The collection of senior marketers at each Marketing Society Dubai event grows more diverse, interesting and whatsmore, engaged each month. On this occasion, two years since our launch, on arrival there were senior marketing execs from Dubai Airports, Emirates NBD, The Entertainer, IBM, Majid Al Futtaim, MBC, Unilever sprinkled with a handful of senior agency and consulting folks. Each event gets busier and with a bigger buzz. And that’s why we keep coming. The conversations amongst this growing community before the main attraction are often as meaningful as anything said on stage. Regular marketing community interaction, beyond big festivals, is rare in this part of the world. It’s becoming vital to catch up on unfinished conversations from the last time; great to build upon growing friendships; a delight to share ideas, opportunities and general chit-chat.
With the weather tipping to well over 40 degrees in sunny Dubai this morning… and before everyone vacates to cooler possibilities, Marketing Society members gathered for an inspirational session with Calvin Hart from IBM who recently relocated to Dubai from the startup Shoreditch Hoxton hub world in London to D3 design district in Dubai. He walked us through how design thinking is being applied to help businesses revolutionize their understanding of their own marketplace and positioning and how better to connect with consumers through a solid framework of thinking. Reminiscent thoughts of how parker pens moved from the pen market into the gifting market came to my mind as well as all the industries that are at break speed trying to revolutionize into a ‘XaaS’ (something as a service) business model: transport as a service, entertainment as a service, and retail as a service to thrive.
At times innovation feels like that famous scene in the Monty Python film, ‘Life of Brian’, where the crowd is told, “you are all different” and they reply in unison “yes we’re all different”. It’s a wonderfully ironic example of saying one thing and doing another. We may be all working for different companies, with different innovation needs and challenges, yet too often everyone is approaching innovation in the same way. Currently, too many companies are doing… the same things in similar ways, with the same consumers, asking the same questions, reading the same reports, going to the same conferences and getting to the same ideas, at about the same time! Innovation is a growth game… and growth comes in numerous different forms so the first question needs to be what type of growth are you looking for? Steal Share (same brand and core category)
Some called 2017 the “year of women”. Time Magazine’s person of the year was “The silence breakers”, the thousands of people who blew the whistle on sexual harassment. They didn’t put thousands on the cover however, five women were represented in the cover photo, together with an arm, an anonymous arm. The sixth image of an elbow, belongs to an anonymous young hospital worker from Texas — a sexual harassment victim who fears that disclosing her identity would negatively impact her family. And the five on the cover are Taylor Swift, Ashley Judd, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, lobbyist Adama Iwu, and Isabel Pascual, who is a strawberry picker and an immigrant from Mexico whose name was changed to protect her identity.
There was a time not long ago when a visit to a tourist attraction posed a real risk of being guillotined by busloads of teenagers (or pensioners) with selfie sticks. Recognising the safety, security and nuisance factors, numerous sites and attractions put selfie stick bans in place — Disney Parks, Wimbledon, Versailles, Carnival in Rio, the National Museum of Iran, Coachella — and so have some cities, including Milan and Mecca. And don’t dare take a selfie stick out on Japan’s JR West train system — they’re banned in all 1,195 stations at all times. But banning the stick hasn’t had much impact, if any, on our seemingly insatiable craving for selfies. As a platform, Instagram has been both a key player in shaping this global phenomenon, as well as one of its key beneficiaries in terms of growth and revenue. It has more than 800 million monthly active users, and 500 million daily. Both static images, and increasingly videos, vie for attention.