When You’re Briefed to Shoot for the Moon


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This article first appeared on Little Black Book Online.

We’ve been called on many times to bring truly crazy ideas to life. From creating a robotic squid to a sandbox that turns into a VR race course, to bringing a rainforest to life with the biggest AR experience ever created. And those were only this year.

We take great pride in being hailed as the industry’s go-to player for ambitious digital ideas, but we never set out to be the most innovative. We don’t have a “Chief Innovation Officer” or an “Innovation Department.” It’s never been our goal and yet, after 16 years in operation, having made the first Cannes’ Lions Innovation List in 2013 and with over 100 Lions to date, something seems to be going right.

Many ask us how it’s done and the answer is pretty simple: it’s saying yes to crazy requests for almost two decades.

We’d never built a remote robotic squid before, but we had built over 100 VR installations and all sorts of connected game experiences. So, when our friends at Wieden+Kennedy called on us to build a giant squid for Old Spice that would invite users to remotely control a tentacle to complete random “quests,” we had the confidence we could do it and threw everything we could at it.

There wasn’t a single part of this project that didn’t push us to our limits. From creating squid ink and inflatable respiratory sacks to creating a platform that could allow remote players to control a single tentacle to perform tasks in real-time. A lot of this was new for us, but the teams from across multiple offices and disciplines collaborated to push themselves to the limit and make it happen.

We’d never turned a museum into a rainforest, but Google Zoo challenged us to create the largest augmented reality experience on the planet, so we said yes. Making sure the walls aligned with the trees and the corridors with the forest’s paths wasn’t easy, but through a process of experimentation we developed the second ever experience created using Tango, Google’s new technology platform for computer vision, and transformed 10,000 square feet into a endangered rainforest.

So I guess it was only a matter of time before we were asked to launch a sandwich into space. Right? At this point there’s not a lot of wild ideas that feel out of scope. The sandwich launched this week. On the cover of the New York Times, it was featured in an article called “A Chicken Sandwich Hitches a Balloon Ride to the Stratosphere.” To call this ambitious is an understatement.

Why do we keep getting these briefs? When it comes to some of the more bizarre ideas, it’s often the case that although we haven’t delivered the exact project before, our clients know we can draw from our wealth of experience to give it our best shot.

We work with some of the world’s best agencies, and even for them some of these borderline insane projects might be a one-off experience. For us, we’re learning, practicing and refining our craft on a daily basis. The more shots into the stratosphere we’re asked to take, the bigger the chance of getting us, and our clients to the moon.