Carat @ Eff Week: Eff Week Conference Take-Outs


Dentsu Aegis Network's Head of Marketing for Media Brands, Victoria Milligan headed over to The IPA's Eff Week conference yesterday​ and has pulled together her seven main take-outs from a day, that brought together marketers, C-Suite executives, agencies, media organisations and industry bodies to discuss Marketing Effectiveness in a Digital Era.

Eff Week 2018

The day started and finished with a CEO, Stephen Maher, CEO of IPA, kicked off the day and Nigel VAZ, CEO of Publicis, ended it. In between the big hitters, we had a few celebrities, in the beautiful form of the genius character creator Matt Lucas, who shared tips and hints on how to create a memorable character and also journalist and writer Rev Richard Cole, his claim to fame being the only man of the cloth who has had a number one hit (with The Communards) and has been spray tanned with Debbie McGee. They both talked with experience and emotion about how every major decision that we make comes with risk. But it wasn’t all jazz hands, Les Binet and Peter Field gave us a lecture on Effectiveness in Culture, analysing the IPA database, and there were various insightful panel discussions, including Matt Stockbridge, Growth Analytics Manager, for Carat’s client Mondelēz (pictured), all interviewed brilliantly by the BBC breakfast news presenter Naga Munchetty.


Seven Key Take-outs

  1. The consistent thread throughout the day was that brands need marketing more than ever in this time of great challenge when we are faced with disruption from all areas, political, social and economic. Nigel Vaz talked about how we learn from change and should to see it as an opportunity to play a more strategic and longer-term role in our client’s business.

  2. Optimism- Lorna Hawtin, who has the awesome title of Disruption Director for TBWA Manchester, talked to us about the importance of remaining optimistic in times of change. She also reminded us how change is nothing new “There is nothing permanent but change” Heraclitus c. 460 BC.  Uncertainty can fuel pessimism and this can be viral.  Not only that but uncertainty reduces people’s appetite for creativity in a time when arguably we need it the most, we resort to practical solutions as we are given less time to deliver results so we are judged on short-term ROI rather looking at innovative solutions which will deliver better in the longer term.

    Research has analysed what the US War vets, who survived mentally, had in common was optimism.  Optimism gives us hope and makes us believe that what we do is going to succeed and that gives us confidence.  The good news is that if you think you were born a pessimist, worry not!  Optimism is a muscle that can be trained and built – at an individual level but also at an organisational level, we can build a culture of optimism. 
  1. Building Bridges with Finance– Most successful companies have good language and communication with the finance department. We need to create a language that allows marketing and finance to work better together, less of the macho metrics of ‘organic revenue growth’ will lead to more collaboration, respect and trust.

  2. Create a Culture of Autonomy– we want to prevent ‘learned helplessness’, if people rely too much on their peers and superiors they never learn to manage decisions themselves. Just like this elephant, who when it is a baby cannot pull away from the rope but as it grows and is strong enough, it doesn’t try as it has ‘learned helplessness’.  We need to give people the right environment, resources and confidence to make decisions for themselves, to embrace mistakes and learn from them.

  3. Creating Cross-Platform brand fluency matters in marketing– the consumer will recognise the brand whatever platform they see it on. There is a premium inconsistency, brands don’t always need a ‘new’ campaign.  Matt Lucas shared nuggets of advice of how him and David Walliams created their memorable characters, they were very reactive to culture and being in the now, so much so that some of their characters would have to change if they came back – Vicky Pollard could no longer be a teenage girl in a Kappa top but a 35-year-old mother of seven on benefits and Daffyd would still be the only gay in the village but probably now on Grinder…His best advice on creating something memorable is to think “What is the Thing of it?”  what is the key element, what are we trying to achieve? Don’t over think it and keep it simple.  This relates to our Winning with the Power of Each Other strategy and the benefit of the integration of teams which makes it easier to keep to a single vision.

    Orlando Wood supported this theory of keeping it as simple as people “think less than they think they think”.  We make decisions very quickly, often led by emotions and a recognised pattern as it is easy to process, this is why so many successful brands use fluency devices.

    Charles Valance encouraged us to be brave and constantly check in on what we are trying to achieve.  Experiment and constantly test and learn.  Our greatest enemy in creativity is indifference, successful brands polarise, people have an opinion. 

  4. Defining the right metrics - It is important to establish up front what success looks like, define the KPIs and measurement metrics so we can navigate the landscape to get there. Not knowing what we are measuring means that nothing ever truly succeeds or fails.  We need fortitude in our organisations which means connecting with other people and breaking down the silos so we all have a shared purpose. We also need to create the right Ecosystem for success, building the right team and constantly checking ourselves with what we are trying to achieve.

  5. Putting Effectiveness in the right context matters - Les and Peter built on their 2013 piece of research The Long and Short of it and talked us through how the 60:40 rule is still right but has to be put into context by brand.  The primary driver for long-term growth is still brand building but must be modified by each sector and brand within that sector.  For example, the Financial Services industry needs to invest more in brand building and less on short-term activation, the same for premium brands, but more FMCG goods may invest more in short-term gains.  




Eff Week 2018
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