As an agency that champions the power of ideas, it’s no wonder that there are some out there that we wish we could call our own. Ideas that are beautiful and mind-blowing in their simplicity, colossal in their ambition, or ones that harness deep, human truths.
I caught up with people from across our studios to find out which ideas in particular have caught their attention along the way – here are just a few of those leading lightbulbs:
Airbnb’s the big one for Senior Strategist Andi Davids, who first recognized the need for a service like it in 2008 when she was booking a trip to New York.
‘I normally stay with friends, but their spare room had already been claimed. Wanting a more personal experience than a budget hotel, I looked into options for renting flats in the East Village with no luck. I found out about a month later that Airbnb had just launched and have used it ever since. Not only is it a genius concept, they’ve situated their brand within an idea that’s sorely needed in today’s increasingly polarised world: belonging.
For Executive Creative Director Nick Clark, it’s the original National Lottery logo.
‘It’s a witty design idea that everyone can appreciate.’
That, and the idea that made him want to work at The Partners – the Boddingtons beer can.
‘Beer and a beautiful, confident design. What’s not to love?’
The Comedy Carpet, a work of art by Gordon Young designed in collaboration with Why Not Associates, is the one that blows Designer Sam Ratcliffe away. It’s a creation of mammoth scale that celebrates British comedy, containing over 160,000 granite letters embedded into concrete.
‘It’s a piece of design that puts a smile on your face; you can spend hours looking at it, head down, laughing away to yourself; or sit nearby and watch other people, of all ages, enjoying it.’
For Junior Account Manager Miki Nathan, the beauty of an idea is in the detail, and the wit – one of the best expressions of this being Boxes in Boxes, created by Studio Sutherland& with Boss Box and Fedrigoni. The interlocking set of boxes uses words from the children’s rhyme ‘There was an old lady’ to lead you through the collection and unpacks the set in a playfully childish way.
‘I also love the Brussel sprouts idea one of our recent interns, Adam Tickle, came up with for Me&EU. It’s so clever yet so simple. My instant reaction was: UGH I wish I’d thought of that!'
Head of Strategy Uri Baruchin takes us back to the blistering heat of Tel Aviv in 1998 for his enviable idea. ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely,’ he remembers thinking, ‘if I could SMS a number, have my location triangulated and be sent a taxi?’
It wasn’t until 2009 that Uber was founded, but GPS and transportation have gone hand in hand for years and the Uber idea existed in numerous ‘imagine the future’ presentations long before the actual service was launched. Uri points out that the idea is devilishly simple and the user experience is straightforward and polished. But where they really cracked it, in his opinion, is the business model and their smart use of data.
‘It’s just such a shame that the reason why Uber ended up ahead of everyone is through a massive amount of corner-cutting, bumping cost to vulnerable drivers (who aren’t considered employees) and questionable corporate behaviour.’
Would it have still worked if a more responsible company was first to market? Uri likes to think so.
Junior Designer Becki Sewell picks out Budweiser’s collaborative 2016 Christmas campaign with Uber to discourage drink driving. The two companies teamed up to get the nation home safely on December 24 by offering everyone in the UK a free taxi ride home.
'It solves a problem I've always wanted to! There are a lot of ‘hard-hitting’ campaigns around drink driving and it’s nice to see an alternative solution that actively changes behaviour through generosity.’
For our Business Development Director, Inga Howell, Apple’s ‘Think Different’ is an idea in its purest form, a campaign that is the ultimate manifestation of a strong, focused brand.
‘Created in 1997 in LA by TBWA/Chiat/Day, the original one-minute commercial is narrated by Steve Jobs himself. Shot in black and white, the ad features 20th century icons – from Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King to John Lennon with Yoko Ono to Muhammed Ali, Maria Callas, Thomas Edison, Mohandas Gandhi and Pablo Picasso – ‘the crazy ones’ – fearless visionaries that changed the world – just like Jobs.’
Another apt suggestion, considering its record-breaking success this year, is Singles’ Day from Strategy Intern Connie Cheung.
‘It originated as ‘Bachelor’s Day at Nanjing University in 1993 as an anti-Valentine’s Day,’ Connie explains, ‘but it was Alibaba that made it into the shopping fest it is today. Single’s Day is fun, sympathetic, and retail-therapy at its most powerful! Last year, Alibaba sold £11.4bn worth of goods in 24 hours, this year they sold over £19.2bn. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS! Last year’s figures were more than double the total online sales from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday in the US combined. For another sense of scale… WPP made £14.4bn for the whole year in 2016. Talk about a shopping craze!’
Design Director Mark Wood is all about creating ideas that are simple and of significance. He’s also a man of few, choice words. So, his response to why he’d chosen the London Symphony Orchestra’s logo, designed by The Partners years ago, will come as no surprise:
‘Simple, subtle and elegant.’
But, under duress, he did give us something a little extra – Sesame Street featuring James Blunt – and this time just one word (with a grin):
For Design Intern Jordan Smith, who created the illustration for this piece, 'It's the incredibly clever piece of design by Arthur Schreiber for Samurai Vodka. It definitely deserves a spot on the wish list... a cut above the rest, some would say.' Clever, Jordan, clever.
And mine? I’ll forever be in love with Brandon Stanton’s knack for storytelling in his Humans of New York project. But the thing I use on a daily basis is Pocket, the app that lets you save an article for later. Although, if you’ve made it this far… you’re probably not the type that needs it.