What I’ve learned from NABS Fast Forward
I have always loved September. Historically it’s the start of the rugby season, but since I’m well past my playing days, I fortunately have another reason to anticipate this month – NABS Fast Forward.
I’ve been involved in Fast Forward for 12 years. It’s an intense but enjoyable eight-week course, with 65 talented delegates who are split into teams and work alongside mentors, such as myself, to respond to a brief. Each week, the teams unearth truffles in the shape of consumer insights, creative ideas, executions, rhythms for media planning and so on, with the ultimate goal of winning the final pitch.
Some of the best people in the business get involved – 2018’s speaker line up included the likes of Karen Blackett OBE, David Magliano MBE, Loz Horner from Lucky Generals and Veriça Djurdjevic, CEO of PHD UK. That’s a lot of amazing experience to learn from. While I spent most of my time mentoring, I also came away with a few lessons of my own.
Importance of responsibility: Trying to get eight people to agree in an agency can be tough, let alone a team thrown together for eight weeks to put together a complete pitch! But it’s rare for any team not to perform; they’re all intelligent and enthusiastic, it’s just a case of gentle guidance to make sure those qualities are applied properly. Their exceptional performances are always a re-grounding and a reminder for me that young people need responsibility to perform at their best. Traditional agency structures can hold back talent – and this reminder from NABS is partly why, at Movement, we try and give all levels of our team more freedom than you’d expect.
The ten-minute magic: At the end of the course, each team takes to the stage for a 10-minute presentation and each year, I come away thinking that all pitches should be 10 minutes. Actually, forget that, all client presentations should be, too. It works – the teams that win are the ones who have managed to boil down everything to the succinct essentials, making their presentation understandable and buyable for the client. And we’re talking both creative and media strategies, executions and partnerships. Less is more.
The easy route isn’t always best: One of the best things about Fast Forward is that the delegates can choose to push themselves and can pick a harder route to prove if they truly believe in it. This year, the team that I helped mentor won the course with an idea they were told to forget in the tissue session – by the client! But they believed in it as a bigger proposition – and by the end of the course, they hit it out of the park. Their pitch was an emotional tour de force, with video footage and engaging speakers who connected with the judges. They had a lot to prove and addressed all the client’s concerns. The fact they challenged the main aspect of the brief and turned it 180 degrees was a triumph that was all the sweeter for the win.
By Clive Baker, managing partner at Movement London and Team Malik mentor