It was called the Brave Conference but that wasn’t the only theme to emerge from this fascinating Marketing Society event.
Passion, collaboration, boldness, togetherness, diversity - all emerged as critical subtexts of the day-long conference at London’s Science Museum.
Lyrical Essex poet Hussain Manawer opened up and knocked us off course, with a stirring tale of facing fear, feeling - and then overcoming - negative energy to achieve the overwhelmingly positive. And the sessions that followed explored how we can all be brave enough to do just that.
Hosted by BBC journalist Tina Daheley and introduced by Marketing Society chief executive, Gemma Greaves, it began with psychologist and author Dr Emma Barrett urging people to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Fear in itself is not a bad thing and can perform a useful function, she said, but it can stop us achieving our goals if it is not kept in check.
Once upon a time, you knew where you were, with The Marketing Society. You went along for quality, and quality was what you got. The Annual Conference would be at an establishment venue – somewhere with “Royal” or “British” in the name – and you’d hear object lessons in marketing success from the great and the good: CEOs and CMOs to a man. (Or sometimes a woman, though less often).
Of course, it wasn’t all suits: we had celebrity chefs, polar explorers, Olympic athletes and other successful public figures. But even then, it all seemed a bit powerpoint.
Please don’t misunderstand. We all enjoyed this. We learned a lot and we liked our annual chat with old friends.
And don’t get me wrong, this author for one has a huge respect for the former management team who transformed the Society from an insolvent not-for-profit, into a network of global leaders.
But all good things come to a new beginning. And the Marketing Society most certainly has.
Who wouldn’t want to be inspired? Invigorated, positive, motivated, uplifted. These are just some of the words that typically come to mind when we think about inspiration. And I’m delighted to say that I came away from this year’s conference feeling all of these emotions. The extraordinary stories and insights shared by a fascinating range of speakers were a genuine treat to experience.
Yet what also struck me was how many of the speakers themselves talked about very different emotions. From Min Kym and the loss of her treasured violin, to Mark Thompson handling Trump’s onslaught on the so-called “failing” New York Times. From the dreadful torment suffered by Syrian refugee and film-maker Hassan Akkad, to the shattered shoulder of Garrett McNamara, the world record-holding surfer. The words that best describe their experiences are very different in tone – testing, painful, daunting, frightening.
Big wave riders, violin virtuosos, refugee film-makers, Saudi lady mountaineers, healthcare pioneers and the odd CMO. Now I expect to find the last lot at a Marketing Society Conference but those first bunch were something of a surprise and a genuine delight.
The title and theme of the 2017 Marketing Society Conference was “Brave” and the speaker programme delivered on this in spades; expertly marshalled by the BBC's Tina Deheley and thoughtfully curated by Gemma Greaves.
I have to confess that I thought yada yada, blah blah when I first saw the title of the conference.
The Guardian, one of the UK's most admired media owners, was voted The Marketing Society's Brave Brand of the Year at its Annual Dinner last night. The award recognises bold marketing leadership and marketing excellence and is held in association with Campaign and sponsored by Videology.
Over 550 marketers cast their vote live on the night, selecting the news organisation from a shortlist of four other brands unveiled that evening – Direct Line, Doisy & Dam, Mars and The New York Times.
Marketing Society members and readers of Campaign magazine selected the shortlist from an original list of 20 brands. The Guardian joins an illustrious line of Brands of the Year including Channel 4 in 2016, O2 in 2015, Macmillan Cancer Support in 2014 and Sainsbury's in 2013.
In the current political climate, it was not surprising that two news organisations were recognised in the shortlist for their campaigning journalism in the face of challenging conditions.