Final day of AdAsia Lahore puts creativity and innovativeness front and centre

Published 06 Dec, 2019 10:35pm

Sometimes our own apprehensions about an idea keep us from realising how great the idea is, says Randi Zuckerberg.

Sometimes our own apprehensions about an idea keep us from realising how great the idea is, says Randi Zuckerberg.
Sometimes our own apprehensions about an idea keep us from realising how great the idea is, says Randi Zuckerberg.

Randi Zuckerberg, CEO Zuckerberg Media, started her talk with praise for Pakistan’s culture and people, and jokes about her brother Mark Zuckerberg (she’s the sibling who went to Harvard and he’s the one that dropped out).

She weaved the story of how digital media became a force to be reckoned with for marketeers through her own experiences in the field.

“15 years ago, my marketing budget for a whole year was one box of t-shirts,” she told the audience as she drove through her years with Facebook. “It’s really amazing to see how far the world can come in time,” she added.

She focused on the importance of creativity and allowing people to express said creativity without fear.

Zuckerberg shared her experience organizing a hackathon under Facebook, where people were encouraged to work on passion projects. The event brought out creativity that was stuck somewhere inside the people.

“Put them in a hackathon where everyone is free to bring their boldest, craziest, wildest ideas to the table, with no fear of failure and suddenly you get people who get out of their shell and come up with these brilliant ideas,” she said.

“In fact, in every hackathon we had one or two ideas that came from people in the company that you would never expect, and they turned out to be so good that I bet many of you are using those features today,” she added.

Sometimes our own apprehensions about an idea keep us from realising how great the idea is. For Zuckerberg, this happened in the shape of Facebook Live, which is a feature she created during a hackathon.

She went live in her closet but decided it was a terrible idea because only two people watched, her mother and father. However, a week later, she was contacted by Katy Perry who wanted to be on her “show”.

A full house for Zuckerberg's talk.
A full house for Zuckerberg's talk.

Realising the potential of the idea, Zuckerberg put things into motion to develop the feature. Katie Perry’s tour sold out in minutes, and other celebrities noticed. Big names went onto use the product, including Barack Obama.

However, as the digital age has found its footing and grown, the ethical questions of how it should work have become more important as well.

For Zuckerberg, this question took centre stage when the feature she had created was used by a gunman to kill people on live video.

Keeping the ethics in mind is important. “We need to ask ourselves difficult questions and be prepared for difficult answers,” she said while talking about the ethical consideration of technology.

Tom Goodwin, Head of Innovation for Zenith Media, took the stage next to talk about the new rules for business in a post-digital age.

Pictured: Tom Goodwin
Pictured: Tom Goodwin

His talk covered the many transformations that our world is experiencing because of the digital revolution.

“Smartphones have become like fireplaces to people. People gather around their devices and their connection to the world becomes what gives them warmth,” Goodwin said.

However, the extent to which this can influence marketing is something that needs to be looked at objectively.

“Technology is thrilling, it’s exciting. But people are remarkable. They are wonderful and captivating,” he said while explaining the need to understand that while much has changed because of technology, there is a lot that is yet to change.

“Technology is all about how our expectations change and how our behaviours change,” he said and added: “Technology amplifies humanity. It makes our ability to connect even greater and makes our need to belong even greater.”

Goodwin’s talk was followed by a session on art in Lahore, which brought out the beauty that the city has to offer. Selina Rashid Khan also added to the culture on show by launching the book ‘Finding Lahore’ during the day.

President Alvi graced the event with his presence during the closing ceremony. Speaking to the audience, he said: “I love advertising because of the skills involved and the ideas involved.”

He joked that advertising has ensured that whatever he wants becomes a ‘need’ but asked the audience to create content with honest and integrity.

“There is a greater amount of fake news with which we are confronted in the media. I’m not sure what happens in advertising – truth in advertising is very important,” he said.

Noting the importance of marketing, he recalled that at the time before his political party the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was being formed in Lahore, he had pushed for Khan to be treated like a product that must be marketed properly.

A media giant who was also present had taken offense, “We respect you, but of all people, we’re surprised that you will sell Imran Khan! How bad, he’s not something to be sold,” the mogul had told Alvi at the time making it obvious to him that the words being used were important too.

“The use of the words, how it affects whom, becomes important,” the President said.

He closed his speech while talking about the potential that the country has to offer. “Pakistan is a huge market; it is a developing market with 200 million people a rising middle class. Pakistan is a changing world,” he said.