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Video: Hopscotch Design 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Mike Rigby

The low-down:

In his Hopscotch 2017 keynote talk, R/GA VP and Executive Creative Director Mike Rigby details how his life as a designer has transformed from creating brand identities and winning awards to recognizing design and branding as a means of affecting real, lasting change. It’s a thought-provoking exploration of a creative leader’s life in design and the vital role it can play in shaping our world.

You should watch if:

  • You’re searching for greater meaning, inspiration, and influence in your own work
  • You’re interested in exploring how we can use design to make big impact
  • You want to feast your eyes on a portfolio of incredible creative work

3 things you’ll learn:

  • How design can be a resource for CEOs and CMOs to help organizations become better. Better businesses. Better employers. Better citizens of the world.
  • How we can approach branding as a transformational force for society.
  • Why this moment in time is primed for today’s designers to lead.

Quote of note:

“We’re not just here to sell more cat food.”


Runtime: 46:45


Get your tickets to Hopscotch Design Festival 2018 here!




Hello, good morning everybody. It’s an honor to be here today. My name is Mike, Mike Rigby. I’d like just start with saying a huge thank you to Marie and to Matt, actually the whole Hopscotch team, because I think this is, I think, the fourth year of Hopscotch and this is the first year it’s been completely sold out. So, I guess thanks most importantly to you guys for being a part of this, and being a part of this kind of crazy industry of ours that we all love. It’s my first time in Raleigh. I’m having a great time. I went out last night. I saw loads of music. I can’t get this wrist band off. Seriously. Everything I do just makes it tighter. I can’t feel my hand. I’m gonna be wearing this forever.

No. It’s great to be here. I hope you’re not too hungover. I’m gonna go really quickly and hopefully wake y’all up. So, I’m Mike. I’m the Vice President and ECD at R/GA in our New York office. This is our New York office. It’s about 1,000 of us. There are about 2,000 of us around the world, and we’re multidisciplinary design companies. We do all kinds of stuff. And I’ll show you a little bit of that today. Nike’s probably our longest serving client, about 14, 15 years of working with Nike. This is our latest project where we did the Nike Apple watch. We also work with Beats a lot, helped to build the brand, built the Beats music service. You guys watch the HBO documentary with Dre? Jimmy Levine? How good was that? It was really good wasn’t it? We also do lots of … we got a kind of film studio and an animation house in our New York studio.

So, this is a humpback whale, that we modeled in 3D, for our Samsung client recently to launch their latest phone. And what we did is we did a Time Square takeover where we basically bought all of the billboards, and connected them all together, and had our whale swim around time square for about two or three hours to launch the phone. So we do all this kind of big stuff. We also do lots of small stuff as well. We work with some of the smallest companies around. So we’ve got an accelerator, an adventurous program. So we’ve launched about 400 businesses over the last four years. I’ll talk about these. I love doing this stuff because you get to work with the founders as well, which is brilliant.

So, as you can probably tell by my strange accent, I’m not originally from New York. So, I’m from a much more humble place than that in the north of England called Saint Helen’s. So for Game of Thrones fans, it’s near the wall, not far from the wall. This is Saint Helen’s. It’s a kind of strange, weird and wonderful place. And while I was putting this presentation together and trying to find this image, I’ll show you the first three Google results that came up for Saint Helen’s. The first one was UFO Sightings. So, this one is a giant triangle glowing above Saint Helen’s. This is the second one. So this guys called Johnny Vegas. He’s Saint Helen’s most famous person. And the third or final one was this. So this poor seal was found 20 miles inland, in a field in Saint Helen’s. What the hell? Is it the distressed seal? It says a seal had to be rescued from a field more than 20 miles inland after apparently getting very, very lost. And that was just one of several strange animal stories that showed up for Saint Helen’s.

So look, it’s a weird and wonderful place where it’s a part of who I am. I’m really proud to be a northerner. I’m actually really proud to be a designer as well. I love my job. I don’t just mean working at R/GA, I mean being a designer. It’s a part of who I am. It’s like an intrinsic part of my being. I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. It’s definitely a theme that I was hearing yesterday. So for me, design is a way of life. It’s a way of seeing things, doing things, a way of thinking. So we have optimists. We have pessimists. And we have designers. Optimists see the glass half full, pessimists half empty, and designers see the wrong shaped glass.

I’m using the term designer very broadly. And what I love about this is you can apply that lens, that way of thinking, that problem solving to any problem anywhere in the world. And what I want to talk to you about today is really this moment that we’re in right now, which I don’t think is just like any other moment. I think it’s really special and really exciting. When you look at what’s happening around us, the scale and the pace of change. From Google Loon to Hyper loop to IOT, all these incredible innovations … I feel like the internet has blown a kind of canvass for design and creativity wider than it’s ever been. We’re seeing this kind of incredible resurgence in what design is and what it can do. I think there’s never been a more exciting time to be a designer, for me, and nor a more important one either.

So the theme for this talk is that now is the moment for design. We’re seeing this kind of incredible expansion of what design is. We’re at a point where we can actually make anything and do anything. So now that we can do anything, what will we do? What will we do with this moment and this opportunity? How do we make the most of it? That’s what I wanna talk about today. So I’ll just briefly talk about my design journey a little bit, some of the kind of learnings, education, how the shape of our industry in design is expanding. And I wanna talk about technology. So how can we, as designers, humanize technology? And how can we use technology to really amplify what we do, our creative impact on the world?

Okay. So my design journey, my love of design, really started at University. I studied here in the North of England at Preston. And when I got there, this whole new world opened up. I really realized I didn’t know anything about design until I went to University. When I got there I was like wow. There’s ideas in design? I was just a kind of craftsman. I was studying color and things like that. I was kind of like, wow, design can be a really useful tool to improve people’s lives. I didn’t know it could be political. I didn’t know I could help people. So these were some of the books that inspired me, classic kind of design, graphic design thinking.

But also, I remember reading this manifesto First Things First, you guys know it, written in the 60s. And I think what was inspiring for me is it was asking some pretty tough questions. Is design merely a tool of consumerism? Are we, as designers, here to shift more product, to sell more cat food or toothpaste? Or is design something a little bit bigger than that? It was updated and rewritten when I was a student, around 2000, 2002. And it was signed by the luminaries of our day. And what was really exciting was the whole kind of print and production of our industry banded together and reproduced and printed this manifesto at the same time. This was really exciting stuff, really exciting. And I couldn’t wait to enter the industry. This was an industry that I wanted to be a part of.

So my first few projects, I’ll show you now. This was literally the first project I ever designed. This was a logo for an art lounge. It was a gallery space, and a coffee shop. So you could go and meet people and buy art. So the two artists pallets … you know, make it a conversation. This was another logo for an environmental housing project called Leaf Street. Now this was designed by a friend of mine in the same team, and it’s a company called 3 Core Values, 3CV. So we put this logo together, really nice. I was just trying to apply what I’ve learned at University here, so simplicity, communication or decoration. So I was pretty pleased with myself. These all won awards and we’re making a name for ourselves, got to know the clients really well. But the problem was all of these businesses, unfortunately, were gone after around 18 months. They all failed. So Art Lounge closed. There just wasn’t the audience to that. Leaf Street didn’t get the funding. And 3CV broke apart because they couldn’t agree on their values, ironically.

So this was kind of depressing. I really liked these guys. I’d gotten to know them and I cared about them. And so, this was just … I don’t know. I was kind of like I don’t want to just be designing a veneer over a flawed business. I actually want to get involved and help these businesses really succeed. So elsewhere, this design for good movement was really starting to gather pace. One of my absolute design heroes, Bruce Mau, he talked about the shift from the world of design to the design of the world. So how could we, as an industry, apply our incredible capacity for problem solving to other things?

Philippe Starck, everything I’ve designed is completely useless. So he said this after a conversation with Bruce Mau. I don’t think that’s true but he was just talking about his own work and he refocused his practice around more democratic forms of design. And another one of my design heroes, you know him of course, CEO of ideo, Tim Brown, another Englishman …So he was talking a seminal Ted talk, 2009, I love this. I still go back to it often. He was talking about the problem with design is that it became really small. It became too ephemeral, disposable and he wasn’t being dismissive, he was just saying that that’s not what design was originally for. If you look back through history, it’s always been about improving the world around us.

So, around about this time I moved to Australia and joined a big branding company. And the thing I love about branding is I kind of feel like it gives you an access and an influence at a higher level. So when you get involved with branding, it starts to open the door to the board room, so the CEO, the CMO. And what I really like about that is it gives us an opportunity and I think a responsibility to help not just businesses make more money, but to be better, to be better employers, to be better citizens of the world, if you like. It’s often said that a brand is a lot like a person. I say that branding is about finding the very best in that person and bringing it to the surface. That’s where the job satisfaction lies for me. It’s tremendously satisfying to help businesses in that way.

So, I’d just like to share one branding project I did around about this time for Alzheimer’s Australia. So this is their old identity. So you can see straight away, it’s quite negative. It’s almost giving up. It’s kind of like living with dementia. There’s an air of resignation to it already, isn’t there? And then, the rest of the identity was just incredibly generic. It’s kind of like happy old people, elderly people, it’s blue, it’s all over the place. There’s no kind of attitude. There’s no vision. There’s no idea driving anything. And what the client asked us was for a new logo. When we got talking to them though, we started to hear some quite disturbing things.

So for instance, by 2030 Alzheimer’s will kill more people than Cancer. It’s already the third biggest killer. Also, it was not recognized as a chronic disease by the Australian government, which was a huge misjustice. So that affects everything from funding to support for people who suffer from dementia. So it’s this huge problem that we had to tackle. Also, people just don’t talk about it. It’s been dubbed the silent epidemic ’cause there’s almost a stigma to it. People are almost ashamed to even talk about it. And so, these were the problems that we were hearing and we’re kind of like yes, you need a new logo but we need to really think about this. We need to try and create a movement, a movement that starts inside your own organization. And that’s what we’re trying to set out to do. So what we did was we basically started to just redesign the business to make it more efficient.

They had actually a really nice culture. They were lovely people, as you can imagine. But the problem was they were too passive. They didn’t have a point of view, and they were kind of disjointed because they had a federated model. They weren’t set up as a business to solve this problem. So what we did was we had a look at the stakeholders. And we found 42 stakeholders that they communicated to. And they were a federated model, which meant that every state was talking to these 40 stakeholders in their own ways. Crazy. So we created five strategic clusters. Woops! Sorry.

So basically shakers, influencers, touched by dementia, those vulnerable to dementia, and of course donors. We just focused the whole communication strategy. And instead of being federated, we created a centralized business. And instead of 40 things that they thought they stood for, we gave them three; advocacy, research, services. Really simple.

But we needed to do this before we did anything else. So as we went into the identity, it’s so simple. Basically we wanted to put a bit of a fighting spirit at the heart of the brand. So Alzheimer’s Australia remains fixed, and then we build a conversation around it. So understand Alzheimer’s, educate Australia. Fight Alzheimer’s, protect Australia. Tackle Alzheimer’s for Australia. And the beauty of this verbal brand, if you like, is that we can talk to all of these clusters in a way that’s totally relevant. So whether we’re educating people about the disease, fighting government or asking for funding, or even talking to people that are suffering from the disease. And the great thing it is, it’s like an ongoing conversation.

So if no one’s talking about this disease, let’s get people talking. So oppose Alzheimer’s, support Australia. You can see some of the merchandise we created here. So the coffee cup, top left: Good night Alzheimer’s, Wake up Australia. The phone drive, top right: Delete Alzheimer’s, Save Australia. So a sense of humor where appropriate. And what’s great about this … so efficient as a system but so flexible. It’s just two colors, often just four words. The typeface cost $30. And it’s very efficient as a system. And the effect, honestly, was extraordinary.

Presented this work 18 times to 6 different board. We presented it to people that suffered from dementia. And it was already working. Obviously we designed this brand to be kind of customizable for people. So you can see band is fighting Alzheimer’s for Australia. And they were so excited as a company, as it was a culture, that we decided to launch this by organizing a protest rally. So there’s 1,000 of us went to Parliament House in Canberra. We had a plane fly over with Fight Dementia. We had Ita Buttrose, this lady bottom right, who is the Australian … amazing lady, of the year. And it was just a fantastic day. And it was really effective.

So we had 33 federal politicians sign the Fight Dementia manifesto. And if you fast forward about nine months, the Australian government actually relented and changed the law. So they made dementia a national health priority and promised 350 million dollars in extra funding. Which just shows you, again, what getting people aligned can do on the inside. I think great demonstration of design in action and branding. And, of course, this isn’t enough. But it’s a good start. It’s better than before.

So elsewhere this was a really, I think, exciting time to be a designer. So many great projects going on, this was one of my favorites around about the time. So this, do you remember this? This was GBH infused project. So Puma had set them the brief of redesigning the shoe box. And what they did was not a box of course, but this beautiful clever little bag. And so this won packaging awards. But the really great thing was the designers had really taken a holistic look at this and redesigned the whole manufacturing process to make it more efficient. Brilliant, so ahead of it’s time, and they were doing such great work, these guys.

This was another favorite project of mine and it was humble. It was basically the UK’s government website. So it’s not the sexiest project in the world, but I really love it. I was honored and lucky to be judging writing for design at DNAD. And this didn’t get through in the first round. And myself and a few other judges were like, we think this is pretty good. We should just probably have another look at it. And luckily the judges agreed and it went on to win a black pencil. So this is statistically the hardest design award to win in the world. And so why is it so good? Thank God we put it back in, by the way. For me, it’s a design philosophy in action. It’s a really selfless piece of design in writing. It starts with user needs. They design with data, do everything really really well. It’s kind of … it’s efficient. Again, it’s not a wasted word or a superfluous element. It’s generous. It’s designed for the people that really need it.

And it’s great design where it’s often needed the most and felt the least in these government services, et cetera. So I thought it was a fantastic piece of design. And a few days later it won the British Design Project of the Year as well. So I love that. I love how our industry was kind of recognizing and rewarding this type of work, as well as the fantastic beautiful creative kind of more craft based design as well. So around about this time, I move to New York to join R/GA. I thought what R/GA was doing was really interesting by combining design and technology together. So, to understand R/GA, we need to go back to Bob Greenberg and when he founded it in 1977.

So the first business card said, “Moving Pictures by Design.” And basically, what Bob and his brother were trying to do was build a motion graphics company. So this is Bob back in the day rocking the Lacoste, doing some work. He and his brother … I find this mind-blowing because it wasn’t really that well established. And the machinery, the software, the hardware, it wasn’t there. So they made it. They built their own to do the work they wanted to do. I find that incredible. And so that idea of the marriage of art and science of design and technology has always been at the heart of R/GA. And it must have been, I guess, a bit of a gimmick at the time. But now we see it’s probably the most important combination we need for business. Fast forward 40 years. So it’s our 40th anniversary today. Not today, this year, sorry. And you can see our new connected space.

It’s probably our greatest design achievement, I think. So you can come in and have a quick look around. So this is the space. So it’s huge. It’s the size of an NFL pitch, and we’ve got two floors. And then, the way that it works is basically it’s all connected through an app and we have the digital and physical landscapes connect. So you can see these big screens. And the idea is that you can get a curated tour of the space. So clients come in. We use beacons that know who you are and where you are. And as you walk around the space, the screens respond. And they tell you who sat in that area, what work they’ve done, what awards they’ve won, et cetera. Like I said, this is just coming in. This is when we’ve just moved in. We do have some plants in here now. It’s a little bit greener.

This is going down the stairs. Bob’s got his super bikes down there. Coming up the stairs, this is the awards wall. I have to walk past that wall every morning, no pressure. The bloody Oscar in there, Gods sake. Yeah, so that’s the specs. So how do we work? Well, we’ve got a really simple framework. It’s actually quite difficult to operate, to use … not to use, but to pull off. It’s very straight forward. So if we think about kind of what branding and design and advertising is brilliant at traditionally, it really is this top down piece. A client either has a message that they wanna push out through marketing, or they want to express what they stand for. What’s our role in the world? What are we great at? And let’s tell people about it. And that’s really important.

Then you have kind of digital culture, which is the polar opposite. So they’re not interested in the corporation. They actually start with people, user needs. So we build around what people really need. And these cultures are diametrically opposed. Right? You’ve got the top, you’ve got Madison Avenue Mad Men. At the bottom, you got Silicone Valley Dreamers. And they don’t, traditionally, don’t get on. And so what we’re trying to do is really bring those two things together. And it isn’t easy. It’s actually quite painful. But it is very, very effective. And we call this our stories and systems framework. By connecting the two, you can create these incredible network effects.

When it comes to design, we often start from the bottom up instead, so not the top down. What do people need? And how do we express that through the interface. So most brand experiences now, even if they’re tied to physical ones, live behind an interface of some kind. So it kind of causes you to think about brands slightly differently. Let’s take a look at Facebook, an obvious example. So we have … what’s more important, the Facebook logo, blue, the word mark Lucinda Grand? Or is it this little button that gets pressed 3 billion times a day? So that little branded behavior down there is the behavior that fuels the entire platform. It creates enormous amounts of revenue. So your likes are what Facebook flocks to advertisers after all. So, signifies and behaviors, story system.

So I’ll show you a quickie. This is the first project we worked on. Thought it would be useful to just illustrate that in action a little bit. So this was the brief … so we had this crazy guy come in called Al Haymon, he’s like, “I wanna rebrand boxing, the sport.” We’re like what are you talking about? And he said, “Look, I’ve got 200 prize fighters on my roster. I want to create a new boxing franchise that inherently rebrands the sport. I wanna take it out of Vegas. I wanna put it in other gyms. I wanna take it of pay per view and put it on prime time. I want to introduce the Olympic scoring system so that everyone knows who’s winning after each round. And I wanna take it back to the Ali era.”

And so, we were kind of with him up until that point. We said, “Look. We don’t want to go backwards. Let’s take the sport forwards.” I know what he meant. He just meant, you know, when Ali was around and he was just class. There was like a sophistication. So he wanted that. So our pitch was let’s make boxing the most connected sport in the world. It’s a tiny little ring. Let’s get as much tech in there as possible and rebrand the sport by creating a totally new way to experience the sport through a connected app.

So, I’ll show you how we brought it to life. So this is boxing today. It’s got an identity crisis. It’s all over the place. It’s just chaotic. It’s confusing. Down here, on the bottom right, they marketed that as David versus Goliath. It’s just cheesy. They’ve got every kind of genre going on there at once. So what we did, very simple design idea, was let’s clean up boxing. Let’s actually produce the most beautifully clean identity we can and take the focus back to what matters most. So we created four simple ropes as the signifier. And then we apply that to fighters. We apply that to the merchandise in the gym, like the shoelaces for instance. And we apply that to the second screen experience. So you can see it’s just viscerally cleaned up the sport and did what the client wanted to do.

So as we get into the system, now we’re thinking about how do we make that signifier behavioral? How do we actually bring in this new data layer that can give us a new view of the sport? So we designed this connected app. You can see it here. And the four lines remain ever present through out. And it all revolves around connected boxing gloves, so we built this, prototyped it out. And this is how it works, so you can see bottom here the heart rate of the fighters, see the footwork in the ring top right, the pounds per square inch, whether it landed, where it landed. And you can see the crowds voting along there at the bottom as well. This is all haptic. We presented this by punching each other in a meeting. The client had it in their hands. Chloe, our chief creative officer, punched Harris, and he couldn’t speak for about ten minutes.

All right. So that’s the system, more about the story. So again, we’re building from the bottom up. Brand was interface, so we didn’t want this to be a top down kind of corporate initiative so what we did is we co-created what we called the Champion’s Code with boxers. So they came into R/GA. We photographed them. And they wrote these and signed them. And we count them down from 10, 9, 8 … so, I will make honor the most sought-after title. I will remember where I came from. I will always get back up. So, just to go back for a sec, this guy … he came out of retirement age 42 to fight for his 2 year old daughter who needed a life saving operation that he couldn’t afford. And he got knocked down in the first round and the second round, and he won in 12. That’s boxing, you know? Everyone’s fighting for something.

So it’s a good story system. You see that. Talk briefly about our Ventures program. So these … every year, we bring in around ten startups to R/GA. It’s a bidding process. And what we do is we give them kind of financial capital, but also creative capital. So, as well as investing in them financially, they get to work with the parts of R/GA that can best benefit their business, be it hardware or software or business modeling. So what I love about this is it’s this shift that we’ve been talking about, I think, throughout this whole festival is from making people want things to making things people really want and really need. And as the internet is moving off our screens into devices, it gives us this opportunity to make more beautiful but also more useful things.

One example I’ll share right now is called Alvio. So they approach us. And they have this really awesome project in this product. This is basically a training tool for your lungs, it’s like weight lifting for your lungs. And it actually improves athletic performance enormously. And they had a vision to build this tool for elite athletes training at altitude. So what we do with our accelerator is we’re gonna look at the kind of business model as well. So we look at the total addressable market and see if we can find the best product market fit. In this case, we found a much bigger, a more valuable audience for our client, which was children.

So there are 35 million asthmatics in America alone, many of those are children. And we know, our research show that tracking and training cuts the need for any medication by an enormous amount, 86 percent. The problem is it all looks like this. So no kid wants to put that in their mouth or play with that, do they? And so the client agreed. We had the model to prove it. This was a much bigger, more valuable audience. And so once you understand that, again, we start to design around what they need. And it causes you to completely rethink things. So this was inspiration that a fantastic designer called Virgilio, who would work with R/GA, found. And perhaps we could turn this int a game that kids would enjoy.

So we started to create these wonderful characters and creatures. And we created this behavior based around a simple pufferfish. And we turned the whole thing into a game. So it’s so simple. This is how it works. You breathe in, you breathe out, you breathe in … you get it. It does all kinds of other things as well, but this was the main idea. And we designed the logo last. This is the logo. And this is being trialed at hospitals now throughout America. So I think it’s just a great example of how design can be such a differentiator, actually how it can totally expand total addressable market for … especially for businesses of this size.

And they were delighted. I love working with these guys. So that’s another good example of story system. Another final one I’m gonna show you is some of our kind of communications work. Love has no labels. So this actually started as an idea. Coca-Cola had this very clever idea. They wanted to show that they believed in diversity. And their idea was we’re gonna take the labels off our packaging and show that we don’t believe in labeling people. And it was pretty successful. But they partnered with the Ad Council and with us, and asked us what we could do with this idea to make it a little bit more scalable. So I think the problem with that idea was that it wasn’t scalable in the sense that they wanted other brands to get involved and take their labels off. But nobody has packaging like Coca-Cola. Right? Nobody has packaging that’s that iconic. So, what are you gonna do with Campbell’s? It’s just a tin.

The other problem was that the Ad Council works through donated media, so you can’t actually have businesses or brands in it. And I think more to the point, for us at least, it wasn’t getting to the heart of the problem. So we set about creating a brand. We called it love has no labels. This was the logo. And it’s an anti-logo. And what we were trying to do was just try and get to the root cause of this issue and challenge what’s called unconscious bias. I’m sure you guys have heard of it. It’s like …everyone is talking about it right now. Lots of training happening. So the way the human mind works is that we do 98 percent of our thinking in our subconscious mind. That’s where we store and collect all these implicit biases. We all have it. We just don’t see and don’t realize it.

So we thought instead of having this kind of corporate gesture around removing labels, perhaps we can create an experiment and a demonstration that makes those implicit biases more visible. So what we did is we created a gigantic x-ray machine and we put it in the middle of the street. And I’ll show you how it works.

Speaker 2: Valentine’s Day 2015. What started out as the regular annual celebration of love turned into something unexpected for Santa Monica shoppers. A large X ray installation displayed skeletons embracing, those looking on mentally filling in the blanks. When the people stepped out from behind the screen, it created a simple demonstration of implicit bias and diversity. A video of the stunt was shared on YouTube and Facebook.

Speaker 3: Finally, the video that likely landed in your Facebook feed today. The dancing skeletons, the magic and the message.

Speaker 4: A PSA about diversity doesn’t just break the internet, it melts it.

Speaker 5: Turning on YouTube and Facebook this morning, a wonderful video. And it’s called love has no labels.

Speaker 6: Love has no label [foreign language 00:29:47]

Speaker 7: [Foreign Language 00:29:51]

Speaker 4: It’s going crazy online, 40 million views in just two days.

Speaker 2: At the same time, rival brands agreed to unite for the cause, all removing their own labels on Facebook and sharing the viral film. The whole campaign drove millions to a website where a test created by Harvard University and Content further educated them about bias. A social photo tool also allowed people to share the love with the world. As the media continued to spread the word, so too did millions on Twitter, including celebrities like 50 Shades of Gray author, EL James, football world champion Mario Gotze, and the first lady of the United States, Michele Obama.

Mike Rigby:

That was crazy. We weren’t really expecting that. That was all achieved with pretty much zero media spend. 200 million people saw that. How did that happen? How did it work? I think the first thing is they’re real people. You can tell. Right? They’re not actors. This is not advertising. It’s not following the tropes of advertising. They’re real people and they really love each other. It’s actually really simple. It’s a very verbal brand. Again, love has no agenda. Love has no race, no religion, et cetera, no disability. I think the other thing was it’s a bottom up brand. It’s not love has no label saying anything. It’s real people sharing their message and alls we did was create the tools and the platform to allow them to do that really easily, this photo sharing tool. And this just went crazy crazy ’cause everybody loves someone. Right? And people believed in this. Love has no race, no agenda, no labels.

So we can see that stories insist in framework and action. You know? You can create these incredible network effects that can literally go around the world for free. Nuts. Okay, so I’d like to just look around a little bit and just say some of the things that are really exciting that’s happening in design right now. So this is one of the things that I think is really cool, calm technology. I’m sure you’ve heard of it already. It’s quite an old idea actually, started in Xerox park back in the 80s. And this has been kind of brought to the surface again by a really talented lady called Amber Case. She spoke at last years AIGA conference if anyone was lucky enough to see that.

And so, she’s put together this website called calm tech. Please check it out. It’s awesome. So the idea is basically technology is already really annoying us. It is so distracting, so demanding, and so addictive. Of course, it does incredible things too. But calm technology, I guess, proposes the idea that technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention. Technology should inform and create calm. Imagine that! Technology should make use of the periphery. So this example here is called the Ambient Umbrella. And when it’s raining it glows blue. So you don’t have to get your app out. You don’t have to look at anything. Just pick your umbrella on the way out.

I think the thing is here is that it’s not that we’re not ready for technology … sorry, it’s not that technology isn’t ready for us. It’s that we’re not ready for technology most of the time. So even the original elevators have to be artificially slowed down. And so, I think … what’s exciting for me here … it’s just such a strong role for us here as designers to try to humanize this technology, make it more accessible, more understandable, more calming. Something else that’s really exciting out of Carnegie Mellon, the transition design. So again, this was a theme of the AIGA conference. So this lovely lady, this talented lady called Terri Owen, and she talks about this new field of practice and research that she’s created that accelerates societal transition towards more sustainable futures. So I think a fantastic transition designer would be Elon Musk.

I think about what he’s doing with Tesla and combining that with solar city. So it’s not just about creating a fleet of electric vehicles. It’s actually how do we design the transitions to make that viable and scalable faster. What’s interesting about Tesla’s website if you go and read the mission statement, it doesn’t even talk about cars. It just says we’re here to accelerate the world towards a sustainable future. And it’s quite literally the Tesla is, pardon the pun, a vehicle to help get us there faster.

One other thing that I really like is the circular economy. Again, it’s an idea that’s been around for a while, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. And again, my design hero Tim Brown, he talks about this being the next thing in design. The next big thing is circular design. So how does it work? Well, it’s very straight forward. Right now, we have what we call a linear economy. So we dig stuff out of the ground. We make things out of it. We use it. Dispose it. And put it back in the ground again. It’s the very definition of insanity when you think about it. Circular design’s so easy. As it sounds, it’s a circle. It’s a closed system

So it is resilient. It’s regenerative. And it’s restorative in nature. My favorite example would be this business called Ecovative. And they grow materials. So this is wine packaging. It has all the qualities of plastic. It’s mushrooms. It’s made of mushrooms. It’s grown. And when you’re finished, it regenerates and regrows. It’s not just recycled. It’s regenerative. So have a look at the if you wanna know more about that. There’s also a great video on IDO’s website on circular design that explains it, and they’ve put principles for circular design down as well, brilliant video.

I couldn’t think of a better title for this slide, sorry. Bots. I wanna talk about Bots. I think the point I was trying to make here is another really exciting thing we’re seeing is how a new generation of designers are really embracing technology, like I said earlier, to maximize their impact on the world. They see technology as creative. I think that’s really great. This is my favorite bot. So this is an 18-year-old called Joshua Browder. He built a chat bot in England that overturned 160 thousand parking fines that had been distributed wrongly. And then, the legal profession started to reach out to him and say, “Hey, there’s something really interesting about this. I think you could use it to help people on a bigger scale.”

And so he’s now created what’s called the worlds first robot lawyer. And this is actually helping people to find … that are really in trouble throughout the world, to find asylum. He’s been named as Forbes 30 under 30. He didn’t know anything about bots. He just did this ’cause he wanted to. Taught himself. So I wanna show three bots that we’ve built at R/GA, and solved three different problems. So first one is voting. So this one was a statistic that we found. 52 percent of young Americans do not vote. So what did we do? So again, we worked with the Ad Council. And we wanted to do something … instead of creating a campaign, we thought why don’t we try and actually help more directly? So we created a bot. It’s called Go Vote Bot.

And so we built it where people are. It plugs into Facebook. I’m sure you guys know how bots work. You just use Facebook Messenger and you message Go Vote Bot, and it gets you set up. A big reason why people didn’t vote, it’s just so difficult, especially for first time voters. I’m sure many of you have experienced this recently. To get registered, cause every state is different, it’s very analog and archaic. And so we did create a campaign as well, but really the bot was the thing that helped. So, 250,000 people are helped to vote. And it wasn’t partisan in any way. The great thing about bots is you only get the information you asked for. So, it’s actually a really efficient way of communicating. This is a brilliant interface.

Okay, another bot that I love. So, this one. Women make up 50 percent of the workforce but are 25 percent less likely to get a raise. So what did we do? So we worked with this wonderful lady, Cindy Gallop. And I’m sure you know her. If you don’t, she’s an amazing woman. And what we did was we turned Cindy into a bot, the Cindy Bot. So I’ll show you how it works.

Cindy : Unfortunately, women are 25 percent less likely to get a raise than men. I’m Cindy Gallop. Message me to get the absolute God I’m fucking shit ton of money that you deserve. Women speak up. The only people who can make things happen for us is us.

Tell me the highest number you’d like to make you can actually say out loud without laughing.

Search at askcindygallop on Facebook Messenger. Message me to get the raise you deserve.

Mike Rigby:

So how did we do that? So what we did was we took everything that Cindy Gallop has ever written. She’s pretty prolific. We actually used IBM Watson, which is open source. You can use it. We’ve put that through to breakdown how her voice works, what are her characteristics. And then, we turned that into a bot. What’s cool about the bot is it’s actually giving you really really good advice, ’cause we plugged into the API’s, the Glassdoor, Amuse, and LinkedIn so you get the most relevant advice and the most relevant information, including when’s the best time to even ask for a raise, things like that.

And so what’s cool about that is what we’re doing is we’re taking Cindy and we’re creating this network effect and scaling Cindy. And again, common theme, no media span whatsoever. And this, by the way, was done as a side project by a small team at R/GA that just wanted to do something and they’d never even built a bot before.

One last bot. So how do we democratize bots for small business owners? I think that small business owners are people that can probably benefit the most from bots actually. But it’s expensive. It’s difficult to some people, if you’re not in the design industry. So we thought what if we built a bot that builds bots. It’s called Bot Bot. So this was powered by Reply.Ai which was one of the startups that came through our accelerator. It’s really cool. This is how it works. So basically it’s a bot. And here he is. And what you do is you chose the bot that best fits your business. If you’re a personal trainer. If you just need customer service, answer bot. Or I don’t know, if you’re a food business, it’s use the Foody Bot. So you chose the template and we’re writing more templates all the time. And it’s that easy to get set up. It’s just three steps. It plugs into your menu. Et cetera. And then you choose your name, Noodle Bot, and then you launch.

I think what’s cool about this is I think design for good a lot of the times is just actually removing barriers for people. And actually making these things human and accessible. It doesn’t have to be this grand gesture. Just let’s make things easy for people. And it’s simple and human. All right. So one last example before we finish. So this is the latest Love Has No Labels campaign that we did for this years valentines day. And we wanted to kind of … I guess, try and take the formula but scale it again. So we actually chose sporting events. We chose the Pro Bowl in Orlando. And we thought can we take this heterosexual behavior, which is the kiss cam, and reinvent it to, again bring this unconscious bias to the surface. So let me show you how that works and then we’ll finish.

So, again, we chose this kind of amphitheater of masculinity, you know, the Pro Bowl, and we deliberately chose Orlando too ’cause that’s where, of course, the Orlando Pulse shooting had been. And these two were actually survivors from the Pulse Shooting. And again with this, we saw this incredible network of facts. It’s went around the world again. And because it was sports, it was even more amplified. So now, all of these are actually gonna roll out the kiss cam this year. So you might see it at an event if you go to one. Okay. So just to finish some final thoughts and bring us back to where we started which was this moment that we’re in right now. I think it is a really special moment. I, in my opinion, there’s never been a better time, a more exciting time or important time, to be a designer.

Like Tim said, design is bigger than it’s ever been before. I think we’ve seen, throughout this festival, some examples I’ve shown you today. And we’re just scratching the surface. You can see that design is this transformational force for business. It can change minds, challenge biases, and even change laws. I think, to me, what’s most exciting right now is that design is a movement. It’s not just an industry. And I think this is an old idea, but is been made knew again. You think about the arts and crafts movement, a bow house. These were all movements designed to make the world around us better. That’s our role.

The theme of my talk is that now is the moment for design. We’re in this incredible moment. So let’s make the most of it. I think the final most important thought is the … you guys are needed, you’re really needed. There are more problems than there are designers. And I think it’s never been easier to actually make an impact and never more important to try. So please join us. You can find, RG/A by Design, I’m on Twitter and Instagram at Mike Rigby. Also, there is an after party, I’ve been told at the Whiskey something. What’s it called Matt? Whiskey Kitchen. So join us there. I’d love to meet you and have a chat. And that’s my talk. Thanks so much for listening.

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