CJRW at SXSW Day 2: The future will be personalized edition

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 121 views 

[email protected]: Day 2

Editor’s note: A team from Little Rock’s CJRW advertising agency is providing highlights of several conferences from SXSW to Talk Business & Politics.

Another day, another mind-bending sum of information about the latest trends in the digital world delivered by SXSWi. So far the CJRW team has attended sessions denouncing the use of email, announcing the dangers of misunderstood Tweets, teaching companies how to be activists, revealing the future of personalized everything (starting with running shoes), and stressing the importance of creating brand stories that actually resonate with consumers.

Here are the highlights from some of Saturday’s most helpful sessions:

The Future Will Be Personalized
By: Brian Kratkiewicz (@briankrat)

Paul Guadio, the Global Creative Director for Adidas, presented the new Futurecraft initiative that Adidas is implementing across the creative and production areas of their company at the “The Future Will Be Personalized” session at SXSW.

Guadio stated that Futurecraft is about materials and design innovation. It’s how Adidas is changing their approach to become more customer and design focused, creating products that will carry the brand into the future. “Futurecraft is our sandbox. It is how we challenge ourselves every day to explore the boundaries of our craft,” he said.

He also stated that innovation alone is not enough. The company needed a new energy and design ethos that they could all rally around to put the customer first and create cutting-edge products. Adidas leadership created a new creative culture that goes beyond the “three stripes” brand in order to build products for purpose that also look good and make people feel confident.

Guadios detailed the three main innovations within the Futurecraft materials process innovation initiative. The first innovation is 3D printing. Adidas has developed a process where they can use 3D printing technology to produce a fully functioning running shoe called the Adidas Futurecraft 3D. It’s a unique 3D-printed running shoe midsole that can be tailored to the cushioning needs of an individual’s foot.

At some point you will be able to walk into an Adidas store, run on a treadmill and get a 3D-printed running shoe printed for you right there in the store. The Futurecraft 3D provides a flexible, breathable copy of the athlete’s footprint, exactly matching contours and pressure points. The goal is to provide the best running experience possible for the athlete.

The second initiative is tailored fiber placement. This is a new knitting innovation that strategically zones performance characteristics around shoe, placing fibers in new strategic ways. The look of the shoe is unique and performance is also unique.

The third initiative that Guadios spoke about is a new leather milling process. The new automated process efficiently creates a complete shoe from one piece of leather. He stated that it is an efficient process that lets Adidas create unique, stylish fashion sneakers that are light and flexible. The final topic that Guadios discussed is Adidas’ new NMD product line. It is an original street wear focused brand that infuses retro Adidas branding with new technology. It is a re-contextualization of street wear for Millennials.

Content Now! Stop Advertising, Start Publishing
By: Elizabeth Michael (@LizzyMichael)

Many brands claim to be putting “content marketing” at the heart of their master plan. In fact, user aversion to traditional advertising has become so fierce (ad-skipping, ad-blocking, ad-blindness) there may be no alternative. But are marketers any good at this? What is a good “brand story” anyway? And what kinds of content really move people towards brand affinity and the sale?

These questions were at the forefront of a panel discussion featuring Adam Gausepohl, CEO and Head of Creative for PopShorts; Kenny Mitchell, Senior Director of Consumer Engagement for Gatorade; Nidhi Gupta, Director of Marketing for Western Union; and Russell Wager, VP of Marketing for Mazda North America.

Content marketing is storytelling. For a brand to tell a story that will interest a consumer, it will have to do some homework first. Russell Wager, VP of marketing for Mazda, says that first you have to know your consumer through looking at data. In yesterday’s recap, we explained the importance of data in content marketing and distilling “big data” to “small data.” That concept applies here. By segmenting your target consumer and looking at the “small data” about them, you will be able to tell a more meaningful story.

Kenny Mitchell, senior director of consumer engagement at Gatorade, gave an impressive presentation on his team’s approach to storytelling. He gave us a glimpse into how the secret Gatorade storytelling sauce is made by explaining C.A.S.E. – Gatorade’s content pillars. Content must be creative, authentic, strategic and emotional. He wasn’t too ashamed to admit that his team uses sports analogies to rank content. Gatorade creates “singles,” “doubles,” “triples,” and “home runs.” An example of content considered a “single” would be daily posts. Mitchell said singles are just as important as the home run though and should be held to the same standards. Like Pittsburgh Steelers head football coach Mike Tomlin once said, “the standard is the standard.”

A double would be content that is tied to a cultural moment and that cross-pollenates across channels. A triple is binge content that has potential for earned media impact and that lasts for more than one day. An example would be a recurring post series that tell one story. A home run is tied to a strong cultural moment and has cross-agency execution. An example is Gatorade’s 50th anniversary campaign, “Be Like Mike,” a reprise of a classic spot featuring Michael Jordan from the 90s. Gatorade’s “hits” approach to ranking content ensures they are telling meaningful stories that will resonate with consumers.

While approaches differ, all agree that content must be different across all social media and digital touch points. Long gone are the days when a print ad should be posted on social media. When out on the shoot for the print ad, marketers need to gather social-specific assets that can be used to create a meaningful story. Consumers today know when they are being advertised to and a brand’s story, online or off, should always be authentic and relevant.

Email is the Devil and Must be Vanquished
By: Zack Hill (@zackhill)

Email was designed to make communication better but has now become the ultimate productivity and creativity killer. The average worker sends and receives 105 emails per day, checks email 36 times an hour, and has their IQ effectively reduced by 10 points due to email distraction. We are using email for things for which it was never intended, and we have developed lazy, unsustainable habits.

In one very decisive panel that included Brian Braiker of Digiday; Rachel Kaplowitz, CEO of Honey; Pramit Nairi, RPA of Dir UX; and Hazel Swane of Taylored Solutions Americas, we learned about workable alternatives, inbox hacks and collaborative techniques to help us “exorcise the demon.”

“Email is awesome if you’re a foreign prince or princess in need of some financial support, or if you’re Tom Hanks in 1998’s ‘You’ve Got Mail,’” said Kapowitz. She stated that, according to Deloitte, by 2025, 70% of the workforce will be Millennials and won’t be using email.

Basically, email is the devil because it makes you think you need it. And while it’s great for sending things, it’s terrible for sharing and doesn’t accommodate collaboration. It also shatters your concentration by breaking the day into tiny segments. Even more insulting, email makes you work to find the information that actually matters. Hazel Swayne contended, “It’s not that we get too many, it’s that we don’t get enough good emails.”

But what are the alternatives? How can businesses possibly function without their employees sending emails to each other? One far from novel approach is to schedule actual, in-person collaborative meetings. There is no better way to ensure focused collaboration than a group of people in a room working through ideas. Group-working sessions are a similar but equally productive approach, as are group workspaces. Even virtual workspaces, like Slack or wikis, can provide an essential function in supporting active collaboration. It’s not expected that these alternatives would eclipse email over night, remember email has a time and use; however, it takes work to do it right.

140 Characters, Zero Context
By: Josh Walker (@joshwalker1007)

Though geared mostly toward journalists, the session entitled “140 Characters, Zero Context,” a panel discussion fielded by Jamelle Bouie from Slate magazine; Mike DeBonis from The Washington Post; Michael Kanin from the Austin Monitor; and Emily Ramshaw from the Texas Tribune, offered insights applicable to anyone attempting to engage an audience on Twitter.

Focused primarily on the pitfalls of using Twitter as a medium for sharing news or starting a conversation, the panel cautioned that the “lack of friction” associated with Twitter, a reference to the tendency of users to post more casual (and often inflammatory) content on Twitter than Facebook, creates an environment more conducive to flaming arguments with no context than meaningful exchanges between users.

This lack of context can “facilitate the worst kind of mob mentality.” There is no way to ensure that readers understand the full context, even if there is an effort to establish this context. Users are enabled to make unfounded or at least more casual claims, related more to “shooting the breeze with a co-worker” than providing quality content and actual facts.

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