O&M South Africa launches Customer Innovation Lab

Visitors encouraged to explore emerging technologies at the new Ogilvy Lab in Cape Town

Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) South Africa has recently unveiled its Customer Innovation Lab; the first of its kind in Africa and a visionary space where emerging technologies are tested and new experiences are co-created directly with clients’ customers.

“The Lab is a space where emerging technologies and customer insights intersect, and its purpose is two-fold, says Ben Evans, Managing Director of the Digital Portfolio at O&M.  “To inspire creative use of technology and to design truly effective experiences.

“To enable technology to be used creatively, we must inspire through interaction – encouraging exploration and play.  It’s only through interaction that we can unlock the creative potential of technology for our clients and their customers. The Lab allows us to ‘play’, and this playful exploration and experimentation provides the perfect climate for genuine innovation.

“Secondly, to design a truly effective experience we must ensure that real customers actively participate in its design.  They must co-author the experience for it to be truly relevant.

“It’s here where we can help our teams and clients actively explore the ‘art of the impossible’ through real-world interaction.”

The Lab, which is currently located at the Gloo Digital Design offices in Waterkant, Cape Town, will move to the O&M Cape Town offices in Woodstock later in the year, along with the rest of the Gloo team as the final step of the Gloo and OgilvyOne merger which will create Gloo@Ogilvy Cape Town.

Upon entering the Customer Innovation Lab, you are confronted with six ‘stations’; Exploration Station, Electronics Station, Incubation Station, Virtual Reality Station, Touch & Gesture Station, and the User Experience Station. Each is focussed on a unique part of the invention process, from inspiration through to end-product testing, allowing for extensive research and development.

“So while you may be fascinated by the conductive paint that effectively turns real pieces of fruit into a musical keyboard at the Exploration Station – or blown away at the Touch & Gesture station where you explode up a can on a screen using only your brain waves – the Lab is far more than just a fun but gimmicky demonstration area.

“We’ve already used the lab to develop several virtual reality projects.  For example, Barloworld Power – the leading distributers of CAT diesel generators, approached us with a problem: how could they bring their machines to prospective clients in a cost-effective way? Using drones, we shot the machines doing what they do best, and packaged the footage in a virtual reality experience.

“It is a real working space where every member of our team is given back a portion of their time to explore new uses of technology and possible solves for clients’ real business problems.”

Evans believes that that the emergence of flexible technology has created more emphasis on branded utility and branded services, and it’s these fields that are disrupting traditional businesses and marketing approaches.

He feels that the Customer Innovation Lab plays a critical role in putting the customer back at the heart of the equation for marketers. “We need to search for new ways to involve the customer the whole way through.  Especially when it’s an idea that transcends a pure communications solution.”

An eternal pragmatist, Evans realises that the Lab may not be the only answer, nor have all the answers. “But I am confident that it will lead us to develop work that innovates, pushing well beyond the boundaries of traditional communications.

“…And just maybe, it will produce work that’s relevant, useful and exciting to interact with – putting the customer firmly back where they belong – at the heart of the experience.”

To view case studies on how the Customer Innovation Lab can help your business, visit the video links below to see recent campaigns with Gloo@Ogilvy clients Barloworld & Puma:

Barloworld Equipment


For more information about the Lab, and to download the press pack, visit this link.

Press Contacts
Roxanne Leibrandt
Ogilvy Public Relations, Cape Town
+27 21 467 1133
+27 76 826 8333

Mark Zeller
Ogilvy & Mather South Africa