Kerry Friend is an Executive Creative Director at digital agency, Hellocomputer. This is the same agency that’s behind all the recent ‘world firsts’, like Joburg Zoo’s live tweeting honey badger and Toyota’s Outdoor Website, as well as the fun Etios Tweets for Sweets Smile Machine, and Hack-a-Thon events. These activations move outside of the conventional digital space to create new kinds of experiences for consumers, with technology becoming the (increasingly) seamless bridges between real-life and online experiences. These kinds of activations reflect a new approach in advertising that focuses on creating memorable (and potentially even meaningful) brand encounters for consumers.
We followed Kerry around to learn more about her, and why she’s dominating in a male dominated industry.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I was rather single-minded. I just wanted to be a grown-up.
What are some of the good things and some of the challenges about working in the creative industry in South Africa?
The good thing: it feels a bit like the Wild West of advertising and anything is fair game and a possibility.
A major challenge is always budgets, budgets. Did I say budgets?
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy working with different skill sets and the landscape is constantly in flux, which offers up constant opportunity.
The ad industry is renowned for being competitive; how have you got ahead and to the top of your game?
Mmm… top of my game might be a gross overstatement ☺
Well, I have an excitable Labrador quality about me when it comes to new ideas and I like a job well done, so that’s been my rather simple modus operandi.
You come from a traditional advertising background; how was it moving into digital?
It was a bit how I imagine it will feel for the new resident of Mars. It was like relocating to a new planet. But when you accept that you don’t have to know how to code and it’s still just about having a damn good idea, the landscape starts to feel like home.
Digital agencies are using technology to interact with consumers in the physical world through activations like HC’s Castle Lite Extra Cold Mind Reader and Toyota Rav4’s Outdoor Website. Is this a passing trend or something we’ll be seeing more of?
I think the internet of things will simply become seamlessly integrated into daily life, so it won’t be a trend, it will be a way of life.
What value do executions like this add?
The world of entertainment and therefore communication is becoming increasingly immersive, and brands will naturally add value to a brand experience by embracing these new ways of engaging with people.
As new technologies continue to affect the way we communicate, do you think there will be such a thing as ‘digital’ agencies in the future?
I think calling yourself a digital agency is a bit like calling yourself a TV agency or a radio agency. It’s simply another tool in the toolkit.
Are we on par with international standards?
Our ideas are definitely on par.
Do you need to love technology to be good at digital?
I think you need to love being inventive and love exploring all new mediums, which obviously includes digital.
Which female creative inspires you and why?
My inspiration is a smudgy combination of so many peoples’ ideas, which include some female creative-types. Some of the women that come to mind are Tina Fey, Barbara Kingsolver, Ella Bute (Superella), Sophie Calle, Tilda Swinton, Miranda July, Marina Abromovic, Pina, my friend Elli Garb (who makes those stickers “everything is going to be ok”) … so so many.
As for why, I’m inspired by folk with a leftfield sense of humour, people who are viscerally expressive, those who can eloquently capture something in words or pictures…. my mind is like a large washing machine filled with stuff I’ve collected over the last 40 years.
What traits do you believe you have that make you so good at what you do?
It’s so trite to say this, but I’m curious and like a good laugh… so that seems to help.
Photos by Jessica Hunkin