FR Out and About: Three Takeouts from Contagious Live

Alongside the great and the good of adland, on Thursday we weaved our way through the assembled Christmas light appreciation crowds on Carnaby St to BBH’s plush offices for a fresh evening of creative inspiration and pizza hosted by Contagious.

We love Contagious Live events at FR towers – punchy, inspirational, and full of innovative and thought-provoking new approaches which keep us and our thinking on our toes.

Here are our three top takeouts from the evening:

  • Adland’s constant chasing of bright, shiny new things is neither big, clever, nor effective

We’ve been monitoring the marketing and advertising space for some time now, and it’s hard to miss that, as soon as a new channel, technique or platform launches, advertisers get tremendously excited about its potential.

In the introductory speech, presented in Contagious’ typically engaging way, the room learned that this approach just leads to a lot of wasted energy. Seems obvious, right? But just look at the brands pushing to jump on TikTok.

Where consumers congregate, of course brands want to jump on the bandwagon. Being first equals innovation and engagement, and reaps the standout rewards.

Well, only if the campaign is also properly targeted, well thought through, and has the right rigor behind it. If not, all that chasing of bright shiny new objects…it just tires the brand, and its marketers out. Not to mention the customers.  

  • Be more Blue Ocean, and less Red Ocean.

No, we’re not talking about plastic. For once.

A major element in the evening focused on challenging the rules, and making your own space to engage (the Blue Ocean) rather than struggling for space and competition among everyone else in the consumer attention bloodbath (Red Ocean, geddit?).

We saw campaigns from Burger King in Finland, breaking their own brand rules by creating a completely silent drive-thru – in recognition that Finland is a country of introverts. We learned the Nike created their own shopper experience and encouraged more trial of their new trainers’ bouncy soles by creating Reactland – a bespoke SuperMario-eque platform game where people were turned into video game players and encouraged to run and leap obstacles – all while wearing the latest Nikes.

This fusing of experience with understanding specific challenges in the lives of customers and which elements of a brand can be played with – in some cases literally – means these companies swiftly stood apart just by doing something properly different. No shouting louder just to be heard on the same platforms as competing voices.

Some would say that’s zigging when others zag. We say – you don’t need a bigger boat to find the clear blue ocean. You need to understand what makes yours unique.

  • Boredom isn’t boring. It’s essential.

We won’t add to the words already blogged about bemoaning our always-on, non-stop 24/7 society. But Bruce Daisley of Twitter once again challenged our thinking by explaining the way the brain is wired, why we need time to reset, and how this impacts modern workplaces.

He particularly took us back to our childhoods, by asking us to remember the last time we were genuinely, properly bored – rather than filling our time and attention on our phones, or emails, or social, or games.

He explained we have only a finite amount of headspace and decision-making energy which our brains can accommodate in a day. Time to reset, away from constant decisions and stimulus, is vital. Without it, decision-making becomes complex or nigh impossible.

And on that note, we’re off to find some paint to watch dry to recharge our creative batteries.