“It’s not about the BIG idea, it’s about the RIGHT idea.” WS brings you the lowdown on Advertising Week, NYC, 2014

WS Calgary Director of Strategic Planning Susan Groeneveld, Creative Director Alita Gonzalez and Account Director Shannon Anderson attended Advertising Week in Manhattan two weeks ago. For those of us not lucky enough to attend, here’s the low down:

Best session All three team members loved a presentation by Tom Morton about Unilever’s promo for Hellmann’s ketchup in India. It involved giving tomato seeds (inside a redesigned bottle cap) to customers so they could grow their own tomatoes. AG: “It was an amazingly low-tech solution and it was about community building too. Brilliant.” SG:It was an idea that built on a very real human truth – about our connection to food. It’s a way of thinking we’re bringing to our agriculture based clients.”

Shannon also liked the thinking behind a 9/11 memorial fund campaign that tied donations to the length of tweets participants sent out. SA: “They stripped away the bells and whistles. It was very elegant. And very human.”

Hot tactic SA: “Geo-fencing – pushing text messages to consumers based on their location – started to emerge in 2009 and now it’s in full force.” SG: “15-second spots for Mountain Dew which were only about getting attention – with seemingly random images. The only brand message was the logo at the end.”

Hot topic AG:Content marketing.” SA: “The Beats by Dr. Dre campaign was a very hot topic.”

SG: “Campaigns featuring ‘celebrities as regular people’ were getting a lot of buzz.”

Wisest words heard AG: “’Be bold, be engaging or be gone.’ Which made me think that sometimes a whisper is the boldest voice you can speak in.” SG and SA: “It’s not about the BIG idea, it’s about the RIGHT idea.”

Biggest cliché AG: “Presidents of companies talking about themselves.” SG: “Name dropping. And panelists being competitive instead of collaborating.” SA: “People with high-faultin’ titles still talking about how social media is going to solve all our problems.”

Most inspiring moment AG: “Jessica Alba speaking for The Honest Company, which sells high quality but cost- effective products for moms and babies. They’re actually very grassroots. Their strategy seems to be to just ‘Do the right thing.’” SG: “Sharing ideas and collaborating with my team members – those moments when we all turn to each other and say ‘Yes!’ we’re all thinking the same thing.” SA:“The humanity behind the 9/11 memorial fund campaign.”

Most valuable takeaway AG: “We tend to look for validation from what’s happening in New York or London but great work is coming from every corner of the world at all levels.” SG: “Getting out of our local fishbowl and looking back in with a new sense of clarity.”  SA: “Bonding with WS attendees.”

Industry dirty secret uncovered SG: “I talked to a senior marketing guy from a multi billion dollar web-based consumer brand and he admitted that they don’t really look closely at their web analytics or ROI. That was shocking.”

Best non-conference moment AG: “A lovely sunset walk with the girls in Central Park.” (The girls are Alita’s Yorkies, Lala and Mafi.) SG: “Eating caviar at the Petrossian Deli.” SA: “A night out at a 1940s-style speakeasy called Bathtub Gin.”


  1. Charles Cousins

    Love the headline. I’ve been saying that for over years. And years. And years. It’s great to win awards, but it’s better to do a good job. It’s nice if they coincide.

    • Dave McKean (Author)

      Thanks, Charles. We like that kind of thinking! As noted in the piece, there were some very positive things to report about our industry at AWXI, like marketers and their agencies focusing on “doing the right thing”, low-tech solutions that touch communities and campaigns that communicate human truths that are actually relevant.

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