Innovate or Die? Apparently so, at Media Day – Marketing Week 2009

Why include an entire day devoted to dissecting the breadth of media at Marketing Week 2009? Because our media palette is becoming far more complex and brand expression is in dire straits.  Yesterday, amid all the discussion and debate, it was the general consensus that media without innovation is meaningless in today’s environment. An evaluation of the present day media landscape and a conversation about the benefits of collaboration were all key themes shared.

At a glance, a few of the standout speakers:

Terry O’Reilly of the “Age of Persuasion” fame– With the declaration that “Big ideas are the last legal means we have of gaining an unfair advantage over our competition,” O’Reilly’s message was clear from the get go: The best, smartest and most effective marketers tell stories about their products. They overcome groupthink.  O’Reilly asks the tough questions of marketers: What will you walk by in the morning that will literally stop you in your tracks? According to O’Reilly this is what constitutes a “big idea,” and one that will have consumers take notice. With an ease of affection and a clear passion for his plight, O’Reilly believes that we must feel the messages we communicate, because it’s simply not enough to only understand them.

In his words: “A Marketing plan is like staring at a 500,000 piece puzzle. It’s all sky.”

I appreciated the global context with which Charlie Crowe of C Squared brought forth his discussion. From his vantage point, nations don’t really change much in the eyes of consumers, because our ideas of nation identification are formed at a young age. However, there’s one nation that overthrows this argument, and that is, surprisingly, the United States.  Through the Obama campaign, it was clear that perceptions of nations from a global perspective can be overturned through varied communications and radical thinking.

In his words: “Communication is so much bigger than advertising – The challenge is to find the big idea that can live beyond the lifecycle of the Marketing director.”

Perhaps the most anticipated speaker of the day was Cathie Black the woman behind the Hearst publishing empire. Black seemed confident in her assessment that media’s role is changing everyday and that we are defining the next innovative delivery systems that will impact us tomorrow, today. It’s apparent that Black wholeheartedly believes in the brands sustaining the empire and refers to their huge relevance, timelessness and sustainability as “brand power.”

In her words: Cosmopolitan magazine exercises brand ubiquity and is the 360 degree experience.  This is what a magazine should be.”

Although diverse in their perspectives and outlooks, one thing remains clear: We are entering a digital, sustainable and content driven future and whether we’re ready or not, it’s time to prepare for the ride of a lifetime.