THE BLOG

23
Jan

Think Like An LA Tourist: Slideluck LA

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At Oishii, we believe in philosophies that promote acting more than thinking. Over the years, we’ve come to the conclusion that actions in the world make us better thinkers. Thoughts don’t motivate us to move.

We’ve worked to embrace and build on this ideology through various hashtags — #WriteOutdoors and #ThinkLikeATourist — that immerse us in communities of art, design, writing and science. We like “dense” events where lots of people come together from different disciplines and industries.

Recently, we started off the year attending an event we think could work in Los Angeles: Slideluck. It’s already popular in New York, as well as in other cities around the world.

This past Saturday, Slideluck, which is part slideshow and part potluck, returned to the “Best” Coast for a night of food, fun, music, and art in Hollywood. Slideluck LA VII; joint-curated by Krista Martin, Photo Curator for American Apparel, and Michael Hawley, art collector and former President of the Photographic Arts Council, Los Angeles, found a home at Joan Scheckel’s The Space at 6608 Lexington. Walking into a hexagon-shaped corridor, we experienced a display of lights, images, and movement from perhaps an unexpected inclusive crowd over 300 strong.

At first sight, it looked like a scene-y underground hipster loft party, but a few more steps inside and we found ourselves in front of laughing young children of famous photographers ordering IPA’s for their dads, to fashion-forward elders telling us how gorgeous we are (sweet!), to our curious Uber driver/emerging singer-songwriter who asked if it was cool to participate. He didn’t want to just attend; he wanted to interact, which is exactly the community-building movement behind Slideluck LA. It’s a representation of our creative community in all of its beautiful colors, shapes and flavors. The event was a communal canvas built around a showcase of the photographers’ work and more importantly, provided a judgement- and pretentious-free environment, allowing for first-timers at an underground art scene to feel warmly welcomed.

Events like Slideluck are important for us because we know the value of immersion. Immersion and conversation keep us motivated, sharp and engaged. Scientists call these meetups “collisions” with purpose. Group interactions help people challenge their assumptions. Coming together, even if to listen to music and see art, increases the flow of information into your brain and stimulates neurons. If you discuss work, all the better. Most studies of innovation strongly suggest that talking about your work with others, even if informally, helps you move hunches or ideas beyond early stages of superficial thinking. A place called “initial biases” are where many people often stay, go out and talk to people. Dare yourself to think differently.

L-R: Loro Piana Interiors' West Coast Account Executive Caitlin Griffin & Oishii's Head of Business Development Carlos Penny

L-R: Loro Piana Interiors’ West Coast Account Executive Caitlin Griffin & Oishii’s Head of Business Development Carlos Penny

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16
Jan

The Future of Television

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Jiri Zraly

Television was once lauded as a groundbreaking medium, but as we’ve entered an age of seemingly exponential growth in media technology, that status has become questionable. Surrounded by competition being broadcast on every screen imaginable – from sources that were previously unimaginable – to some, the perception today is that television has become slow to adapt to technology, and media companies are more interested in competition and gobbling up competitors, or monetizing views rather than charting the future of entertainment.

There are glimmers of truth in these observations, but gleams do not illuminate the totality of change going on in broadcast and cable television. Let’s step back for calculated pause. Perhaps the issue isn’t television’s tepid use of technology, but more our FOMO and impatient mindset as it concerns digital media. Our impatience is blocking our full appreciation of market conditions.

We are bombarded with hourly news about the latest digital and television content deals. We attend industry conferences where everyone is busy speculating about digital and television competition and convergence. And the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is, “when will television catch up with new models of distribution?”

But by focusing on this question, we’re not appreciating the fact that television’s history is still active and ongoing. Also, in our excitement to move forward, we may be overestimating the success of new distribution platforms. Netflix has not shared ratings for its hot shows House of Cards or Orange Is The New Black, but the buzz nevertheless, quickens the tempo of conversations. Our impatience tells us that the content is out there, but . . . what? The buzz amplifies our impatience, which feeds our prevailing mindset.

There are two ways of understanding the future of television, first from the technology side: how to best deliver content whether through VOD, SVOD or over-the-top services. Secondly, through the targeted content side: understanding what type of programming people want to consume. Most consumers are not deeply concerned with the hardware companies that control the physical gadgetry; most would also rather consume interesting and meaningful programming.

From this perspective, it’s the content that seems everywhere, and media companies are the competitive foot-draggers. At a recent New York Television week, a panelist said that there’s endless programmable content out there, but this may be a bit of an overstatement. What is out there are silos of niche audiences. The prevailing logic is that the mother brand, the larger company where television’s legacy still makes it king, is what ties them together.

And while we’re placing so much emphasis on the evolution of digital media, i.e. the second-screen, studies show that, so far, at least, viewers are using new technology either as supplemental or in partnership with traditional viewing, not as a replacement. If we look back in American economic history, during every epoch of industrial transformation, the successful companies made strategic moves while the losers acted too quickly. Caution is not always a losing strategy.

From a brand perspective, television shouldn’t lose sight of audiences, who they are and what they want. Media empires, broadcast and cable companies must forge relationships with audiences, create conversations for smart and busy viewers using new demographic, trends and ethnographic research.

Needless to say, broadcast and cable television is cautiously charting its future, and that future it is happening right now. At this moment, companies are thinking, planning and iterating how to deliver content to anyone, anywhere and across any screen. Amazing opportunities exist. You’ve got to know where to look.

09
Jan

Winter Offers Creatives Opportunities To Quiet The Busy Mind: Are You Listening?

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons, John Lagzo

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons, John Lagzo

With the arrival of a new year, we are filled with anticipation and excitement. We can feel transition working its way through our minds and into our desks; the old giving way to the new, the future’s blank slate awaiting our touch, time and efforts.

Many of us make the mistake of turning our focus to lists of highly structured goals in the new year. And often when we share them with others, we conflate our anticipation and discussion for change with actual change. Instead of approaching 2015 with a list of resolutions and to-dos, try starting it off by doing nothing.

A difficult concept for those in our laborious and demanding industry, but this liminal time is a great opportunity to rethink our creative craft. We don’t often get opportunities to settle into the terrains of our minds, relax and daydream, or step back and ponder how we ply our trade.

But we must.

For one, the idea that long days and nights will fuel our creative selves is simply not true. On the contrary, we must recede into our brains and engage the senses. Because, whether you’re daydreaming, reading or listening to music, a relaxed and diffused mind reinvigorates creativity.

For creators of every stripe, it’s an always-looping process of doing work and then stepping back to prime the pump, so to speak, and starting all over again; it’s how we re-acquaint our talents with our profession.

The good news is, you can start 2015 by creating an atmosphere of productivity and energy, bringing vigor and awareness to your work. So, keep some of the following in mind as you clear out your calendar.

First, you have to fully appreciate the value of doing nothing for your creative work. Most artists visualize their creative preparation as “time out of time,” such as being out of sync with schedules, offices, obligations, phones, or the demands of our narrowly focused attention. Writer Don DeLillo describes this as transitioning into a new world. Ancient philosopher Plato so revered the time for creativity and thinking that he thought artists and philosophers shouldn’t be attached to any form of work because it took them away from contemplating “the good life.”

Writer Henry Miller thoroughly plotted his time spent prepping to work. He scheduled time in cafes, chats with friends and even booked himself solo explorations of whichever city he happened to be visiting. Time to doodle, draw graphs, diagrams and charts were ways Miller relaxed his mind to broaden his perspective and ease back into the work of holing up to write.

We can apply these same principles to the cluster of days at the beginning of the New Year, when colleagues and clients are still transitioning back into the workflow and meetings and schedules are noticeably, but temporarily light.

We must harness that crux of excitement and possibility with the openness of time we are temporarily allowed. Unfettered and unabashedly unproductive thinking fuels your creative work. It provides the big picture and the background noise for your creative process.

So, rather than spending that precious free time poring over upcoming budgets, projects and strategy, clear your calendar for nothing. Nothing except time spent to remember how you create.

08
Jan
01
Jan

Oishii Creative Interviews Vine Sensation Ian Padgham

At Oishii Creative, we believe design thinking can’t be constrained; it fuels innovation and helps us think big. In our Think Like A Tourist series, we explore life at the intersection of creativity, thinking and technology. We recently asked Vine artist sensation and Twitter animator/producer Ian Padgham about what inspires him, and how he makes six seconds feel so dramatic, engaging and big.

What artists or music inspires you in your work? Why?
Albrecht Dürer, M.C. Escher, Bill Watterson, Bob Ross.

When did you start working on the Vine platform? What attracted you to it?
The day it came out. I liked the ability to produce content immediately and share it just as fast. Nothing saps the creativity and joy out of a project like months of meetings and revisions.

How does Vine compare to other mediums?
While Vine is little more than animated GIFS with sound, there is something truly special about the platform. This is partly due to the community, and partly due to the fact that, at least initially, it was a production toolkit with incredibly limiting parameters. That has since changed, but I think the ethos of DIY ingenuity continues to set the tone.

Which project do you find most inspiring and creative?
Projects that have no precedent and no goal other than creating something delightful and different.

What inspires you as an artist? Where do you find your stories to capture/tell?
I’m not a huge fan of the word inspiration. It feels like it’s saying that something out there is giving us a hint of what is cool, like we need to find a muse that will show us the way. I think stories and ideas just come from letting our minds off their leashes and letting them roll around in the park.

In 2013, observers pointed out that Vine was built on “constraints.” It allows you make edits and stitch them together for a story. You’ve worked out Vine’s constraints and taken shots and motion into a new medium. What does your process look like?
It depends on the Vine. Some Vines I make up as I go along, literally letting the animation flow out frame by frame without forethought.

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.

10
Nov

Color Coded Creativity: The “Six Kid Technique”

Imagination is what keeps marketing and brand work relevant and meaningful. Dreaming up new ideas, processes and applications isn’t merely a good skill, it’s increasingly a metric for your success. Can you see the world differently enough to write a story, design a product or execute a strategy? And if you are lucky enough to work for a company that invests in you – asking you to solve problems and innovate – then you’ll want to reacquaint yourself with the the “Six Kid Technique.” It’s our adaptation of the classic Six Hat Technique used by Edward de Bono. It’s simple and easy to use. Pull out the six color-coded kids during your next meeting. Use and apply all kids when working on a challenge.

The Six Kid Technique Spectrum

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Red

Use emotions to look at the situation. What do your feelings or impulses tell you about it?

TheKid_white01

White

Use facts, logic and objectivity to assess what’s in front of you. Make a list of all the facts.

TheKid_yellow02

Yellow

Put on a smiley face and look at the bright side. With a positive view, make a list of what works and what can be accomplished.

TheKid_black01

Black

Tap into your dark side. Make a list of what doesn’t work and which elements of the solution just can’t work.

TheKid_green02

Green

Think laterally and then some. Imagine the situation in the most alternative and unconventional ways, then work backward.

07
Nov

Agency Post Profiles Kate Canada Obregon

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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!

03
Oct

Oh My, Look at the Time

Image via n4bb.com

Image via n4bb.com

When the biggest brand in consumer electronics revealed its newest ground-breaking product, the Apple Watch (so far, the brand is breaking its “i” naming trend, staying away from the moniker), earlier this month, the internet went wild. The long-rumored watch — speculated on since 2010 — was finally available for consumers to view, and purchase, sometime early next year for $350. A small price to pay compared to the $1,500 and awful aesthetic of Google Glass and with voice- and touch-activated functions that allow users to check email, call contacts, look at photos, track exercise, and yes, tell time, all with stylish interchangeable bands.

Now, wearable technology is nothing new. We’ve had bluetooths since 2000 and digital hearing aids, technically a form of wearable tech, since the late ‘80s, but in fact, as Mashable reports, it was tech geeks in the ‘60s and ‘70s trying to cheat casinos who are credited with pioneering some of the first forms of wearable tech.

But, outside of computerized wristbands and even rings, mostly used to track fitness levels, while wearable technology has quickly been gaining ground, nothing has broken into the laymen’s market yet. Yet. Looking at how Apple changed the cellular communication market, making smartphone ubiquitous with cell phone, or really, even phone, and considering their enormous database of loyal customers, if anyone is primed to crack open this market, it’s Apple.

And, the consumers are ready for it. According to a poll done by GlobalWebIndex, 71% of 16- to 24-year-olds would like to own wearable tech, which the poll defined as smart watches, smart wristbands or Google Glass. And according to the same study, 64% of global internet users say they have worn or would like to wear a piece of wearable tech, with men dominating that number at a 69% affirmative rate and women at 56%.

As marketers and creatives, we’re always being asked to anticipate “the next big thing” or being bombarded with what the media has dubbed “the next big thing” (Anybody employing holographic teleconferences yet? Didn’t think so.), so sometimes, we can be most blind to designing our campaigns for emerging platforms. Just look at how long it’s taken us to crack the mobile market, and how clueless many big brands still come across on social media, and you’ll see that as much as this industry loves something shiny and new, they don’t always understand how to use it to best serve them or how soon to become a part of it. The best strategy we can have for wearable technology is to figure out ways to experiment with it now. Maybe it’s a one-off stunt as part of a bigger campaign or maybe it’s an in-house experiment. Whatever we do, we need to do it fast because as soon as that Apple Watch gets strapped to your client’s wrist, they are going to be asking how you can get them a marketing presence on it.

Wearable technology is going to be a whole new platform to us. A more intimate version of mobile that will open many doors, and present an equal number of challenges, but isn’t that the fun of it? In this business, I’ve seen enough tech trends come and go to see that wearable tech isn’t going anywhere. Whether it comes in the form of an Apple Watch, a more accessible version of Google Glass or the product of a startup founded by someone who hasn’t started high school yet, soon, it’s going to be second nature to us to strap on our tech. We don’t need to anticipate this as a trend, we need to embrace it as a new part of our lives.

 

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

 


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