UBA 60th Anniversary Congress

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the UBA event organized to celebrate the 60th anniversary of UBA.
Jacques Séquéla was the first and in my opinion best keynote speaker during the event: he kicked off his presentation with a lot of humor, optimism and creativity. During one hour Jacques inspired us with a speech that was both entertaining and inspiring. He talked about the history of the advertising profession: what initially could have been (wrongly) perceived as being a speech of how good advertising was in the early days, backed up with some nice illustrations of early days first cinema campaign of Charles Avar and later work of Jacques developed for Citroën, soon turned into a critical meta-analysis of changes in society and the changing roles brands and related advertising have to play.
According to Jacques advertising during the early days was about repetition of simple messages -“Je lave plus blanc”- in a society of accumulation (until the ’60). With the arrival of cinema, products became ‘stars’ in a society that evolved towards a society of consumption (until ’80): advertising during that time was about seduction. Actual themes related to dreams, risks and humor. An example of advertisement for Citroen was shown where the product as such was actually not shown, but the soul of the products strongly communicated… something rarely dared nowadays….
In the decade of the ’90s brand values increase in importance and need to be social responsible, fair and environmental friendly. Example of the famous Apple computer and The Independent are nice illustrations around the new value themes.
Jacques ended his presentation with an interesting observation that the values have evolved from masculine (competition, strength, ambition…) towards the more feminine values of caring, creating and engaging. Key challenge for us as marketers is the fact of 360/365: we now have to deal with a consumer or’ conso-zappeur’ that has access to multiple media channels on a permanent basis. The length of publicity campaigns will become shorter and shorter and the message still needs to be transferred. Advertising will become more and more shared and even co-created in a world that has evolved from a vertical system of sending or bombarding message to the consumer towards a model where the advertisement is the molecule for a circular movement that triggers and encourages conversations amongst consumers.
Earl Wilkinson described the evolution and need for newspapers to reinvent themselves. He used a nice metaphor of forest, trees and leaves with the idea that we are entering the age of micro media: instead of talking about releases, audiences and target groups, we have to start reflecting in terms of highly customized and contextualized messages to community members.
According to Earl the value perception of new media is still lower compared to traditional newspapers: if traditional print would obtain a value index of 100, e-paper would rate only 47, mobile web 35 and website 19. However, the role that different media can play has been nicely illustrated by the example that you probably would not pay a penny for reading in the newspaper that a house in China was burnt down by accident, whereas you would pay a lot to learn by SMS that your own house is own fire right now! He concluded his presentation by stating that newspapers are certainly not dead, but that the challenge is about finding the right content for the right platform: for instance newspapers could provide you with thematic in-depth articles on topics of interest, whereas for instance the role and added value of mobile phone content is in simple, factual but location based content. An example could be, the nearest tube station or teller machine.
Lindsey Clay from Thinkbox, the UK organization studying the effectiveness of TV, presented many findings of UK research with the aim of convincing the audience about “the renaissance of TV”. Although I have not yet taken the time to visit www.thinkbox.tv very extensively, I could not help thinking while listening to her presentation that some of the results have been looked at with a certain love for the good old ‘telli’. It’s true that with statistics you can prove about anything… Anyway, Lindsay had 5 bold facts or statements about television in the UK landscape for the reader to judge:

  • UK is watching more TV – UK people watch 1 hour more than 10 years ago. According to Lindsey, the switch from analogue towards digital television could be part of the explanation here. TV gets a media share of 54%.
  • Television is still the most effective medium: from my research experience TV attribution is typically overrated by respondents and gets attributed even when there was no TV in the media budget.
  • Television is still the most dominant medium amongst youth with 47% of media share! Very surprising and counter intuitive from my experience with new media…
  • Technology is good news for television: we can no longer watch television from home but on all types of devices increasing the exposure. PVR’s that enable people to deferred viewing and skip advertising blocks would actually increase ads exposure by 2% according to UK research.
  • TV and online is the magic formula: referring to website enables call for action and triggers impulse buying.

Peter Hinssen had the challenge of presenting to the audience just after the lunch break. In my opinion he managed to deliver both an entertaining and interesting presentation about the influence of digital media on our way of working and living. Peter started his presentation with Moore’s law stating that IT capacity doubles every 18 months to describe the enormous pace of digitalization in our society: whereas the 25 past years the technology has only got into the hands of the customers, during the next 25 years digital media will be really introduced and adopted in our everyday life and become the new real. This will of course drastically influence our way of working and living.
Companies will need to adapt their business models toward this new digital reality: future consumers will have zero tolerance towards digital failure, whereas in the early days of internet it was normal for a website to breakdown from time to time. For generation Y, good is enough and does not necessarily need be perfect. Last but not least, organizations and marketers will need to learn to lose control: in times of sharing and co-creation the company can create platforms of enhancement but no longer control everything related to its brand experience.
Paul Isakson described new marketing with an interesting number of examples and adjectives. According to Paul the future of marketing is collaborative, generous, experimental, helpful, imaginative, immediate, supportive, playful, customizable, informative, redeeming, adaptable, participatory and adventurous. He showed a number of interesting examples from T-mobile, location based services, Domino pizza’s and Roku’s reward/HP.
Stephan Loerke of the World Federation of Advertising confronted the audience with the changing new economic realities where Western markets will decrease in importance and new players are likely to come from emerging markets of China, India, and Brazil. Patchi is an Indian chocolate that could potentially rival with Belgian and Swiss chocolate, new great wines could come from China and no longer from France. The only recipe against these upcoming new forces, are stronger brands built with good advertising. Stephan underlined the virtues of advertising by showing the correlation between advertising investment and wealth GDP growth, increased competition and awareness leading to an improved price/quality offering for consumers, fueling a diverse media landscape and sponsoring cultural and sports events. The interested reader can find more detailed information on www.valueforadvertising.org

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