Sex, Kung Fu & Gaffer Tape – The Content & Creative stream at ad:tech Sydney

Recently and for the first time, I found myself a chairperson at a marketing conference… and I liked it! The microphone, the clever people, the lack of presenter’s pressure and all the mentos I could eat. Bliss!

Some (OK, me) were referring to the Content & Creative stream at ad:tech Sydney as the ‘sexy stream’, would it live up to its promise? Read on to find out.

First session of the day was a panel: Developing A Killer Content Strategy – Tips for Success:

Emma-Kate Dobbin, Founder & Content Director of Social Heart Media; Gordon McNenny, Content & Communications Director of DTDigital; Michael Verghios, Digital Marketing Director, Nimbull

A mixed bag, as all good panellists are, the three speakers each represented different ‘corners’ of the content strategy perspective and at times the discussion resembled a sheep dog roaming over the countryside: chaotic and free, with its tongue hanging out.

But there was method to the madness and it boiled down (more or less) to the following clear process to define a ‘killer’ content strategy:

–        AUDIT – know what you’ve alr

eady got, what’s working, what’s got to go – and be brutal

–        AUDIENCE – know who you are talking to, who do you want to reach, what are their needs (in relation to your brand or product) – don’t be the drunken bore at the dinner party

Don’t be the drunk at the dinner table….

–        STRATEGY – define your objectives, user goals, channels you’re going to use, tone of voice, etc.

–        PLAN – content to produce and when/how, which formats, which platforms, SEO/SEM

–        RESOURCE – have a clear ‘editor in chief’ to manage the process, ensure you have adequate people, skills, budget, time, to service your plan

–        PRODUCE – get out there and make it, remember to play by the rules of the channels you’re using, quality is critical (although spending $ is not)

–        UPDATE THE PLAN – things change in the real world, capture external opportunities, news events, customer interests to keep your content fresh and relevant


Next up The Never Ending Story: How to Run and Always-On Campaign, a case study from Nestle brand MAGGI Fusion Noodles. Co-presented by Mercer Bell Digital Strategist Maura Touhy and Nestle Client Erin Anderson – Digital Communications Lead for the MAGGI brand.

The Fists of FUSION case study was a great example of a content-led, longer-term campaign inviting the brand’s young consumers the opportunity to co-create content with MAGGI.

The brand offered ‘social currency’ (prizes, recognition, entertainment) in reward for getting involved and working together to ‘reimagine culture’, in this instance providing new voiceovers to an old Mandarin Kung Fu movie. Laughs all round, as some of them were really funny.

“I’m very concerned by my eyebrows”

I’m really looking forward to the 2013 phase of the campaign, in which apparently we’ll see some of the best contributors being given the opportunity to create a new kung fu short film.

From kids and noodles, to mums and babies: The Content Revolution: Customer-centric, Content-driven Marketing presented by Fergus Stoddart, Director of Edge and Jo Shapland, Brand Manager for Woolworths.

This super-slick presentation brought to life the Woolworths Baby & Toddler Club, now celebrating it’s 1st birthday (fairy bread was conspicuously absent. Just a tip for next time). This content-led community platform – which offers information, utility and reward to customers with babies on the way, or growing up – is a great example of understanding your audience and their needs.

In this case, Woolworths identified three ‘need states’ for its customer: Emotional, Financial and Practical, and designed the Baby & Toddler club to service those needs accordingly.

Furthermore, Woolworths examined an already very congested ‘baby’ landscape and identified a unique gap that it could focus on: Fresh Food & Nutrition.

A very nice example of a long-term commitment to a content platform, the Woolworths Baby & Toddler Club exhibited the flexibility required to service customers on a very elastic user journey from pregnancy to lots of kids. eek!!

No fairy bread, but plenty of good insights. Mmmm, fairy bread.

Post-lunch, the Plate of Our Nation case study, from Weight Watchers’ Head of Digital Marketing and Reactive’s Creative Director Tim Buesing, nearly made us all regret the pork belly at lunch. Nearly.

Did you know that the average Aussie woman will go on 49 DIETS in her lifetime? I didn’t. Although it explains why I never have any time to go to the gym.

Their presentation Big Data and Big Ideas – Strange Bedfellows showed us a great example of content campaign bringing meaning and utility to a huge, often unwieldy topic, namely the obesity epidemic in Australia.

Working with mountains of data about the issue, an ambassador in the newly svelte form of Pete Evans, the agencies working on the campaign created a program of shareable, portable, ‘bite-sized’ content and deployed it across a number of channels.

Importantly, besides positioning itself as an expert in the space, Weight Watchers encouraged and enabled consumers to get involved in a national debate. Next step is to move the brand into a more ‘thought leadership’ role, and engage the government around this important topic.

Next up the second panel: Brands as Publishers – What Impact Will This Have on the Digital Landscape? I joined Nicola Swankie, Social Media Director, Leo Burnett and Stig Richards, Creative Director, Sound Alliance to discuss the ins and outs of brands becoming publishers.

From creating owned platforms, to having a presence on social media, some clear guidelines emerged:

–        Always begin with understanding your audience

–        Have something to say. Do interesting stuff. Be entertaining.

Have something to say. Be entertaining.

–        Choose wisely:
Owned: If you’re going to build your own, this is a long-term commitment and resource-heavy, but your own platform can allow you to build an audience over time, and gives you control and presence in search, etc.
Partner: a great way to discover and access you audience, engage partner expertise in co-creating content and launch new things. Over time, you can even migrate an audience to your own platforms too

–        Get the balance right between recruitment and content production:
Once you’ve got an audience, “don’t F&%$ it up” said Stig. It’s easier to win an audience, then get them back after you’ve lost them

–        If you’re going to curate – be quick and/or be totally unique – there’s no point if posting the same meme they say 3 days ago

–        Nicola advised us to look within your organisation to find content (and talent) that already exists

–        Measure: know what success looks like, and how you’re going to measure it


For a quick foray into Social TV, the next presentation Double Screening – How to Tap Into the Opportunities Coming Your Way came from by Peter McEvoy, Executive Producer of ABC TV’s Q & A (almost too dignified for a marketing conference) and Amnesia Razorfish Director of Technology (and Twee TV creator) Lesley Nassar (just the right amount of dignity).

What followed was a really clear explanation of why people tweet whilst watching “someone to yell at whilst watching TV” and how Q & A has managed to pioneer the TV tweeting space in Australia, and retain its top position, even beating such beauty queens as MKR and The Block, with up to 500 tweets per minute during the broadcast. I bet their viewers don’t have time to go to the gym either.

The Q & A team began by educating viewers as to how they could involved by tweeting, and now recognise and reward contribution with on-air tweets, and retweets to their 87,000+ followers. A masterclass in simply allowing your community to behave in the way they will, with minor tweaks to reap the rewards of increased engagement in the program.

Peter did confess that some of the older viewers of Q & A find the tweets on-screen distracting – and suggested that some well-placed gaffer tape might do the job to conceal its offense. A quick crowd sourcing of ideas and the suggestion of Q & A-branded gaffer tape emerged from some bright spark in the twitterverse. OK, me again. Trademark pending.

Also very interesting, Lesley revealed that the lion’s share of tweets for all programs are still coming through the Twitter-owned apps and site and that the so-called ‘Social TV apps’ such as Fango, Jump In and Zeebox, have almost no traction yet, despite heavy promotion.

And finally, bucking the trend of the graveyard shift was a well-attended and fun presentation – Ads as Content: The Rise of Native Advertising - from Willie Pang, Managing Director, Asia Pacific of AlphaBird and Nuthan Ruff, Managing Director of Urban Geek Media.

I confess that the term ‘native advertising’ was #23 on my ‘content marketing buzz words to memorise list’ and I hadn’t quite gotten to it. But what it represents is certainly something I’ve been interesting in for some time: the opportunity to (pay to) place links to branded content on editorial pages right amongst the content that your audience is already seeking out. Like PR with a guaranteed outcome.

Willie said it was a 4000 year-old concept, so I’m visualising the early cave-owners offering their walls for the eager finger-painters to reach their audiences ‘Get your Mastadon Beetroot Burger at McThags!’.

There were some interesting insights from the guys, including AlphaBird’s prediction that content is the next paid media frontier to be reached. Although Willie predicted that 2013 would NOT be the year of Native Advertising, the message is clear, watch this space.

If there’s a meme, it must be big.

Nathan from Urban Geek, who represent a collection of sites that reach 3 million+ Aussie blokes every month – shared a great cross-over case study, bringing the blockbuster release of ‘hard man’ action movie Jack Reacher, together with the eloquent opinions of some of Australia’s hardest men: the UFC fighting community.

The potential power of the Urban Geek reach to blokes got me thinking, I’m taking expressions of interest to create a branded content campaign, working title: “For the love of god, put the toilet seat down!” I think it’s got legs… if only us ladies could find the time between diets to plan it!


Anyway, that’s my wrap of the day at the ad:tech Sydney Content & Creative stream. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts, and of course, if you feel I’ve missed anything crucial, or in the eternal words of Stig: “F&%$ed it up” – please do drop me a line at or @_jumpshot



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One Response to Sex, Kung Fu & Gaffer Tape – The Content & Creative stream at ad:tech Sydney

  1. Michael Verghios March 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Great wrap up Christie!

    Thanks for “curating” the day (see what i did there?) haha

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