The Marketing Forum: top ten talking points

Martin Glenn was the main focus of discussions in workshops and seminars on the Oriana cruise-liner.

1. Martin Glenn's keynote address

In a one-hour talk, Glenn, the former Pepsi-Co president, proposed remedies for the industry's main problems. These problems included diminishing brand equity, consumer cynicism over ethical marketing and advertising bans. His ideas were then parroted in most of the seminars and workshops that followed.

2. Larry Hochman's keynote address

The former British Airways director talked about how building relationships and loyalty with the most profitable customers should be at the top of any company's agenda. In a well-delivered speech, the American focused on the importance of lifetime customer relationships.

3. Sir Matthew Pinsent's closing speech

Despite saying that he didn't know anything about marketing, the four-times Olympic gold-winning rower wowed the audience with his tales of how dedication and determination can be used in any career to propel yourself to the top.

4. Ad agency attendance

The debate on whether ad agencies can gain from turning up at the forum was raised again this year. There is a perception of there being too few business op-portunities and senior clients present to justify the expense of attending. But the few adlanders present agreed that the forum's events provided an insight into the changes within marketing.

5. Workshops

These free-flowing exchanges were the busiest, and most enjoyable, places to be. Titles included "Adapt or die?", "The internet is here to stay" - run by the Glue London head, Mark Cridge - and "Building the best team possible" where delegates produced ice-cream together.

6. 'Taking shit seriously'

One of the best conferences of the forum was run by an anthropologist who has worked with Unilever in India informing disadvantaged people there about how simply washing their hands with soap could save two million babies a year that die of diarrhoeal diseases. The workshop kicked up a lively debate on whether the FMCG giant was really attempting to eradicate disease, or simply pushing its Lifebuoy soap brand.

7. Medina VIP Stream

A number of senior executives, including Leo Burnett's Bruce Haines and Starcom's Jim Marshall, were grouped together in a special VIP forum headed by Glenn. They focused on some of the challenges facing the marketing industry. Among the ideas that were discussed were marketing's role in the boardroom, enhancing its relevance to the financial community and attracting and keeping talent.

8. Life coaching

Given the stresses, the trials and the tribulations of the common marketer, Richmond Events invited eight different types of life coach on to the Oriana. They were there to offer help, advice and knowledge on a whole gamut of problems that marketers face - from lost confidence to problems with career progression. So effective were the intense one-on-one sessions that some delegates left in tears.

9. The Crow's Nest

To be found at the front of the ship, the Crow's Nest bar led a double life. During the day it hosted a huge number of exhibitors where suppliers and delegates could meet to talk about their businesses and hopefully forge new relationships. However, at night it became the hottest meeting point for the after-dinner drinkers who wanted to continue into the early hours - to pursue their business contacts, of course.

10. Lunches, dinners, service and perks

With just under 750 delegates and 900 staff, the hospitality lavished on the guests was phenomenal. However, this was surpassed by the amount of food that was available at meal times. With a full breakfast, up to six courses at lunch and nine courses at dinner, many had to be rolled off the ship on Saturday morning. The best treat was reserved for the speakers, who were all offered a free massage.


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