Advertising Week Europe – Lessons from day 1

If you’ve been following my Instagram or Twitter posts today you’ll have seen that this week I’m attending the famous Advertising Week Europe Conference in London, hosted at Picturehouse Central.

Similar to a lot of industries, we’re seeing a huge transformation of the marketing and media landscape and so it’s crucial that we understand these challenges, develop new ideas and come together to collaborate, which is why I think attending events like this is so important. Where next is the question a lot of the sessions are asking and attempting to answer.

The week is a great opportunity to be inspired by new ideas, connect with peers and experts in the industry and learn about new models that can be applied to business. I personally love the personal development side of it as well. I’m a true believer in learning in different environments and finding inspiration from outside of your day job to grow! There are 170+ sessions to attend so a lot of content is covered. There’s something for everyone depending on your business needs, personal challenges and ambitions. As a NewGen, I’m also really looking forward to Bootcamp on Thursday, a full day’s programme of learning powered by The Marketing Academy.

There’s too much to cover in one blog post so I’m going to try and provide you with a round-up of the key things that I’m hearing each day. Here’s my round up of day 1!

Using social media for good

The first session I attended was a panel discussion with Nicola Men, Joe Wicks, Amanda Holden and Josie Naughton and they shared lessons on how they’ve built their brands using social media and the impact that’s had on different people.

Joe shared a really heartwarming story of a local restaurant near him called Una that was always empty when he walked passed. So one day Joe took his family to eat there and found that the food was amazing – a hidden gem! They just needed a bit of positive word of mouth to get new customers through the door. Joe posted on Instagram that he’d had a really good meal there and a few weeks later they’re fully booked and business is booming. This just shows the power of social media in supporting small businesses in your community.

Josie Naughton, the CEO of Help Refugees, also shared her story of using her experience in social media to start the non-profit organisation in response to the humanitarian crisis that unfolded in Calais. Through social media, she was able to build awareness of the issue and how she was hoping to help to get others on board and also used it as a call to arms for help. They’ve funded over 80 projects in Europe and the Middle East to date.

One message coming out of this session highlighted the importance of being authentic when using social media (and offline actually) so that people can connect with you. Authenticity was actually a key theme coming through in a lot of the conversations around the direction that marketing is going in. It’s not a new concept however it’s more crucial than ever to the success of what you’re trying to achieve. 3 key takeaways the panelists left with us:

  1. Be really authentic, truthful and honest
  2. Be purpose-driven not profit driven
  3. Use humour, heart & authenticity.

Adopt a growth mindset

I attended a session with Alice ter Haar, Senior Manager at Deliveroo, who spoke a lot about the link between the growth mindset, unicorn companies and personal development. She shared a really interesting 4 – step framework for personal development, in line with how unicorn companies such as Spotify, Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo have grown rapidly.

Market in the gap.

This is all about finding a gap in the market but then actually acting on it and building a business. From a personal development point of view this is about finding your USP and being really clear on what makes you unique and special. Feedback is also crucial to help you understand this so have a think about your strengths and where to focus.

Products good enough to lick.

This is about developing the best product on the market and nailing your brand proposition. Personally, this is about self awareness and getting to grips with your purpose. I always say, what do you want to be known for?

Think differently.

Thinking differently is about coming up against challenges and finding new ways to overcome them which could be using data or insights to inform decision making e.g. Deliveroo uses a lot of data to grow their business and meet customer needs. Personally, it’s about adopting a positive mindset and not letting that little voice in your head take over and stop you from doing things, and ultimately from growing.

Dream big.

Dreaming big is what it says on the tin. Whether you’re thinking about business or your own personal self, dreaming big is so important and it’s important to recognise that you’re the only one that can make it happen. I really liked this saying – shoot for the moon because you’ll end up in the stars which basically means you might not get to the moon but where ever you end up could be pretty great if you try.

Tackling diversity in the workplace

Diversity is such a discussed topic at the moment and businesses are making improvements towards a more inclusive workplace however the feeling in the room was that a lot more needs to be done. It’s also not just about the company that you work for but the partners you work with and ensuring your goals and values align.   

Some ideas from panellists on what companies can do:

  • Organisations on both agency and client side need to identify what their issues are and develop specific interventions e.g. for returners to work, ensuring they have the right induction back into the workplace.
  • Provide individuals with unbiased training to make the interview process fairer
  • Attract a wider talent pool by becoming more neurodiverse friendly
  • Write clear job specifications rather than generic ones so that individuals can judge whether the role is a good fit
  • Introduce task based interviews for roles where appropriate or adopt new methods – sometimes people don’t perform their best in a traditional interview setting but this might not reflect their ability to do the job and so we need to evolve our recruitment processes to attract a diverse workforce
  • Interestingly Caitlin Ryan from Facebook explained that they can’t open up headcount unless there’s a 50:50 slate of men and women.

A final note to end on is that diverse teams make the biggest difference and create the best work so it’s crucial that we prioritise this!

If you want to tune in and see what Ad Week is all about then follow my Instagram page, @justjess_blog, where I will be sharing stories and posts each day!