Blog : Branding

What can marketers learn from Microsoft canning Internet Explorer?

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HBT’s Digital Director, Luke Kelly voices his opinion in B&T about what marketers should consider in the wake of Microsoft canning Internet Explorer. View the article here.

Luke Kelly is the digital director at HBT Agency and says Microsoft’s recent announcement of the death of Internet Explorer (IE) had some developers across the globe fist pumping with gratitude; however, it doesn’t let digital practitioners off the hook.

IE pioneered developments like Ajax and JavaScript that has made the Internet what it is today. As the web evolved, IE became one of the “top browsers to download other browsers”, and unfortunately some organisations were slower than others to pick up new technology. What this resulted in is a number of clients keen to embrace digital innovations and campaigns; however on implementation, would find themselves hamstrung by an out of date browser, unable to deliver the best possible user experience.

Clients are often limited by software capabilities, due to organisational requirements or updates, and as marketers, it’s up to us to work within these restrictions to deliver a compelling, creative response.

So, what can marketers learn from Microsoft canning the software?

Educate and update

Marketing practitioners need to understand clients aren’t always interested in the finer, executional details of any given campaign. As experts, we need to educate them as to the latest developments – and in what ways these will benefit their brand or campaign.

It’s important to remind ourselves not every client is interested in the finer details; answering the ‘will this work’, ‘what message will this deliver’ and ‘will we reach our objectives’ questions is a great place to start.

Get creative with technical limitations

There’s a saying creativity thrives under limitations and I think the same is true for technical limitations. Every client is working with the best possible software they can; and it’s up to digital practitioners to deliver a result that ticks all the boxes – not just ‘this is the best we could do given the circumstances’ response.

Build customisation into your budget

The announcement that Microsoft is dropping IE will mean that developers will potentially be cutting their coding time down and clients will be saving their dollars too. Integrating functions for IE creates a massive drain on your time and your budget. Often this can mean building a whole new set of rules just for IE functionality and your client will always face an increased quote as a result.

Be upfront with your client about exactly what customising to their requirements could cost. Agencies – involve your digital / UX team in the very early discussion. This creates transparency, trust and gives your client the best possible chance of success.

Finally, before you pop open a bottle to celebrate, Microsoft is working on a new browser – codename Project Spartan, due to replace the infamous explorer. If the project name is anything to go by, let’s hope we’ll get an agile browser from Microsoft.

HBT meets B&T


B&T recently asked us to ‘give them the skinny’ on the goings-on of our new office and culture. View the article here.

The suburb of Cremorne in Victoria, Richmond’s creative neighbour, is home to many of Melbourne’s creative and digital agencies. Now HBT Agency is one of them. Michael Berry, HBT Creative Director gives us the skinny on the agency’s new home.

When we were met with the need to relocate HBT’s offices 10 months ago, we were easily lured in by the area’s creative energy.

As an agency, we believe that the environment a company operates within can greatly influence its culture and productivity.

After successfully securing an empty former textiles factory on Cremorne’s Hill Street, the big task at hand was designing our office interior from scratch. Most importantly, we wanted our new space to encourage staff to work collaboratively. We achieved this by keeping the former factory’s open-plan layout; only including walls where absolutely necessary. In the spirit of collaboration, we hired Danish inspired furniture and interiors company Pierre + Charlotte to create an over sized communal kitchen table to accommodate the entire team.

Visitors to HBT are greeted on the staircase by a painting of a young Balinese boy holding a surfboard; a beautifully appointed artwork by artist Andrew Wellman that’s reminiscent of the island’s 1970’s surf culture. Upstairs is home to HBT’s most striking piece – a full-scale mural by Lucas Grogan – now the centerpiece of our expansive space.

Our renovations took three months from conceptualisation to completion – and the results today speak for themselves. Our last residence in South Yarra, although beautiful, is lackluster in comparison.

Beyond its artistic offerings, Cremorne’s many restaurants, shops and bars offer residents, workers and visitors alike a nirvana of eating, drinking and playing. It’s a must see destination for anyone living in or coming to Melbourne.

Some of HBT’s local haunts

Food: Berties Butchers, Fonda, Richmond Oysters, Meat Mother

Play: The pool table at Great Britain Hotel

Booze: Cherry Tree, The Corner Hotel

Places to go for inspiration: Jardan, Space, Polyform

No job too small.


We guarantee you’ll spend substantially more time thinking about Major Tom’s than any other gardening business. Their name gets right in there and we appreciate their wit, and the extra effort they’ve made. We hope they do as well as they deserve to.

Source: David Bowie! via Pierce Cody

Apple’s descent into drivel

This originally appeared in the Financial Times and was reprinted in today’s Financial Review. It’s so true it’s painful. Until now, Apple was one of the few exceptions. Not any more.

Descent into drivel is a sign of Apple’s fall

By Lucy Kellaway


The ugly words suggest the group has got too big to hang on to what once made it different

Last Monday a job advertisement was posted on the Apple website. The title of the job: Thought Leader.

I’ve always wondered what thought leaders do all day. Thoughts are mysterious, unbiddable things; I have enough trouble leading my own and so cannot imagine what leading someone else’s would entail.

I studied the ad, hoping to settle the matter. It explained that the job was “to drive the conceptualisation, evaluation and execution of critical sale reporting projects on time and within business expectations”.

This offends on many counts. It breaks the rule that there should be no driving of anything without a steering wheel; the trinity of pompous nouns is energy sapping, and as for “business expectations” – what’s wrong with “budget”?

It also doesn’t answer the basic question. Reading on through the 27 further bullet points only confuses further. The successful candidate, we learn, must be able to “Identify integration points with other teams and drive high-resolution of cross-functional issues”. What is an integration point? Or a cross-functional issue? And isn’t high-resolution something to do with photographs?

It goes on to specify “experience collaborating and working directly with both business and IT resources”. Are these resources animate or inanimate, I wonder? It might be nice to know.

The reason I am making so much of this miserable piece of business gibberish is because it comes from Apple. For years I have held up Apple as a lone example of a big company that uses words beautifully. Even its legal documents used to be snappily written. My favourite was one produced four years ago that laid down conditions for what it was prepared to sell at its App Store.

“We will reject apps for any content or behaviour that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, I’ll know it when I see it. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it”, it said.

This was clear and funny – and menacing in just the right sort of way. It showed what could be done with words: if a lawyer at Apple could write about dry technical stuff in a way that made you want to read on, there was no need for anyone to use ugly, obfuscating words to describe anything, ever again.

Which is why the Thought Leader ad is so upsetting. You could say I’m making too much out of this one example. Maybe someone in HR simply had a bad day. But if you scroll through some of the other 600 positions Apple is trying to fill, you’ll find something more sinister afoot. There is a vacancy for someone to design batteries, which one might have thought was straightforward. But even this involves 22 bullet points, including “Practicing exceptional documentation skills” – which I assume means taking notes – and “contributing positively to the engineering community”, which I take it means playing nicely with others.

Everyone knows that job ads are an area that attracts the worst sort of grandiose language, especially when they have been put through a headhunter’s mangle that makes every employer “world-class”. But when the company itself can’t describe what its own people do, and can’t say anything clearly about who it wants to fill them, I fear trouble.

Apple’s hitherto nice way with words was almost certainly a part of its success. Perhaps the language helped cause the success, or perhaps the success caused the language. The company’s new, ugly words suggest it has got too big and too corporate to hang on to the things that once made it different. Apple seems to have become at least as Kafkaesque as everywhere else.

Last week in the Financial Times there was a job ad from an organisation that still does things the old way. The International Monetary Fund is looking for a deputy managing director, and to explain the role, it provided two bullet points, saying it was part management, part strategy. About the successful applicant, it said it wanted someone who had a top job in the public or financial sector – and knowing something about economics would also help.

In the wildly inflated world of most recruitment ads, the title “deputy managing director” suggests someone too junior to make tea. At Goldman Sachs there are so many managing directors it would be a squeeze getting them into four jumbo jets. By contrast, the IMF gets by with just one – Christine Lagarde – and the deputy will report to her. He or she won’t have to prove a passion for integration points on cross-functional issues – which means there is a higher chance that the right person might actually be found for the right job.


Superfoodie. It’s all good.

01_superfoodie_pack_open_hbt_agencyOur good friend, Paul Owies, has returned to the food business. He decided he wanted to make the best tasting healthy snack you can buy – no small aspiration. Having tasted quite of few of them, from the early stages of development through to the final product, we’re sure he’s succeeded. Superfoodie ticks all of the boxes. We helped Paul with naming and packaging design, and we’re looking forward to helping him to get the word out too.