Highlights from FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week: Day Two

Influence, nowadays, is more important than ever in garnering the attention of your key audience. However, it doesn’t come easy, and not without precise, on-brand focus. Ipsos Reid released its list of 2013’s most influential brands in Canada. Topping the list? Google. The brand whose name is a noun and a verb, Google has retained the top position now two years running. The two Canadian brands that made the list, President’s Choice (#8) and Tim Hortons (#6), are both acknowledged by Canadians as authentic brands and true corporate citizens. 

AOL’s Digital Prophet, David Shing, aka @shingy, looks and talks like a rock star, and that was clearly evident as he took over the stage at the ARB Change Maker’s session. As consumers are bombarded with messages, we are entering an Age of Interest where attention is the new currency and remarkable, reactive, relevant messaging is a must for brands to break through and connect with a meaningful message. A perfect (and timely) example is Arby’s response to Pharrell’s hat at the Grammys, leveraging a newsworthy opportunity to be hyperrelevant, sharable, digital news. Brands are paying much more attention to content that they are releasing, keeping the consumer top of mind. As wearable devices become more prominent, Shing is certain digital jewellery of the future will look gorgeous and will also have built-in intelligence. Gorgeous and intelligent? It’s coming.

Canadian Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station (and YouTube sensation) and perhaps the most influential astronaut since Neil Armstrong, showed us how the sky is NOT the limit in his keynote address. He relayed many important lessons, applicable to both space travel and within Earth’s atmosphere, from leadership to the importance of being prepared for any situation, to how he was privileged to share his experience and space exploration with us first-hand. An astronaut who also happens to sing, play guitar and land 20 million views on YouTube, he invigorated us with Canadian pride as a leader in technology, evident with the legacy of the Canadarm and how this technology is influencing other industries, such as the in operating room and prosthetic limbs. Chris opened the audience’s minds to dreaming big and chasing after those dreams while also uncovering the different perspective of the world you get from being in space. “We’re all self-important goldfish in a completely fragile bowl,” said Hadfield of the livable space the atmosphere provides us, bringing the whole room back down to earth to appreciate the beautiful world in which we live.

In an inaugural Morning Masters Series session with Johanne Brunet, Associate Professor of Marketing at HEC in Montreal, we got the low down on creativity and innovation from the woman who wrote her PhD on the topic. According to Brunet, creativity is “the production of novel and useful ideas in any domain,” and innovation is their implementation. Here are some of her myths about creativity that every young professional should know because creativity is essential in remaining relevant:

· Younger people are more creative than older ones. MYTHBUSTER: Clint Eastwood received his first Oscar at 75.
· Creativity is a solitary act. MYTHBUSTER: More often than not it’s something that comes out of collaboration and conversation.
· Creativity is about taking risks. MYTHBUSTER: Not necessarily. You have to be open to new ideas, but innovation can be part of an evolution, not instant and dramatic change
· Creativity is linked to intelligence. MYTHBUSTER: Anyone, with any IQ level, can be creative if they understand what it is and how it works.
· Only eccentric people can be creative. MYTHBUSTER: An engineer can create and innovate just as easily as a painter, and many do exactly that. 
· Creativity is only found in the arts. MYTHBUSTER: It should and does live across industries.

In the final talk of the day, MLSE President and CEO Tim Leiweke injected every Toronto sports fan with a flurry of hope for our most beloved teams: the Raptors, Leafs, TFC and Marlies. He offered advice that applies beyond the realm of professional sports, focusing on how a strong emphasis on culture can completely revitalize a brand. He explained to a packed, engaged audience the streamlined message he has delivered to Toronto’s teams: “Dream big. Win. Have a goal and achieve. Let’s plan the (Stanley Cup) parade out in your head. It’s not just about small things to change the attitude. Nothing is impossible here and we’ll do anything it takes to win.” Not only in sports, his invigorating message drove home the importance of passion when rebranding a business (and building winning teams across hockey, basketball and soccer). From an ambassador for Canada like Drake to international football (ahem, soccer) stars, he’s building a new winning spirit among Toronto’s teams and, more importantly, the fans who cheer them on . “Culture wins everything,” he said, further igniting a spark of hope that we will, in the near future, be celebrating Toronto teams that will be recognized on a global scale.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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