News & Views

Seminar Report / Tooled up for the Future

by Contagious Team

This afternoon saw our very own Will Sansom, director of content and strategy on Contagious Insider, take to the Debussy stage with Ray Velez, chief technology officer at Razorfish Global, to deliver their seminar Toolkit For Transformation.

The pair powered through four big, hairy provocations about the future of the industry – interrogating both the challenges and opportunities for marketers and providing some clear, easy to apply ‘tools’ relevant to consumers, creativity and organisational change.

Will Sansom explains: Our main aim was to deliver something thoughtful and practical that left the audience feeling like they’d been part of a discussion that was necessary for the future of our industry. Being on stage in front of thousands of the industry’s brightest brains is a unique opportunity and we didn’t want to waste it on navel gazing or pointless posturing.

In addition to the Razorfish Contagious opinions, the pair also drew on the thoughts of an animated panel of industry leaders – clients, technologists and startup owners – including Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall and Joanna Boundy, head of digital and entertainment at Qantas Airways. The panel shared candid insights into why these provocations were keeping them up at night (or rather getting them out of bed in the morning) and what they thought the implications were for marketers and the wider world of brands.

‘We proved that there are some big challenges that lie ahead,’ explains Ray Velez, ‘but by thinking about them together we can actually reframe them as opportunities. Opportunities to design around people in ways that have never been possible before; opportunities to create value for whole new demographics of people, and opportunities to make technology truly ubiquitous so that it seamlessly weaves into our lives and doesn't distract us from the wider world, but actually makes our experiences of it better.’

The four provocations tackled were as follows:

The pair explored how a shift from a faith in intangible brand qualities to informed, considered purchase decisions is leading to a decline in brand loyalty. They also considered how consumers’ preoccupation with the self – but most brands’ inability to engage us as individuals – was also a major contributing factor.

Hear what our virtual panelists had to say about this provocation (all animations by Quoted Studios): 

Jonathan Mildenhall / CMO, Airbnb

Joanna Boundy / Head of Digital & Entertainment, Qantas

Mark Ingall / Managing Director Global Strategic Media, Citigroup


4.2 billion people will still remain offline by 2017 – over half the world’s population. But is connecting these people as simple as getting them smartphones or broadband? Or is there a bigger issue of understanding and literacy? What’s more, if brands are brave enough to consider designing for people that haven’t grown up with the correct mental models for the internet, could they unlock whole new internet economies that we didn’t know existed?

Here's what our panelists thought:

Hassan Baig / Founder, ClubInternet 

Janaina Borges / President & Director of Content, Contagious Brazil


‘Designing for screens may have made us lazy,’ the pair explained, but what happens when we force ourselves to take the screen out of the equation and design interfaces that are literally direct to human? How can these be more sensory, adaptive or emotive and what part could the much lauded, but – as of yet unrealised  internet of things play in this?

Back to you, panel:

Joanna Boundy / Head of Digital & Entertainment, Qantas

Preethi Mariappan / Executive Creative Director, Razorfish Germany

Perhaps the most provocative section of the seminar, the pair explored how far automation will go in the complete marketing process. If computers can pass the Turing Test and write classical music, why shouldn’t they create advertising? The pair concluded that computational thinking would undoubtedly be trusted with an increasing amount of responsibility, but this will not necessarily put us out of jobs; rather that our roles will change and we need to prepare ourselves and be willing to adapt when the time comes.

Our panel on this provocation:

Dr. David E. Martin / Founder, MCAM

Maria Mujica / LATAM Regional Marketing Director, Mondelez International

If you didn't make it to Cannes, Contagious and Razorfish's seminar is available on YouTube for just two weeks.