Simon Pont – Digital State: How the Internet is Changing Everything

Digital state“The internet changes everything” could be an opening slide for a typical technology-driven consultancy presentation. How, when and where are the questions that motivated Simon Pont to interview and gather people from over various backgrounds. They share their opinions and commentaries in Digital State. What is the digital state? An always-on mentality? Ubiquitous computing? The internet of things? Big Brother from Orwell’s 1984? The follow-up of the current nations and states? In Digital State you hear the voice of mainly Digital Immigrants (in 1994 21 and older): surprised by the speed of change, embracing possibilities of all things online, but cautious as well regarding privacy and possible future developments. Like myself, they remember vividly the efforts to create the first internet pages (brochureware), consequences of the Dot-com Bubble and viral marketing campaigns in 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections, Super Bowl matches and the reluctance to post everything everywhere anytime.

Contributions from interviews, essays and observations are written in the first person, making it easier to relate with. The opinions come from marketing, advertising, information technology, legal and media research and strategy and include veterans as well as young talents like Faris Yakob (Chief Innovation Officer at MDC Partners New York), Bettina Sherick (SVP, Digital Strategic Marketing, 20th Century Fox International) and Christian Johnsen (Communication Strategy Director, Aegis Media).

About the Author and contributors

Simon Pont is a writer, commentator and brand-builder. His agency career includes being part of Saatchi & Saatchi and Naked Communications, the pioneers of communications planning. Hollywood movie studios, Icelandic investment banks, British chocolate bars and Middle Eastern airlines figure amongst his time on the inside of Adland. He is chief strategy officer at agency network Vizeum, and an EACA Effi es judge. He is the author of The Better Mousetrap: Brand Invention in a Media Democracy and Remember to Breathe , a novel.

Hans Andersson has an MSc in civil engineering. He spent the 1980s designing ports and bridges around the world. He then went on to the theatre business (where he still fi ddles as the chairman of a suburban, multi-ethnic theatre company). Hans jumped the fence to the advertising world, and specifically to Forsman & Bodenfors, in early 1996. In 2001 he became a senior partner, having worked with many of F&B’s clients in Sweden and abroad, and was further appointed CEO and chairman for the companies in the group. At present, he also spends a fair share of his time with the world’s largest ferry company, Stena Line. He sits on the board of Forsman & Bodenfors, but in real life he lives in Gothenburg, where he is married to Carolina and is a father of five.

Vicki Connerty had an early sojourn as a roving reporter for BBC local radio. She was ultimately lured away from the glitz and glamour of traffic reporting to join the bright lights of London’s thriving media scene. This was in the late 1990s. Positions followed at Chrysalis Radio, Classic FM and Virgin Radio, the latter during the Chris Evans years, which remain something of a champagne-fuelled blur. She subsequently moved across into the media agency world, working all over the globe and with renowned global clients such as Diageo, Disney, Nestlé, Honda, Reckitt Benckiser and Qantas. In 2011, she was appointed to launch and run Newcast Australia, the branded content division of Publicis-owned global media agency ZenithOptimedia. Like many other fair-skinned, rain-weary Brits, she is currently based in Sydney and enjoying all that Australia has to offer.

Greg Grimmer has spent all his working life in the London advertising world, at a number of the biggest global agencies. He founded his own agency, HMDG, in 2008 and continues to be one of the sector’s brightest, wittiest and most outspoken voices. He has won numerous awards in online, mobile and social networking (as well as more traditional media channels), and helped Wired successfully relaunch into the UK. An oft-quoted press figure, he also appears at many media, digital and creative events, and has trained and recruited a number of the best creative talents to be found in the communication planning fraternity. A natural networker, he is well connected to the London digerati as well as the Silicon Valley crowd, and when pushed can always be prompted to predict the next big thing (or more often prick the bubble of hubris).

Malcolm Hunter is a pioneer of international advertising and integrated communications planning. He has been chief strategy officer both at major international advertising agencies and at media companies. His most famous work includes ‘The World’s Local Bank’ for HSBC and ‘Dirt Is Good’ for Persil. More recently he developed and implemented Aegis Media’s integrated communications planning process. He believes that today, the more technology transforms marketing, the more we need to put humanity at the heart of everything we do. He helps his clients develop human brands for the Digital Age. He was born in Liverpool, educated at Oxford University, and lives in London with his wife and three children.

Christian Johnsen featured in Forbes USA’s ‘30 under 30’ (marketing and advertising) for 2012. It followed in  recognition of a year where his knowledge and strategic insight proved instrumental in the development of innovative communication strategies that helped Carat USA to a record-breaking new business performance, winning Macy’s domestic broadcast and digital media, and General Motors’ $3-billion-a-year global media account, the largest single contract ever awarded in the industry. He is a strategist, activist, actor and storyteller, who currently resides in New York City and dreams of changing the world (for the better).

Austen Kay is co-founder and joint managing director of w00t! Media, a digital agency helping brands connect with young adults. He works with acclaimed youth publishers such as Pitchfork, Mixcloud, Drowned in Sound and SBTV, and has delivered media partnerships for clients including Sony, Intel and Kraft. Prior to w00t! Media, he worked both agency and client side, devising and implementing media strategies for Sainsbury’s Bank, Scottish Widows and the Co-operative Group. He lives in Manchester with his wife and three children, supports Manchester City and tries to be a ‘mensch’ just as his grandmother always wanted.

Judd Labarthe is US-born and Berlin-based. He writes and speaks widely on the topic of creativity and  effectiveness. A 25-year veteran of agency life, he has had three careers in the business (account handler, then copywriter, now planner), experienced diverse agency cultures (from DDB to Ogilvy to German digital hotshop Argonauten), and advised clients such as Volkswagen, Leica, Pernod-Ricard, Nestlé, Westin, Anheuser-Busch, Deutsche Bahn, Disney and many local and regional brands across Europe and Asia. A member of the Effie Worldwide advisory board, he has also had a hand in some 50 Effie winners on three continents and serves regularly as a judge and moderator for Effie programmes worldwide.

Christopher Lockwood has been described as a brilliant misfit and media visionary. He is a ‘content’ polymath who has used his unusual combination of creative ability and entrepreneurial business acumen to constantly drive fresh thinking in the fields of brand communication and consumer editorial. His career has stretched from leading fashion and style magazines, and top-flight agencies, to his own branded content studio. His main job is now editorial director of social video agency Adjust Your Set, but he continues to involve himself in a variety of  exciting and dynamic projects as designer, curator, illustrator, artist, film-maker, and platform and technology innovator. For a daily dose of creative inspiration, follow at:

Nicholas Pont is a senior vice-president at PIMCO, one of the largest investment solutions providers in the world (to companies, central banks, educational institutions, financial advisers, foundations and endowments). He works with institutional clients and global financial institutions, and sits on the investment advisory committee for the PIMCO Europe Foundation. Previously, he was an associate with Julius Baer Investments and, before that, Western Asset Management Company (WAMCO). He has 10 years of investment experience, and holds an undergraduate degree in economics and politics from the University of Exeter. Before embarking on a career in asset management, he was a professional cricketer.

Tamara Quinn is a qualified barrister and practises as a solicitor in London, specializing in intellectual property law. She has had years of experience as a partner in a City law firm, as well as having worked in-house as head of intellectual property for a major retailer, and as head of legal for a publishing company. As an undergraduate, Tamara studied medicine, and then law and anthropology. She has a longstanding fascination with all things scientific and admits to an alarmingly extensive knowledge of James Bond trivia. She tweets @tamarajq.

Bettina Sherick is the SVP, Digital Strategic Marketing for 20th Century Fox International, where she is responsible for managing relationships with leading digital marketing and technology companies, and ensuring that digital is at the core of all marketing activity within the division. During her 12-year tenure, she has managed the launch of over 150 international digital marketing campaigns for titles such as Avatar, all films in the Ice Age franchise, and The Simpsons Movie, the latter of which won the Webby Award and People’s Voice Webby Award in the movie and film category. She was named an Internationalist of the Year by the Internationalist Magazine in 2010, and was the recipient of the 2011 iMedia Visionary Entertainment Marketer Award. She’s the proud mother of a digitally savvy nine-year-old, who keeps her on her toes.

Stefan Terry helps organizations and brands to define and present themselves. After studying music at King’s College London, he moved into advertising, starting as a planner at Saatchi & Saatchi. In 2003 he co-founded branding agency Heavenly, where he worked with the BBC, the Royal Society, the British Library, the Wellcome Trust an BSkyB, and internationally with NBC Universal and Star India. He’s now getting ready to launch a new branding agency with a mission to help clients succeed by harnessing the energy and creativity of their people. He thinks, he writes, he collaborates, and he lives just outside London with his wife, son and daughter.

Faris Yakob is a strategist, writer, public speaker, creative director and geek. Most recently he was chief innovation officer of MDC and founding partner of Spies & Assassins, the creative technology boutique. Previously, he was chief digital officer at McCann Erickson, and digital ninja at Naked Communications. He’s won and judged  numerous awards, strategic and creative, served as chairman of the content and contact and integrated juries for the Clios, and created the ‘New’ category for the London International Awards. He teaches at Miami Ad School. He was named one of the top 50 creatives in the world by the Clios, and one of 10 modern-day Mad Men by Fast Company. He writes and speaks on technology, media, brands and creativity, all over the world, and was featured in The greatest Movie Ever Sold. If you want him to write, speak, think about things or have ideas for you, you can find him online @faris and