Industry & Life Insights from Advertising Week New York

Published By
Bruna Tenorio Bruna Tenorio

I never thought that one day I’d have the chance of attending Advertising Week New York – the premier world’s event in the industry.

However, as unpredictable as life can be, I’ve just come back from the last edition.

It was four days full of insightful panels about data, tech, e-sports, gender equality, diversity, creativity, branding, storytelling, emotions and customer engagement, and so much more.

I knew that once I got there, I’d be lost between so many panels I wanted to attend. Unfortunately, we (still) can’t be at more than one place at the same time, so, I did my best to plan ahead.

With a notebook, a pen, and an immeasurable mix of excitement and curiosity, I left my Airbnb in New Jersey, early every day, to get the maximum out of #AWNEWYORK!

DAY #1

Six panels attended, an entire day of learning and astonishing. From “Co-Creation“, by Cirque Du Soleil & Sid Lee to “Bias in Advertising“, by Saturday Morning and P&G, I left the first day full of energy, insights, and joy.

Some of the highlights from Day 1:

  • “Humans avoid uncertainty. Uncertainty comes from our fear of death. Unless you embrace it and decide to take risks. That’s what we do at Cirque du Soleil.” (Sheila Morin, Senior Director Marketing of Cirque Du Soleil)
  • “Media is not creating only one moment with consumers; it is creating different moments across the entire consumer journey. By using emotional targeting it’s possible to create genuine engagement and drive brand value.”

Advertising is biased toward gender and race.

Wait, no.

The world is (unconsciously) biased.

The issue is bigger than we think and is still a work in progress. “The Look“, a campaign created by P&G and Saturday Morning, brings the issue to ads to provoke discussions around it. More than worth to watch it.

DAY #2

Six more incredible panels. Starting the day with Fernando Machado, the CMO of Burger King, and closing it with Disney in a compelling presentation about “Storytelling.”

I can’t even say how amazing it was to have the opportunity of attending such panels. Fernando Machado is undoubtedly one of the bravest marketers I’ve heard about so far, always willing to take risks that others wouldn’t even consider. The “Whopper Detour” is one of the best proofs of that.

Some of the highlights from Day 2:

  • “The best question to be asked is ‘What happened?’ because this gives room to the interviewee to tell her/his story.”(Mike Greenberg Host, Get Up!, ESPN)
  • “Nowadays everyone is looking for ways to implement the newest tech in their strategies. However, they are doing it wrong. Briefs shouldn’t be made focused on using tech. Briefs should focus on your objectives towards your target, and tech should come as one of the tools you could use to create real engagement with your consumers.” (Fernando Machado, CMO of Burger King)
  • “TV is now fragmented. Consumer behaviour is dynamic. And there is a lot of content available across different devices. Such a fragmented viewership also fragments data, which can lead to media opportunities: companies can now reach a specific audience on TV.”
  • “It’s not only about technology improvements, but also (most important) about the internal organization. Teams must collaborate with each other to reach a common goal, as each of them has different touching points throughout the consumer journey.”

DAY #3

I decided to start the day attending one panel that wasn’t in my pre-defined schedule: “Morning Meditation & Optimized Business,” by Conscious Enterprises. Why? Well, I believe that taking care of our minds is one of the most important things to do and that we usually forget.

How many hours per day do we truly dedicate to take care of ourselves? 🙂

As a person who has already tried to meditate for thousands of times without succeeding, there was one lesson from this section that got into my mind, and I’d like to share with those who feel the same way:

“The mind thinks involuntarily, just as the heart beats involuntarily. So, telling your mind to stop thinking, is as effective as telling your heart to stop beating.”

(Emily Fletcher Founder & CEO, Ziva Meditation)

That’s how learning to meditate should start: by accepting that the thoughts and concerns will keep coming while you’re there seated and breathing. However, once you recognize there is nothing you can do about it, you’ll feel much lighter after taking some minutes to just quietly sit and breathe.

The other panels that I got the chance to attend during Day 3 were all about AIunderstanding Generation Z,and improving customer experiences.

Some of the highlights were:

  • “When you’re designing your customer experience journey, you should view problems as goals. And adopt a transformation vision: bottom-up, using tech to understand your customers, and top-down, using tech to improve their experiences with your brand.” (David Levin, VP, Customer Experience & Digital Innovation, Bob’s Discount Furniture)
  • “GenZrs are religious to brands, as they see it as an extension of who they are. However, brands must represent GenZrs values at first.” (Nadya Okamoto, Chief Brand Officer of JUV Consulting)
  • “Within the Advertising Industry, only a few women are in power positions (11%). And when it comes to creative, it gets even worse. Without enough women having the chance to produce content, ads end up being much more likely to be gender-biased.” (Rachel Terrace, CMO of TIME’S UP)
  • “Machine Learning is a program that consumes data and makes predictions. Artificial Intelligence is a program that considers predictions and takes an action. In Advertising, AI can be applied to audience discovery, dynamic creative, and predictive analytics.” (Jacob Grabczewski Head of Product, Copilot, Xaxis)

DAY #4

Last day of #AWNEWYORK and the desire to get the most out of it! Burnout x Resilience, Women: Decision Makers and Influencers, Future of Content Marketing, Brand Building and Experiential Engagement… What a day!

  • “Accept that you’re not in control of anything besides your mind, your actions, and your will; this will give you real freedom.” (Lucio Ribeiro, Professor at RMIT in Marketing and A.I.)

“Podcasts are only good if they fit into your content strategy. It must have context. It shouldn’t be only about checking a box.” (Jamie Luke, Director of Content at The Foundry @ Meredith Corp)

  • “The future of content will focus more on what people/influencers are creating/crafting instead of how many people they are reaching. It’s about quality instead of quantity.” (Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich, Co-Founder at Masthead Media Company)
  • “Brands want to be out there sharing content about themselves; however it’s more important to first understand what consumers are looking for, which phase they are in the consumer journey, and deliver the type of content they need – so you can truly engage them.” (Stephanie Stahl, VP at Content Marketing Institute)
  • “You learn the most from the people you like the least. Difficult people teach you what not to do and also how to do extraordinary things.” (Sarah Ivey, Founder at Agents of Necessity)

Finally, here is an example of what happens when women are in power in the ad industry. Coors Light launched the first beer ad focused on women as consumers: “The Official Beer of Being Done Wearing a Bra.” The idea was not to exclude men but to include women in the conversation. Watch the ad.

Chelsea Parker is the Senior Marketing Manager behind it.

When we developed this campaign, we made a conscious decision to focus on real moments — things our consumers were actually doing. Taking your bra off at the end of a long day is one of those moments that really resonated. By choosing to feature occasions that feel surprising for beer advertising, we’re hoping to forge more authentic connections with our drinkers.

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What more can I say?

Attending such an exciting event and learning about the future of advertising from such amazing speakers was just… mind-blowing!

It was also one of those life opportunities for me to get out of my routine and put myself in some uncomfortable situations:

  • I was travelling to a city I’ve never been to before (New Jersey);
  • I’ve been one time in New York before, but now I was walking around the city without data to access the internet;
  • I had offline maps, yeah. But I still got lost multiple times – which was great because I got to accidentally discover different places;
  • I was alone out there, and as a shy person, I confess it scared me at first. But, I just ignored my fears and once I was there, I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to different people, why not? 🙂

I can say that after all the experiences and learnings I went through those four days, I left Advertising Week feeling more human, more energized, and more prepared to face the challenges that are yet to come.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

― Brené Brown

A special thanks to Centennial College for the bursary that helped me to attend Advertising Week 🙂