What we learned from Rory Sutherland at MAD Fest

Lumen Towers emptied for a few days this week to join the gaggle of tech types, start-ups, and media folks at this year‘s energetic MADFest at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. We heard two clear themes across the event from several influential marketing leaders such as Justine Roberts CBE, founder of Mumsnet, Shamil Thakrar, co-founder of Dishoom, and Spectator and Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland.
The first theme was that, when it comes to marketing, quantity matters. This was sounded out in an excellent endnote speech by advertising legend Rory Sutherland. Rory, in a way that only he could, examined the importance of demonstrating the commercial value of communications. Mass communications work to increase the impact that marketing can have by making non-marketing minded people able to understand that marketing and brand are important. This idea was also echoed in talks from representatives of Samsung and Nivea in a discussion early in the day on how mass campaigns can be more useful than the ‘theatre of precision’ promised by targeting.
Secondly, we noticed what wasn’t being said: GDPR. Across the two days there was no real engagement with what should be being considered a real and existential threat to many business models. The ICO is coming and it’s one thing to be compliant with GDPR: it’s a much bigger stretch to be operationally efficient in compliance. Complaint to the level you don’t even think about it. Compliance needs to be baked into everyday business as usual. Do we have our heads in the sand?
Finally, we want to thank MADFest for organising another amazing affair, and give thanks to our friends at Unruly and Inskin, who were also there spreading the word about the importance of attention.