Fast Forward 2014 – Week Two - NABS
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Fast Forward 2014 – Week Two

It was the second session of NABS Fast Forward 2014 and everyone was buzzing because it was briefing night. The teams were all guessing what the brief could be, given that the client is Wendy Proctor from the Cabinet Office and the team names (Jung, Maslow, Pavlov etc) are usually a clue.

But first, it was time for our leader and Chairman, Mark Lund, to pass on his wisdom. The title of the talk was ‘What Clients Want’. The answer turns out to be a mixture of imagination and empathy, with a healthy dose of honesty and respect.

Mark, having had a stint as a client at the COI, was well-placed to remind us that it’s tough being a client: expectations are coming from all directions, marketing departments are smaller than ever, and data means that success and failure are constantly known, and there’s nowhere to hide.

He told us that agencies need to value and respect their clients and show awareness of stakeholders, especially important people like the Finance Director! We need bags of energy and enthusiasm, and we need to support and respect our internal teams. He also said it’s important to get into the audiences’ heads and even love them a bit.

We were advised to tell the truth at all times, and be in the moment. Never look like you want to be somewhere else he told us, and I immediately felt guilty about the surreptitious text I’d sent under the table in the meeting I’d just come from!

He also urged us to understand that money is important to clients and that they’re running a business. Mark gave us the pretty excellent tip that our clients’ share prices are available at the touch of a button on a pre-programmed iphone app, and that it’s easy to look knowledgeable and Lund-like by dropping in a comment about the latest FTSE results.

After our dose of inspiration, it was time for the main event, with Wendy Proctor standing up to give us the brief. Wendy was brilliant – concise and clear and passionate – so of course we all immediately wanted to impress her with our response.

She told us that the brief is an excellent example of a typical government brief – with all the issues, challenges and complexities that they entail.

The brief is incredibly topical. Wendy kicked off by saying that Dame Sally Davies the Chief Medical Officer had been on the radio and in the press only two days ago, talking about the problems this country has with mental health, and the huge hit to the economy that this entails.

Put simply, we’re not paying as much attention to mental health as physical health. And that ultimately there’s no health without mental health. And the fact is, many mental health problems could have been prevented.

The job of the teams will be to crack a national campaign to drive awareness and take up of the five ways to wellbeing (connecting; being active; taking notice; learning; giving) to a target audience of 15-19 year olds.

Wendy stressed that she and the judges don’t want to see a conventional campaign. They want to see something that will drive long-term, sustainable behaviour change.

We then broke off into our teams for a session to come up with some (hopefully) insightful questions for Wendy next week. I was happy to see that our team, Team Maslow, were truly excited about what is an incredibly relevant, important and interesting brief. There was a lot of discussion around who the campaign should come from (not the government), the tone of voice that would be appropriate (sensitive) and where we’re going to get our insights from (skateparks!).

Here’s to the next 6 weeks and what will hopefully be a Team Maslow win!

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