Social responsible NOW or never…

Social responsible NOW or never… Once a year, the world’s largest tech conference for start-ups and entrepreneurs, WebSummit, is held in Lisbon over 3 days, with over 70,000 participants from all over the world. WebSummit has grown from a small 400 participants in Dublin in 2009, and today all the major significant tech companies – small and large – tech influencers and brands are represented. Here are my overall take-aways among many hundreds of posts.

By Martin Brems, Strategic Advisor and Founder, Brems & Co., November 29, 2018

The father of the Internet takes responsibility

Internet inventor Tim Bernee-Lee opened this year’s Web Summit with a bang. 50% of the world’s population is now online, but the Internet has major problems, among other things. with more hackers, increased financial crime, data security, bullying through social media, fake news, etc. That is why he has created the “_for the web” campaign, which aims to get all governments, organizations and individuals to sign the “Contract for the Web” so that we can all fight the growing problems together. France is the first country to have signed the contract. The message is that we all have a responsibility to create an Internet that is proper and accessible.

Vestager is the world's most influential

Margrethe Vestager was also this year to be the keynote speaker at WebSummit, and you will be proud as a Dane when she is presented as the world’s most influential tech person. She followed up closely on Tim Bernee-Lee’s post on data security. We need to know that we can rely on technology. It is our digital society, and it must be democratized, was one of her points. GDPR is important for all of us. We each own our data, and must be able to decide for ourselves how they are used. As she concluded with: “Technology should serve us – not the other way around” – followed by a huge applause from the audience.

Socially responsible companies win

One theme that filled in with all the posts I heard was social responsibility. The companies were almost in line to talk about the social initiatives or strategies that they have launched. Apple with Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Apple’s Sustainability Initiatives, talked about Apple’s mission to make the world a better place to live in. All Apple’s factories use i.a. Green energy, and they have just launched their new MacBook Air, which is 100% aluminum recycling. As she says: “Working for a healthier Planet gives a healthier bottom line”. Business and social responsibility go hand in hand – and these are the most talented companies by opening their eyes to – fortunately.

As another example, the company behind the computer game Minecraft told their vision of making a difference with their games for children, especially for disabled children and also adults who find great pleasure in the game. Their product must make sense – and not just generate revenue and growth, was the message. Samsung continued the shoal, and will also make the world a better place to live through the use of artificial intelligence. Samsung is thus greatly upgrading in artificial intelligence, i.a. with the development of medical devices with a focus on health and disease prevention.

Forget the customers - think of them as fans!

Another interesting theme at WebSummit was what the marketing of the future looked like. Here, the marketing director at Cartoon Network spoke, among other things about how they work to create an emotional connection with their fans (not consumers) and how it’s about creating evangelists among its customers. “Screens are not enough – fans should participate”. They work a lot with experimental marketing and constantly measure on various parameters, including the level of engagement on social media content m.m. The message is clear: Several physical events that create an authentic brand experience on their fans’ terms.

Next, we heard about trends for Marketing 2019, where especially IBM’s marketing
director, Michelle Peluso, made a strong impression with her 3 points:

1) Brands must take greater moral responsibility in society
2) Internal purpose-driven branding is more important than ever
3) Agencies need to focus more on data-driven marketing solutions and not

traditional services. The modern marketing person of the future is at the same time a technologist, data-driven and not least agile.


We ended WebSummit with a post from “Probably the best beer in the World”, where Carlsberg’s marketing director told about the journey of going from the traditional 30-second TV spot to more experimental and authentic marketing. She had 3 points for future marketing:

1) Focus on authenticity and relevance
2) Ideas for campaigns must be built from within
3) Experiment, seed and scale.

Concrete recommendations for action

The posts on WebSummit were extremely inspiring and thought-provoking, but what exactly can you use it for? I will give my 5 overall tips:

1) Define how you as a company can take greater social responsibility with your company and products – and use it in business and product development and in marketing. As Apple’s CEO said, “Working for a healthier Planet gives a healthier bottom line.”

2) Take a pro-active responsibility in protecting your customers ‘or consumers’ data with you – and use it actively in your communication and dialogue with customers. You will be rewarded for that.

3) Involve customers even more in your way of developing and marketing products. Think of them as fans and not as customers. Create communities that strengthen customer loyalty. Low marketing and product development on customers’ terms – and not the other way around. The key word is authenticity.

4) Experiment, seed and scale: Experiment with your ways of marketing yourself – and feel free to let the ideas come from within the company. Create stories worth sharing – and scale them.

5) Organize your marketing department so that it is more technology-focused, data-driven and agile. Focus on marketing solutions and not traditional marketing.