互动中国专访: North Kingdom CEO David Eriksson ——数字广告也许并没有那么重要

North Kingdom的鼎鼎大名想来都不必介绍了,地球上最强的数字媒体公司之一,作品强到爆,奖杯拿到手软(目前累计87次获得国际性大奖,嘎纳、纽约、伦敦、CLIO、One Show、 theFWA应有尽有,这里就不报菜名了。)这家数字世界的北境王国(North Kingdom总部所在的Skellefteå位于北纬64.75度——北极圈的纬度是北纬66°34度)自身小巧而灵活,通过与遍布全球的伙伴们的通力合作(“As One Brain”)出的每一件出色作品,以及自始至终都从不妥协的做派(“We’ve been expanding quietly without compromising the ideals that got us started in 2003”),始终站在业界的风口浪尖。

采访、编辑、翻译:DamnDigital Newsroom (原创内容,转载请注明来自DamnDigital)

David Eriksson: The technical evolution also is going so fast so we believe that it won’t be long before the word “Digital” has lost its importance

不久之前,我们介绍了North Kingdom的近作 “3 Dreams of Black”。这一次,北境之王——North Kingdom CEO兼CD David Erickson将接受互动中国的采访,引导我们窥探他治下的王国。

(DamnDigital=DM/David Eriksson=David)

DM:是什么吸引了你,让你选择在2005年加入才成立两年的North Kingdom?

David:天才的员工以及他们身上巨大的创意激情。其实在加入NK之前我就与另外两位创始人有过相当卓有成效的合作。对我来说“团队合作”这四个字无比重要,而North Kingdom就是不二之选。

 

DM:North Kingdom始终坚持“自由创新,追求卓越品质,永葆好奇之心”(creative freedom, quality of work, curiosity),甚至把这三个词挂到了公司网站首页上?

David:我们始终坚持创意与品质至上 。从很早开始我们就确保每一个决定都是从创意而非财务的角度作出。下面这张是我为NK团队画的诸多模型图之一——作品的品质永远是第一位的。我们还有以下两句铭言:“必须谨记每一个细节都会有背叛的可能”、“要把热爱倾注到作品的每一个像素里。”

DM:在North Kingdom的总部与各个分支办公室中一共有多少员工?鉴于你们本身的实力与在业界的影响力,为何选择在这些年始终坚持成为小而纯的数字广告代理商呢?

David:我们目前有37名员工,其中16位在位于Skellefteå的总部,19位在斯德哥尔摩,还有1位在谷腾堡,一位在Klavreström。在遇到足够大的挑战之前,我们不会考虑增加人手。

David:我们并不把自己看成一家“纯粹”的数字广告代理商。我们大部分作品远非仅仅是数字广告那么简单——并且随着科技越来越快的进步,所谓“数字广告”也将逐渐变得没有那么重要。(Many of our projects today contains elements that wouldn’t be considered “pure” digital. The technical evolution also is going so fast so we believe that it won’t be long before the word “Digital” has lost its importance),我们始终致力于我们最为核心的领域:“讲故事(storytelling)”与“互动(interactive communication)”。

 

DM:North Kingdom在招聘时最看中应聘者的哪些特质?

David:天赋、脚踏实地、团队合作、渴望伟大的创意与作品——这是我们对North Kingdom任何一位员工的要求。

 

DM:你们的工作模式是怎样的?是否有一套独特的协同工作方式呢?

David:我们拥有一套T(eam)型的工作流程。所有人同时在各自的岗位上为一个项目工作。如今最有效率的团队模式是基于个人能力的团队:将擅长不同领域的人才集中到一起,每一个人都是自己领域的决策者。

David:一个结构良好的团队将帮助其成员在职业生涯的早期就成为关键的贡献者与决策者。

DM:North Kingdom以合作伙伴遍布全球著称,你们是如何在与远在千里之外的合作伙伴协同工作时做好项目管理的?这可能是中国同行最头痛的一个问题了。请你以“3 Dreams of Black”这个项目为例子为我们讲解一下。

David:我们一开始的愿景就是:不但要雇佣优秀的员工,也要与全世界最优秀的人才与团体合作,因此我们一直致力于学习如何控制复杂的项目。这里有一些简单的原则:把任务简单化,保持灵活与团队精神,设立阶段目标,最重要的是设法让团队中的每一个人集中精力在任务上。具体到“3 Dreams of Black”这个项目,我想说这是我们遇到过的最最复杂的项目没有之一,具体请看这里:North Kingdom:ROME & “3 Dreams of Black” 及其背后的故事(长文多图杀猫瞎眼)

 

DM:你们内部是否有特别的分享机制、知识储备库或者定期的training供的技术人员自我学习?

David:没有特定的机制,但是我们鼓励员工关注工作以外的一切。我们所有人每年4次聚在一起,这样开发者就能讨论未来数个月内的发展与前景。

 

DM:在中国,有很多时候技术人员无法参与到创意环节之中,而仅仅局限于执行环节,这点在North Kingdom 是怎样的呢?技术人员如何像设计师那样参与到早期创意之中?

David:在第五个问题中我有回答。

 

DM:你们有什么特别的方法或者环节来激发强大的创造力么?

David:这个问题我相信大家都很看中,但是我们的确没有什么“特别的”方法。“1%的灵感加上99%的努力”这条定律同样适用于我们这一行——想出尽可能多的点子,然后从中选择那些与项目匹配的。从团队的角度思考问题,如此而已。

 

DM:现在说North Kingdom引领业界潮流大概不会有太大的异议,那么,作为行业领先者,你们有你们自己的偶像么?

David:我们其实对我们所处的这行了解甚少。整个团队学以致用的对象一直是行业之外的东西。在总部的墙上有一幅画描绘了咖啡漫出咖啡杯的场景,配文为“探索你王国之外的世界””Look for inspiration beyond the reach of your Kingdom”。当然,员工们肯定有自己各自的偶像。

DM:除了强大的创意,你们最为外人道的就是始终应用领先的技术来达成项目效果。那么当你们拥有了idea与手段之后,你们如何从客户的腰包里挤出钱呢?毕竟好的创意花费通常可观。

David:和别的广告公司大同小异吧。无非是确保完善创意的每一个细节,然后做好提案。我们不会“挤”客户的预算,我们只会告诉他们有多少钱能办到多少事。另外们始终相信的是,在当下,好的创意未必就需要花大价钱来实现。

 

DM:你们的员工是如何平衡工作与生活的?

David:我们尽量做到每天8小时的正常工作——当然干这行的免不了加班,尤其是在项目节点临近的时候。但是我们始终致力于把工作只当成工作。这样前一晚我们能够在家陪伴家人和朋友,得到良好的休息之后,第二天就会拿出更高的精力与效率。

 

DM:你们与中国同行有过两次合作,你如何评价他们?你觉得中国广告行业目前最缺乏的方面在哪里?

David:我们很喜欢中国,但要说到缺陷的话,那就是与中国同行合作中要面对的官僚主义。

David:我们认为中国最终会成长为数字与互动界的龙头,她拥有太多这一领域的人才。我很期待能尽早来中国实地考察。

 

DM:最后一个问题:你们对中国市场有什么计划么?

David:目前还没有什么计划,我们还需要寻找更多有意思的项目与人才。

 

 

 以下为采访邮件原文:

DM:You joined North Kingdom at 2005, what actually attracted you most to the company at that time?

David:Basically talented people with big creative ambitions. I had worked with the two founders before and I knew that the three of us was a really good match. It was also a startup and I knew that I could contribute. Teamwork has always been what I have been looking for and North Kingdom is a place where working as a team is a very central idea.

 

DM:Tell us more on your insistence on creative freedom, quality of work, curiosity, why you think they are most important to you through these years?

David:We have always believed in the power of creativity and quality. From the very beginning we have been very careful to make sure we make decisions from a creative perspective and not a financial. One of the first models I drew for the team when I joined was a simple cycle diagram that highlights the importance of a creative focus. Since then we have used quotes like “The details will betray you” and “There has to be love in every single pixel”

 

DM:How many employees do you have in North Kingdom now, including offices at Skellefteå, Stockholm and Gothenburg? Depending on your strength and reputation, why does North Kingdom keep being a small and pure digital agency?

David:We are 37 employees right now. 16 in our HQ up north in Skellefteå, 19 in Stockholm and 1 guy in Gothenburg and 1 guy in Klavreström. We have never seen any reason to grow any bigger unless it makes us get more interesting creative challenges from our clients.

David:What we see though is that we probably can’t consider us to be a pure digital agency any longer. Many of our projects today contains elements that wouldn’t be considered “pure” digital. The technical evolution also is going so fast so we believe that it won’t be long before the word “Digital” has lost its importance and we’ll be focusing on storytelling and interactive communication.

 

DM:What are the key rules/most important characters of your hiring policy?

David:For any position we are looking for talented, down-to-earth teamplayers with ambitions to create great creative work.

 

DM:What is your work flow? Do you have a unique method to keep creative?
David:We work in what we call a T(eam)-shaped model. All competences look at a project at the same time from their perspective.

David:The most effective teams today are competency-based teams, where each person comes to the group with a different skill and they work together to build something bigger than themselves.On these teams, everyone is an important decision-maker and is able to make a big difference.

David:Well-constructed teams provide an opportunity to be a decision maker and a key contributor early in ones career.

 

DM:You’re working with a big number of co-operators who widely scatter in the world, with different culture, different language and even different time zone, Have you being in charge of the project management well? How? It could be the most disturbing problem of Chinese production houses. Can you leverage the “3 Dreams of black” project for example, to show us how you make cards flourish?

David:When our ambition from the very beginning has been to not only hire talented people but also collaborate with the worlds best creatives in our projects, we have been forced to learn how to project manage these complex projects. In general it is not brain science but one simple rule – Keep it simple. Also flexibility, team spirit, setting ambitious project goals and having all of the project members focusing on them is important. For a more detailed breakdown on “3 Dreams of Black” please take a look at our blog. It was our most complex project ever. http://www.northkingdom.com/blog/making-of-3-dreams-of-black-part-1-process/

 

 

DM:Are there any internal sharing system, or sessions/ trainings that for Technicians in particular? Do you have any public libraries/documentations for technicians to study at spare time?

David:Not really we encourage our developers to be curious on what happens “out there”. 4 times every year the team get together and the developers have time to sit and discuss what their focus should be for the next upcoming months.

DM:In China, technicians are, more often than not, not in the creative discussion panel, but just follow the creative ideas they decided and only in charge of the execution and realization of ideas. What is the case about in North Kingdom’s teamwork? What the role technicians play in the ideas and creative stage? How technicians work with other team members, like designers for example?

David:PLease have a look at question 5

 

DM:How do you weave a best idea? Is any tricks? Such as your special brain storming part, the way you keep vigorous creativity or anything else.

David:I think that is always the big question but I must disappoint you and say that there is no trick besides hard work. The 1% of inspiration and 99% of transpiration is still very valid. Generating many ideas, the team perspective and never go with the easy solutions is also very important.

DM:Now you guys are cutting-edge, but who is your icon in this industry? Can you introduce them briefly?

David:Actually we are really bad at knowing our industry. As a team we try to be inspired by areas outside our business. We have a painting in our Skellefteå office with one of our internal sayings “Look for inspiration beyond the reach of your Kingdom”…

David:I believe however that all of us individually have or own icons and sources of inspiration.

DM:In addition to precocious ideas North Kingdom is also well known as always leveraging cutting-edge digital tech. So if you have a really crazy idea and a leading way to bring it alive, how would you persuade your clients and squeeze their budget? Good thing is always expensive.

David:Well, We are no different from others I guess. We make sure we have detailed and worked through presentation on an idea that we really believe in. We never try to “squeeze” budgets but we tell our clients what the idea will cost. If they don’t have the budgets to cover that idea we go back and make sure that we have an idea that fits their budget. Also our belief is that today great ideas doesn’t really need great budgets.

 

DM:How your staffs take the balance between work and life?

David:We have a 8 hr working day and try to make sure we keep it that way. Of course people need to work more sometimes at milestones in projects but the ambition is to keep our work as a work and be efficient. This way we all can go home to our families and friends and be re-energized for the next working day.

 

DM:Last question, you’ve been worked with Chinese guys twice, as we know, how do you like working with people from China? Compared with other digital talents, what do you think is the biggest lackness, or we can say the differences that Chinese people have in digital and creative area?

David:Any suggestion for us? We love China and are amazed by what is going on over there. We can’t really see any lackness except the bureaucracy that comes with doing business with China.

David:The Chinese economy is still developing at a great speed and I believe that China will soon be the no 1 country when it comes to leading the development of digital and communications business. You have access to an enormous pool of creative and talented people. I hope that I soon can come and visit China and see what’s going on with my own eyes!

 

 DM:Is there any plan about China yet? (Leave this it if it’s confidential.)

David:Not any plan for China yet except trying to find even more interesting & creative projects and talented people to collaborate with!




11 Comments

  • leon says:

    一直崇拜的王者,这次终于来了一个近距离接触。

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • Bright.SUn says:

    很棒的文章居然没有顶

    这对damndigital而言使一次很好的尝试

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • vinxu says:

    其实他们挺实在的,崇尚团队合作,一颗最求精品的心。

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • reytem says:

    这么多年来,northkingdom一直是我心目中的神。相信不少art base的同学都有同感
    没想到能看到有关northkingdom的中文采访,意外,惊喜!感谢damndigital的同学。
    受益,期待更多的精彩!

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • Seah Doyle says:

    要达到NK的作品的所强调的品质,个人认为在目前中国来看,是无法企及的高度。除了瞻仰和自抽外,想请教一下。我想知道在你们做到这么牛逼的“不妥协”之前,面对客户说我要这里改那里改,吗的一天到晚feedback的时候,你们是如何做的?你们有account么?他们只负责传话么?
    另外我非常赞同你,作出伟大的作品和品质应该第一位。同时你们NK的案子有那啥KPI么?你们一个案子,拿”Adidas Teamgeist”举例吧,这个案子做了多久?你们一年做多少案子?
    感谢。
    Hey,David, best compliments to NK,and I wanna know:
    before you’re strong enough (before you never compromise), what will you do when your clients tell you to enlarge the fucking logo, enlarge the bull shit slogan? and what did you deal with continuous feedback,constant revise,or something like that? does NK have an account department, what do your accounts work like? you know..hmmm…china marketing, most of the accounts only act like the clients’ mouth.

    I strongly agree with you that the great quality of work is the key.
    do your projects have the KPI report to your clients? take the “Adidas Teamgeist” for example, how long does NK finish the project? and usually,how many projects does NK run in one year?

    thanks a lot.

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • .112.64.161.118 says:

    @Seah Doyle, 在中国,他们除了传话以外,还负责忽悠卖钱。

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • tooweb says:

    很佩服他们的专业精神,负责的态度,这或许就牵连教育,牵连文化,牵连国家背景等等…,
    为什么中国创意总是在抱怨,抱怨是一个阶段,抱怨中成长,抱怨中拔苗助长…

    仔细思考:
    在国内模糊大跃进环境中,互动公司在大跃进,人才在大跃进…等等大跃进。如:高铁在大跃进,地产开发在大跃进…豆腐渣工程到处都是;昨天听到哪里桥段了,今天听到哪里座大楼漏水严重,明天可能听到哪里塌方了。
    国际互动公司资深设计是什么水平,国内资深设计是什么水平,,?这个问题问设计师,很多应该还是在云里雾里!

    代理商想想:
    你们的货如何?可能字小的可怜,可能找不到可点击的按钮,可能一套国内现状根本无法运行的创意,活动机制是否真的提高企业文化或者产品销售等等。
    代理商的创意人员和客户人员是否真的有从业精神,让客户对你们放心,让品牌对你们放心…
    客户给到的时间,是否团队都在干它的活,可能好几个客户的项目同时进行,,,设计师们也无心做好一个项目了,这就是广告公司大跃进赚钱中…

    客户也有压力,他们竞争很激烈,它们面对市场优胜劣汰…

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • D.a.i says:

    归根结底是中国市场的问题。
    很多快销品进入中国市场时的品牌标准都明显降低,固然是因为商家有利可图,但更关键是的这样的标准,已经足够满足中国的客户或消费者。中国的消费市场,目前缺乏足够的群体去分辨合格和优质。于是品位高的忽悠品位低的,品位低得忽悠没品位的。所有人的作品都止步于搞定比他们低端的那层,赚到钱而已。
    什么时候,中国出现了有担当的客户,出现了充分信任的合作关系,让有前瞻性的客户/设计师/account能够站在一个不至于一脚踏空的平台上,project品质的ranking在全球才有提升的可能。

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • luoguo says:

    David:我们很喜欢中国,但要说到缺陷的话,那就是与中国同行合作中要面对的官僚主义。

    [ 回复此评论 ]

  • […] 互动专访: North Kingdom CEO David Eriksson ——数字广告也许并没有那么重要 […]

  • tira says:

    David:我们很喜欢中国,但要说到缺陷的话,那就是与中国同行合作中要面对的官僚主义。<————–实诚人儿啊,一句话戳到要害啊,中国同行情何以堪啊……

    [ 回复此评论 ]

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