The Idea Conference 2009

The speakers at this year’s Idea Conference shared their views on business innovation.

You don’t have to explain to anyone in the marketing industry that the advancements in technology and the state of the economy in the past few years has dramatically changed the way we think, operate and sell brands. The speakers and attendees of the fourth-annual Advertising Age/Creativity Idea Conference, took the day to candidly discuss this shift and what it means moving forward.

Here’s what some of the speakers had to say:

Jim Marggraff, Chairman and CEO of LIFESCRIBE, better known as the inventor and creator of the LeapPad Learning System during his tenure at LeapFrog Enterprises, presented his new product: The Lifescribe Pulse Pen. Far more than a pen, this mini super computer is a product, developed in part to combat global illiteracy, was by far the technological “wow” of this event. We all sat in awe as Jim demonstrated how this reinvention of our ballpoint pen is going to forever change the way notes are taken, presentations are given, students learn, and information is shared.

Arkadi Kuhlmann, Chairman and President of ING DIRECT USA says, “If everyone in your industry is doing something—do something else!” By developing cafes with free Internet and online games for kids, ING teaches us that saving money can actually be fun. Their unique marketing efforts should teach other brands that ROI is not always measured in direct response to marketing efforts. If you build a brand loyalty through a unique brand culture, success and sales can follow.

Perry Chen, CEO of KICKSTARTER, a brand new company built to give creative minds the platform to fund ideas and endeavors. “With advancements in technology, we now have more access to the tools we need to create and be creative,” Chen said. And now with the help of Kickstarter, ideas can be test marketed and crowd sourced before they are even produced.

Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Dept. of Architecture & Design, MOMA explains that her dream is to see designers recognized as intellectuals at the highest level, to be respected for the constructive processes they use and the contributions they make. Designers take technology and transform it into products, a process Paola feels most people do not understand. “People get excited about music and films because they are educated on the development process,” she says. One of her latest exhibits called Design and the Elastic Mind, was devoted to teaching the relationship between design and science.

Jane Goldman, VP and Editor-In-Chief, Entertainment & Lifestyle of CBS INTERACTIVE was the driving force behind CHOW, a print turned online publication that chose to take a more honest approach to food media and Chowhound.com, an online community of foodies. Discussed was the difficult task of managing user-generated content and building a community that lives within the intersection of friends and experts. Jane believes that good online media should resemble a cocktail party, “You introduce your friends to people they may find interesting and chances are they will have a conversation,” she says.

David Chang, Owner and Executive Chef of MOMOFUKU RESTAURANTS, whose motto is: Go BIG, throw caution to the wind, do what people tell you not to, make mistakes; just don’t make the same mistake twice. “Mistakes allow you to be creative and inventive, you become incredibly resourceful when you have nothing to work with,” says Chang. On staff and education: “teach through example and experience, no one reads the manual.” Another word of advice, “don’t try and be authentic – just be delicious.”

Sam Calagione, Founder and President of DOGFISH HEAD had to be the crowd favorite by the end of the day – serving beer while he spoke certainly helped. The founder of one of the few craft breweries left in our country explained how having an authentic product that your customers are passionate about, can drive sales without the need for big marketing dollars and media spends. While other brands in the industry try to appeal to everyone, DOGFISH believes in quality over quantity. With the key to their success lying in education, Sam will continue to teach how creative experimentation and passionate product development yields brand advocates.

Contributed by Kristin Ehrgott (@Mindseed)

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