What we learned at MAD//Fest 2018

Learnings from MAD//Fest 2018

Like many good ideas, MAD//Fest came to fruition in a pub. Founded by Dan Brain and Ian Houghton, MAD//Fest is a new festival, where 2000 brands, agencies, media owners, tech innovators and investors come together to fix, pitch and hack their way to the future of marketing, advertising and disruptive tech.

Partnering with the festival, we sent one of Team Marketing Society along to see what we could learn.

Here are our highlights from day one:

Huib van Bockel, founder of Tenzing left his job at Red Bull to disrupt the drinks industry by inventing a healthy energy drink made with natural ingredients. His advice was “Whatever business you’re in, you should be able to tell your product in a tweet, or how will it travel?” He ended the session on an encouraging note, “If you’re specific with what you want you will be more likely to succeed… You have to try new things, go all in and be creative. Find a category with some sleeping giants and be innovative.”

Nick Bamber, Digital Marketing Director at Missguided discussed driving performance from native advertising, using their partnership with Love Island as an example. The success behind Missguided’s campaigns this year has not just been down to the creativity, but the execution of four pillars; “the right message, the right place, the right time and the right audience.”

Kelly McConville, Head of Content & Social Media EMEA at Uber shared, “there needs to be a push in entrepreneurial culture to challenge brands to be more innovative.” Uber needed to think beyond price and kickstart their brand transformation, and their marketing was extended to social innovation and building something people want to be part of.

Penny Parnell, Leader of All Things Creative at Not on the High Street explained how brands “need to find a way to cut through the noise and create more meaningful engagements with their consumers”. She went on to say, “most ads today are personalised but not personal, they don’t make suggestions but assumptions and they don’t treat you like a human-being.” The way ads are currently going, when everyone starts personalising - it becomes anti-personalised.

Andre Rickerby, CMO, Moonpig claimed, “emotion has been separated from e-commerce, where we’re moving into a ‘need state’ over a ‘joy state’. We’re now living in an age of anxiety where technology is changing the way people are living.” Moonpig’s products are able to embody that needed emotion in the form of a card, by enabling people to connect and empower one another by being able to say what they want.

Lisa McDowell, Head of Brand Strategy and Insight at Deliveroo (the fastest growing brand two years running), taught us that “customers are always going to want things cheaper, faster and easier. You shouldn’t be afraid to disrupt your own business model to challenge competitors and remain at the top”.

Tia Castagno, Global Head of Innovation, Vizeum shared a different view that people are constantly being put into boxes, which isn’t going to benefit the workplace or personal life: “you’re either creative or practical, you’re either a deep thinker or get stuff done”. Our industry glorifies ‘like-minded’ people but if you’re trying to be creative and solve a problem surely, it’s better if you’re not ‘like-minded’?

The day finished on the author of Goodvertising, Thomas Kolster. Today everyone is searching for brand purpose but no one really knows why? “Most brands are pushing for diversity and the number of brands now talking about ocean plastics, makes you question how sincere is it?” How many products and brands really live up to their proposed purpose?

These brands are being challenged by companies that do it right from the very beginning.”  People are beginning to see themselves as game changers but “it’s about the whole marketing mix that needs to change and disrupt. It’s not just the brand and product.” Some of these big organisations need to work harder to get people to believe them.

By Zoe Tate, Marketing Assistant at The Marketing Society