Our very own Richard Foster attended this year’s H+K Digital Creativity Conference, returning with precious morsels of knowledge and insight for all to devour. Below is a bit of what he learned.


After opening with the dour claim that creativity shouldn’t be the topic of the day, Sir Martin Sorrell wrapped his talk encouragingly. “The worm will turn”, investment in brands will return.

His tip for ‘creatives’ was this: the future is not in our ‘big idea’. The future is in using tech, data, and content to maximise the reach and efficacy of any ‘fluffy’ creative idea.

For examples of this strategy, see his own company’s work with Ford



Next up came the polar opposite to Sir Martin in the form of Alex Jenkins from Contagious. Focusing on the dangers that threaten creativity, Alex veered from the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge to why a film about hikers throwing away jewellery (Lord of the Rings) turned a simple idea into a successful one.

The dangers he identified to creativity were:

  1. Client bias against creativity in traditional organisational structures and dwindling budgets leading to less than favourable supplier conditions. “The way they treat their vendors is borderline abusive”. – Scott Galloway NYU
  2. Ad Blockers. It’s the ‘music business vs. free downloads’ of the digital community. So far everyone’s sticking their head in the sand
  3. Extinction. Everything dies. Of all species that have ever existed, 99.9% are extinct. We (creatives) will go the same way unless we adapt and evolve.

We’re rabbits in headlights, but “the headlights are coming at you faster than they ever have before”. A fascinating, engaging presentation.



The final talk I want to mention is Simon Shaw’s, H+K’s Chief Creative Officer. Dressed in Nouveau-Victorian garb, I had reservations about what I’d learn from an industry stalwart. Would he trot out the same old dogma? I was refreshingly surprised.

Shaw identified a new form of communication, B2H – or ‘business to human’.

B2H sees all people as the prospective audience of a brand. Its reach turns anyone into influencers, including your family and friends. This new form of human branding is a clear progression from branded content.

Simon used one of my favourite case studies to explain it – Volvo Trucks.

He rounded up with a fascinating insight. Companies that talk about their purpose increase their growth over those who don’t. And if that purpose is about more than profit, like Unilever’s ‘Project Sunlight’, perhaps brands (and Capitalism on a broader scale) can answer problems they’ve spent decades trying to hide behind screens of ‘creativity’.



During lunch I also got to try out Google Cardboard and Candyspace’s interactive billboards. They’re changing the way advertising works in the public space by giving the audience ownership and literal control of the media. If you live in the Brighton area, check out HiSbe – a new, ethical type of supermarket bringing local produce to local people.

Thanks to Hill+Knowlton for arranging a fascinating day of brilliant speakers. I can’t wait for next year.