The Story of The Memory of The Experience
Present Shock

Studying Cases

I was on my way to the One Club to help judge the finalists of the digital Young Ones awards last night, and, as is sometimes the way of things, the universe used coincidence to tell me something...

"The thing about coincidence is that when you imagine the umpteen trillions of coincidences that can happen at any given moment, the fact is, that in practice, coincidences almost never do occur.

Coincidences are actually so rare that when they do occur they are, in fact memorable.

This suggests to me that the universe is designed to ward off coincidence whenever possible—the universe hates coincidence—I don’t know why—it just seems to be true.

So when a coincidence happens, that coincidence had to work awfully hard to escape the system.

There’s a message there. What is it? Look. Look harder." - Douglas Copeland in This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works, [Kindle edition] via Brainpicker

OK I'm not sure about ascribing the universe agency, it smacks of anthropormorphic hubris, but I do believe ideas are new combinations, and when synchronicities happen, they only happen because of your particular, personal, pattern engine and frankly I see them as a freebee. 

Max Ahlborn, one of the partners of awesome integrated production crew B-Reel, tweeted a link to a case study we had made a couple of years back...while judging the One Show Interactive.

You can see it above. Fun. Everyone else in the video is far better at comedy than I am.

But the serious point we, thanks to Max, were trying to make, is to avoid lazy cliche in everything, especially the much maligned case study, and especially the seemingly ubiquitous 'no media spend' claims. 

[A point he makes in this Creativity article.] 

Personally, I think case studies are necessary for several reasons.

I think the oft-levied challenge that they distract resources from the work is functionally analagous to claiming that packaged goods companies shouldn't waste their time making advertisements, since case studies and awards function like advertising for the agency. 

Showing work that is experiential and systemic in nature is very difficult any other way [apart from actually having all the experiences, which would take forever, and be impracticle in the case of, say, events in foreign countries that have already happened, or branded pieces of content that last hours.] 

Equally, not all work is designed to achieve the same ends, and, to some degree, when we judge work, we are juding the creativity in reference to the objective - these are advertising, not art, awards, after all. 

Cultural resonance and nuance can be highlighted that may be lost on juries who can't reflect all the cultures of the world.

[This is where the inevitable barrage of blog mentions are often used. If an idea got reported on during the nightly news in a country, clearly something happened.

Getting coverage in a trade blog isn't quite the same thing, of course, but I guess it's better than if even the industry paid the idea no attention at all.]

And finding ways to package and merchandise work effectively, in a world now filled with an infinte amount of content, is important for every agency and brand manager. 

But cliche is cloying, and when judging we watch literally hundreds of these videos over a few days, so endlessly repeated cliche is very hard to deal with.

So, if you are making case studies, think about the audience and context of reception, and apply the same creativity to the now-calcified case study format as you would any other piece. 

[When media forms take on stable grammar, it's an ideal time to disrupt that grammar for creative effect. Just saying'...]

For more, here's a presentation I gave for the Clio awards about making awesome case studies, with lots of good examples. 

[Adverblog has a great post with more tips, like never use your own hosted video player! Use Youtube. It works and is faster. If the video hangs on your player and server, and we are watching might not get the attention the work deserves.] 

Best of luck!