The marketers and tech execs who spoke at last week's Ad Age Digital Conference in San Francisco extolled digital not merely as another channel, but as a transformational force that requires brands to rethink their entire marketing strategy.
Here are four lessons from the day.
Authenticity Is Paramount
"The "net generation' doesn't distinguish between entertainment and information; this generation grew up learning the alphabet with song and dance," said David Roman, global CMO of Lenovo. For them, he said, "coolness comes from authenticity" -- down to how the ads are produced. He showed a sky-diving stunt promoting Lenovo's Rapid Boot feature and noted that the behind-the-scenes footage filmed to prove it was real went viral.
Nokia recently got a stark reminder about the importance of authenticity, when news emerged that a video promoting its new Lumia handset camera wasn't actually filmed with the phone, but by a camera crew. It was a mistake, conceded Valerie Buckingham, head of U.S. marketing. But "what's important is what you do next," she said. "We did what a good friend does when they screw up. You say, "Hey this is a mistake, we didn't intend for this to happen and here's what we're going do about it.'"
Sameness Gets Lost in a Digital World
"Beer advertising is very simple: It's a 30-second spot, it has a simple joke, and it runs on a sports channel," said Lesya Lysyj, CMO of Heineken USA, who is trying to bend that paradigm. This year Heineken invested 16% of its total ad budget in digital (likely to rise to 20% next year) and its ads employ longer-form storytelling that 's relatively complicated -- at least for the category.