Shout! With Johnny Vulkan, MD Anomaly

Estimated reading time: 5 min

 Anomaly home page

What are your most recent pitch wins? [wrong first question!]
We don't tend to put ourselves onto pitches
The reason is that we are a different sort of agency.  We formed around a group of nomads from the creative industries – ad, design, tech media.  The agency is 4.5 years old
We set up because we became aware that the traditional agency model conspires not to help clients.  Ad men always see advertising as the solution; PR men see PR.  Anomaly brings the focus of creative minds on the real business issues not just a 30 second ad spot.
We prototyped the business model within TBWA\Chiat\Day  before I left but realised that to make it happen we needed to be independent.

So what IS different about the Anomaly model?

We found the creative thinkers and set out to provide the right answer.  When that's your approach you have a very different conversation with clients – it's their business that you are focusing on.  We sometimes send them away or refer onto other agencies, or tell them where we can do stuff well and collaborate with others who can do stuff better than us.
We assemble the focus of the team around what is needed.  if it's nebulous it's whoever ‘gets it’ or ‘feels it’ the most.  This makes work enjoyable, anarchic and labour intensive.

Another difference is that unlike an agency model there is a process which builds a solution – the answer can be anything and so you have to build the process.  It may be different every time.
We are big fans of starting when it's hard.  It makes you work harder and think smarter.

So, an obvious question – how are you going to grow?
Scale isn't what we want to do.  We don't want to create a command and control network.   

Is your charging model different as well?
Our version of fees is % equity as well as cash and so we own parts of client companies.  Every deal is different.  We never charge for time – it rewards the wrong behaviours.  And so we don’t keep timesheets.

Why open in London?  
Some of us from the UK and want to work back here.  London acts like a magnet – the UK market has a concentration of smart thinkers and talent and we had requests from clients to have a presence in Europe.

I mainly work on stuff we are running out of the US and visit the UK regularly.

So how big is Anomaly?
We have 80 permanent staff now.  And lots of freelancers, as I said before we try to use the right skill for the job required.  Frequently that is not in-house talent and so we need to know a lot of great creative people.

We are really good collaborators it is our business to have good friends in the industry and we make it our business not to have competitors.
We have a diverse partnership with like-minded people.  
For example we are running the development of a client website by raising the bar on the brief (improving it ourselves) and handing the work out to another agency to execute because they will do it better.

How do US and UK brands sit on adoption of digital?

Most US brands have reasonable size experiments happening online somewhere.  It's how the dot com wave hit – they’re is a slightly ahead of the UK.
But in the planning community in the UK – everyone is heavily involved in digital media and maybe they are slightly ahead in that sense.  There is a difference between being involved and knowing how to apply it.

How are social media websites assessing advertising as part of their monetisation?

If the [social media] experience becomes worse after advertisers turn up then something's gone wrong – and in most cases that has happened.  Advertisers and their advisers should show restraint.  There is a need to shift our mentality in marketing – it has a negative perception in consumers’ minds and within the advertising industry.  At its best advertising and marketing helps connect people with a good product and service.  That is what is does.
The transparency of the internet means good things thrive and bad things die.  Getting to the root of products and services – if it's really good half the job is done.  We should not using advertising to “sugar coat” that.  

What's the most satisfying recent project you have done recently?

Converse. We used search in a playful, interesting way.
Music – creating music for their birthday.  A heap of microsites…We created dozens of micro sites of things you can get to from
search…. how to kiss…. good restaurants in NYC on 13th Feb…. all
for times when nobody is buying against that term.

Domaination …. if Google search is the window into youth culture – you can track trends and spikes where conversations are happening;  if you are quick enough you can put yourself into those conversations in a relevant and interesting way.

Spelling Bee we used Google as the mechanic to play the game… go to converse spelling bee site and a word was announced and you type the word into Google and if you get it right it takes you to the next clue.  "We need to hijack Google" was the underlying idea for the campaign.

[note the URL of the link in the boxes below]

Converse Spelling Bee advert   Converse Spelling Bee advert v2

3 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.