Festival of Media, Day Two: #freemona, wearable tech and hashtag cookies

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 Melina Fiolitakis’ take on the second day.  ​​

Ciao from Rome! Today was mindblowing. It amazes me how much interesting stuff they can cram into one day at this festival. Thankfully for me, there was less complex media jargon and more huge world-changing ideas, revolutionary perspectives and cutting-edge technology, so I could follow along easily despite feeling a bit shady after a big night of ‘networking’ at the Spotify party.

The highlight for me was Mona Eltahawy, on using her body as a medium, the power of social media to fuel revolutions and being a feisty badass. She was arrested in Egypt, sexually assaulted and beaten so badly that both her arms were broken. While detained she was able to send a tweet for help from the guard’s phone and it spread like wildfire. Within ten minutes the news had picked it up and were working to free her, #freemona was trending around the world, and not long afterwards she was released. She couldn’t write for months, so instead of words she used her body to make a statement, dying her hair bright red and tattooing both arms. Later when living in New York City, she tagged racist ads in the subway and, because of her profile, drew attention to the cause by getting arrested and effectively getting more exposure than the ads in the subway did in the first place.

Nielsen had some surprising insights and predictions on how people use media. For example, the average American spends 60 hours a week consuming media, essentially making it their second full-time job. I loved the stats on how college students are no longer buying cable when they move out of home. Obviously it’s no longer needed when you have smart devices and streaming services to do all of that, and more. Not having a TV doesn’t make you a hippy, it actually means you’re cutting edge. I’ve been trying to tell people this ever since my TV broke, and now I have proof.

The talk on wearables was really good. From night vision contact lenses made of a material called Graphene, to pills you can swallow with a tiny camera inside to get a medical exam [ed: swallowables?]. The speakers had great visions for what could be next, like a self organising diary that could sense when you’re tired, but sees you have an important meeting coming up, so orders you a coffee, to being able to nudge people that are falling asleep at your conference with haptic wearables (not that that happened today, of course).

The last thing I’ll leave you with is ‘Eat the Tweet’ by Oreo which launched at SXSW, a vending machine that picks up trending hashtags in real time and 3D prints a custom made Oreo based on your selection. Yum.

That’s it from me! Now we’re off to find the elusive Kevin Bacon. 

  • Melina Fiolitakis​ is an art director at FCB and recently won the Axis emerging talent award. 

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