What we learnt about the future of marketing

3 minutes to read by Hannah Fraser

Earlier this month, we filled the OXO Tower with some of the brightest minds in marketing. Top agencies and creatives met brand owners and chief marketing officers for drinks, fun exhibits and awesome speakers. If you weren’t there, we are sorry, but we can at least share with you some of the big things we learned.

Marketers are divided over NFTs

Everyone’s talking about NFTs - that’s non-fungible tokens - but they are saying some very different things. Some believe NFTs are the future, others dismiss them as a ‘ponzi scheme’ and certainly there’s a lot of hype. Exactly how NFTs and marketing will play out is still up for debate. However, what is clear is that creatives need new and better ways to monetise their work and NFTs offer a route to that. We are seeing some exciting uses emerge. For instance, Gala Games is putting power into the hands of creatives, helping them to generate revenue and take ownership of their platforms. There are definitely some good people out there working with NFTs but beware the hype of snake oil sellers.

Rainbow washing is getting everyone’s backs up

We think most marketers want to make the world a better place and are very aware that there are some major issues that need to be tackled. But what’s also clear is that there are some who want to be seen to be doing the right thing, without actually doing anything about it. One of our speakers, Robert Douglas of Hatch Films, highlighted the various excuses employers make when failing to recruit diversely and why they don’t stand up to scrutiny. The message to brands is clear: you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Brands need to be agile or they will die

News cycles are revolving ever faster and smart brands are pouncing on them before they run out. When everyone’s talking about the ‘hot topic’, there’s a limited time window in which you can react. There’s no point booking a meeting room next week to discuss a plan when your rival has already hired a hot agency firing out content on social media and gaining traction and plaudits. This is a major challenge for brands. But what we are seeing is the emergence of a new breed of chief marketing officer, who combines a super smart team in-house with an external network of agencies and creatives to call upon when needs arise. This agility makes them very powerful.

Make pictures, don’t take them

Our keynote speaker was the awesome and world famous Rankin. He’s photographed everyone and everything, from rock stars to royalty to supermodels to super cars. But as Rankin pointed out, everyone is now a photographer because we all walk around every day with cameraphones, plus a whole suite of editing tools at our fingertips. He didn’t deny this was serious competition for photographers and that AI was only going to intensify that. However, a great picture isn’t just taken, it is made. Attention to detail, artistry and imagination are still all key. Wise words.

Careers are getting squiggly

Traditional career paths no longer make sense and the ‘career ladder’ is an out of date concept, said one of our speakers, Helen Tupper, CEO of Amazing If. We need to stop thinking in such a linear fashion and instead accept and embrace the idea of a ‘squiggly’ career path. Marketing teams today benefit from a wide range of ideas, experiences and skills. A person who switches into the industry shouldn’t be seen as less experienced but rather someone who has a different and therefore very valuable experience.

AI and tech can be a force for good

AI is the subject on everyone’s radar and a host of creatives are experimenting with it. Meanwhile, many are concerned about the impact of such powerful technologies. We are slightly sceptical that AI will cause an armageddon, or even simply destroy jobs. Overall, there’s a view that tech is very much what we make of it. AI and tech can be a force for good if we want it to be - the choice is up to us.

Events are back

The OXO Tower was busy from 3pm and, by 6pm, the venue was packed. As any event organiser will confess, we were worried about turnout. Would all those people working from home be bothered to make the trip into town? In fact, we had people from all across the UK and many different countries. People wanted to hang out, chat, enjoy one another’s company - IRL - and have fun. There’s no doubt about it - events are well and truly back.

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