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Notes from Verge: OgilvyOne's Digital Summit

It felt a little odd attending Verge, Ogilvy's conference on marketing in the digital age. All of the conferences I've attended thus far approach the digital medium from the other end – often celebrating how this new medium frees individuals from the tyranny of those that control the traditional forms of communications such as newspapers and television.
And there I was, sitting smack middle of <a href="http://www.chijmes.com.sg/">CHIJMES</a>, a place of worship turned local watering hole, listening to the big wigs of the advertising giant talk about how they could exploit social media. Light wafts of corporatese hit me, but what was alarming was how quickly I became accustomed to it. I knew I had to put aside my hippie bigotry if I was to learn anything from this conference. Corporations aren't evil. Repeat after me: corporations aren't evil.
The fact that I sat there for free…the guilt stung.
And as speaker after speaker went up and said things we digital revolutionaries hold dearly as creed, I started to believe. Maybe these PR folks finally got it. Or maybe they're just making mental bookmarks of these phrases with which they'd enthrall us into echoing their advertising messages.
Which of it is true, I doubt I'll ever know.One of the key points reiterated by a few speakers was that marketers needed to start giving back. Advertisements that provided entertainment, campaigns that embraced and voiced out what the relevant demographic's values were more likely to be accepted. It is no longer enough to be seen and heard all the time. Attention is at a premium these days, and taking it by force is no longer an option. You have to trade for it.
Something us in the public service could definitely learn.
Then Lucy McCabe spoke about how it was pointless to control what people were saying about your brand. That you had to learn to let it go, and start actively giving away content.
Wow. The line between hippies and suits had become extremely vague.
<h4>Digital Marketing Innovation by Jess Greenfield</h4>
The presentation of the day belongs to Jessica Greenfield from <a href="http://www.contagiousmagazine.com/">Contagious Magazine</a>. One of the few speakers not linked to Ogilvy, she resonated as our champion from camp digital hippie. Her examples on innovation in the digital marketing space were astounding:
<ul><li><a href="http://www.bebo.com/katemodern">Kate Modern</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/nov/01/comment.secondlife">Guardian's article on Beijing Cyber Recreation District</a>, a virtual world much, much larger than <a href="http://secondlife.com/">Second Life</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.emotionalcities.com/">Stockholm's Emotional Cities</a>, and how it united a city</li>
<li>Marketing for the new Batman movie The Dark Knight, Two-Face's political campaign <a href="http://www.ibelieveinharveydent.com/">I believe in Harvey Dent</a></li>
<li>Coke's <a href="http://coke.com/hf/">Happy Factory</a> advertisements</li>
<li>Ford's <a href="http://wherearethejoneses.com/">Where are the Joneses?</a>, a video campaign directed by users</li>
<li>Skinnable buildings like <a href="http://fc.barcelona.com/the_club/new_camp_nou">Norman Foster's Camp Nou (Barca's stadium)</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.methodhome.com/">Method Home Cleaning Products</a>, and how they used <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/files/2004/10/method_home_cle.php">user feedback</a> to develop their product</li></ul>
<h4>The 4 E's of Marketing by Christopher Graves</h4>
Experience, Everywhere, Exchange, Engagement (Christopher added this in), Evangelism.
Christopher's presentation introduced great points on branding. That branding could be made more focused if we used substituted our brands into a simple sentence:
<blockquote><em>[insert brand here]</em> believes the world would be a better place if <em>[insert the values you want your brand associated with]</em></blockquote>
While you can't control all aspects of your brand, you can leave enough good pieces for people to pick up and construct a favourable brand identity in their minds. A great place to check up on what people think of specific brands is <a href="http://www.brandtags.net/">Brand Tags</a>.
<h4>Conclusion</h4>
While many, many other things were said, these were the key points I could carry home in my tiny brain.

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