festival_of_media

If Martians went to Montreux 2012

I have become something of professional conference attender over the last few years – my how I love a lanyard – but this was my first time at the international Festival of Media at Montreux. It is rare for me to be rubbing shoulders with the international media hand-luggage-only-1st-6-rows-fast-track-exec-lounge brigade.

The Media Festival is actually a brilliant meeting of international media movers and shakers.  It’s in a stunning location and one of the things they do well is allow plenty of time for the aforementioned shoulder rubbing.  Each break is at least 45 minutes long so in spite of the numbers there’s lots of opportunity to meet, chat and ask people about their BA exec club card colour.

However, it did strike me that if you were a Martian or even just a stranger to the world of media and suddenly found yourself in the midst of it for 3 days, based on the scheduling of the conference, the themes chosen for each session and the people represented on stage, you might well have been left with the following impressions:

  • There is this phenomenon that everyone is very preoccupied with and that is “digital”.  It is very hard to work out what this “digital” is as everyone uses the word differently but it seems to mean stuff to do with the internet and it’s causing a lot of excitement and anxiety.

  • There are 3 groups of people who seem to be most significant in this industry (based on how much time they spend on stage) and they are: clients, heads of media agencies and “digital” entrepreneurs.

  • Very few of them are women.

  • Clients seem to be worried about transparency and arbitrage/trading desks. Agencies say they shouldn’t be worried. “Digital” entrepreneurs don’t seem to care either way.

  • According to the “digital” entrepreneurs “digital” is going to kill lots of things. Well, maybe it hasn’t killed many things yet.  But, apparently it’s going to and the digital entrepreneurs think this is a “good” thing.

  • There seems to be some sort of biscuit problem.  Cookies are being deleted more and more which seems (confusingly) to be leading to cookie proliferation. And apparently the danger is that this might make “digital” a bit rubbish so something needs to be done.

If you were a very astute Martian you might have picked up on a few other themes such as the ones below, but you’d have had to be listening very carefully as they weren’t on stage for long :

  • Salman Amin, CMO of Pepsico said that the next big thing to happen in media is something called television.

  • Television apparently is all about great content and great storytelling and this is what real people care about.

  • Alain Damond of Initiative said that television has never been in as strong position as it is today.

  • UM shared their wave research which showed that no matter how many additional electronic devices there are in the home, TV viewing remains the same.

  • Nigel Burton of Colgate-Palmolive said it was important not to react to the latest thing as though it was the only thing.

Wouldn’t it be good if intergalactic, hand-luggage-only-1st-6-rows-fast-track-exec-lounge Martians at next year’s Festival of Media were to go home with a slightly more balanced view of the media industry we all work in?


  • Lindsey Clay
    Lindsey Clay
    CEO, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
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