Looking forward at AToMiC

The conference included speakers from PHD, PepsiCo and Saatchi & Saatchi talking about how to thrive in today's mediascape.

The most recent edition of the AToMiC conference featured everything from controlling brainwaves to the next app-creating geniuses.

Held at Kool Haus in Toronto, the conference kicked off with keynote speaker Alexander Manu, senior partner and chief imaginator at InnoSpa International talking about the future of the internet, how brands need to stop thinking of different mediums as channels and start thinking of them as platforms for engagement.

He said brands should have the foresight to latch onto new technology as quickly as possible. Campaigns should be created which are constantly changing and providing value as media. He also said Twitter will no longer exist within two years, a prediction which was ironically hotly tweeted.

Mark Holden, global strategy and planning director at PHD Worldwide, bombarded the audience with an exploration of how new and future technologies will shape the industry. He dove into the society of 2016, saying the way we do commerce will change massively, with 76% of retail planning to use Facebook to sell their products.

Creative versioning and optimization will become the role of the media agency, said Holden, adding that data will feed into real time dashboards, all leading to the creation of a media futures exchange.

He said agencies need to focus on innovation, making new product development a priority across all areas of the business and making those products more interesting.

“It is time for media agencies to pick a side,” he said. “Are you going to go down the automation route, or down the innovation route?”

Jeremy Grubaugh, CD, global creative solutions, Microsoft Advertising spoke on the art of creative storytelling. “Today is a great time for storytelling,” he told the crowd. “We are connected all the time.”

Frank Cooper III, CMO, global consumer engagement for PepsiCo broke from his scheduled topic to tell the room about what he calls “The Hit Principle.” Standing for humanity, imagination and truth, Cooper said the principle is the reason why some brands create meaningful connections with consumers, while others are left in the dust. He cited Google’s “Dear Sophie” ad and his own work with Mountain Dew’s “Dewmocracy” as pieces which reached out to consumers in a way that puts the consumer first in a truthful way.

Cooper also touched on the brand’s work with The X Factor, saying it took its sponsorship to the next level by agreeing to put the winner of the show in a Pepsi Super Bowl ad, effectively matching the $5 million prize given away by Fox to the winning singer.

For his talk, Tim Leake, CD and director of creative innovation at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, coined a new term – adprovising – or applying the rules of improv to marketing, beneficial these days because we don’t have the luxury of time anymore in this day of instant connectivity.

The rules included listening to what others say, in other words, don’t tell consumers what they want, let them tell you. He gave the example of Hyundai’s assurance program during the recession in which consumers could return cars if they lost jobs (sales were up 14% but only one car was returned). A rule that might be hard to swallow for marketers: a mistake is a gift. How you handle a mishap says a lot about company and the smart ones make it an opportunity, such as James Ready and its Cap Recall program, which was an AToMiC Awards winner. Also, find the game – discover what the audience responds to and do more of it. He gave the example of the Taco Bell Chihuahua campaign, which was one of several spots launched at the same time, but the audience had the strongest reaction to that one.

Leake’s final thought was to rehearse the rules, and to stop telling stories and start inspiring them instead.

Robin Hassan, digital group director, Starcom Mediavest Group led a panel on A New Model for Mobile, featuring Boris Chan, principal, xtreme labs, Shailesh Rao, co-founder and VP of business development, Goldrun and Brian Wong, founder and CEO, kiip.

Hassan shot down the belief that the Canadian smartphone market is small, saying 7.5 million Canadians have smartphones and 75% of those people go online everyday.

Goldrun co-founder Rao said to get companies involved in mobile, the developers need to simplify the tech into language business people understand.

“We need to bridge the sci-fi stuff with what you’re selling,” he said. “It is less about things like augmented reality and more about media buys and media planners.”

Closing out the day of talks was Trevor Coleman, COO at Interaxon, a company which specializes in thought-controlled computing. Their first project was featured at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, where visitors to a booth on the West Coast could think of the colour they wanted the CN Tower to be in Toronto and it would change to that.

Coleman said opportunities for brands to use the technology are endless, such as being able to pin-point the time in the day a consumer says they could use a break for a Kit-Kat, based on their brain waves.

MiC’s Jennifer Horn caught up with a few of the speakers to get their thoughts on AToMiC, and the future of the industry, before the conference ended and the first annual awards began in the evening.