AdWeek NYC 2019: Our takeaways.

Brands must choose, marketers must care.


AdWeek NYC 2019: Our takeaways.

Author: Ariel Wilchek, Creative Director

The advertising industry has, by necessity, evolved dramatically over the past 10 years. The rise of data rich, direct-to-consumer brands and ever present social media has shifted human behavior and consumer habits. Experiential retail and marketing has shaken up the ad world even further and cemented new customer expectations. Contemporary storytelling formats (like podcasts, vlogs, Instagram stories) further help consumers escape traditional ads, which they have already learned to tune out. 

So what now? 

As I attended the 2019 AdWeek NYC Conference, I observed clever case studies and marketing buzzwords abound; some truly “authentic” and addressing these challenges, and some not so much. And truthfully, that was the crux of the major takeaway. Culture has shifted. People are tired of talking and want to actually do something, and they want brands to do something too.

Consumers are genuinely concerned about global and local issues. However, they are also increasingly discerning and scrutinizing of brands and governments and the manipulative narratives that can be spun throughout the media. They can spot the real ones from the fake ones a mile away, and they will hold you accountable (or mobilize their community to hold you accountable) if they feel so compelled.

So when I say “Brands Must Choose, Marketers Must Care,” I mean that brands must really and truly figure out what their mission is and how they will continue to devote themselves to improving the lives of their people and other living things. Marketers, in turn, must do justice to that mission through our work. It takes rigorous thinking, meticulous vetting and a lot of honest reflection to create campaigns and experiences that feel genuine. Fear not. We are up for the challenge!

Here are 3 things to focus on:

1. Add Value:
According to a Havas report on Meaningful Brands, 77% of brands could simply disappear and not a single customer would care. That means to be part of the 23% that consumers want to stick around, brands need to prove their products retain value AND that the company itself is making the world a better place. Never lose sight of this. 

2. Walk the Talk:
Go ahead – make big claims and commit to lofty goals, but then move the needle on proving it. Heat + Deloite Digital created The Heat Test, which clearly proved the business benefits of diversity and inclusion, but also put a microscope on their own work. They asked if they were stereotyping, underrepresenting, tokenizing or otherwise failing to be truly inclusive and forward thinking. In the end, they graded themselves a “B” and shared their brutally honest assessment in order to hold themselves accountable and set an example on, well, how to set a better example. 

3. Dream Multi-Sensory:
Lucky for us, experiential has the potential to be immersive and transformative by nature. Do not stop with great visuals. Audio design, culinary curation, olfactory marketing, tactile experiences and more should be employed whenever possible. Check out this sophisticated “sonic architecture” that was part of the Mastercard rebrand. Wow. 


We live in a time of intelligent people with access to a network of intelligent things. It’s time to harness the power of our connectedness and mobilize our sense of responsibility for the greater good. 

We bring our sense of purpose to work at OBE. Do you?

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