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Jun 2012 11

The HydraHeads that make up the organic machine that is Giant Hydra aren’t in it for the glory, but it doesn’t hurt when glory falls upon their clients thanks to their efforts.

Such is the case last Friday night at the 2012 Marketing Awards, arguably Canada’s most prestigious advertising award show. Toronto agency Red Urban and production company Untitled Films won multiple awards for its work on Little Trees air fresheners, a project that received a healthy helping of Giant Hydra magic.

“Ocean”, one of two spots within the Mark Gilbert-directed project, was awarded Gold in the Other Broadcast—Single category, while the other spot, entitled “New Car” won Bronze. Together, the spots also won Silver in the Campaign category.

Congratulations Red Urban and Untitled, and well done to the HydraHeads! We can’t wait to see where this leads, both on other projects and other accolades.

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Mar 2012 08

Agencies are used to trying to get consumers to change their minds about a product or service, but what about changing the way a nation thinks about its resources?

Giant Hydra was up to the task when Christina Brown, Partner and Creative Director of acclaimed Montreal based agency CloudRaker, tapped the HydraHeads for a very special project for one of their clients. Christina is no stranger to big names or unconventional ideas — her career has put her at the helm of such brands as Bell Canada, and CloudRaker’s innovative social media campaign for Tim Burton’s MOMA exhibit received international acclaim — but combining a big name and out-of-left-field thinking with a virtual team she’s never met in person? That’s something completely new!

We recently had a chance to speak with Christina and have her share her thoughts about working with the HydraHeads and how she’d use the system on her next project.

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Giant Hydra: What were your initial thoughts when you first heard about Giant Hydra? What were you expecting, and how did it live up to those expectations?

Christina Brown: “ I heard about Giant Hydra very early on, and was really intrigued by the model. The idea that, as a Creative Director, you could crowdsource talent from around the globe was what excited me most. When it came to actually using Giant Hydra, I was a little concerned about the briefing process and the real value it would bring, given that the project we had was one that required so much background knowledge about the brand and the subject of the campaign. I was really taken aback by how much research the HydraHeads did on their own time and how quickly they grasped a complex brief.”

Giant Hydra: You took your time in selecting which HydraHeads you wanted for your team. What was it like to look at all of the Heads that applied to work with you, and what impressed you the most about the ones you picked?

Christina: “Giant Hydra was amazingly helpful when it came to recommending talent for this particular project. I knew I wanted a solid base of senior thinkers with a few fresh juniors in the mix. I also loved that we were able to have a strategist involved; he was able to anchor a lot of the thinking that the creatives were putting out there before I had to! What impressed me most about the HydraHeads overall was how damn hard they worked. They were extremely generous with their ideas, helped each other out and took feedback incredibly well. While I’ve never laid eyes on any of them, I really enjoyed collaborating with them. ”

Giant Hydra: You mention never actually meeting the HydraHeads. Creative directors are accustomed to working with their staff face-to-face. What was it like to instruct a team in a virtual world, where everyone is thousands of miles apart?

Christina: “I think that’s the part that takes a little getting used to. At the Seed stage, it’s heaven. You get all these great big ideas in which you can see potential and that’s the best part. It got a little tricky when we got down to execution. At that stage I would flip the HydraHeads’ Seeds over to my internal team and they would run with building the full campaigns. That said, this was a project that had very aggressive timelines and many brand standards to adhere to. On simpler briefs, I think it would be a non-issue.”

“I was really taken aback by how much research the HydraHeads did on their own time and how quickly they grasped a complex brief.”

Giant Hydra: The team you selected was very international, even though your brief was for a Canadian client with a very Canadian dilemma. Do you think these global perspectives brought something unique to the table, or is great creative and strategic thinking universal?

Christina: “Absolutely. In fact, in this case, we had been internally working so long at solving a really tricky problem that we were losing perspective. The ideas that came our way from HydraHeads from all corners of the earth proved that we were in fact moving in the exact right direction with our own thinking and that really was invaluable. I can truly say that the process really, really helped us.”

Giant Hydra: Now that you’ve had your hands on Giant Hydra, what would you do differently when using it on another project?

Christina: “It would depend on the project. For the bigger, more complex pieces I would leverage the Seed stage longer. For less complex challenges, I would push to execution faster. Even though I was told I communicated well with the HydraHeads, I think I would do more scheduled talks with them. All the same rules apply here that do with your own internal teams.”

Giant Hydra: Imagine a fellow CD calls you up and says “I’m thinking about trying Giant Hydra.” What would be your strongest selling point, based on your own experience?

Christina: “I would really recommend it. Whether you get ‘the idea’ or not, there is bound to be a little jewel you find in the process. I also think it is a tool you get better at using with time. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Want to know more about how Giant Hydra can help you on your agency’s next project? Contact us at admin@gianthydra.com

Jan 2012 30

Welcome to Views from the Hydra Tank, a collection of interviews from the very creatives and strategists that make up the globe-panning pool of HydraHeads within Giant Hydra. While a team of HydraHeads works as one solid, integrated unit, that unit is still made up of individuals of different skills sets, nationalities and of course personalities. This column aims to shed light on those personalities.

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The talent pool within Giant Hydra runs wide and deep, with all sorts of skill sets ready to be unleashed on an important project. There are many art directors and copywriters to consider when putting together a team of HydraHeads, but few have the gift of being both in their professional lives.

Such is the case with David Houghton. David brings twenty years of creative experience to Giant Hydra, both as an art director and as a copywriter — a “two-headed hydra”, if you will. Over that span of time he has racked up tons of awards, from Cannes and One Show to New York Festivals and ADCC.

David also adds considerable executive heft to the Hydra Tank; most recently he served as SVP, Creative Director of Y&R Toronto, before deciding to go back to his creative roots, making cool stuff instead of just guiding cool stuff.

David is an avid cyclist and traveler, and recently went trekking by bike across India and the Himalayas. We had to interview him quickly about his thoughts on Giant Hydra.

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Giant Hydra: Prior to joining the ranks of Giant Hydra, you were a creative director at Y&R Toronto. Describe what being a CD was like for you, and why you chose to step back from that role.

David Houghton: “As I moved into the CD role, I dealt more and more with things that were less and less creative. Administration. Finances. Human resources. Signing dental claim forms. Of course, that’s true of a CD at any sizable agency. All very good grown-up stuff but not the stuff that I’m passionate about. I had fantastic creative teams to work with at Y&R and the experience taught me very clearly that what I liked best was being close to the work, mentoring and collaborating with other creative minds.

Giant Hydra: What initially drew you to Giant Hydra?

David: “ I’m interested in exploring agency models and creative tools that break with convention. Giant Hydra seemed like an interesting concept, and an opportunity to connect with a diverse group of interesting people.”

Giant Hydra: Giant Hydra operates a bit differently than a traditional agency. What was the learning curve like?

David: “The learning curve was quick, because everything is spelled out explicitly in the intro videos. Once you’re on the site working on a project, the process flows smoothly from initial ideas, or Seeds, to more developed concepts that are shared by the entire group.”

“That kind of collaborative effort doesn’t require everyone to be in the same room – or even the same country. It simply requires people who are inventive, smart and open-minded.”

Giant Hydra: When you’re in a Giant Hydra project, do you ever feel the urge to put on your creative director hat and guide the process, or is it easy enough to “just” be creative?

David: “I have strong opinions about which ideas are the best, and I use my powers of persuasion to make my case. But ultimately it’s up to the CD that’s leading the project to make the final decisions, and it’s not difficult to respect that.”

Giant Hydra: What has been your favorite thing about Giant Hydra so far? What has been the greatest challenge, in terms of comparing it to a bricks and mortar agency experience?

David: “My favourite thing has been planting a Seed and seeing other creative minds seize on it, develop it and nurture it into something really great. That kind of collaborative effort doesn’t require everyone to be in the same room – or even the same country. It simply requires people who are inventive, smart and open-minded.”

“The greatest challenge has been, in some cases, the sheer volume of raw ideas. Sometimes a group will generate so many options, particularly in the early stages of a project, that it’s difficult to sort through them all with the kind of acuity they deserve.”

Giant Hydra: What advice would you give to HydraHeads being selected for their very first project?

David: “I’d remind them that the point is not only to generate your own ideas, but to build on others’ ideas. To identify and develop the potential in someone else’s idea is a valuable part of the Giant Hydra process.”

Giant Hydra: Let’s go back in time to when you were a big agency CD. Knowing what you know now about Giant Hydra as a HydraHead, would you have used Giant Hydra on an agency project?

David: “Absolutely.”

Giant Hydra: What would you tell your friends that are still agency CDs about Giant Hydra?

David: “Giant Hydra is a very specific tool: a creative department inside your laptop. Fire it up, and you have an international group of skilled thinkers who focus intensely on your project for a short period of time. Not every project needs this kind of approach. But some, like tight-timeline projects or new business pitches, benefit from it.”

“Look at our current situation. Since the recession knocked the stuffing out of the economy, agencies are often working with the minimum number of creative staff. At the same time, some very talented people have gone to the freelance side because they enjoy the flexibility it brings. Most importantly, we’re in the creativity business, in the midst of a technological revolution. Giant Hydra brings ideation and technology together as well as any tool I’ve seen. I’m proud to be one of the heads on the monster.”

Want to see some of the magic David has worked on? Please visit his website at twoheadedcreative.com. Want people like David and other HydraHeads to work magic on your own projects? Contact us at admin@gianthydra.com

Jan 2012 19

Ignacio Oreamuno
President
GiantHydra

The world might not end in 2012 as the Mayans predicted, but you don’t need an ancient calendar to see that the traditional way advertising is created, and more specifically the way ideas have traditionally been created, is quickly becoming extinct.

In the good ol’ days of advertising, the joined-at-the-hipster duo of copywriter and art director was the most efficient way develop ideas into a campaign. Whether they were locked in an office together, in side-by-side cubicles, or sharing a table at the local coffee house, these two people were expected to change a client’s fortunes, or at least come up with something decent for the agency reel.

But in 2012, not only are we starting to see a decline in paired teams, I believe that the two-person team is about to go extinct.

A campaign is no longer a campaign.

It used to be that an advertising campaign was an idea glued together by two elements, a pretty image and a catchy tagline. A campaign might include a TV spot, a magazine or newspaper ad, a little radio and some web elements, all feeding off of each other and growing in a manner that two people could handle. They could take a simple idea, add a joke and slap it across multiple media.

However, in recent years, the definition of “campaign” has changed. Nowadays a TV, print, radio and web campaign also has a big launch event, mobile apps and games to engage people on the go, social media seeding, and sometimes even package and product design, architectural elements like store designs and more. In a lot of cases the same ‘campaign’ is not connected via art direction or taglines, but by strategy. As such, the traditional set of specialists are no longer suited for creating the campaign of the future — or even the campaign of the present — because it is impossible for them to posses a solid knowledge of the possibilities each media holds.

…the traditional set of specialists are no longer suited for creating the campaign of the future — or even the campaign of the present…

Giant Hydra solves that dilemma by allowing multiple people from around the world to work together, building on each other’s creative and strategic ideas. There are only so many ideas that a traditional duo can create with their skill set, but when you bring together nine or ten people, ideas grow exponentially. In very little time, a small idea can become a gigantic idea with legs, all because those nine or ten advertising professionals bring very different expertise and experiences to the table. And they do it around the clock.

All advertising creatives have felt the ominous weight of the great white wall, that blank sheet of paper in front of them that they are ultimately responsible to fill with brilliance. In traditional creative teams, a competent partner helps to alleviate some of that pressure, but in a larger group of people, this pressure melts away and is replaced entirely by fun and camaraderie. The “mass collaboration” nature of Giant Hydra allows you to put a germ of an idea on the table, then step back and watch your peers across the world in the UK, Brazil, India, Singapore — wherever — develop that seed in a ton of different ways and add more fuel to the fire.

More people is also more fun. When I travel around the world, I’ve met a lot of HydraHeads who have revealed to me that the most inspiring projects of their careers have been with Giant Hydra, working alongside a bunch of other people. It’s strange to hear that an online environment can be so fun, but I think we can all attest to the fact that virtual worlds and communities have taken over most of our social lives, and that relationships, laughs and the joys of teamwork can be felt via digital means as intensely as within a roomful of people.

And of course, a “roomful of people” is another way that an agency could try to do more than a two-person team can accomplish. In fact, agencies do these all the time; the hapless participants derisively label these sessions “gangbangs,” and the most common outcome is a large Chinese take-out expense report. No such worries within the Hydra!

Many other industries have been transformed by the web, but advertising has resisted. I don’t think that will last much longer. As much as the advertising industry likes to think of itself as innovators, ad agencies are followers as much as anyone. As soon as the big shops… or the smart shops… or the small shops take the first trials and take the plunge into mass collaboration, everyone else will soon follow.

Either that or the Mayans will get us.

Oct 2011 11

brettcreditpicBrett McKenzie
Creative Manager
Giant Hydra


“So yeah, Giant Hydra… tell me about it again.”

I’m chatting with a creative director from a well-known New York agency, but it’s not the first time I’ve had this conversation. In fact it’s not the first time I’ve had this conversation with this very same creative director.

We’ve been emailing and talking to each other for the past few months about how Giant Hydra works and exactly how it could be integrated into what his agency is doing. Clearly there is something about the concept that intrigues him. Maybe it’s the thought of putting together an international team of creatives within hours, maybe it’s the idea of being able to pop in at any minute of the day and see progress, or maybe he’s only thinking dollars and cents and sees that Giant Hydra is less expensive than calling in a freelance team. He’s been pretty coy so far about what keeps drawing him to the site.

He has also been quiet about why he hasn’t taken the next step and giving Giant Hydra a try. It seems kind of like a kid peering over the edge of that diving board at the city swimming pool. He wants to jump, hoping to pull off some great dive but knowing full well that a cannonball is more fun. He might get a little water up the nose, but the exhilaration of it all will likely trump that panicky sensation And unlike the movies and after-school specials, there’s no group of older boys behind him, chastising him for holding up the line. He can turn around and go back down the ladder at any time, yet still he lingers on the board…

The CD I’m referring to is probably giving a sheepish chuckle while reading this, and he might ask a lot of questions, but he’s not the only agency executive who has approached us, eager to learn more about Giant Hydra. In almost every agency we’ve been invited to, and in our travels across North America, South America and Europe, CDs have wanted to know how they could tap into Giant Hydra’s talent pool. They are pleasantly surprised to learn how easy and affordable it is… and then they go quiet. They climb off of the diving board. Curiosity is pushed to the side and is supplanted by something else. It could be that they are so used to doing things a certain way that when something new comes along, it’s more of an oddity than an opportunity. It could be the feeling that bringing in HydraHeads suggests a lack of faith in their staff’s abilities, or the dread of admitting that they need a helping hand. Whatever the reason, they find themselves on the deck, trailing their toes in the water, continuing business as usual.

And then one of their buddies goes sailing off the high board, knees clutched to chest, yelling “Geronimo!”

“…whenever a creative director takes the plunge and gives Giant Hydra a go, we immediately receive emails and phone calls from other CDs who were curious about it before…”

See, Giant Hydra has been kept busy on collaborations with famous multinationals such as Ogilvy and TBWA, as well as smaller independent shops. The HydraHeads have been tapped to work alongside agencies on major pitches, and have helped shape the vision of brands in categories as disparate as nursing homes and beer. Over a few days they worked together to create nearly a hundred executions for a women’s fashion retail brand, and a few weeks later created over 150 executions for a popular casino. The HydraHeads have created over 160 seeds designed to rebrand a mobile phone company, and over the course of a week developed strategies and creative for a mixed martial arts brand whose audience might not be as obvious as you’d think. But no matter the agency, no matter the project, the aftermath is the same; whenever a creative director takes the plunge and gives Giant Hydra a go, we immediately receive emails and phone calls from other CDs who were curious about it before, especially ones who know that first CD personally. “How does this work again?” “Can I use it on a pitch?” “How do I pick who’s on my team?” “How much did you say it cost?” The queries, the interest, the excitement all go up, and before you know it, there’s action around the diving board again.

Let’s face it, Giant Hydra, the concept of mass collaboration beyond an agency’s walls, is still something quite new. And like anything new, there are healthy amounts of both interest and trepidation. But eventually, the best thing to do to get the full Giant Hydra experience is to follow your peers: plug your nose, close your eyes and jump.

Come on in, the water’s fine.

Oct 2011 03

Welcome to Views from the Hydra Tank, a collection of interviews from the very creatives and strategists that make up the globe-panning pool of HydraHeads within Giant Hydra. While a team of HydraHeads works as one solid, integrated unit, that unit is still made up of individuals of different skills sets, nationalities and of course personalities. This column aims to shed light on those personalities.

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Hailing from Chappaqua, NY, and now residing in Brooklyn, Jaime Schwarz contemplated following in his father’s footsteps as a clinical psychologist,. This all changed when he witnessed the Nissan Maxima “Pigeons” spot during Super Bowl XXXI. This led Jaime to research as many ads and agencies as he could, eventually ending up at the Chicago Portfolio School. Unfortunately Murphy’s Law saw that his graduation was promptly followed by the unfriendly markets of the dot.com bust and 9/11.

Undeterred, Jaime returned to school — this time the Miami Ad School — and eventually spent time at JWT before deciding to go freelance. “Since then I’ve worked on more brands for more clients than I ever thought I’d work on in my career,” he says.

Jaime is one of the most prolific HydraHeads in all of Giant Hydra, and has participated in almost every assignment that has gone through the Hydra Tank. We felt he was the perfect guy to kick off this new column.

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Giant Hydra: How did you first hear about Giant Hydra?

Jaime Schwarz: “I did a few Porfolio Nights when I was a junior and have been an avid reader of IHAVEANIDEA since the beginning of my career, so when Giant Hydra came along, my interest was piqued. I joined because it was another way to get my foot in doors, meet more colleagues, and keep me concepting.”

Giant Hydra: What was your first Giant Hydra project like? Was it a steep learning curve, or was it easy to get into?

Jaime: “I had no idea how that first Giant Hydra project would go. The interface was easy enough, but it was the experience itself I couldn’t predict. Thankfully, there was no learning curve. If you can concept, you can use Giant Hydra.”

Giant Hydra: One of the major aspects of Giant Hydra is its collaborative nature. How has it been to work with other HydraHeads?

Jaime: “Concepting by yourself is exponentially harder than working with others. Bouncing ideas around, giving a Seed to someone and watching them turn it into something you never would have thought of and vice versa is essential for great ideas. Imagine that two person team you’re used to and multiplying it five or six or even tenfold. I’ve never worked with such a diverse group of creative minds at any point of my career than working with my fellow HydraHeads.”

Giant Hydra: You’ve been selected to be on many Giant Hydra projects, and thus you’ve worked with a lot of different HydraHeads and creative directors. What qualities make for a great HydraHead?

Jaime: “To be a great HydraHead, you’ve got to have the confidence and pride to throw your half-baked ideas out there for all to see and tear apart. You also need the selflessness to let your thoughts be part of the giant pot that no one person takes credit for.”

“This format requires you to put your ideas out there sooner than you’d like. When it’s just you and a partner in an agency you can, in the safety of your office say anything you want and vet it before other teams or the CD sees it. Here, you’re all partners, including the CD, and there’s only one office, the site. On top of that, if these teeny Seeds have any chance of turning into great ideas, you have to let them be taken over by the collective. It’s a whole other type of thick skin I’ve had to grow. ”

” I’ve never worked with such a diverse group of creative minds at any point of my career than working with my fellow HydraHeads.”"

Giant Hydra: What should a new HydraHead expect when getting thrown in with you “veterans”?

Jaime: “It’s easier than you think and it’s harder than you think. You know when you’re really into a project when you give yourself over to it. That happens with a lot of these. Even though it’s in your home, on your own time, a great idea will make you work harder.”

Giant Hydra: What should a creative director know or do to get the most out of Giant Hydra, based on your experience?

Jaime: “As a CD, you need to be part of the discussion. Steer us. This is highly collaborative. It’s basically a single, but very complex, conversation between a handful of people that goes on for a week or so. If you’re not a part of it, you have no idea what you’ll get until it’s too late.”

Giant Hydra: What has been the biggest surprise about working on Giant Hydra?

Jaime: “I’d have to say it was the Giant Hydra point system. In the beginning I thought it seemed trite, quite frankly. I knew game theory, so I thought I was above it. But it’s funny, once the points started rolling in, it kept me up later to think of just one more idea. ”

Giant Hydra: What’s the best part about working on Giant Hydra, for you, the creative?

Jaime: “Giant Hydra is a creative icing on my career cake. It’s supplemental income and it’s supplemental thinking. It’s that line about a shark, you’ve got to keep moving in order to breathe. As a creative, you have to keep thinking, keep the gears going or you rust quickly. Giant Hydra gives me access to great minds all over the world. ”

Giant Hydra: What would you tell a creative director or agency who is interested about Giant Hydra but hasn’t made the plunge just yet?

Jaime: “You can never have too many good ideas, and Giant Hydra is the easiest way to get more of them. ”

Want to see some of Jaime’s work? Please visit his website at jaimeschwarz.com. Want your agency to work with Jaime and the other HydraHeads? Contact us at admin@gianthydra.com

Oct 2011 03

You know something is good when everybody wants to try it out. You know something is great when they come back again and again.

Such is the case with David Bonner, SVP, Executive Creative Director of Jacksonville, FL based St. John & Partners. An award winning creative director with years of experience at such places as BBDO and GJP in Toronto, JWT Chicago and Doe Anderson in Louisville, David came to Giant Hydra this past summer, eager to test the mettle of the HydraHeads with a project. It wasn’t long before David came back with a second, and then a third challenge for Giant Hydra. Of course our HydraHeads were up to the task.

With summer out of the way — at least for us northern hemisphere HydraHeads — we finally caught up with David to chat about his Giant Hydra experiences, including how he gets the most out the system and what his agency creative team thinks of it all.

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Giant Hydra: How did you first hear about Giant Hydra?

David Bonner: “ A colleague heard about Giant Hydra at an industry conference. When I looked it up, I realized we had some connections back to Toronto.”

Giant Hydra: Let’s go back to your first project. How easy was it to pick that perfect first team of HydraHeads?

David: “ It was simple. I could see who had some experience working with Giant Hydra, and then a quick access to their portfolios allowed me to make a value judgment about what they’d bring to the party.”

Giant Hydra: In a bricks and mortar agency, you’re used to seeing your creatives face-to-face. How difficult was it to adjust to a virtual, globe-spanning team of HydraHeads?

David: “Lately, I’m usually travelling or popping in and out of meetings anyway – so it’s almost identical on most days. At least with Giant Hydra I can access the ideas whenever I have a moment. I don’t have to wait for a team to be available to tell me what’s pinned up on a wall back in the agency.”

“…with Giant Hydra I can access the ideas whenever I have a moment. I don’t have to wait for a team to be available to tell me what’s pinned up on a wall back in the agency.”

Giant Hydra: You’ve been heavily engaged in the process and progress of each Giant Hydra project your agency has done. Is it tricky for a creative director to stay on top of the action?

David: “Like most projects, if you let a project float, it can float away on you. Or you can give it a rudder and course direction. Good CDs know when to step in, and when to let a project steer itself.”

Giant Hydra: Do you find it better to keep a many Seeds open as possible when moving into the Ideas and Executions stages of a project, or do you get better results when you narrow down the options for the team?

David: “It really has been determined by the needs of the specific project, but generally speaking, I find the creative process to be most productive the more it iterates. It needs room and space to develop and evolve.”

Giant Hydra: Not only have you used Giant Hydra on a number of projects, but you’ve also had your own staff join in and work alongside the HydraHeads within the Giant Hydra interface. How have they taken to using Giant Hydra?

David: “They’ve loved it. It’s allowed them to work with some new people, hear new perspectives, and try something a little different. Even people who are very comfortable and confident in their working style have gotten a lot out of it. It’s a safe place to create.”

Giant Hydra: What has been the most surprising aspect of your Giant Hydra experience? How it the reality match up to your expectations?

David: “Our world has only sped up. The fact that I could access as much talent, as quickly, as economically as I did was all the proof I needed. We got a lot of great ideas quickly. Whether it was 20 years ago, or last week – it’s still about great ideas. Giant Hydra has helped us get there more quickly and more economically than I could’ve in the past.”

Giant Hydra: At the end of the day, who’s happiest with the results — the creative director, the client or the people in the finance department?

David: “The client doesn’t know where the ideas come from. Even I don’t sometime. It’s just an idea in a list. As a CD, Giant Hydra has become a tool that’s helped me deliver great work. For the accounting department, tying free agents to a specific project is something they can get their head around.”

Giant Hydra: What would you say to a fellow creative director or agency head who was unsure about giving Giant Hydra a try?

David: “I imagine it’s what sex, drugs and California were like in the 60’s – good, pure stuff, and nothing that’s going to be permanent. If it doesn’t work out, you just head back east.”

Want to know more about how Giant Hydra can help you on your agency’s next project? Contact us at admin@gianthydra.com

Mar 2011 09

Gary Watson the award-winning Creative Director based in Toronto, Canada. Gary began his career in 1990 at Vickers & Benson and over the years has also worked at DDB, Ambrose Carr Linton Kelly, Publicis and Maclaren McCann. Today Gary is the Creative Director of Bos. His work has been awarded in global competitions like Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show and London International, as well as nationally in shows such as Ad & Design Club of Canada (ADCC), Marketing, Digital Marketing, The Bessies, Applied Arts and The Extras.

But more importantly, Gary is the next CD to become a Giant Hydra Believer.

Earlier this year, Gary presented the HydraHeads of Giant Hydra with an opportunity to help take one of Bos’ clients in a bold new direction. After the smoke cleared, we ended up with an impressive body of work… and high praises from Gary himself.

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Giant Hydra: What made you decide to give Giant Hydra a try?

Gary Watson: “ My first reason for using Giant Hydra was pure curiosity. It seemed like an interesting model and I just happened to have a project that I thought could use an international perspective. Especially for the category I was working on which needs some major rules broken.”

Giant Hydra: What did you think of the HydraHeads that applied to your project? How easy or difficult was it to decide on a team?

Gary: “ I was pretty impressed with the resumes and portfolios of the HydraHeads that raised their hands for the project – and yes, I actually spent the time to check them out (ok, not all of them). Plus, I got some good guidance from Giant Hydra on people that they knew would be great contributors based on prior experiences. And they were right.”

Giant Hydra: As a creative director, you’re used to giving direction to a physical team in your office. What was it like to guide people in a virtual environment?

Gary: “You mean aside from not being able to physically abuse them? (laughs). Honestly, it wasn’t much different. Same rules apply. Be honest. Provide clear direction. And motivate them.”

“For the same price as hiring a couple of really senior local freelancers, I got access to 8 highly-engaged and talented HydraHeads. It’s a no-brainer really.”

Giant Hydra: You killed Seeds and Ideas much earlier in the process than other CDs who have used Giant Hydra. What were your reasons for this, and did you find that it helped the outcome?

Gary: “ Time was certainly a factor. I only had a week. But more than anything, I think that if you know something isn’t going to fly, it’s better to jump on it sooner than later to keep the HydraHeads channeled and focused on the stuff that really lights you up. I found that doing this enabled me to get more work done on stronger ideas and executions.”

Giant Hydra: What was the biggest surprise you found in using Giant Hydra?

Gary: “ I was pleasantly surprised by the volume and quality of the ideas being generated. And it was really interesting seeing the different perspectives based on the geographical locations and cultural influences of each HydraHead.”

Giant Hydra: Your project had a faster turnaround than some of our others, yet the HydraHeads stepped up to the challenge. When it was all said and done, how did you feel about their efforts?

Gary: “I think the best answer is that I presented concepts from the project to the client and they thought they were bang on and very refreshing.”

Giant Hydra: While we might be climbing out of a recession, agency budgets are still as tight as ever. Do you feel that Bos got bang for its well-watched buck with this Giant Hydra project?

Gary: “ Sure budgets are tight. But let me put it in simple mathematical terms. For the same price as hiring a couple of really senior local freelancers, I got access to 8 highly-engaged and talented HydraHeads. It’s a no-brainer really.”

Giant Hydra: How would you see using Giant Hydra again?

Gary: “Aside from just generating creative platforms and executions, I’d love to take an existing campaign and throw it out to the HydraHeads for some 360-degree thinking. So, any weird and wonderful digital, social and stunt-based ideas that can breathe new life into a campaign and reach people in a completely different way.”

Giant Hydra: What would you tell a fellow CD was on the fence about trying out Giant Hydra?

Gary: “Simply, give it a try. It’s a smart investment. And get engaged in the dialogue happening on your project. Participate. Direct. Shape. I know for a fact that the team working on your project appreciates the involvement.”

Want to know more about how Giant Hydra can help you on your agency’s next project? Contact us at admin@gianthydra.com

Jan 2011 21

Andrew Simon is Partner, Chief Creative Officer of the recently re-christened Blammo Worldwide in Toronto, Canada. Prior to his role at Blammo, Andrew was Executive Creative Director of DDB Canada, leasding his team to Strategy Magazine’s Agency of the Year and Canada’s top creative agency in both 2009 and 2010.

Over the years, Andrew’s work has been recognized by a wide array of international and domestic award shows including Cannes, One Show, Clios, Communication Arts, London International, D&AD, Marketing, Cassies, and CMAs. In addition, Andrew has been named one of the top Creative Directors in Canada by Strategy Magazine for four years running.

And now, Andrew is a Giant Hydra Believer.

Andrew brought an exciting project to Giant Hydra, and after the intense project was completed, we sat down with him to find out his thoughts on using Giant Hydra as a Creative Director.

Giant Hydra: How would you describe Giant Hydra?

Andrew Simon: “It’s a wonderful creative extension of your agency’s capabilities. It’s the ability to bring together a very diverse group to any project in a very simple and quick manner.”

Giant Hydra: What were some of your initial thoughts before you used Giant Hydra for your project?

Andrew: “I was very excited to find an opportunity to use Giant Hydra, just to see how it all played out first-hand. The concept itself made total sense. Whether your agency has a lot of creative groups or a few, Giant Hydra would bring different minds to the project. Traditional minds, planner minds, digital minds, it’s different minds that have no agenda except to solve the problem.”

Giant Hydra: As a creative director, how did you find using the Giant Hydra interface?

Andrew: “I found it to be very simple and welcoming. Every day, it wasn’t like “oh god, I gotta log in and figure out what people are doing or what they are talking about!” The system is set up in such a way that you can see the whole stream of discussion. Whenever you want to jump into that stream, you can do it easily and intuitively. If you want to comment on individual work or group discussions, you can do that. If you want an idea to take flight or stop an idea in its tracks, you can do that. It’s so easy to use and flexible.”

“For my project, I added a few people who I’d define as “wild cards.” … In the end, they added exactly the flavor that I wanted them to add… they brought a fresh and different perspective on things, which lead to even better ideas.”

Giant Hydra: For those that don’t know, when a creative director posts a project, he or she gets to select who they wish to have working on it. How did you find this process?

Andrew: “In Giant Hydra, as in the real world, it’s always a challenge to select the right people for a project. You wonder “am I picking the right individual?” The Giant Hydra system helps out with this, as the HydraHeads, the people you choose for your team, have various levels of points. It gives you an indication of who has had experience working in this world. For my project, I definitely wanted to have a few people like that on the team. I also found some people with fewer points, but with portfolios that really made me say wow.”

“The other cool thing is that there are so many types of people in Giant Hydra. If you wanted people who mainly thought digitally, you could do that. If you wanted to see how a strategist would handle the problem, you could add a strategist. If you wanted to see how somebody on the other side of the world would tackle it, you could create a very international team.

“For my project, I added a few people who I’d define as “wild cards.” They had something special, but they weren’t exactly people that I’d naturally gravitate towards. In the end, they added exactly the flavor that I wanted them to add. They weren’t doing the heavy lifting, but they brought a fresh and different perspective on things, which lead to even better ideas.”

“In the end, I was very pleased with who I selected. I was also pleased that it wasn’t like the team was off on an island somewhere. Both the HydraHeads I chose and the Giant Hydra staff were there every step of the way, ensuring that ideas were being generated and any questions or concerns were addressed immediately.”

“It was like getting a smartphone for the very first time. You know, you look at it and say “oh, I don’t know if I need this or if I’ll be using it that much,” and two days later you can’t imagine life without it.”

Giant Hydra: What surprised you most about the Giant Hydra experience?

Andrew: “At first when I went in the system, I was worried about how complex it would be, how often I’d have to stay on top of the team, how I’d allot time and so on. But once I got in there, I was amazed at how easy it all was.”

“It was like getting a smartphone for the very first time. You know, you look at it and say “oh, I don’t know if I need this or if I’ll be using it that much,” and two days later you can’t imagine life without it.”

Giant Hydra: Let’s talk about the bottom line for a moment, for all the CFOs out there. Did you feel that you received your money’s worth?

Andrew: “Absolutely. I had a number of what I could pay in mind when I approached this project, and I was surprised at what that money got me: multiple people working intensely over multiple days and hours. And because each HydraHead is a member of a team, you can see that the teammates are counting on each other to perform. This, plus the points system provides a great incentive for them to work hard, and I could really see this in action.”

Giant Hydra: Now that you’ve used Giant Hydra, how would you see yourself using it again in the future?

Andrew: “One thing that occurred to me right away is that Giant Hydra would be wonderful for a new business pitch, to get some more thoughts and minds. But I could see ourselves using Giant Hydra again for any time we want a different perspective on things.”

Giant Hydra: What would you say to a fellow CD who was a bit skeptical about using Giant Hydra?

Andrew: “The reality is that people are still in denial about new things, but the world has changed, and is constantly changing. All you have to do is look to some of the top creative directors in the world, and see how they have been open to things like crowdsourcing and collaborative partnerships. They recognize this change.

“My advice to a CD who is on the fence about using Giant Hydra? Try it once. Take a small budget and see how it works for you. I think you’ll become a believer like myself. You’ll be amazed when you compare the number of ideas you’d get from a traditional freelance team versus the ideas you’d get from a Giant Hydra team for the same amount of money and time.”

“You should jump on board Giant Hydra and not be afraid of trying something new. If you don’t, everyone else will use it, and in the end, you’ll find that you will have fewer good ideas than they do.”

“Honestly, any CD who doesn’t understand the great potential of something like Giant Hydra, or who pretends that nothing has fundamentally changed in our industry over the past few years and wishes that all of this talk would simply just go away, I think that you might find yourself out of a job. That, or you’ll or you’ll have clients that ask you “I’ve heard about ‘this’, have you heard about ‘this’?”

“For anyone that doesn’t understand a lot about social media or collaboration, Giant Hydra is a wonderful way to get introduced. There’s no harm or foul. There’s nothing about it that you need to feel pressured to do. You can get ideas, see ideas, ask for more ideas, ask people to expand on ideas. And with Giant Hydra, it’s not like you are giving up any power. You are still the creative director. The control is there, the flexibility is there, it’s not as scary as you think and the system is easy to use.”

“And using something like Giant Hydra doesn’t mean you don’t have faith in your own people. You might be too busy on other things, or think that this just needs something completely different.”

“You should jump on board Giant Hydra and not be afraid of trying something new. If you don’t, everyone else will use it and in the end, you’ll find that you will have fewer good ideas than they do.”

Want to know more about how Giant Hydra can help you on your agency’s next project? Contact us at admin@gianthydra.com

Nov 2010 17

Mass is More0

Posted In News

Ignacio Oreamuno
President
GiantHydra

A lot has transpired in the past short while in the world of Giant Hydra. Some of the highlights include having two globe-spanning teams of HydraHeads help on a major pitch for a renowned agency, assisting an agency in London craft an ideal name for one of their clients’ brands, and working with a Toronto-based company on several TV spots which are now in the hands of some esteemed directors. We are getting ready to start an exciting project for a Dutch company looking to overhaul their traditional marketing efforts in the world of social media, and there are a number of other projects on the horizon. It’s been a wild ride, and after having spent so many years thinking about how to evolve the creative process, to use new technologies that encourage mass collaboration, it’s nice to actually see I wasn’t crazy. It works.

“How can we bill our client six million dollars a year when you can do the creative development of a campaign with Giant Hydra in a quarter of the time for only a fraction of the cost?”

When Giant Hydra became a reality, I began sharing it with friends of mine who were creative directors, gauging their feelings about such a project. “How can we bill our client six million dollars a year when you can do the creative development of a campaign with Giant Hydra in a quarter of the time for only a fraction of the cost?” asked the founding partner of one of Toronto’s top advertising agencies.

The answer is raw and hard and it stings a bit, because change is inevitable, like an approaching monster tsunami wave. You may not like change, but change is indifferent about whether you like it or not. Change will show up at your house party, not bring any wine or beer, and eat up all the chips and mini-sandwiches. And Change can be the life of the party or it can screw up your good times, but it’s coming, with or without an invite.

But few industries are as resistant to change as Madison Avenue. Even though the ad biz is barely a century old, we assume that the model we have used to concept ideas for many of those years will be the last one we’ll ever need.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good model. As a former art director, I deeply respect the legendary Bill Bernbach’s idea of pairing art directors and copywriters. I’ve been there, late at night, drawing thumbnails on little while papers, shooting ideas back and forth with my partner. It’s great fun, but it’s flawed for modern times. A campaign is no longer a funny idea with a tagline spread across TV, radio and print. Today a campaign could include anything from an interactive game, to a social media platform, to an online show, to an interactive television commercial on Twitter. Two people, one that specializes in pictures and the other in words, are no longer the right combination for the task at hand. It’s our job as agencies to be open to new combinations, new methods, cheaper and better ways of doing things for clients.

When an agency engages in a big assignment, whether it’s a new business pitch or a big project for an existing client, they usually start by assigning several creative teams to the brief. They might seem like they are all working towards a single goal, but creative politics will have them competing rather than collaborating. If Team A wrote a TV script, it’s implied that it’s their baby, and Team B cannot enhance that TV script, modify it or generally add to that idea. Who would go to the shoot? Whose names go on the awards entry? Who’d climb the stage at Cannes? Ideas are owned in today’s system, but should they be?

The new creative process Giant Hydra is trying to forge is one where anybody in the team can help an idea grow, and average ideas can grow into great ones rather quickly. It’s a process that is transparent to all involved, and everyone from account people to strategists to social media people participate in the creative process. The result has agencies and clients receiving massive amounts of high quality ideas in less time and at lower costs. The agency retains its leadership role, remaining in charge of crucial elements such as media and production. The agency develops and maintains strategies, and of course continues to foster its relationship with the client. The only major change is that the conceptual process is handled by the best and most talented people available in the world.

“So it’s kinda like crowdsourcing?” That’s another thing some industry heads have asked when hearing about Giant Hydra. The definition of crowdsourcing is still very grey, but to me, crowdsourcing is when a large group of people work independently on a task, all trying to come up with that one magical idea. In the end, one or two ‘winners’ get rewarded, but the bulk of the team gets a “thanks for coming out”, their many invested hours for naught. Imagine if those team members were actually working together, helping to make every idea a winner, not just a few.

What Giant Hydra achieves has nothing to do with that interpretation of crowdsourcing, but rather it’s an exercise in mass collaboration. Rather than opening up a creative brief to hundreds of unvetted people, each hoping to claim the Golden Ticket, a Giant Hydra project consists of a group of highly skilled pre-screened professionals working on a confidential assignment together online. Each “HydraHead” is remunerated equally and fairly for their work. Giant Hydra is still fairly new, but from what I’ve seen, everyone seems to be having a good time while at it. It’s extremely energizing to step away for lunch with 145 ideas on display, only to return an hour later and see twenty brand new ideas and fifteen older ideas have been modified, commented on and improved.

“The real agency of the future is not 300 people in a building, but a small team of 30 highly skilled, well-paid professionals that get support and ideas from a system like Giant Hydra.”

I recently showed Giant Hydra to the Worldwide CCO of one of the most respected agency networks in the world. “You know, people think we’re the agency of the future, but I don’t think we are,” he said. “The real agency of the future is not 300 people in a building, but a small team of 30 highly skilled, well-paid professionals that get support and ideas from a system like Giant Hydra.” So the ‘agency of the future’ is essentially the same as before, but just a lot more efficient in using a client’s resources. That’s not a terrible thing. Isn’t that what we’re trying to do in everyday when we drive our Toyota Priuses to get some more energy efficient lightbulbs?

We’re in the creative industry, so let’s be creative about how we do creative.

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