Thoughts and observations on #ZeeMelt15

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Think of an advertising conference and images of speeches, presentations, panel discussions and an award ceremony come to mind. What made me curious (no pun intended) about #ZeeMelt15 was (a) its recognition that advertising is changed dramatically thanks to the era of convergence and (b) an effort to weave in hands-on workshops with speeches. I was hoping that the ad industry would encourage not just juniors but those who grew up in an traditional advertising world, to take part in workshops – especially on the use of new media & tech. Nevertheless, it was heartening to see packed rooms for hands-on workshops on YouTube, photography and more.

The stand out sessions for me were these:

Story-telling by Hakuhodo team: Kazuaki Hashida, Creative Director at Hakuhodo Kettle and Takahiro Hosoda, Creative Director, TBWA/Hakuhodo made a presentation on how traditional ‘target selling’ can move to ‘story telling’. For me it was a masterclass on presentation writing and presentation skills too. They drove home the points with some excellent slides and examples. The core idea: stop treating your audience as ‘targets’ who need to be bombarded but seem them as heroes of your story.

Twitter for brands by @parrysingh: I have written about some great use of Twitter by brands – Snickers and #PretzelLoveSongs for example. But most brands use Twitter in a cookie cutter fashion, aiming to trend with some silly hashtag or the other. @parrysingh put things in perspective nicely by talking about the emotional fulfilment loop where a brand is at the centre of the discussion on Twitter.

Twitter for brands @parrysingh

Dylan Berg’s session on work done by 72andSunny: the most famous campaign from the agency is perhaps the one for Samsung phones in the US. It was nice to see other case study work from the agency: innovative use of media to drive home use of the Google app through the ‘OK, Google’ question was fantastic.

Mashable’s session: Adam Ostrove, Chief Strategy officer at Mashable shared some insights and examples of they help brands create content. The article on ’10 Harvard Business School Startups You Should Know’ timed with Emirates Airlines’ Boston-Dubai launch was memorable for me.

Tom Goodwin of Havas made some great points about brands or companies adopting technology just for the sake if it. His famous killer quote, which first appeared in a Techcrunch article was recognised in Mumbai too!

Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.

Tomi Ahonen: while ‘Mobile is the future’ platitude has been oft heard, Tomi brought alive the points with some telling data and more importantly, infectious passion.

Tomi Ahonen

Creativity + Technology: Alex Jaspers and Unny Radhakrishnan of Metalworks Maxus shared some examples of how tech was used to solve a brand’s business problem. Some of the examples shared were actual product ideas – a kettle which switches on at a particular time, a display unit which ‘lifts’ the product in air to cue lightness when someone passes by and such like. I guess it takes guts to adopt such technologies and experiment as results are not always guaranteed. The team also shared interesting tidbits about the kind of talent to hit and open source resources to tap into. The team also had a hands-on workshop on a live, real-life problem which I unfortunately could not attend.

Daniel Hirschmann: Hirsch & Mann is a “design and technology consultancy that explores the future by making physical technology and putting it into the world to gain impact”. He shared the thinking and process behind the fascinating Joy Jacket project for Cadbury’s. It calls for a bold client to invest in such projects, which don’t come cheap.

Martin Sorrell: always fascinating to hear him speak, he answered a few questions via video conference (he was taking them at 6:15am local time in Washington!). The man never ceases to amaze me for his energy and way with numbers. As is his wont he also took a dig at some of his competitors and had some cricket metaphors thrown in too. One learns a lot listening to him even if it is for just 15 minutes.

There were a lot of sessions and workshops which I wished I could attend. It was a case of being spoilt for choice as many interesting sessions clashed in terms of timing. Of course the event had its share of presenters who drone on and on or do a sell job of their company. Nevertheless, I hope Melt becomes a permanent fixture in the advertising world and travels to other cities too. More importantly, I hope the entire advertising industry supports the event through active participation across levels.

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