Will Smith and Emma Stone at Advertising Week 2018

Advertising Week New York keeps the conversation going about an ever-changing industry for a week of thoughtful conversations with leaders from the marketing, advertising, technology, and creative spaces. Over the course of the week, we discussed where we’ve been, where we’re going and what trends, challenges, and opportunities, are shaping today’s global industry.

While in NYC this past week, I had the opportunity to attend Advertising Week, which took over the entire AMC Lincoln Square 13 theater. Thousands gathered around multiple stages with leaders across the industry.

I’m still processing the huge amount of information I learned, but here are some highlights of the event.

Under the Influence: Trust and Transparency in Influencer Marketing

Luis Di Como, UNILEVER Global Media Exec. Vice President, gave an informative talk on the new age of endorsements: social media influencers. Endorsements have been around for ages, but social media is completely changing the game. He touched on the challenges that have to be taken into account in order for the strategy to produce an effective ROI, and the insane benefits of doing it right.

Using these internet personalities can be an extremely effective marketing channel, but he noted that the most important thing to keep in mind is matching the right influencer with the right brand. That’s the equivalent of putting a magazine ad in the publication with the right target audience. By using qualitative measurements, finding the right influencer to work with shouldn’t be too difficult.

He also mentioned fake followers as something brands need to be aware of, “Everyone loses with the state of the nation with fake followers.” In an age when a high follower count doesn’t necessarily mean an beneficial collaboration, it’s up to brands to take a stand against these bad practices and verify the influencers they work with.

Will Smith Appears with Google VP Adam Stewart

Street Dreams Magazine for AdWeek on October 1-4, 2018 in New York City.

Will Smith and Adam Stewart hosted a panel on being authentic and fearless in the digital age.

Smith, who recently started his own YouTube channel, stressed the importance of avoiding looking at “the numbers” and getting out of one’s comfort zone by saying “nothing is more valuable than your gut.” He continued with “anything that is great, anything you love or you think is amazing in your childhood, someone once said it wouldn’t work…Fear is so constricting. Give in to your thinking. Confront fear to maintain creativity.”

As an example of authentic comment, Smith, while dancing to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” was dared to perform his famous 50th birthday heli-jump. For the stunt, he purposely did not do any test jumps to create more authentic content.

Smith also touched on his upcoming films being released next year, including the live-action “Aladdin” film in which he plays the Genie character. He also teased Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man,” a film in which he plays a CIA assassin running from a 25-year-old clone of himself to kill.

CEO Connectors

Bobbi Brown, SoulCycle’s Melanie Whelan, and Global President of MRM//McCann Kate MacNevin teamed up for a female focused session on unique opportunities.

Talking about the importance of community in office and across consumers worldwide, Melanie spoke about SoulCycle’s recent partnership with Apple Music and how she knew this was a must for a purpose-driven brand. She also teased experiential rides with musicians that are coming soon to limited New York locations, which is something new they’re excited to try.

When sharing advice with the crowd, Bobbi Brown expressed the importance of flexibility in the workplace, and Whelan talked about her methods for giving effective gratitude. The two also spoke about their flaws: Brown commented she doesn’t have great attention to detail and Whelan shared that her past colleagues called her the “Chief Weed Officer” for frequently getting caught in the details on some projects.

Emma Stone

Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone joined Dr. Harold Koplewic from the Child Mind Institute onstage to discuss her lifelong experiences with anxiety. In a panel that felt more like an intimate therapy session than a panel in front of a live audience, Stone discussed the importance of being open and honest about her anxiety. Using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, she described how anxiety “is part of me, but not all of me.”

Dr. Koplewic, who specializes in pediatric mental health, echoed that sentiment by reiterating how important it is to “make sure that every suffering child knows that they aren’t only defined by their struggles. If you feed it, it grows. If you starve it, it’ll go away.” Stone said it’s important to trust your instincts and guts. “Knowing that I wanted to act someday helped me because it gave me goal to work toward.”

Steve Madden

Steve Madden took the stage at Advertising Week New York with a baseball hat atop his head and a candid talk regarding his own success.

In a panel session about building a successful brand while maintaining creativity, Madden made clear that fashion isn’t a priority for him, it’s about the vision for the brand. “When I make shoes, I stir the pot, get inspired, throw Gucci in the pot, stir it up and call it Steve Madden.”

Regarding his fame, Madden said “The Wolf of Wall Street” was “pretty accurate” and that his fame is more akin to that of a book author. He said the movie encouraged him to tell his side of the story, and that he’s been able to create a household name for himself by getting in to everyone’s closet.