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Social Media Portal interview with Chris Arnold about A Bigger Bang!

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 08 November 2012

Social Media Portal interview with Chris Arnold about A Bigger Bang!

Social Media Portal profiled interview with Chris Arnold, founder and creative partner of advertising and brand marketing agency Creative Orchestra

Creative Orchestra logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What do you do there at Creative Orchestra?

CA: I’m Chris Arnold, founder and creative partner of Creative Orchestra.  I’m former creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, former chair of the DMA Agencies Council and the chair of the Creative Council.
SMP: Briefly tell us about your company for those that don’t know?

CA: Creative orchestra is an advertising and brand marketing agency, one that specialises in delivering creativity.  We do everything from brand realignment / reframing, brand identity through to advertising (TV, posters, press and digital). But we also have a greater understanding of female consumers who account for 85% of consumer spend. We are the only ad agency in London that champions a 50:50 male:female mix in creative.

SMP: Tell us a little about your book ‘Ethical Marketing & The New Consumer’  - why did you decide to write the book and what can readers expect?

CA: I’ve been an expert in this space since my days at Saatchi & Saatchi as a board and creative director. I’ve been writing (I write the weekly blog on ethical marketing on Brand Republic) and lecturing globally on the subject and Wiley’s the publisher asked me to write the book.

It’s now the leading book on how to market to the ethically minded consumer. It’s full of insights, advice and definitions of different consumer types. As consumers are becoming more conscientious, this area is a must to know; yet most companies are getting it very wrong. The first mistake they make is thinking it’s all about being green. The key is the balance between profit/people/planet.

SMP: Who  / why are your target audience for the book and has anything changed since you wrote it?

CA: Marketing directors, agencies, marketing students. And anyone staring up an ethical business.

SMP: When is another book planned (‘THUNK – a different way to think’ and ‘Maverick Brands’) and what will they feature?

CA: Maverick Brands is being written now, pub 2013. It will feature 20 amazing brands that have challenged their sectors. Plus insights into the entrepreneurs behind them.
THUNK is a slow write... aiming for it to be published in 2014. It’s not just another book on thinking creatively, full of the same old clichés but full of new thinking, and it looks at a broader view of what creative thinking is. My plan is to rent a cottage in Scotland soon and just shut myself away for two weeks to finish it. When I wrote the book on ethical marketing I went to a remote village in Spain for a week, locked myself away and wrote 100,000 words in 7 days.

SMP: You’re on a panel at Cognifide’s A Bigger Bang! Digital Marketing: "How to do more with less?" event in association  with Rackspace and in partnership Sitecore, what are you most looking forward to about the event?

CA: A great audience to engage.

SMP: More than anything, what would you like attendees to walk away with from the half-day event and your session in particular?

Cognifide A Bigger Bang! image
CA: An open mind. Being able to see things differently. Being inspired.

SMP: How well do you think brands are using technology to manage campaigns and where can they / are they going wrong?

CA: Most marketers need to think more about what they are using and how, but most of all – about the consumer. There’s a tendency to jump onto bandwagons and use gimmicks. Whatever the technology, medium, media or channel you MUST start with the consumer. You can’t expect them to adapt to you, you need to adapt to their needs and emotional desires.

SMP: How can they improve to make the activity and/or campaigns be managed more effectively (whether its budget, time, technology)?

CA: Too big a question to answer here. But simply – start with the consumer not the technology. They need to think about the bigger world and how technology and different mediums/media can all work together.

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far (in the creative space)?

CA: We are on IKEA’s roster so when we came up with a great idea we mocked it up (opens a PDF) and sent it to all the top names in IKEA. It was brilliant – working with iBOOKs to provide a range of different IKEA bookcases as backdrops.  There are over 310m iPhones about, so what a cheap but great way to engage with them. After three follow up mailers, they didn’t even say thanks or get back to us!

Photograph of Chris Arnold, founder and creative partner at Creative OrchestraSMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far (in the creative space)?

CA: Coming up with innovative ideas. Helping clients get their marketing right. Helping them better understand consumers – especially female consumers. Helping them sell more.

SMP: What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for creative agencies and in-house creative teams at brands in the current digital and technology age we’re experiencing?

CA: Remembering that we are dealing with real people (consumers) not numbers. It’s not about numbers but about people. Also understanding the difference between male and female consumers; a recent survey revealed that 69% of clients think neither agencies or clients understand female consumers and 91% of female consumers think marketers don’t understand them.

Challenge everything; work with facts not just figures.  Dealing with clients fears and lack of braveness. Budget and time – everyone wants more for less in less time.

SMP: How can creative professionals make sure that technology doesn’t overwhelm their objectives?

CA: Too big a question to answer here. But focus on the consumer first – understand their needs and emotional desires - not the technology. When washing machines and microwave ovens first started to go all tech, people couldn’t use them and returned them. They like things simple - 33% of people are technophobes and only 10% are technophiles. The rest of us make do, most of us just use a fraction of the technology we have.  ERGOPSYCHONOMICS – it’s about the relationship between mind (psychology) and technology.

SMP: What should creative thinkers (whether they are agency or brand side) look to address when it comes to social media and the technology that drives it?

CA: Start with truths not myths.  There are more myths than truth. Challenge everything; work with facts not just figures. Remember that people don’t really want to talk about brands and that 90% of conversations still go on in the real world not online. But in the online space it’s WHAT they talk about that matters.

Understand how people use technology – ERGOPSYCHONOMICS – it’s about the relationship between mind (psychology) and technology.

SMP: What can be the most challenging part of building a brand presence in digital environments (including social media)?

CA: Building a brand presence is tough in digital. Easy on TV - but TV works on the brain in a totally different way from online marketing. Online is a great place for experiences.  Consumers who have a good experience will share it with others, unlike a marketing message.

SMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspects regarding social media and technology throughout the next 12 to 18 months and how may this impact on creative people?

CA: The fact people are coming off Facebook is worrying. The fact people are blocking online ads is worrying. The fact too many brands have invaded the social media space badly, damaging it for others, is worrying. It has reached saturation.  

We engage with 200 brands a week and almost 500 per person through a year. We can’t engage with any more than 5% of them and the winners are the smart ones. As people move from PC to smartphone we have to adopt a different attitude and brands need to earn their customers, not expect them.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for social media in 2013 – and has social media thrown ethics to the curb?

CA: I wouldn’t want to predict - it’s too unpredictable. What I will say is that whatever happens usually is different from what people thought.

SMP: What are your top five social media tips for agencies and brands in ‘keeping it ethical’?

CA replies with:
  • Respect the customer and their space – you are an uninvited guest
  • Be honest – never lie, cheat or spin. Because they will talk about you 10x more if you do
  • Never market to children or the vulnerable
  • Remember people are people not numbers, you are in a people to people business
  • Consumers judge you by WHAT YOU DO not what you say. They are looking at your ethics and deciding if they want to deal with you

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

CA: Think like a consumer not like a mathematician. Marketing is all about understanding people. Spend money and time on real insights not just on statistics. Human beings are predictably unpredictable.

ERGOPSYCHONOMICS – it’s about the relationship between mind (psychology) and technology.

SMP: Best way to contact you?

CA: chris @
Mobile +44(0) 7778 05 66 86

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

CA: Kiwi and a glass of beetroot juice

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

CA: Told them they were a great person

SMP: How many hours do you work a week?

CA: Too many, 80

SMP: If you weren’t in advertising what would you be doing?

CA: Writing books and lecturing to businesses like Seth Godin does.  Playing in a rock band. Doing more in my community.

SMP: What’s the best creative campaign site or activity that you’ve seen over the last six-months and why?

CA: Meerkat – Compare the Market. It’s challenged the idea that marketing has to be rational. It’s extended across all mediums and changed the nature of its category and best of all, it’s has won loads of news customers.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

CA: Romania (visited Dracula’s castle)

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

CA: Say hello to everyone with a smile

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

CA: To make people smile

About the A Bigger Bang! event

The Cognifide and Sitecore A Bigger Bang! event hosted and chaired by Miro Walker, CEO at marketing technology agency Cognifide is in association with Rackspace and in partnership with Sitecore, is half-day a free to attend event on Monday, 12th November 2012 from 12:00 to 15:00.

Screening Room & The Crimson Bar
The Soho Hotel
4 Richmond Mews

Register now to book your place at

Keep up-to-date with the A Bigger Bang event via @cogcaas and hash tag #CaasBB for the latest and the A Bigger Bang! competition. Follow all things Cognifide on Twitter @cognifide.

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