Friday, July 29, 2011

Meet Interactive Media Design & Management Student Jonathan

We had a chat with Jonathan Barnes, student at Hyper Island's pilot program Interactive Media, Design & Management in Manchester.

Hi Jonathan, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I grew up in France from the age of 5 until 18 and have English parents.

I would say that the things that have defined my life are sports, (I played Squash for France), coaching sports (to people of all ages and standards) and travelling.

The people who have influenced my life the most are my parents, my Squash Coach, Steve who I used to work with and a few famous people (such as Ricardo Semler).

I also spent 4 years at The University of Manchester and Manchester Business School which has made me love my new city. I love old music, being inspired by visionaries, trying to inspire others and Nutella.

Why did you apply to the Hyper Island program Interactive Media Design & Management in Manchester?

I applied to Hyper Island because I got the impression I had finally found a place that shared some of my views of the world. I don't really believe in fate but it was a very strange coincidence. I was backpacking in Guatemala with a friend of mine and I was thinking about two things which I think I could do to change the world. First of all, I felt that by going into businesses that are stuck in the past and consulting them in regards to participative cultural change I could empower people and change their lives whilst also delivering far more creative environments for people and businesses alike. The second point was that I feel that for the most part, the education system is in serious need of reform as it doesn't empower the natural instinct that children have to be creative, to be engaged, to be interactive and to participate through doing.

And it was a day in El Salvador when I finally formed my opinion that these were the two things I could contribute to the world, that I received an email about Hyper Island. An application and Skype conversation later with Jo Schofield and David McCall and I was so excited and I had the impression that I had found an organisation for me. I can confirm almost 3 months later that I have.

What has been the hightlight so far during your time at Hyper Island?

Difficult one. Everything!
I have met some extremely inspiring people such as David Erixon and Andrew Shoben but the most impressive thing is that I feel a part of something. Too many times in my life, I have felt like the lone wolf, the outsider, almost crazy at times. But here at Hyper Island I feel that I am in a class full of people who get me and we are all on the same wave length. So I guess the highlight for me so far is the confirmation of my beliefs that my peers share in terms of participative culture, creative and innovative environments and underlying belief that we can all change the world in our own ways by remaining open and reflective.

What has been most unexpected?

Exactly that! I've never spent so much time surrounded by people who could one day be forces for positive change. I was shocked at the conversations I was having with people simply because I would share my beliefs and not be looked at like an alien. The people here think a lot, about themselves, about the people around them and about the impact they could have on the wider world. It's very refreshing.

How do you define creativity?

I think in the past I was stuck in an old mindset that creativity was something visual. Hyper Island broadens my definition of creativity by the day. So whilst my definition is a constantly evolving thing, I'll have a stab at it: "A mindset for positive change driven by the intent of thinking differently". :-s I'll try to improve that as I evolve...

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years time, I would like to be in control of my own time. I would like to have travelled a lot. I would like to be in a position to create important change within small settings that would serve as examples for wider societal change moving forward.
A part of this is that I would like to hope I would be a force for change in eduction and business in regards to empowering human beings to meet their potential. I'm not sure what the vehicle for this will be yet, but it will involve my own business, maybe consulting and maybe even a form of alternative education (I say "alternative" but my aim would be for others to qualify it as "progressive").

Lastly, what's up next? (you can interperet this question as you would like, this weekend, in a month, privat/non-private. Up to you!)
Next?! Well I really think that our upcoming internships will be important in defining a direction for us.
So, remaining the eternal optimist, I would hope that next, I will find a company that is open minded, open to positive change and that would be open minded enough to see me as an opportunity to be a potential catalyst for positive, participative and creative change within their organisation. That's in the immediate future.
For 2012, I would hope to cement really strong relationships with like minded people I have met through my Hyper Island journey and pursue adventures with them as well as personally.
Finally, to be an advocate for this incredible experience. I'm only half way through, but I feel that this is something I will always promote to others and that I would like to help fly the Hyper Island flag in the future.

Thanks and good luck! Drop Jonathan an email if you'd like to get in touch for more info on the Hyper Island experience, internship possibilities or anything else!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meet StrawberryFrog's Executive Creative Director Suzana Apelbaum

Here's a nice summer read for everyone! We had a chat with StrawberryFrog's Executive Creative Director and Hyper Island Master Class speaker Suzana Apelbaum about the creative world, successful campaigns and more.

Hi Suzana! Who are you?


I started to work in advertising back in 1995, in Rio de Janeiro. I started in a traditional agency as a copywriter and soon I went to one of the first digital agencies in Brazil. By that time interactive advertising was just beginning so it was a great time of discoveries, explorations, trials, learnings. Since then I’ve been working as a Creative Director in some big agencies like AgenciaClick, JWT, and Africa, and creating campaigns and websites for brands such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Unilever, Red Bull, among others. Also I had my own agency called Hello Interactive. The latter merged with another agency so I decided to change my plans and accepted the invitation to come to StrawberryFrog in NYC to create cultural movements for brands. I love advertising. But I must say that my real passion is theater. I’m a professional actress, I’ve worked in theater and TV for almost 10 years, and I’m always trying to find a way to conciliate this with advertising.

Wow, that's a rather unique background! Does your pro acting skills help you any in your work nowadays?

It definitely helps, in different ways. Theater is all about storytelling, pretty much like advertising. My background as an actress helped me to learn how to observe people and to create genuine characters and dialogues. This is interesting as well in the copy process: think of a brand as a character: you have to know well what is its voice and behavior, so you can write it in a compelling way and bring it to life in a way that gets people really engaged. Also, the fact that I’ve already been on stage and have improvised a lot in big theaters help me to feel more confident and to really enjoy presenting work to all kinds of audience.

What campaign impressed you the most so far this year?

It was the Old Spice Response campaign, where they created 186 video responses to users who were talking online about the campaign. It all started with a TV spot – with a great strategy, a great creative idea and an amazing execution. It was already brilliant and successful, so they could have stopped in there; but the client and the agency really took the campaign to the next level and were able to make more than generating excitement about the brand: they established a valuable relationship with the target, which they can really leverage for the next communications and business efforts.

What do you think lies behind the success of such a campaign?

Two main things: the quality of the creative work, with a hilarious character (‘The man your man could smell like’); and—from the agency and client side—the understanding of how the audience behaves in today’s world, of how they expect to be heard by the brand and want to interact with it in a deeper level. This campaign gives power to the users and even surprises and delights them with a brilliant creative execution.

How has your Master Class experience influenced you in your professional life / eg how do you apply it at Strawberryfrog?

My Master Class got me even more excited about learning from students. In Hyper Island there is such a special group of people with such rich backgrounds, so during the classes they raised interesting points that lead us to really high level discussions and insights. They made me think about things I hadn’t before. Also, the Class helped me to get to know people that I would really enjoy working with some day.

How do you define a good creative?

A good creative is essentially a very curious, open minded and sensitive person. Someone who has an interesting and unexpected point of view on all things in life. Well… I think that’s it :)

Finally, any tips to creatives out there looking to take it to next level and become the best at what they do?

I would tell them to remember that advertising is about people, rather than only about products. So the more they get connected to society and its cultural movements, the bigger are the chances of them to come up with ideas that can make a real difference in the lives of people and brands. Also I’d tell them to keep studying as much as they can, embrace digital tools, and to really invest in practicing what they are passionate about, because this will keep them inspired and will ensure they will be unique in their approach to advertising. More than anything, I’d say: Enjoy life, work hard, and be nice to people :)

Thanks Suzana! Connect with Suzana on Twitter or meet her at Hyper Island's Master Class.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Meet SheSays Co-Founder & Hyper Island Master Class Speaker Alessandra Lariu

Here's another piece of summer reading joy for everyone! We had a chat with Alessandra 'Ale' Lariu who is Co-Founder of SheSays as well as a Hyper Island Master Class speaker. Ale comes from a background as Creative Director at McCann New York, Agency Republic in London and Framfab/LBi in London. In 2010 she was picked by Fast Company magazine as number 29 of 100 most creative people in business beating the co-founder of FourSquare. Her work has won various awards like Cannes Cyber Lyons, OneShow Interactive, D&AD and NY Festivals.

Hi Ale! What is Shesays & what's the story behind it?

SheSays is an organization to further women's careers in digital. I started it with Laura Jordan-Bambach in London in 2006. Since then, the group grew to over 3000 women in 10 cities around the world. We run free monthly events and a free mentorship scheme called 'Who's your Momma?'. We have an early award scheme in London and in New York and, at the later, we have started running courses and managing people's careers by giving them advice and finding them great jobs in digital.

Why do you think the imbalance of sexes is so prominent in creative departments of digital agencies?

I don't think there is an imbalance in creative departments for those starting or in mid-career. But when you start looking at more senior positions then the ratio changes. Women have different management style ( a better one according to Fortune magazine) which is not recognized by the male bosses promoting them. It's a legacy thing.

What can agencies do to improve the situation?

Agencies, specially the male bosses need to recognize that the best replacement for them is not someone like them i.e someone with a bossy attitude. On the contrary, it's someone who's going to nurture and grow the work force keeping them motivated through self-respect and not fear.

Are you seeing any increase of females in the creative departments of digital agencies since the 3 years Shesays been alive?

At the top the pace has been slow but steady. Today I meet more women CDs than five years ago. And you if want to be one of those we have a job opening at our site ; ) - shameless plug!

Let's say a female creative who'd like to work in a digital agency reads this but experiences the difficulties you've identified. What can you do for her?

My very practical advice would be come to our events, contact us for mentorship and let us manage your career.

One piece of advice for the women studying at Hyper Island?

Do first, ask later. If you see something wrong, don't moan or talk about it, do something about it. That's exactly what we did when we started SheSays. We saw an imbalance and we are doing everything we can to change it. I know we are called SheSays but we should actually be called SheDoes ; )

But overall, making stuff happen, doing things, is the best advice I can give. It goes for anybody in digital, creative or advertising. I see many people say that a great idea is what matters. I disagree. A great idea is nothing without a great execution.

I'd also say be curious, enthusiastic and never, ever, stop learning. These qualities are irreplaceable, everything else can be taught.

Get in touch with Ale on SheSays or get the chance to meet her at a Hyper Island Master Class soon!