News & Views

The new agency currency – Prototype Research & Development

by Contagious Team

Karen Corrigan, co-founder Happiness Brussels, on why agencies should go beyond the transactional relationship of simply creating brilliant advertising.

The economic crisis accelerated the challenge for everyone to become smarter, faster and ever more effective. One positive effect is that it has increased pressure for clients with diminishing resources to be open to new thinking from agencies for a new kind of value transaction.
It made us think about how to widen our net, how to share our creative edge and simultaneously strengthen the commercial value of our agency to our clients. 

We developed our ideas into a new business process called 'Prototype Research & Development' (PR&D). This means using our intimate knowledge of our clients’ businesses to think about how to create, test and bring to market new “concepts” that clients do not have the time or resources to do for themselves. 

It puts a new kind of deal on the table with our clients. One where we are prepared to share the risk with them because we believe in our ability to deliver amazing results. We are no longer limiting ourselves to creating great advertising for their existing products and services.

PR&D is a place of considered experimentation and calculated risk-taking that has already been producing exciting results with new ideas that might otherwise not have happened to the world.

We know that if we can imagine it we can create it. 

We also know that there is no better partner than the communications partner for producing deeply insightful PR&D opportunities. 

As their creative agency you are that partner. So do it. 

Find the concept idea that you believe will make a difference. Launch it as a prototype. Test it in the real world. Throw it into the fire of online communities who quickly sort the real from the fake to get to the best ideas - and then get so excited they share, share, share them with everyone they know. 

If your idea succeeds the client has the choice to develop it into their mass-market for distribution and sale. On this one, you kept the rights and have just entered into a whole new business-model. And by combining all these value-adding skills, you have created a new and unique reason to exist for your clients. 

But here’s the exciting part, success brings with it the opportunity to monetize the prototype once it is produced in millions of cars, trees, countries, doors, or whatever product idea you have helped to develop. 

Art Is Motion
is currently prototyping in one Lexus car. It is a piece of interactive art that uniquely reflects the driving style and personality of the car’s driver. To introduce it at factory level could have been a very expensive risk, prototyping has allowed lots of people to interact with the idea and properly inform whether Art Is Motion is introduced into all the Lexus cars of tomorrow.

Give Your Calories is an app developed for Action Against Hunger in the USA, with it you take pictures of your food, convert what the app sees into calories and then into a monetary value, which the user then has the choice to donate instantly to the charity. The prototype has become a successful product that is now open to other organisations and countries that are pro-actively engaged in the fight against world hunger.

There is sound business reasoning to doing PR&D. We keep the license rights on our groundbreaking ideas. The construction of the deal can vary but sharing of the PR&D investment typically comes down to out-of-pocket expenses for the client and hours on the part of the agency.

PR&D makes this a top time for top brains with top ideas. 

Done right PR&D allows creative agencies to use their talents and go beyond the transactional relationship of simply creating brilliant advertising. You will enter into a fun world where PR&D converts your creativity and imagination into a new kind of currency, one with tangible value to your clients, and theirs.

Karen Corrigan is co-founder & CEO, Happiness Brussels, BLISS mobile&interactive