News & Insights

Future of Brands 2024: Where Media and Creative Collided

On 17th April at County Hall, overlooking the Houses of Parliament, AdWanted hosted their Future of Brands event. The event’s tagline was ‘where media and creativity collide’ and the agenda was packed with speakers from all over the marketing and communications industry – there were representatives from brands, consultancies, media agencies, creative agencies, PR agencies, AdTech vendors and even architects. The diversity of speakers, panellists and delegates was deliberately designed to be eclectic, to encourage thinking outside-the-box and enabling a lite detachment from the day job.

MediaSense Head of Transformation, Jack Shearring, shares three key takeaways from the event.

Effectiveness is Acceptably Still a Work-in-Progress

Effectiveness is arguably the hot topic within the marketing industry at the moment, and rightly so. Proving the business value of marketing budgets is top of the agenda for most marketeers, so it was understandable that effectiveness was a common discussion topic throughout the day.

But in contrast to other industry events, where effectiveness can sometimes be pitched as ‘simple and straightforward’ if you have the right tech, there was a more pragmatic feeling in the air. Maybe it was the diverse mix of people in attendance that softened the narrative. Or maybe it was the fact that the big tech players weren’t there pitching effectiveness solutions. Whatever the reason, most people seemed to be relaxed about effectiveness being very important but also unsolved. One panellist quoted “We’re all heading to the right place, we just don’t how to get there yet – and that’s ok”.

Peter Grant from Boots gave an honest summary of Boots’ media effectiveness work, explaining how they have created a jigsaw of measurement methodologies and platform solutions. This evolving measurement mosaic is helping Boots craft an effectiveness narrative back to the business like an ongoing story, rather than gambling on one solution to give them a definitive ending. Expect to see more approaches like this over the course of this year.

Media and Creative are United by Effectiveness

The event keynote featured David Abraham, founder of British creative company Wonderhood Studios, a true creative who has produced award-winning work all over the world. Even he dedicated a big portion of his time to effectiveness. He urged creatives to take the CFO seriously if they want to “get the creative stuff signed off”. Creatives need to speak to the boardroom, not just their agencies. It’s common to hear media people giving the ‘speaking the language of the CFO’ narrative, but it was refreshing to hear it from someone running a successful creative company.

Abraham’s creative effectiveness advice exemplified the creative convergence on effectiveness happening elsewhere in the industry, such as WARC and System 1 successfully exploring links between creative quality and ROI. It feels like effectiveness is the leveller that the marketing industry needs, a cause that both media and creative can potentially solve together.

Introducing the Role of ‘ Bossy Comms’

The most interesting insights of the day occurred on a panel aptly titled ‘where media and creative collide’. The two brand representatives, Olya Dyachuk from Heineken and Sebastien Bourne from HP, spoke openly about their strategies to align media and creative in their own organisations. They spoke about unified media and creative comms strategies, unified media and creative KPIs across campaigns, and even unified P&Ls from holding group media and creative agencies. Which all sounds fantastic. But… the question posed to the panel was “who’s going to make it all happen?”.

This is where the concept of a ‘bossy comms strategist’ was introduced. Brands are complex and have lots of intricacy, so they need someone to bring these unifying elements together. But this someone needs to be impartial, not with a foot in either the media or creative camp, and they need to be bossy! They need to tell people “that’s a great idea, but it doesn’t align to our objectives so not right now”. They need to speak the media and creative lingo, while also being able to translate it to the language of the CFO. We need to keep media and creative doing what they’re doing, excelling in their own remits and not making them compromise. To do that we need a mediator. It’s a big job, but uniting media and creative was always going to be.

The Future of Brands was a valuable use of a day and had genuinely interesting content. It was about ‘practicals’, real-world anecdotes and information that you could take away and use tomorrow. The unified challenge of media budgets and creative budgets proving their effectiveness is something that the entire marketing industry can get behind. As MediaSense’s Dan Brown said at the start of the year, 2024 is the year for effectiveness. Everyone at this event would appear to agree.

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