Tuesday, April 19

AdForum Summit 2011 - Part 1;


This year's AdForum Summit took me home to London, but the first two days were full of unfamiliar images and impressions. Of course the digital London is very different to the pre-internet London I left behind, but it is breathtaking to see how far ahead of Central Europe is London in embracing and utilising those changes. Last year's Copenhagen summit was for me a story of independent agencies able to compete across Europe with the networks; London was about how digital media has overtaken analogue media and how social media in particular appeared to be an essential part of many major campaigns. A day with R/GA, and a few hours with Razorfish and Digitas helped me to overcome my scepticism about mobile marketing;  and helped me accept the idea that brands may be having conversations with us after all. However let's be clear. Czech based brands and companies have not come near to understanding how you do this effectively. I think it was Richard Madden of Digitas who explained that whereas in the past it was enough that brands just "say" something, now they have to "do" something.  Yes, they have to do things which are useful for us, in their communications with us. He put up a slide of the new Boeing 787, and claimed that he had helped to design it. Well indeed, Boeing contacted him as a customer, asked him what he'd like to see in the new plane, and took up his idea of a luggage compartment that works better. Wouldn't you feel good about that? Wouldn't you, like him, choose an airline that flies Boeings? Now consider how far Czech companies like O2, Veolia, or CSA are from having a conversation like that with you.

Several times agencies presented compelling evidence that TV advertising was becoming less and less relevant. Reluctantly I had to concede it. The figures show that time spent watching TV is declining while time spent connected on mobiles and iPads is increasing -although young people manage to do both at the same time. Perhaps the days are really over when a campaign has to start with an expensive TV spot.

Perhaps..but then on Friday morning we arrived at the offices of BBH, and my brave new world digital world took on a quite different perspective. BBH demonstrated that no craft skills have been replaced by the new digital world, nor have the really good advertising professionals been replaced by 'digital people'. The old learning and experience still underpins the successful use of the new communications channels. And the BBH visit deserves a blogpost all of its own...

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