5 things we learned at ADMA Forum 2017

by Jill Park
29 August 2017
NASA keynote ADMA Forum 2017
What marketers can learn from The Secret Life of Cats, NASA and an ad about a lonely penguin (and other things we learned at ADMA Forum 2017). Jill Park reports.

ADMA Forum has a reputation for bringing leading international speakers to Australia and this year didn’t disappoint. If you asked anyone on the conference floor, they were holding out for Day 2’s NASA session, but there were many more highlights besides. 

In this blog, we explore our top five takeaways from the event, which was held on 24–25 August at the Sydney Hilton. Burger King, the BBC, NASA, here are our top takeaways from their sessions and more.

BBC: Data visualisation of cats (and other things)

It takes hutzpah to finish your presentation with a video of a cat throwing up, but this is exactly what BBC News’ Editor Visual Journalism, Amanda Farnsworth did. Speaking on the subject of Visuals, data and journalism at the BBC, Farnsworth used the TV show, The Secret Lives of Cats as an example of how to gather unique data and use it across many platforms. 


The concept of the show was to attach cameras and GPS trackers to a series of cats so the documentary makers could see exactly what the cats got up to when people weren’t there. The resulting data illustrated how far and wide cats travelled when they were let out. Farnsworth’s team built an interactive website in support of the TV show, adding another channel for viewers to interact with the content (extending the life of the show even further).

Farnsworth advised brands to consider how they presented their data – simplicity being key. One example she gave was the Go Figure range of tweets her team creates to summarise one key fact from a top news story from the day. Each daily image is created using one fact, one image and one colour. A simple approach that brands can easily adopt today when promoting their own research or that of the industry in which they operate.


NASA: Brands in space

The room packed out for the much anticipated NASA session on the final afternoon. Jason Crusan, Director Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA spoke on the topic: Enabling the next era of space exploration and didn’t disappoint. 

NASA presentation at ADMA Forum 2017
NASA’s Jason Crusan spoke about the commercialisation of space travel.

His presentation centred on the subject of the commercialisation of space exploration. Some 15% of all rockets leaving Earth deliver cargo or crew to the International Space Station. NASA has been partnering with brands such as Space X and Beoing to build taxis to shuttle astronauts to the ISS, the goal being to commercialise support of the International Space Station to fund NASA’s long-distance exploration into deep space.

Where it becomes interesting for brands is in the partnership opportunities with these new commercial space entities. Crusan spoke of the partnership between Made in Space (the brand behind the first 3D printer in space) and US hardware juggernaut, Lowes. The brand is already getting mileage out of the collaboration in advertising. 


With a proliferation of commercial brands moving into the $322.7bn space industry, there are plenty of opportunities to partner. Even Disney flew Buzz lightyear into space with the help of NASA. Next time it could be your brand.

System1: Emotion in advertising

Do you remember the Gobbledock? Tom Ewing, Senior Director Digital Culture, System1 Group (UK) asked his Australian followers on Twitter to name their favourite ads from their childhood – the Gobbledock won hands down. The star of Smith’s Potato Crisps adverts from 1987 to 1994 is still remembered with fondness.



But why would a (somewhat terrifying) monster forever on the hunt for “chippies” come out top of the list? It all comes down to our emotional response to advertising, Ewing explained in his presentation: Feel more, buy more! Why this simple heuristic helps companies unlock profitable brand growth via emotional advertising.

System1 presentation at ADMA Forum 2017
System1 Group’s Tom Ewing discussed the science of emotion in advertising.

Ewing works for a company called System1 in the UK. The company conducts research to understand how consumers respond to adverts. He illustrated the point by showing real time responses to the 2016 Christmas advert for UK department store John Lewis. The advert, which features a lonely penguin, was given System1's top rating (five stars) due to the emotional response it emits from its viewers.


Ewing’s advice to brands? Take a long-term approach to creative, aim for a wide audience and invest in emotional creative. As Marketing Professor at the University of South Australia, Byron Sharpe, says: “Things that have emotional appeal tend to have broad emotional appeal”. 

Burger King: Rebuilding a challenger brand

“We need to make this brand cool again,” is what Burger King’s CEO told Fernando Machado, Head of Brand Marketing, Burger King (US). Not an easy task. Especially when you consider that the brand had won few advertising awards for the past few years (an industry barometer of brand health) when Machado came on board from Unilever in 2014. 

Burger King's session at ADMA Forum 2017

Burger King’s Fernando Machado told delegates to “lose control of your own campaign”.

In his new role, Machado set about re-establishing the challenger brand. First job, bringing branding in line with “instagrammable” packaging. Second? Recapturing the magic of the bygone era of Burger King advertising, where leftfield ideas were order of the day. Anyone remember the King? Or the Burger King XBox games?

In his presentation, WTF R U guys doing?, Machado laid out his 10- rules for creative advertising. Rules he applied when building the award-winning Proud Whopper and Google Home campaigns, amongst others. Rules, which led to Burger King being named Client of the Year at the D&AD in 2016 and Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year in 2017.

Proud Whopper



Google Home



Fernando’s 10 Rules

  • #1 Don’t be a client
  • #2 Advertising development is an acquired taste
  • #3 Great advertising is never done by committee
  • #4 Create a great brief
  • #5 Let the idea grow
  • #6 Great advertising is 80% the idea and 80% the crafting
  • #7 Do research to improve things, not to cover your ass
  • #8 One team, one ambition (internal and agency)
  • #9 The biggest risk is taking no risk
  • #10 Sell it like it’s never been sold before, we’re talking about the idea

Matt Britton: The march of the Millennials

If you think the marketing mix is interesting at the moment, just wait until Millennials get into the C-Suite. That was the resounding message from Matt Britton, best-selling author of YouthNation – a book about “the ins and outs of the new consumer, and the tools, methods, and techniques that ensure brand survival in the age of perpetual youth”. 

Matt Britton presenting at ADMA Forum 2017
YouthNation author Matt Britton told delegates the leap between Gen Y and Gen X wouldn't be as big as previous generational jumps.

In his presentation, How Millennials are in the driver’s seat of the future global economy and why it matters more than ever, Britton analysed the traits that make GenY so different to their predecessors and how this is shaping how brands market. Voice, for example “will be bigger than people think”, he told delegates who lapped up his energetic talk. Definitely a rousing end to the conference.

He identified 10 defining features of the Millennial generation.

Matt Britton's top 10 Gen Y features:

  • 1. Status update is the new status symbol

  • 2. Inner city dominated by creative class

  • 3. Services are making us buy less stuff

  • 4. Global middle class is rapidly evaporating (barbell economy)

  • 5. Brands are built direct … or are no longer built at all

  • 6. We now seek gigs instead of jobs and education has changed forever

  • 7. Typing will go the way of hieroglyphics

  • 8. Fame is now democratised

  • 9. The TV is a giant iPad hanging on your wall

  • 10. Four companies now run the world (race for the living room)
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About the author
Jill Park
Content Marketing Manager

Jill Park is an experienced content marketer with more than a decade of experience writing content and developing content strategy. She has written for trade and consumer titles, associations, government quangos, as well as brands. In her current role she oversees lead generation through content for the Salmat brand and its many subsidiaries.

More articles by Jill Park