Mike Fletcher heads to the Rome Cavalieri to report on highlights from the most inclusive and straight-talking Festival of Media Global to date
Festival of Media Global (FOMG), which took place at the Rome Cavalieri from 13th to 15th May, promised to be the most inclusive and brand heavy festival to date.
It didn’t disappoint its 600 plus delegates who were treated to sessions from 70 speakers, who included, among others, Jaguar Land Rover, Mars, Deustche Telekom, Audi, Adidas, LEGO, LVMH, and Shell.
More than half of the FOMG speakers were female, while two keynotes spoke about their disabilities with a real openness and authenticity.
Social entrepreneur, Caroline Casey talked from the heart about being visually impaired and hiding it from her employer. She then spoke passionately about her mission to ignite, amplify and mobilise inclusive business leadership.
“There’s one billion people living with a disability today and we’re worth eight trillion dollars to the global economy. If we get disability right, we’ll get workplace inclusion right so we need to change the narrative and start humanising disability for business,” she told delegates.
“By 2020, 20% of people in Europe will have developed a disability,” she continued. “Only 4% of the one billion need a wheelchair. The rest are living with mental, physical or learning disabilities. This impacts brand culture, talent acquisition, customer retention and access to new business. Wouldn’t it be great if we could adopt a universally inclusive culture by companies placing disability squarely on their boardroom agendas.”
Artist and cyborg activist, Neil Harbisson followed Casey’s keynote to disclose how he overcame complete colour blindness by having an antenna implanted in his skull, which allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours via audible vibrations.
The authentic bravery and openness of these first two FOMG sessions seemed to filter through to all the speakers over the two days in Rome.
We saw brand and agency leaders talk candidly about operating models, in-sourcing, and the role of the media network in this new landscape.
Gemma Greaves, CEO of the Marketing Society conducted a frank and honest fireside chat with the Global Corporate Brand and Purpose Director of Mars, Michele Oliver.
Plus, we strained to hear from Simon Peel, Global Media Director for adidas, as he braved the FOMG stage having already lost his voice, in order to share whispered insight on how the German sports brand has evolved its internal media and marketing ecosystem, in order to better prepare itself for the global review of its $300 million media-buying account.
Moreover, Emi Gal, CEO of Teads Studio, outlined his vision for a brave new world, in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) permeates every aspect of our existence.
He predicts that within the next decade we’ll be able to swallow a pill at breakfast that will analyse the different nutrients our body requires and communicate those food types to our fridge, which will then place a shopping order with Amazon.
Gal then showed FOMG delegates how AI will impact everything from the creation of art and music to delivering bespoke personalised advertising for every individual on the planet.
“Instead of having one video ad, brands will develop narrative frames and let the AI decide the order in which to deliver the content, based on an individual’s profile or behaviour,” he said. “Today, we can already create these ads and target them to hundreds or thousands of audience segments. In the future, we’ll be able to do it for every single impression – so millions of different versions – as well as creating ads you can talk to and interact with in mixed reality environments.”
Away from the catwalk stage – in the three break-out zones dedicated to Future Technologies, Content and Control – debates swirled around issues such as fake news, the ethical change that’s needed in ad tech, the role of data, and advertising considerations for more screen-less environments.
Furthermore, PHD’s Global Business Director, Sneha Nagesh advised delegates on leveraging advancements in voice technology and search.
She said: “Many people use their VPA (Virtual Personal Assistant) to discover entertainment, news, recipes and brand skills. But today, one in four smart speaker owners also shop via their device. Brands looking to tap into this market need to change the way they think about packaging, advertising and discoverable content.
“In the context of voice, it’s now ‘what does my brand sound like? How do I partner with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home? And how do I optimise my brand content for voice search?
“In order to devise strategy, brands need to innovate, identify the role of voice in your customer’s journey, understand how users search on different platforms, and find the right context and experiences where your brand’s voice can facilitate genuine interaction that will drive sales and engagement,” Nagesh concluded.
To top all of these highlights and more, 80 trophies were awarded on the first evening of FOMG 2018 for Media, Insight & Technology and Content.
Networks MediaCom and PHD were the two big winners. MediaCom took home 19 trophies to eight different countries, including the Agency Network of the Year Grand Prix. While PHD scooped 20 trophies.
PHD’s Touché! Canada won six Golds and the Agency of the Year accolade. Touché!’s campaign, ‘Data vs Car’ for VIA Rail Canada was additionally awarded the Grand Prix for the Campaign of the Year.
Proving its global appeal, out of 53 countries that entered the FOMG awards, winners came from 27 countries. The UK led the way with 19 wins, followed by Canada (10), the US (7), and Israel and China both taking home five trophies each.
But the real winner was the festival itself. It delivered on its promises and delegates left Rome braver, bolder and feeling inspired.