BAM Marketing Congress 2023
In a fast-moving society, pause and take a moment to rethink.
Never before have changes been so fundamental: in the way we work, the way we travel, the way we create....
Technology is accelerating all these drastic changes even more.
This year's theme, "Rethink," encourages you to question your routines. Let us inspire you to redefine your approach, explore new opportunities and stay ahead in a rapidly changing landscape.
Come to the BAM Marketing Congress and let's think together about a prosperous and meaningful future.
1.650 attendees / 2 stages / 2 labs / 67 speakers / attendee satisfaction: 8/10
Recap Day 1
Pause. Re-think. The theme of the BAM congress was clear. Although there was little time for apause. "Change has never been so fast... and will never be so slow again". A report from the first day of the congress.
"Above all, make sure you are not 'stuck in the middle'." It was a phrase Dado Van Peteghem said in passing during his presentation on the B-stage (for those not present: the main stage). But that one sentence summed up an entire first day of congress.
After all, it was a day of extremes. As a participant, you were constantly tossed back and forth between the two code words: 'human' (with 'meaningful' and 'sustainable' as variants) and 'artificial' (with 'technology' and 'AI' as variants).
It started right away with the first two speakers of the day. Both Mark Schaefer and Dado Van Peteghem chose a clear focus. One went for 'human', the other for 'technology'. The tone was immediately set.
Both domains were explored further during the day, but it was undoubtedly sustainability that attracted the most attention. In this area, the conference participants were presented with the crème de la crème of sustainability marketing on day 1. Both Wayne Visser and Victoria Hurth climbed the stage.
The former is a professor at the University of Cambridge and Antwerp Management School, the latter is associated with the Institute for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge. The result of two academic profiles? Very reasoned, in-depth presentations that addressed the need for a very thorough reform of our business and marketing thinking.
Victoria Hurth went furthest in this. If the term 'holistic' had not already been invented, it would have been immediately claimed to stick on this presentation. Wayne Visser, however, did not let himself off the hook with his speech. He ended catchily with a poem of his own writing.
Human takes the lead
In between the two, then, was Erinch Sahan's presentation, which provided numerous models to make the doughnut economy concrete. Not to mention Samira Brophy, who showed how advertising for sustainability themes can be 'magnificent'.
With this strong line-up, the 'human' side won out over the artificial side by a bike length.
Recap day 2
BAM congress day 2: technology redresses the balance
On Day 2 of the BAM Marketing Congress participants' brains were once again shuffled between human and technological approaches. A marriage between the two does not yet seem to be in sight, although that is probably where the key to successful marketing practice lies
The battle between human and artificial, round 2. So it seemed on the second day of the conference. On Friday too, quite a few presentations were scheduled on either of the two – at first sight still divergent – themes. Only it seemed that the balance had been somewhat restored. Speakers such as Pierre-Nicolas Schwab, Annette Doms and Daniel Hulme explained the possibilities of AI in a clear and accessible way. That message was firmly reinforced by less obvious voices. For instance, Studio100 CEO Hans Bourlon ended the conference with his message that his company will look completely different within a few years. Merely the result of the entry of AI into the world of animation.
Notorious B.I.G. brought to life
Things got really concrete with the presentation by Kurt Frenier, Vice President of Marketing Transformation at PepsiCo. He was very honest about the steps the FMCG giant is taking to approach marketing in a totally different way. "All projects start brimming with enthusiasm, but a lot of them failed. For some, that was very painful," it echoed.
It was definitely not a walk in the park but well worth the effort. Because of the gems that surface. Pepsi, for instance, released an unknown jam session by Notorious B.I.G. to mark hip-hop's 50th anniversary. The brand knew through online conversations that hip-hop and Notoriouis B.I.G. are still very trendy.
Another is its support for Cropin, an app that helps farmers monitor their crops
via satellites and ensure yields. Not insignificant when Lay's – the world's biggest crisps brand – Is in your portfolio of brands.
Frenier also implicitly touched on different generations in his presentation. A topic that also came up with DuoLingo social guru Zaria Parvez (Gen Z) and Joeri Van den Bergh (Gen Alpha). In both cases, the importance of social media and screens in their lifestyles cannot be underestimated.
Embrace the chaos
Whether you think it’s moving more towards the human or just more towards the artificial... In all cases, one thing is crucial: create a 'culture of change'. Journalist Bob Safian elaborated on that. He creates the podcast Masters of scale - Rapid Response, in which he talks with CEOs of both multinationals and scale-ups. And it’s precisely from those conversations that his lessons come.
After all, CEOs are faced daily with the great and ever-changing. So if there is one thing that is best remembered from these two days of conferences, it is the mindset you need to navigate among the novelties that will reach us ever faster. A good listener...