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June 1, 2015

What happened at #ZEEmelt15

by Pratika Yashaswi

The word “Melt” was a perfect title for the creative conference that took place last week in Mumbai. That’s the first thing I loved about it. Smack in the middle of the ruthless Indian summer and thronging with some of the brightest minds in advertising and marketing, Melt thoroughly deserved its name. Multiple venues at Nehru Center sweltered with unstoppable synergy. Minds from different backgrounds blended in a remarkable pool of talent present among the speakers. Perspiration trickled behind my ears every second I spent walking from the auditorium to the Halls of Vision. Yes I was ready to Melt. I was Melting.

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The atmosphere was great. Advertising and marketing professionals who are good at their jobs have the most enviable cranial constitution: the space between their ears is filled with ridiculously creative, brilliantly brainy stuff. And by virtue of what they do for a living, they have the ability to deliver magnificent insights with humor. Razor sharp wit is a natural, universal trait. There is no way a seminar by a successful adman/ adwoman can be boring and Melt:2015 was full of them.

Yet, whether I was guzzling statistics about selfies at Chris Sanderson’s talk, or wondering what would become of me as Joshua Black thoroughly impugned Content’s royalty status [Content may or may not be King; Distribution is surely more important], or beaming as Girish Raj went behind-the-scenes at NH7, my favourite musical festival, I had something to take away from every seminar.

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It is so common to hear complaints that digital is saturated, that social networks are crowded with people and brands struggling to carve outstanding identities. Most of the seminars echoed one primary idea: in the words of Parminder Singh of Twitter, brands have to redefine the rules of customer engagement. It is only getting tougher.

Marketing, Huib van Bockel so hilariously said, is like Tinder. Customers are starting to swipe left or right on brands. It seems, there is value in keeping it real, and ideas abounded at Melt about how best to do that. I haven’t spent a second working in either advertising or marketing. All I do is consume media, and at times, complain about it. Melt was exciting because it seemed to me that here, poised on the cutting edge, brands were working harder to come closer to the customer, to me. The methods developed have to be more ingenious, more honest and sincere, more exciting.

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I am a nestling of the Twitter generation. By nature, I love being in the midst of ideas exploding, things happening and great learning. Melt was the perfect place to be for members of the advertising and digital space and rounded off with a dazzling awards night, all round wonderful.

Photos courtesy Tina Nani Stephens. For the entire album, click here.

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