Festival of Media, Day Two: Breaking Bad, Bitcoin and Kevin Bacon

As part of the prize for winning The Herald Advertising Challenge, a couple of FCBers got a trip to Rome to attend the Festival of Media Global. Here’s Kevin Walker’s take on the second day.  ​​

Buongiorno! Google tells me that’s good morning in Italian. And it was a good morning. For one, we managed to make it out of the Spotify party unscathed. A quick note on that, there was actually a DJ, but like everything in Rome he was stuck in the past. There were so many ’80s rock ballads I was in heaven, or perhaps I could have been at Provedor, it was tragic and amazing all at the same time.

Secondly Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad is the first speaker (okay, it’s via VC, but still awesome). He talked about the creative process. Like most great ideas the show was born from necessity. Vince and a writer friend had been out of work for two years, and were moaning about how there were so few writing jobs going round. So his friend said, “let’s screw writing and just cook meth in the back of an RV”. And you can work out the rest. 

A few tidbits I thought related to what we do as marketers/advertisers: 

For great ideas to happen, everybody needs to be a salesman, and be enthusiastic about the idea. Imagine trying to sell Breaking Bad to a network. It’s about a middle-aged man (TV watchers don’t care about middle-aged men), who has cancer (hmmm, touchy subject) and makes meth (umm, where’s the door?). Vince’s passion for the idea is what got it sold, and a brave network (or “client”) to have the guts to do it.

Execution is the difference between good, and mind-blowing. When casting Walter White they considered Matthew Broderick. No offense Ferris, but Bryan Cranston owned it. Keep it tight people.

The C word, collaboration. Typically the more ideas you get, the better the project gets. Vince was going to kill off Jessie Pinkman at the end of season one. Fortunately he didn’t, mainly because Aaron Paul proved to be extremely talented, and the rest of the team thought killing him off would be insane. So let the people speak, and let those ideas in.

Bizarrely, the network only let them say one “fuck” per season. In this industry sometimes (or most of the time) we’re given weird rules to follow, so, where possible, try use them to your advantage. In Breaking Bad, that rule made every “fuck” just that much better.

The next speaker was Jon Matonis of the Bitcoin Foundation. Like most of us I’ve heard of Bitcoin, but I haven’t the foggiest of what it’s all about. After Jon’s talk, I still have a lot to learn. But I’m intrigued. I won’t even try to explain what they are, so here is a handy video from here instead. 

In my unheralded opinion, I think they are the future of online payments. Seriously, look them up.

Their connection to media? He didn’t say, but to me it seems like media companies and consumers are just playing a big game of hide and seek. At the moment media companies are doing a great job of finding consumers, but one day consumers will start getting sick of being found, so they’ll find better hiding places.

If consumers start using digital currencies, which make your transaction history anonymous, it hides part of their online behaviour, making them harder to find. I guess this should just remind media companies that although your tools are getting better, so are consumers’. And if you don’t pull finger you’ll be in trouble. Or Bitcoin could just exist to buy weapons, drugs and porn. Don’t all rush to get them at once. 

Now I’m weary that I have precious little time until the big gala awards dinner starts, and it’ll take a while to roll myself in glitter. So I’ll just rifle off some other things I found interesting today.

  • Continuing on from yesterday, mobile will start dominating very soon. In fact there will be 5 billion smartphone users by 2016. That’s two years away folks.
  • This is allowing millions of people to easily create their own content. So in the battle for consumer’s attention, your content isn’t just competing against other brands, it’s competing against all these people. So it better be awesomely creative.
  • ​Check out the periodic table of content marketing, I haven’t managed to yet but it looks interesting.

The Festival of Media has been eye opening. I’d definitely recommend attending it, just so you don’t have to rely on me trying to explain it all to you. And enter the awards as well. There are so many chief executives here, it’s great exposure for your agency. I see a couple of Kiwi agencies have finalists. Good luck guys, we’ll be cheering you on. 

Oh, and where the fuck is Kevin Bacon?

  • ​​​Kevin Walker is a creative at FCB and recent winner of the Axis emerging talent award. 

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