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Content to Spark Conversation – An Afternoon at Prolific North Live

2nd of March 2018

Bursting with over 120 exhibitors, the third running of Prolific North Live took on The Beast from the East (or was it Storm Emma?) with resounding triumph. Bustling with over 3,200 determined professionals, One Agency rubbed shoulders with an array of innovative marketers, engaging creatives, PR moguls and a plethora of northern business entrepreneurs.

In addition to this, over 60 inspiring speakers took the stage at five dedicated theatres set within a remarkable space to provide an abundance of learning and networking. And you can never get enough of either.

Avoiding the temptation of the ‘Knight Bar’ (but making a mental note of the ‘big-red-bus that is actually a cocktail-bar’ for later), we attended our first theatre, hosted by Simon Iredale, CEO of Motion Lab.

With a hint of charismatic humour, Simon shared his outrage at having only received one lone-prawn in his lunch, before confidently walking us through how to build and monitor value at every stage of your business, questioning, ‘How Much Value Can You Give?’.

Highlighting how we now live in a ‘global, digital-village’, where we’re all fighting for the same space, he reminded us that now more than ever, it’s imperative to ensure you deliver value in every single aspect of your business. Speaking of Theodore Levitt, he explained that your marketing mix shouldn’t be purely based around your product, your company or customers; but their needs and wants instead.

To get to the heart of these needs and wants, he gave examples of how established brands communicate with their customers through marketing.

Exhibiting a personal touch in the messaging, Center Parcs succeed in opening a dialogue with the audience on an intuitive, 1-1 level.

With our minds officially opened, we headed to our next Keynote Theatre Session, via ‘Leaf’ for some caffeine-infused, deliciously hot brews. Headed by Kenyatte Nelson, Group Marketing Director, Shop Direct, we learnt about ‘Very’s #LoveGiving Christmas Campaign’ and the use of innovation through entertainment in a creative context.

With the view that marketers should spend more time discussing original content innovation, Kenyatte highlighted the creative ability to drive limitless engagement. He also argued that despite the fact TV space hasn’t necessarily evolved as quickly as the internet and social media, consumption is still the same and therefore, contrary to popular belief, ‘TV is NOT dead’.

Enter the Big Questions. It’s true that we know a lot about where the bulk of our audiences consume media, however, do we spend enough time considering how they consume it? Do we know what switches people on and triggers an engagement? Sure, we know that our audiences are searching on Google – but do we understand what they’re on there for?

Our minds had gone from opened to, quite frankly, blown. People don’t dislike advertising – they dislike bad advertising; as long as you’re entertaining an audience, the potential attention span is limitless. Which begs the next Big Question, is advertising always as engaging as it could be, and if not, then how?

If the aim of the game is to inspire amplification, Kenyatte had 5 core values to always consider:

Does the ad reflect ‘equity’? The content communicated should always be something intricately connected to who you are as a business.

Nike – ‘Da Da Ding’

Is the creative ‘benefit focused’? It’s always worth deliberating on what’s in it for the company exposed.

Rocket Mortgage – ‘Let me explain…’

Is the ad ‘distinct and differentiated’? The product and marketing should be so intricately linked that the audience could theoretically fill the gaps themselves.

Amazon – ‘Alexa (loses her voice)’

Is the creative ‘mind and heart opening’? When we create content that’s connected to the truth, people connect and engage in the most interesting of ways. Through a combination of recognisable, moving music, set in a homely backdrop, John Lewis explored this in their ‘Tiny Dancer’ ad, wherein the narrative told the audience that sometimes, we want to protect the dreams of our children, even at the detriment of ourselves; but that’s okay, because ‘If it matters to you, it matters to us’, namely, their audience is free to worry about those they love most, while John Lewis will take care of everything else.

John Lewis – ‘Tiny Dancer’

Does the ad ‘inspire amplification’? Is the content strong enough to do the hard work for you? The best example of ad domination perhaps comes from Tide, whereby the brand effectively dominated the Super Bowel ad breaks, and therefore the whole thing.

Tide – ‘It’s A Tide Ad’

If there’s anything we took back to One Agency from PNLIVE, it’s the understanding that so long as your creative has all five of these points, your content will be something special. It’s okay to be more demanding of your teams, briefs and agencies – ‘start up the conversation’ and the rest will snowball.


Words – Rebekah Spratt

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