I’m sitting here in the “Downtown Ballroom,” 41 Broad Street, NY, NY for the futuremarketingsummit. As of fifteen minutes ago, Scott Goodson was to begin his keynote. It has yet to begin. Okay, well he’s just starting now. Technical difficulties with projectors and computers were repeatedly met with Scott’s opening line, “Welcome to the Future.”
Scott is telling us that a cultural focus on ideas is part and parcel of the new agency. “We’ve all heard about value pricing, but ad agencies are largely executioners.” Of course, he’s also using his keynote as an opportunity to show us some of the work his firm has done lately. We’re watching an ad for Heineken now. How unexpected.
He just pointed to The Department of Doing, an NZ firm that is similar to bigwidesky in many ways. They’re an idea shop that partners with agencies to develop the marketing ideas. Oh, and he just used the word, “impactful.” Ugh.
Scott’s thesis is basically this: Ideas, Value, Talent.
Now he’s talking about UGC (user-generated content for those of you lucky enough to have avoided all the marketing blogs.) His prediction is user generated products. He points to this initiative for Microsoft, which I presume his firm created. Where I might like to hear some theoretical support of his user-generated products conjecture, he is instead giving examples. He’s now pointing to CrowdSpirit.
Here’s his grand finale: Ideas will change the world. He’s pointed to Al Gore, Bono’s Red Products, and The World Council For New Thinking. It’s a very democratic utopian vision. Everyone is included. Everyone offers their ideas. He suggests this will solve many of the world’s ills; cure AIDS and cancer, end war, etc.
Session 1: Reality Check – a panel of industry peeps are about to discuss the question of integration. The program notes point out that integration is the unrealized holy grail. Alex Wipperfurth is on the panel. I’m most interested in his thoughts. He wrote Brand Hijack, one of the books we’ve added to Ex Libris.
So the upshot of that session seems to be the following:
- Integration is important
- Integration is a stupid, antiquated word
- Integration is the purview of those who aren’t good at marketing
- Integration is little more than matching luggage
- Integration will only happen when leaders in the industry step up and, well, lead
- Integration is not really happening
- Integration is easier in smaller shops
So, as you can see, there was great consensus and clarity.
Now it’s a session on “Design.” Ostensibly some interesting cats on the panel, although they haven’t said a word yet. Waiting for the long-winded moderator to finish lionizing the panel.
So it’s “design” as a proxy for the discussion of integration apparently. Although more than anything it seems to be an opportunity for the panel to show off the design work their various firms have done. I wish there was something more profound I could say about it, but it’s just a slide after slide of admittedly some beautiful design.
“I don’t think anyone cares about design. They just care about using things simply.”, “No one should know the designer’s name.”, “When the water bottle is easy to hold and use, that’s design.” Don’t know the panelist’s name. Now the panel is debating utility/usability vs. aesthetics. Finally some action!
One bloke is suggesting that he wants an iPhone even though he doesn’t even really know what the usability/utility/rational value is because the phone hasn’t even been released. He says it’s because he has an emotional connection to the brand.
Probably 20% of the males in attendance have shaved heads and/or intimidating specs.
Audience questions. They’re attacking the dude from The Apartment. He’s the guy that suggested that the peeps don’t care about design. His name is Stefan Boublil. He’s being challenged by the audience as to whether people really care about design. One person says, “My wife just texted me from Sax. She’s asking me about some nuance in the design of a pair of jeans. You telling me she doesn’t really care about the design?” His response is pretty slippery – he’s now conflating delight and utility. “If I’m delighted by the design of a product, isn’t that a utility?” Which is actually a conflation I suppose I welcome. If utility and aesthetics are conflated, maybe we can move beyond the mere dichotomous description thereof.
Some students from the VCU Adcenter are schooling the assembled ad wonks about consumer generated marketing. While they’re not saying anything that isn’t present in the marketing blogosphere, they have been taking it to the adsters. They had a quote from an Ad Age guy about how great the super bowl ads were this year followed by quotes from some of the blogs, one of which was, “If this is the pinnacle of conventional advertising, the reckoning is at hand.”
Just spoke with Alex Wipperfurth of Plan B. He’s the author of Brand Hijack that was in the Integration panel. He proved to be a very congenial gent. I told him about Ex Libris and he was very positive. He even made some suggestions about books to add. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a book on me that he hasn’t read.
Panel on “Madison & Vine,” which is the wholly unpretentious nomenclature industry peeps use to refer to the intersection of advertising and entertainment. Mike Fischer, General Manager, USA Marketing, Xbox USA, is one of the panelists. So there’s been plenty of mention of the CGC games on Xbox live and the set of Xbox games from Burger King.
They’re talking YouTube. It’s a redux of the Citizen Marketing Hater discussion on Brand Autopsy. The one where David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG, said that most of the stuff on YouTube is rubbish. That sentiment is being advanced by the panel. One panelist said, “YouTube was cool, like, last year. But now you can’t even find what you’re looking for.” Another commented that there are 40,000 pieces of content uploaded to YouTube per day and therefore no one of them is particularly relevant. The only one who spoke well of YouTube was the Xbox guy, who was alluding to Machinima and other UGC that Xboxers upload to YouTube. He said they’re trying to work the ability to make Machinima and the like into the games.
Session 4 – Luanne Calvert, Creative Director at Google, and Hashim Bajwa, Digital Planning Director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners present, “Integrating Technology and Freeing Creativity”
They’re talking about this “Why Use Gmail?” video on YouTube. Each “act” in this video is used as a video and elsewhere on the web. Given that the discussion is about “freeing creativity,” I can’t say that this piece necessarily redounds to that notion. But hey, they said it worked, so who am I to criticize.
The upshot seems to be that the depth of knowledge, tracking, metrics type stuff that the internet introduces is a powerful way to improve the quality of creative. They mentioned an online video campaign they did for Saturn. They noticed that a large number of people stopped watching the video right before it got to the actual sell. Voile! Make the video better by responding to this data.
Some VCU Adcenter students are prefacing the next panel on “Technology.” Pretty good stuff. They’re calling attention to the fact that marketers can’t seem to break themselves of the desire to insert ads into every medium they can find. Mobile phone services, to which users are attracted by merit of their speed and lack of ads are being targeted now. As these students suggest, marketers are trying to corrupt new mediums before users have a chance to appreciate their uncorrupted form.
So far, this panel seems to be about how much fear and loathing exists in the industry regarding technology.
The panel disputes the fear and loathing thing. One panelist said, “Who is afraid of their toaster?”
Well, the laptop battery died and all the power outlets were taken, so I couldn’t blog the last session. Suffice to say the last session was somewhat lackluster. Paul Woolmington of Naked said some good stuff about the changing landscapes, but I don’t remember exactly what. More tomorrow.