Digital Minds: 60 seconds with Fortune Cookie’s Justin Cooke

Digital Thought Leaders

justin%20cooke.JPGWelcome to Digital Minds. New for 2010 we’re bringing you regular interviews with people shaping the digital landscape. Justin Cooke founder of web design agency Fortune Cookie, talks with Danny Meadows-Klue about virtual mirrors, new content creation models and the endless possibilities of Facebook advertising.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen online recently?

I like it when brands create something useful thing. The Rayban virtual mirror allows me to try sunglasses on without being laughed at by my wife. I also love RedLaser and Nearest Tube which both take existing technology and apply it in a relevant and contextual way. I am also obsessed by Demand Media’s new model for content creation which is scarily cool.

What most excites you about digital marketing?

The fact that in digital you can continuously, ruthlessly and in some cases brutally refine and optimise your activity and that we are lucky enough to be alive at a time when we will continue to be able to do so on a massive scale for at least the next 10 years - if not forever.

What was the ‘ah!’ moment for you – the moment where you suddenly realised the scale the web or digital marketing would play in your business…

Seeing blind people who had previously had to have an assistant physically walk them around shouting out product names in Tesco’s being able to comfortably shop online from their home on a Sunday afternoon.

What do you say to senior directors who just don’t get it, senior directors who treat digital channels as a minor add-on?

It depends if they are a competitor to one of our client’s or not. If the latter then I will do my best to sit down and understand their point of view. Then using what they tell me I will try to understand their position and quietly illustrate through insight, rationale, a user-validated proof of concept or by delivering them results beyond their expectations that there is another way!

What’s the difference in thinking managers need when their firms enter this space?

Balancing the fact that change is constant but that it doesn’t mean everything you knew before was wrong.

Most common mistake people make in digital media or marketing?

Thinking that it is time to re-write the rules and that nothing will ever be the same.

If you could go back in time to a key ‘digital moment’, where and when would it be?

So many. University of Manchester handing my dissertation in on CD in 1994. The basement of our Pall Mall office in 1998 hearing reports that a company called Freeserve had launched free dial-up internet access. Paying for my restaurant bill using my mobile phone in 1999.

Where do you spend your time most online?

I would feel cold, naked and alone without Outlook, Amazon, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Ocado, iTunes, TweetDeck, Keynote and my National Rail iPhone app.

Are digital channels a step-change in communications or simply a natural progression in marketing?

They are both nothing new and completely different.

How do you see social media changing marketing?

Did you know that you are never more than five pixels away from a tweet or slide share presentation about this subject. At the weekend and in the evening I spend hours playing around with Facebook advertising. I love trying to start with the widest possible demographic and then seeing how far I can segment it. I guess that means that things have changed a lot.

How does consumer generated content sit with traditionally authored and published content, what’s the relationship?

The key is to have clear rules, labelling and a structure that allows the user to differentiate the voice of the brand and that of the consumer.

Who should own digital strategies in an organisation: brand/marketing, agency, technology team, other?

The most successful digital strategies are owned by everyone and mapped to an organisation’s overall business objectives.

My Digital Journey

Justin Cooke founded digital agency Fortune Cookie in 1997, following creative roles with BBC Films, Universal Music (Rondor) and United News and Media (Miller Freeman, Travel Division). His aim: to make Fortune Cookie one of the most respected digital agencies in the world. A graduate of Manchester University (Computers in Theatre), Cooke has successfully steered Fortune Cookie through two industry recessions. Fortune Cookie’s 50-strong team of some of the greatest talent in the digital industry produces award-winning work of a consistently world-class standard for brands and organisations including Legal & General, Amnesty International, Europcar, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, British Gas, UEFA, Miss Selfridge, Kuoni and Lawn Tennis Association.

Websites designed and built by Fortune Cookie have been shortlisted for major design awards 44 times in the past two years, including an Honour at the 2009 Webby Awards, an NMA Effectiveness Award and Best Agency at the Travolution Awards.

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