Q&A: Kemosabe’s Ian Irving talks digital marketing in 2018 & chairing #DMWF

By: Mark Jones

August 20, 2018


#DMWF - Digital Marketing - Featured -

‘A panel debate is only as good as its chair,’ someone probably once said… and it’s what we believe here at Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF).

A lively and productive panel discussion hinges on having a moderator with heaps of experience and knowledge, a natural instinct to steer conversation and, perhaps most importantly, the guts to shoot top executives those revealing, elephant-in-the-room-eque, questions.

Stepping up to the plate in Amsterdam this year is Kemosabe c0-founder and creative strategist, Ian ‘Irv’ Irving, whose seat on a line up of panels – including how UX impacts ROI, the future of marketing and the power of interactive content – promises candid discussion which plays off the expertise of world-leading marketers.

As the event fast approaches we caught up with our #DMWF chair to find out just what makes him tick, and what he anticipates from the show’s European return next month.

Hi Irv, let’s kick off with a bit about your background in digital marketing and what you’re up to at the moment (besides chairing #DMWF next month, of course…)

Ian Irving: Digital has played an intrinsic part in my career over the past two decades and the integration of digital and social media supports everything we do as a business. Kemosabe is a full-service agency with a full digital offering delivering solutions that support all of our advertising campaigns and live events. Having seen the positive growth in strategically-driven social media, my partners and I recently launched our own social agency Socialgram LDN. We focus on consumer attention; helping brands reach their customers in efficient, meaningful and emerging ways.

Sounds great! This might be a tough one but how would you describe digital marketing in 2018?

II: I think that apart from the distraction of all the chat around blockchain – a proposition I don’t see having any effect on the advertising industry for at least another two to three years by which time we will probably talking about another “revolutionary” “game-changing” thing! – I think of digital marketing in 2018 and beyond as a truly exciting place. We are finally seeing true integration between online and offline, and developments in voice, VR [virtual reality] and AR [augmented reality] that are only going to get stronger and stronger, offering consumers more immersion and engagement benefits.

You’re going to be hosting a good few panel sessions throughout #DMWF in Amsterdam. Are there any in particular that you’re really excited to be part of, and why?

II: I’ll be honest with you and say that no one panel stands out for me; in the two years I’ve been supporting #DMWF I am yet to see a dull debate. My role in the event is to make the debate interesting and to draw as much out of the subject as possible. I don’t shy away from friction so we can be sure that our panellists will be worked hard to educate and inform our audience!

Besides what we can see on the agenda, are there any talking points flying around the industry that will likely raise their head more than once at #DMWF?

II: I’m sure we will be bombarded with facts around data and the old chestnut AI [artificial intelligence] will no doubt get an outing. I’m really looking forward to hearing how brands are truly integrating their digital strategy to the rest of their communication tools and comms; I’m so tired of seeing brand campaigns that lack true integration, like when you look at a website or social channel and see a commercial or print ad by the same brand and they have no connection whatsoever. I also want to hear more about security and social purpose, what are brands doing to ensure the safety of their consumers in the digital world.

In your opinion, what sort of things should marketers be talking about instead?

II: Doing what’s right; they should inspiring people whilst making money, that’s what marketing is, it’s the creative side of sales. Too many marketers are guilty of wasting brand budgets on bullshit trends and delivering campaigns that nobody understands or cares about. Marketers should prioritise delivering socially-responsible campaigns that contribute to the development of society – putting semi-naked women in Times Square for a social media campaign for plus size women is not the answer just because you want to sell bras!

The #DMWF agenda is packed with global brands. Are there any brands you admire in terms of their approach to marketing more than others? (Doesn’t have to be at #DMWF!)

II: For me, brands like Audi and RedBull just nail it every time; product and brand truth, emotion, excitement and content that makes you just want to be part of the brand. I’d like to mention some of my own clients for their approach but that would be a bit narcissistic and that’s not me.

Why’s it important for marketers of every level to get out there and get together at international events like these?

II: You can waste your money and be surrounded by self-obsessed sycophants at Cannes, or you could choose to attend events that educate, inform and stay focussed on knowledge sharing.

Stay tuned for more speaker Q&As in the run up to #DMWF Europe and find out more about the conference and expo here.