We invite colleagues, competitors, clients and other skilled people from (or relevant for) the industry, for a coffee. Todays guest is Simen Braathen, a norwegian creative and part of the core team building the New York office for Leo Burnett Worldwide. Simen has a diverse mix of experience, ranging from developing multi-media campaigns for Microsoft, Burger King and the launch of Windows Phone at Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Boulder, Colorado – to promoting artists like 50 Cent, Lady Gaga and Ne-Yo in his co founded booking agency – to being responsible for marketing of the international Red Cross day in 2009. Simen has also released three albums, co-written a children’s fact book and made a movie about a lion.
What inspires you?
For me, creativity is about finding inspiration where no one else can. I’ve never had the patience to just sit and wait for ideas to pop into my brain; instead I bring a meat cleaver and hunt them down. I grew up in a small village, with less than a thousand people and only one bus running on weekends, which meant that if you missed that bus you had to create your own entertainment. When you’re young in a place with nothing to do, finding inspiration could really be the difference between life and death. So instead of choosing the regular, teenage small-town options like doing drugs or crashing cars, we started to make music, build skateboard parks and edit videos. When the only art we could find was a shop that sold ceramic vases, we made our own art space and invited street artists from Oslo, Copenhagen and Berlin. And when the only concerts we could go to was with this local, we started a booking agency and booked our favorite bands ourselves. I try to bring this mentality with me to work every day and I strongly believe that most clients have something inspiring about them; you just sometimes have to hunt it down.
Though I don’t remember it as beautifully as in this video by Emil Trier, “råning” was one of the default activities for youth where I grew up.
How do you keep exploring and learning?
When where you amazed last?
A few days ago when I realized that the building where our office is, has more people in it than the entire village where I grew up. New York is indeed that melting pot or salad bowl or whatever my English teacher used to call it, and it’s impossible to not be amazed by all the things you witness during a day. We’ve made a project about this at work, called New York Writes Itself. It’s based out of a website where New Yorkers can sign up as ‘Scribes’ and share what they see and hear around the city on the online ‘Script’. These bites of everyday history then act as inspiration for New York’s creative community to use in music, art, writing or whatever they like. As one of the first pieces inspired by the city, we’ve made a webseries called The Chaiman, a letterpress exhibition is coming up at the Art Directors Club in NY, and I even wrote a rap based on a quote someone picked up on the street.
What is your favourite resource library?
The internet is a great shortcut for finding resources, but every time I really want an answer to something, I call my ninety year old granddad on Skype. He’s not as smart as Wikipedia, fast as Google or “techie” as Mashable, but he’ll definitely tell a memorable story. I think you’ll always get the best information from listening to people.
What’s the biggest challenge the digital communications industry is facing right now, and do this lead you to some predictions?
Our creative director always tells us to get away from the computer when we’re working on ideas and I think he’s right. It’s so easy to get distracted by new technology, like for instance this Face Tracker, and forget the simple purpose of our job, which is: speaking with people. I saw a poster campaign on the subway the other day that was based around a big QR-code. Now, if the people behind the campaign had released themselves from their computers and actually tried riding the subway, they would have noticed two things: It’s creepy to take photos next to someone’s face and even more importantly, there is no reception under ground so a QR-code is pretty much useless. Digital medias are extremely powerful and effective when you have a purpose for using them.
My prediction is quite obvious, but I think we’ll see a huge growth in mobile commerce, because it makes life so much easier. This week I’ve already bought dinner at Seamless and booked a vacation through Groupon, and with amazing new technologies like iZettleor the Tesco campaign (given that we get 3G on the subway), I’m pretty psyched for the future.