By Heather LeFevre, Head of Strategy StrawberryFrog Amsterdam

I discovered juicing this year when Diego Zambrano decided to go on a 60 day juice fast and mark his progress on this blog.

Now, I only know Diego through twitter, but I would say about half of his tweets are about bacon and other pork recipes he enjoys. So I was intrigued to find out what instigated such a project. It turns out, a man died of a heart attack on his long-haul flight and a friend of his nearly died the same day of heart complications. Then he watched a couple of documentaries and decided to try the juice fast.

If you wanted to understand his reasoning, he explained, you had to watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Curious, I watched the film. And though I didn’t decide to fast, I too started drinking fresh vegetable juices and urging my friends to watch the film and have juice with me. I started a mini-movement in our StrawberryFrog office.

Suddenly everyone was popping into the local juice shops during lunch. One of the options near my office is a fresh juice shop in Amsterdam called Frood. They have a second location near my house so I became a frequent customer. Sadly, they have just gone out of business last week. They had posted a sign that they were looking to sell the business, and for a moment I thought about it. Why? Because I am truly passionate about juicing. I believe in it. I believe that you can get far more vitamins into your body from juice than you could ever eat on your plate. That the nutrients I get has changed the way I feel and I can see it in my skin when I drink it consistently.

I imagined myself replacing the disinterested girls behind the counter and making every customer a fan of juicing, spreading the good word around down. I thought about how I would market the shop. In addition to all the social presence they lack, I envisioned putting 50 or 100 copies of the documentary in mailboxes in the neighborhood. Return the DVD to the shop for a free juice. Then repeat. I’m convinced I would have saved that business. If only I wanted to own a juice shop. But that is what starts a movement. True, authentic, passionate belief that others can buy. Because as we’ve learned from Simon Sinek, people don’t buy WHAT we do, they buy WHY we do it. It’s not about what or even how you do something differently. It’s about dedicating your brand to a purpose and never deviating from it.

Read more on Uprising.

Young joins StrawberryFrog

Rohan Young has Joined StrawberryFrog Amsterdam as executive creative director. He will report to Kevin McKeon, who leads the global Emirates Airline creative and Scott Goodson, the agency founder and Chairman, and will partner with David Warner based in Amsterdam. Most recently, Young was at BBDO Paris, serving as the BAL creative leader for Proctor & Gamble in the EMEA markets. He started his career as an art director in Australia and has worked on brands including Gillette, British Airways, Qantas, Pepsi, and Mars. 

World’s Leading Independent Agencies 2010: StrawberryFrog

From Campaign, 16 April 2010, 00:00am by Olly Wright, StrawberryFrog Amsterdam’s director of strategy

Smartphone technology provides a radical new environment for connecting with consumers.

Leap to create Cultural Movements in today’s world. Psychological impact needs leap mentality. Leaping leaves competing brands in the dust, because you’re thinking entrepreneurially, creatively and laterally. Leaping isn’t about being irresponsible - it’s about being curious and fearless. Fearless in that you’re hungry for innovation, but grounded in great storytelling on every platform; adaptive, agile as hell, and, if you make a mistake (as everyone does), you course-correct in mid-air.

But it’s wise to look before you leap. Leaping forces you to know deeply the challenges we’ll face as marketers. Like leaping into mobile.

We all know we need to be “in mobile”. The first question is when and where to leap. Mobile phones have become globally ubiquitous, and their internet use in developed markets is accelerating faster than the PC web did. We know there are a lot of eyeballs and fingertips out there.

History tells us that jumping first has its advantages: establish leadership, perhaps even gain significant share in a new market; get closer to best-practice faster than the competition; provide a reason to believe beyond the “innovation” bullet-point in the brand book; do something remarkable.

History also shows it is possible to screw it up and waste a ton of money in the process. The marketing roadside is littered with the wrecks of good ideas come too soon, or enthusiastic, yet misguided, projects that spin out of control. Instead, let others go through the pain first, and learn from them.

For some of us, the sense of deja vu is inordinate. “What is a website for, why should I have one?”, sounds eerily like: “What is a mobile site for, why should I have one? Oh, and I heard we should have an app”. A little over a decade between the two. Same story, slightly hotter planet.

Should we go mobile or not? And how? Your decision.

The correct answer, of course, depends entirely on circumstances. But taking mobile seriously is now mandatory, whatever the circumstances. Even if that serious decision is “not quite yet”. Know why you have made that decision, and why and how you will change it when the time comes.

Collectively, we can either be fearful of this situation, or excited. The game is changing so fast that most of the rule books can be torn up (though save a few of the best pages). For those of us who revel in the opportunity to re-write a few of those rules, bring it on. For anyone stuck with outdated DNA, the survival of the fittest punishes the slowest runners. So get ready to be a fast follower.

First, you’ll need a business case (remember that thing we all forgot ten years ago?). At least know how many people might be able to reach you via mobile devices and how many might actually want to. And get real about what’s technically possible at the start. Yes, everyone has a phone, but for most people, the chance of someone using them for anything other than talk and text to interact with you is very low.

Factor in that there are many different phones in the majority’s hands that handle online in varied ways. Delivering anything beyond a very basic experience for them is financially prohibitive - unless you happen to be an operator, handset maker, or very committed. Outgoing text is great in developing markets when a basic phone is the only means of communication, but in the West, it just pisses people off unless they specifically requested it. The reality, in Europe at least, is that nothing has changed significantly for most phones. They are not much more interesting than they were five years ago. The reason mobility matters now is because of smartphones. The big difference is a decent browser that people want to use, bundled with an affordable data plan. Add to that location detection and personalisation, and you have a potent combination.

You would be forgiven for having iPhone fatigue. It seems as if, in our industry, no other phones exist. But, beyond the hype, there is good reason for this. The reality is that (according to AdMob’s December figures), the iPhone OS represents 78 per cent of all online mobile traffic in Western Europe. And mobile ad requests on AdMob’s network alone went up nearly 12 per cent in December, to 1.3 billion. Lagging far behind is Nokia’s Symbian with 10 per cent (but a very fragmented device specification, hence hard to develop for), and Google’s Android with only 8 per cent, but growing quickly. Everyone else is a rounding error: sorry RIM and Microsoft. Although perhaps RIM can find a way to get its users to click on their browser icon one day soon. We wish them luck. Come and join the party, you’re invited.

For now, this makes iPhone the mainstream target platform, and puts the responsibility on the other vendors to match iPhone’s spec. So yes, aim for iPhone and test on Android too. Don’t worry about the rest - yet.

The bad news is that the main tool we have been using to deliver rich-media advertising and interactive campaigns for the past ten years is not supported. Flash has become almost synonymous with online advertising, to the degree that it has conditioned us in terms of our beliefs about what’s possible. Yet iPhone (and now iPad) don’t support Flash, and won’t. Ever. So don’t hold out for it. If you saw Steve Jobs demo the iPad, you might have noticed lots of blank spaces with blue Lego blocks littering the web pages he passed over. Those blank spaces are where your ads were supposed to be playing. Oops.

Wailing and gnashing teeth can be satisfying, but it’s not going to save our favourite tool. Think forwards, not backwards. Tools don’t really matter, great ideas and execution do. Rather than splashing out on media to corral consumers towards a flashy experience, we need to be focusing on delivering context-relevant, informative and entertaining experiences that deliver ongoing service value. That’s a lot harder than making a decent ad.

The good news is that we have a virtually unlimited list of new contexts of use to reach out through. Connect with shoppers while they are actually out shopping. Entertain partygoers as they stand in line for the club. Inform someone while they wait for the bus. Even help them find that bus in the first place. Just talking to someone sitting at their desk starts to feel very limited indeed, and even a little bit retro. Get up from your desk and go to people, then enhance their experiences by listening to their real needs.

Letting go of the mouse and embracing touch brings other good news. The potential for raw, visceral engagement is much greater. We have all been conditioned to point and click - soon we’ll just be pointing. A barrier between man and machine has been stripped away. We have moved a step closer towards each other.

In this new environment, brands that can deliver truly intuitive experiences have the potential to touch consumers at a deeper, more profound level. Be it rummaging through a clothes rack or a stack of photos, turning a product over with our fingers, or connecting us with the world around us as we move through it, mobility is not just making our role more ubiquitous, but more human. Handle with care, earn trust, and anything is possible.

If we can just keep our heads when all about us are losing theirs, ours is the Earth and everything in it. And, what is more, you’ll have a plan my son.

Olly Wright is the director of strategy; Hans Howarth is the chief executive and David Warner is the executive creative director at StrawberryFrog Amsterdam


Founded: 1999

Principals: Scott Goodson, founder and global chairman; Sophie Kelly, managing director and partner, New York; Alexandre Peralta, CEO and partner, Sao Paulo; Hans Howarth, CEO and partner, Amsterdam; Karin Drakenberg, founder and COO

Staff: 200+

Locations: Amsterdam, New York and Sao Paulo. Mumbai in progress

What would you like to see more of in 2010 and why? More global advertisers going for global micro agencies vs traditional networks

Which country’s creativity (other than your own) do you most admire? Brazilian creativity is something inspiring to be admired. The ideas, aesthetic and craftsmanship is second to none

Mass effect and cinematic interaction design

By Olly Wright, Strategy Director, StrawberryFrog Amsterdam


With our eyes and minds focussed on the advertising and online industries, it’s easy for us to forget there’s another place where huge strides are being made in engagement, storytelling and interaction design: video games.

Gaming has historically been considered the red-headed stepchild of movies and literature when it comes to delivering compelling stories. But that’s no longer the case: despite the mainstream view that games consist of mindless violence and cardboard cut-out stereotypical macho / bimbo characters, the best of modern games are beginning to deliver unparalleled emotional depth and sophistication.

The best yet is a game called Mass Effect 2. The developers: Bioware, have been making what are called ‘role playing games’ for years. In this genre you play a character in a complex world populated by a range of characters. As a player you have to complete some personal quest, assigned to you at the beginning of the story, all the while ‘living’ in this virtual world, getting involved in the inhabitants politics as your goals co-incide or clash with theirs. Inevitably you become caught up in some epic events, leading to a climactic ending.

With ME2 Bioware have delivered a masterpiece. Aesthetically, at times the game is almost indistinguishable from a movie. With A-grade voice acting from the likes of Martin Sheen, Carrie-Anne Moss, Seth Green, Tricia Helfer and Michael Dorn, and a very strong script, it’s polished sci-fi entertainment as good as the best you’ll see in the Cinema.

But then the magic happens. Rather than having to sit back and passively experience the story (with the ‘real’ gameplay squeezed in between), the dialogue itself is central to the game. During each scene, you have multiple choices of how you’ll react. Make the choice, and your character (Commander John Shepard) starts talking back. Depending on your choices, the conversation and interaction can go any number of ways. The conversations flow naturally, and before you realise it, you have been sucked in to a World where you’re relating to these fictional characters as real people. You start to care deeply about them, and how they feel about you. And when the inevitable conflict occurs, the moral choices thrown up can be agonising. 

Especially remarkable is the complexity of the choices you face. There are no simple black-and-white decisions in this game. Rather: making the ‘right’ choice is something you have to weigh up carefully. In the dark, brutal and corrupt universe of Mass Effect, sometimes the ends do justify the means. Will you lie to win the loyalty of your colleagues? Will you torture a possibly innocent man to save lives with the clock running out? How do you respond to the romantic overtures of a woman who is dangerous and close to deranged by the experiments conducted on her, yet whom you need the help of to achieve your aims? How do you react when you realise the supposedly ‘good guys’ you’ve been working for turn out to have darker motives? 

The intensity of the decisions you have to make, combined with the fact that each decision will leave an impact for the rest of the game (and even into the sequel… your actions carry across), delivers an engagement that no movie, or campaign can touch. The act of personal interaction plus meaningful consequence creates a poignancy that takes immersive entertainment to a new level. Every decision matters.

Time for us to sit up and take note.

After all, in marketing what we seek is meaningful interaction between the brands we represent and their consumers. What Mass Effect 2 (and the best similar games) show us, is that meaningful consequential interaction can deliver impact like nothing else. When the decision really means something, the connection to the decision and the story behind it is an order of magnitude stronger. We are left not entertained, but deeply moved, and connected.

I’m not going to tell you how to do that here. At StrawberryFrog we have our ideas on how these new forms can be worked into what we do. But it’s an embryonic medium: right now there’s no rules. So go discover them, then break them. And play the game while you’re at it ;)

Here’s a few youtube videos that give you a flavour of the game, although nothing can compare to sitting there and facing the decisions and their consequences yourself:

The trailer:


An interview with the Lead Cinematic Designer:


Gameplay example:


And yes… the game has sex in it:


StrawberryFrog Amsterdam, the city by the canals

StrawberryFrog was founded in the lovely canals of Amsterdam over a decade ago. The StrawberryFrog agency which was born in Amsterdam was nurtured by the very nature of the city: Open-minded, intellectually curious, worldly, and very creative. As a result the agency that bears the name StrawberryFrog (which was created in an Amsterdam restaurant by founders Karin Drakenberg and Scott Goodson) lives in the outside lane, much like the city in which it was born.

imageUnconventional, creative, universal, multi-lingual and ambitious – like the great Dutch explorers who traveled the world looking for new spices to tingle all the senses, a worldly view that inspires anyone with all that life has to offer.

From these early beginnings StrawberryFrog set its course. Now, the agency is over 200 staffers from many different countries, with offices in Amsterdam, New York and Sao Paulo, delivering huge multinational multidisiplined campaigns in ways that many thought impossible. In Amsterdam, the agency continues to prosper after 10 years, under the sharp and inspiring management of Hans and his team.

What’s the future of marketing and advertising? Advertisers are looking for better, faster, more innovative agencies steeped in digital, mobile and social media, that can deliver globally – micro networks that forgo all the baggage of the huge networks and have the expertise and talent to deliver hat huge clients need and want, but do it differently than the traditional agencies. 

Here’s to Amsterdam!

From the Frogs of StrawberryFrog.