What’s Your Ip?

Why in-house innovation benefits agencies and their clients

Kara Melchers

Managing Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Beer, hot sauce, an app that helps you choose what to have for lunch, chocolate, suncream, duck feed… what do these all have in common? They are part of a growing trend for agencies and brands to develop and retain their own IP.

To attract the best talent and most forward thinking brands, agencies are devoting more time to the R&D process.

Some are adopting the innovation strategies of big tech companies like Google, whose ‘20% time’ policy gives employees free-thinking time to focus their imagination away from their day job and towards alternate company goals. Creative agency TMW Unlimited has created Project Illiad, an incubation programme to drive innovation from within. It provides new revenue streams for the agency as well as enabling employees to follow their creative dreams. Winning ideas are co-funded by the agency alongside holding group Creston and prototyped by their internal digital innovation lab tmw_labs.

Start-up incubators like The Bakery, who recently spoke at BITE LIVE, create environments where brands and tech companies work together to solve business challenges. A brief is sent out to their network of start-ups who will respond with a technology focused solution.

Innovation is also helping brands to find relevance in the digital age. Recently M&C Saatchi Australia worked with telecoms provider Optus to create a buoy that uses the Optus network and Google+ to send real-time information to lifeguards about the location of sharks. What could have previously been seen as a self promotional tool, is now a core focus for both brands and agencies, as they look to stay ahead in a marketplace that is constantly being challenged.

Read on for examples…

Ge Inspire Innovation With Their Garages

In 2012 Sub Rosa introduced GE’s Garages, a national initiative to reinvigorate America’s interest in invention, innovation and manufacturing. The program brings together collaborators who make innovation accessible to all, by providing access to tools, equipment and instruction, through a mix of education, workshops and public projects.

As part of GE’s Brilliant Machines campaign, Sub Rosa worked with RockPaperRobot and Hypersonic to develop the Barista Bot; a robot that photographed a patron’s face then etched their portrait onto their coffee latte foam with espresso concentrate.

The campaign illustrated how technology and software can come together to enhance a service. In this case coffee making.

Since its launch, GE Garages have been executed across 30 markets and four continents, fostering strategic partnerships with high-profile, progressive businesses around the globe. Garages serve to increase retention and recruitment of top talent and are establishing an organisation-wide platform for growth in emerging markets.

Agency: Sub Rosa

million earned media impressions
cities and 6 countries worldwide

Canon Bring Photography To The Internet Age

Canon had to compete against smartphones where users can take photos, store and upload them to social sites –all from one device. To bring the traditional craft of photography into the Internet age they needed an innovation solution rather than a traditional comms campaign.

The answer, Irista, is a revolutionary photo management platform in the cloud. The automatic and effortless service enables users to store, organise, tag and share photos from anywhere via one central system, which means losing track of photos online is a thing of the past.

Agency: Animl, London

Hammerhead Help Cyclists Find Their Way

R/GA Accelerator is designed for startups developing connected hardware products and software services with the goal of helping them to build businesses and brands that can scale. Hammerhead is an intelligent navigation device that fits onto the handlebars and guides cyclists along the safest and best bicycle routes. Social sharing features create a new way to discover inspiring bike routes anywhere in the world. A product for bikers who believe in adventure. For those who yearn for more than a routine ride.

Agency: R/GA New York

Rufus Reinvents Money

The Rufus Reinvents hackathon invited global talent from as far afield as Brazil, the US, Canada, Norway and Spain to reinvent the way millenials use and think about money. Speakers included inventor of the iPlayer Tony

Ageh, as well as Warner Music and Adaptive Labs. Each group of millennials were given the brief to reinvent money in a way that is culturally relevant to them. Responses included Stash, which addressed an inability to save and PayPosse, designed to take the hassle out of bill sharing.

Agency: Rufus Leonard, London