News & Views

Advertising Week / Europe

by Contagious Team

Highlights from the event in London

Wired Global Conversation

John Hegarty
, founder of BBH, Bob Greenberg, founder of R/GA, John Kamen, chairman and CEO of, Simon Rees, CEO at DCM and Zentith Optimedia's Worldwide CEO Steve King took part in a wide-ranging panel on Tuesday morning, chaired by Rupert Turnbull, publisher at Wired. 

Education / Hegarty used the panel to highlight a fundamental problem with the UK's advertising industry: 'Our audience think that what we produce isn't as good as it used to be.' He criticised the apparent solution: 'we interrupt them more, but surely the solution is to engage in entertainment. I don't give a fuck about platforms - I want to occupy the space between somebody's ears.'

He criticised a 'disfunctional government' and bemoaned the apparent disconnect between the UK's creative education and the importance of creativity to the economy: 'A creative education is so important. The purpose is to make you think outside the box and give you the ability to invent, so you can face the future without knowing the facts.'

Mobile / While mobile advertising emerged from the discussion as one of the most exciting ways of gaining traction with people, Hegarty warned that there is a 'creative deficit' with new technologies. He shared 'we become obsessed with technology, not what we can do with it'. Kamen concurred: 'We are really at a point of disruption that will change our business forever.' 

Bob Greenberg advised: 'you can't separate mobile from social media. What works in mobile are things that are useful.'

Steve King articulated the point that such a personal medium lacks the creative and thoughtful work it deserves: 'We have not yet worked out how to make engaging advertising for mobile and progress is slow.'

Data / The proliferation and potential of data was widely acknowledged by the panel, however John Hegarty slickly articulated the negative side to developing such a close and personal understanding of a consumer: 'For all those brands that say "we understand you". Fuck off. I don't want to be understood by you. I don't understand myself sometimes.' He added: 'It seems remarkable that supermarkets have an incredible amout of data, but were selling horsemeat to people.' Simon Rees also tempered: 'Creative risk is as important as purely data-led creative solutions.' 

Bob Greenberg looked to the creative potential of data in terms of visualisations to aid understanding, however John Hegarty warned of the potential that data has to be restrictive: 'I'm trying to look forwads, not backwards, and create the new thing, not replicate past success. Data is interesting if people respond to it, but that was then. What's happening tomorrow, that's what drives me.'

How to Reach Today's Modern Mum

Rachel Swift, head of marketing, Fashion & Beauty, at UK department store chain John Lewis, shared the retailer's attitude towards content marketing at a panel on How to Reach Today's Modern Mum.

Swift said: 'Social is about creating conversations and making people feel more connected. It is more about solidifying the brand and how people feel about it rather than converting [traffic] into sales.' 

She talked about the 'omnichannel customer journey' and emphasised that the role for trusted brands was about 'helping people to navigate their way through information. 'John Lewis helps to demystify the process. Twenty per cent of our online sales are now collected through local branches of Waitrose (the supermarket chain owned by John Lewis). It's about offering a choice to people at whatever point they might need to purchase.' 

She added: 'The majority of our 625,000 Facebook fans are women who have a huge appetite for information about products, so some of our most visited content is 'how to' guides and Q+As with our buyers.' 

CEO Connectors 

Wired's CEO Connectors panel saw leading figures from advertising, media and brands discuss what keeps them awake at night. Kate Robertson, UK group chairman, Havas Worldwide, explained that one of the industry's biggest challenges was to attract the right talent: 'We need to employ innately curious people, whose interests go further than our industry,' she said. In addition, she passionately argued that 'businesses must be used as a force for good.'
The state of social media was another aspect covered by the panel. Paul Lavoie, chairman and co-founder of TAXI, mentioned that more meaningful conversations need to be initiated by brands, but in the right context. 'I don't want to have a conversation with a detergent... it's pretty pathetic when you ask people to like you.' 

Doing Good, Makes for Good Advertising. Discuss!

The Bauer Media Group held a panel session to debate the merits of cause related marketing. The European publishers have collaborated with O2 to launch GoThinkBig, a project committed to creating 30,000 work place experiences for young people in the UK over the next three years. GoThinkBig's MD, Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, and Bill Eyres, European head of sustainability at O2 participated in the debate. They were joined by social marketing including Belinda Parmar, CEO of LadyGeek and Rachel Forde, MD of P&G United UK at Starcom Mediavest Group. 

The panel agreed that that social marketing should be at the heart of agency business. Bill Eyres felt that 'Cause-related marketing' was outdated and the term should be changed to Movement Marketing. If you commit to a project in this area, you are creating a movement of change. In the current economic climate of government cutbacks, businesses need to play a stronger role in tackling key issues such as the environment, unemployment and social care.
Derren Lawford, head of content at youth engagement agency Livity UK stressed the importance of placing social innovation at the heart of business. 

Keeping Up with the Consumer

In his Keeping Up with the Consumer presentation, Den Cobley MD UK & Ireland of Google warned of the dangers for brands if they failed to embrace mobile marketing.

62% of the UK population now own a smartphone. They look at their handsets at least 150 times day and when they are shopping 45% of them research brands on their phones with 30% of these shoppers going on to make purchases. Businesses are not keeping up with their audience. 43% of the top 100 UK brands do not have mobile optimised websites. In recent research Deloitte found that companies focussed on digital innovation are 26% more profitable than those that are left behind.