FoxP2 skips award shows, finds new inspiration
by Herman Manson (@marklives) FoxP2 isn’t entering any award shows this year. Instead, it’s been investing that budget in sending staff members around the world to a series of conferences and events the agency hopes will inspire them, and their work, and align it with new ideas and international best practice.
A brave move
It’s a brave move for an agency that has built a reputation on producing award-wining work.
And it’s not like the agency thought it were going to have a bad year at award shows either, says Justin Gomes, executive creative director at FoxP2.
It grabbed second place in the Creative Circle’s Ad of the Year in the Out of Home category for Ster-Kinekor (Laptop Billboard) after a tie had to be broken by a re-vote — and, unlike the eventual winner (Engen Fire Blanket from FCB), the Ster-Kinekor campaign would have made the rounds on the awards circuit this year.
Inspired by Henry Ford
The idea to do something different to get the agency’s creative juices flowing came from group MD, Charl Thom, while on a visit to New York. Thom was inspired by a quote from Henry Ford, who said: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
“What would most fill our creative tanks?” Thom asked himself. “Taking half-a-million rand, and investing it in award show entries for a year? Or taking half-a-million rand, and investing it in inspiring our people for a year?”
We have our answer.
Headed off to NY
Several FoxP2 staffers have already headed off to NY to attend the 99u conference (which focuses on ‘highlighting real-world best practices for making ideas happen’).
Others will head to Austin, Texas, for SXSW (South by Southwest — a set of film, interactive, and music festivals) and Creativity World Forum in Belgium.
Locally, the entire agency will be heading to the annual design conference Design Indaba.
Try something different
Gomes, who chairs the Creative Circle, is at pains to stress that its withdrawal from award shows this year doesn’t indicate any criticism of these shows. The agency just wanted to try something different, says Gomes.
Thom, meanwhile, in an interview with Adlip, indicated that the agency’s withdrawal from awards, coinciding with Gomes’ chairmanship of the Creative Circle, allows Gomes more freedom and brings a greater sense impartiality and objectivity to the role.
Alex Goldberg, a copywriter who worked on the Ster-Kinekor Laptop billboard, has raved about his trip to 99u, calling it life-changing, showing that #FoxFlame is finding resonance in the creative department, says Gomes. Staff are expected to bring back and share internally, as well as with clients, key learnings from their overseas trips (such as standing meetings, picked up in New York, which have already been introduced internally, and been positively received).
Break down internal silos
By sending members of the creative, strategy and production teams abroad together, the agency hopes to further break down internal silos. Longer term, Gomes not only hopes to keep his team inspired but that the initiative will attract other great talent to the agency as well.
The focus having shifted beyond just recognition to inspiration, Gomes believes the agency output will further improve.
The agency has been picking up more work across the continent, notably a beer brand in Nigeria. It currently employs 38 people in its Cape Town office and another 11 in Johannesburg.
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