Tag: Kate Obregon

30
Dec

Audiences Want Stories With Context & Connection

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Oracio Alvarado

Co-Founder & Director of Strategy and Research Kate Canada recently wrote an article for MediaPost about how brands can authentically provide context and connect with their audiences.

You can read the full post here, but we’ve included an extract:

Today’s audience is craving a real connection, and authentic stories that represent the changing demographics of the American landscape are one of the most powerful ways to establish that connection. Stories tap into the emotions we all share. Stories are universal ways of telling our personal view from the individual and tying it all up with what’s going on in the city, country and globe. Our job is to create stories of possibility and resonance.

I see two related opportunities for brands to meaningfully connect with audiences using story: as content for context and as content for everyday storytelling.

Content as Context

2014 was the year for telling the Big Family story, content as context. The 2014 Coca-Cola America Super Bowl spot and Honeymaid’s This is Wholesome commercial are examples of telepathic compelling campaigns; piquing our emotions without running too much in the way of sentimentality. In these spots, we see the “wide screen format” of storytelling as context. It gives the reader the emotional landscape.

Content for Everyday

The smaller but nonetheless still potent pieces of the story are what I call snap-shorts of everyday life, the smaller bits that make up our big picture. P&G’s Tide with a Problem-Solving Dad doing laundry and French-braiding his daughter’s hair; the Thank You Mom featuring kids and falling and learning with lots of support from mom; Chevy Malibu’s The Car For The Richest Guys On Earth piece or the Cheerios Here’s To Dad where the narrator looks straight into the camera and says, “We make the new rules… this is how to ‘Dad.’”

As advertisers, we are responsible for taking the constellation of social dots of demographics, sentiments and media connectivity and turning them into tactics and actions, shaping the data into meaningful ways of reaching out and engaging with consumers. In so doing, we will be able to, as David Ogilvy suggested, respectfully and empathetically become trusted partners with consumers, smart and savvy social beings who live in the world.

07
Nov

Agency Post Profiles Kate Canada Obregon

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 10.22.30 AM

Our Co-Founder/Director of Strategy & Research Kate Canada Obregon has written extensively about the power of data in helping brands to better understand and connect with their audiences in authentic ways.

Agency Post recently profiled Kate on the marriage of social science and research in Oishii Creative’s work for both design and brand clients.

Here’s an excerpt:

Should creative ideas always be based in research and data? How does this foundation provide brands with a more impactful strategy or campaign?

The best creative emerges from a conversation with qualitative and quantitative data sets. I like to know the facts and the big picture that numbers can readily tell us. With that said, numbers do miss the subtleties of opinions, perceptions, and desires. This is where semiotics, ethnography, or other social science methods are extremely valuable tools. The best campaigns I’ve worked on are those where I’ve been able to dig deep into all sorts of data and turn up something unexpected and new. These campaigns end up being the most timely and talked about beyond a quarterly life cycle or the next ad buy season. I like partnering with clients who want to be relevant and let the research lead them beyond trends and into real meaning and relevancy. Audiences and consumers want this, too. 

Check out the full interview here!

19
Sep

Congratulations, You’re A Creative Strategist! Now What?

Attribution: Flickr: Tunisia-3433

Attribution: Flickr: Tunisia-3433

My former life in academia and my current one in branding have taught me everyone has the skill set within them to be what I call a creative strategist. I believe strategy is a creative skill, requiring our whole brains; the logic and rational working effortlessly with the non-verbal, passionate and the visual. A creative strategist knows how to use data, ethnography and trends to tell a story for clients. To talk about what’s going on in the world without vague platitudes. (Millennials want authenticity and honesty!) Creative strategy sets into motion a brand study or brand integration that is both granular and deep.

Creative Strategist: Person who uses several types of data and applies to a problem or project.

While we should all be strategists, the fact is our work environments and thinking habits get in our way.

In our work lives we must hit metrics, make deadlines and take back-to-back meetings at the office. Our days are consumed with finding ways for everyone to do more with fewer resources, money, people and time. We spend our waking working hours thinking small. And by that I mean we grow accustomed to solving operational problems rather than the big creative knotty ones. We don’t allow ourselves the time to contemplate a project with depth or rigor what I call, thinking big skills.

And thinking small isn’t necessarily bad.

It’s a necessary part of running a successful creative work environment. But, when thinking small preoccupies us and becomes a fixation, it diminishes the culture, business and eventually, the people around us. People start getting in the way of their own thinking and creative capabilities; they look to what others have done before them or try formulas. People begin to believe it simply takes too much energy and time to think big for clients. The work culture and individual habits form a dysfunctional quality, where changing demographics, consumer tastes and technological disruption become a blur of problems without solutions.

What is the relationship between strategy and creativity?

  • Some would say they have little in common. But I think they are more interconnected than many assume. Strategy involves combinatory thinking. Combinatory thinking looks to data, but to other sources disciplines and trends. You’ve got to read up, mix and match, and spend time listening, reading, doing and applying to creative work.
  • Creative Strategy uses a visual thinking toolkit. Visual thinking combines our imagination and drawing or visual techniques. A toolkit has exercises to stimulate ideas and take you out of your ordinary brain strengths. We tweeted about one such exercise: Sit in your chair and imagine the buildings behind you. What are people doing there? Go to the building behind the first building. What are people doing there? Write down notes and draw pictures.
  • The best strategy comes from operationalizing creativity into the office.  Tag on 15-minute work sessions after other less creative meetings. Research shows creative work sessions after “boring” meetings can spur divergent thinking, the fuel for creative work.
  • Strategists daydream. When tackling a creative problem, and after you’ve met with other people to collaborate, give yourself time to process the information. Creativity flows from the unconscious and once you’ve stuffed your brain with the food of data, trends, information, books and thinkers, let your unconscious have its way with the problem.
  • Creative Strategists have disciplined individual habits. As much as I’ve talked about unleashing your talent, the best work comes from a disciplined set of work habits. Work at the same time every day, produce visuals or writing with set goals, and fuel your imagination with quality books and movies.

How do you think big? I’d like to hear how these tips work for you!

— Kate Canada Obregon

 

05
Sep

Think Like A Tourist: Do You See or Notice?

Photo by opensource.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

Photo by opensource.com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

This summer, we’ve been traveling on our “design pilgrimage” as we call it.

I brought several books on the trip with me to give structure to my thoughts and writing. One was Experiences in Visual Thinking by Robert H. McKim, the classic how-to manual for anyone who wants to sharpen his or her creative visual thinking skills.

These are the methods of approaching any problem or situation using subconscious and conscious types of thinking. Visual thinking is a multifaceted skill and approach to any problem we have to solve on any given day.

We’re all born with the ability to harness our imagination, and we think most of our waking lives, but as McKim sees it, schooling, habits, thinking patterns and work life get in the way. We think broadly and unproductively. We believe the way we think about one situation applies to most other problems or assignments.

When I was a university teaching assistant, we new teachers had several sessions of training to prepare us for working with students and the various ways people think and learn. Most academics are logical and linear thinkers, but that’s merely a slice of the learning personalities in the world.

In one particularly useful session, the trainer was a professor and researcher who used neuroscience in his teaching methods. He said that all of one’s thinking life could be reduced to patterns we used in the grocery store (before Amazon, obviously!). The way we thought and acted on our thoughts in the store was the organizational patterns or thinking blueprint we probably applied to everything else in our lives, including university assignments. Some people are spiral thinkers, he said, they go in the middle and work their way out, with or without a list. Others work from the sides going up and down the aisles.

He gave us this information as a way to help us teach and empathize with students. Everyone uses patterns in their thinking and we apply them to most aspects of our lives. Raising our awareness about the types of thinking, he wanted us to understand that just because someone doesn’t take what we think to be logical notes it doesn’t mean they’re not absorbing and using the lecture content meaningfully.

We approach our design problems in similar ways to our approach to the grocery store and McKim’s tool kit remains valuable for all of us visual solutions people.

The pivot for thinking takes place as we look at our world. Using McKim here, seeing is what most people do; perceiving is what most successful visual thinkers do.

What’s the difference between perceiving and seeing?

Seeing

Seeing is looking at the world and our surroundings as is. We use and apply thinking blueprint and go about our day solving problems or creating solutions. We look at an assignment or problem. We research what others say about it and come up with solutions. It’s practical, efficient and reliable. This is often called deductive thinking. It means you apply general observations about the world to particular problems.

But, seeing as a thinking tools is rarely innovative.

Perceiving

Perceiving, on the other hand, is active with multiple steps and involves all of what McKim calls “operations” in our brains. Here are some key facts about the process of perception:

  • Active and ‘down below.’ Let’s say you are given a creative brief with an assignment. Perceiving would involve looking at the problem, researching and talking to others. Perceiving problem solving means sitting with the assignment and walking away, shifting the process to ‘down below’ into the unconscious layers of brain activity, anfr letting the mind work through the assignment for some time without using the conscious mind.
  • Integrates past ideas. Perceiving blends the past with the new assignment. Let’s say your assignment involves coming up with new ways to drive interest in a company’s new product, say men’s socks. Because you’ve worked on many, many projects with the assignment of driving awareness, you know the tried-and-true steps. But wait, you’ve also seen stellar and creative work done in financial services lately that raised awareness about products, too. While not the same product, they had similar market problems and they tried x, y or z. Integrative thinking brings in other experiments to your problem and sees what works.
  • Connects dissimilar topics. Perceiving is making mental leaps and combining with other areas. Let’s say you have a passion for travel and you read lots about the best surfing in world, which you know is in far-flung places like Taghazout, Morocco, Bundaran, Ireland or Tofino, British Columbia. You know this topic, and you’ve stuffed lots of details in your brain over the years.This “stuff” comes in handy when you are thinking about travel and surf and your sock assignment. You’ve looked at the sales figures, the average consumer and you’ve got a stack in your drawer at home and the office. You realize that connecting the socks that fold easily can be found in the dark easily and are made of breathing micro-fibers with travel and these often unheard-of places could breathe new market life for the socks, and make the client very happy.

That’s perceiving — seeing the world in a new way. Utilizing your brain’s functions and harnessing your creative powers.

So what’s your take on the world around you? Do you see or perceive?

— Kate Canada Obregon

11
Jul

Television and The Modern Family Mash-Up

Image courtesy of Hapticgeneration.com

Image courtesy of Hapticgeneration.com

Audiences gravitate towards stories about families because they capture the quirky, imperfect, and often hilarious dynamics of our own lives, and as a content creator, television is uniquely positioned to mirror our changing families and to help audiences navigate what it all means. Only recently, however, has the story been so colorful, and crowded. Here’s a look at how the changes in American families and their continually complicated stories get played out in entertainment.

In the 1950s, the family was viewed as one cohesive functional unit and the need for conformity was a recurring theme in programming. Demographically speaking, television reflected the fact that American households were primarily white, and on TV, white families stood in for other ethnic groups. After World War II, US consumers had more discretionary income and the population was growing. With more money and bigger families, people began moving to the then-new suburbs. Television telegraphed these demographic changes, turning raw data into stories that fueled shows as The Real McCoys, The Donna Reed Show, Bewitched and Father Knows Best.

By the 1970s, the American family had begun a process of dramatic change. Divorce rates doubled, we saw the development of blended families, and the face of the American public was becoming a true melting pot, a multicultural mixture of ethnicities, races and religions under a single American identity. Again, television reflected these changes, now playing off family tension in such popular shows as the ground-breaking All In The Family and its spinoffs Maude, Good Times and The Jeffersons.

Recent demographic changes have further upended American society and culture. We are more diverse than ever, and in a demographic first, immigrant families accounted for the majority of births in 2010. Census data also indicates that there is no longer a “typical” American family as they are headed by divorced, married, single parents, married couples and a rising number of same-sex married and unmarried couples.

This new data reflects our changing attitudes about families and the ways parents and kids should live and love. It is opening up a new canvas on which we can write stories and create meaningful content that is truly modern and celebrates everyone in the household. I have no doubt that television will continue to play a critical role in shaping and depicting family stories and in doing so, attract more audiences.

This is an edited excerpt of Oishii Partner Kate Canada Obregon’s article “Television and The Modern Family Mash-Up,” which appears on Cynopsis Cynsiders. You can read the full text of the article here: http://www.cynopsis.com/cyncity/television-modern-family-mash/

 

16
May

Why Ad Agency-Created Products Fail

Why Agencies Fail_Mona Lisa

We read a recent Fast Co.Create piece by Leif Abraham, partner at Prehype, a New York-based venture development firm creating new digital products and companies together with startups and bigger corporations. In “Spike and Die: Why Products Created By Ad Agencies Fail,” he argues that the current culture and agency business models just aren’t conducive to real product innovation. Namely, that agencies trying to do product work typically treat the production of an app or product in the same way they treat the production of a TV spot.

Abraham says this has two effects:

1. It’s a torch relay

Just like in a TV production, each person finishes his or her work first, before the next one starts. That means the designer completely designs the app before the developer even starts to code anything. Though this can sometimes work, it also bears some risks, such as the developer finding mistakes in the design at a very late phase in the process.

2. An ad agency is not set up to maintain

In a campaign process, people are used to making some thing, put it out there and then never touch it again. This does not work with products, because they need on-going maintenance and a dedicated team to further develop it and deliver support.

As a result, product-like launches coming out of agencies don’t have long-term plans — or budgets — in place to maintain and sustain them.

Abraham further offers a few suggestions for how an agency could become a real player in the world of product innovation. Agencies should treat product development more like the founding of a new company — acting like a startup — versus treating it like another project. This inevitably marries the creation process with the business side of things. And both agency and client are equally invested in the long-term success of the product. To quote Abraham, “…if, as an agency, you believe in and enforce the rule of ‘my success is your success,’ you will have an interest in things running efficiently as possible.”

His other point is something that we at Oishii Creative are very passionate about, and have written on extensively, which is building company culture. Some of our best ideas come from fostering an open and collaborative environment; what we like to call “generative workspaces.” When your team feels excited about building a company — and not just a product — then ultimately, they’ll also feel incentivized and committed to the other aspects of the business.

As our VP Kate Canada Obregon recently wrote on The Agency Post, people like to work in open office spaces, or ones that promote a collaborative spirit, because they feel connected to the company’s organizational mission and to their fellow office mates. It’s about creating community within the office, and ultimately, the effects of this virtuous cycle translate into your output as a company, whether that’s launching a new product or a new TV campaign.

A vibrant and generative company culture takes the long-view for clients and projects. This isn’t always easy because it’s not a matter of providing short-term fixes or campaigns to fill holes. It’s about coming up with innovations that work seamlessly and consistently across platforms. This kind of generative culture asks more of staff and creative resources than replicating the status quo. It means working harder and longer on projects that hopefully, many are willing to do. Because what it really comes down to is thinking and creating with the future in mind, and always finding ways to partner and deliver for clients.

18
Apr

Generative Spaces: The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan

Image via The Agency Post

Image via The Agency Post

Our VP, Kate Canada Obregon, recently wrote a guest blog post for The Agency Post sharing Five Tips for Making Your Office A Creative Space, but where did the idea for an open office floor plan come from?

In her latest article for The Agency Post, she discusses The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan:

Here are some excerpts:

“…one of the office features we often mistakenly attribute to startups is the open office plan. We tend to equate this setup with the startup attitude of free-flowing space, an open atmosphere and equality of space. But for 60 years, the open office floorplan has been both the standard and ideal for office design. Mirroring economic changes since the 1950s and into the 1990s, architects have designed work environments for the booming “knowledge industries,” spaces where people create and produce ideas as part of their company bottom lines.

Symbolically speaking, people like to work in open office spaces, because they report feeling connected to the company’s organizational mission and to their fellow office mates. These spaces do well at creating “communities.” And while the research shows that intangible benefits are apparent, studies conducted by organizational psychologists on large corporations show mixed results on measures of productivity. Workers in open plan offices complain most often about noise, loss of privacy and constant distraction.

We cannot create without other people. We are social animals. Some philosophers and scientists argue that physical and sensorial evocative environments act like our scaffolding into the world, giving us humans opportunities to deepen our brain activity and expand into the world. When building an environment that supports and amplifies creativity, though, it’s important to keep in mind that the best solution usually isn’t an open floor plan.

Creative spaces require different setups for different mindsets: fun areas for unconscious processing; reflexive spaces where minimal thinking can go on, and reflective spaces wherein people must go beyond superficial thinking to find those kernels of creative thinking.

30
Aug

Kate to Serve As Brand Advisor to LA-Area School

Kate Canada Obregon_2

Oishii’s VP/Partner Kate Canada Obregon was recently asked to serve as a brand advisor for a Los Angeles-area school and its educators. Kate brings unique experience in this space, spending time in university work environments, and earning a doctorate degree at USC, as well as teaching and doing extensive research into culture and education.

“Educational institutions are more than companies trying to garner emotional connection and support,” says Kate. “Schools and learning environments invest in students and in turn, students invest in the values and mission of schools. By implication, the metrics or the value of education lies with individuals and communities. Education brands are very different than consumer brands because their perception and value transcends simple quantification, it’s the sum of many moving parts.”

The first order of business? Kate plans to remind teachers of their critical roles in shaping young minds. “When you think about it, teachers show students how to look at the world, and come up with ways of thinking, drawing or writing about what they see. It’s how creative thinking starts!”

 


Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /nfs/c05/h05/mnt/16967/domains/oishiicreative.com/html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 63