Putting creativity at the heart of the organisation
Not long after joining Wunderman the management team wanted feedback from the agency. I suggested we should literally ‘canvas’ feedback. We asked everyone to create a canvas that described how they felt about the agency. They would be exhibited in a public showing, so all comments were made public.
The results were astounding. Honest, heartfelt, positive as well as negative, constructive and creative. Although it was anonymous, the forum allowed everyone to talk about the statement canvases and many people felt comfortable explaining their work and starting discussions.
This openness not only made the management team far more receptive to some of the ideas but also provided willing volunteers to help implement them.
Galvanising a culture of creativity across networks
I’ve found that all-agency competitions are a great way to help promote a creative culture. We’ve had ‘Bake offs’; pumpkin carving, art exhibitions and most popular of all, photography exhibitions. These are always on a theme, get a great response and culminate with fun ‘Private Views’.
At Wunderman, they were so popular that I was asked to take the idea global and run a photography competition, across the whole network. It was a logistical challenge that required building a site where all the images could be uploaded and displayed, as well as creating a digital and real ‘book of winners’. We had celebrity judges and the shortlisted winners were flown to NYC for the announcement and prize-giving which was broadcast live across the network.
Once the global PR machine was behind it, a global stock image library got involved too, helping align the Wunderman brand with creativity, to an even wider audience.
Inspiring a culture of sustainability
It’s easy to 'talk' sustainability, less easy to make everyone in a large organisation align to ‘green’ initiatives. At gyro we set up an internal Sustainability division. At Wunderman, with over 300 employees, we needed an initiative that educated the staff about the waste we were creating in a way that made them feel part of the solution, rather than simply adhering to management rules.
As one of the quarterly all agency creative projects, I ran a ‘Rubbish Art’ competition and exhibition that encouraged people to recycle things out of rubbish. It was planned to coincide with the launch of the agency ‘Green Team’. The creativity was impressive and made the Diary sections of Campaign and The Drum. More importantly, it visibly highlighted the agency challenge to re-think the way we operated to become more sustainable. A subsequent monthly Green Team email and poster campaign enlisted the support of staff to champion particular initiatives – banning plastic cutlery; printing two-sided; multiple recycling bins, etc. It rolled out across the agency and then spread to other companies within the GLH building, where we were based.
The GLH campaign won a number of Golds in the ‘Green’ and B2B industry awards.
'Lunch & Learns' are a great way to keep staff continually inspired in all things creative. Regular reviews of award-winning work; showcases of new and exciting talent; and presentation skills training have proved popular along with a fun module: ‘How to argue constructively’.
One of my favourite training initiatives was ‘Wunderman Reports’ where we invited our up-and-coming stars within the network to Cannes and asked them to report on the different events, sharing them with the rest of the network. Our ten ‘reporters’ created videos, blog posts, reviews of the events, and colourful photographic news stories. At a time of budget cuts, we made the initiative possible by positioning it as both a PR and training initiative. The coverage was really creative, insightful and prolific. AdAge, Campaign and Contagious not only reported on our reporters – they retweeted some of their stories.