AdForum’s Mark Tungate spoke to Global Executive Director, Dagmara Szulce, about the IAA’s upcoming conference in October.
The key topic is creativity as an engine of growth and features a line-up of speakers including Maher Nasser from the UN; Facebook’s Michelle Klein; Lisa Friedrich from Tik Tok, plus marketing industry leaders including Havas Global CMO, Tracey Barber.
It’s a mission that goes straight to the heart of the crisis provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the words of Dagmara Szulce, global executive director of the IAA: “To bring government, the UN and industry together to share knowledge about how brands can play a role in reviving economies.”
If some brands struggled to find their purpose before, they now have a clear task. The event’s full title is “Brands: The Engine for Economic Revival”. And the United Nations is directly involved in the form of keynote speaker Maher Nasser, who will define the role brands and their agencies can play in the post-pandemic world. Nasser is one of the biggest advocates of bringing advertisers together with governments to create progress.
Szulce points out: “We’re heading into a global recession, so it’s vital that people see our industry and brands as strategic tools to help revive economies.”
One of the speakers is David Haigh, CEO and founder of Brand Finance, publisher of the Global 500 report on the most valuable brands. He firmly links brand value to GDP and economic health. This year he collaborated with the UN on its Global Innovation Index, with the result that brand value was incorporated as a metric for the first time.
“This inspired us to invite the UN to our conference to show that there is a real connection between high-value brands and economic wellbeing,” says Szulce. “The message is that the world would be a better place if more countries knew how to build and support high value brands.”
Creativity and creative technologies will also be high on the agenda at the event, she added, as they’re the factors that build valuable brands.
The DTC factor
Another important theme will be the rise of Direct-To-Consumer marketing, as digital communication brings businesses closer to consumers – a trend that’s massively accelerated during the pandemic. This may undermine the traditional role of agencies as the middle ground between brands and consumers.
“Agencies will have to redefine their role in this new pipeline,” suggests Dagmara Szulce. “I think as an industry we still need to go through a convincing digital transformation. We lack the tools, the knowledge and the expertise to compete with the most innovative technology players: Google, Facebook, Shopify, Amazon and so on.”
However, as the event will show, agencies have creativity on their side. “What the technology companies don’t have is the agencies’ ability to infuse a commodity with emotion, which is the art of crafting a brand.
Infusing businesses with knowledge
The event is largely aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, which Szulce describes as “the beating heart of every economy”. In fact 70 per cent of IAA members come from this sector, which the organisation defines as businesses with revenues of between US$2 million and US$500 million. (Not exactly “mom and pop” stores.)
“These are the businesses that have suffered the most during the pandemic,” says Szulce. “That’s why we at the IAA decided to focus our conference on them: they need this knowledge the most. The idea is to leverage the knowledge of leaders who are succeeding in the DTC space and share it with businesses who can put it to use.”
The conference is also a reflection of how the IAA itself has evolved. “Three years ago we launched our new positioning as ‘The Global Compass’, with the aim of being the global thought leader in our industry. And during the pandemic it became very apparent that the industry needed a compass more than ever. Our network of members are also a network of advisors.”
Sign up for the event here: https://www.creativity4better.com