R\GA launches prototyping studio behind Nike+ FuelBand in Singapore

The Prototype Studio, which produced the Nike+ FuelBand, is coming to SingaporeDigital agency R/GA is introducing the prototyping studio concept to Singapore that gave rise to one of the most awarded marketing innovations of recent times.

The agency, which started out as a visual effects post house in New York in the 1970s and has continually iterated its business model ever since, has launched the function that birthed the FuelBand activity tracker for Nike in 2012, which won a grand prix at Cannes. Singapore will serve as a hub for the Prototype Studio in APAC.

The idea is for R/GA to be able to build and test new ideas quickly and cheaply, for existing client projects and to pitch new business, and to try out new technologies such as virtual reality and 3D printing.

“Prototyping is about gaining a competitive advantage in a quick, cost effective way, and is central to everything we do,” Jim Moffatt, R/GA’s APAC EVP told Mumbrella this morning. 

“We work in small groups, doing fast turnaround brand hacks. We start with a problem and can have cracked it in a few days. We sell the concept in, and then go ahead and make it. We can produce in two days what would’ve usually taken a month,” he said.

R/GA has already started using the Prototype Studio for clients including Google and Astro in Asia.

The studio will be run by Jeff Donois, R/GA’s regional technology lead, Laurent Thevenet, the agency’s Singapore technical director, with support from Mark Shu, who has joined from media agency Maxus, where he was a technology producer for Metalworks, and software engineer Mithru Vigneshwara, who also joins from Metalworks.

Mark Maleh tests a sensored boxing glove developed in the Prototype Studio on Jim Moffatt

Marc Maleh tests a sensored boxing glove developed in the Prototype Studio on Jim Moffatt

Moffat was keen to make the distinction between a prototype studio and a laboratory. “We’re a studio not a lab. We actually make things. When you look behind the curtain in a lot of prototyping labs, how much stuff have they actually made?” he said.

R/GA’s Prototype Studio was used to win an assignment for telco brand O2 in the UK by being able to demonstrate to the client what an idea would actually look like on a mobile phone.

Other recent products to emerge from the studio include Fossil Q, a “wearable that’s actually wearable” for watch brand Fossil, and Holiday Dreams, a video for Samsung using an app that told a story across the brand’s whole range of devices.

Marc Maleh, R/GA Prototype Studio head, has been in Singapore with Chris Colborn, the agency’s global chief design and innovation officer, to get the studio up and running and APAC offices up to speed on how the prototyping process works, and how the resource can be shared across the network’s offices in Sydney, Shanghai and Tokyo.

The launch comes in the same week that consulting firm PwC launched a number of marketing innovation centres in China that are also geared to prototyping and testing out ideas using new technology.

Colborn noted that consultancies have traditionally been good at highlighting a problem for marketers – without delivering a solution. “It will be interesting to see how their corporate culture will extend into a creative culture to come up with workable solutions. They’ve got senior level relationships [with clients], but they will be tested when it comes to delivering a product,” he said.



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