The gathering was select, youthful and happening and, as I am none of those things, I was not invited. Luckily, someone took pity on me and invited me along. In the same spirit of sharing, I am passing what interested me on to a wider audience, so that advertising addicts everywhere can benefit.
First up, I have to say that the speakers were exceedingly patient and compelling but there was no getting away from the fact that the AV person was absolutely, utterly, pathetically hopeless. So anyone who could perform in this environment was indeed brilliant.
BBH and Pulse were on first. John O'Keeffe and the Axe European brand director, Margaret Jobling, took to the stage, the AV trainee did his worst, and still this shone out as a piece of truly innovative thinking.
The team's list of observations went as follows. 1. Media neutrality is bollocks. Who, honestly, wants to be neutral? 2. Aim for ideas that reach out beyond paid-for media and assume a life of their own. Aim to pick a track that becomes a platinum hit across Europe, reaping huge rewards for agency and music publisher. 3. Source the track upfront, rather than, as is usual, when the filming stops. 4. Develop a healthy distaste for big budgets. Lynx Pulse had a £3 million media spend and garnered £2 million worth of free PR. 5. It all comes down to how much fun the nation can have with your idea. 6. Sexual ability is linked to dancing ability. Actually, they didn't say this but they did invite the trio from the ad to perform the Pulse dance live and, frankly, this was the only conclusion to be drawn.
Session two was from an agency the audience had never heard of (23red) for a client it had no interest in (the FIA World Rally Championship).
It puzzles me why this was even included.
Session three consisted of Robin Wight, the 118 118 marketing director, Alex Lewis, and the two 118 118 runners - yes, live and in person, as awesome as the Pulse threesome but without the sexy dancing.
Wight's observations went as follows. 1. The key to the campaign's spread from paid-for media to national consciousness was memetics. This is about making ideas memorable and is a concept invented by Richard Dawkins of Selfish Gene fame. The ad business is about meme management. 2. The first in the 118 market was destined to be first in the mind. Lewis' tips were a little more direct. She showed a number of superb 118 118 ads. She added that a £17 million adspend played a crucial role in "spreading the message".
So there you have it. A bit of a mixed bag of tips, if you ask me. But if you do everything these presenters ask and if you really want your advertising to succeed (raw ambition is oddly absent from any of the tips), then I hope, given a fair wind from the macro economic factors that affect us all, you will do just fine.
You may wonder why no-one supplied the killer factor that can make one campaign a success while nine others fail. However, observing the AV trainee at work, threatening to torpedo each carefully rehearsed presentation before a single word had been uttered, anyone could have guessed. It's luck, of course.