Amnesia Razorfish: sexy, social and successful

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Recently Australia-based Amnesia Razorfish (part of the Razorfish global network) won the Adnews interactive agency of the year for the third consecutive year. As a Razorfish employee, I’m happy for my colleagues at Amnesia Razorfish (and of course for our clients, as the award is a reflection on them, too).  But I’m equally interested in knowing what the award says about successful marketing in the digital age.  What does it take for marketers and agencies working together to succeed year after year?  After getting some input from Michael Buckley, Terry Carney, and Iain McDonald of Amnesia Razorfish, I see these ingredients for success emerging:

  • Make Social Influence Marketing part of your marketing game plan.  Social Influence Marketing is a third dimension of marketing alongside direct response and branding.  It is here to stay.  You don’t need to make an about-face to succeed through social — but you do need employ it intelligently.  Example: the Cancer Council Australia is working with Amnesia Razorfish to raise money for the treatment of male cancer.  Amnesia Razorfish conceived of Daredallion, a week where people perform dares to raise donations.  The effort includes various forms of Social Influence Marketing, including Twitter and a site where you can dare your friends to to perform stunts.  Another example: Amnesia Razorfish helped Smirnoff employ Social Influence Marketing to build buzz for the Smirnoff Experience Party. The only way to get tickets to Australia’s biggest free party of 2008 was to go digital.  Smirnoff conducted a treasure hunt to give away tickets.  To find free tickets distributed across Australia, you had to find clues released through a blog and a Facebook group.  The campaign attracted global attention and helped Smirnoff pull off a huge promotional coup.  Amnesia Razorfish now employs a full-time Social Influence Marketing staff to help its clients figure out how to embed social into their digital experiences.


  • Get your hands dirty.  An agency must be an active participant in the social world in order to help its clients succeed with Social Influence Marketing.  Amnesia Razorfish certainly lives the social values.  Its blog is a top-ranked agency blog in Australia, attracting hundreds of thousands of unique views in 2008.  Amnesia staff have participated in the Daredallion project cited here and created experimental Twitter applications.  Everyone on the senior staff can be found on Twitter.  But Amnesia Razorfish is getting its hands dirty in other ways.  Amnesia Razorfish wrote Australia’s first Surface application, which recognizes individual business cards when placed on a table and then streams personal social media information from Twitter, Flickr, and other digital properties directly on to the table to be exchanged with someone else (sounds like a new way to exchange phone numbers in a bar).  Amnesia Razorfish also built its own in-house video wall purely for the fun of experimentation.  Dual projectors stream social content on to the wall, which tracks one’s physical movements.

  • Be accountable.  Amnesia Razorfish measures every single click that end users make.  The company uses analytics to be fully accountable for every interaction a person has with a client online.  Sometimes improving the consumer experience means more effectively optimizing the performance of a website, not designing a new one.  Using optimization tools, Amnesia Razorfish has increased sales by as much as 300 percent for ecommerce clients and increased time spent on clients’ sites by as much as 450 percent.  Amnesia Razorfish is also playing with a new tool developed by Razorfish U.S., the Generational Tag, to measure social influence.

  • Design experiences, not advertisements.  What’s the difference?  Ads are one-way messages — often great for the analog world, but not sufficient for digital.  Experiences engage audiences through interaction. Example: Lynx, produced by Unilever, is a line of male personal care products such as body wash.  (In the United States, Lynx is known as Axe.)  Amnesia Razorfish won a Webby for helping Unilever build awareness for Lynx through The Lynx Effect.  The target audience consists of young men, and the Axe/Lynx brand employs an in-your-face risque approach to connect with them.  The Lynx Effect is no exception.  Basically the message is this: guys, Lynx will make you more attractive to women.  But in the digital world, we convey that message through the experience.  To even navigate the site to learn about Lynx products, you select from a choice of provocative looking women.  Once inside, you can play amusing games, participate in polls, and download content on to your desktop.  (Now we know what “engagement” means Down Under.)

The Lynx Effect

  • Challenge your clients with ideas that build their businesses.  Lipton wanted to build awareness for an amino acid ingredient in Lipton tea — theanine — that stimulates alpha brain waves.  The proposition sounded like an educational campaign.  But Amnesia Razorfish came up with the idea of imagining Lipton’s product and benefits as a game.  Hence, the launch of Brain Train, a series of online games that test one’s mental alertness with subtle brand messaging from Lipton about the power of theanine.  Amnesia Razorfish also conceived of an integrated roll-out with radio, print, and outdoor.

Innovation rooted in the big idea is what will spur an economic recovery from the global recession, not better analytics or user experiences (although those things are important, too).  In April, leaders of Amnesia Razorfish will join executives from the Razorfish global network to discuss how we can more effectively take big ideas to our clients.  We’ve been conducting these summits, which we dub “A Seat at the Table,” since 2007, and each meeting gets better as more participants from outside the United States attend.  I can’t wait to see what we’ll learn from each other — better yet, I cannot wait to learn how our clients are benefiting.

Congratulations to Amnesia Razorfish for setting the gold standard.

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