Despite the From Silicon Valley to Silicon Roundabout tag the IPA’s Creative Pioneers conference showed that creativity has no post code. London and California are influential not because they’re where stuff gets made, but because their products and platforms reach a global audience. Eager to learn the secrets of this success, 300-odd delegates from the marketing and advertising industry gathered at The Venue at Shoreditch Village to guzzle over-proof coffee, listen to talks from the likes of Facebook, Yelp, PlayGen, LinkedIn and Double Negative, and multi-task at the behest of IPA president Nicola Mendelsohn who urged delegates to: “Tweet. Blog. Make noise”.

Presentations ranged from a succinct plea for better technical education to a two-handed account of the history of Shoreditch, but the key ideas of the day can be summarised in five words, as follows:

  1. Act: Caffeine and creativity are bosom buddies because ideas need action. Eric Edge, Facebook’s head of marketing communications EMEA, set the tone for the rest of the day with his presentation titled “Move fast and break things,” and numerous other speakers repeated the message: act now. In the brave world where media, technology and communications intersect iteration is the magic word. Work should always be in progress.

  2. Build: From raw data to real estate, marketers and advertisers have more, and better, tools than ever. LinkedIn’s marketing solutions director Josh Graff talked about the intersection of data and creativity, and how the fantastic quantities of data available to marketers are ideal tools for creating emotionally engaging content. PlayGen founder Kam Star and The Attitude Academy founder Andrew Humphries, in their presentation on London’s role as the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ touched on bricks and mortar, noting that in 2008 there were 15 tech companies in Shoreditch and there are now over 700.

  3. Share: Word of mouth remains the holy grail of marketing, but you have to give to get. David Scheine, Yelp’s director of European operations, told how the company generates unique content by, among other things, throwing parties to reward its elite contributors, transforming its digital network into real-life. Facebook’s Eric Edge also touched in the importance of sharing, highlighting that a huge part of the company’s success is that it constantly creates new ways for people to share.

  4. Learn: Technology is transforming the way people learn but Steve Henry, founder of Decoded, thinks that not nearly enough people are learning about technology. His company runs one-day workshops designed to teach anyone from “6-year-olds to CEOs” the basics of coding. Alex Hope OBE, MD and co-founder of Double Negative VFX highlighted the dearth of UK talent in industries such as visual effects, and outlined recommendations for improving ICT education from primary school through to university level. As Steve Bartlett, the 19-year-old creator of Wallpark Online, remarked in his talk “school [currently] prepares you to be an employee” rather than an innovator.

  5. Fail: “Be willing to fail,” was the message from Jason Goodman, CEO of Albion. Successful people praising failure is like supermodels praising fat, but despite the superficial disingenuousness Goodman and the other presenters who spoke up for falling down had a point: fear of failure is an idea-killer. Tight budgets, economic woes and hypercompetitive environments conspire to make failure scary but – once again – iteration is the magic word. If agencies and creatives can stop seeing success and failure as opposites and look at them as part of an on-going, incremental process it will inspire freer, more flexible thinking.

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