Curiosity, James Kerr and a Cheap Motel: The London AV Away Day

Rob Corr, AV Account Executive at MEC UK, discusses the AV Team’s recent Away Day which was based around ‘curiosity’ and questioning traditional methods encouraging challenging the standard, leading innovations, and in-turn being creative.

The idea of an AV Away Day sparks images of a grimy London pub, aggressive chanting not too dissimilar to the All Blacks and enough alcohol to fuel a small Carnival street party in West London.

But this was not the case, as last week saw a glimpse into the progression and further innovation of the MEC TV department, in an afternoon of discussing Curiosity. With speakers from across MEC and ITV, we covered what Curiosity means to us as an agency, what it means to us as planner/buyers and what questions we need to be asking. MC’s for the day, Harriett Westcott and Louise Youll, took us through the day’s proceedings with an unpredictable finale…

AV Away Day

Joint CEO, Jason Dormieux, kicked the day off with a casual and open discussion on what Curiosity means to him and how it can drive the agency to further success across all departments. Jason took examples from James Kerr’s book on leadership, and what qualities the world renowned New Zealand All Blacks can lend to the business world. Rugby has seen so many changes over the years, yet the All Blacks seem to have maintained an ever-adapting consistency, a consistency from which Jason has taken his inspiration. From the outset of this topic, there is no room for complacency. There is an almost infectious urgency in his voice for us all to succeed. For us all to do well and go beyond the norm by means of asking questions. Almost a constant need for us to explore other options, media owners, strategies, platforms but primarily ideas. This Curiosity pushes us professionally and incites creativity. But how does this actually affect the business?

Ian Stevens, Head of AV, took us through the various types of media that are open to us in AV and drove home that although a standard TV campaign offers a brilliant reach, we need to think broader. Integrating this with VoD, Out of Home TV, Cinema, Radio and Digital Audio, can really maximise the service we provide, but we need to be the ones to explore this.

Managing Partner, Louise Temperley, was able to shed some light on the Comms and Client perspective of how we can apply this new-found Curiosity to produce great work all of the time. One of Louise’s main points, naturally, was Collaboration. With an emphasis on involving the right people as early as possible and having a collective responsibility to produce fantastic work, it is clear that she is set on pushing MEC to work closer together and challenge the standard.

AV Away Day 2Head of Strategy, Pete Buckley followed on, after a short break, to deliver a shocking statement; the shape of AV is changing. It’s no surprise that Online Video consumption is rocketing, but Pete’s take on the adapting role of AV wasn’t solely based on increasing VoD spend. He used some great examples that have been showcased on global brands, like making people shake their phones at TV ads to claim discounts and offers, using Twitter to steal attention away from all competitors TV airtime in the middle of the Super Bowl, and making rabbits race live across 9 of the main German TV stations simultaneously. (The live element was simultaneous, the rabbits weren’t so much).

Finishing the day’s talks was Chris Goldson, Director of Creative Works and Commercial Marketing at ITV. Chris spoke about how ITV’s content solutions team has changed over the years to now see themselves as leading the industries creativity. In Chris’ view, once upon a time ITV was seen as a ‘Cheap Motel’ for creativity. A room in which you can do what you want, no questions asked, pay up at the end.  But now, they are taking a more partnered approach. A collective, collaborative project, worked on together and does not leave the doors until it is perfect. Definitely something that resonated throughout the afternoon…

Unsurprisingly and in true AV style, there was a social side to the afternoon. With the rumour mill working overtime on what we would be doing, the advice of ‘bring a waterproof’ sparked ideas of, white water rafting, a London wide treasure hunt or a Thames River Boat cruise. None of these were correct… The plan was to cycle around the streets of London on a Pedi Bus, but unfortunately due to the horrific weather, we were rained off and booked this little adventure in for a later date.

Curiosity is questioning traditional methods. Not just planning up a standard TV campaign because that’s what you would ‘normally’ do. Using the tools we have to develop a broader, integrated, complex AV campaign, completely negates that idea of ‘normal’. Curiosity isn’t just thinking about what else we can do, but also what others aren’t doing. Asking questions, challenging the standard, leading innovations, and in-turn being creative, is where the London MEC AV department is heading. One of the most traditional areas within the industry is at a point of change and MEC refuses to let it fall behind, so why not have it lead the way?