Maxus Mouth

SXSW - Uber: Thinking Differently

By Jen Smith, Head of Strategy & Planning on 23/03/2015
When Uber launched in the UK last year the London Black Cab community went on strike, such was the anger at the threat to their business model.
But what was a largely average talk by Malcolm Gladwell at SXSW, he did manage to raise a few interesting points about our perception of this controversial of companies.
What if, Malcolm proposed, Uber had not launched as a direct competitor to taxi services but instead had launched as a revolutionary solution to drink driving?
Drink driving in the USA is a huge problem – more people have been killed as a result of drinking and driving than have been killed from partaking in any US involved war!
What is interesting about Uber is that early results have suggested that it could be having a huge impact on the number of drink driving offences committed in the USA; there is more than a whiff of Rory Sutherland approach to behavioural economics in this alternative view of companies and services.  By focusing on the enablement – make it easy, change behaviour not attitude; it will be interesting to see if in future years the attitude towards drinking and driving also starts to change.
The conversation on the stage then turned to what other impacts this single organisation could be having on other industries; for example town planning.  In all cities residential developers are required when building new houses to also make sure that the development site is built with adequate parking facilities.  This is a huge cost to developers where every square foot is necessary to accommodate demand and profit.  What if developers saw Uber as a great opportunity to re-think how they build inner city housing?  In the same way new developments are now being built with life-style services (such as a gym and concierge) included, the opportunity exists for developers to work with Uber to offer residents free transport services, and in exchange they are not required to give up prime footage for parking spaces.
Finally of course in a country such as the USA where car manufacturing is such an important part of their economy, the inevitable question is how will Uber impact upon this?  If less people drive how will it impact on the number of jobs available within this sector?  
As a relatively new user of the Uber service it seemed to me that the growth of Uber as a source of income offers a greater flexibility to the new generations.  Getting in an Uber in Austin I met retired women, and students alike; who all talked to me about how they love the ability to pick up work as an Uber driver as-and-when it suits them, the automatic payment system meant they didn’t have to worry about carrying cash, and they determined totally their own hours.
There have been a lot of conversations in the media recently about the impact Uber could have on logistics and delivery businesses, but I think it is most interesting to think how it also has the potential to impact some of our social issues; particularly thinking about our aging community and how as a technologically backed organisation it can help solve a practical problem of reducing the need for our older residents to drive, but also how it can have a social impact in our communities by bringing real people within the same community together.  
Maybe if we think differently about this and other businesses we could see potential for impact in limitless opportunities.
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SXSW: What can the FA learn from the MLS?

By Jen Smith, Head of Strategy & Planning on 20/03/2015

As the baby of the soccer/ football organisations you might be forgiven for thinking that it should be the MLS learning from the FA.  But in a lively panel debate the actions and approaches of some of the new clubs within the MLS seems streets ahead of some of the decisions made by the more established / heritage football clubs within the UK.
1) “You are part of the brand not just a fan of the brand”
Rather than treating their supporters as an entity that sits apart from the sports team, the teams within the MLS are making an active decision to make their supporters part of the brand - not just amplifiers of it.
At the basic level they are rewarding people for making an effort. Being an away supporter is tough, it takes commitment and costs to travel to those matches, but it has been shown to be vital to the success of the game.  In recognition of this some of the teams are giving away tickets for free, sending fans the message, “If you make the effort to travel we will make the effort to make you know it is appreciated”.
2) The game is much longer than 90 minutes
What started off a cute supporter initiative to celebrate the first game of the season has quickly become an established ritual within the experience of the Seattle Sounders games.
Now, every game starts with a march through the local town, taking the whole community in a parade towards the ground. For the last game, 6,000 people lined the streets hours before the game to extend and celebrate the whole experience.
3) Good behaviour happens with carrots not sticks
The owner of the Portland Timbers talked about the benefits of having such close ties to the fan-groups. The relationship is now so symbiotic that the fans self-police bad behaviour - they know that if they allow it to happen, it would jeopardise the relationship they have with the club.
4) Data enables everyone to be a VIP
Kansas City generates 1 Terabyte of data for each match.  The club is now utilising all this data to ensure that they can make everyone feel like a VIP.  From in-stand concession ordering via mobile phones for half time drinks and snacks, through to re-investing the savings made from technology (e-tickets alone took $100k off the bottom line) back into the fan experience.
All in all, it made for interesting thinking, especially considering some of the football headlines of recent weeks. Would any of the teams in the FA be prepared to call their fans an extension of the brand? And are they missing some key opportunities to change the relationship they have with them?
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SXSW : On Being Present

By Alex Grieves - Senior Strategist on 17/03/2015

This blog was first published on 

Let me start by saying my Monday has unfortunately not been a ‘win’ as far as SXSW days go. Whether it was due to failing technology (side note: c’mon SXSW, it’s a tech conference!), discussions that didn’t quite live up to their expertly copywritten titles, or mistiming sprints over to the ACC, I could’ve probably played today better. 

The silver lining, however, has been the time I’ve had to reflect on feeling present at SXSW.

Queues As a SXSW first-timer, I’ve quickly learned that there is a unique and specific hatred for queues that develops here. They waste time. Their amoebic nature means that for people rushing to the next talk, they are constantly in the way. And they’re chaotic (how many times have you been approached by someone trying to figure out what exactly you are waiting for?). 

But, at a conference where my fractured attention is at all all-time high, I’ve actually welcomed the enforced standstill. It’s forced me to focus on my surroundings – most notably, the incredible people around me. And that’s when, on Sunday morning, I met a woman in the queue for textile innovation. Our chat began organically enough (who doesn’t love a quick rant about a long queue) but our conversation quickly turned to work/life balance, traveling the world, her hopes and worries for cultivating her team, and what I want to be when I ‘grow up’. Our easy rapport and connection got me hoping after a mere five minutes that this woman might agree to be a mentor to me in the future, once we were settled back in our respective lives (hers at an innovation lab in Philadelphia; mine in media in London). 

The queues here are admittedly annoying. But they kill the rush and give birth to interesting opportunities. 

Virtual reality Tom Dunn and I just left a fantastic session on 3D production and immersive technologies that centred primarily on the challenges and opportunities for virtual reality now and in the future. Of all the points made, what resonated most was that VR helps us to create presence in a world of high-tech sensory overload. Tools like Oculus confine us to the here and now – and allow us to experience it fully in hyper-reality. So unlike the rest of the tech running our lives – our phones, our feeds – VR provides the renewed opportunity to confine us (literally and figuratively) to a moment that we can fully enjoy. 

With the trending narrative around digital, social and all tech things bright and shiny focussed around how it’s destroying our minds, attention span, and relationships (a porn talk today reminded that the majority of teens’ first experiences with sex are now digital), it was refreshing to hear that our quest for sensorial innovation might help us take back the present.​

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SXSW : That Puts It All Into Perspective

By Tom Dunn - Head of Futures on 16/03/2015

This blog was first published on 

The theme from yesterday was about the need for technology to take a back seat and allow utility and purpose to take over. Today, my sessions had a much more positive view on the ways in which technology can make the world better.

The trials of making jewellery that is infused with ‘useful’ tech but looks fashionable paled into insignificance during a talk by Dr. Hugh Herr from The Center for Extreme Bionics. Called “The End of Disability”, the session covered the amazing developments in prosthetics, and how his team are creating ‘thinking limbs’, that measure and adapt to various factors to provide wearers with a normal (enhanced, even) existence. A double amputee himself, it was an intensely personal and inspiring story. After being told by his doctor he wouldn’t be able to ride a bike, drive a car, let alone go back to mountain-climbing, he showed photos of himself halfway up vertical cliff-face, within 12 months of his operation with his new ‘hackable’ limbs. 

"At the beginning of the year society called me crippled. In twelve months I was achieving things I had never done before." For an organisation whose motto is ‘Advancing Technology for Humanity’ I’d suggest fashion isn’t high on the agenda.

On a similarly positive note about technology, a collection of speakers from the world of film-making, theatre and art spoke enthusiastically about the opportunities in Virtual Reality, and their role. The hypothesis was that we have, in technology, a new and powerful tool but we don’t yet have the language. But maybe the wrong people have been in charge, and instead of being at odds with the tech world, it could be the artists who define the language of using these new technologies. Succinctly summed up by Anagram (a theatre duo from Bristol) saying that VR “could draw from hundreds of years of theatrical tricks, and not just look like a crappy cardboard box on your face because that’s what Google tells you.”

I agree. But then it’s difficult not to agree with someone who’s just made you sit on the floor and put a blindfold on. 

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SXSW : Sport, Space & Sunshine

By Jen Smith, Head of Strategy & Planning on 15/03/2015
This blog was originally posted on 

This post was originally posted on

I know if you are back in London #SXSW can be a little annoying! Smug tweets about #free-beer, #Ryangosling, #Taco-truck can make it feel like Disneyland for ad-people! But the problem is it is truly such an awesome experience, that you are just blown away and want to share it with everyone.! And in that vein I want to share my first day  #sport, # Space # Sun#Sport: Being the least sporty person on the planet, choosing to spend an hour listening to the National Soccer League could have been an odd choice.  But this year at SXSW, Sport seems to be a big subject, and soccer(!) is a massively growing sport in the USA with a real considered strategy for growth.

They have deliberately focused on attracting and servicing millennials, using technology, social and data at the start of their journey rather than trying to fit it into an already established organisation, and proving that it doesn’t just create a good fan base – football crowds self-police bad behaviour – hello FA?, but also saves money from the bottom line.

#Space: The next talk was from Dom Pettit, a real life astronaut who has spent 370 days in orbit!.

He has single-handedly doubled the number of photos taken from space from 500k to 1 million after a single mission!  It was a truly inspiring talk based around the photos he has taken, and while not directly related to comms threw up some surprising inspiration quotes that are applicable to comms.

“Frontiers are places where experiences in life at home don’t apply”

“The concept of been-there, done-that should not apply.  Take a different angle on something everyone has seen before and you will find something amazing”

“When you look at earth from space – the distance allows you to see beautiful detail you can’t see when close up”

#Sunshine: It’s sunny, it’s warm, it’s beautiful!

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SXSW : Playing Major When You’re Minor

By Alex Grieves - Senior Strategist on 14/03/2015
  1. This blog was originally posted on 
    1. Alex Grieves, Senior Strategist at Maxus UK, blogs for IPA about the SXSW talk that has so far left the greatest impression, and how she stumbled upon it by chance.
      This morning started out fairly according to plan: Jen (Smith, my boss at Maxus) and I had a few coffees, did a bit of blogging, and headed off to an indulgent breakfast (good thing we walk everywhere) before heading over to our first speaker of the day.
      And that’s when I started to veer off my ‘perfectly’ crafted SXSW course – in my mind and on my painstakingly-curated SXSW GO app. The thought of sticking to a plan here, while nice on paper, absolutely fails in practice. Which meant that instead of lining up to see Al Gore, I went to a panel on Major League Soccer. Shut out of a lunchtime talk, I caught up with an old boss. And when I sat down to listen about retail innovation, I conducted an impromptu interview with the retail VC founder who happened to be sitting next to me. 

It was the MLS talk, however – easily the most ‘random’ choice of my day – that left the biggest impression on me. In an era of high-produced sport experiences, Major League Soccer wins thanks to deeply authentic fan engagement centred around a game that doesn’t lose out to fractured attention spans. As a relatively small player in the US sport scene, soccer and MLS have thrown down the gauntlet in sport with a David marketing mentality in an industry of Goliaths. 
From day one, MLS has committed to giving fans a disproportionate amount of the spotlight – not just because it’s good marketing, but because they care about doing so. They make fans the stars of their social media presence. They happily give fans license to run local club initiatives. They invite fans to call the shots when it comes to their own soccer experience while carefully observing how technology, both in and out of the stadium, can improve on the experience fans want – and because of it, fans become die-hard and stay die-hard. 

It’s this simply interest, and delivery upon, an interest in making fans feel like part of the brand that’s caught the NFLs of this world off-guard and has seen sport organisations of all kinds looking to MLS as the gold standard for galvanising their audience.

Coupled with the nature of soccer (shorter and faster-paced) and the ‘romantic nuance’ of the game (as one panellist put it) that draws fans in, MLS is slowly but surely converting Goliath sport fans to David supporters. And for a nation defined until now by the likes of football and baseball, that’s pretty major stuff.

Category: Media | Comments...

MAXUS MOUTH : The Dominant Screen

By Malik Roberts - Maxus Launchpad Graduate on 10/03/2015

BLOG : Malik is one of our 2014 Maxus Launchpad Graduates.   Our 2015 programme is now open - if you would like to apply to take part please email your CV to - closing date to take part is Monday 16th March 2015. 

During my time here at Maxus I’ve been lucky enough to take part in many seminars and training sessions. Quite often we’d be spoken to about the rise of multi-screening and what this means for the future of marketing – and more often than not the question of ‘what does this mean for TV?’ would be thrown into the mix. It was often suggested that people wouldn’t be susceptible to television advertising anymore because during the breaks we’re using second screens! 
There’s no doubt that television is now viewed in many places outside of the home, and a multitude of different screens are used to do this. The most popular of these screens being laptops, tablets and smartphones. In fact, a recent Thinkbox study found that regardless of where television was being viewed outside of the home, be it at someone else’s house, at work, traveling on business or on public transport, Smartphones were the number one device used to consume television. 
You’d assume that alongside this rise in people using mobile devices to consume television would come a drop in popularity of the main television set, but in fact, the opposite was found. The living room was central to watching television in the home, and 63% of people felt that their television was central to making the living room a special place in the home. Video on demand was used as a means of supplementing television watching, that is, if television is your staple diet then VOD is a box of chocolates you’re able to pick and choose from in moderation! 
If multi-screening occurred, the television was always the dominant screen, and in most instances whoever was using a second device would make sacrifices such as turning of their devices audio or moving to another area of the room in order to remain with the family in the living room. But what was most fascinating was that people remained susceptible to television advertising even when multi-screening, due to the advertisings audio!


By Catriona Harris - Maxus Launchpad Graduate on 10/02/2015

Catriona Harris is one of the 2014 Maxus Launchpad Graduates.  We are now looking for our 2015 recruits, if you would like to apply - send your CV to by Monday 16th March 2015.

A vlog is, very simply, a video version of the written blog.  It’s true that YouTube has been the cradle of these visual entries, but they can also be found on other social networking sites or web domains.  The human reach of these videos is far superior to that of their scribed equivalents. There is an indisputable sense that the creator is figuring a connection with the viewer from the first second of film.  For some, however, they represent nothing more than the unreasoned and unpalatable ramblings of fools, who, by virtue of their choice to abandon the pen, are undeniably lazy and probably stupid.  Hence the illogical, clumsy image that “vlog” conjures up for many.  
We need to talk about two vlogging phenomena – the beauty and fashion vlogs of Zoella fame, and the videos which provoke an ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) – in order to overturn any harmful misconceptions that may exist.  First, there’s the image of mascara tutorials and Chanel reviews that come to mind when talking about the vlogging movement. These are the videos that have transformed some of their creators into multi-millionaires with book deals and advertising contracts.  On the other side, we’ve got the increasingly popular, cultish films which feature simple moments in western culture (wrapping presents, having a haircut, watching fingers play piano).  Over the top of these scenes floats the soothing voice of a presenter making small talk with the viewer.  These videos are incredibly popular – one such video of a man folding hotel towels has had 770,000 views.  Although these types of videos are much more directly therapeutic, there are many qualities of these videos which align directly with the more typical vlogs, so much so that we should think of them both as brain tonics. 
Both groups of user generated videos display similar traits which help reinforce this claim.  Both only appeal to certain groups. They help viewers to relax and they nurture them. Zoella connects with viewers skilfully and makes them feel at home with her. From a recent Guardian article, Scarlett Cutts explains how watching Zoella videos was a reminder of the feeling of friendship, dispelling the loneliness brought about by her depression.  Without these videos, she says, the suicidal tedancies she had may have taken their full course.  The re-feelings provoked by Zoella came from her memory and her subconscious, and they also help to reinforce, in a similarly covert manner, the importance of self-love.  
Similarly, ASMR videos transport viewers to a state of relaxation incited by certain sounds from their formative years.  When the ASMR phenomena started a few years ago in America, the comments from viewers show their ecstasy came not only from watching the videos, but from discovering that they are not the only ones who experience ASMR.  “Wow, you're telling me there's a chance I may not be alone?” asks Ben from Edinburgh on the BBC website in response to their recent article about the sensation.   “I am so happy to read this article. I used to have those wonderful sensations but never told anyone as I thought they would think I was completely mad” exclaims Zax from Amersham, on the same page.  This overwhelming exclamation “I am not alone!” is essentially beautiful, and it tells us a lot about the capacity of this sort of video content to reach audiences in a way that advertisers could only dream of.  It’s the “warm feeling of Christmas” that supermarket giants attempt to offer us at this time of the year and the implicit associations with certain imagery and pleasure sensors in the brain. 
In this light, I’d like to argue that from user generated videos comes a true sense of community – perhaps closer to the original purpose of written media than first thought.  Here comes the warning, however.  These videos achieve connections with “consumers” precisely for the reason that they were made by them.  An advertiser would be hard placed to generate this sort of connection in a planned, measured way.  Product placement and sponsorship can really help to drive this and the connection further with the consumer.  However, we know to avoid commercialising these beasts too much; their future kind of depends on the next Zoella to come along with a simple, honest motive for creating her content.  

Beyond The Beacon - What's Next For Retail Tech?

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 04/02/2015
Today’s consumer is more switched on than ever – both savvy in terms of products and pricing and also quite literally connected throughout the shopping experience to a wealth of digital information readily available via their smartphone.
During a recession so severe it killed off established retailers such as Jessops and brought others to their knees – including HMV, Habitat and Blockbuster, improved e-commerce and home delivery services collided with tough market conditions to shift purchasing behaviour increasingly online. 
People are, of course, still shopping – but increasingly, we find that they crave a more enhanced and meaningful retail experience, one that seamlessly bridges the gap between the online and offline worlds.
This presents an important opportunity for retailers and brands alike to crank up the role they play in purchase decision making, and a flood of emerging retail-focused technology promises tempting ways to allure the connected consumer and challenge the notion of ‘broken’ physical retail space. 
Some retailers are already exploring the concept, taking the first steps to becoming more experiential, sensorial – becoming the embodiment of their brand rather than the physical shell in which products are sold. Apple has consistently broken ground here, its stores serving as modern-day cathedrals to technology, even securing tourist attraction status. 
A recent retail tech innovation, iBeacon, has captured a lot of attention in the retail world in the past 12 months. At first thought, the idea of targeting offers to shoppers based on their real-time, in-store location sounds a clear win-win. In reality, abusing beacons runs the risk of endlessly pinging the shopper who above all wants to get in, grab their shopping list items, and get out as fast as possible.  
Where Beacons become useful – and this applies to all emerging tech in the retail space – is when they make life more convenient for the shopper. Why shouldn’t contactless Bluetooth payments make queue management more effective; why can’t the reams of paper offers thrust into consumers’ hands at checkouts be downloaded directly to mobile apps?
Advances in retail tech are happening quickly. But retailers and advertisers facing up to incredible pressure on margins quite rightly have to invest cannily. More than half of branded websites are still, incredibly, not optimised for mobile, presenting a strong case for getting the basics of existing technology perfected first and foremost. There is little point in gathering reams of data if the website isn’t optimised to work on a mobile device. And if you can’t feed the data you have collected into a CRM programme so that beacons can recognise customers when they enter the store, then why bother?
Although there is a great buzz right now, with high interest and excitement and lots of testing and learning taking place in individual stores, we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. In-store tech is just one piece of a complete puzzle that people running the business need to understand. It doesn’t exist in isolation. 
Mention ‘digital or ‘automation’ to some clients and they automatically think quicker and cheaper. The reality is that technology creates a richer rather than leaner offer. What you are actually getting is more of everything. Much of the current innovation in technology is so easy to grasp that it masks the hard work and investment required to maximise their benefits. In fact, you’re generating more data, more learning, more connection points and more levers to pull across the marketing machine. For example L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app enables your smartphone to become your mirror, enabling you to try on a range of looks and products in real time. 
Allowing you to apply an array of products and looks to an image of your face, and see the results instantly.   What is truly interesting here is how much invaluable customer data you can capture, and how you can then apply that across your communications. 
Ultimately, the sheer variety of rapidly emerging technology on trial makes it tricky to predict exactly which bits of kit will succeed. One thing we can be certain of is that those that do gain traction in years to come will be those that benefit the customer more than the brand or retailer. 
From Tesco’s Clubcard to ‘Shopper Assist’ mirrors offering product information and complementary suggestions, the emphasis with winning ideas is always on building customer relationships by being helpful. Every day I’m presented with a new piece of tech or hardware that is undeniably brilliant in its capability, but I always come back to the average mother going to the supermarket. That piece of tech that is relevant to her, that makes her experience richer and simpler now - which is utter genius. 
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Always Time For Learning

By Stav Physicos - Operations Executive on 31/01/2015

Stav Physicos is a Maxus 2014 Launchpad Graduate....we are now looking for recruits for our 2015 programme.  If you would like to apply please send your CV to by Monday 16th March 2015. 

I have now been working as an Account Exec at Maxus for three months and I can honestly say I am enjoying it more than ever! As the weeks go by I am finding myself with more and more responsibility, I am now taking charge of my own campaigns seeing them go from an empty excel document to full blown executions which is exhilarating but not to mention pretty scary at the same time. I don’t think I would feel as comfortable with this responsibility if it wasn’t for Maxus’ continual learning opportunities, there is a constant flow of information being digested, always picking up and absorbing something new.   
Last month I had the pleasure of being invited to attend one of Google’s Agency Grad days, with the hype around google and their offices and this being my first time over there you can imagine my excitement – I mean Nap Pods come on! 
After a grand tour we immersed ourselves in a day ‘all things digital’ hosted by Daniel Solomon and various other guest speakers. The day covered everything from Display and social platforms to Search and biddable. Being on a permanent position myself within a display team and not having the benefit of experiencing different channels via rotations I found this extremely insightful as I was able to gain an understanding of the other areas of the digital space. It was a perfect opportunity to not only learn the theory but also through tasks be able to see how it all fits in to the planning process. The session included a lot of group interaction which was great as it was an opportunity to meet and network with people from other agencies. 
Being at the forefront of my career I greatly appreciate being able to attend events like these along with courses such as the IPA exam I will be taking next month. The abundance of events and seminars that are available ranging from specific topics to more generic subjects applicable to everyone are the aspects of Maxus life that I believe are truly helping me evolve into the best executive I can be.

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