Johannes Plass
Executive Partner MUTABOR

With the BrandEx conference, Famab and its new allies have recognized, what moves people in the industry: in times of transformation, BrandEx experts seek to share knowledge. That is why the BrandEx conference can look forward to an enormous increase in the number of visitors and the verdict among the participants was positive in the open vote in the final act, as 80% of the participants said they would come back.

Here are my highlights and personal insights.

I also look back without a doubt positively on my engagement in the board of trustees of the BrandEx.
It was my desire to make the potential of the BrandExperience formats visible and to show the affinity of the industry to the top trends. Following the agenda of digitization, sustainability and NextGen with a focus on Generation Z, I have tried with the support of my colleagues on the board of trustees to put the disruption associated with these topics in the foreground of the conference.

»Social is the new organic.«

And so, during the course of the day, the conference visitors discussed the contributions that positively added to this agenda.
The opening speech by Professor Roland Lambrette, Dean of the University of the Arts Bremen, who called upon the heads of the industry to become aware of their social responsibility, was particularly noteworthy. In the rows of seats, people pulled out their smartphones and took pictures as Professor Lambrette put up the striking chart »social is the new bio«.

What may have caused some unease among the participants at the start of the day would be resolved latest with the panel discussions on gender equality, the contribution by Fridays for Future and the presentation by Mareike Fuisz on Down Syndrome and inclusion. The industry wants more social responsibility; the transformation has been initiated and is inspiring the participants.

Exceptional presentation talent: Cesy Leonard

Especially Cesy Leonard, head of the planning staff at the Centre for Political Beauty, rocked the stage and received a standing ovation.

I am also totally thrilled. It is not only the Chutzpe and the presented project »Holocaust Memorial Bornhabgen« on the neighboring property of Björn Höcke that deserve to be highlighted. Above all, the quality of the presentation really knocked me off my chair.
In the categories: best strategy, best project planning, best PPT, best films, entertainment quality, humor and interaction with the audience, the artist shows what »State of the Art« is. I draw new resolutions for my agenda in 2020 from this contribution.
Every festival or conference organizer is recommended to get this lady on the podium. I have never seen anything that has motivated me so much to become better and to work on myself. Wow!

In addition to these highly emotional and moving presentations, the digitally-driven contributions that move the business of experience and event agencies should be mentioned. Stefan Ponikva from BMW is the clearest way to express where the journey is headed. Project development driven by measurability in social media is the trigger for the strategic orientation of the BrandEx business. Especially in the panel on measuring success, his statements convinced the audience, with many taking notes.

For us agency managers, this means thinking about future projects from a new angle: future projects do not end with the start of the show, but with the spread of the event in social media. And Stefan Ponikva admits that there are no real solutions here yet and that the market is still open. Both clients and agencies must learn how to achieve this goal in new configurations and organizational forms.
The panels and contributions on the topic of digitization confirm what was already apparent in the run-up to the event through a Mafo. The industry is still in its infancy when it comes to digitization. So, it doesn’t help to complain about the lack of progress made by customers; we all have to do it ourselves. I am incredibly grateful to Mr. Ponikva for being able to articulate so clearly how we need to change processes and personnel to make a step forward as a digital industry.

Was that the briefing for the next BrandEx?

The presentation by Christoph Beauflis from Messe München was undoubtedly an inspiration for trade fair companies and »organizers«. The Ispo has long since made the transition from trade fair to platform. His presentation shows what a contemporary company presentation should look like: A clear vision, top-formulated WHW, an authentic purpose and a living culture of innovation driven by digitalization.
With his presentation, he delivered the briefing for the next BrandEx: »The platform idea also drives the BrandEx business«.
I can only recommend that the association not only follows his agenda but also accepts his invitation to Munich. Dortmund, for all its love of the province, is not an alternative for a platform that wants to compete with other industry events.

And then in the evening the awards…

In the evening the winners of the BrandEx Award were honored. While the award show as a format has clearly increased in quality and dynamics, I view the jury work critically. Many colleagues in the audience were not clear to me here about the criteria used by the jury to award the medals.
My personal favorite is the gold medal for Hyundai’s appearance at the CES in 2019, where my colleague Brückner was right to win and a great customer from the start. After all, Hyundai’s contribution also rocked CES in 2020.