Global Creativity on Full Display at Holmes Summit

Last month’s Holmes PR Summit in Miami was billed as a global affair, and in four days packed with worthwhile discussions spanning big data to local relevance, it was indeed the conference’s global perspective that I found most energizing. It’s just too easy to adopt the attitude that the communications world revolves around the U.S., and that innovation is our exclusive province. My eyes were opened wide by presentations of groundbreaking, fearless thinking from agency leaders from all over the world, with the end results to justify the smart risk taking.

Kerem Yazgan, CEO of Sweden’s United Minds, presented a case for the power of global conversations. His agency’s work for Electrolux inserted the appliance giant into the dialogue on recycling in can’t-ignore fashion. Working with NGOs, Yazgan’s team learned that there were huge floating piles of improperly discarded plastic floating far out at sea, some the size of small islands. Electrolux got behind an effort to harvest that plastic, and what’s more, to use it in its products. The ongoing campaign – more aptly, movement — drew worldwide coverage, boosted purchase intent and reduced manufacturing costs by double digits.

Andeas Fischer-Applelt, Founder of Germany’s fisherAppelt – 360PR’s partner in PROI Worldwide, the leading global network of independent PR firms – showcased his agency’s social media campaign for Mercedes-Benz that tapped storytelling to humanize the iconic auto marque. Appelt showed one of the short films that comprised the campaign, telling the tale of a blind American Mercedes mechanic who works purely by feel, melding his lifelong love of the brand and superior intellect to remarkable effect. The emotionally-charged short film and others in the campaign easily eclipsed all pre-campaign benchmarks for sharing and engagement, and significantly increased positive sentiment for the brand.

During a panel I moderated, Galina Yatsura of Ukraine’s Mainstream Communication & Consulting recounted her team’s award winning work for a new, ultra-efficient steel plant that faced roadblocks at every turn. Among the challenges were a public that wanted to shed its country’s old-world industrial image, and a less than stellar location that made recruiting the skilled labor required to operate the plant a nightmare. Galina’s approach: turn everything on its ear, making the plant sexy, and apologizing for nothing. Among her tactics were landscaping the campus beautifully and making it a destination for wedding shoots (there’s now a waiting list) — and a magnet for frequent, positive coverage — and convincing the region’s Vogue editors to shoot a “Men of…” feature on location, showcasing the plant’s, let’s say, more photogenic male staff, boosting job applications by women skyward.

It all had me leaving Miami with renewed respect for “think global.”