News & Views

Event Debrief / Contagious Live April 2018

by Contagious Team

All the highlights and case studies discussed at our sold-out London event

Over 160 guests came to the IAB in Covent Garden on 19 April, to hear about the work Contagious has been championing from around the world in the last month.

This was the first in a new series of events that Contagious will be hosting in London throughout 2018. The next event will be held on 17 May.

Opening keynote

Contagious editorial director Alex Jenkins opened the evening by posing that digital is not a source of creativity and advertisers are yet to truly harness it. Jenkins believes we have the opportunity to re-assess our use of technology, customer-centricity, creative capability and ambition.

Using examples of companies advertising on Facebook and Instagram, he argued that where brands once had the opportunity to be creative, these social platforms have new limitations and are no longer suited for creativity. Jenkins quoted Matt Klinman, writer at Funny or Die, who – after the new Facebook algorithms rolled out – said, 'Mark Zuckerberg just walked into Funny or Die and laid off all my friends.'

Jenkins then discussed what he believed to be the most creative campaign of all time. But it didn’t belong to a brand, it was a computer virus created 15 years ago. Stuxnet is a digital worm that targets industrial control systems and once managed to find its way into the Iranian nuclear facility through a worker’s USB stick. It created a mass operation of cyber disruption. Michael V. Hayden, former CIA director, said, 'This is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyberattack was used to effect physical destruction. Somebody crossed the Rubicon.'

Jenkins concluded by showing what brands can learn from this incredibly creative and ambitious project – one that had clear objectives, took a long-term view, was strategically impressive and also highly effective.

Insight & Strategy / Absolut, The Vodka With Nothing To Hide

Contagious acting editor Patrick Jeffrey followed with a live Insight & Strategy interview between Tobias Hökeberg, global lead senior marketing manager for Absolut, and Mel Arrow, strategy director at BBH London. The I&S covered Absolut's latest campaign, The Vodka With Nothing To Hide, which featured 28 of Absolut's staff butt naked, garnering 7.75 million online views.

Since the brand started working with BBH in 2016, it has faced the challenge of marketing a premium vodka to a new generation of young people, while introducing the brand in a fun and modern way.

According to Arrow, they realised through social listening that no one was discussing the quality of vodka, and few people were interested in the process of how it was made. Hökeberg said, 'Vodka as a category is colourless and odourless, how do you put quality into that?' The company knew they wanted to start a conversation about honest vodka, although in a way that would entertain people and make them want to contribute to the conversation. This strategy turned into a creative idea with transparency at its core – an employee induction video featuring 28 Absolut employees completely naked. 'It was not a question of what the message is, it was only a question of how do we say it,’ said Hökeberg. Arrow added, 'And if that means getting the CEO naked, get him naked.'

Creative pitches

Finally, members of the Contagious editorial team battled it out for their favourite piece of work to win campaign of the month, with four creative pitches.

First up, senior strategist Dan Southern presented Harry's, A Man Like You, a brand that is in the 'bitter battle for half the population’s face,' as he put it. The three-minute film highlighted a young boy meeting an alien, teaching the extraterrestrial how to walk, talk and act like a man.

Southern argued that the film was a leading example of a brand challenging masculine stereotypes. He quoted from Contagious's Insight & Strategy with GSD&M, creative director Nick Howard, 'It's not that the spectrum for masculinity is shifting - it's expanding.'

Following that was staff writer James Swift with Monoprix’s 06 Packs. These were empty boxes designed to look like typical packaging, although contained a blank space for customers to pass their number on to other shoppers.

Swift argued that while this may seem like a silly PR stunt, supermarkets could plausibly be considered as a place for communities, and even a place to find romance. He noted that in the age of Amazon, Monoprix had to be outlandish to stand out, and a little bit of brand love never hurt anyone.

Kristina Dimitrova, Contagious writer and researcher, presented Greatness is Rare by The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), a campaign turning viewers into broadcasters on social media through livestreaming.

Dimitrova explained how this campaign overrode the restrictions of Facebook’s algorithm change, innovatively harnessing its audience to not only watch the games but also get involved in the distribution.

Finally, director of projects Georgia Malden presented The Louvre Abu Dhabi's Highway Gallery. The outdoor campaign stretched the E11 highway, sampling the new museum to citizens of the UAE through billboards and radio jacking technology.

Malden explained how this campaign was the perfect example of the medium marrying the message in a new experience. She highlighted previous cases from Netflix to Apple, explaining how 'digital darlings' are moving towards more traditional outlets such as OOH as it is the only medium still growing.

The judges (chosen from the audience by host, head of trends Katrina Dodd, and consisting of a planner, a creative and client) chose Monoprix’s 006 as the winning pitch. They thought that the campaign was a brilliant strategy to give the supermarket a personality.

The next Contagious live Is in May, with tickets available here.