Adrian Peter Tse
Sep 26, 2014

Social media is something we can stop ‘bullshitting’ about: Amir Kassaei

SPIKES ASIA – There’s no such thing as social media, according to Amir Kassaei, DDB’s global CCO, who may have set a record for the number of times a presenter said ‘bullshit’ during a single session at Spikes Asia.

Amir Kassaei
Amir Kassaei

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

On stage, Kassaei immediately defined the role of the modern marketer: “We make things relevant, not funky ads. We’re in the business of finding innovative solutions to marketing problems.”

(Offstage, Kassaei expanded on some of his thoughts in a brief interview. Please see: 15 minutes with Amir Kassaei.)

Kassaei played a video from comedian Louis CK, which talked about parents watching a school dance performance through their phones rather than directly. And Kassaei's key points throughout his seminar focused on a similar theme: keeping perspective about the value of technology versus the value of ideas: 

Evolution of devices

  • The 1st age: In the past, devices connected to each other.
  • The 2nd age: Now devices connect to people. “The social web or whatever bullshit definitions people are coming up with.”
  • The 3rd stage: In the future, everything will be connected.

The problem

  • “When everything is connected, people will know everything in real time. People won’t need Google for search. And marketers won’t be needed either.”

The solution:

  • Create a brand network: “I don't mean the bullshit social networks.”
  • Create brands with influence. Create relevant truth.
  • Know your role: As a marketer, don’t try to be a technology company.
  • Creativity + humanity + technology = influence
  • In the business of marketing: everyone is creative and ideas can come from anywhere. Have a deep respect towards humans. Technology is only a tool and it won’t replace the idea.

Big data is like teenage sex

  • “I listened to a song on Spotify with the word jeep in it. Next I started getting Jeep Wrangler ads. There’s where big data is today.”
  • Digital is an infrastructure. Social is a network and not a new media. Don't use it like a TV channel.
  • Example: Bic’s universal typeface experiment and universal pen campaign focused on humanising and maximising these structures to create something that would actually be meaningful to users.

Brands: A sum of all experiences with a company

  • “The real experience is much more important than what you’re talking about.”
  • Example: Heineken’s ignite campaign, an interactive bottle.
  • The challenge is how to monetise these experiences without doing more and more and getting less and less.
  • Remember the best ads don't feel like ads.
  • Create relevance not awareness
  • Example: Johnson’s baby ‘Hello my name means’ campaign.

Priorities as a marketer

  • Priority: Solve problems first, win awards second
  • Example: Harvey Nicholas ‘Sorry, spent it on myself’ campaign (see below). Good example of a campaign that works with and communicates an imporant insight about consumers.
  • As a marketer you are a filter to using technology in the right way
  • “Stop categorising ideas…a dangerous trend. Simply ask yourself if what you’re doing is the most innovative solution to a marketing problem.”

Campaign's Observation: Kassaei outlined some clear principles to think about, but they are after all just principles, not a prescription to navigating the future of marketing. Kassaei would be contradicting himself if he'd said there was a formula.


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