News & Views

Now / Next / Why London / Jeremy Ettinghausen

by Contagious Team

Swimming with Confidence

Ahead of his presentation and panel participation at our upcoming Now / Next / Why Session in London on Thursday 18th April, Jeremy Ettinghausen, creative director and partner at BBH London and BBH Labs, shares his thoughts on the importance of innovation to agencies. 

If the most seductive word in marketing is "free", then "new" cannot be far behind. Newness is a tempting prospect not only for consumers but also for agencies who can't be seen to be left behind in the innovation arms race. Apart from the fact that original thinking and execution are and have always been mandatory agency services, clients are increasingly looking for trusted guides to help them navigate the increasingly choppy seas of media, behaviour and consumer activity. The currents can be deceptive.

It's incumbent on everyone at any forward-looking agency to be thinking about innovation, to be restless to try new things, to enthusiastically learn about the technologies that are developing and to seek to understand how they are being used and who they are being used by. These should be basic hygiene for anyone involved in the communication of ideas. Disruption is happening, it's all around us - innovation is an opportunity to plant a flag in the shifting sand, not a reason to bury our heads in it.

Whether agencies require specific innovation units, a 'Lab' or a Chief Innovation Officer, is a less straightforward issue. Some argue that the presence of such a unit allows the rest of the agency to take their foot off the gas, keep doing what they've always done, keep thinking what they've always thought. But clearly this isn't how things should be in 2013 and certainly not in a restless agency like BBH where everyone is responsible for evolving what we do and how we do it. 

So as Mel Exon - co-founder of BBH Labs - puts it, for an innovation unit 'experimentation and the transfer of learning IS the day job, it's all we do'. For BBH then, Labs is a muscle of the greater agency rather than a separate limb, a muscle with a specific R&D role - learning and imagining - pulling new ideas from the outside into the core of the agency's thinking.

And it is the ongoing practise of research and development that is so important here - innovation needs to be intuitive, spontaneous and instinctive. The facility to cope with flux and disruption needs to be embedded into agency muscle memory not relearned at every challenge. The currents are tricky. Agencies need to swim with confidence.

Jeremy will be presenting and participating at Now / Next / Why on the topic of:

The ROI of R&D / (Adaptive Innovation)

Prioritising experimental practices to fuel innovation and growth is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for modern marketers

With brands demanding increasingly innovative approaches to how they and their agency partners come up with ideas, lab culture for marketing is moving from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have. Contagious will be looking at brands acting as VCs, debating whether brands can or should act like start-ups, and  bringing in speakers from multi-disciplinary labs to hear how they work, how they convinced their businesses to adopt this way of working, and what their success rate has been like.

For more information on other trends that we'll be focusing on, simply click here.

Ticket Information /

Early Bird Single / £370 +vat
Early Bird Group (3 for 2) / £740 +vat

(early bird offer ends 10th March)

Standard Single / £450 (+vat)
Standard Group (3 for 2) / £900 (+vat)

To book tickets via Eventbrite simply hit the link.

If you're a Contagious Magazine or FEED subscriber, please email Arianna Radji or download the following booking form to book with your special subscriber discount.