With a new venue for 2017, the fifth annual Shift conference took place at the heart of the British Museum, with speakers including Patrick Barwise, Katrina Lowes, Sam Wise, John Harris, John Domokos and Isabel Oakeshott.
Following a turbulent year that will be remembered for Donald Trump’s election and the rise in prominence of fake news, Vanessa Clifford opened the conference by urging Shift delegates to “step outside of our echo chambers, delve behind the new words and unpick the fads”.
London Business School’s Professor Patrick Barwise was the first to take to the stage to talk to the audience about doing what’s right for clients. Championing evidence based and balanced choices, Barwise explained that instead of just jumping on the new and shiny, often resulting in short-term activation, advertisers need to think about long-term brand building as well.
Next up, Vodafone’s Katrina Lowes gave an insightful talk on the significance of thinking measurable first, rather than digital first. Saatchi & Saatchi’s Sam Wise followed discussing how advertisers can unlock the creative power of newsbrands. Using examples including Channel 4’s ‘Eden’ partnership with Metro and Oreo’s activity with The Sun, Wise emphasised the great effects of piggy backing on the news.
After a short coffee break, Rik Moore from Havas presented a gameshow with a difference, ‘Our survey says’. Setting out to challenge our presumptions about how well we know the people we’re advertising to, the quiz included questions such as which area of the UK is most likely to hand over their last Rolo, what is the most common measure of success and what are people most likely to do when in a doctor’s waiting room.
Also picking up on the theme of echo chambers, the Guardian’s John Harris and John Domokos then took to the stage to discuss getting out of the London political and media bubble. During this tumultuous time in politics, they emphasised the importance of speaking to “ordinary” people around the country about their views, in order to understand the root causes of political shifts like Brexit. Taking a wry approach, the two John’s talked through a series of videos from their ‘Anywhere but Westminster’ project.
The conference closed with MGOMD’s Clare Peters in conversation with John Harris and Isabel Oakeshott. In this session, Peters questioned Harris and Oakeshott about their views on citizen journalism and the fast news culture we are now living in, as well as addressing how to counteract the challenges of fragmented content and churnalism.