Ad Week Europe 2017: Getting back to what works

By Brad Gilbert, Account Director at Posterscope
Initially I struggled to write-up ‘what I found interesting’ at AdWeek. My initial reaction was there wasn’t a great deal of new things, nothing I hadn’t read about elsewhere from trade publishers, blog posts etc. I was disappointed and disillusioned. But then I realised there was no need to be upset; I didn’t need new things. My neophilia relaxed.
Hearing experienced heads, discuss tried and tested principles and how it relates to now was what I enjoyed and needed. This was no more apparent than in the Marketing Society’s Uncomfortable Conversation. Hearing Dave Trott is always a delight and reminded me that what he’s done in the past and continues to do now comes down to simple thinking we can all emulate. Marketing and advertising is not rocket science and it shouldn’t be anywhere near as complicated as we sometimes make it; it should however, make the complicated simple. Just read a couple of his books and writing and you’ll get it.
Hearing from Zaid Al-Qassab (BT) too lifted me up. He reiterated his stance on the current issue in marketing of two tribes (customer centric people that don’t know how to connect in the modern world alongside click harvesters who don’t understand customers) and how solving this divide is vital to marketing success. This wasn’t a fancy new concept but a point that persists and is important to act upon.
I like what these people have to say! They’re not talking about ‘revolutions’ that make the headlines but are instead focusing on simple steps to take to make marketing work (better). Not fluffy chat around the latest ‘ecosystem’ but persistent questions we need to ask like ‘what clients are paying for, what they’re getting and if it will work’.
I have come away from AdWeek more confident than ever of taking on a crap brief and calling it just that, in taking on those that snivel at the ‘traditional’ medium of OOH and telling them ‘hey, it still works!’ New things can be great but not all innovations work, and if they do they may not work in the same way for each client or campaign.
I found fitting AdWeek in around pitches and the day to day was more difficult than ever this year but perhaps more important than ever to get some much needed perspective on what actually needs to be done. I am breathing a sigh of relief I won’t have to research rocket-science to do good work.