When we first started pulling the agenda for Brandweek together, the Adweek editorial and events teams agreed we had to create an atmosphere of real engagement and interaction if the summit was going to stand out in an ever-expanding sea of traditionally programmed events. Ditching the panel model was a no-brainer. But what could we do that would draw the attendee into the program as a real participant?
One of the questions I really love to ask executives in interviews is what is the toughest thing you and your teams are grappling with at this moment in time that will either make or break your business in the next five years? I get fascinating answers and talking points, and over the past six months, I’ve shared them with our teams working on Brandweek. We’ve distilled them down into four macro themes and built what we’re billing as the Call to Action tracks for each of the four.
They are: The Human Factor, Emerging Technology, Brands in Society and The Future of Media and Marketing Commerce. We then set out to find four executives who could deliver that call to action in their voice—part address and part challenge—to breakout groups to be then led by university professors as discussion facilitators. And the four we partnered with are killer.
The Human Factor Call to Action will be delivered by Jeanine D. Liburd, chief marketing and communication officer at BET Networks. Understanding consumer behavior has become crucial for brands ranging from huge CPG companies to airlines. Brands have to shift to place human mind-sets above demographics as the appropriate metric for this new era of the empowered consumer and the agile marketer. This is indeed complex and requires human talent to understand human wants, needs and desires. Finding that talent and reorganizing around it for agility is where brands old and new will either live or die in the future.
Emerging Technology will be handled by Babs Rangaiah, executive partner, global marketing, iX at IBM. Consumers have never had more powerful technology at their disposal and they are using it to avoid traditional modes of interruptive marketing and hassle-laden retail at every turn, largely with smartphones bristling with evermore-robust software in service of their personal journeys. Brands have to fully embrace the fact that emerging tech like blockchain and AI will respectively create a more transparent and engaged world. If they remain in their old arbiter roles instead of participants and partners, they will quickly fall by the wayside.
Brands in Society will be led by Danielle Lee, global head of partner solutions at Spotify. These past two years have been a watershed in terms of basic trust. Data transparency and brand safety have been the dominant strains of concern and confusion across the brand-marketing ecosystem. In order to move past this, brands, platforms, agencies and consumers need to realign around the meaning of relationship and what should and should not be permissible in conducting business. Marketers and their partners must enforce far stricter data interrogation methods and aggressively push advanced analytics innovation.
And the Future of Media and Marketing Commerce Call to Action will be issued by Leesa Eichberger, head of brand and sponsorships at Farmers Insurance. How brands are going to interact with consumers on a commerce basis is an emerging story driven by the rise of Amazon and the fascinating shifts at Target and Walmart. How will other brands go direct to their consumers and constituencies? How do they flow with the customer and their media diets that provides less friction and annoyance and more ease and joy?
We see these as the most central themes of our time and know the discussions, questions, debates and hopefully an epiphany or two during the Call to Action tracks at Brandweek will help move thought leadership in the right direction.
We look forward to hearing your voice in Palm Springs later this month.