The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Things Don’t Make Sense, They Sometimes Lead Us To Somewhere Better …

One of the things I loved about R/GA was they were one of the few agencies who truly understood creative tech.

It was never an add on. It was never just about the ‘shiny, new thing’. It was central to the creative process … enabling ideas to explore places you may never have thought about.

It was one place where I really felt I might be able to be part of something that outlived me and while I’m not there anymore, I still think that’s pretty cool.

I say this because in the world of innovation – and I mean this in the broadest sense of the word, not just within the marketing industry – so much of it seems small.

Yes, I know innovation can be executed in multiple ways.

The process.

The technology.

The integration.

But for the people on the street, if innovation doesn’t result in an experience or product they’ve never seen before, too often they end up dismissing it out of hand.

That’s hard for companies.

Especially when the moment they do make something new, the public fawn in delight for half a second, then go off in search for the next new thing.

It’s this situation that paralyses a lot of companies.

They know they have to innovate to keep moving forward but the financial risks involved – both in terms of development, application, competition and audience adoption – mean it’s far more ‘sensible’ to make degrees of change.

So we end up with ‘new features’ that serve little or no purpose because they’re not innovative enough to make people pay attention and not useful enough to make people value what it does for them.

And it’s for this reason why I bloody love this piece of tech madness from Amazon/Ring.

Yes, I know it’s an evolution – albeit an evolution on steroids – of a home security cam.

Yes, I know it’s being sold as a solid and sensible piece of technology.


How nuts is that?

I would have loved to have been in the meeting where that idea came about.

Not to mention the meeting where they had to ask for R&D funding from Bezos.

I wonder if it was a brainstorm and someone just threw the idea out there as a pisstake and then, after everyone laughed, someone said, “that could work”.

Do I think it’s a good idea?

Yeah … maybe.

I mean, they do make other security products that, arguably, are much better protection for the home because [1] you can see them outside the house which [2] acts as a deterrent, so a criminal is less likely to smash a window or door to get in.

But even then I still love it.

Even with one of the worst product demo films I’ve ever seen.

Because at the end of the day, the idea it got made.

An idea, that is frankly utterly bonkers, got produced … and in this world where too many companies are putting the no into innovation, that’s infectiously intoxicating.

But before you accuse me of celebrating creative tech security indulgence … there’s another important thing here.

Because almost regardless how well this sells – though I think it will do brilliantly, simply on ridiculous novelty – it has just opened the door to so many more things.

Not just in terms of what the next iteration of that product will be.

Not just in terms of what the competition will now create.

But in terms of what is possible.

From home security to medical supervision to stuff we haven’t considered yet.

A few years ago I read an article by a tech journalist who said the biggest thing he needed to remember was to not judge new technology by the standards of the established. He had to acknowledge things may not be seamless. That products may not be perfect. Because if he didn’t, he may contribute to killing an idea before it’s had a chance to become what it could be.

It’s an important lesson because all ideas start off fragile.

They need space and time to grow. To get strong. To evolve.

They need nurturing, crafting.

Hell, in some cases, they need humanity to catch up to where the idea already is.

While I fully expect Amazon/Ring to cop a load of piss-taking from people and the media, it’s worth remembering that Fuel Band – another product widely questioned by media and society when it came out – opened the door to creative uses of tech that directly led to NIKE being able to make products that are now relied upon – and loved – by millions of athletes all around the World.

Or said another way.

Without Fuel Band – developed by R/GA – we may be living in the athletic dark ages.

So here’s to more crazy creative tech ideas.

Because as mad as they may seem at the beginning, they might just be the things that push us all to somewhere greater.

46 Comments so far
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What a surprize you like a stupid gadget that can make sure Otis doesn’t mess with your other stupid gadgets. Like a cup that tells you what liquid is in the cup even though you’re drinking out of it.

Comment by Bazza


How many times do I have to tell you.

OK. so I ordered it on kickstarter and it never turned up … but I never got it so I’m innocent on this. Not on many other gadgets of stupidity I admit, but definitely on this.

Comment by Rob

Ordered = guilty.

Comment by Bazza

= gullible.

Comment by John

you still fucking want it dont you campbell. twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

And how does it stop a robber wearing a mask then just punching it out the sky. It’s a robocop fail.

Comment by Bazza

Robocop fail is brilliant.

Comment by Pete

It does seem the ability to swipe it away is a major flaw. And is the drone controlled by the user? If it is there’s another disaster as most people I’ve seen using a drone can’t control it in the sky, let alone the house.

But that said, I get Robert’s point. What it is now is not what it will become. Thank goodness. ; )

Comment by George

Rob wasn’t that nice about Peggy.

Comment by Bazza

Hahahahaha … Peggy.

Well because Peggy served no purpose than to try and win JWT a Cannes award. They had no intention to evolve it, distribute it or sell it … it was pure self serving. Ring Drone, on the other hand is the opposite of all that … and you can see this is opening the door to new things it can be rather than necessarily just being a home security kit with – I admit – a number of potential flaws.

BTW George, I think it controls itself automatically … I hope so, because my experience with my drone is exactly as you say. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

100% made for the Rob Campbell’s of this world.

Comment by Pete

I would imagine Robert has already put his name down for it. Or maybe 10,000 so they can fly him and the family all the way to NZ.

Comment by George

You will have better insight than me Rob, but I thought R/GA was a lot more interesting when they focused on being an innovative digital company. Though that can be said be said about most of the networks. They try to evolve to the times and forgot what made them desirable in the first place. Making you redundant is another example of that.

Comment by Pete

So you’re saying god bless Amazon for making crazy?

Comment by Bazza

I don’t know if the agency networks evolve. They may say they have, they may use buzzwords and new imagery and frames of reference. But from my perspective, they either dilute the offering that made them stand out and/or have added cheap infrastructure to appear to be able to compete but ultimately get found out or caught out. I don’t know much about R/GA, but I have witnessed other agencies follow that path.
That said, I agree your point about making Robert redundant, but he seems very understanding about it and this post reinforces that.

Comment by George

Regardless of the changes going on out there, I still say R/GA are still one of the few companies [in the marketing/agency space] that truly gets tech and looks to utilise it in solving their clients problems. They may be focusing more on platforms and services, but that’s a vital part of modern marketing and few are able to do it as well as them.

I enjoyed my time there, I’m not going to say anything bad … they gave me and my family a chance to come back to England, let me meet/grow a team of amazing people and gave me a chance to do work I had done little of before.

Redundancy sucks, but as I said at the time, I’m glad it was me rather than a woman or a person of colour or someone young just starting out. And let’s face it, I’ve done more than OK since, plus I’m heading to Colenso. As redundancy goes, I won the lottery. Ha.

Comment by Rob

Mature Rob sucks.

Comment by Bazza

What you mean is you have won the lottery again, Rob.

Comment by Pete

Mature Rob doesn’t exist. Less immature Rob exists.

Comment by DH

less immature? have you seen the shit he buys?

Comment by andy@cynic

take that back. have you seen the shit he blags for fucking free?

Comment by andy@cynic

letting campbell leave rga was stupid. letting law leave was fucking self sabotage.

Comment by andy@cynic

Mature Rob sucks.

Comment by Bazza

great post how did Rga convince clients ? also the thief in the Ring advert was in previous adverts – why hasn’t been locked up by now 😉

Comment by JO

I think – and I could be wrong – NIKE came to them with the idea of what they wanted to do. R/GA developed it … so the ‘convincing’ was already done in the main. Or it was if that story is right. It was before my time – I was at Wieden and we were charged with making the film to launch it.

I remember at the time having doubts about the product … and then we got one and we all nodded, saying ‘this is cool. hahaha. And while others mocked it and it was notorious to break, it set a path to using tech in sport that has enabled millions of people to be better athletes every single day.

Comment by Rob

I had 2. Both broke but it definitely was one of the products that started the possibilities of wearable tech.

Comment by Pete

You mean after the digital watch.

Comment by Bazza

OK. One of the first products that took the digital watch and evolved its potential to be more than telling time.

Comment by Pete

How about this (mainly because I can see you’re in a fiesty mood and this could go on forever)

Fuel Band opened up the possibilities of a piece of wearable tech not just measuring an athletes time, but enabling them to improve on it. Or do you want me to mention all the features of the iWatch? Haha.

Comment by Rob

If you could.

Comment by Bazza

I general, people in advertising should get off their high horse and stop thinking that their critique has any weight,

Ad people, (my own kind) are talkers, not doers, and ads they make people do everything to avoid. Their product is free yet people hate it.

Ad people contributed little if any, to innovation or product development and often have little understanding of entrepreneurship or product development.

If every strategist and creative out there were in fact so smart, how come they don’t start building great companies? No, they prefer talking and thinking because doing and building is harder and demands putting one’s money where the mouth is.

Too much risk. The ivory tower is much much better. That and €150 sneakers while wearing €150 workwear Carhart pants and pretending to be working class. The same class one does everything to ridicule and distance oneself from.

Ad people are not the ones in the arena, and they don’t have skin in the game.

Comment by Nisse

Hang on, aren’t you doing exactly what you say ad people do … sitting on your high horse and offering a critique?

And while I agree with a lot of what you’re saying – I truly do – the best ad people [whether creatives or planners or even, on occasion, suits] have created things … have innovated things and have built great companies.

Maybe they’re not as huge as some of the tech guys, but not only does that not make them successful, but the reality is there’s not many tech people who have started companies, let alone of that scale either. Plus – and here’s the weird bit – some of those tech mammoths, hire those ad people’s companies to help them reach and connect to even more people.

And just for the record Baz, George and Pete – all commentators on this post – do work for tech firms, – and are at a senior level. But none of them started the companies they’re at, which … as I said … is the case for most people in innovation and consultancy for that matter, so does that mean they’re all talk too? Then there’s the fact that while I am in adland, I have started a bunch of companies [not all in advertising and marketing] and sold all but 2 of them for a profit. Does that mean, by your reckoning, I’m more successful than people in tech then? Or does it at least give me the right to critique things?

I’m both confused and fascinated by your comment so could you please tell me what industry you do Nisse and where your perspective comes from? Not to challenge it, but to understand it. Thank you.

Comment by Rob


Comment by DH

Yes, some ad people have good points and clearly contribute. But, it’s the self-righteousness I’ve experienced from so many ad people who from my POV have not done anything nearly as complex as running a company. Or launching a product. People in this thread who even compare their agency job with running a company have no idea what they’re talking about. For god’s sake, people don’t even last in AD-land because we burn people out. A result of ad people being more creative than being good at building healthy organizations? People work long hours on smaller and smaller budgets. The smart and interesting kids don’t go into adland anymore, the go into tech where the hours are decent and pay good.

On top of that, ad-land is becoming propaganda central for the left where its no longer about understanding target groups but instead force-feeding them/teaching them about political correctness. I’m on the left myself but can not understand how the fuck people think it’s a good idea to have organizations lead the way when we all know, or should know that companies exist to make money. If you want to shave the world ad-land is not for you. Ad-land is about selling things. That’s what we do, or the result of our services. Everything else is just tactics.

Ben and jerrys launched a campaign in Sweden where they’re saying Swedes should accept more immigrants and that we can afford it. Meaning, telling us taxpayers we should be ok with paying more taxes. Regardless of what you think about this.. Remember that their parent company is involved in advanced tax-planning, doing anything they can to pay as little as possible.

The creative class is the petite bourgeoisie. Just look at the reaction to trump and brexit. How long are highly-paid ad people try to pretend that they’re not the new elite? Instead of whining about how dumb the working classes are, maybe ad-people need to use their research skills to understand these people instead of calling them dumb. Thaw could actually be useful

Rob, email if you’re truly interested. I’d love to chat. I loved adland but had to leave because I’m convinced it’s going downhill from now. I got too much to do to write here and correct my own shitty grammar and spelling. I now work in tech. Smarter people, better hours, and build things. Also check out Alexander Bard, he’s crazy but smarter and cooler than anyone you know.

Not using encrypted email makes you an idiot. Nothing to be proud of.

Comment by Nisse

I don’t work in an agency. I work at Apple.
And do you think Ben & Jerry’s were made to talk about letting more immigrants in Sweden by their agency? If you knew anything about the company you would know they have always been liberal in their approach, even now when they’re owned by Unilever. It seems your perspective is driven by your prejudices and paranoia rather than the practices of the advertising industry. Your last sentence sums it up.

Comment by Bazza

Thank you for responding Nisse, I appreciate it.

I have to say, I find some of your comments about the advertising industry very bizarre. So much of what you appear to hate is more prevalent in big, corporate organisations than adland … and yet you seem to find ‘running a company’ as the holy grail for having worth.

Then there’s the fact you talk about the commentators on here having no idea what they’re talking about. The vast majority work outside of the ad industry – surely that means they have more idea of what you are talking about?

You suggest you are working in adland. Why? If you hate it so much, what would you do that?

I’ll email you as it sounds like you want to chat, but I also encourage you to be sure about what you actually hate – as it seems your personal situation is clouding your ability to be objective.

Comment by Rob

What do you mean by skin in the game? If you mean they have a financial interest in their company/product being successful, then you’re talking about every single person employee. You seem to be adopting the same critique you find distasteful.

Comment by Bazza

Well I just checked and Nisse used an encrypted email account which suggests they have more to hide than the people they are accusing.

Nisse, I am genuinely interested in your POV. As I said, I agree with a lot of it, but it’s so generalist, myopic and sensationalist that you are undermining your argument.

I really want to understand more, so please, let me know the industry you work in and where your POV on the ad industry is from.

I also acknowledge you weren’t directly comparing ad-folk to people in the tech industry but then you go on about ‘fake working class’ … I’m a bit lost.

So please tell me, I’m genuinely interested.

Comment by Rob

Also, most entrepreneurs put other people’s money at risk not their own,

Comment by John

What job does this flying security cam do? A job that lots of products already do perfectly well without flying. In addiiton, for it to work, you have to keep all your doors open – which might be a fire hazard and might interfere with existing security systems. And if you’ve got a pet …

Is it a cheaper solution and therefore disruptive? I doubt it. Innovation is about doing something that can’t be done right now or doing much better and/or cheaper something that can be done right now. I’m not convinced this does either and I’m not as optimistic about its iterations since its point of difference is that it flies around. But don’t cancel your order, I’m sure you’ll find a use for its voyeurism.

Comment by John

But this is my point John, we’re comparing a new technology by the standards of what is already there. And while I get why you are saying that … what it could end up leading to, may be very different and much more useful.

The digital watch just told the time with LCD figures versus hands. But what it helped lead to was a revolution in almost all aspects of our life.

I accept you have a right to be skeptical about it, but the fact it got made in a world obsessed with ‘sensible and rational’ is cause for celebration.

Especially that it came from Amazon, who – in some ways – are out innovating the tech big boys in terms of consumer tech.

Comment by Rob

Of course it could lead somewhere interesting. I hope it does. At first glance, I can’t see it, but that’s irrelevant. Other people will.

I’d dispute that I’m looking at it in terms of what already exists though. I’m looking at the user need and whether it’s being met well enough. That’s very different.

For now, this seems like a bunch of existing technology searching for a use case. I will be proven wrong. It’s great that it’s been made, but you don’t say why you think it is great in and of itself and it’s that which will determine its success, no?

Comment by John

My point is that I think it’s great because it has been made. To be honest, it’s more that. There’s so many great ideas that I know have been killed because the money men say the scale potential isn’t big enough … that I love this product, which as you say may be a frankenstein of a whole lot of existing tech. has.

But I also think by having it out, it will open the eyes of others that can see other uses and evolution possibilities. Maybe I’m wrong, but a lot of what we have started off in a very different place but set off the imagination of others simply by the fact it got mate.

Comment by Rob

Agree completely. As you wrote in the post, it would be great to know what the thinking was.

Comment by John

I was going to say its amazing amazon are designing products just for you. Then I remembered companies tend to go out of their way for their best customers.

Comment by DH


Comment by Pete

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