Creating meaningful solutions in the age of digital experiences

MEANINGFUL SOLUTIONS. Dr. Joe Fry tells attendees of DigiCon 2018: u0022Donu2019t underestimate what we can do. Letu2019s just try to do a better job of doing stuff not only meaningful to business and technology, but also to culture.u0022 Photo courtesy of IMMAP

MEANINGFUL SOLUTIONS. Dr. Joe Fry tells attendees of DigiCon 2018: u0022Donu2019t underestimate what we can do. Letu2019s just try to do a better job of doing stuff not only meaningful to business and technology, but also to culture.

u0022 Photo courtesy of IMMAP

MANILA, Philippines – In Japan, compulsory classes in computer programming are not supposed to be part of the national curriculum until 2020.

One simple yet novel idea from an unlikely partnership changed all that.

And it all started with Pocky biscuits.

Japanese food brand Glico had just one goal: to “make kids smile.” When this task fell onto the hands of Dr. Joe Fry and his team at The ZOO, dubbed as “Google’s creative think tank for brands and agencies,” they ended up creating something that was much bigger than they could ever have imagined.

Glicode, a play on the brand name and the word code, turned every packet of Glico’s Pocky biscuit sticks into a coding lesson. All kids and kids-at-heart had to do was create sequences that correspond to a block of code that controls the character in the game app using the biscuits.

Glicode became wildly popular and even won awards.

Beyond that, it caught the attention of the Japanese government, which awarded this project a special grant to be integrated into the national curriculum this year.

“We need the kids to be excited about computer science because they are the next generation who are hopefully going to continue to do positive impact to the world,” he said.

At the heart of all technology-driven innovations created by the marketing, tech, and digital industries must be the genuine desire to create meaning and find solutions that will help society change for the better.

This was Fry’s key message at the DigiCon 2018 held from October 3 to 5 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.

It all begins with deriving insight not only from data but also from real human interactions and observations in order to create game-changing solutions.

Another case study is Movement for Movement, a joint project by Google, Rexona Indonesia, Grab, and Mindshare.

Indonesia’s infrastructure makes it difficult for people, especially those with physical disabilities, to move around.

With this in mind, Fry and his team developed a virtual assistant that helped people navigate the city better. It would tell its users the routes they could take, whether the pavement was smooth or not, and directions to restaurants and other establishments.

What once was just an idea had turned into a movement that continues to help improve the lives of thousands of people.

It wouldn’t have happened if those involved did not probe the client’s creative brief deeper to bring out a deeper insight.

“We turned this thing into something so much more than perhaps it would’ve been if we followed the brief in the first place. This is about that passion… asking the right questions. Can we do something more? Can we do something more meaningful?” he said.

Of course, these wins didn’t come easily for Fry and his team. It’s extremely difficult to prove that ideas and concepts could work when they haven’t been done before, so it’s important to find partners who share the same goal and can trust that your vision could positively affect generations to come.

“It’s always: What is the next thing and what are we building that can impact the future? What are we building for tomorrow? I believe we have that responsibility and [that] we can build that into the work that we’re doing and make that core to the way we think about the work that we’re doing,” he said.

In closing, Fry reminded marketers and creators of their unique role in fostering culture through the work that they do in this day and age.

“Don’t underestimate what we can do. Let’s just try to do a better job of doing stuff not only meaningful to business and technology, but also to culture.” – Rappler.com