Highlights from the 2016 Ad Age Brand Summit

Content Strategist
Published 12/2/16
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Last month I attended the Ad Age Brand Summit in Los Angeles, which brought together marketers from a variety of industries, all with the goal of learning new strategies to help brands of all sizes succeed in today’s complex media environment. 

Sessions ranged from future opportunities in virtual reality to the risks and rewards of live video, as well as case study success highlights from major players such as Target, Intel, Honda and Mountain Dew.

Though speakers covered a wide range of topics, what I took away as the overarching theme of the event was that meaningful brands do meaningful things—to be successful, you not only need to be authentic, but culturally relevant, consumer focused and, at times, fearless. 

Below are some of my favorite quotes, thoughts and ideas shared during the Summit:

Ben Steele, REI: Think of authenticity as multidimensional; telling a great story isn’t enough: brands that take action truly drive engagement. Get more comfortable stepping into cultural spaces and into controversy. 

Tariq Walker, AOL: Generosity is something we need to think about as marketers, both what we’re giving consumers, and what we’re asking of them—i.e. to read or watch our content. When it comes to creating meaningful content, he offered a new meaning for the acronym GTFOH: Are you being Generous? Do you have Trust? Are you Fearless? Do you have Openness? Are you Helping? 

Lars Bastholm, Google ZOO: Don’t confuse data with inspiration. Data doesn’t start the idea—data is the consequence of something that happened. An idea is the beginning of something new.

William White, Target: Think human first. Think about who you’re trying to reach and what drives them and motivates them. Craft your strategies around that. 

Stinson Parks, Mountain Dew: We are living in the days of the “experience economy,” so it’s important that your content—especially when it comes to virtual reality—offers a unique, engaging experience that is valuable to consumers. 

A few other interesting stats heard during the conference:

     *In a few years, 50% of marketing will be live interactions; the key is picking the right platform for your audience 

     *6.5 million VR headsets are expected to ship in the coming year—and that number came before the Google Daydream announcement 

     *VR/AR will be a $1 trillion industry in the next 20 years

     *It took the telephone 75 years to get 50 million users; it took Pokemon GO three days