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Advertising Week: NYC vs. London Town

This post was written by DGC’s International ACE Award winner, Senior Account Executive Megan Sweat. Recognizing her stellar work and contributions to the agency, DGC sent her to London to spend time at Advertising Week Europe and to meet with our strategic partner Eulogy!

 

Many people in the U.S. ad market are oblivious to Advertising Week in London, and vice versa. This year Advertising Week Europe ran from March 23-27, and compared to past ones in New York (which take place in the fall) the programming had a unique edge.

Many of the players were the same, including Publicis Groupe, Google and the IAB but the gorgeous historic venues such as St. James’s Church and outdoor settings (pictured below) gave Advertising Week Europe an entirely different feel from the New York edition.

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Outdoor seating outside of the ADARA Stage

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St. James’s Church in Piccadilly

Collaboration, creativity and inspiration were recurring themes throughout the week, and here are some of the highlights that stuck with us:

  • When asked to leave the audience with one “astounding nugget that would blow their minds,” Steve Hatch, Director of EMEA from Facebook replied that everything in our industry “starts and ends with people.” To be successful, we as an industry need to follow people’s trends, and the customer is truly always right, he said.
  • Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, predicted that marketing will become more and more about the “omnichannel” experience. With a few exceptions, he said this is still a complicated world to clients, and it hasn’t yet been mastered.
  • Inter-agency collaboration and how to foster it was also top of mind. One possible solution that came out of MEC UK’s session was having a shared workspace, where a client’s different agencies could meet and work together as opposed to working in silos and trying to come together at the end.

As one panelist put it, “We tell our clients they need to co-own their brand with their customers… Now, we need to co-own our ideas with others.”

A handful of other memorable declarations over heard during the week made us laugh: (Since these are not exact quotes,  I’ve removed the attribution—which didn’t include people’s titles and affiliations either)

  • “Pitches are the crack cocaine of our industry – we’re all addicted to them.”
  • “Is it better to follow your dreams and not make it, or make it and betray yourself along the way?”
  • “Stupid people think complicated is clever. If you can’t explain it to an 11-year-old, you have failed.”
  • “Be uncool. Coolness is a form of orthodoxy. Being uncool is actually a powerful creative force.”

Blurred Lines: The Fine Line between Ads and Editorial at Advertising Week Europe

As part of DGC’s annual exchange program with Eulogy! – in which one DGC’er and one Eulogite have the opportunity to work from each other’s offices for a full week – I’ve been lucky enough to not only be in London, but also attend Advertising Week Europe.

I am less than 48 hours into being in London and have already experienced a couple of sessions with the likes of News Corp and Mashable execs. Here is a brief snapshot:

The Future of News & Advertising

This unique fireside chat between Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corporation, and Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Global, brought two luminaries to the stage. They spoke to numerous pressing topics today from the future of traditional media, to who’s to blame for failing with digital advertising.

Native advertising was definitely one of the hot topics of discussion. Sorrell explained how the boundaries between the editorial and business sides are breaking down and that it’s fine as long as there is transparency along the way. In fact, both executives agreed that, in an ideal world, consumers would prefer to opt-out rather than opt-in, and people will pay for content if it is good. Thomson also admitted that quality content can be expensive, so it’s critical to identify more ways to increase the monetization of such content. He further explained that the value of content creation proves more than ever that distribution is important.
The session wrapped up with Thomson and Sorrell debating over whether numerous industries, including that of public relations and public affairs, have been creatively or destructively disrupted by digital. Only time will tell…

Fast Company Founder’s Conversation 

This much anticipated session shed a new light on the editorial direction of Mashable. The fireside chat featured Bob Safian, Editor of Fast Company, casually asking questions of Pete Cashmore, the very well-known CEO and Founder of Mashable. And once again, native advertising was a hot topic. Pete agreed that it’s a good thing as long as it’s a win-win for all involved, and that a reader’s best interest is always kept in mind.

The message Pete drove home throughout the session was Mashable’s seemingly transformed focus on its editorial content – no longer restricting its walls to social media and other such related topics. His vision is to bring forth what the world cares about across the board on various topics – even weather.

Pete called out that journalism is a part of Mashable’s DNA. It was evident that the outlet wants to shift its perception of being more like a New York Times than that of say a BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post. That said, Pete still feels strongly that Mashable will always target its core audience of early adopters as they are “likely at the cutting edge of everything – not just technology.”

Something Pete Cashmore mentioned in his session was proven true today: the proliferation of technology has changed the playing field, with anyone and everyone having the ability to be successful from anywhere – not just Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley. It’s safe to say that Advertising Week Europe will continue to grow in its presence over the coming years.

It was a whirlwind of a first day! I’m looking forward to attending additional sessions during my trip and will be back at week’s end with more key takeaways and learnings. In the meantime, follow the conversation @digennaro and check out some pics here to get a snapshot of my week in London and Advertising Week Europe.

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