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ALF Insights

11 Jul 2024

MAD//Fest 2024 Round-Up

Natalie Fedden & Simon Ward
Tom Goodwin, Founder - All We Have is Now at Hexagon Stage - MAD//Fest 2024

Those of you who attended MAD//Fest, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! If you couldn't be there or were too busy networking to catch all the content, check out our round-up of the key points we took away from the leaders and marketers that took to the stages.

Pete Markey, chief marketing officer, Boots

  • A good CMO has to be “part artist, part scientist and part cheerleader for the marketing of the business”.
  • Since Markey joined Boots three and a half years ago he has focused on revitalising what is a 175-year-old brand that is recognised as a high street institution, but told agency partner WPP from the start that there would be no more ‘good old Boots’.
  • The marketing budget has been increased by 35% since he started and in 2022 there was a relaunch of the Boots Advantage Card with an accompanying omnichannel campaign, which included the first TV ad for the scheme since it began in 1997. Boots then had its biggest ever Christmas campaign in 2023.
  • Boots still relies heavily on traditional advertising such as TV, radio and out-of-home, with Markey saying: “All of our modelling shows that it powers the other channels.” There has been an increasing use of platforms such as TikTok, Meta, Snapchat and YouTube, and an expansion of retail media, with digital marketing in-store, with the aim “to get content in front of customers in a meaningful way”.
  • The Advantage Cards has enabled Boots to learn more about its customers, and 60% of marketing channels are now booked with first-party data.
  • Purpose is “massively important”, and Boots pivoted from its long-time slogan of ‘Let’s feel good’, which did not tally with the challenges faced by many in the last few years to ‘With you, for life’, emphasising its support for people going through the “journey of life”.


‘Fortune Favours The Bold’ panel (based on theme of this year’s event)

Michelle Spillane, managing director, Paddy Power

  • The betting company, which is known for its edgy marketing campaigns, has three priorities: pushing its culture forward (with the help of partners such as BBH and Essence Mediacom); being selective about what it does, and “inspired by data rather data driving what we do”; and thinking outside of its category, adding that there are benefits in “having the bravery to know and understand that forging your own path makes you distinctive”. The brand is honest enough to admit when it makes mistakes (e.g. on social media) as that is accepted by consumers, and everyone can move on.

Kenyatte Nelson, chief membership & customer officer, Co-op

  • Co-op has branched out by partnering with Live Nation and various festivals, and is the naming rights sponsor of Co-op Live in Manchester. The company adheres to the concept of ‘risk and reward’ and “quite like doing things that scare us”. In terms of advice, stressed the importance of “clarity and communication of what you’re trying to achieve” and “making sure that you’re all aligned when trying something new or different”. Also the need to have very honest conversations with your agency partners, speak up if you feel something is not going to work and celebrate other people’s successes.

Mitch Oliver, VP corporate brands and purpose, Mars

  • ‘Why not?’ are the two most powerful words when considering new ideas. Ensure you are “bringing the authenticity of yourself to work” but rather than finding reasons why something would not work, then say ‘why not?’ When something does not work then “own your failures”. However, it is best to “do what’s right, not what’s popular”.


Laetitia Roust, chief digital & marketing officer, L'Oréal

  • The L'Oréal recipe combines technology, people and brands (37 that are very differentiated and single-mindedly focused on changing beauty).
  • “L'Oréal aims to use technology to make beauty more inclusive.”
  • The company has embraced augmented marketing, driven by a focus on purpose, O&O (Owned & Operated), data and Generative AI.
  • L'Oréal collaborates with over 60,000 influencers around the world (including so-called skin-fluencers) – has a 30% share of influencers globally.
  • Has teamed up with Meta on the New Codes of Beauty Creator Programme to support the next generation of 3D, AR and AI creators.
  • In May, L'Oréal rolled out a Generative AI-powered beauty content lab, Creaitech, to support its campaigns. This does not involve the use of AI-generated faces, bodies, hair or skin.


Firdaous El Honsali, global Dove Masterbrand VP, Unilever

  • Dove is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of its Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004 and in that time turnover has trebled and its social impact education programme has reached 114 million young women in over 150 countries, making it the number one provider of body confidence education in the world. This has shown how Dove “can deliver both social impact and growth”.
  •  “Being bold for Dove is being consistent and relevant.”
  • The brand’s three key pillars are strategic clarity, creative ambition and people and mindset.
  • Strategic clarity entails single-mindedness in what the brand stands for, being authentic and showing women as they truly are. When the Campaign for Real Beauty launched only 2% of women globally considered themselves beautiful. The brand has showcased normal women, rather than models, and eschewed digital distortion in its advertising.
  • Creative ambition means trying to evolve emotion into reason, and help to drive difference and sales. Dove has also adopted the Dove Code, committing to never use AI to represent real women in its ads.
  • People and mindset has guided the brand to demonstrate “passion, agility, trust and leadership” in its marketing. In 2023, Dove launched a campaign to show its opposition to the TikTok Bold Glamour filter, which produces a digital ‘fix’ of people’s faces. Dove urged women to #TurnYourBack on Bold Glamour and digital distortion, and the hashtag had over 110 million views on TikTok alone.


Calum Laming, chief customer officer, British Airways

  • Heritage in a brand that dates back 105 years and for which people feel a sense of ownership, with 43 million customers each year and 37,000 colleagues across the globe.
  • Works with agencies MG OMD and Uncommon, and in 2022 launched a new positioning, ‘A British Original’ which has highlighted the people who travel and their reasons for doing so, with TV advertising featuring the airline’s colleagues.
  • The campaigns are supporting BA’s £7bn transformation plan, which comprises 600 initiatives, including 200 relating to customer and brand, and has sustainability goals such as being net zero by 2050.
  • “It has to be a cohesive journey that resonates with our customers and feels unique to us.”
  • “Being bold at BA means knowing the brand and being proud of the brand, standing true to who you are.”
  • “Look forward to continuing to push forward the team and an iconic brand, reflecting modern Britain and pushing bounds of creativity and achieving commercial results. We’re on a journey to a better BA.”


Tugce Aksoy, global brand director Magnum, Unilever

  • The Unilever-owned ice cream brand has always promoted itself as an affordable luxury.
  • On top of traditional advertising, pop-ups, Magnum Pleasure Experiences and festival partnerships have helped to build the brand
  • There is also a long-time association with fashion dating back to a partnership with Vivienne Westwood that began in 1994, and continues with tie-ups with the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino and Henry Holland.
  • “The partnerships are about ‘creating desire’ and taking Magnum out of the freezer.”
  • “It’s been about getting people to see Magnum as a fashion brand, and not just something you can eat but something you can wear.”
  • It has had a presence at the Cannes Film Festival for over 10 years, and uses the event to launch collaborations e.g. with singer Burna Boy in 2023
  • “Our entry to the Cannes Film Festival has enabled us to be the only ice cream brand creating culturally iconic moments.” Associations with culture and fashion have created a social circle for the brand.
  • “Magnum also involves 100 content creators from around the world, enabling them to experience the brand, and giving them centre stage to create content.” This has included videos from Magnum Dipping Bars.


Katie Evans, chief marketing officer, Burger King UK

  • Although it has over 500 restaurants in the UK and is the third most recognised fast food brand by recognition, Burger King does not have the media spend of competitors so cannot match their tried and tested formulas.
  • It has therefore worked with BBH Global, an agency that has always believed ‘when the world zigs, zag’ on innovative campaigns.
  • Burger King uses BBH’s Zig Index, a tool that measures similarities and differences between sectors and brands, to guide its strategy.
  • Burger King launched in the US in 1954, and introduced the Whopper in 1957, and has had a presence in the UK since 1976.
  • To revitalise the brand, it was decided in discussions with BBH, which had been appointed as creative agency partner in June 2018, that it made sense to promote its most famous brand the Whopper, which as of 2019 only had 37% recognition in the UK, and had not been on the TV for 10 years.
  • The result was the Whopper Mandate in April 2019 when for one day only the Whopper was the only item on the menu, and tens of thousands were given away for free. There was also an accompanying multi-channel advertising campaign.
  • Subsequent advertising campaigns have included ‘Another Whopper on the side of a bus’, coinciding with the 2019 general election, Tinie Tempah performing his song ‘Whoppa’ on a Whopper in a VR experience in 2020, and most recently in 2024 the ‘Foodfilment’ campaign, comparing the experience of eating of a Burger King product with other life experiences.
  • The result of these activations since 2019 have been a 297% increase in Whopper sales, while awareness has more than doubled.


Joao Brum, Global Senior Marketing Manager - Hellmann's, Unilever & Jamie Cordwell, ECD, Edelman

  • Hellmann’s and Edelman showcased how they launched the ‘Mayo McHack’ in order to drive engagement with the its mayonnaise product. Hellmann’s noticed that although many people are fans of fries with mayo, McDonald’s did not offer the condiment on its extensive list of dips. The viral initiative saw mayo fans ordering a McDonald’s burger without the bun, burger or lettuce, to be left with a box of mayo, with Hellmann’s promising to refund them the cost of the meal if they posted about having made the hack online. The fast food giant now has mayo on its menu.
  • Hellmann’s also encouraged people in Germany with the surname Heinz to legally change their name to Hellmann’s, which resulted in an outpouring of love for the sauce on social media.
  • The pair expressed the importance of acting like a challenger brand even when you are a marketer leader. Don’t play it safe if you want to drive consumer engagement.


Paul Wright, Head of Advertising, International, Uber

  • Uber Advertising is relatively new in the UK market. Head of advertising Paul Wright explained how Uber is uniquely positioned at the intersection of culture & real life. Usage of Uber offers data on moments of intent, which gives the opportunity for brands to connect with its current 150m monthly active customers. Its data points include destination, live events, type of car, pets, as well as device, payment method, account type, and time of day. It also has a huge amout of food delivery intelligence.
  • Examples included Pinterest advertising to Uber customers on route to Taylor Swift concerts, offering outfit inspiration, and L’Oreal Travel advertising to users on the way the Heathrow Airport, which included a voucher than could be added to their wallet and redeemed at duty free.
  • Paul explained that Uber is conscious about advertising only where it should do rather than where it could do, for example it won’t advertise to people taking trips to hospital. Its future plans for Uber Advertising include screens on the back of headrests called ‘Journey TV’.


Tom Goodwin, Founder, All We Have is Now

  • Tom Goodwin highlighted what matters in advertising in 2024. He dispelled some myths including: people are not hard to reach, people are hard to engage; people aren’t busy, people are overwhelmed; and brands are dead, when they are more vital than ever.
  • Tom’s tips included – ‘Digital isn’t a thing, its everything’ – anything with a flat surface is going to become a digital screen – and ‘Digital doesn’t need to follow a different playbook’.
  • Tom suggests we ‘stop the obsession with closing the loop, fight shortermism, and fight the obsession with counting over success’. We should also ‘remember what has worked for the last 200 years.’
  • Just as the internet democratised media, AI has democratised creative. Tom predicts that AI will have the biggest impact on small clients.
  • Tom thinks we should rethink what advertising should be, posing the question ‘if we had no idea what advertising was, what would we make?’.


Anna MacDonald, Marketing Director, Guinness

  • Anna, who has been with Guinness owner Diageo for more than two decades, began by reminding us that experience can sometimes be undervalued.
  • She told of us how Guinness became Britain’s favourite pint through; connecting the brand to culture - including support of UK pubs, using innovation to challenge perceptions – such as its at-home pouring device Guinness Nitrosurge, and switching up their media model, which includes further investment in sport sponsorship – having recently announced the brand’s first ever global football partnership with the Premier League.
  • Guinness also pivoted into footwear for its ‘Footpints’ campaign, creating a pair of snow shoes that imprint a Guinness pint into the snow with each step.


Guilherme Ferreira, Global Brand Vice President, Cadbury and Clare Hutchinson, CSO, VCCP

  • Guilherme, who become global brand VP in 2024, explained how Cadbury has harnessed the power of one word across all that they do – Generosity. He encouraged others to define their brand’s by one word as opposed to complicated structures. The strategy has added an extra $1.2bn to the business in 5 years.
  • Cadbury showed generosity through its partnerships and packaging through its ‘donate your words’ campaign with Age UK. The brand also created its 200th anniversary campaign, ' Yours for 200 Years' entirely with images and footage shared with the brand of people enjoying Cadbury products over its lifetime.

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