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Storytelling With Design Thinking | Creative Director Achtung! Kika Douglas

Storytelling With Design Thinking | Creative Director Achtung! Kika Douglas

Hello everyone well thank you for the
introduction, I’m currently a creative director at Achtung and that is why I
chose the topic for tonight which is the beauty of cross-functional team working.
Achtung is an agency and I think one of the things were
characterized for is working with cross-functional teams so instead of
well talking about the theory of it I wanted to show you a result of a recent
project we’ve worked on called snervous focus for non Dutch speakers it means
row tales and it’s a project we did together with balls bagging so well this
all started with an open brief from Volkswagen which seemed like yes a dream
ask but actually well maybe not because we didn’t really know where to start
Volkswagen just asked us to come up with an idea that would raise brand sympathy
and we thought okay modern brands are built through series of positive
interactions and impactful stories that’s how we’re going to raise brand
sympathy and but what else can we do actually and but we knew we really
wanted to help improve something that concerned us and that both Baron could
have an important role and so it’s actually all started with an insight we
search for an insight and we finally found one that we thought was relevant
to the time being to the brand which was this that expresses excessive screen
time is actually an issue and especially when you think about kids and why is it
an issue not only because of the obvious reasons but because it affects something
that is really precious to kids that is imagination kids used to spend a lot of
time just getting bored and adults as well and the less bored we get and the
more we entertain ourselves with screens constantly the more our imagination
stops working and we stop using that muscle
so we said this is interesting sorry let’s see if we can do something about
it that is relevant for Volkswagen so yeah we had an insight now let’s come up
with really an idea and we could have done that in many different ways but we
did it in the afternoon we we could have done it in the classical advertising way
so narrative thinking just coming up with a big storytelling idea but that
would probably not have any innovation or smart tactics into it or we could
have done it the other way the systematic way which would be another
cool tech idea or we could have done it in a trust functional way building a
team of narrative and systematic thinkers which looks something like this
this was the the team we had working on this project from the very beginning so
of course he had a copywriter and an art director but we also had a creative
technologist a UX designer digital producer programming wizard children
book writer brand strategist a child psychologist well yada yada yada and we
all started thinking about this insight and how we could do tie it together to
our clients so the result and it’s what I’m going to guide you through today is
simplicity is how sorry my whatsapp is on that’s terrible thank God it’s not on
the screen but the result is simplicity and possibility so the simplicity that
comes from storytelling a big idea but that actually is amplified with the
possibility that systematic thinkers bring to the table with smart techniques
and innovation applied to it all latter enough to a brand message and this is
summarized a little bit the difference between all these ways of approaching it
by this quote of Benjamin Franklin which is tell me and I forget teach me and I
remember involve me and I learned so that was our goal to make something that
not only would tell and teach but that would also involve
kids and health and help them learn how to use their imagination again so back
to the insight mmm this is our insight what could we do about it where do we do
kids use screens a lot and that’s in cars and especially in the backseat of a
car nowadays iPads iPhones have become a really great solution to keep kids
entertained on long trips for example but the truth is when we or some of us
because I’m quite old but I’m sure most of you are quite young but when I was
little for example cars were a place to fill our minds with wonders is a nice
way of saying it but of getting really bored as well but you we really spent a
lot of time I used to travel a lot with my parents and look out the window and
play all these games like I see I see I don’t know if everybody in the audience
has played that but you see something and you have to describe it to the rest
of the people in the car until they remember until they guess it or my mom
would just tell us stories about the places we were passing by and well I
would bring them to life in my imagination so we said why don’t we turn
backseat into that again what if we could actually inspire children to use
their imagination using technology without using technology so the way we
thought of doing this was turning ordinary Road objects into fascinating
stories for example windmills would become galactic hair dryers tunnels
would become a launcher platform or a simple tree would become a magical tree
with this a whole story behind it and the result of this was this snow is
brokest location-based audio book so audio breaks that audio books that
respond to the environment gps-based that bring the highway to life literally
and I will go in detail into what I mean but first very simply how it worked was
we created an app with stories audio books parents would choose one of the four
interactive audiobooks to play in the car then they would play the audio and
put the phone away that was a very important thing for us the phone the
kids were not looking at the screens they were looking through the window
looking at the world outside and then they would start using their imagination
with a little help from the app so the story would change as the car drove down
the highway transforming what you were seeing in that moment if you were
looking at a windmill it would turn it into a part of the story you were
listening to so it really had a magical element to it for the kids so it got
approved by the client yay but now it had to work on every highway of the
Netherlands okay easy task make it scalable the client said five thousand
kilometers of road that we had to integrate into our stories yeah this is
our producers reaction how are we going to do this well what we did we scanned
over five thousand kilometres of roads we scanned the things that we thought
the objects that we thought were interesting for the stories we then
created an algorithm that would decide which object was more relevant for this
story that the child was listening to because maybe sometimes you would find
two or three objects that were competing against each other and the algorithm
would choose which one it would trigger in the story and we did this using I
mean we created our own software in the end to do it but it was a combination of
existing databases open-source data Google Streetview and manual creation a
lot of manual creation this was a little bit what our infrastructure looked like
after we scanned all the roads and we had of course – then do data validation
because a lot of the things that we had asked and was like this old badass
windmill covered by a tree you know won’t work for our story nobody will see
it from the road so we actually yeah got an intern
drive all through the Netherlands and validate data yeah this is our intern we
gave him a cool bottle of whisky after this you see really so um we figured out
the technology but we still have to find a creative structure that would work for
this and we got inspired by our kids because aren’t they all the inspiration
anyways no but really children book kids I don’t know if you whoever is that’s in
the audience will know this book but it’s a mole that has a shit on his head
and he’s on a quest to discover who shit on his head so that gave us that solved
the problem for us because we realized we needed to fight to create a quest
like story which has a beginning has a middle and has an end and it doesn’t
matter what thing happens in the middle like he goes an ass this bird that you
should have my head then he asked this I think it’s a horse did you shit on my
head and then he has to go did you shit on my head so it doesn’t matter if he
has the goat first or if he has the bird first
the story still works and that’s the structure that inspired our story so we
could really make a story that reacted to all the elements in the road and
still felt like a cohesive entertaining story yeah you see it’s changing but
it’s still the same story so that’s what we did we created four different stories
with modular pieces of beginning and end and then center pieces that were
triggered by specific objects that could move around depending on what location
you were in so out of four stories we had well thousands of stories that could
be listened to across all the highways of the Netherlands one beginning 40
middle chapters one ending and this was the brief we gave writers and ourselves
because we wrote one story as well so well this is the story was sort of meant
to last 15 minutes on this you would have to get out sooner then it would end
it before but make sure you still listen to the ending on it it work correctly
um so we started then the writing process and we went on a road trip
because we said we can’t really breathe children book writers if we don’t do one
ourselves and we you know know how to do this shit ourselves so we went our road
trip we got inspired and we created our first character called turbo hurt that
is a fruit fly that lives in uh in in the ashtray of the car and he really has
ambition to go to the moon so he’s on a quest to get to the moon and every
object across the road is a potential launcher into the moon so that’s really
what the story is about tunnels become tunnel launchers chimneys became chimney
cannons electricity where electricity catapults and well I won’t tell you the
ending because you can listen to yourselves on the app which is still
working but besides this besides finding the creative structure and okay we
figure it out we said we had to make tech not feel like tech because in the
end we still had to make it feel like magic was happening for the kids for
them to really be involved and engaged in the experience so how could we do
this and well here came in the beauty of data again we use weather data time of
the day and traffic data to make the story react in real time and really
describe what was happening around them so for example if it was raining the app
would know it was raining I would say the character would insert a piece that
said the weather is terrible let’s get a blanket or an umbrella if it was dark
time at some point the character would say and now it’s night time so you have
to exercise your eyes a bit or if we were stopped in traffic suddenly the
character would say hmm why are we slowing down
so that really added an element of wonder to the kids I’m a didn’t think
like wow what is happening here and then last phase we went into testing
another intern our producer this project was made thanks to interns they kudos to
them well we went into pre recording for all the sounds storytelling test well visual software manual testing
three levels of testing we also drove with our Volkswagen clients with a
prototype several times to prove them it worked and that you know we weren’t
crazy and that it was really cool and well at some point which seemed forever
testing was done this testing mastered about I think a month in total but then
we were ready to launch and to brief the writers to create the rest of the
stories so these are some of the writers he collaborated with writing was done
and then voices music sound effects making it work all together and and then
I wanted to show you just a quick video used to look like this but nowadays they
look more like this so how can folks part and help bring imagination back to
the backseat by making children curious to the side again that’s why we created
snow their focus location-based audiobooks that bring the highway to
life look outside you see those blades spinning we’re entering launch but warm
hold on three two we scanned the entire Dutch highway
system to identify thousands of lakes all kinds of tunnels windmills and other
landmarks along the road we turned these ordinary objects into magical chapters
in our stories we use to computer vision algorithms detect and tag all objects
along the highway these tanks were used as triggers that influenced the story in
real time kids just need to listen look at the forest do you see the dirt and
let their imagination transform their surroundings be worked in close
collaboration with some of the best children’s book writers in the
Netherlands who wrote hundreds of modular chapters all triggered by
objects along the road since each journey is different every story is
different as well creating a unique tale for every possible route in just four
days snow this book is reached number one in
the Dutch app store books category there a PV story with a mobile idea that takes
the child’s eyes away from their mobile phones we created one hundred and twenty
thousand kilometres worth of imaginative journeys thank you yeah this is just well to wrap
it up these are the four stories we created we’re now looking at expanding
this to Volkswagen Mexico and creating new stories because it was actually a
really big success and it makes us really proud because it wasn’t an
advertising campaign still today I think we get about a thousand stories
generated after almost a year of launching it and we have an anecdote of
the daughter of a friend of ours that would tell her mom can we take the
highway to go to the supermarket just because she wanted to listen to the
story so that was yeah our biggest compliments and well we really like how
this is a great example of cross-functional team working and how
something you know how you need so many different kinds of thinkers together to
come up with something that really is beautiful and well in the end it also
you know is a reminder that you can’t really use your imagination only forget
how to use it so we are in a quest of our own of reminding kids how to use it
again so thank you all and thank you for having me

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