The second annual Integrated Marketing Communications Conference is taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 6-7, 2011. Presenting the latest trends in global media and innovative marketing to industry leaders this conference is where South Africa’s leading communication voices are.
Over 200 people from various fields including public relations, digital media, marketing, advertising and communications are gathering in a Sandton hotel to figure out ways brands can develop an open ear to its consumers. The opening keynote speaker was Vice President of Africa for InMobi, Isis N’yongo the world’s largest mobile advertising network spoke about the rapid growth of mobile technology on the African continent. With 489 million mobile phone subscribers Africa is without a doubt a market segment that can no longer be ignored. “This continent has the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world. If you combine this with the fact that more Africans access the Internet from mobiles than any other platform, it means the market for mobile advertising is set for strong levels of growth.”
The follow up speaker was marketing specialist Walter Pike who spoke about the importance of brands creating a “social object” in their communication that consumers can relate and share. Using zen-like presentation slides Pike explained the days of one-way broadcasting are over in the digital age with consumers controlling the conversations on multiple platforms. One slide simply said “the herd will be heard” rather than controlling your market you have to be organic and start thinking like artist. “Social media didn’t create the Egyptian revolution, but gave people the space to talk about things, share and coordinate things – that is the essence of this world we are living in” said Pike. He even discussed how certain crowd participations online can go viral giving the example by doing a “planking” demonstration on stage and in a matter of minutes photos were uploaded and shared on Twitter before he left the stage.
The conference is hosted by South African event marketing firm Living Your Brand which is a multimedia agency which focuses on high-end corporate events and diverse branding strategy development. Staying true to their tech savvy approach after every keynote speaker the attendees would receive a text message survey opting them to rate the speaker in hopes to win a sponsored prize.
Workshops were lead by InMobi, RealmDigital, Native, Microsoft and Acceleration Media informing the delegates on how digital media and marketing are interconnected. Transparent engagement and creative content were keywords floating throughout the conference. Examples were given how brands must adapt to their consumers online behaviors in order to connect their products to larger audiences. Quoting one Proctor & Gamble executive traditional methods of advertising once relied on their brands “telling and selling” their products and services, but in order to survive in the consumer control environment they must “listen” more than ever before. Native CEO Jason Xenopoulos showed an example of a rock band asking their fans to help produce music on their latest album by crowd participation. Another example was the Johnny Cash project which instead of producing a normal music video over 250,000 fans joined together creating a collage of animations that eventually became Johnny Cash’s last video. The conference speakers spoke about social engagement is not just setting up a facebook fan page or tweeting what your brand is doing. Its about using creative ways to involve the user in a new experience that will spark their interest and inspire them to share with their friends.
Midday in the conference there was an interactive panel discussion about offline media’s role in marketing campaigns. With the decline of print media Gisele Wertheim Aymes, publisher of Longevity Magazine said that “magazines are a social object in which people connect with” and their digital versions on tablets or mobile devices must be more of an experience than just the same articles from the printed version. Is print media dead? Not really because everyday one million newspapers are printed in Johannesburg which is why Walter Pike tweeted “Newspapers don’t have a news problem they have a paper problem we still want the content.”
The last two keynote speakers of day one were Nikki Cockcroft, CEO of Primedia Online and Heidi Brauer from Kuluala.com. Cockcroft spoke about capturing your audiences since each marketer has an average of three seconds online to get your attention. Working with major clients she said that marketers can no “longer just broadcast their messages instead they need to persuade the consumers into conversations and genuine engagement.”
Heidi gave two examples of how Kulula Airlines designed guerrilla marketing tactics to grab the attention of the British royal couple Prince William and Catherine before their wedding. By offering the royal couple a South African traditional custom of offering the bride 27 cows, Kulula gained unpaid mainstream media exposure across the globe.
Day one of the conference was informative with loads of examples of how new marketing can either become a success that captivates its audience and become a failure that didn’t reach its goals. You can follow the conference twitter feed at #IMCC
Alvin Singh – Follow me on Twitter @Bookido
You can see photos from the conference here on Flickr