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Atomic London’s Nick Fox believes events such as Ad Week could be great, not merely good, if they shake things up.

Nick Fox, founding partner at Atomic London, attended last month’s Ad Week Europe but, after digesting the multitude of seminars and presentations during the event, found that the content didn’t quite taste how he’d hoped. Here he reveals what he thinks Ad Week, and events like it, should be doing differently.

Last month I found myself at the centre of what is increasingly touted by the press as the year’s premium gathering of the great and the good of ad land on this side of The Pond. But while what I saw at Ad Week Europe 2016 could have been called ‘good’, in the end it wasted its potential to be great.

It attracted some great names, certainly; Google, Facebook and Sir Martin Sorrell to name a few. But with its size beginning to eclipse that of its parent in New York, here was an opportunity to celebrate, to hold the industry up as a beacon for the commercial creative industries. In the end it felt like too little was said by too many, in a venue that channelled people and not ideas. Snacking on a buffet of everything that was Ad Land, I came away feeling uninspired and sadly unfulfilled.

But what could happen if we just shook things up a bit? What we need to see to really get the creative juices flowing is events like this encouraging open and free debate among the best brains in the business. We need to be able to share and discuss the major issues and challenges and the possibilities for our great industry going forward. Where are the great insights around how we catch up with the consumer? Who is debating the issue of connectivity in terms of bringing creativity and business together?

Perhaps too much commercialism has crept into creativity. We’ve been saying for so long that everything needs to stack up – measuring ad revenues, boiling it all down to clicks and hits and visits – in the face of business goals. But the only thing getting in the way of accelerating customer-centricity is the hard-baked commercial architecture that businesses have grown up with.

Getting away from this architecture and into a customer mindset is going to be a difficult thing to break but creativity needs to be at the heart of it. And that need to play safe and to be the corporate line has bled even into this relative newcomer that aspires to be the beating heart of advertising in Europe.

Ad Land doesn’t need to sit in a comfy chair and have a lecture about the danger ad-blocking poses. I think perhaps it’s time we really shook up the format. For too long we’ve been going down the well-scripted, PowerPoint-presentation-and-a-five-minute-Q&A-with-the-audience route. Advertising events need to get off their collective backside and become a creative engine.

I believe passionately that we live in a connected world and we need to engage in conversations that flow and are content-rich to feed that. Events that manage this jam in ideas-driven discussions that explore big themes and have you hanging on every word – The Marketing Society’s Annual Conference, for example. You can’t help but leave at the end of the day exhausted but brimming with great ideas.

This focus on media and the obsession with ad-blocking are nuts-and-bolts details that are the same the world over. Instead, events such as this should be delving into our European culture and intellect that are so unique and inspiring.

There were some great people at Ad Week Europe, but I couldn’t get over the urge to get them out of the lecture hall and into a Roman forum (the gladiatorial arena could be a step too far but let’s see how it goes). It might not have the architecture but we should ditch the funky venues and slam the next Ad Week into Docklands Excel. These events should be all about content, not window dressing. We need to encourage a flow of people and ideas and big, open spaces do just that.

Ad Week Europe has the potential to be a great event that celebrates creative excellence and airs some really big, juicy issues. Let’s all stop watching and start participating.

Article from Shots, read more at http://www.shots.net/