The Value of Branded Cultural Experiences in a Digital World– An Idea from AdWeek Europe 2017

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a day attending talks and panel discussions at AdWeek Europe. The day was packed with talks on big data, artificially intelligent machines and the shared role trust plays in journalism and advertising. It was a great opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in the industry and hear about the technological developments that will come to shape our work in the industry, and at MEC, in the very near future.

Between talks, my colleague and I also made the most of the Snap Garden and the LinkedIn lounge (which was kitted out with edible flavoured mist!)

Without a doubt, the stand out talk for me was ‘Evolving Brands through Sponsorships’ with Magnetic’s CEO, Brian Schultz and artist and producer Swizz Beatz. While many of the other talks focused on the ability of technology to track campaign performance and measure engagement rates in digital space, this talk explored the potential for brands to create highly engaging ‘real-life’ experiences for their consumers through harnessing the power of sponsorships and celebrity endorsement.

Schultz and Swizz Beatz discussed their work with Bacardi on No Commission, a music and art experience that brought Bacardi to the forefront of cultural conversation. No Commission began as commission-free platform for emerging artists at Art Basel in Miami in 2015 and has since developed into an international event series with exhibitions running in London, Berlin and Shanghai in 2017.

Bacardi’s No Commission has been a huge success, reportedly improving brand awareness by 30%, but Swizz Beatz and Magnetic emphasised that brands have to take a leap of faith when it comes to this kind of sponsorship. In a data driven industry, where everything can be measured and quantified to meet targets, encouraging clients to be brave and innovative in the seemingly intangible cultural space is important. However, with the rise of hyper targeted advertising, many consumers are longing for authentic, inspirational brand experiences. By tapping into the ever-growing market for cultural experiences, brands can demonstrate that they are on the pulse of contemporary artistic and technological developments. Moreover, events such as No Commission generate vast amounts of organic user generated content enabling the event to live on in digital space.

Producing and funding rich artistic experiences can enable brands to become embedded in the fabric of culture – an exciting proposition for our work at MEC, particularly the Wavemaker team, which has the capacity to create rich and meaningful entertainment sponsorships for brands. The success of events such as No Commission demonstrates how branded content creation has evolved, and the exciting untapped opportunities available for brave, pioneering brands.

All in all, my day at Ad Week was full of useful insights about the future of advertising, encouraging me to think about how MEC can best approach upcoming challenges and opportunities.

Nina Foster
MEC Graduate