Author Archive

King St. Q&A w/ Mark Sherwood

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

He's got hops . . .

Mark Sherwood is the Head of Integrated Planning at SaatchiNY. For more background, feel free to check him out on LinkedIn and follow him on twitter (@markysherwood).

WHAT DO YOU DO AT SAATCHI & SAATCHI?
In the end, I think we’re all trying to do the same thing: make good stuff.   To be a bit more specific, I try and develop ideas that do things for people rather than just say things at people. The end result being that, hopefully, people don’t just look at what we create, they actually participate in it.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
I was a little chef at The Little Chef.

WHAT LED YOU ON THE PATH YOU’RE ON TODAY?
Luckily I seem to have found myself at the right place at the right time.

IF YOU WEREN’T IN ADVERTISING, WHAT CAREER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO TRY?
Professional Footballer – although I think it might be a short-lived career.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE YOUTUBE VIDEO?
Forever Young – An idealistic view of my childhood.  Look it up.

WHAT ARE YOUR LOVEMARKS?
The Alps, Sicily, Jake’s of SoHo, The BBC, Aston Villa, Canon

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE STORY?
As someone who loves to climb, the story of Joe Simpson fills me with total awe and respect.  He defied severe injury, altitude, frostbit, being left for dead and so much more in one of the most amazing survival stories ever.  Read Touching the Void and you will be inspired.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TELEVISION PROGRAM?
Tiswas – a Saturday morning classic where I was once in the crowd.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CREATIVE PURSUIT?
Currently, it’s hand painting.  All you need is a hand, paint, paper and an 18-month-old son to show you how it should be done!

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?
To be honest I find fun in most things – from exploring all that is NYC and beyond, skiing whenever I can, climbing mountains, reading, trying to cook, trying to surf, lying on a beach, chilling with ‘the family’… yadda, yadda, yadda

WHAT WAS THE LAST SONG YOU PLAYED ON YOUR IPOD?
Sonny J – Can’t Stop Moving

WHAT BLOGS/MAGAZINES/BOOKS/PAPERS/WEBSITES CAN YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
When you say ‘can’t live without’, do you really mean can live without, but like them a lot? If so, The BBC, The Week, Spotify, The Sunday Times ipad App

BOOK THAT YOU’RE CURRENTLY READING?
Tender is the Night

A GUILTY PLEASURE FOR ME IS:
Ibiza, sunrise, pumping speakers and Sasha or Digweed on the decks.  I’ll have some of that…

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GREATEST INVENTION IS IN YOUR LIFETIME AND WHY?
The Canon 5D – for capturing everything

HAVE YOU EVER WON A TROPHY?
Yep, been lucky enough to win a few – but I’m proudest of my school soccer cup.

WHAT’S THE LAST GREAT TRIP YOU WENT ON?
I’m still on it, although the 2 years I spent exploring South America between school and university takes some beating.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST/MUSICIAN/DESIGNER?
My wife, Sarah.  For some reason NYC has sent her cushion making crazy.

WHEN’S THE LAST TIME YOU GAVE A STANDING OVATION?
When I heard this busker the other day:

The Whole Idea

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Welle's Performing "War of the Worlds"

Mark Sherwood is SVP, Group Planning Director at SaatchiNY. Below are some of his thoughts on the role of communications planning in advertising, as well as one of the most memorable examples of content & context working together in perfect harmony.

ON COMMUNICATION PLANNING
I’d like to start by putting the record straight. Communication Planning is not a dark art. It’s not a science. It’s not a black box.  At the core, it’s all about understanding how ideas live in the real world.

HOW AN IDEA WORKS
In the real world every experience we have is influenced by two variables: the content and the context.  The content speaks for itself. The context is a little harder to grasp. It’s the set of circumstances revolving around how the content is actually delivered to people.

Think about viewing a Banksy piece in an art gallery. Now think about seeing the same piece on the street. Or watching a game of soccer in a park rather than a packed stadium . . . taking a cheeseburger to the beach rather than eating it in a fast food restaurant. It’s the same piece of art, the same game of soccer, the same food on your plate.  It’s the same content, but your experience changes completely because of the context under which you encountered it.

The same is true with ideas – every idea we produce is made up of its content and its context, each playing a role in how people experience it. It’s vitally important to bring these two variables together. Without doing so, we’re in danger of leaving an idea only half done.

CAREFUL PLANNING = MASS HYSTERIA
I’ll give you a classic example of how context can drastically influence the way people react to an idea. For me, this is the first proper communication-led participation idea, and could also be (fairly) categorized as an incitement of mass hysteria.

Back in 1938 Orson Welles decided to broadcast ‘War of the Worlds’ as a radio play.  As many of you know, the play is about the earth being invaded by aliens.  It’s also well publicized that following the Welles broadcast, thousands of New Yorkers tried to flee the city because they mistook the play for a news broadcast and thought that Martians were about to land in their beloved city.

BUT WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
Again, it was a combination of content and context.  Yes the radio-play was well acted, but it wouldn’t have achieved anywhere near the impact it had if Orson hadn’t also thought about the context. There were a number of steps he took that impacted how the play was received.

  • He broadcast the play on a radio channel that normally focused on serious news and entertainment, using people’s pre-conceived notions to affect how they heard what was coming over the airwaves.
  • He started the play 15 minutes before the end of the most popular show on another station, so when people switched over they had missed the introduction stating that this was a fictional piece of work.
  • The play went out on Halloween so people were already feeling pretty spooked.
  • Finally, and most importantly, he changed the content to fit the context. He re-wrote the content to sound like a normal news and entertainment bulletin.

AND IT STILL HOLDS UP
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The principles that had New Yorkers running for the hills in 1938 are still applicable and relevant today.  A participation idea, brought to life through a real understanding of content and context is worth its weight in gold.

Front page image from Smithsonian Magazine. Above Image from MassLive.com