Ten Things We Learned from #MadFestLondon

Yes the free ice cream helped us get through the day and the face-printed espressos were a nice touch, but what a line-up of speakers and sponsors!  Cadbury’s, Amazon, Facebook, KFC, Boots, Snap Inc., FitBit, Burger King, and the list could go on.  We sent both Johns (Leaver and Robertson) down to London to check out MAD//Fest 2021 and here are their top 10 takeaways.


Injecting a SENSE OF HUMOUR into your brand only works if its authentic and established over time. KFC’s #ratemyKFC campaign in May 2020 say thousands of customers submit their home-cooked efforts only to be berated by the KFC social admins.  Jack Hinchliffe, Marketing Director at KFC, commented “we only got away with that because we knew our customers”.  KFC have tried and tested their tone of voice for years, with customer feedback being at the centre of that process.


carwow’s Victoria Bruce, Media Partnerships Manager, and Michael Oates, Programme Manager, reminded us that there is not one single customer journey for your customers but many CUSTOMER JOURNEYS.  Expecting all customers to follow a single buying cycle is a recipe for disaster and brands are urged to be flexible to each individual customer’s circumstances.


AUTHENTICITY was at the heart of Cadbury’s talk from their marketing director Benazir Barlet-Betada.  Going to back to your brand routes might be a way to re-establish yourselves and remind people of your core values.  Well worth checking out Cadbury’s Donate Your Words campaign in partnership with ageUK.


AR, VR and AI was discussed by many speakers but David Norris from Snap Inc. summed it up with the line “AR is currently the biggest opportunity in retail”.  Whilst it may be difficult for leisure operators to utilise AR and VR in the short term, as the technology becomes more accessible it may be an opportunity to increase your touch points and engagement with customers outside of physical facilities.  If you want to keep up-to-date with developments from Snap Inc. then check out their newsfeed.


EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY were also hot topics with many speakers talking passionately about the need to acknowledge, reflect and act on issues surrounding inclusivity.  One of the first sessions of the two-day event called upon agencies and brands to sign up to BRiM, a cross-industry initiative that “provides actionable advice to help anyone, no matter their level, improve the representation of Black people in marketing”.


GOOD ENOUGH IS GOOD ENOUGH.  Lucy Sheehan, Marketing Director at Fitbit, used this phrase when discussing campaign production and how teams can waste time over-analysing the minutiae of a campaign plan.  Sometimes you just need to get a campaign done and accepting good enough is good enough will help speed things along.


CONVERSATIONAL ADVERTISING is an interesting way to challenge how you currently interact with your customer base online.  Combining an AI or chatbot experience with the likes of RCS messaging will result in a media rich experience that customers will engage more with than an old-fashioned messenger response or SMS message.


COOKIELESS FUTURES.  Probably the most referenced change on the horizon is the removal of 3rd party cookies by Google.  Whilst cookies have had a stay of execution til the end of 2023 (originally planned for 2021/22) that’s only given brands about 18 months to get their house in order.  Big message from every speaker; focus on your 1st party data and start collecting and managing it NOW.


7 P’s OF POST-PANDEMIC MARKETING takes a fresh look at a well known marketing mix.  Chief Creative Officer of Cook, James Rutter guided the discussion introducing new P’s with People at the centre.  Play; with people still having fear about the next steps have fun with marketing and facilitate discovery of the new environments we live in. Purpose; relating what your purpose is to people and social issues will build trust, which in turn increases sales. Participation; increase your audience participation through any channel you communicate with them.  A common theme through the MadFest sessions was “Pig not bull” – be honest and treat your customers clients and staff as equals (remember, transparency breeds trust). Poetry; to be bold in your marketing and stand out.


CONTEXT OVER CONTENT.  Content is secondary to the context of the message you are trying to put out – 83% of people distrust social media ads so how do you make your ads successful? Context! Ensuring the message is correct and the story behind the content is relatable will drive engagement. 70% of an ads performance comes from the creative story behind the ad so its important to get that right for the audience you are aiming for. Context is King, Content is the cherry on top!

We said 10 but here’s a bonus…


LANGUAGE STYLES change frequently so its important to stay on top of what works for your brand.  Large brands such as Burger King and KFC monitor trends weekly and adapt the language type used to ensure an effective campaign. Three main types; straight, topical and sarcastic.  Having the same message in different language styles can give you the freedom to update ads as trends change.

Thanks to the team at MAD//Fest for the event and we’ll see you again in 2022!