Zee Melt 2019 - Thoughts to Ponder Over
By: Chaitra Patel and Sakina Godhrawala
Zee Melt, a two-day conference for disruptive marketing and communications, opened to a packed house on the morning of May 30, 2019 in Mumbai. Conferences, especially of the scale of Zee Melt are not easy to organise. Generating engaging content over two days, for a crowd of nearly 2000 (maybe more) media, advertising and marketing professionals, is even more challenging. But, Zee Melt delivered that, and much more! From picking select global industry veterans as key note speakers to organising interactive panel discussions and workshops, Zee Melt 2019 provided plenty of inspiration and food for thought. Here are a few key takeaways from our experience at Zee Melt 2019:
Keeping it Simple: Do we really need to focus on making ourselves look more intelligent
to others or should we just focus on finding a usable and great solution to a problem on hand? Dave Trott, author, creative director and copywriter, helped us understand the importance of the latter because according to him, if you don’t get the problem right there wouldn't be a solution! That probably also explains why the fast-food chain Burger King’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, Fernando Machado believes in one-line creative briefs that are precise, to the point and let’s be honest, not the easiest to develop. But, that’s precisely what makes them intelligent! As Dave Trott summed his talk aptly, “Simple is smart, complicated is stupid”. It couldn’t get wiser and simpler than this!
Believe in What You Do, Everything Else Will Fall in Place: Sounds easy, but really is it? For an unconventional brand like Amul, apparently it is. Listening to R S Sodhi, MD at Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation on day 1 of Zee Melt was an eye opener.
From spending less that 1% of turnover on advertising and giving an absolutely free hand to their two advertising agencies, to rejecting the notion of celebrity endorsements, Amul continues to buckle the trend in every possible way because the brand truly believes in enjoying consumer blind faith, over greater equity. Key to understanding why and how Amul turned into such as success story despite the dominance of regional players, is consistency. Had Dr. Kurien not believed in his vision of striking an emotional chord with consumers of all age groups, had he not prophesied the need to adapt to changing environments and anticipate change, one wonders where Amul would have been in an India post liberalisation. Thankfully for a billion Indians, Amul believed in its consumers and in itself!
Creativity, Creativity and More Creativity: “Creativity has never been more crucial”, said Laura Jordan Bambach, CCO, Mr. President UK, at Zee Melt. Indeed, from Laura to Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman at Ogilvy UK and Copy Chief and author Vikki Ross, everyone was on the same page.
If good creativity is capable of creating customers, like Sutherland highlighted, then why do we reply on boring copy with cliched vocabulary when we speak to them? Are robots from the AI world really taking over our jobs and writing ads for consumers? Not so, said Vikki Ross! Because, what separates us humans from robots is creativity! Robots can’t tell stories because they can’t feel, and they don’t know what it is to love, to be loved or to lose love. So, write or create something that truly makes sense to consumers, because that’s what propels business! Or as Laura Jordan Bambach said, “We must take some unexpected and take something else unexpected and bash the two together and make something incredible”.
Follow the Consumer: Who are the real trend setters on digital platforms – is it brands or is it users on social media? A workshop on the art of mobile advertising by Anoop Menon of Facebook emphasised the latter. If businesses are looking to create engaging, creative and fun Facebook and Instagram ads, then it’s vital for them to look out for what users on social media are talking about. Users are the true trendsetters and not brands! Following the kinds of emojis they express, the stories they share and the gifs they create on Facebook and Instagram, aids businesses. Hence, businesses ought not to be following brands to watch what’s trending; instead they should follow users. That’s the key to running successful businesses, especially the kinds that operate solely out of social media.
Be Afraid But Do It: Nobody could have said this better than Fernando Machado himself!
Businesses need to stick their necks out and take risks if they want to create brand recall or something wonderful. In fact, to be afraid is good, because if we’re not afraid, we’d never create anything outstanding. And, that is precisely the weak link that the competition in waiting to cash in on!
If an idea attracts more neutral reactions than negative ones, then just go ahead with the idea, because you really can’t go dreadfully wrong with that. Maybe you’d fail, but if you didn’t do it, how would you know what success tastes like when you do achieve it? Consumers, Machado said, are more open to ideas and social issues than brands give them credit for. That’s why new ideas need to be trusted and given time to grow even if it means being afraid of executing them. Ultimately, nothing worth having has ever come risk-free!
These are just a few thoughts that have inspired us from the two days we spent at Zee Melt. They probably don’t do justice to the entire league of extraordinary speakers that presided over the event. But, they certainly do stand out in our minds for their exceptional ability to make us more inquisitive, ask questions and hopefully look forward to Zee Melt in 2020!