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3 things we learnt from MAD//fest

For those people who follow us on LinkedIn, you will know we were lucky enough to be involved in MAD//Fest, a 2-day festival of marketing, advertising and disruption held in an informal atmosphere at London’s Old Truman Brewery.

Here’s a quick 3 things that we learnt across the two days.

1. Think Like a DJ

One of our favourite talks was on day 2 from Jeremy Waite, Chief Customer Officer, IBM iX. Jeremy talked about how, when coming up with new ideas, we need to think like a DJ and explore and remix what has come before.

As often seems to be the case, inspiration can be drawn from the late David Bowie who created his own version of a data and content warehouse.

On further exploration Bowie, along with other creative legends like William S. Burroughs and Kurt Cobain, sometimes employed a rather unconventional creative technique. The "cut-up" method calls for arranging and rearranging clippings from newspapers or magazines in an inspiring, free associative mix-and-match.

Bowie's unique take on this method was to compose several paragraphs on a subject that he would then rearrange. "You write down a paragraph or two describing different subjects, creating a kind of 'story ingredients' list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections, mix 'em up, and reconnect them," he said. Doing so resulted in "some pretty interesting idea combinations."

2. AI is yet to go mainstream

Away from the main stage, there were a number of talks (ours included) which discussed the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for marketing and whilst there is certainly a lot of interest and interesting use cases it’s still in the early opportunity phase and yet to really go mainstream (possibly with exception of voice & chatbots).

This became apparent as we watched some of the PITCH//IT pitches to Diageo and Avon.

The premise of these sessions was for a ‘start up’ to deliver a 3-minute enhanced elevator pitch to solve a particular challenge. Whilst there were a few ‘AI’ themed pitches to both brands, in the case of Diageo, the big prize of a pilot was won by a business offering a more ‘traditional’ solution.

3. Disruption = Knowing your business and your customers

Yes, Yes, it’s hardly rocket science and any good marketer worth their salt will tell you this anyway but the common theme throughout the ‘brand’ sessions, including Starling bank, Paddy Power, Dishoom and Tenzing, was the same; if you know who you are, what you are selling and who you are selling to, then you’ll succeed.

Obviously, what that success looks like will be different, as will how fast you get there but get there you will and it is, by far the best form of disruption.

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