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Ogilvy Innovation Labs:
Engaging Clients In The Digital Future

ogilvy_wall.gifInteractive furniture?
Mobile phone dart games?
3D Television ads?
Interactive floor projectors?
The Ogilvy Digital Innovation Lab in London has them all.

If you are interested in exploring some of the ways that brands will communicate and engage their customers in the future, this is a good place to start. We had the chance recently to visit the Ogilvy Digital Innovation Lab in London to see some of this future.

Ogilvy is one of the world’s leading communication agencies, and as such they spend a lot of effort keeping their clients up to speed with the most recent developments in digital marketing, as well as encouraging them to think about the future.

The first Ogilvy Digital Innovation lab was setup in Singapore in 2007. Ogilvy then set up a network of labs around the world in 2008. The major goal is to have an environment where clients can be exposed to the latest developments in digital marketing, and they can start understanding how to incorporate them into their communication plans.


At the moment, there are 5 Ogilvy Digital Innovation labs around the world. Although every lab looks at a broad range of marketing innovation, each one also has some special areas of focus. The labs and their specialties are:

  • New York – Mobile, gaming & pervasive media
  • Singapore – Mobile and digital retail/out-of-home
  • London – Location-based services and mobile
  • Beijing – Social media
  • São Paulo – Video persuasion

There is close coordination among labs with online discussion groups and monthly phone calls. For example, Navteq visited UK lab to share some creative ideas related to mapping and location based services. UK then pushed these out to the other Ogilvy labs along with the contact info for the right Navteq person to work with in each location.

ogilvy_scott.gif Each Lab in fact serves two purposes – first as a show and tell environment for clients, and secondly as a central resource and repository for relationships and knowledge about the new technologies.

Scott Seaborn, Head of Mobile for Ogilvy Group UK explained how the labs function, “when the Lab opened, first we brought in the client teams & account directors to show them what’s possible. Then we set up ‘Client Days’. We find that many clients already have innovation budgets set aside, and after their visit they decide to put these towards projects they have seen.”

Each visit is tailored specifically for a client. Sasha Dunn, Manager of Digital at OgilvyOne, always tries to “clientize” the demos and presentations so that they show the advertisers just how their brands might appear in these new formats. And senior consultant Jonathan MacDonald is often called on to work with clients to visualize how these new formats might help their marketing efforts.

ogilvy_dryershon3.gifRegarding the Labs role as a central resource, Nicole Yershon, Director of Innovation Solutions, points out that the relationships and know-how are incredibly important, “A lot of people have a lot of ideas, but you need to know who to turn to and partner with to get something done.” Giles Rhys Jones, Director of Digital Strategy, has worked to establish centralized resource and contact repositories that make this really work.

As an example, the idea for a very innovation campaign for Fanta soft drink originally came from the Ogilvy Advertising creative team, but it was the partner relationships that had been established through the labs that eventually helped it come to fruition.

ogilvy_bp.gifAlready, a number of Ogilvy clients have been motivated by their visits to the Labs. One good example is British Petroleum (BP). Since they visited the Lab they have launched a number of very innovative mobile campaigns around the BP World Rally Championship, using mobile apps and bluetooth. And BP is now starting to plan some really interesting things for next year.

In Singapore, the Rugby 7 Tournament Guide was developed out of the Singapore lab for Guiness. (we’ll have a campaign writeup in the next couple of weeks on this one).

Finally, Unilever came in for a visit and got so enthused that Ogilvy is now helping them set up their own innovation lab at Unilever’s Blackfriars office.

Seaborn sums up the value of the Lab for brands: “The lab is actually a ‘door’ into Ogilvy that wasn’t there before. There are a lot of brands that know they need to be testing and learning as they don’t want to miss the boat. We can put all that testing together, and within the context of an overall strategy.”

In the London Lab

Nicole Yershon says that the lab is continuing to grow and is open to working in partnership with 3rd parties. At the moment the lab contains several interesting demonstrations, including 3D TV ads, interactive furniture, and many innovative mobile applications. A couple of these are detailed below.


Interactive Furniture


An interactive table that reacts to objects that are placed on it. For example, placing certain music icons on the table starts music tracks playing, and by placing your mobile it can pull up images from your phone.

You can also read about how BMW is planning on using this type of interactive furniture in this MobiAD article.

(Table by TacTable)

Mobile Darts Game

Take a photo of the dart board with your phone to “throw” the dart. Visual processing determines where the dart would have landed, and sends you back a photo with the dart in the board. The video below shows Sasha Dunn scoring a bulls eye! (Visual processing by Mobile Acuity).

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="320" height="265" wmode="transparent" /]

19.01.2009    Tags: ,
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