CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/2001 MARKETING FORUM - Restraint and sobriety set sail aboard the Oriana. Marketers preach a focus on the bottom line at their 2001 Forum

For obvious reasons a sense of restraint and contemplation hung

over initial proceedings at the 2001 Marketing Forum.



The tragedy in the US led to 70 marketers deciding not to attend, and a

large number of the remaining 900 delegates quite rightly had other

things on their mind.



On the whole, however, enthusiasm seemed to grow throughout the three

days and the seminars, meeting areas, bars and dancefloors were packed

throughout.



Of course, further signs of restraint were in evidence because of the

economic situation, but the focus of this year's Forum, which carried

the strapline "Challenging conventional thinking", was on being

enthusiastic despite the prevailing climate, and on developing

challenging ideas to combat a possible downturn.



The opening address was from Dianne Thompson, the chief executive of

Camelot. She was an apposite choice - after all, Camelot and its 800

employees were staring over the precipice last year when the People's

Lottery almost walked away with the second seven-year National Lottery

licence.



Thompson's address seemed to provide an early sense of the essence of

this year's event - a belief that businesses need to work harder on

injecting emotional capital into both their brands and their operations,

while not ignoring the bottom line.



She talked about her task of instilling "lost energy to a company that

became battle scarred and totally risk averse".



She discussed the need to change Camelot's culture to make it a "fun,

more inclusive, edgier company to work in". A starting point is to work

from the inside out with four new watchwords for staff: "passion",

"creativity", "empowerment" and "partnership".



Thompson quoted the unlikely trio of Isaac Asimov, Martina Navratilova

and Michael Douglas to back her general points to the conference that

there should be an increase in the number of marketers in the boardroom

and that getting closer to customers should be the new mantra. Her best

moment was her comment on public perceptions of Camelot.



"It's sad that the general public know the Camelot brand at all,"

Thompson says. "For me it should be something like Kingfisher, where it

is understood by the City, but has no public recognition."



The meetings side of the Forum held few surprises for agencies. There

were the usual comments that there were too many junior clients and

no-shows, but those realistic about their fortunes seemed to get higher

than usual levels of initial interest from clients.



Advertising agencies that exhibited included Fallon, St Luke's,

Publicis, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and M&C Saatchi. The media

contingent included Zenith, CIA, Michaelides & Bednash and BLM.



By the time of the 2000 Forum, the dotcom bubble had burst. This year

there was a clear focus on making online and interactive activity work

on the bottom line.



There were good presentations from Maurice Kelly at EasyEverything, the

agency client team of Jason George from Victoria Real and Dan Brooke of

Channel 4. In the "Content is king" seminar, Brooke was bullish about

future advertising share for television.



"We come back to the conclusion that TV is still king of media, and

where advertisers put most of their money. The evidence is that the

internet is not taking audience to any huge amount," he said.



Brooke predictably focused on Channel 4 success stories such as Big

Brother in demonstrating how TV can work with digital properties to

create a commercial success. He also revealed that, for the first time,

the broadcaster is developing a programme to meet with advertisers

directly for discussions of cross-platform and other opportunities. A

sign of continued media-owner frustration with agencies.



Further entertainment was provided by the BMP DDB chairman Chris

Powell's rant (or "grumble" as he played it down), which argued for more

emotion in advertising. Powell's contention is that advertising needs to

introduce a "language and structure to talk about emotions". He cited

examples such as Orange, Vodafone, Lynx and Sure, which, despite an

emotional message, reverted to factual, rational arguments to do the

trick.



"There are still plenty of people who see the role of TV advertising as

conveying information to the public," he argued. "But the audience is

not involved in absorbing this."



Powell's central message was to push for less involvement from agency

chiefs and clients in the briefing process. "We must let creative genius

do its bit," he said. "We must describe the task and then we should

probably get out of the way. We leave too little room for the

imaginative approach."



All good in theory, but most of the delegates were at seminars that

preached the cold, rationality of bottom line and hard working

advertising. Andrew Marsden, the category director of Britvic, said

after the conference that "frippery" was absent from the agenda. Given

events of recent weeks and the current economic situation, this is

understandable.



However, the sight of George Michael impersonator Robert Lamberti

sunbathing in full costume following his last-night performance provided

the occasion with some levity.



BE EMOTIONAL



Chris Powell, the chairman of BMP DDB, urged marketers to be

emotional.



- Advertising is living a lie that its role is to convey information to

the public.



- Viewers do not fully absorb these facts when in front of TV

advertising because their minds are not focused, and product details

will not register.



- Advertising needs to develop a "language and structure to talk about

emotions".



- There is too much discussion of "the size of the logo and product

claims" in advertising.



- There needs to be a debate on the briefing process to allow "creative

genius to do its bit".



CONTENT IS KING



Jason George, the creative director of Victoria Real, and Dan Brooke,

the deputy managing director of E4 and FilmFour, said content is

king.



- The future is interactive TV and wireless, rather than pure

internet.



- Iceland and Big Brother show that fulfilment and integration with back

room systems is vital.



- "TV is still king of media ... the internet is not taking audience in

any huge amount."



- A recent series of BMW ads, only available on the internet, generated

16 million visits to the site showing that content is still vitally

important.



- The advice to all delegates is that the best way to experience

interactive is to play around with digital TV at home.



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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).