We are only a month out from 2016’s Festival of Marketing, October 5-6 in London.

Here’s why it thrills me every year.

Tobacco Dock

There’s nothing worse than a boring conference centre. Tobacco Dock is a central part of East End history.

There’s water, a pirate ship, a statue commemorating the time a 19th century lad was saved from the jaws of an escaped tiger, an open air section, two levels and plenty of cast iron.

It’s such a good venue, we even host the after party there. What’s not to like?

jamrach's tiger

via LondonMatt

Something a bit different

Yes, the Festival includes fantastic brands and headliners (more on that in a minute), but what I always enjoy are the fringe figures – people who you don’t necessarily associate with marketing but who deliver great sessions.

Previous highlights have included Alan Sugar, Lauren Laverne and The Pool team, and Tulisa.

This year we welcome Alain de Botton, a former Pussycat Doll, some child bloggers, and a tour photographer for Bowie and The Rolling Stones.

Plenty of fun to be had around the edges.

Quality of headliners

Last year I particularly enjoyed Monica Lewinsky and Colonel Chris Hadfield.

This year we’ve got a more focused, digital and business feel, with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (the man pretty much invented the PC for crying out loud), WPP chief exec Martin Sorrell and Unilever CMO Keith Weed. 

Steve Wozniak

steve wozniak

Brand lineup

Go and have a look through the agenda.

Here are a few names you don’t always get to see on the conference circuit: Uber, Pret, GE, adidas, The British Library, QVC, Jaguar Land Rover, All England Lawn Tennis Club, NSPCC.

We’ve also got great panel discussions tackling key issues such as gender diversity in marketing, ad blocking and Brexit.

I could go on.

Village experiences

I hadn’t tried virtual reality until last year, when I donned a headset in the Festival Village.

Forget grey carpet and tired sponsor stands, the village is actually a fun place to network (even for people like me who are crap at it).

Choosing what to see

12 stages and over 200 speakers means you have to sit down and circle what you want to see, like a child at Christmas with a pen and the Argos catalogue.

The East End

Would you rather go to a conference in the Square Mile, out in deepest West London in a hangar, or in the shadow of a Hawksmoor church, on Jack the Ripper’s stomping ground, a stone’s throw from some nice boozers?



I had proper artisanal sashimi and rice for lunch last year.

Others had some kind of pulled pork. There were sliders, curried things and more.

No boring conference fayre.

None of this.


Covering the event live

I get to go to talks, then retreat to the press room to write about them for the Econsultancy blog, alongside my colleagues from Marketing Week, Design Week and Creative Review.

Yes, you don’t get to do that, but my excitement at doing work surely shows you the kind of atmosphere around the place. 

Drinking and dancing

The after party is joyous. Here’s a shot from last year.

festival after party


All the above means the Festival of Marketing has a buzz that’s different from any other marketing event.

There’s no trudging back for the second day – everybody wants to be there. That’s why we sell 3,000 tickets.

Buy your Festival of Marketing tickets here. October 5-6 at Tobacco Dock, London.