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CDX raises soft questions
Last week’s Caribbean Digital Expo (CDX) was billed as an event for the evolving, but it remains unclear how many attendees were really ready for the kind of changes that were being discussed. Nor was it immediately clear who the discussions were being pitched to.
Most of the audience seemed to be composed of IT professionals and corporate communications practitioners, with a smattering of the advertising professionals that the talks seemed to be targeting.
It’s arguable that if you were at CDX looking for a magic bullet solution for your public engagements in digital media, you weren’t in a position to ask Blackberry’s Sean Killen how its new BBX runtime would pull the company out of the massive hole it had found itself in, or task TSTT’s mobile representative about why, in 2011, it still had no real solution for mobile broadband, repeatedly acknowledged as the critical growth area for Internet use at every turn at the conference.
Of course, it really wasn’t a conference about hard questions. Caribbean Ideas CEO and CDX jefe Chike Farrell kept trying to drum up the rhythm of the conversations with earnest questions like “How will we meet these challenges?” CDX did offer some useful presentations that led by example, showing how either local entrepreneurs made things work despite infrastructure limits, or imported intellects sharing best practices from the emerald city of the first world.
I managed to catch one of those that really caught my attention by Jason De Turris, from Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CPB) who laid bare his agency’s strategy and methods for anyone who happened to be interested. De Turris’ talk was the kind of buck naked, this is how we do it presentation that really makes a conference worth attending, but it’s likely that he was talking to the wrong crowd.
After all, CPB bills itself as the first post-geographic agency, making heavy use of video conferencing to mass its talents when necessary and proudly proclaiming that, “we’re an agency that hates advertising.” This is a company that’s allocated 40 per cent of its 1,000 strong staff complement to a “digital team,” acknowledges the primacy of the “creative technologist” and asks new hires‚ “What have you invented lately.”
According to De Turris, CPB has had three broad phases in its existence, the culturally disruptive creative work of the 1990’s, the introduction of digital features during the first decade of the new century and the work it’s doing now, building brand systems. In this process, the client has no walls or silos and the advertising budget must establish the brand across different touchpoints.
“Boundless brands,” said De Turris, “create more connections, more bonding.” This is some distance from doing some Facebook, some QR codes and some Twitter as part of a marketing and promotional campaign. In the CPB way, the key drivers for success must shift sales to service thinking, create branded environments and experiences that attract customers, integrate with customer’s lives, build loyalty by knowing the customer and then streamline and simplify the shopping experience.
CPB introduces concepts with paid media and earns attention with buzz, conversations and social engagement. The agency begins by defining a challenge, then crafts a disruptive brand idea based on a map of the brand and user ecosystem. Crucially, the agency then gathers digital metrics, measuring the information that matters, and refines the concept and approach.
So what’s next for an audience that filled the Hyatt Regency’s ballroom? Best to take the advice of Jennifer Kattula, Facebook’s head of Agency Marketing who told attendees, “We say it’s best to start by starting.”
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