Ahead of next week’s Connect: London, FinchFactor spoke with founder of Creativepool, Michael Tomes about his ambitions for the annual trade event and what we can expect to see this year and in the years to come.
This is Creativepool’s second annual trade event. What did you learn from year one that will impact how people experience Connect: London this year?
Connect: London has been on the drawing board for a number of years. For one of the global centres of creative excellence, London is really lacking a festival that can help to define the industry and to have a place for people in, around and across the industry to be able to come together. Last year’s trial run was, to be honest, there to prove that we could put it together and frankly we smashed it. This year is a much larger event, with more of everything: 2 stages, more stands, a workshop zone and more. To give this some reference, our call out for speakers was incredible. Over 250 talks where submitted in 2 days from across the globe. Cutting this down to the final speaker list and telling some exceptional people that they wouldn’t be included this year has been the hardest part of the process so far.
Considering how young the event is, you’ve managed to secure some big names. Why do you think they opted to headline an up and coming event?
Yes we have! Connect might be new but Creativepool is a massive mixing point of the global creative industry. With over 250,000 members and 20,000 agencies a part of the network we have links and ties with some of the biggest and most influential people that grace our wonderful sector. Our Top 100 Influencers and Annual showcase the best in the industry, our networking event for global heads at Connect: Cannes is also where we celebrate with the bigger names in the industry. So although the event might be new, our standing in the industry is such that we are very well connected.
For an event focusing on emerging trends in creativity, you have some representatives of the old guard. In your eyes, does experience trump expertise?
Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards. We all know how much our industry has changed, is changing and will be changing, but to understand the future you need to know the past and the “old guard” as you put it knows this better than anyone. I would say that experience and expertise go hand in hand. You often start off your career trying all manner of things until you find out what you are good at and then specialise in that.
What’s the main takeaway you want audiences to leave Connect: London with?
The main thing that I would like to see is people leaving inspired and better tooled to understand with what is happening in our industry. I want them to get insight into the tech, tools and trends that are taking place around us and leave fuelled up with knowledge. I think agencies especially are at a crossroads, I have a saying that I think an agency should have come up with Uber. This is where their space should be, coming up with innovative ways of taking current brands into whole new ways of doing business, looking at products as a whole and understanding how this could be made better for the consumer, not how can we shift more units of what we’ve been given. I also want the industry to start to take notice of what creativity really means, there is still a home guard that believes that creativity is the divine right of art directors and copywriters and their ilk. This is not an idea that I have ever attested to and is actually a big reason why I called Creativepool exactly that.
What is the long term vision for Connect: London?
There is an old adage in sport that the only game that matters is your next one. At this stage we are aiming to put London Creativity on the map and give it the festival that it deserves. But like everything that Creativepool has done we also look to build legacy into what we do. Next year’s will be built on the success of this year’s. We will always strive to ensure that the event looks to the future. To use Martin Sorrell as an example, I recently went along to a talk that he was headlining, put on by a well established industry body, the questions that were put to him focussed so much on the past, on what had happened, not on what he is going to do, not on what is going to happen. As above, life must be lived forwards. To more specifically answer your question, we see Connect being established as a part of the global creative calendar, a series of events around the world focusing on the particular needs of each continent and at the same time sharing and connecting the views of players from all parts of the industry and from all geographical regions.
Who would be at the top of your wish list to headline Connect: London in 2019?
Keith Weed, Mark Read, Jeff Bezos and Steve Hansen. Mark understandably said that he has a bit too much on his plate this year to be a part of it. Keith and Jeff I would like to see “square off” – for me Amazon is the biggest threat to brands so it would be truly insightful to see those opposing points of view. The last name, Steve Hansen probably needs some introduction to most people. Steve is the current All Blacks coach and has overseen the development or arguably the most successful team in the history of sport. He has been head coach since 2012 and in that time the All Blacks have a 90% winning record, just 7 losses in 7 years. I can’t think of anybody who could talk better about building legacy and how to run a team of people better than Steve, but then again, I am a kiwi…
Connect: London takes place at the Old Truman Brewery on 21-22 November. You can get your tickets here.