Q&A with Cameron Worth, CEO & Founder, SharpEnd
Media 7 | April 22, 2020
Cameron Worth, CEO & Founder of SharpEnd leads the company’s mission to help brands move closer than ever to consumers by connecting packaging, retail and experiential activity.
He is a regular speaker and writer on how to build brands in a connected world. He has spoken at Cannes, the Festival of Marketing, LuxePack Monaco and New York, Ad:Week Europe and New York, DMA, the Connected Consumer Conference, Mobile World Congress and the IoT World Forum.
MEDIA 7: How did the idea of “the agency of things” come to your mind?
CAMERON WORTH: SharpEnd was created in 2015 as the world’s first Internet of Things focused agency, so there is a slight play on words when we say we’re the Agency of Things. I think the idea of giving things their own agency is an interesting concept, and the strapline fits our capabilities on multiple levels.
M7: In what way does technology drive the association of SharpEnd with global brands? What approaches are followed to enable sustainability?
CW: Our simple proposition is to help build brands in a connected world, and to do that you must always start with identified consumer needs or pain points and look at technology as just an enabler to deliver an appropriate solution (when appropriate).
Take the issue of sustainability, which is often a pain point for brands that grapple with issues such as how we can reward sustainable behaviour change. One of our approaches to this could be to look at communicating the recycling credentials of the different products. Whilst the consumer can engage with a product as part of a wider consumer experience, the same technology could also house content that could tell you whether the product is recyclable, which type of bin it goes in etc.
SharpEnd’s work with Unilever is a case in point. We built a digital product that incentivised recycling through gamification but also served to educate through informing people how and where to recycle in a clear fashion. All users had to do was simply scan their packaging to have all this information at their disposal.
"Brands tend to overlook their largest owned media asset - the product itself."
M7: What are the modern brands not doing enough to engage with their customers?
CW: Brands tend to overlook their largest owned media asset - the product itself. It’s a costly oversight when you consider that brand owners have far more products in the market than they do TV spots, or outdoor posters.
For us at SharpEnd, we look at activating the product as a digital touchpoint – whether that’s an NFC enabled wine bottle, QR codes or augmented reality.
Ultimately, it’s about using the product as a direct channel for engagement. We believe every progressive brand that makes and sells products should be doing this.
M7: How important for you is creating value for your consumers? Could you tell us how connected packaging provides value?
CW: It’s central to what we do - it's why we start with the pain point rather than the technology.
Our starting point creatively is always “how do we heighten the enjoyment in the context of use?”
Connected packaging is different to traditional advertising. You’re no more than 5cm away from the product, and usually the product is in hand at the point of engagement. You’re either thinking of using, or actively using the product. The relationship is arguably more intimate and therefore more compelling.
Take our work with Böen Wines for example. As part of the world’s largest roll out of NFC in the wines category, the post-tap creative platform included providing food and wine pairings that complemented the wine consumers were interacting with, as well as sharing information on the brand’s heritage and tasting notes. Everything we implemented went towards heightening the consumption moment experience, and the brand has been reaping the rewards with high engagement rates and session lengths of well over a minute per engagement.
"Every progressive brand that makes and sells products should use the product as a direct channel for engagement."
M7: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work - what day to day processes have you had to re-tool to be able to pull them off remotely? What does your remote tech stack look like?
CW: We are benefiting from the fact that as a five-year-old business, we’re natively connected. We’re very collaborative, we’ve always been working from Google Docs and we’ve been using Slack religiously for a few years now.
The very nature of our work means that the brand owners we’re supporting are based in various locations across the globe, so we’ve always been using video conferencing too. So there hasn’t been too much of an impact on SharpEnd’s ways of working.
That being said, one of the main things our leadership team is focusing on is mastering remote management and leadership. How do you keep the team motivated? How do you make sure everyone is feeling included? What are you doing on a weekly basis to make sure that it’s not just professional, but there are social elements as well? We’re being very respectful of the fact this is a lockdown from the greater world and not just from the office.
Figuring out what we can be doing in terms of team building exercises is on-going. This is something that I don’t think anyone can nail by themselves, and we’re looking online for a lot of inspiration on how to go about doing this.
"At SharpEnd, we look at activating the product as a digital touchpoint – whether that’s an NFC enabled wine bottle, QR codes or augmented reality."
M7: Do you think we will constantly be looking over our shoulders and have to have a remote plan ready?
CW: I have made an active decision to not comment on potential long-term impacts of Covid-19. There will be a time for that, but now is the time for sensitivity on a human level, in my opinion.
My only request to the team is that we make sure we’re staying sensitive, responsive and productive.
M7: When did you start working and what was it?
CW: I started when I was 16 in publishing and got to see first hand how brands were shifting spend from print to online. I was there when the publication I was working on launched its first website, and saw the ad sales starting to increase, and the print sales starting to shift over.
That was 15 years ago now, but my career path has always been in and around online, from digital innovation to engagement tech, to where I am now as the founder of the world’s first IoT agency.
SharpEnd – The Agency of Things™ - is moving brands closer than ever to consumers by connecting packaging, retail and experiential activity. We are a full-service partner to some of the largest global brand owners across fashion, spirits and CPG including Estée Lauder Companies, Pernod Ricard, PepsiCo, Mattel and Nestlé. You can find out more here https://wearesharpend.com