The Mumbrella 360 conference in Sydney last week really was an event representative of it’s time.  With 2,000 delegates in attendance over 3 days, across 9 separate event stages, including an exhibition floor featuring networking, workshops, masterclasses and 75+ individual presentations, any attendee would have been forgiven for thinking they may leave with their minds perhaps scrambled a little.

However, the opposite was true. The themes running through the event were consistent, tangible and inspiring.

Of the conferences servicing the marketing sector, Mumbrella 360 is the one that feels a little left of centre, perhaps a tad dangerous, where nothing is held back and everything open game.  And so the three days saw themes emerge which were perhaps unexpected but much needed in the context of the broader cultural world in which we live.

From the very get go, at a networking “speed dating” event on the opening afternoon the atmosphere was buoyant and incredibly positive, the sentiment running through the session collegiate with a very tangible feeling of action, progress and momentum.

This flowed into the opening keynote from Petronella Panerus & Magnus Jakobsson, CEO and ECD from the Swedish agency Akestam Holst, AdWeek’s International Agency of the Year and Cannes Innovation Grand Prix winner.  The duo spoke about the things that they and their business stand for and their journey into the global stage.  Things like the importance of a people first culture, undoing the established organisational hierarchies, fighting for gender equality and most importantly believing in and standing for something.  They spoke about their work for EuroPride 2018 as a campaign which could change the world and how important it was for their agency to be involved in campaigns that impacted the world positively.


Marketing that makes a difference was another of the big themes across the three days and articulated best by Elizabeth Serotte from State Street Global Advisors, the company behind the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street, facing the iconic Charging Bull.  Elizabeth spoke about how this campaign was the articulation of a clear objective – to tell Wall Street that State Street would only be investing its funds into companies with female board members.   Fearless Girl hit a cultural nerve and has become a rallying call for women around the world for gender equality, diversity and women’s rights.


Of course, any marketing conference worth it’s salt in 2018 needs its fair share of AI sprinkled throughout and Mumbrella 360 was no different.  However, in Or Sharni, Founder & CEO of Albert AI, we were treated to both a history lesson and a unique perspective.  Sharni took us back to Alan Turing and birth of AI in the Second World War to make the case that its role is as the enabler of simplifying the complex at scale.  He made an impassioned case that the theory of multiplicity (Human + AI = Solution) is the real future of the technology.

The headline act was PwC’s Megan Brownlow who presented the 2022 Media & Entertainment Outlook.  Sub-titled The New Trust Economy this presentation really started to tie together some of the themes and strands of the conference overall.   In a world of Royal Commissions, Trump-ism, North Korea & Fake News, trust is the most important asset that business and individuals have.  As we move from products to services and things to experiences, the opportunity is for marketers and media to convert trust into currency.  PwC laid down a framework for this to take place, under the acronym ACTS:

  • Advocacy – Are you acting in my best interest?
  • Consistency – Have you proved credible before?
  • Transparency – Do I really understand what you’re doing?
  • Success – Do you have what it takes to help me achieve my goals?

There was one theme however above all others which resonated right across the sessions.  The role of brand, brand marketers and brand marketing in a world obsessed with being customer centric.  The macro commentary being if we’re only ever looking inwards and giving customers what they say they want we’re missing the opportunity to innovate.  Data and information are important, but if brands want to thrive and play a role in the lives of their customers they must continue to surprise and delight.

In summary we should say that we didn’t get to each and every one of the presentations, but the consistent themes that bubbled to the surface across the conference can be bundled up as the below:-

  1. Do marketing that stands for something
  2. Don’t lose sight of who you are whilst focusing on being customer centric
  3. Embrace AI to help you simplify the complex
  4. Trust is the only currency that matters


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