Head of digital at Ogilvy Melbourne, Ben Kidney, who joined Ogilvy Melbourne in December 2015 following a stint as Executive Producer at RG\A New York, reports his day by day experiences at SXSW.
Day two:The thing that strikes me about SXSW is the diversity and scale of the event. You can literally attend a Adobe design session walk to the room across the hall and straight into a lecture on merging a human mind with a machine.
Day two was no different - an eclectic mix of technology, sport, innovation in government, a three-times New York Times best seller, making our future lives better through technology and sustainable practices.
The theme of the day has been around digital, social and technology having a positive impact and a source of good in people’s lives.
This sentiment also comes with an acknowledgment that the proliferation of devices, social media platforms and technology so ingrained in our lives is not always good for us. I agree with this, however I didn’t think I’d hear it at SXSW.
I attended a panel titled ‘Building Influential Tech Brands’ with some seriously heavy-hitting panelists (David Lee – CCO Squarespace; Marcela Sapone – co-founder and CEO, Hello Alfred; and Robin Thurston - chief digital officer, Under Armour).
It’s safe to say that there has been a disconnect between start-ups and investment in brand building. However, this is changing and it was the consensus of the panel that great start-ups and their products have failed due to a lack of awareness with consumers.
It was great to hear the need for marketing and advertising was being recognised in start-up land.
So why has advertising and marketing taken a backseat until now? Start-ups would say it’s a matter of priorities as they focus on survival.
So what’s changed? We are seeing a maturity of the tech and start-up scene and an acknowledgment their brand is the product in the consumer's mind.
Something that I don’t believe we fully utilise or plan for enough in Australia is harnessing and creating brand noise around shared cultural moments and events. We have them - AFL grand final, NRL grand final, Melbourne Cup, Mardi Gras - but I struggle to think of an example of a Australian brand genuinely creating a moment at one.
Squarespace has for the first time just run the trifecta of big US advertising moments, The Super Bowl, Academy Awards and the Grammys. All with bespoke TVCs purpose made for the event. The stated objective of building brand awareness.
Under Armour began life as a traditionally-minded retailer of sporting apparel. They integrated technology into their business through acquisition, not messing around, they spent over $500 million purchasing three apps that now provide their consumers a connected system of software and hardware measuring sleep, food intake, physical activity and general health.
They are likely one of the world's leading sport/tech brands, which will no doubt benefit them in their battle for supremacy with Nike and Adidas.
There is a great lesson in this for all of us, it doesn’t matter how far behind in technical capabilities you are, it’s never too late and the rewards can be great.
Robin Thurston’s message to all marketers in the room today, no matter who they work for, “you’re not spending enough on digital”. And I completely agree with him.
Ben Kidney, head of digital Ogilvy Melbourne