My Recap of a Recap (this time CaT)

I’m getting at this a bit late, especially in Internet time, but I came across an article recapping an Innovation conference (called “Creativity and Technology“) from a couple weeks ago. As the name suggests, this is a conference that combines creative thinking with emerging technology (brought to us by Ad Age). It is very much for an agency audience, featuring some of the biggest names in the agency world. These guys are on the front lines of pushing the boundaries, enough so that they are creating new boundaries themselves.

This particular article was a recap on the topic of “Breaking Down Barriers Between Fields,” and I found even the brief recap fascinating.  I love hearing different perspectives from (smart) people.  The reporter broke it down with 5 takeaways that I’ll mirror here and give my own thoughts, as these are things I think about every day, for good or bad.

1. Don’t separate “Interactive” – This is not an easy thing to do, particularly as agencies try to expand their competencies and do more and more.  I like what Ivan Askwith, director of strategy, at Big Spaceship said here – “Our focus should not be on emerging tech, but emerging cultural practices.”  From an agency perspective, it’s not about what new technologies look like and how we can use them.  It’s about how we integrate the right talent in the right way into the organization so we can tell the story across the right platform (or “screen” in my world, “field” in this article).  The possibilities of the type of work agencies and brands can produce shouldn’t drive the ship.  The possibilities of people, fueled by the right environment, given the right tools, should always drive the work.  These are aspects that result in a particular culture.  Again, not easy to do, but the agencies who abide by this and learn how to do it first and practice it will be one step ahead.  This is the look – a mandatory – for the “new” agency.

2. Consider platform storytelling – This is the one that I wish I had more information on.  What was reported here and the actual “takeaway” topic don’t quite match up to me.  The quote here, from Patrick Gardner, CEO of Perfect Fools – “Create frameworks so people can create their own stories and pipe that back to the brand.”  True, but to me, this is only part of the story of “storytelling.”  #1 brands have to understand that their “story” is no longer only narrated by them (to Mr. Gardner’s point).  But #2, their story is no longer narrated for a particular medium (I call them “screens,” these guys call them “platforms.”)  We operate in a world that is connected and almost platform agnostic.  From an agency and brand’s perspective, understanding how the story continues across “platforms” is the first step in a new way of communicating.  Executing that story in the right way, given many authors and many platforms, is the golden ticket.  No one wants to leave part of the story on the table.

3. Partner with tech companies, not just media companies – as technology advances, so do the skills required.  We sell our thinking, but we don’t want anyone else to execute it, so we must be executioners, too.  A “new” agency has the capabilities, either in-house, in-network, or through strategic partnerships to do it all, even technical execution.

4. Game mechanics is the new marketing – My takeaway quote here is from Kevin Slavin, co-founder of social TV platform Starling and entertainment marketing firm Area/Code – “Game mechanics motivate consumer behavior.”  I see the point here, and it’s interesting, and I do believe that that there is truth to this, but only for a small cross-section of consumers.  Gaming is a hot trend right now – FourSquare and MyTown and even Kinect – but I think, today, this is more aspirational.  Gaming, especially advances like the aforementioned, doesn’t pass my mom test and while she is increasingly falling out of “target markets,” I still think it’s an aspect to think about – interacting in different ways.  I like interacting with brands, even incorporating a different type of interaction through my every day life through gaming, but I don’t believe everyone’s there yet.

5. It’s hard to laugh alone – I think the point here is that human instinct is to be connected to others.  Technology, particularly social technology like Facebook and Twitter, enables us to connect in ways like never before.  True.

This is one of the conferences I identified at the beginning of the year to go to and, of course, due to other commitments, missed it.  There should be another one coming up in November, this time in London that I’ll pencil in as soon as the dates are announced.  Anyone out there attend this past one in New York?  Or either of the previous two?  If so, I’d love to hear some of your takeaways.

Thanks, everyone, for reading!

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