Opinion

Mumbrella360 Asia is Everest, but we are already past base camp

The programme for the inaugural Mumbrella360 Asia media and marketing conference is complete and many sponsors have come aboard, but the journey is far from over – writes Dean Carroll

What a few months it has been. Organising a three-day conference with more than 100 speakers (including more than 25 international speakers), four streams, a masterclass learning zone, a large exhibition and one-to-one networking (in a speed-dating format) was always going to be a challenge.

But doing so within the space of about 12 weeks – the time which has passed since we closed off our industry call out for sessions and speakers –  has been like climbing Everest. In reality, we have only now started progressing past base camp, but we are more than on track. The inaugural Mumbrella360 Asia program is complete, you can see it here in all its glory. However, the hard work has only just begun.

Now comes the marketing, the ticket sales (the earlybird rate closes on September 21 so now is the time to buy if you want the lowest price possible), making sure our sponsors are happy (so far there are 20 of them plus support from the Singapore government) and ensuring the delegate experience rises beyond and above the usual trade show mediocrity.

After all, this is designed to be a forum by the industry for the industry. We are though in a great place to execute the best conference in Asia this year.

For example, take a look at just a small sample of the speakers listed below. You will see here in Singapore a host of global, regional and local experts including:

  • Scott Hagedorn, global CEO, Hearts & Science
  • Mat Baxter, global CEO, Initiative
  • Deborah Goldingham, head of marketing for South East Asia, Mastercard
  • Lou Hoffman, global CEO and founder of The Hoffman Agency
  • Cheryl Goh, group vice-president of marketing, Grab
  • Karen Yew, head of brand and communications, Mediacorp
  • Yvonne Tey, marketing director for South East Asia, Under Armour
  • Christian Kurz, senior vice-president of global consumer insights, Viacom
  • Grace Liau, head of media for APAC, Google
  • Valerie Madon, chief creative officer for South East Asia, Havas
  • Geoffrey Pickens, client partner for South East Asia, Facebook
  • Erica Kerner, APAC vice-president of marketing and communications, Tiffany & Co. (also chairwoman of the Marketing Society Singapore)

Then there are truly unique sessions like these below. I mean, where else in Asia are you going to see company CEOs connected up to a polygraph machine live onstage with the idea being that they will defend the way they spend ad dollars?

  • The Lie Detector Test – Where Did My Ad Dollar Go?
  • Client-Agency Behaviour. What’s Acceptable and What’s Not?
  • The Future of The CMO in Asia
  • VR is Not a Good Idea, It’s Not Even an Idea

The diversity and depth is there across the program too, meaning you will benefit from attending whether you’re a generalist, a specialist or someone who falls somewhere in between. Whatever your penchant, at all times there should be a session running you can attend that allows you to return to your desk the next week able to do your job better than before.

Although we cannot take the credit. Just a small number of sessions were curated by us. Most of the trailblazing ideas came from the industry. Of around 60 sessions, only a handful were conceptualised and organised by Mumbrella Asia. The rest came from those of you out there kind enough to put in the time and effort to tell us what you wanted to see onstage, representing the most urgent and important challenges facing the industry right now.

Personally, I like the description of 360 I heard at the award-winning sister event in Australia. One of those attending said that you learn what everyone has been working on and grappling with for the last year as well as what is coming down the line in the next year – all in the space of just three days.

Among the other anecdotes I hear are the examples of seven-figure deals being done during the networking session, which makes sense given that the audience profile is C-suite executives on the client and agency sides. Plus media owners, ad-tech companies, consultants and recruiters to name but just a few. That to me though is what 360 is all about – first-class thought leadership, nurturing the media and marketing community and doing great business. The holy trinity, if you like.

Indeed, the pedigree of the Sydney event – now in its seventh year – is without precedent. In fact, the conference attracted more than 2,300 people when it was held in Australia in June and was shortlisted again – for the seventh consecutive year – in the ‘Conference of the Year’ category at the Australian Event Awards – having won the award on two occasions in 2016 and 2012. So we have a lot to live up to. The pressure is well and truly on.

With the great team we have onboard in Asia though and the support we are getting from our Australia headquarters, I’m sure my trepidation is unwarranted. Certainly, the plan is to knock it out of the park.

To do so though, we need to call on your support once again. Whether you are speaking at the event, buying tickets to see others speak, sponsoring, exhibiting or simply willing us to succeed you have our gratitude.

For we know that there are already too many conferences out there and not enough time to attend even the ones that are great (admittedly, these are small in number). We can only deliver on our pledge to be here for the long term by making 360 not just great, but exceptional.

With that in mind, we’ve tried to respond to the feedback from the market. As a result, we have more international speakers than just about any other event in Singapore so that you are not stuck in a room with the usual suspects, hearing the same speech you’ve heard at five other conferences in the recent past.

We are determined that it will not be a feedback loop experience for delegates. And we have enforced a ‘no all-male panels’ rule to ensure we at least start to address the industry gender imbalance, plus we’ve used affirmative action when selecting some of our keynote speakers.

In addition, the most unique and engaging session ideas have also been given the primetime slots on the programme; simply because we want to award bravery. Being bold is the mantra for 360.

So all that’s left for me to say now is, again, thank you for the support. We hope to see you there in November (7-9) at the Marina Bay Sands. And by the way, did I mention that it’s going to be the best conference in Asia this year? Well, if it’s not, then none of us at Mumbrella Towers are going to be happy. That you can be sure of.

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