“A good book is hard to beat,” Jeremy Wilson wrote in the email I received when I subscribed to his digital novel entitled “New Rules.” Wilson, director of creative strategy at Ogilvy NYC, revels in the awkward and unknown. As a NYC transplant by way of New Zealand, he is working not only to navigate the city that never sleeps, but also to appeal to a generation inundated by technology and media consumed “in small chunks.”
“New Rules” came to life in December 2014. A chapter is published every two days on the project’s website and followers are updated via Twitter and Facebook. This inventive form of storytelling follows the intertwining narratives of two NYC millennials—Emma and Mason. Mason is a music producer, DJ and content creator. Emma is an Ivy League grad whose desire to work in the music industry led to “a long unpaid history at one of New York’s fastest growing record labels until they gave her a job.” Both Emma and Mason are struggling to make ends meets and make sense of their chaotic lives in order to conceive a sense of purpose. “New Rules” hinges on the millennial “four corners” of work, dating, fashion and music.
Wilson has sprung for innovative partnerships to bolster these four topics and the multimedia content of his digital, evolving novel. He just released his first track for “New Rules,” a music collaboration entitled “Maex & Ryder” on Soundcloud. These types of partnerships are meant to expand the multimedia, storytelling narrative Wilson has coined.
Wilson recently took the time to explain to The Elektric how the gears turn in his creative mind…
THE ELEKTRIC: I am first interested in how you ended up in NYC from New Zealand. Was it for work? Time for a change? Adventure?
JEREMY WILSON: Four years ago I was in New York for the first time. I had just finished work on a big ad campaign in Australia (the Coca-Cola one with names on bottles) and was taking a break to explore.
I met this really cool girl who suggested I take a few meetings while I was here. I hadn’t really considered moving over before, it always seemed so hard for New Zealanders, the Visa options are fairly limited.
Anyway, she was a really well connected headhunter and after a chat she had set up a bunch of meetings with some really interesting people. It was the middle of the holidays and only a few days out from Christmas and with no notice she managed to get them scheduled. A couple of months later I came over for Coachella and started straight after with Ogilvy.
TE: In your bio, you reference your interest in “the awkward energy that lies in something unusual or unspoken.” Is this in regards to your own experiences navigating New York as first a newcomer and as a millennial? How did the “unusual or unspoken” spark New Rules?
JW: I love watching someone when they are exposed to a new idea or situation for the first time, how they respond, how their body shifts and the little expressions that sneak across the face. It’s this awkward energy that I love and always try to seek out. It’s the times you feel embarrassed or get the slight churn in your stomach. That’s all good stuff to hunt out.
New Rules was sparked by my interest in new storytelling formats. I looked at how everyone was consuming content and the importance of real-time in driving the relevance of social media. I wanted to experiment with a fiction project that leveraged real events and real trends that were relevant when published.
TE: Do you do all the writing? I am curious if you are writing Emma’s portion, is it difficult to write from a female perspective?
JW: Part of the reason the story is written from a girl and guys perspective is that I’ve always been intrigued with how we see situations differently. I write from both sides, and Emma’s chapters are challenging, but it’s not like I’m the first person to try to put myself in the head of the opposite sex. Many of her chapters I bounce of a few people to pressure test. It’s a fun process.
TE: What kind of collaborations have you embarked on with this project (i.e. writing, media etc.) What kind of collaborations are you interested in for the future?
JW: There are a bunch of photographers that are featured in New Rules, Daniel Batten, Rebecca Smeyne are some to checkout. I’ve been working on a music collaboration recently, tracks are coming out in the next few weeks. It’s called Maex & Ryder, Maex pulls out all these tasty funk and soul samples while I do the vocals. We have a bunch of great Brooklyn musicians on there as well.
TE: Last but not least, how has technology allowed you to get New Rules out there and gain traction? Has one medium (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) been more successful than others in helping spread the word?
JW: The fact that New Rules covers events and trends in culture makes it easier to connect with audiences via social. I’ve found Twitter and Instagram to be the strongest channels, but driving email subscriptions is still key. I have played with some interesting retargeting on Facebook, making sure those that have been reading see the latest chapter updates.
You can check out Jeremy Wilson’s digital novel at http://www.newrules.nyc/