Contagious Now Next Why 2017

Last week we sent Sunil Bajaj, one of our iris Potentials from the London 2016/17 scheme, along to Contagious Now Next Why - arguably one of the UK's best wrap-ups of the challenges facing brands in the coming year and beyond. Here's what he had to say about the event...


Last week I attended Now Next Why, hosted by our friends over at Contagious. The agenda looked to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing creatively ambitious businesses today: trust, culture and the future of creativity with AI. Here’s my round-up of the key talking points from the day’s events.

  • TRUST IS IN CRISIS! - Cough, okay that was a bit extreme… but there is definitely a fragility around trust and how earning and retaining this connection with consumers is currently in crisis. Advertisers should focus on their brand’s purpose, transparency and honesty in aim to reconnect with the highly skeptical consumer.
  • GET UNDER THE SKIN OF CULTURE – Brands are relentlessly trying to play a role in broader culture, but with ‘culture’ being complex in its many definitions, brands need to ensure their view of the world aligns with that of their audience; reflecting their behaviours, values and interests. There is a separation between brands who are ‘culturally fit’ and those that are ‘cultural leaders’. The latter are committed to learning what makes their audience tick and making the world a better place. 
  • FORGET THE CLIENT, IT’S WHAT THEY PAY US TO DO - We need to divert our efforts towards finding out what people really care about. Consumers don’t have a constant desire to interact with our client’s brands, they don’t wake up on a Saturday morning hungry for a big bowl of branded content. We simply don’t get to hold them hostage, we need to be where they need and want us to be.
  • MAKE THINGS YOUR AUDIENCE WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH - Today, social media has become a lot less social, and a lot more media. There has been a 21% decrease in the amount people posting on Facebook. Instead, 84% of consumers are sharing content privately, on dark social. It’s a space where brands can’t disturb or interrupt, they have to be invited in. iris’ GIFEELINGS campaign with Domino’s achieved just this, offering pizza lovers a mouth boggling collection of GIFs to communicate with. With over 145 million shares, it’s clear consumers are willing to accept brands in this realm, as long as it’s on their terms. The lesson here is to be part of the conversation, don’t simply talk at people, let them do the talking with you.
  • ARE YOU GOING TO LOSE YOUR JOB TO A COMPUTER? - To some extent we should be TERRIFIED! With case studies that show computer algorithms creating original screenplays, beating 'Go' Grand Masters and even bringing dead Brazilian rappers back to life. This may seem a lot like science fiction, but it’s very much reality. However, there is one important caveat - the programming and parameters of these AI innovations are determined by humans. A computer isn’t able to do everything alone, not yet anyway. So thankfully the creatives of the world can rest assured that a computer isn’t going to take over their job anytime soon. However, what should keep them up at night is that a person who is better at using computers… just might.