I get a real buzz from seeing people succeed and winning - to play a role in someone else's success through my role of encouragement or guidance or my experience is a very rewarding part of the job.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Before joining Razorfish in 2011, I played a key leadership role for 15 years at AKQA. I have had the opportunity to not only build but play a part in some incredibly talented teams in my career to date which has brought with it a respectable number of awards and recognition - this has included being namd the No 1 digital creative director by Campaign in the UK in 2010 and ranked in the Top 20 Creative Directors across all media in both 2012 and 2013. My role today is to influence, create and motivate a new generation of transformational creative work from our agency across the globe.

question What do you do for inspiration?

I admire and study high performing teams - those outside of the advertising and design world. For me teams from competitive sports, business and engineering offer a fascinating landscape from which to learn - examples I find mesmerising are the collaboration mechanics of multi disciplined individuals coming together to reach a common goal, the ongoing dominance of a leading team in a particular sector and how to maintain the competitive advantage plus the accumulative effect of what has been referred to as the non critical essentials and marginal gains that result in convention breaking innovation.

question Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Twitter.com for everything I need to know
Box.com for documents, files and work stuff
Pistonheads.com for pleasure (great content yet every re design they do seems to get worse!)

question What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

I have been very lucky to achieve many things - Awards, recognition and build a positive reputation for my teams and clients alike. However, the stand out moment for me is when people tell you that something cannot be done or that you will not succeed - and subsequently you triumph and prove that the so called impossible, is possible - that is a very satisfying moment.

question How many hours do you work each week?

Between 60 and 70

question How do you relax or unwind?

Im a proper petrol head - so I can get pretty fanatical about cars, motorcycles and most forms of motorsport. I'll geek out for hours on that and if there is anytime left over I like to pedal up hills as often as possible.

question If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

In truth, its most likely I would have been a die hard graphic designer - the kind that deliberates over stock samples for days while designing custom fonts and lamenting over the death of vinyl and sleeve art.

In my dreams I would have been designing the next big thing to drive out of the factory gates in Maranello, Stuttgart, Woking or Gaydon.

question What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
I get a real buzz from seeing people succeed and winning - to play a role in someone else's success through my role of encouragement or guidance or my experience is a very rewarding part of the job.

I can confess that saying 'no' is always tough. I would like to think I'm an optimist and I can see the good in most things and most people  -  but for the sake of achieving the highest standards and in the name of invention second best is not good enough - there is often the need to call out that 'ok is not ok'. 

When I get stuck I find someone I can trust and I talk it out. It's also true what Mr DaVinci said - that one must step away from one's labour to gain a perspective and a different point of view before being able to proceed in the right direction - or something pretty close to that.

question What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

52 hours. It was less than 3 weeks into a new role. 

question What software could you not live without?

Outlook. Google Chrome. iOS7 (not 8). Twitter. Spotify.
question How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

In the UK up to 50. Across the globe up to 10 times that amount.
question What area of web design lacks the most?

Audio design. I’m surprised at how little the web has utilised and capitalised on this. When this is factored into the experience it can transform usability as much as entertain or set a ‘mood’. Mood music on the whole sucks.

question Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Without question it has aided us as we continue to build our reputation not only as a technology or media led business, which historically Razorfish has been known for. The excellence that the FWA recognises, the minutia and the attention to detail says something about the care, love and world class standards we aim to achieve in every solution we deliver. This in turn speaks to the design community and talent that we are trying to attract to our teams.

question When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
I think that’s where the fragmented media landscape has in fact helped us and our clients. Of course we approach design and build our experiences with an adaptive, dynamic responsive philosophy (often with touch first) to ensure they fit specific devices being used in a specific context…but more than that we may even decide to use different media elements for different purposes. For example in social media alone we may strategically use the different platforms available to suit different audience needs  i.e. Instagram for launch and influencer communication, Facebook for the hub while turning to twitter for real time amplification –  sometimes Its not about making everything fit into every shaped box.
question What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

The first website worth talking about was for MG – the sports car brand. I’d spent months working on the promotion of Microsoft Office 97: Small Business Edition (on CD-Rom!) which was jam packed full of calls to action, “how to’s” and “click now’s” and so this automotive project I recall felt like a way to express my own design aesthetic, an open book, a blank canvas. With MG we had a company with just 1 product - a two seater roadster – and 3 standard call’s to action (Contact the Dealer, Order a brochure and Book a test drive (which was facilitated via a fax gateway as the dealers didn’t have email!). I went to town – super minimal, dynamic cropping of the car on the home page to accentuate the performance characteristics of the product. The client freaked out. “Where is all the copy?” they asked. It was different. It never went live. MG went out of business – what can I say?

question Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

I have thought about it. It seems to be considered by some as a right of passage in that if you haven’t written a book you cannot be a serious pioneer or authority – which is odd as so many books appear to be in violent agreement with one another or overlap in terms of content.

If I did write one that was business related, it would strictly be 2 chapters long only – because in my experience on the rare occasion I have entered into the pages of such a title, that’s roughly how long it takes to get the message and understand the point of view of the author – rendering the subsequent 200 pages where the main principles are repeated again and again pretty pointless.

question Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

Often I get as far away from work as I can. That might be cycling, entertaining my two young sons or a spot of amateur motorcycle racing. For me finding a complete detachment means when I return to my work – which I love -  I’m as hungry and determined as ever.

question What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?

We launched a car in the USA for Mercedes Benz – the CLA. The challenge was to target a completely new, GenY audience who would never have considered Mercedes Benz for them – this was a car for their father or father’s father. However, using just 5 Instagram photographers and the only CLA car in the country we launched the product almost entirely via social media with 100% mobile photography. The site visits to MBUSA.com were higher than ever, the average age of the visitors was at an all time low, the mobile photography captured during the campaign not only gathered 2 million likes and 87,000,000 impressions on Instagram – it also became the 100’s of marketing assets for the promotion in dealers and in print media during the launch throughout the country.

question Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?

see above

question The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

Because the web is getting out of the web and the concept of connected devices growing with the true dawn of the internet of things upon us it actually means we can think more in terms of user behaviour, context and location (away from the desktop) – essentially meaning solutions are less medium driven initially and much more anthropological in approach.

question What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

The Mclaren P1 or the Porsche 918 - currently both are redefining the parameters and setting a new agenda for the car and high performance beyond the combustion engine alone.

question When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

It has always been the same. The highest standards and the sharpest talent. That formula never seems to fail. Great work and inspired people you would like to work with always wins.

question How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

By working with the best people. I’m smart enough to know there is always someone who knows way more than you do.

question What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?

It's a little clichéd but China. The optimism and entrepreneurialism sets them way ahead in terms of the use of emerging technology.

question What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

This year is our business's 20th Anniversary and the future continues to be as it always has been. We are focused on tomorrow - leading our clients forward into the unknown and focused on creating transformational work - transforming the fortunes of our clients business and the lives and opportunities of their customers

question What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?

I would like to learn to code.

question What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

A motorcycle.

question What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?

Yoji Yamamoto


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