The Marketing Society Singapore's annual “Changemakers” conference, headlined by adm Group and supported by Amazon Web Services, was the first major event that I had joined, as a relatively new member. So, not only was I excited to step out of the workday (albeit at the time, only a few weeks into my new role at LinkedIn) for some inspiration, but as a regular event-goer, I was keen to see how The Marketing Society “does” conferences.
The Singapore event was just one stop in a global series of Changemakers conferences run by TMS this year around the world. But, other than sharing a name, a theme (2023 was “Illuminate”), and some admirably consistent branding, this was no “copy-and-paste” stop on a world tour.
This was an agenda fully customised and localised for a Singapore audience, with almost every single speaker and topic curated for local relevance.
Too often, we see more experts from outside of Singapore or Asia on our stages, than we do of the world-class subject matter experts who live and work here. Whereas, without once sacrificing on speaker quality or insights that could be globally relevant, we saw topic after topic presented and discussed by Singaporean, or Singapore-based, speakers.
For example, the fully Singaporean panel on “When Artists are Brands & Brands are Artists” led by Lynette Pang. This session brought a world-class combination of artists like tobyato & poet Madeleine Lee together with astute businesspeople Julie Yeo from UBS Bank and Gerald Ang from Warner Music. I gained new insights on how brands and artists or creators should partner, such as:
- Brands provide platforms. Artists need platforms for their work to be seen
- Don’t be afraid to let the collaboration evolve over time
- Rather than issue a too-tight brief, marketers should lean on their creative collaborators and maybe end up solving even bigger problems.
Which brings me to a second differentiator. If you too, were new to The Marketing Society, you may have looked at the list of topics on the agenda and thought “But where are the marketing topics?” Where were the topics on measurement… integrated marketing…AI?
I think that this is also The Marketing Society’s clever distinction, perhaps based on the insight that all of us as marketers get enough of these topics in our day-to-day. Shouldn’t we have one day where we can look past the BAU and instead gain a broader, possibly more fruitful perspective? And as an attendee at the event, I realised that these topics were in fact infused throughout:
- Gibran Baydoun, Aun Koh & Gita de Beer’s session, ostensibly on new dining and cultural trends in Singapore, was actually an insightful study in developing ideas that resonate with Gen Z/Gen Alpha;
- The entertaining fireside chat between Willem-Christiaan van den Wijngaart and Wayne Cowden, on the brand growth of local darling, Tiger Beer, was a masterclass in measurement & trend-led innovation;
- Welby Altidor’s call to “Creative Courage” that drew on his experience creating large-scale immersive experiences, gave us an opportunity to reflect on whether we are truly putting our audiences at the heart of our brand experiences
- Sherilyn Shackell’s leadership lessons on inter-generational leadership were global, cross-cultural and a breath of fresh air to end the day.
I left not only ruminating on the concepts and insights I took away from the conference, but also on how all of us could follow TMS’ example by taking some of that deep curation and localisation into our own marketing and customer engagement. Perhaps, doing our own part in bringing the best of APAC to the world.
Illuminating, definitely. Change-making, indeed.
Catherine Flynn is a The Marketing Society Singapore member and Director, Agency Development & Marketer Education, LinkedIn
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