October 5, 2015

An Interview with Webby Winner Poke’s Nicolas Roope

Why the Internet can't be stopped in 5-words:  Three Billion Say “No Way!”

Poke London has made an indelible mark on the digital advertising and design industry with almost 20 Webby Nominations and Wins over the last 10 years including the transformative Alexander McQueen website redesign in 2005, the infamous Orange: Balloonacy campaign in 2009, and a plethora of trendsetting redesign’s including Jamie Oliver websiteTopshop and Manchester City Football Club.

We caught up with Nicolas Roope, Co-Founder & Executive Creative Director of Poke London, founder of low energy lighting company Plumen and the European Chairman of our judging body – The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, to hear what he has to say about “swiping to reach your destiny,”  digital ecosystems, the Internet of Thongs, and of course how The Internet Can’t Be Stopped.

Tell us about your depiction of “The Internet Can’t Be Stopped”

 The image we created shows an abstraction of the smartphone “swipe” interaction that transports the user from “history” to “destiny”.  In recent times we’ve witnessed the exponential growth of the internet across the full spectrum of our lives, touching society, culture, industry and even our own physiology. And whilst the significance of these changes continues to swell, the nature of each interaction at the end of the internet’s many tentacles gets simpler and simpler, so much so that many technologies are now accessible to toddlers who haven’t yet mastered spoken word.  Tinder’s “swipe” marks an era when life changing decisions and events can be driven with the nonchalant flick of the thumb, an incredible and extreme consequence of our insatiable appetite for convenience and ease, combined with our lust for higher and higher volumes of richer and richer experiences. Thus “Swipe to Reach Your Destiny, The internet Can’t Be Stopped.”

What’s the best thing to happen to the Internet in the past 20 years?

Smartphones. They forced the world to curate, become selective and a lot more thoughtful about what to offer up to users. The vast real-estate of desktop screens led to overwhelming amounts of content and loose and lazy definitions of intent, projected through poorly shaped vehicles. The scale and significance of smartphone adoption and use has sharpened our concepts, strategies, structures and designs. And the sheer scale is finally waking up the majority of the world who have until now been snoozing through this revolution. Thank-you smartphone!

Poke's Webby-Winning Work

Jamie Oliver Website - 2005 Webby Winner

Jamie Oliver Website - 2005 Webby Winner

Bakertweet - 2010 Nominee

Bakertweet - 2010 Nominee

Orange Balloonacy - 2009 Webby Winner

Orange Balloonacy - 2009 Webby Winner

Orange - 2008 People\'s Voice Winner

Orange - 2008 People's Voice Winner

Orange - 2009 Nominee

Orange - 2009 Nominee

MoMA - 2012 People\'s Voice Winner

MoMA - 2012 People's Voice Winner

What are you most excited for in the next 20 years of the Internet?

The internet of thongs.

Your team has helped shape the last 20 years of the Webbys. What are you working on now?

We’re working on “digital ecosystems.” Homepages are dead, even destination sites are being marginalised in a smartphone driven, socially oriented world.  Even search is slowing as social takes over driving recommendation and seducing attention. Turns out the inherent, complex algorithms of friendships and communities still surpass their computational counterparts! Therefore if businesses and brands want to be a part of people’s lives and better-still culture, then they need to approach the web from a new angle. Story led. If you want to be part of the fabric of conversations, you need to be a lot more interesting and resonant and you need a much more potent story to tell and to share and you need to drop your guard and join in, all the stuff The Cluetrain Manifesto taught us 15 years ago, but much, much more so. That’s what we’re helping our clients with these days, sharpening their story and then helping shape the way this is structured into their presence and disseminated it across every trunk, branch, twig and vein that is their (digital) ecosystem. “Aligning interests” across systems to make them really sing.

Skyped your mom last night.”
— Poke | Skype's 5-Word Speech (2011)

Poke at The Webbys





How is Poke using technology to connect consumers to clients at the moment?

Technology is so pervasive and complex these days that there are a plethora of tactics, architectures and techniques for defining and managing the relationships between enterprises and consumers. Combine this with the huge significance that technology holds in the prospects of businesses and it becomes clear that the meatiest, most meaningful problems to solve are actually philosophical, existential issues. Technology connects everyone to everyone else and increasing this whole community to everyTHING else. It’s a huge opportunity for everyone, but forces the question for every brand and institution: “what are we here for?” Finding an answer to that question is the most potent and invigorating moment in the journey, not the choice of technology platform or the decision to shift Q3 budgets into “native advertising”. Poke helps shape responses to these really big questions, because we also have our feet on the ground. We know that to move mountains, sometimes all you have to do is “swipe”.


Tell Us in 5-Words why the Internet can’t be stopped.

Three Billion Say “No Way!”


Don’t forget you can watch all the highlights from the 20th Annual Webby Awards now!

Up, up and away! Yay!”
— Poke's 5-Word Speech (2009)