, as if this media evolution was not already challenging enough, the Pentagon reminds us of how we are living in VUCA world, one which is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. With the public’s attention more distracted than ever, getting people to consume marketing messages has become significantly more difficult to achieve.
When looking at solutions to embrace this vibrant era, we first decided to look at ourselves and really focus our vision. We are therefore setting out to “be celebrated as the world’s most ÜberCreative House of Communication that crafts Best Brands through world-first ideas.” It is with this dream we hope to globally inspire our 3500+ colleagues across all aspects of the House of Communication to work even harder on the solutions we deliver to our clients.
As already proven by the founders of Serviceplan, language can trigger a revolution, which is why we have defined our edge as ÜberCreativity. By this we mean the magic that happens when all parts of the House of Communication come together to create world-first ideas. No matter what role or function one has in the Serviceplan Group – whether media, finance, administration, creative, PR, HR, production or digital – we invest our creative ingenuity into making the most outstanding multi-platform solutions for our valued clients.
Some of our most recent examples of ÜberCreativity do not fall into the realms of traditional advertising campaigns. Take for example Bayerische Motoren Werke. When BMW asked us to help them bring their story of luxury to life, we decided to go one step further. Instead of creating a mere advertising campaign for them to sell their most exclusive upcoming vehicles, we made a branding coup by convincing the 101-year-old automotive manufacturer to make the ultimate promise to its elite drivers – a bold return to the company’s original name, further elevating the perception of the vehicles.
This drew a line in the sand from anything they had done before. In research, we even tested the idea and found out that consumers were willing to pay up to twenty percent more for the vehicles branded under the new umbrella. It was then we knew that we had found the best solution to make our client more successful.
As ÜberCreativity can come from anywhere – regardless of function or geography – with the DOT watch we were able to mobilise the power of our entire group. This world-first idea comes from a cooperation between Dot Inc., Serviceplan Korea, the Innovation team in Munich and our finance colleagues. The result was a life-changing medium for the visually impaired. Every day this project is fostering new and interesting collaborations between other parts of the House of Communication including Plan.Net and Mediaplus. Not only is this improving lives, but has also resulted in 30 Grand Prix and 60 Gold awards around the globe. Most importantly, it has kickstarted new collaborations with a variety of clients including Motorola.
We look forward to writing our upcoming chapters of ÜberCreativity on projects for Deutsche Telekom, BMW, Heineken Spain and Friesland Campina – to name just a few. But what does this all mean for you, you are probably asking yourself? First off, ÜberCreativity allows us to curate the most engaging stories across multiple platforms. That means the ideas generated should be powerful enough for you to raise your “share of market” and “share of soul”, thus fast-tracking you on the way to becoming a Best Brand. And at the end of the day we need to remember that clients and agencies no longer build brands; consumers are responsible for their growth. They grow them through conversations. In the screen age, these conversations happen when we do interesting things.
Going down this path of ÜberCreativity takes your communication on a journey towards interesting, popular work. It means that no matter what part of the Serviceplan Group you employ, you get access to thinking from a much wider troop of professionals already used to collaborating with one another. To embrace the power of this approach, you do not have to be a big client. You just need to have the right conversations with the right people at the right time, using the right combination of talent from the entire House of Communication. Another way clients can tap into the power of ÜberCreativity is by fast tracking projects with the help of a WigWam. A WigWam is more than just a two or three-day hothouse. There is a strict methodology to the creative development behind it. Let’s start with why it is great for a client’s business.
Very often briefs are sent to the creative departments. Traditionally, we give the creative process comfortable time to develop work. In some cases, the more time creatives have to think, their experience kicks in and discards undeveloped ideas which may simply be unpolished diamonds with the potential to become ground-breaking work. Or, at the same time, they might come up with a nice execution but it doesn’t have any real multi-platform or future potential. With a WigWam, we condense the initial development into an explosive three days, which immediately shows progress and scale.
To do this, we invite four to five teams from different offices, countries and disciplines and share the creative brief with them. They only have 20 minutes to come back with their first ideas in the form of a picture, a line, idea and so on. They present it together to the other team members. They then go for another 30 to 45 minutes and come back and present again. This results in new ideas every time! Depending on the quality of the brief, at the end of the first day we would see anywhere between 80 to 100 ideas! As the Creative Director moderating the affair, one starts to see certain themes and territories emerging and you look for the strongest three or four platforms.
On day two we spend the time “mining” ideas again in the same relentless manner. 45 minutes in, 15 minutes out. Hopefully, by the end of the second day you start to populate the territories. The creativity that comes out of it validates the platforms in real time, giving us confidence that the ideas are both multichannel, long-lasting and interesting for consumers to engage with.
On day three we choose the best two territories and start to craft specific executions. During the entire WigWam, teams potentially conceive and present around 250 to 300 ideas.
We like to involve clients at two stages during the process. The night before the WigWam we invite the clients to share their marketing ambition with the participants and get to know the different people inside the House of Communication. Then after day one or day two, we like to invite one client to visit and hear a couple of the ideas. This is not to approve or disapprove our thinking, but to bring our clients into the ÜberCreative process as a barometer and active member of the team.
Between the end of the WigWam and the first client presentation we need another two or three weeks to delve deeper and craft our strategy and work.
However, before you get too excited about this streamlined approach, this is an exhausting process for creatives and not sustainable on a daily basis. It is also not suitable for every brief. It requires ambition and a desire for something unique and game-changing. Most recently we have used this process for Heineken in Spain and Ducati in Italy – with exceptional results.
Throughout our entire organisation, we are really excited about our evolution and are privileged to be on this journey with you.
Illustrations: Azim Abasbek