Founder James Turner on bringing creative people together to solve problems and why #catsnotads will make London happier
‘Goodvertising’ is a marketing trend that doesn’t look like its going anywhere but, as creatives know, it can be hard to do really effective work with a client breathing down your neck. Glimpse is a collective of around 100 people who come together in their spare time to hack problems and devise projects that allow them the creative freedom that they may not have in their day job. And with no client paying the way, the team has turned to Kickstarter to get things under way.
Their current project #catsnotads aims to replace the ads that bombard commuters in London tube stations with something more spiritually uplifting: giant pictures of cats. And more generous donors may even see a huge image of their own moggy replace, say, some depressing Protein World-type outdoor ad.
LBB caught up with Glimpse founder James Turner to find out more.
LBB> What is Glimpse and when/why did you set it up?
JT> Glimpse is a new collective of creative people who are trying to encourage positive cultural values. Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong, we create ‘glimpses’ of a world where things are better or just different in some way. We use that to tempt people into thinking or acting differently, rather than trying to bash them over the head or make them feel guilty. I started Glimpse to help creative people use their skills for good, because I can see there’s a lot of appetite for this kind of work but not enough opportunities.
LBB> Who's involved and who is it open to?
JT> Currently we have about 100 members - mostly from London with a sprinkling of other countries. We’re open to anyone who has a skill that they want to use to help change things. Most of our members are creatives or planners, but we have UX designers, filmmakers and journalists as well. It’s really about bringing people together from different backgrounds to tackle problems in a new way (you can join us at www.weglimpse.co
LBB> You do hack days and social events - can you give us a flavour of what sort of hackathons you've held so far?
JT> We ran a hack day in February where we looked at three challenges we’d written in advance. It began with the invitation to ‘imagine a world where’:
• People value experiences and friendships more than stuff (this is where the CATS idea came from)
• Refugees are treated with respect and dignity (this ended up with the UniTea brand, which you can see on our website)
• Success is defined by what we do outside of work (we intend to create a spoof site called “LinkedOut”)
It really was an experiment - most of us had never met, and I’d never run a hack day before. It was incredible to see the energy of 30 creative people applied not just to real world problems, but to imagining and creating positive alternatives. That’s the thing that really propelled us forwards.
LBB> How did the idea for #catsnotads come about?
JT> As I mentioned above, we wanted to provide a glimpse of a world where experiences and friendships were seen as more valuable than stuff you could buy. This led - via a series of pretty weird conversations - to the idea of crowdfunding to replace tube adverts with something non-commercial. The team initially considered things like mountains, trees, and wilderness, but then decided that would be boring and predictable. So they thought about the one thing the internet would be most likely to get excited about and share. Cats was the obvious next step. This was a pretty big leap from the original brief, but the advantage of not having a traditional client behind us is that we’re free to go with the best idea. I think people found that really liberating.
LBB> In London, we're constantly bombarded with ads invading our public spaces - what effect do you think that has on people? And why was it important to you to reclaim some of that space back?
JT> I think all of us feel stressed and hassled sometimes by advertising in London. There are some truly rubbish ads on the tube at the moment, and there’s nothing we can do about it, we just feel powerless. This was an attempt to claw back (sorry) some sanity from the madness. In terms of the effect all this advertising has on people - it makes us all feel like we’re not quite good enough unless we buy a product or look a certain way. The consequences of that message are felt across our society and (if you want to get really deep) by our earth itself.
LBB> Why should ad folk, who spend their working lives making said ads support #catsforads. Give us your pitch!