Sometimes You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name: DGC’s Key Takeaways from Advertising Week New York 2016
The more sessions we attend at Advertising Week, the more we find it’s not just about Advertising.
The truly prescient and poignant remarks speak to changes in our society – not just how we relate to brands, but how connect to each other and the world around us. How we listen to music, get our news, find our voices and express our views. Through the right lens, Advertising Week is a crystal ball not only for the advertising industry, but for society at large.
Take for instance a talk by Danielle Lee, Global Head of Partner Solutions at Spotify entitled Man vs. Machine: Putting Humanity Back into the Marketing Mix.” She spoke eloquently about how it is no longer man vs. machine…it’s man loves machine. Machine learning – such as Discover Weekly which curates music based on consumer preferences – and it is greatly enhancing our collective lives. In fact, people are increasingly seeking content that is customized for them. In an endless and ever-growing sea of information everywhere we turn, it makes sense that people are seeking someone – or something – to help navigate it and identify the nuggets about which they care most.
That theme echoed throughout the week’s events. During a panel entitled, “Don’t Call it a Phone: Marketers’ New Mobile Perspectives “Beyond Advertising,” Jeff Rossi, Global Director of Business Marketing at Spotfy, talked about how his Spotify app figured out he was headed to New Orleans and served him up a local jazz playlist. Michael Donnelly SVP, Group Head Global Digital Mktg, Mastercard similarly talked of a particularly genius and entertaining method in which Waze – the navigator app – caught his attention. While driving in Sleepy Hollow around Halloween time, the app asked him if he’d like to change the navigator’s voice to that of Ichabod Crane. Waze quickly became both his navigator and buddy!
The trend of connection was also on stage at the Tap Conference, where Facebook’s VP of Design, Margaret Stewart spoke in a keynote entitled “The Value Exchange.” Margaret shed light on the need for companies to design not for people, but rather with people. Rather than relying on data alone, the talk showcased brands who shifted their strategy based on consumer insights and reactions to their products. One example was Playdoh, originally created to clean wallpaper, pivoted and evolved into the phenomenon we see today all over the world. Whereas the “power” was once in the hands of the brands, Margaret showed just how important the consumer is in today’s always-on, mobile world, and the impact each individual can have, if brands are humble enough to listen to them.
From programmatic platforms to ever “bigger” data, to curated playlists and navigation provided by a well-known literary character, we are all hungry for content that impacts and enriches our lives – and we need help to find it. Making your way in the world today takes more than what you’ve got. And machines are picking up where humanity has left off.
Do we look like the world that we are serving? Can we afford not to? Those are questions that are being asked at Advertising Week as it kicked off yesterday in New York.
We kicked off the day with Chris Edwards who told his courageous, and sometimes funny story during The Ultimate Rebrand: What We Can All Learn From One Transgender’s Journey. At a time when the word “Transgender” was never uttered, Chris embarked on a courageous personal journey that included 28 gender transition surgeries. Ever the consummate marketer, (Chris is a former Arnold Creative Director) brought his skills to bear to educate his colleagues on his transition making them in effect, his brand champions. Chris’ message was clear: each one of us has the power to control how others define us.
As global media agency, MEC, continues to challenge the entire industry and change the status quo, the Brave Your Bias: We All Have Unconscious Bias panel looked at the implicit bias that are held by all us. These bias, which stem from a variety of personal experiences, ultimately cloud judgment and can impact who is hired and who is not. The need to raise awareness of unconscious bias is only the start. So, what advice would they give to the advertising industry to confront unconscious bias? Develop affinity groups where white men may speak openly and honestly about their level of comfort with a woman or a person of color being placed in an authority position and working through these issues together.
In another conversation, the Advertising Week Talent Track hosted by MEC’s Chief Talent Officer, Marie Claire Barker, looked at how the next generation of marketers – in all of its forms—needs to be identified and nurtured.
Befitting Advertising Week, the session An Industry at a Crossroad: Recruiting, Retaining and Cultivating Talent naturally looked to how the next generation of marketers is rising up to take its place. Jack Meyers (Myers Media) singled out the need to keep challenging millennials with new opportunities to succeed and fail. Marc Strachan (Diageo) pointed out that while it’s important to let young talent have a voice they must be groomed so that they don’t squander these opportunities to make a name for themselves. Indeed, the expectations of millennials needs to be realistic. TJ Adeshola (Twitter) recounted the story of a friend who felt deserved of promotion with six weeks of joining his company.
The ICM led panel Talent and the Crossroads of Brands and Entertainment looked at the industries quest for talent for artistic ad creative talent. Jonathan Perelman (ICM Partners) served as moderator and was joined by Megan Cunningham (Magnet Media), Lora Schulson (72 and Sunny) Hillary Frey (Matter Studios) and Jennifer Frommer (Columbia Records) With art and creative at a premium an entire generation of DYIers – mainly Millennial -are finding that stardom is just a You Tube video away. Technology though has not fully permeated the world of film making as automation has not replaced reading. As Perelman pointed out nothing will ever replace an individual’s sense of taste and style.
All of these panels illustrate the premium placed on talent. What they also point to is the need to reach out to every segment of society to build advertising industry that represents the audience that it seeks to communicate with.
Monday kicks off another jam-packed Advertising Week here in New York and to kick start your week, we’ve pulled together a list of suggested events that we think are especially worthwhile.
One of the trends you’ll hear throughout the week is the emergence and popularity of Live Video. With video viewership on mobile devices soaring and more and more consumers watching live videos online, brands have even more exciting ways to be a part of these must-watch moments and to connect with bigger audiences. Continuing on that theme, you’ll find a lot of discussion around how to connect with consumers throughout their daily life exploring the tools now available to brands.
Another hot topic that will be widely discussed is the talent issue. As a precious resource, developing, retaining and nurturing talent will be top of mind for attendees. Leading global media agency, MEC, has signed on for the second year in a row as presenting sponsor of Advertising Week’s Talent Track. Featuring panel discussions throughout the week (kicking off 9/26), the Talent Track will spotlight influential leaders and speakers as they tackle the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry to build a robust and diverse community of future leaders. On Monday, be on the lookout for MEC’s “Brave Your Bias” challenge outside of Time Center Hall, the main hub for Advertising Week. Delegates and attendees are invited to take the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT), a proven product in investigating implicit social cognition and uncovering personal bias. Individuals will be asked to showcase their commitment by signing a pledge to explore the impact unconscious biases have on their decision making and behavior. Expert counselors skilled on inclusion will also be on-site to provide participants with tangible advice on countering bias and delivering resources to help advance the industry’s efforts.
Here are some of our other day-by-day picks for the week:
Monday, Sept. 26
Times Center Stage
Tuesday, Sept. 27
Thursday, Sept. 29
Times Center Stage
Times Center Stage
This year marked the launch of a new Entertainment event at Cannes Lions, introducing a fresh energy and obvious nod to the increasingly blurred lines surrounding branded content creation.
The musical lineup at this year’s festival alone, including artists by the likes of Usher, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, and Poo Bear, was a clear indication that brands are well on their way to becoming some of the biggest investors in music properties and talent of the future. Their presence also signified that brands are engaging with music in a more meaningful way than ever before, and truly investing in culture with a fresh perspective.
While music will undoubtedly continue to be a prominent fixture in culture, the traditional model of creation is shifting. Music lovers no longer choose to pay for albums or singles, therefore leading traditional labels and publishing companies to take less risks and in turn pave the way for brands to step in and own music from top to bottom. So, with audience attention spans continuing to wane, marketers must bring their A-game when it comes to the type of music they’re attaching to a brand, and consider artists as their own brands while doing so.
This theme rang true throughout a number of sessions this year. A fireside chat between Justin Beiber’s main musical collaborator, Poo Bear, and Jingle Punks co-founder and president, Jared Gutstadt, addressed these issues by explaining the importance of music for brand building today, as well as how essential it is to make music part of a dynamic marketing strategy right at the upfront.
The notion of music as a conduit for brand affiliation can also be seen in television and film, with a whole new revenue stream opening up to artists who get involved in producing tracks for longer-form content, supported by brands/TV shows that no longer simply front the basic sponsorship they’ve done in the past. There is more of an importance for music to win over the consumer and influence behavior and decision-making preferences than ever before, and that sentiment has echoed throughout the Entertainment track.
Amongst winners of the inaugural Lions Entertainment for Music category this year was none other than Beyoncé for her acclaimed “Formation” music video, taking home the coveted Grand Prix Lion Award. While “Formation” may not seem like your typical brand campaign, the video symbolizes a complete repositioning of the artist’s personal brand, and its impact on issues around race and the perception of women in culture. This win has set the tone with an impossibly high standard for those shortlisted within the category for years to come.
All in all, it was evident at this year’s festival that the role of music in advertising should by no means be underestimated.
Thank you creativity.
It’s the clear theme of the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival. And it’s also what you can’t help but feel when you walk inside the Palais or stroll down the Croisette.
No one deserves that thanks more than Spotify’s Daniel who personifies creativity. His passion for innovation has helped Spotify become one of the world’s largest streaming platforms and he is not stopping there.
Video and data are two of the most prominent trends at Cannes – both of which Ek was quick to point out Spotify has in abundance and will look for innovative ways to good use. Spotify’s deep insights into who is listening to what, when and where has impacted every facet of the music business. Bands like Metallica are analyzing what songs are most listened to in each city on their tour to determine what their playlist will be for that particular show.
Creativity has also found its way into the American presidential race. Creativity on the Stump, a panel that featured PR players and writers from Politico, looked at the campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In a “one-minute” news cycle, Trump’s unorthodox but authentic approach, especially on Twitter, is rewriting political campaigns. Not lost though was Sander’s more traditional TV spot “America.” Borrowing its soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel, the comparably long (.60) spot demonstrates that even in an age of social media, the power of creative television advertising is very much alive and well. That ad notwithstanding, Politico’s editor in chief, John Harris, did proclaim that Donald Trump might be a better marketer than most everyone in Cannes.
While creativity is essential to winning Lions it’s vital to attracting and winning new business. Flanking the Palais are rows of cabanas where the likes of tech startup Luma hand out cans of oxygen to passersby and host clients and prospects for meetings looking out towards the Mediterranean. Beyond the Palais are rows of yachts where agencies and their partners like SteelHouse and the Daily Mail have taken up residence for the week hosting clients. On land, SteelHouse’s CEO Mark Douglas looks to discuss how technology is making creativity more intelligent. He’ll be speaking alongside Jose Molla, Founder & co-chief creative officer at The Community and Peter Horst, Chief Marketing Officer for The Hershey Company. Global media agency, MEC has taken imaginative marketing to a whole new level with their welcoming presence at the Carlton Hotel. Throughout the week, MEC plays host to a number of sessions including Breaking the Band which looks at how MEC Wavemaker, its content specialist arm, helped uncover an aspiring new brand.
Other themes throughout the week remain centered on technology, the blurred lines between agencies and brands and the merits of the work being shown in the Palais. Cannes celebrates all the rapid fire changes in our industry, but holds paramount the one unchanging element that separates the best work from the ad clutter: creativity. That will never change.
The Ad world morphs at lightning speed. Traditional lines of branded entertainment, advertising, technology and media companies continue to blur, data scientists now sit alongside artists, data has become a crucial part of the creative process, etc. One of the only constants is The Cannes Lions Festival – the industry’s global celebration of creativity. It remains the center point of the ad world– a moment for all of us to look back and honor the best of our industry while simultaneously looking ahead and preparing for the changes yet to come. If the festival has changed at all, it’s only that it’s gotten bigger.
With this year’s event just days away, our team will be on the ground supporting clients and sharing the week’s most exciting news, bringing you insights from industry players, highlighting trends and observations and sharing live content right from the Croisette. As in years past, this year’s festival has attracted top names to the Palais including, Vannes Bayer (Saturday Night Live), Anthony Bourdain, Anderson Cooper, David Copperfield and many more.
Some of the sessions we’re excited about:
- Tuesday, June 21, 11:00AM: “How to Change The World Through Advertising”, Cindy Gallop, Lions Lounge
- Wednesday, June 22, 10:00AM: “Fireside Chat with Daniel Ek, Spotify”, Inspiration Stage
- Thursday, June 23, 3:30PM: “Is Technology Making Creative More Intelligent” Mark Douglas, SteelHouse, Jose Molla, the community
- Friday, June 24, 4PM: “Music as Marketing: Flipping the Script on Celebrity Talent” Jared Gustadt, Jingle Punks, Inspiration Stage
We expect a jam-packed week with lots of learnings, applauding the best of the best, networking with clients, prospects and friends, and, hopefully, having a moment in all the fracas to take a sip of rose and toast to everyone’s hard work.
Whether it is taking place in New York or London, Advertising Week is a chance for the industry to gather and reflect on where it’s been, where it is and where it’s going. From sessions on creativity to data, talent, ad blocking, to current events like the American presidential election and the Brexit, Advertising Europe 2016 had it all. Tech giants like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat kept the conference abuzz , while everyone from agency leaders to celebrities (and even magicians!) took the stage to address successes, challenges and innovations in the advertising world.
One of the most interesting aspects of advertising is the close alignment it has to current events and breaking news. It’s incumbent on marketers, to stay directly in tune with the thoughts that shape our ever-changing world. I thought that this year’s #AWEurope did an amazing job of integrating current events with what’s hot in the industry right now. Here are some of my favorite themes/takeaways of the week. And trust me, it was difficult to choose!
- Change is here. Embrace it.
- If there’s one thing that everyone at Advertising Week agreed with, it was that a huge change is upon our industry. The message was clear: you can either disrupt the world, or be disrupted. This goes for brands, agencies, employees as well as creative work. If you’re not five steps ahead of the curve, you’re falling behind.
- Personal growth is professional growth.
- Keeping in the theme of growth and change, Grant Tudor, Founder of Populist, made the insightful point that Personal Growth = Professional Growth. Everything is getting bigger and better. Technology is allowing people to do things that have never been done before, allowing companies large and small to grow at exponential rates, and if these companies want to succeed, they need to allow their people to do the same.
- Stay hungry, stay humble.
- This was a quote that newly crowned IBF world heavy weight champion Anthony Joshua used to close his session. As he’s risen to exponential fame, it’s a line that he’s always kept in the back of his mind, and it drives everything he does. Something for both companies and employees to keep in mind as we all go through the highs and lows of working in this industry.
- Companies with a creative culture are the ones that will thrive.
- Jim Lusty, Partner at Upping Your Elvis, a creative leadership capability company, gave an inspiring presentation hosted at MEC’s Talent Track. Taking the audience through the various levels at which our brains think and operate, he made it clear that the most difficult place to be truly creative is sitting around a boardroom table. Encouraging company leaders to fuel their employees with creative outlets and options, Jim offered an array of suggestions on how to truly make the most of your underlying creative talent.
- LISTENING is an art.
- Former hostage negotiator Richard Mullender had the entire audience on the edge of their seats when discussing the most effective ways to listen and to truly understand what someone is saying to you. It’s true that the most effective leaders are great listeners, and I think this can be applied across all levels. I’m looking forward to applying an array of new tactics to all of my meetings.
And listening to the game changers first hand was for me a large part of the excitement of being on the ground at Ad Week Europe.
That’s a wrap! Until next time, #AWEurope
Five days, hundreds of sessions, dozens of unique brand activations and a lot of delicious TexMex and BBQ – this year’s SXSWi has wrapped but we’re still reeling from all the great things we experienced on the ground in Austin.
If you weren’t on the ground (or couldn’t get to everything while you were there), here’s our rundown on the best SXSWi had to offer attendees this year.
“Most Inspiring Reason to Create and Innovate” – President Obama’s Keynote Address: “The reason I’m here is to recruit all of you,” President Obama remarked. He called on SXSW attendees to collaborate on solutions for the country’s biggest problems addressing everything from updating obsolete federal networks to the debate over security versus privacy most recently ignited by the disputes between Apple and the FBI. If you were a lucky SXSW attendee to score a ticket to his address, you probably left Austin wondering how we can move innovation forward to improve our country for the better.
“Best Brand Experience” – IBM Cognitive Experience: A mix of educational, aspirational, innovation and fun content, IBM created an engaging experience (in partnership with George P. Johnson, a Project WorldWide agency) centered around IBM’s Watson. Upon entering the space, attendees were prompted to input details about th
eir mood and taste preferences, then given a wrist band and sent on their way to experience different stations tied to IBM’s latest innovations and partnerships, including The Weather Company’s latest innovations and Under Armour’s new offering in IoT. SXSW attendees could even play ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ against an IBM robot who got smarter with every move. Or if you wanted to burn a few BBQ calories, you could try some virtual reality cycling. At the end of the experience, attendees were invited to enjoy a “cognitive drink” based on the data in your wristband. Robot bartenders are now a thing – this is the future!
“Best Place to Run into a Trekkie” – The Eyes of Robots and Murders Session: Legendary director/producer/screenwriter J.J. Abrams and his friend Andrew Jarecki, the writer/director of HBO’s “The Jinx” spoke about how technology has changed filmmaking for the better and how it has democratized the creative process. Abrams was also quick to point out that technology should be invisible so that the consumer can have an experience that’s as effortless as possible. Ending with a bit of inspiration, Abrams and Jalecki asked that attendees leverage their talents and today’s technology to create: “There’s no excuse to not tell the story we want to tell.”
“Best Off the Track Event” – Brand Innovators Austin Summit: Brand Innovators brought a great mix of speakers and content to SXSW attendees. From Mark Cuban speaking about the future of sports and sharing his candid feelings about the U.S. elections, to leading marketers from Mondelez, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Visa and much more – the venue was packed as any room in the convention center. A particular favorite panel was one featuring Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer moderating a panel with recording artist Kevin Jonas, actor Adrian Grenier, Johnson & Johnson’s Amy Pascal, and social media stars Monica Church and Shonduras. The lively discussion centered on how brands can best leverage celebrities to promote their brands on social media while still maintaining authenticity with millennials and other consumers.
“Best Place to Find a New Gig” – MEC Job Fair: Our client MEC took a new approach to attracting talent at this year’s SXSW. The media agency transported its New York office culture to the event through three virtual reality films which gave prospective talent an immersive glimpse into what it’s like to work there. Using Google Cardboard, the first film focused on the agency’s digital teams, highlighting social media operations and some creative work they’ve made. Another showed off the agency’s culture, and the third film highlighted the agency’s creative moments.
“Coolest Executive” – a tie between Soulcycle Cofounders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. Soulcycle’s cofounders just oozed cool, but they definitely had a lot to offer to SXSW attendees. With Fast Company moderating their fireside chat, they addressed the characteristics that make up their brand DNA and how they were able to innovate in the fitness space – (surprise!) it wasn’t with technology but by creating a community for their consumers. Our friends at Fast Company also interviewed Under Armour’s CEO, where he provided one of festival’s best soundbites: “Data is the new oil. The companies that do well are the companies that use math.”
“Best Celebrity Panel” – New Rules of Social Stardom Session: Kerry Washington and InStyle Magazine hosted a discussion on the ever-evolving role that social media plays in the life of celebrities. Though she’s more of a private person, Washington talked about how she interacts with social herself versus when she taps a communications team, the types of content she likes to share (mainly fashion shots and causes she’s passionate about) and the value that lies in NOT reading the comment section: “It’s a tricky balance. For the most part, I stay away from comments, but Twitter is a conversation, so I do occasionally engage…but I’ve realized that comments are not about me. When someone comments, they are revealing something about themselves.”
“Best App Launch at Southby” – Kodak Moments: To launch its new visual storytelling app, Kodak Moments, Kodak Alaris (in partnership with Junior, a Project: WorldWide agency) created an activation that immersed attendees in their own memories – practically seeing, smelling and even hearing them – in a chamber it called the “Memory Observatory.” How did it work? Upon entering the chambers, participants saw whatever memory-specific image they chose to share projected on a grand scale within the activation, and the colors, smells and sounds corresponded to the emotion in something the brand called an “experience guide.” Robbie Whiting, co-founder of Junior, spoke with Adweek about why SXSW was the best place to launch the app: “SXSW is chaotic. We wanted to create a respite from the noise, a place for meaningful moments from the process of remembering a moment to the articulation of what makes that moment special to the communal experience of all our deconstructed memories, our own Kodak Moments.”
“Best Place to Go If You’re Craving San Fran Vibes” – Mashable House: From a Pied Piper Bar (shout out to fans of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”) and fun meme-inspired temporary tattoos to mingling with CEO Pete Cashmore. Upon entering this space, you were transported to the Bay City. Mashable had several parties and events at the space as well which put a spotlight on different brands and influencers – definitely making this a go-to place during the days and nights during Southby.
“Best Party at SXSWi” – GSD&M: Touted as one of SXSW’s must-attend events each year, we were lucky enough to get an invite and so glad we did. From unique art and live music to delicious food trucks and specialty cocktails – our last night in Austin was well spent on our GSD&M client’s compound.
The DGC team has been on the ground for two full days – attending sessions, exploring all the brand activations and trying to soak up all the crazy, serendipitous moments that SXSW has to offer.
Across everything that we’ve been experiencing, it seems like there are two resounding themes to this year’s festival: Virtual Reality and puppies.
VR is here to stay, and will only get bigger and better. We sat in several sessions that touched on virtual reality in some kind of way. From how brands are currently using VR to engage consumers, to how media companies see it changing the content landscape in the next few years, it is very clear that VR is the new platform de jour.
In one session we attended, North Face shared plans to integrate VR into their retail experience and expanded on how they think VR is creating a new visual language for marketers. And we couldn’t agree more as we got to experience different ways brands are using VR as an engagement tool first-hand. From the Samsung VR pedicab rides to the McDonalds VR Lounge – it seems like someone has a VR headset on around every corner.
The other thing around every corner? Puppies!
Mophie, the California-based maker of battery-charging smartphone cases enlisted six motorcyclists to drive around downtown Austin with an unconventional side car guest, a St. Bernard. If you happen to see one of these pups cruising around, you can socialize using #MophieRescue to win a free phone case. Off duty pups are also hanging out at Mophie’s festival headquarters, the “Bad to the Bone Bar” lounge.
And if that’s not enough, at Gro’s Connected Yard exhibition on busy Rainey Street, puppies from Austin Pets Alive! were a cuddly addition to the mix of tech innovation. SXSW attendees could talk all things digital while petting and even getting the chance to adopt the cute little creatures.
Stay tuned for more #DGCsxswi…