Mario Testino provided exclusive and unfiltered access in to his career history this morning, which paved the way for MARIOTESTINO+, his marketing agency. Understanding exactly why and how he became famous gave context to this development in his career. Many of Testino’s life lessons are relatable to brands: finding your identity, being consistent in your identity, letting the client be themselves, standing-out, dealing with criticism and responding to digital change.
The most important lesson to learn of all these, Testino suggested, was finding your brand, which he admits took him many years of feeling like an outsider. Once you have found this in place, answers to the remaining issues - standing-out, dealing with criticism and adapting to change – naturally fall in to place. Other factors of his success, which Testino downplayed, included resilience, hard work (he works 7 days a week) and continually pushing himself. His stylist, for instance, constantly critiques what he’s doing, but he likes it that way.
Another lady on stage today was at the opposite end of her career, but equally sure of herself. Halsey, speaking with Ryan Seacrest in the Lumiere soon after Testino reinforced the notion that authenticity and being true to who she is were the only ways she likes to operate and this attracts enough fans to keep her doing so.
"If you don’t put your hand up to admit failure, you’re either not a creative or your lying… as we all fail, we might as well talk about it"
Diageo gave a well-structured and intuitive lesson on purpose marketing, answering some difficult questions and admitting failure - "If you don’t put your hand up to admit failure, you’re either not a creative or your lying… as we all fail, we might as well talk about it". A perfect blend of examples, theory, take-aways and encouragement, this was an especially useful presentation to watch. Commitment, consistency, courage, collaboration, credibility and clarity were the six things Mark Sandys said made a difference to your creative work, when considered versus not. The case for marketing with purpose was strong as they cited too many successful brands who’d succeeded in eradicating stereotypes or working for social good to say otherwise. The show-stopping quote, however, came right at the end by Syl Saller: "Why do we as an industry go on the attack when others get it wrong? Unilever should be applauded for their body-shaped Dove bottles… when people are trying we should encourage them to keep going", which received an applause in its own right.
Speaking to one of the Chinese delegates in the audience awaiting Papi Zhang to come on stage, he felt China Day was most beneficial for Western companies to learn about China, rather than the other way around. In China, the brands are striving for sales. Having worked in the west for brands like Ketchum and Ogilvy, he believes Chinese brands will soon run in to trouble if they don’t understand the concept of values and individuality that the West holds dear.
When the session started it became clear quickly that Papi Jiang and her team, represented on stage by her agent Ming Yang, had achieved extraordinary success in launching her own social media platform – Papitube. Halle Berry earlier spoke about Halleworld, a similar concept being created for her fans. Papi’s team still seemed shell-shocked from their success and didn’t have an exact science as to how they would scale it up globally, though they know that’s the direction they want to go in. Making content more individualistic has helped them gain some traction from America. The future plans being set by Ming Yang, who also represents some of the most famous actresses in China, is also helping the platform perform well for cosmetics brands that advertise with them. The ads are placed throughout videos on the site. Given the scale of the site, financial sponsorship is mandatory, but this places quite a lot of pressure on Papi Jiang, as an individual who creates the content, in terms of quantity and quality. One thing rang true though, Papi’s authenticity is what’s driven her to success.
Huawei, equally as optimistic about their future growth plans, believe they are the only company that can build a new digital world for consumers through end to end solutions; from network to cloud to consumer (phone). Their chosen partner helping them to achieve their globalisation is Hall & Knowlton Strategies, who have now gained a wealth of experience in dealing with Chinese firms aiming to make it big over here. ‘You really have to understand their culture and experience of a (Chinese) consumer’ in order to adapt the model to the West, said Simon Shaw. Have mutual respect for each other; be fluid with your talent and be less geographically based, so as to provide the client with the best you’ve got; and take client centricity to a whole other level. What Simon meant by the latter was to be willing to change your own culture or methodology in order to match the client’s.