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Inspire – Lead with Conviction

Last week, March 21st, I had the pleasure of attending the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) annual conferences which took place at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel. The conference showcased industry-winning case studies, original research, and groundbreaking insights to develop and measure great creative work within the industry. Questions such as how do marketers make advertising more effective under today’s conditions where mobile advertising is at a rise, how do we improve research, and what must we do to stay innovative were some of the topics debated.


Innovate or Get Out!

Charles Buchwalter – President & CEO, Symphony Advanced Media
Jeffrey Graham – Global Director, Sales Research, Twitter; Board Member The ARF
Steven Rosenblatt – President, Foursquare; Board Member, The ARF
Kristy Vance, Ph.D. – Global Director, Media Insights, Unilever

A seminar on how to stay relevant in business when competition flies at start-up speed. These industry leaders shared how they implement a startup discipline and best practices in their companies, and the payoffs. There was emphasis on 3 areas successful startups excel at: passion, focus, and risk. The panel focused on the importance of a good company culture, and the notion of being a good listener both internally and externally. Having the mindset and the skill to be patient and listen well are two of the key abilities that give companies the best opportunities to build: successful relationships, great team performances, make customers feel valued, and attract new business. The panel highlighted that patient leadership where you learn every step of the way, involve your team, don’t keep failure to yourself, and collectively define what success looks like are all areas that are important in a start-up. Two of the key takeaways were 1) building a successful and innovative company culture is deeply rooted in the belief that employees and the company have a purpose that gets them going. 2) It is important to note that the metrics of how one defines company success are not longer only rooted in just numbers.

The notion of staying relevant was another topic that got a lot of attention from the panel. The belief was: in order to stay innovate risks are necessary. There needs to be rapid experimentation within a start-up company where you also have to fail but as early in the process as possible. Start-ups must invest in mobile and digital areas before it is too late and the company walls start crumbling. As they said so eloquently “the biggest cost is the opportunity cost, the opportunities we’re not taking and the risks we are not taking”.    

How Creativity Helped Achieve Peace

Jose Miguel Sokoloff – Global President, MullenLowe Group Creative Council, Co-Chairman & CCO, MullenLowe SSP3

A discussion on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind a propaganda campaign, based on insights and a campaign to demobilize Colombian guerillas and end Colombia’s 52-year civil war. An interesting look into what Sokoloff explains as “building the airplane as it flies” – the process of a campaign being a learning experience for everyone involved and where authenticity is the key to creating something truthful, that also resonates with the target audience. There was focus on the usage of innovative and experimental marketing for social change where you always have to adapt your campaign strategy to the persons’ needs. One of the key insights was to concentrate and put emphasis on what units us as human beings, not what divides us - leveraging human emotions is a powerful tool. 

Sokoloff explained how their first commercial for this campaign failed “it just wasn’t authentic”. The commercial showed the wrong rainforest, soldiers wearing the wrong boots, and a voice over that did not fit with the situation. However, failing fast and hard, as the panel from ‘Innovate or Get Out!’ also focused on, lead his team on the right path. They realized their mistakes of not being true and learned from it with a successful result.


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