Which ten sessions top my list to attend at the Festival of Marketing?

It’s a tough one. Partly because there are over 200 to choose from. Partly because I have programmed quite a few of the sessions so am biased. 

But I find I have had to fire Lord Sugar from my top 10 (sorry Sir Alan), and even Monica Lewinsky does not make the cut even though I’ve heard she is a great speaker. I have also cheated by sneaking in a few “honourable mentions” without counting them in my ten.

I like to attend a mix up the more serious, authoritative, immediately useful and valuable, with the new and inspiring. So I have grouped my ten picks under a few headings:

The Heavyweights

He’s talking on “Brand Valuation is Brilliant/Bullshit - Debate and Delete as Applicable.” Which is obviously a great title.

But it wouldn’t really matter what he was talking about as I’d want to see it anyway. Mark, actually perhaps ‘Ritson’ is better, is a unique blend of unquestionable authority on all things marketing with a brilliance for writing and speaking when communicating his (strong) views.

No-one else I know would get ‘wank’ past the editorial team at Marketing Week. Ritson lives in Australia so this is rare UK appearance. Prepare to be edified and entertained.

You might not know his name. You probably don’t even know of Atom Bank yet. But you will be aware of all the excitement around ‘fintech’ and all the talk of digital disruption of big incumbents with the UK (specifically London) touted as having a realistic chance of leading the world (yes, that includes Silicon Valley) at the intersection of finance and tech/digital.

I’m not a betting man but if I had to tip one business that might just really put a nasty dent in the universe of established financial service brands... Atom would be it.

Be there to hear about the future of finance and sound smart at dinner parties. 

The Disruptors & Transformers

I am perhaps a little biased here as I sit on the Advisory Board for the Government Digital Service. I am a great fan of all that they have achieved and when I speak about ‘digital transformation’ it is still the best case study I know. And it is government.

If you haven’t already looked at the live performance dashboard at gov.uk/performance then do. How many businesses do you know who live publish their performance data like this? Most haven’t even figured out what to measure, why and how.

Ben is talking about what this open approach means and how that plays out culturally.

Come to this if you want to hear about true digital transformation and feel some pride for a change in government services.

Net-a-porter have been recognised pioneers and leaders in ecommerce and digital for years. It is always informative to hear what they are up to.

Social commerce is a hot topic. The numbers are big in China (on WeChat) and now Twitter, Facebook et al are sticking buy buttons into social media in the west.

But how will this work? What about owned social media? Is this mostly about native apps? How do content marketing and social commerce relate? Sarah will be talking about the company’s new app The Net Set which is at the cutting edge of all these questions and excitement. 

(Honourable mention here for James Bagley, Marketing Director at Naked Wines. Another super-smart social/digital ecommerce business you should learn from.)

You will no doubt be aware of Silicon Roundabout, Tech City, numerous dragon-den style pitch events for aspiring tech starts ups across London, the ever-closer ties between marketing and technology. 

Russ is the man absolutely at the centre of all this. What is more he is a heavyweight marketer by background (including Skype, Marketing Director at O2 etc).

So if you really want to get the inside track on what is happening at the intersection of marketing, technology and disruptive innovation you should hear from Russ.  

The rise of digital, the evolution of marketing, and what all this means for organisational structures, roles and responsibilities, is one of my big interests. Couple this with disruption and digital transformation and I’m in.

Sean is the only Chief Digital Officer speaking this year but I bet we’ll see more next year and I’ve been thinking and writing about this role a lot lately. Sean has impeccable digital credentials (Shutl, Google, eHarmony etc) but is now responsible for the full digital transformation of a business, running both marketing (there is no CMO at Travelex) and product.

Come to this session to hear about digital transformation in action. 

I don’t know Åsa but she has very impressive credentials: two patents of her own, member of the Swedish Inventors Society, was Innovation Director at The Absolut Company, Sweden’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 etc.

But more than that I’m really intrigued by her latest business, Our/Vodka, founded and built with Pernod Ricard.

It is a global spirit brand but which is personalised at a city level. Sounds fascinating. Global, but local; personalisation, but of a physical product; startup, but joint venture with a large corporate. Ticks many of my interest boxes.  

(Honourable mention here for Otto Rosenberger, CMO at Hostelworld Group telling the story about launching a brand. Nothing much new in that but Otto’s background in ‘classic’ P&G marketing, to harder core ‘digital’ at Betfair, means this is a rare case study in how a ‘post-digital modern marketer’ chooses to go about a disruptive brand launch.)

I’m Curious...

If you work in media, as I do, Vice is a big deal for a whole load of reasons. Combine that brand with an SVP job title including ‘innovation’... count me in.

By day, Matt Adlard, 24, is a senior planner at OMD International. But once work is over, he is the Topless Baker, a half dressed chef, live streaming cooking shows to his (considerable, and growing) fan base.

I’ve got to hear about this... video, Meerkat, YouTube generation, social, topless, surely this will keep me in touch with the cool kids?!

(Honourable mention here for Dan Kirby, co-founder and CEO of Techdept, You should check out the ‘Tech Offs’ he runs. We’ll be doing battle live on the Tech Trailblazers stage, MC-ed by Dan. Great way to end a day!) 

Just Because

He has seen our planet from space. There is just something magical about that. 

Ashley Friedlein

Published 1 October, 2015 by Ashley Friedlein @ Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein is Founder of Econsultancy and President of Centaur Marketing. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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