I’ve been travelling around the US for the past two weeks on something of a conference-athon – first Adobe’s creative event Max in San Diego, then the 3 Percent Conference in New York and now finally Hubspot’s Inbound 2016 in Boston.
As always, the United States of America has not disappointed as a source of wonderment, inspiration, hope, amusement, fear and bewilderment all rolled up into one crazy jet-lagged ride.
From Adobe’s adventures with its Creative Cloud now dabbling with artificial intelligence, voice commands in common language for its sometimes bewilderingly complicated, but amazingly powerful creative tools, it raises the spectre of amazing creative being within anyone’s reach who can afford a licence to its all conquering clouds.
The 3 Percent Conference was a source of both inspiration and frustration at the ongoing prospects for women, and other diverse groups, in our industry. As Americans love to say, the needle hasn’t really moved in terms of creative directors being women, but there’s glimmers of hope and awareness is certainly soaring.
This is obviously a topic close to B&T’s heart and one we intend to continue to champion in Australia and beyond.
However, there’s no mistaking that the single biggest event to have occurred on my trip to the US was the election of one Donald Trump to the most powerful office in the world. I won’t say much here about this, it’s hard to avoid the discussion here in the states, and I assume it’s no different back in Oz. As one wit in Australia I know observed, this will no doubt now give Shane Warne ideas.
However I will talk about the impact it has had on HubSpot’s jamboree InBound 2016. At 9am local time, the day’s first keynote walked on stage. His name is Ta-Nehisi Coates, an author and correspondent for the Atlantic. He’s also an African American and close follower of US race politics. His speech was to be on race politics and marketing.
Racism has never been a “simple” story. Ever. https://t.co/VjxIVbgtBp
— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) November 9, 2016
Instead, Coates ripped up his prepared speech and spoke from the heart of the calamities he saw lying ahead following Trumps victory. Most of the audience remained and cheered, some actually walked out. The Twitter stream on the #InBound16 flooded with messages of both horror and support.
Coates was deeply off script and the importance of content marketing was being lost on the crowd. Marketers as the stewards of brands, were viscerally uncomfortable with this dose of reality being served up to them for all to see. It was truly amazing stuff to watch people in charge of corporate messaging squirm under the intensity of Coates truisms and observations.
In a small way, it was a clarion call to those who are rushing headlong into Facebook live and other live mediums. When you go live, you have no control. When you go live, you deal with reality.
Whether it was naive or brave for HubSpot to hold its event the morning after the US election I don’t know. What I do know, is we’ve entered into a new age of marketing and you’d better be ready for the cut thrust of reality.
— Emily Rutherford (@emrutherford90) November 9, 2016