Game Play: How PHD generates 300 ideas a day

Mike Cooper, CEO, Worldwide, PHD, talks about gamification in terms of brands, society, business & PHD's inventive and collaborative gamified global planning system, Source

e4m by Aditi Raval
Updated: Oct 6, 2014 8:05 AM
Game Play: How PHD generates 300 ideas a day

exchange4media Conclave in its 2014 edition saw many pathbreaking ideas being discussed and analysed by international leaders who addressed the Conclave theme ‘Marketing: The Future is Technology’. One of the highlights of the Conclave was the powerful session presented by Mike Cooper, CEO Worldwide, PHD. Cooper spoke about ‘Game Change: The Future of Work is Play’, where he addressed how gamification is changing the way creativity and work culture are taking shape and using gaming techniques to enhance engagement in terms of brands, society and business.

Cooper started by revealing some staggering statistics about a project that cost around $500 million, twice the budget of the new Star Wars film, an entertainment property bigger than James Bond, Harry Potter and even Game of Thrones. It is in fact a game called Destiny, the latest iteration of the Halo series. He said there are one billion gamers in the world today. Destiny recouped its investment on day one of its launch. The average player of Call of Duty game plays 170 hours in a year, the equivalent of one month in terms of work. When the latest version of Call of Duty was launched, one in four players called in sick; it even became known as Call of Duty Flu. Games are high in reach, collaborative and fiercely competitive and highly profitable.

Games provide people the experience they are not getting in their everyday lives, optimised by maximum engagement.’

The definition of gamification is the application of gaming design, concept and framework to non-game situations in order to drive user engagement, explained Cooper. He quoted that play is to the 21st century what work was to the industrial age. Cooper spoke about gamification in three different contexts, citing various examples.

In the context of brands, Cooper cited the example of Nike Fuel Band, centred around the sport of running, which was incredibly successful.  Another example he quoted was that of Volkswagen in Sweden called Speed Camera Lottery where if a driver maintained the speed limit, he would be entered in a lottery to win the fines paid by people who were going over the stated speed limits.

Gamification for society included examples like Foldit, an online science puzzle about the MPs’ scandal in the UK, where the Guardian newspaper published all their expenses online and invited people to dig out anomalies they noticed.

In terms of gaming for business, Cooper said that it has been estimated that 89 per cent of workers are not engaged with the work they do. Unengaged workers are costing companies around two trillion dollars worldwide.

The skillsets, qualities and competencies required to master massive multi-player online games are also the same as those in a job description, organising teams, assigning tasks, handling organisational units, overseeing the spending of money, said Cooper.

Cooper spoke at length about Source, an engaging example of gamification employed at PHD around two years ago. He said it was indeed a journey into the unknown for the agency. It was a major investment in terms of money as well the best minds.

The Source platform is a gaming process that works on desktop, Android and iOS. It includes different frequencies, different campaign objectives, the blueprint of a whole campaign together across media. If an employee collaborates and is active on Source, he/she attracts pings, which are like currency and measure one’s performance in the game. Cooper displayed the global leaderboard in terms of who participates in it, looking at the different skillsets of what people are good at, thought leader, innovator, optimiser and so on. What happens in the end is that the owner of the brief scores people and allocates them with pings. PHD now has 1900 active users of Source globally. The key statistic, he said, is that it generates 300 ideas a day. Altruism drives engagement said Cooper. The thing that the participants want more than anything else is recognition. The top player of Source is something like a superstar within the agency, remarked Cooper. It also gives the agency night vision in terms of identifying talent and skillsets, for instance if they need a collaborator in a certain market, they can do it effectively through Source. Cooper cited a humorous example of an employee in the Czech Republic who was at 100th position on the global leaderboard. Another employee from Sweden was tasked to bring as many of the agency’s employees in Sweden in the top 100. He wrote to the employee in Czech Republic, explaining his task and said, ‘I am writing to you just to let you know.’ The employee emailed a meme to Sweden office saying, “One does not simply surrender the 100th spot to a stupid bunch of Swedes.”

What happened next was that the Swedes started participating rigorously and punching way above their weight. The Czech employee too fought back and is now at No. 43 in the PHD leaderboard. This clearly shows the kind of drive that gamification generates in terms of productivity.

Cooper said it is still a work in progress, with all the insights and innovations being generated through Source. He said he isn’t surprised because in a way all of us are gamers. We use them to interact and to collaborate on a daily basis.

Source platform participation is displayed in real time throughout all offices of PHD, with countries getting very competitive with each other.

The question is not whether you should play the game as a wise man once said ‘The game is already afoot’, said Cooper, the question is how to play the game.

In terms of results, awards and recognition, PHD has had the best year so far with Source, said Cooper.

It has heavily increased creativity and collaboration across networks, although it has been very experimental and challenging to get people to participate. Nevertheless, it has been a very rewarding experience. Even client response has been very positive, with some clients asking for their own version of Source. Other creative agencies are also looking to acquire Source, said Cooper. The focus is to build it further, he concluded.

exchange4media Conclave 2014 unravelled the next wave of marketing with global leaders sharing their thoughts on the upcoming trends that will define marketing strategies. The theme this year was ‘Marketing: The Future is Technology’.

The stellar line-up of speakers included Tim Andree, Executive Chairman, Dentsu Aegis Network & Executive Vice President, Member of The Board, Dentsu Inc, who was  the Keynote Speaker this year; Dominic Proctor, President, GroupM Global, Geetu Verma, Executive Director, Foods & Refreshment, Hindustan Unilever, John Sheehy, President, Global Operations, Starcom Mediavest, Michael Wall, Global CEO, Lowe & Partners, Mike Cooper, Worldwide CEO, PHD, Vikram Sakhuja, Global CEO, Maxus and Vishnu Mohan, CEO, APAC Havas Media.

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