Digital Art Direction. Digital Strategy. Emerging Technology Prototyping.
Let's face it. Advertising is changing and it's getting harder and harder for agencies to keep up. The pace in which consumers embrace a technology as their primary media channel has moved ahead of the ability of many advertisers to modify their strategies to match. Emerging technology and R&D are now the front lines of the frenzied race between consumer, advertiser, and regulator. The digital world has now vastly outpaced many digital departments allowing for opportunities to be lost.
My name is Josh Thomas and I am an internationally experienced digital advertising nerd who is currently working as Senior Digital Art Director at Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong as one of the founding members and senior/lead creative for the Ogilvy R&D group, known as the Digital Solutions Team.
I am an advocate for creating and supporting flexible, highly independant "shock" teams in advertising. These are compromised of digital designers, developers, and engineers that respond to a market that is digitally evolving faster than the big agencies can change themselves.
In this role, I have been a founding member of R&D/emerging technology/agile build departments at both Isobar and Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong. My mandate is to educate the general creative department in new media/emerging technology, work with and create partnerships with research institutions, and above all else, create rapid prototypes of new technologies as proofs of digital strategy to overcome modern communication challenges.
Recently I have been focusing on a number of areas including IPTV/Second Screen Technology, PrimeSense gestural based marketing opportunities, arduino-based smart ads, resolving localized design challenges for overseas markets, as well as taking responsive design to its logical conclusion.
I am a graduate of Boston University's College of Communication with a Bachelor of Science and major in Advertising.
Senior Digital Art Director
Running creative development for Ogilvy & Mather Asia/Pacific's Digital Solution team. Currently managing creative development of everything from Facebook brand pages to smartphone applications to Kinect-based gestural smart ads.
Art Director for Isobar North America's R&D department, known as the NowLab. Focus on emerging technology and rapid prototyping of R&D ideas.
A founding member of the Isobar NowLab, a department focused on emerging technology and its application within advertising. Prototype advertising for a new generation of digital creatives. Playing with what hasn't been done yet using smart phones, web apps, motion tracking, projections, and general cool tech. Working to create the wow factor in digital campaigns. Making people remark that "they didn't know you could do that".
Associate Art Director
Associate Digital Art Director for Procter and Gamble, particularly Tide and Crest/Oral-B.
Founder & Lead Designer
A company that built a smartphone application and website that uses MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) GPS tracking data to locate public transportation in real-time. We are a development company for the average commuter.
"Josh thrives in the unknown where there is no best practice. Can self-teach and self-help to move innovative projects forward. Great at finding never before seen solutions to never before seen challenges." Michael Nicholas, Chief Strategy Officer, Isobar North America
Chengdu Panda Reserve
When the Chengdu Panda Reserve approached Ogilvy they needed a modern interpretation of the PSA using the entire social toolbox. This microsite and facebook application connected concerned netizens directly with the panda reserve, allowing them to use their social network to convert their friends to the cause. It was so successful, we managed to convert Mark Zuckerberg himself to the cause. Winner of Gold at the 2012 Mob-Ex awards for Viral Advertising and Silver for Best Mobile Site. For more information about the Mob-Ex Awards, click
IKEA Better By You
Ikea never really knew how to have a social presence. Their entire brand revolved around a physical engagement with the furniture in-store. Their previous attempts at social engagement simply revolved around asking customers to talk about the furniture they wanted to buy with their friends. Few were surprised when engagement was minimal. To remedy this, Ogilvy's Digital Solutions Team joined up with Ogilvy Social to make a tool as practical as it is social, total virtual customization of Ikea furniture items. The more you customize, the more you win.
The Ogilvy Holo-Wall emerged as an R&D concept focusing on two of the most promising areas of technology for 2013: gesture interaction with a NUI application and holographic projections. It began, as many R&D projects do with a "wouldn't it be cool if" and ended with "we had the same glass holographic screens found in sci-fi movies such as Minority Report or Avatar?" Little did our clients know that it is possible, with today's technology, to create holographic visuals on glass (such as their store-front windows) that can be interacted with using nothing more than body gestures. For this project we used Luminvision holographic foil and an Asus 3D gesture camera.
Advertising today is much less about forcing a captive audience to listen to your sales pitch and much more about creating a useful platform for communication with the consumer as your partner. With this in mind, TaxiNow is a smartphone solution to save that which is most valuable for high net-worth consumers: time. The ability to hail city cabs by a simple press of a button, coupled with an advertising platform pushing location, time, and weather specific messages relating to both the pickup and dropoff locations gives this platform the strength and flexibility to put advertisements in a place a consumer would want to engage with them. Built in collaboration with the Boston City Council, TaxiNow was designed as a direct competitor to Uber, abet using official Boston cabs.
Augmented reality has stagnated for years. What once was a promising technology is reduced to a largely cliche and tired medium. The problem lies with the technology available in our smart phones, or specifically, the lack of accurate GPS. This restricts us to either small scale glyph-based AR interactions or larger, but sloppier, six degrees of articulation interactions. But what if there was a third way? A modular AR system that would allow for multiplayer interaction within a geographic space propagated by full size objects that are totally interactive. This challenge lead the Digital Solutions Team to propose the Ogilvy DreamBox, a concept AR solution that brings dreams to life.
Excursion Boston is an award winning smartphone solution for improving civic infrastructure, promoting green living through increased use of public transportation, and an advertising platform for geo-targeted ads. In cooperation with city and state government, Excursion Boston uses the GPS data found inside Boston City buses, subway trains, and commuter rails to inform commuters where their transportation is based in real-time. Allowing riders to stay inside from the brutal Boston winters until the moment they need to leave their houses in order to catch the bus, it also directs those who are away from home but still want to hide from the cold inside a local coffee shop or cafe. Excursion offered a new opportunity for direct localized advertising inside Boston.
IRIN, which stands for Isobar Realtime Interactive Network, is an innovative platform that gives accelerometer interaction with digital advertisements. Allowing "wii-like" interaction with any computer driven OOH display, it was developed out of a discussion of what hasn't been done yet with smart phones. Finally the idea emerged that it could be possible to send the X, Y, and Z axis data from a smart phone to a server via a 3G UDP connection. Most importantly, this meant that the user did not have to connect to the system via wireless or bluetooth and that they can play simultaneously from different sides of the globe. Along with this platform, we created a series of demo games and applications from a sci-fi space fighting game to a fishing game to a slot machine and more. The platform allowed for aggregated rewards to tie multiple campaigns together under a single tiered reward system.
Isobar Touch Table
The Isobar Touch Table was created in a truly revolutionary way. Turning the normally client/agency development platform on its head, Isobar's R&D NOWlab headed to Reebok's North American HQ to talk about their marketing problems. After speaking with the CMO we realized that they had a major sales potential that was currently untapped. Our research discovered that if a customer inside a shoe store touched a shoe on the wall shelves, they were 50% more likely to try it on their foot. If they tried the shoe on, they were 50% more likely to buy it. Our goal was to increase sales by 25% by encouraging a haptic interaction between the customer and Reebok's footwear. The proposed technology to do this: interactive touch tables. However, existing touch tables such as the Microsoft Surface was not only too expensive, they were too small. Our solution? Creating bespoke FTIR touch tables out of hacked items, based on a design from the MIT Media Lab who worked as our partner on this project. The solution was infinitely expandable, a fraction of the cost of Microsoft's table, and allowed for visual detection of the Reebok shoe allowing its design to "bleed" off onto the table. Our goal accomplished, consumers flocked to pick shoes off the wall and try them out on our prototype table, interacting with the shoes in a wholly unexpected way leading Reebok to pursue a production run of Touch Tables.
I'm no photographer or illustrator. However, like many other creatives in advertising, I love taking photos and I love drawing. I'll be posting random images here from time to time just to remind myself of the dream I once had to be a Pixar animator and/or famous cinematographer and/or a Star Wars comic book artist and/or world class architect, and I believe its important to dedicate a little bit of my portfolio to these little passion projects.
I'm sometimes available for freelance work! Whatcha need?
Need a web design? A custom Facebook app? A new portfolio site that's as snazzy as mine? I've got you covered.
Always had an idea in your head for the next great iPhone or Android application? I not only design bespoke applications, but also confidentially consult on how to get your idea off the ground and into the app store.
Need someone to create that flashy video? Whether it's a corporate video or a short commercial, animated or filmed, 3D or cell drawn, I can make it happen.
Ok, so you have a brand new company and are wondering what is possible with digital marketing? As an entrepreneur I understand what it is like to work with a small marketing budget and come out ahead!