Thank You, ANA, For Helping Bring Industry Conferences Back

  • by , Featured Contributor, April 14, 2022
As anyone who follows me on social media knows, I am very intent on the ad and media industry returning to the office, getting back to face-to-face events, and not forgetting the power and value that direct human interactions play in catalyzing innovation and driving our industry forward. 

So you can just imagine how excited I was to spend the beginning of this week in Carlsbad, California, attending the Association of National Advertisers’ Brand Masters event in person.

The conference was terrific. Great crowd. More than 400 folks were in attendance, with just the right mix of brands, agencies, technology companies and media suppliers. Great content.

Hearing Caesars Digital CMO Sharon Otterman talk us through what the company had to do to launch a massive brand, Caesars Sportsbook, in a brand-new but already crowded marketplace in 99 days in time to make the NFL betting season -- and deploy $1 billion of marketing and media spend in that time to support it -- took all our breaths away.



Kate Ardini, CMO of John Hancock, shared with us the challenges and opportunities when most people see your company as the nice old person sitting in the corner at the party. Of course, as the company’s market research also unearthed, everybody said that old person was also the one they would trust to watch their handbag when they went to the bathroom.

Being perceived as trustworthy is much harder to achieve than being perceived as exciting, and much more important when you are an insurance company and financial advisor. This led John Hancock to create its Vitality product, an app-based service to provide meaningful discounts and services to help its customers lead healthier lives.

I’ve heard some great presentations from marketers on webcasts and Zooms. I’ve enjoyed many of them. However, in none of those could I benefit from the kind of non-verbal communications, integrated visuals and real passion that great speakers like Sharon and Kate brought to their presentations. The Zoom screen in your home office doesn’t compare.

Plus, having the chance to engage speakers one-on-one after the sessions over coffee or cocktails to ask more questions, to hear them respond to others asking questions as you mingle with other attendees -- that is priceless. That is how we learn.

Thank you, ANA. Your commitment to bringing us back together made a big difference for many of us this week, and we will all be paying it forward.

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