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Jim Hawker, Three Pipe

Jim Hawker is Co-Founder and Creative Director at Digital Communications agency Threepipe where he oversees the agency’s creative process across consumer, sports and corporate sectors. Jim was included in PR Week’s Powerbook of the most influential people working in PR in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and has been shortlisted twice for PRCA’s agency head of the year award. He has developed consumer campaigns and launches for brands including Vodafone, Yotel, Betfair, Stella Artois, ATP Tennis, Scalextric and Siemens amongst others.

Can you talk us through the creative process behind the last big idea that you developed?

We’re constantly developing creative ideas so it depends on how you define ‘big’, really. In the literal sense we floated giant illuminated lotto balls down the River Thames to mark the relaunch of the National Lottery game. Lots of ideas were developed but we felt that the most iconic symbol of the lottery was the ball itself and strangely had been underused as a creative platform for lottery media stunts which in the past had been very celebrity-dependent.
Once we had fixed on the idea of using the balls we looked for innovative ways to use them. The River Thames has been used for many iconic stunts in the past but nothing – to our knowledge – had ever been floated down at night to create a picture and filming opportunity. We created beautiful and ultimately very successful pictures and content which were editorially placed and socially seeded.

How long did it take?
The thinking process and meetings to sign off on the idea took a few weeks and making it happen a few weeks, too.

Have you recently been able to implement anything that improves creativity within Threepipe?
We have re-evaluated the way we approach creativity within the agency this year. Many people are naturally creative and go through their own process, but many need a helping hand and a structured way of developing the ideas. So we developed a six stage process which is led by two people who are responsible for interrogating the brief and developing a creative platform which is then shared with the wider team through a series of meetings with selected people.
The whole agency is also involved at one of the stages where everyone gets an opportunity to input their ideas – wherever they work in the organisation. An idea can come from anywhere and anyone and be finessed.

Almost half of respondents in the Holmes Report Creativity In PR survey thought that the quality of creativity in PR had improved in the last 12 months. What are your own thoughts?
I don’t see that myself. I am excited about the use of technology to drive creativity and that’s not owned by the PR industry. I love seeing innovative ideas and increasingly this is driven by adopting creative technologies – whether that’s gesture or facial recognition software or developing ideas using new technology such as Oculus Rift. From our perspective I’m excited by the way we’re using digital to drive and measure the impact of our creativity. We’re developing content, seeding content and then retargeting people that have engaged with that content to drive them to purchase – we can now offer an end-to-end solution, which is fantastic.

Content creation is seen as the biggest area in which creative thinking is needed. What is the ‘secret sauce’ for creating compelling content?
Having people in your organisation who come from a production background and know how to visually tell stories. We have a head of production that works with a number of indie production companies to develop best-in-class content. We’ve made a huge amount of content this year – including three TV commercials that we then repurposed for online.

Finally, what do you think the PR agency of 5 years’ time will look like in terms of creativity?
Creative technologists will rule the roost and agencies need to work collaboratively with a wider number of external experts to develop and implement ideas.

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