FoxP2 takes its name from the creativity gene that has mutated in human beings over the last 50 000 years. It's the gene most singularly responsible for the advancement of mankind. The gene that allows us to innovate. To adapt. To be creative.

#FOXFLAME – TED Global 2014

We’d moved the meetings, we’d loaded the credit card,
we’d bought the obligatory pair of Havaianas.
It was happening. I was off to Rio for the TED Global 2014 conference.
But there was just one small problem. Actually getting in.
To my surprise, the socially powered democratic content phenomenon that is TED, was actually not just a conference that you just go to. You had to be, accepted.

It was around about the time that our interns on the FoxP2 balcony said:
“Dude, you know you can just watch that shit online don’t you?” - when I started thinking there must be a reason all these really smart people trek halfway across the world to go and watch something they can see online anyway.

And there is.

As it turns out, it isn’t all about the speakers.
It’s also very much about the delegates.
So, after an intimate online application where I tried as hard as I could to explain how advertising can actually make peoples’ lives better, I somehow got in.
I was quite surprised, and strangely nervous, but nonetheless I was off to Copacabana Beach to spend a week with a thousand curious and extremely well-educated souls.

Would they smell that I didn’t belong to any charities?
Would those really effective results that I put on that last case study video feel a bit thin?
Would my Grip-jokes amuse them?
Would I be found out for being a guy who makes, advertising? 

Apparently this nervousness is not unique with applicants.
So to alleviate this, the clever people at TED make sure that all delegates wear a big badge round their neck all week.
It says: “TALK TO ME ABOUT… (insert 3 suitably obscure fields of interest here) “

It works bloody well.
That evening I found myself having Caipirinha’s with a Finn who flies drones over naughty cargo ships to check up on their carbon emissions. The next day I was at lunch with an impossibly young rocket scientist and a French artist who documents the music behind obscure religions around the world. 

There were tech billionaires from Palo Alto, car designers, casino bosses, Neuroscientists, performance artists, economists, developers and political activists, all queuing for the urinals.
A meaningful conversation could spring up anywhere - on a beach lounger, at the buffet, or over a cocktail.  
A bit like club 18-30, but for your brain.
Not surprisingly, TED attendees were really into…talking.

And so, contrary to my initial fears, nobody was judging anyone at all.
It was quite the opposite actually. People were warm, extremely curious and just wanted to learn. 

Basking in the glow of “anything’s possible”, I began realising that an environment completely free of judgment is actually a big luxury today.
Being with some of the most interesting people in the world, who make a habit of looking for what’s possible, rather than what isn’t, feels incredibly liberating for a creative person. 

And then of course, there are The Talks.
Those “Ideas Worth Spreading” packaged into 18 minute nuggets that power the TED viral phenomenon.

Its just like the intern said, “You can watch that shit online dude”.
But I really, really urge you to do so. There are some mind-bendingly inspiring sessions from TED global this year.  

There’s a breathtaking photographic documentation of vanishing tribes by Jimmy Nelson, who captures incredibly intimate images by living with these remote people for months at a time. 

There was the beautiful, steely activist, Pia Mancini who discussed her open source mobile platform that lets citizens run their own candidates in the Argentinian election.

And the powerhouse journalist who first published the Snowden Files, Glenn Greenwald, giving a searing talk on why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re not doing anything you need to hide.

There was a guy who prints land with gigantic sediment flow controls.
A woman who creates floating peep shows, and a duo who transform the walls of the Favela’s by moving in and starting a barbecue.

But then there were those talks. The ones with the moments.
Those rare seconds where you feel like you’re literally watching the future unfold right there in the room. 

One was during a talk by Dr Jorge Soto who demonstrated an early cancer detection app on stage for the first time ever.
Another was when the neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis showed a video of two rats in his lab sending a “mental SMS” to one another through incredible brain melding technology.

And there was one more of those moments.
Probably just a little more special than the rest.
I actually tried to capture it by photographing the hairs on my arm during a standing ovation that nearly took the roof off the main hall. (see crappy image below).
It was for a man who spoke about how he used floating purple lights to get rebel troops to leave the jungle and come home at Christmas time.
A man with purpose and an open-hearted demeanor.
A man by the name of Jose Miguel Sokoloff
A man who works, in advertising.

And so, standing there, cheering my lungs out with some of the world’s most interesting people, I was filled with a quiet sense of pride.
He’s one of us I thought. He’s getting it right I thought.

Sometimes we will get it right like LoweSSP3 and the floating Christmas lights.
But mostly we’ll get it wrong, like the majority of what’s on our screens today.
I think what will help, is to find purpose behind your work, and to take responsibility for what you aim to put out into the world.

So, like many of the attendees at TED, we’re also in the business of ideas.
And we have quite a lot of them in advertising. Most will go unseen, forever trapped in a notepad, or an email, or a relationship. Others will survive and mutate in boardrooms, often into something quite indistinguishable from the original. So when we’re lucky enough to have an idea that does make it out into society pure and unscathed, lets try and make sure it’s an “Idea Worth Spreading”.

Links to some of the mentioned talks below. Please visit for more of talks from TED Global as they become available over the weeks to come.

The future of early cancer detection?

How to upgrade democracy for the Internet era

Why privacy matters

FoxP2 launches #FoxFlame

Having topped the 2013 creative rankings in the Small Agency category, as well as notching up fifth place overall, Foxp2 has decided to take a different approach to improving its creative output in 2014. Instead of entering 2014 creative award shows, the agency will use its award show budget to send its creatives around the world, exposing them to new experiences and ways of thinking that will ultimately add long-term value to clients' businesses. 

Read Charl's article here.

Read Justin's interview here.

Gold Apex For FoxP2 And Ster-Kinekor

The effectiveness of FoxP2's "Some Things Should Only Be Experienced On The Big Screen" campaign for Ster-Kinekor was recognized at the Apex Awards held in the Sandton Convention Centre. One of only three Apex golds handed out on the night, the campaign was also the only Apex winner to be recognized with a gold Loerie at the 2013 Loerie Awards. 

With a 181% ROI, the campaign increased Ster-Kinekor brand awareness by 13% and delivered a 2% increase in market share for the cinema theatre chain. Perhaps most impressively, it reversed a decline in cinema attendance.

This is the fourth Apex award for FoxP2 in three years, having won Gold for the launch of insurance company, as well as a bronze and Special Chairman's award for the Drive Dry "They'd Love To Meet You" campaign in 2011. Both Frank and Drive Dry were recognized creatively with Gold Loeries, further proving the FoxP2 mantra, "Creativity sells."

For money without the regret, think Spotcash

Our new radio campaign features a worldly-wise narrator warning the public against the pitfalls of doing stupid things for money. With a voice over casting inspired by Sam Elliot's "The Stranger" in The Big Lebowski, the spots were recorded at The Workroom and mark the launch of  South Africa's  simple, stress-free, straightforward micro-lenders. 

Justin Appointed Creative Circle Chairperson

Justin has been selected to represent the South African creative industry as Creative Circle Chairman over the next two years. The Creative Circle is a non-profit organization made up of the industry's top creative thought leaders and is tasked with pushing creative excellence within South African advertising. A great achievement, second only to his Chairmanship of The Lentil Curtain Music Club. Watch his interview here:

Saf and Heidi's Young Lions Entry

Our kits (that's a fancy word for young Foxes) turned around an ad for the Young Lions Awards that could see them winging it all the way to the 2014 Cannes Awards. The brief from Cinemark was for a cinema ad encouraging young people to vote on May the 7th. The catch? Entrants had 48hrs to turn it around. Here's holding opposable thumbs. 

Don't Get Movie FOMO

Shot by Grant De Sousa of Embassy Productions, this campaign for Ster-Kinekor shows how missing a movie with your mates could seriously affect your social standing. Conceptualised by Ryan and Alex, it marks the debut of an actor we think is going to get used a whole lot in the future... you saw him here first.

"It Ain't Final Till It's On Vinyl." The FoxP2 Record Library Is Officially Open.

Hey Foxes,

There's a great quote from Lee Clow's beard, "In a world so fluid, you have to stand for something solid."

And I've really come to appreciate what vinyl represents in an age where music has become so disposable - you can rip all the music off some-one's hard drive in minutes without ever collecting any of it yourself and you can delete it just as easily. 

But vinyl. Now there's a commitment. You have to think what you want to collect and then track it down. 

If you find what you're looking for, you have to wait till you get home to play it.  You get to take the record out the brown paper bag, hold the album artwork in your hands, remove the record from its gatefold sleeve, place the stylus on the vinyl - carefully, so as to not let the needle slide off the outer circumference and then you get to hear a few seconds of crackle leading up to the first track on the album you have committed to.

So I hereby  declare the FoxP2 Record Library officially open.

Each Fox will get to order one album for the FoxP2 Record Library and this album will stay in the library till the ends of time with a sticker bearing your name on it. 

Please let me know which album you're committing to and I'll place an order with my vinyl dealer as they become available.


FoxP2 Shows Its DNA At 2013 Loeries

FoxP2 finished the Loerie weekend with one Grand Prix, three golds, two silvers, six bronzes and two craft certificates.

The big winners were Ster Kinekor and, two clients with a similar penchant for buying brave creative work. Says Justin Gomes, FoxP2 Cape Town ECD, "We're not the biggest agency, but we're forty people who really believe in what they do. We attract clients who believe in the power of creativity and it was great to see their bravery rewarded over the weekend." 

The Grand Prix winning radio campaign, "Death doesn't have to try very hard" talks about death in a way other Life Insurance companies don't feel comfortable and builds on the previous radio campaigns featuring the distinctive Frank voice.

The gold-winning Ster-Kinekor TV ad shot by Dean Blumberg of Bouffant Productions leads towards a suspense-building finale that is then withheld from the viewer, followed by the title, "Some things should only be experienced on the big screen." The ending could only be seen on Ster-Kinekor big screens around the country.

Says FoxP2 Group MD, Charl Thom, "It's great to see the work come through like it did this weekend, but 54 Loerie finalists from a forty-person agency is an achievement in itself. It's testament to the consistent quality of work we produce for our clients as well as the calibre of people under our roof.  While we'll never be able to compete with the mercenary pay cheques offered by the bigger agencies, we can work hard to create a culture where people want to come into work every morning to do the best work of their lives. More and more people want to work for companies they can believe in, rather than just get paid in."

Click here to view the Loerie-winning work for, Ster-Kinekor, Masterlock, Property24 and National Geographic Kids.

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