Oscar Award Winners and Advertising Masterminds in the Big Apple


Last week Fahlgren Mortine sent two members of its planning team to the 2014 IAB MIXX conference in New York City. The two-day conference is considered the digital centerpiece of Advertising Week. This year’s conference was based around a single core theme – “Digital’s Renaissance Moment”. The theme could not have been more timely or relevant. 2014 is a historical moment in which digital media spending has exceeded broadcast spending for the first time. Digital has become the primary means in which people learn about the world. 

The conference kicked off with two of the most influential women in digital – Katie Couric, Global Anchor, Yahoo News, and Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook.

Couric and Sandberg discussed the seismic shifts taking place in how people consume information. “We are living through the fastest adoption of a communications technology (mobile) that the world has ever seen. 79 percent of Americans put their phone down less than two hours per day. Facebook started just 10 years ago as a desktop company. We’ve had to work hard to be mobile first.”

About half way through the first day, the “Digital Renaissance” theme really started to click. Digital has made it truly possible for great ideas to come from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it is advertising, film, music or the news. We have entered a content democracy where anyone with a smartphone can be a news reporter or the next YouTube sensation. Consumers have moved from spectating to participating.

Jeff Bejamin, Chief Creative Officer, JWT North America said “What happens in the next ten years will dwarf what we’ve seen so far because culture has caught up to the tools that technology has brought us.” Another key point that Benjamin made is that technology needs soul and he went on to share some very inspirational examples including British Airway’s interactive billboard.

Several speakers addressed how our channel-obsessed industry has essentially “hyper-specialized” every component of marketing to a point where fragmentation is becoming a real problem. “We need to be consumer-centric and omnichannel. If you want to engage and inspire consumer behavior, you have to put the consumer in the center and be consumer-obsessed and not channel obsessed”, said Mayur Gupta, Global Head of Marketing Technology & Operations, Kimberly-Clark.

Quite possibly the greatest example of our bold new “Digital Renaissance” age is the fact that the conference’s two keynote speakers were Kevin Spacey and Jared Leto. Why would two Oscar winning actors come talk to a bunch of advertising folks? According to Spacey, “Actors and advertisers strive to make a connection to audiences. How can I surprise them, entertain them? We know how this is done and it’s always been about the story. With technology giving people more control, the stakes are higher then ever. The story is more important than ever.” He went on to talk about how creatives have more control over the story than ever before. He chose Netflix for House of Cards because Netflix didn’t want a pilot. “Netflix embraced targeted marketing and brand more than dumb ratings,” he said. “The audience doesn’t care about the platform. They care about the content,” he went on to say.

The conference came to a close after two action-packed days full of excellent presentations, networking, and possibly a few cocktails.

As we flew home to Columbus, we talked about how exciting it is to work for an agency that is on the leading edge of breaking down typical agency barriers and is well positioned to deliver true omnichannel experiences. We will know we have achieved this goal when technology, creativity, and strategy live and breathe together as an inseparable entity.


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