This is how every panel discussion should start:
room full of very serious marketing professionals singing you an awkward and
off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday" and giving you a bottle of Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel Raspberry and Chocolate Ale. Yep, that happened. The Ad Club's Food For Thought panel discussion
on concepting for new media coincided with my birthday. And
the crowd wasn't going to let me forget it. And secretly, I appreciated
This is who you should have on every creative panel:
Dan Ligon from Made. Steve Babcock from Evolution Bureau. And Jen Hohn from Vladimir Jones. All creative directors with long histories of melting people's faces with brilliant work. And then there's me, sitting up there alongside them wondering when someone was going to point out what a huge fraud I am. They say you should strive to be the dumbest person in the room. Yeah. OK. Not a problem.
This is who should moderate every panel discussion you ever have:
Jay Roth. The nicest, most talented, most passionate copywriting pro in Denver. He wrangled the aforementioned assemblage of talent. Filled the room. And kept the conversation on track.
This is what someone asked at the end, which would have actually been a better place for us to start than the whole birthday song thing:
"This was supposed to be a talk about creative concepting. But you four spent the whole time talking about how you need social media people to help spread your digital ideas. Well, at the last Food for Thought panel, there were a bunch of social pros complaining how they can't get the creatives to concept for social. Why don't you jerks get on the same page?"
This is the answer:
We say the same thing, but we speak different languages. And a similar vision can easily be squashed by cultural barriers. One of the things that marks a modern agency is seamless and generous horsetrading between ideas for owned, earned and paid media.
This is what you would have learned if you would have come:
Big ideas are not the panacea they used to be. The web world thrives on little ideas that are emotional, beautiful, spontaneous and relevant. (Yes, Gareth Kay has been saying something similar for years.) This means developing a brand platform is more important than having a campaign idea. Then you must, must, must have talented writers and designers who
positively inhabit your brand voice and who are free to respond to cultural
trends almost (or seemingly) in real time.
This is what the panel didn't do much of:
Disagree. We actually had to struggle to find places for debate. We also didn't drop too many buzzwords, although I may have riffed about slow storytelling for a minute.
This is the word that I took away with me:
And this is why:
Because of something Steve said. If you want to engage people in digital media, you need a purpose beyond just making money. So why are you online? To entertain? To educate? To support a movement? To sponsor art or curate greatness? If you know why you're online, people are going to follow you, share your stuff, and love your brand. If you don't, you might as well just throw your money away.