After an enthralling two days in the gloriously sunny Bournemouth for Silicon Beach last September, when we heard that Matt Desmier was planning to bring the beach to town we had to get involved again.
For anyone who has met the illustrious Matt, they will know that he loves a challenge. Sick of hearing that female speakers were hard to find for digital events he took it upon himself to create a conference with an all-female line-up. Come 2nd February 2016 over 200 people gathered in Conway Hall to learn from 10 CEOs, Creative Directors and Digital Leaders from a selection of renowned agencies and brands, who just so happened to be women.
Significantly, this conference was not about ‘being a woman in the industry’. In fact, there was no set theme or topic. Matt invited his guests to speak on a subject of their choice, which meant we were spoilt with an eclectic mix from TV and video, to content, equality and most importantly getting up and doing something.
With all of this to look forward to, and after Matt took a quick call from his accountant during his introduction, what did we learn?
Would you date your brand?
- Watchable – consumers will watch but not share
- Shareable – consumers will share with specific friends who they know will enjoy
- Remarkable – consumers will share with all of their followers, reaching far and wide
Of course we all want to achieve Remarkable content, and the only way do this is by humanizing our brands and keeping all communication as a two-way open conversation rather than just telling people what you want them to know.
Liz challenged us to consider our social brand as an on-line dating profile, looking at the reasons behind your posts and if they could be considered selfish, boring or self-absorbed? If your brand was a person, would you date them?
Lots of talk – not enough do
Both Ali Hanan, founder of Creative Equals, and Lauren Currie, Co-Founder at Snook and MA Programme Manager at Hyper Island, took to the stage to talk to us about the challenges facing females in the creative and digital industries.
We were shocked to learn from Ali that 85% of purchasing decisions are made by women, but in the world only 11% of Creative Directors are female, and at Lauren’s last event she was the only female in the line-up.
There are many reasons for this disparity and often fear lies at the heart it. Fear that what we have to say isn’t important, fear of a predominantly male environment, fear of being able to manage a young family and a demanding job, and a lot of these fears come from a lack of female role models.
Based on these facts it is no wonder 91% of women say that advertisers don’t ‘get’ them.
But what can we do? Instead of wringing our hands and talking about it (again), Ali is pushing for action today from within the industry. She’s calling on all creative brands, agencies and recruiters to sign up to the 11 principles of Creative Equals to bring about real immediate change.
Lauren went one step further and took action at the event itself. She was joined on stage by 8 other women to give them the opportunity to experience being #upfront before an audience without the pressure of having to deliver a talk. A simple yet smart idea to help women find their confidence in what can be a daunting and alien environment
Life is short – work somewhere awesome
Five years ago Pip spotted a gap in the market for creatives to have a platform to show-off their work, to do so in a way that a CV or Linked In cannot. But that, it seems, was the easy part. Charting the highs and lows of her experience of building The Dots we came away feeling energised and ready to fight another day.
Pip shared the lessons she learnt the hard way, not to stop us from making mistakes (that would be impossible) but from making the mistakes she made. Her final promise to those choosing to forge their own path in the industry? Things won’t be easy, but they’ll be worth it.
All life is copy, take notes
To finish off an inspiring day, MT Rainey OBE, Founder of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&A, Board Director at Channel4, and all round industry legend took to the stage. With just her notes and some archive video footage she delivered an advertising Jackanory that kept the room spellbound.
She shared stories of the evolution of technology and the circles it has taken. From her involvement in persuading the board of Apple to proceed with the iconic 1984 Macintosh launch ad to educating News International on the impact this new thing called The Internet might have on print journalism (saving Rupert Murdoch from the dotcom bubble along the way) she was – often to her own surprise – at the heart of many of the pivotal moments of digital innovation.
With so much change over the years, how do you keep up when you’re in the thick of it? While some visionaries can see the change on the horizon (cue video of David Bowie schooling Jeremy Paxman on the potential of the internet in 2000) for us mere mortals it’s important that we take time to stop and reflect on our achievements as they happen – if necessary, take notes.
With our minds well and truly blown we swiftly retreated to the pub to buy everyone a drink and continue the many conversations our speakers had sparked.
Clearly it was thirsty work as the bar tab depleted in a matter of minutes but soon everyone had a drink in one hand and mini-burger in the other. It was great to see the comradery in the room as everyone relaxed and absorb the vibrant atmosphere. While many were sensible and made it home for a late dinner some stalwarts continued well into the small hours. Speaking of which, has anyone actually seen Matt since the after party?
Until next time
It has been a challenge to whittle down such a big day into one short blog, and the above is purely a taster. There was so much more which I couldn’t possibly do justice to without writing a novel.
As always it was a pleasure to support the industry and be involved in an event which helps us digest and understand the ever changing world of digital. I can’t wait to return to the beach in September for what I know will be another epic couple of days with so much more to be learnt.