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TEDxEastEnd Insights


What’s cultural intelligence and why should the ad industry care?

Which qualities do we desire most in our leaders? Intelligence is a good one. But ‘intelligence’ is also a very broad term that’s prone to misappropriation.

The most common way to measure intelligence is through IQ. A high IQ is advantageous for most leaders, but is it any good in isolation?

Other forms of cleverness, such as emotional intelligence, have also been lauded as qualities for our leaders to aspire to. The latest of these is cultural intelligence – the ability to negotiate across different cultural values.

Julia Middleton is one of the main proponents of this idea, and works to promote it with her charitable trust Common Purpose.

The crux of this concept is core and flex – the idea that we all have core values that don’t change, and flex values that do. When two people meet, the differences in their core and flex can influence the course of their interaction.

If this interaction is buying a coffee, then core and flex doesn’t have much impact. But if it’s high-stakes political negotiation, an understanding of your associate’s values could be vital to success.

Image from Common Purpose.

So cultural intelligence is useful for leadership, but what’s it got to do with advertising?

When we’re communicating with people from different cultures, we need to know the core values that we must respect, and also the flex values that we can have fun with.

And ‘different culture’ doesn’t just refer to global advertising – it’s important whenever we advertise to people of a different race, age, gender, region or even people with a particular interest or hobby.

Sometimes this creates a lot of time-consuming research – hard work, but also a potential free holiday.

Sometimes the task is a little easier. Whoever translated the KFC slogan for China didn’t need to get on a plane – they just needed a dictionary.

Image from Language Reach.

If you’re ever baffled by agency speak, our terminology guide might help you cut through the jargon.

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Bringing characters to life with CGI

When you ask somebody their favourite character from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, they will most likely say either Groot the tree or Rocket the raccoon. However, it’s easy to overlook the complex process required when bringing these characters to life on the big screen.

Laurie Brugger works as a rigger for a visual effects company called Framestore. This is a company who have won numerous awards for their work on Gravity, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight and The Golden Compass, just to name a few. Brugger’s role is to provide the physiological make-up of a character by adding joints and muscles digitally, enabling the animators to control them.

However, there is more to this process than simply sitting behind a screen.

The amount of work required depends on the scale of the project. During her talk at the recent TEDxEastEnd event, Brugger discussed just how much work went into creating both Groot and Rocket even before the animation itself could begin.

For both of these characters, it was important to understand their scientific backgrounds. In the case of Groot, the walking, talking tree that relies on his ability to grow roots very quickly, the Framestore team turned to horticultural science to understand the mechanisms needed when recreating this digitally.

In the case of Rocket, the designers analysed real-life raccoons to understand their markings, movements and mannerisms. The team also relied upon veterinary science for information on bone size and structure, which gave them an understanding of the raccoon’s skeletal make-up.

In the meantime, concept painters provided a number of visual ideas for how the characters could look. This inspires the digital designers to transform them into free-moving, animated portrayals.

CGI animation is an integral part of the creative industries. It is a process that requires a lot of work by a number of people to appear effortless on screen. As with many other creative processes, thorough research is vital to understanding the overall objective of the work. But all this hard work pays off by making the impossible a reality on screen.

If we in the advertising industry are to compete for people’s attention with these visual feasts, wouldn’t it be a good idea to take the same amount of care over our work as the team at Framestore do?

Click here to see how our augmented reality app turned tired old print into an exciting experience.



Painting a Portrait of London

How do you define a city? This is the question Mark Currie asked himself when he first set out to produce a film that offers a true perspective of London.

From the outset, it became clear to Mark and his team at Chocolate Films that each Londoner had their own personal perspective of what London represented to them individually. Mark consulted a statistician who told him that a survey of 1,000 people is a good sample size to give an accurate picture of London.

With this in mind, Mark and his team went out and started filming the perspectives and back stories of 1000 completely random people within London.

Each film is kept short at roughly three minutes long, with Mark anticipating that the overall length of all 1000 Londoners will be roughly the same as four seasons of Breaking Bad.

The project is only on its 64th Londoner, so there is still a long way to go. However, due to the hype that the documentary is beginning to get, a number of amateur filmmakers and other interested people are getting involved. Workshops have now been set up on a regular basis to enable people to learn the filmmaking skills needed to get across their own perspective.

The team at Chocolate Films follows three simple criteria when selecting their subjects:

1)    You have to be a Londoner – if you don’t claim to be a Londoner, then you aren’t one

2)    Everybody is as important as each other – there is no inequality in terms of title or celebrity status

3)    Everybody is interesting – nobody has a boring backstory

One key feature of this project is the ability of video to engage and inspire people’s imaginations around subjects that had not previously interested them. Video has become a major format in artistic projects and marketing strategies due to its ability to condense complex messages into an interesting and informative experience. It also stimulates multiple senses with minimal effort from the viewer.

Video will only get bigger as the emergence of 4G connectivity and more advanced devices makes it more accessible.

Once the documentary has been completed, it will offer a unique insight into London and the different lives of people there. Although it’s going to be a very long process, it is definitely one worth keeping an eye out for.

Click here to see how bmore used video to tell a human story behind a useful but somewhat humdrum insurance product.