Most Contagious is the acclaimed year-end event staged by Contagious. It makes sense of the most important trends in marketing, technology and consumer culture from the past year and analyses what impact these ideas will have on the immediate future for brands and agencies.
The event includes a full-day conference programme, with talks from Contagious as well as expert guest speakers, panel debates and discussions. There’s also a startup award competition and an exhibition to showcase disruptive ideas, innovative new technologies and the makers behind them.
For 2016 sponsorship enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contagious equips companies across the globe to achieve the top 1% of marketing creativity through our research platform, consultancy, quarterly magazine and live events.
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‘One of the most interesting and inspiring conferences I have ever attended.’
Kay Etherington, Global Senior Manager, Marketing Excellence, Bayer Healthcare
‘A genuinely wicked show.’
Nils Leonard, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Grey London
‘Most Contagious was one of the better events I’ve attended over the past couple of years. Fantastic job to everyone involved!’
Dennis Maloney, Chief Digital Officer, Domino’s
‘The breadth of topics and calibre of speaker is outstanding. One of the best events of its type out there.’
Stacy Lee, Key Account Executive, Wella Brands, P&G
‘My first Most Contagious and I can safely say that Contagious events are the only ones I look forward to attending!’
Nick Geoghegan, Strategy Director, eatbigfish
Laurence Blair /
Laurence Blair is the deputy editor of The World In 2017, The Economist‘s annual publication and platform offering predictions for the year ahead in global politics, business, techology, and culture. Now in its 31st outing, this year’s edition will see world leaders and commentators reflect on a host of powerful ideas about the future. A unique section in 2017 will feature 17 prominent millenials, drawn from different fields, looking ahead to what next year will bring: in sport, activism, technology, music, business and more.
Laurence is a journalist based in London. He has reported from across Europe and Latin America for outlets including The Economist, The Guardian, and the Financial Times, on topics ranging from politics and economics to narcotrafficking and guerrilla groups. Also an analyst for The Economist Intelligence Unit, he has been quoted and interviewed by Diario Financiero, Pulso, Brasil Observer, Radio Colombia, Radio France Internationale, the BBC, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, and addressed the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Latin America.
In January 2016, DREAMS OF THE SEA, his long-form report on Bolivia’s quest to regain ocean access, won the Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize. Simon Schama, one of the judges, said that Laurence had “invented a completely new genre: magical journalism, at once fantastical and pragmatically droll.”
Laurence grew up in Weymouth, Dorset, and studied History at Oxford University before taking an MA in International Law and International Relations. He has previously worked as an English teacher in Russia and as a researcher for global analysis firm Oxford Analytica. You can follow him on Twitter @LABlair1492.
Porter Gale /
Porter Gale is an internationally known author, public speaker and start-up advisor with over 20 years of experience working in marketing, advertising and independent filmmaking. Currently, she is the General Manager of the Marketing Vertical for Globality, a new company that’s working on opening up global trade to small and mid-sized businesses. She is also an advisor for WePay, Zozi, Hint Water, Accompany, TrueFacet, AirPR, UpLift, SenderGen and N3twork.
From 2007 to 2011, Porter was Vice President of Marketing at Virgin America. Prior to Virgin America, she also held the post of General Manager at Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners San Francisco. She was awarded the Changing The Game Award, by The Advertising Women of New York (AWNY), was on AdAge’s Digital Hotlist, iMedia Top 25-Digital Marketers and named a Digital Passionista by The Huffington Post.
In the independent film world, Porter produced or directed documentaries that aired on Lifetime, PBS, Channel 4/England and in film festivals around the globe. Porter’s film work has been honored by the Directors Guild of America, The Academy of Motion Pictures & Sciences and Filmmaker Magazine. She is also the author of Your Network is Your Net Worth, published by Atria Books. Porter has a BSBA from Boston University and a Masters in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University.
Bas Korsten /
J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam
Bas Korsten is J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam’s Executive Creative Director and one of the agency’s managing partners, whose ambition and commitment to creativity has turned this local network office into one of the Netherlands’ most talked about and awarded agencies. J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam was voted agency of the year 2016 for the Netherlands; and with its ground breaking, double Grand Prix-winning campaign The Next Rembrandt, the agency also became the most awarded Dutch agency in Cannes 2016 by a long stretch, leaving behind the likes of Wieden + Kennedy, 180 Amsterdam and 72andSunny.
Bas originally graduated as Engineer in Logistic Management in 1992 and received a Business degree from the University of Nijmegen (Netherlands) in 1994. Quickly realizing the error of his ways, Bas followed his heart and moved into advertising by landing an internship at HVR Advertising agency in The Hague in 1996.
By 1997 he had moved up to junior copywriter at Result DDB and within two years he had become Creative Director and Board Member of DDB Amsterdam. Under his creative leadership DDB Amsterdam was voted ‘Agency of the Year’ in 1999, 2001 and 2003.
He left DDB at the end of 2004 to start his own agency Selmore, together with partner Michael Jansen and three other founders. After growing Selmore succesfully, Bas left in 2008 to found creative hotshop Nothing.
In 2011 he was asked to join J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam as Creative Director, by 2012 he became Executive Creative Director, holding creative and strategic end responsibility on all clients.
Bas has won 28 Cannes Lions amongst which 2 Grand Prix (Creative Data and Cyber), an Innovation Lion, 3 Gold, 6 Silver and 4 Bronze Lions in 2016 for The Next Rembrandt project for ING Bank. He has won 2 D&AD Pencils, 21 Dutch ADCN Lamps, 19 Eurobest Awards, 8 Effies, the Epica Grand Prix for ElaN Languages in 2015 and numerous other national and international advertising awards. He’s judged at Cannes and The New York Festivals.
Bas is married and a father to four, plus an avid football player, coach and fan – especially of his brother Willem, who played for the English Premier League sides Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Emmanuel Flores /
J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam
Emmanuel Flores is J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam’s Innovation Director who led the innovation, data and technology on double Grand Prix winning project ‘The Next Rembrandt’. Currently he’s charged with innovating the traditional agency model by introducing Agile and Lean productivity methodologies into an advertising context.
Emmanuel is a certified Scrum Master with a formal education in Digital Arts. Most of his career has taken place at the intersection of design and technology: first as an interaction designer and software developer, then leading and mentoring multidisciplinary teams on digital-driven projects. In addition to his work in product development and advertising, he is currently a visiting professor of Interaction Design at the Tongji University in Shanghai.
A self-proclaimed newcomer to advertising, Emmanuel believes that the most meaningful innovations are the ones that endure, and that these do not solely come from technology, but also through improving the way people interact, work together and inspire each other. As such, his preferred way of working is to support teams to become efficient, empowered, self-sufficient and as such more creative. A proponent of Design Thinking, he is stimulated by translating fundamental business questions into concrete audience-centered solutions.
Despite being new to the industry, he has already been awarded 16 Cannes Lions, including two Grand Prix (for Cyber & Creative Data) and the Innovation Lion.
Emmanuel (37) is originally from Mexico City but has travelled widely and lived in China, Italy, Spain and currently the Netherlands. He speaks English, Italian, Dutch and Chinese as well as his native Spanish.
Björn Ståhl /
Ståhl has been in advertising for 25 years, including 11 with Lowe in Stockholm and London. While at Lowe Stockhold, he and a partner started a second Lowe agency, which quickly became one of the best in the network.
For the past 12 years, Ståhl has been the ECD/CCO and a board member at INGO Stockholm, a part of the global networks of both Ogilvy and Grey. The agency rose rapidly to international acclaim for its creative, and was ranked the third-best globally and the best in Sweden at Cannes Lions 2016.
Ståhl has been a juror for many prominent award shows, and has himself won some 90 awards in the forms of Lions, Pencils, Eggs and other desirable shapes.
Dennis Maloney /
Dr Erin Marie Saltman /
Institute for Strategic Dialogue
Dr Chris Brauer /
Goldsmiths, University of London
Anna Pickard /
Christine Cattano /
Ed Sanders /
Head of Marketing, Google Glass, Google
Malin Hanås /
Rick Ridgeway /
VP Environmental Initiatives and Special Media Projects, Patagonia
We’ll be adding more of the most contagious ideas of the year to the agenda; check back for updates
The Next Rembrandt / In April, ING Bank unveiled a ‘new’ masterpiece by famed Dutch artist Rembrandt. The Next Rembrandt, created with J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam and Microsoft, is comprised of 168,263 painting fragments taken from the artist’s body of work and offers a mighty convincing facsimile of the real thing. The team used 3D scans of Rembrandt’s existing paintings, machine learning algorithms and a paint-based 3D printer to create the digitally-engineered painting to great fanfare: the work received worldwide press coverage and won Cannes Lions Grands Prix in both Creative Data and Cyber. J. Walter Thompson executive creative director Bas Korsten and innovation director Emmanuel Flores will join us to reveal how they approached the challenge of doing what’s never been done before.
The Swedish Number / To celebrate 250 years of free speech and encourage tourism, The Swedish Tourist Association and Stockholm-based agency INGO gave the country its very own telephone number. The Swedish Number connects anyone around the world to a random Swedish citizen (who has signed up to help) to chat about all things Swedish – from politics to culture, women’s rights to Ikea. As of June 2016, the campaign had received more than 170,000 calls from 186 countries and generated more $146 million of media value with zero media spend. The campaign took home a number of awards at Cannes Lions 2016, including a Direct Grand Prix, and earned INGO the ranking of third most-creative agency of the year. INGO executive creative director Björn Ståhl joins us to discuss insights behind the award-winning campaign.
Machine Learning / Arguably the most important macro trend of the next decade, machine learning is increasingly underpinning businesses across a variety of sectors, including entertainment, retail and even food. We’ll be offering insights into how this new technology could impact the way that businesses are run and advertising is created.
Humanising Online Retail / Advances in image and speech recognition are transforming the way we shop online, making it a simpler, more personalised and more intuitive experience. We’ll track the evolution of online search and explore the ways that retailers are ensuring that shoppers’ browsing actually turns into buying.
Reality Check / Artificially enhanced environments can be used to create relevant, shareable, innovative marketing. We will cover the new creative possibilities that the fields of Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality have opened up this year as increased expertise, funding and adoption all make an impact.
Chatbots / The ‘chatbot revolution’ come to the fore this year. We’ll investigate the software programs that can have human-like conversations with customers on behalf of a brand and showcase how they perform tasks in categories including service, commerce and content.
Movements / The key events, themes and moments from the year that put the marketing world into context. From the world’s first AI hedge fund to the FBI requesting that Apple unlock a suspected terrorist’s iPhone, we’ll explore the events which unfolded in 2016.
The World In 2017 / The key predictions for shifts in politics, the global economy, leading companies and cultural trends in the coming year, from The Economist.
Contagious invites people, companies and products from the Wildfire section of Contagious Magazine and Contagious I/O to showcase their projects. The exhibition is a chance for delegates to get up close and hands on with need-to-know technologies, products and services that will reshape the future.
Sponsorship opportunities are available in the exhibition. For more details email email@example.com
This year’s exhibitors, so far, include:
Tilt Brush /
Google’s Tilt Brush is a VR experience that takes users into a virtual studio where they can create 3D works of art. The app works with HTC’s Vive VR headset and hand controllers, enabling users to make virtual brush strokes. Different colours and brushes can be selected from a virtual toolbox, alongside other fun options such as painting with stars, light and fire. Users can take a photo of their work at any time and can share it as a VR experience or animated GIF. Google claims that the app has potential beyond art and could help designers and people working in fashion sketch out new ideas.
Tilt Brush /
MAPO is a personalised smart mask that can analyse your skin. Created by Paris-based beauty tech company Wired Beauty, the mask covers the top of your face, with sensors on both cheeks and the forehead. These sensors can measure the skin’s temperature and moisture level, and will gather enough data for analysis in just one minute. The app then uses this data to track the health of the person’s skin and gives recommendations for routines and products they should use. For example, if a user’s skin gets drier in winter, the mask would be able to pinpoint the time they should start moisturising more, or suggest a more intensive product to switch to.
The Next Rembrandt /
We’re delighted to have a real masterpiece in our exhibition this year, in the form of ING Bank’s The Next Rembrandt. More than 300 years after the Dutch artist’s death, technology has brought his artistry ‘back to life’ with this digitally engineered painting. The Next Rembrandt is comprised of 168,263 painting fragments taken from the artist’s body of work and was created by ING Bank with J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam and Microsoft.
The team used 3D scans of Rembrandt’s existing paintings, machine learning algorithms and a paint-based 3D printer to create the painting. The initiative scooped two Grand Prix’s at Cannes and has divided opinion across the advertising, tech and art world. Is it really ‘a horrible, tasteless, insensitive and soulless travesty of all that is creative in human nature’ as one Guardian article touted? Or is it a fascinating experiment, blurring the boundaries of science and art? Come have a look and decide for yourself.
The Next Rembrandt /
If you’ve been eyeing up your parents’ wrinkle patterns to get a glimpse into your own future, don’t bother – 75% of skin aging is due to changing environmental factors and lifestyle choices rather than genetics. That’s why French cosmetics startup Romy Paris has created Figure, an at-home beauty laboratory for ultra-personalised skincare. ‘It is unbelievable that a bottle of classic skincare does not respond to major changes,’ says Romy Paris co-founder Morgan Acas. ‘We want to follow our consumer everywhere to give the best recommendations for their skin.’
In the style of a Nespresso machine, Figure combines a basic serum with capsules containing different active ingredients with varying skincare benefits. An accompanying app creates a real-time beauty diagnostic and recommends a combination of capsules that will help keep it in optimum condition.
To set up the app, users answer a three-part beauty questionnaire about their skin type, lifestyle habits and beauty goals. The app measures changing environmental factors such as the weather, pollution levels and the temperature of the air. It also connects with healthcare apps to measure activity and sleep. All this data is combined to create a diagnosis. For example, if someone usually gets 10 hours sleep, but last night only got 8, the app knows they will be tired and will recommend the right formula accordingly.
Once the optimum ingredients have been determined, users insert the capsule and select either light or heavy cream. Figure mixes it all together and produces a 1ml application of the formula on a spatula.
Previous exhibitors include:
FoPo gives new life to expiring fruits & veggies from groceries by drying & powdering them, saving food waste & help end world hunger.
Blaze create beautiful and innovative products for urban cyclists. Their flagship product, the Laserlight, is a revolutionary device tackling the most common cause of cyclist fatality – being caught in the blind spot, or a vehicle turning across an unseen bike. The Laserlight is a front light (required by law) but which also has a green laser that projects the symbol of a bike down onto the road ahead. It alerts drivers in front of the bike of its presence, preventing them turning across its path. The Laserlight gives the cyclist a bigger footprint on the road, allowing it to be seen in time, and when it is otherwise invisible.
Blaze began as Founder and CEO Emily Brooke’s university project just three years ago. Since then they have fulfilled one of the first successful Kickstarter campaigns in the UK, have a team based in East London with manufacturing in Shenzhen, have raised seed investment from the likes of Index Ventures and the Branson family and their flagship product is shipping around the world to 51 different countries. They are also stocked in every Evans Cycles store in the UK as well as some key retailers abroad, such as the MoMA Design Store in NYC and Mission Bicycles in San Francisco. The Laserlight is the first in a range of products for Urban Cyclists from Blaze.
Blaze were featured in issue 42 of Contagious Magazine as a Small But Perfectly Formed company.
Meet Musio, the World’s First Artificially Intelligent Robot
AKAStudy (AKA), the leading technology company in machine learning and natural language processing, has created the first, true Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) device, available for purchase on Indiegogo. Musio carries on conversations and remembers what it is told; it can tell jokes, provide calendar reminders, share emotions, and communicate with surrounding objects and devices.
Musio’s human-level intelligence has the capacity to learn new phrases, ideas, and information the more you interact with it. This means that over time, Musio behaves less like an artificially intelligent machine and more like a friend who can interact with you socially and talk to you about your favorite books, restaurants, or sports teams.
“AKA’s international team of engineers, machine learning specialists, data scientists, and linguists have worked on creating Musio for years,” said Raymond Jung, CEO of AKA. “It’s been our mission to create an A.I. robot for the average consumer that can think on its own and facilitate an interactive learning environment. We’re excited to pioneer the future of this technology.”
Originally conceived as a tool to help Asian children learn English, Musio has evolved into a multifaceted, highly functioning “friend” to children and adults alike. People of all ages can play, interact and learn with Musio. A more advanced component allows developers to take engagement to a more sophisticated level, enabling them to transform their surroundings into a smart home by programming Musio to communicate with nearby devices and objects.
what3words is a new global location referencing system based on a global grid of 3mx3m squares where each square has been pre allocated with a fixed and unique 3 word address.
3 words are easier to remember and communicate than any other coordinate or alphanumeric systems and it is quicker and cheaper to implement than a street addressing system.
75% of the world suffers from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems affecting aid delivery, financial inclusion & legal recognition.
Even in countries with advanced systems, people get lost, packages aren’t delivered and businesses aren’t found.
Poor addressing is very & annoying in developed countries and it limits social & economic growth in developing ones, often costing lives.
Our technology is being integrated into businesses, apps & services to improve efficiency, customer experience, drive growth and save lives.
what3words has given everyone, everywhere and everything a simple address.
Volvo LifePaint /
Volvo has always taken safety seriously. They invented the three-point seat belt in 1959 and then opened up the patent so that any car manufacturer could use it. Now they’re giving away a product to take Volvo safety beyond its cars.
LifePaint is a unique reflective safety spray aimed at increasing the visibility and safety of cyclists, and other vulnerable road users. Invisible by daylight, it glows brightly in the glare of car headlights, making the invisible, visible at night.
Though designed for safer cycling, LifePaint can be applied to any fabric — clothes, shoes, pushchairs, children’s backpacks — even dog leads and collars. It is transparent, washes off and will not affect the colour or surface of your chosen material, lasting for approximately one week after application.
Available from today, LifePaint will be trialed in six London and Kent-based cycle shops, including Peloton in Spitalfields, where cyclists can get one of 2000 cans being given away. This is the first phase. If LifePaint proves popular, the project will expand nationally and internationally.
The LifePaint concept was developed by creative agency Grey London, in collaboration with Swedish startup Albedo100 and is one of a series of projects to highlight the key product innovations of the all-new Volvo XC90.
“Our job isn’t just to advertise our clients,” said Nils Leonard, chairman and CCO of Grey London, “it’s to help them make a positive impact on culture. With the creation of LifePaint, we’ve turned Volvo safety inside out, giving it away to the most vulnerable road users. What more positive action can a brand take than to try to save lives?”
The initiative marks another step by Volvo to promote safety for those both inside and outside its cars. It builds on the development of Intellisafe, a state-of-the-art Volvo safety system which integrates some of the most cutting-edge safety technologies to Volvo cars.
The technology uses a combination of radar sensors and cameras to identify other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists and automatically brake if the driver fails to take the necessary action. This works in conjunction with Volvo’s Active Bending Headlights, which adjust left to right according to the steering input to help see round corners better.
Intellisafe’s unique pedestrian and cyclist detection system, enhanced to work in darkness on the all-new Volvo XC90 to be introduced to the UK in June this year, was the inspiration for the LifePaint project. Together, these innovations contribute towards Volvo’s Vision 2020 — the concept that that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.LifePaint is the physical embodiment of Intellisafe.
To promote the product and showcase its properties, Grey London has created an online film featuring interviews with a wide range of cyclists, from commuters, to couriers to accident survivors. Introducing LifePaint with a dramatic demonstration of the product in action, the agency spent three nights shooting in London, testing the spray and working out how to rig lights to mirror the effects of headlights.
The agency also built a site volvolifepaint.com to house the project and direct people to retail outlets, stream Instagram images from the first customers via #volvolifepaint, and link to the advanced safety technology on Volvo.com.
Grey London has also been testing new print technology, using LifePaint to create ‘invisible’ black posters that only reveal themselves in the flash of a smartphone.
Volvo LifePaint /
MindRDR TV /
MindRDR TV, developed by This Place, is the first platform to enable control of video content on Smart TVs using the power of thought alone.
It works by measuring brain activity using a small EEG headset worn by the user. This is then used to control a specially designed user interface, allowing the viewer to select and play video content from Youtube and BBC iPlayer streamed to a smart TV.
“MindRDR TV allows those with disabilities, such as Quadriplegia or Locked-in Syndrome, to lead more independent lives in an increasingly digital world. It is an exciting area for innovation and makes meaningful positive change in people’s’ lives” - Dusan Hamlin, CEO, This Place
This Place is a digital studio in Shoreditch. Our focus is creating market leading digital experiences on web, mobile, tablet and wearable devices. In addition to client work, the team also dedicates time to commercially viable digital innovation projects.
The company specialises in user experience design, which is the practice of making digital services easier and more enjoyable to use. This Place also creates ‘optimal profitability’ interfaces for high transaction destinations across web, mobile and tablet, and is the preferred partner to major global brands such as The Delhaize Group.
MindRDR TV /
Clear Channel /
Artificially Intelligent Poster
Over time, machines have taken over many tasks. Could this be extended to advertising? Could an advert be created that writes itself? So using technology alone, could the world’s most engaging advert be created? This exhibit is the resulting test.
A fake brand called Bahio was created for this test to remove any bias or pre-awareness. An iD6 (interactive digital 6 sheet) with bespoke camera system was installed on Oxford Street with bespoke software designed to generate new posters, learn which posters performed best and then evolve them using a genetic algorithm.
The genetic algorithm continually creates new versions of the poster displayed on screen, using 200 images stored locally & a natural language generator to create the copy (text), fonts & layout.
The elements of the ad (words, font, image & layout) are genes. Successful genes that attract attention, survive, whilst unsuccessful genes die off – similar to how survival of the fittest works in nature. Also, as per nature, random genes are introduced and mutate together with the successful genes to create even more variety in the poster.
Over time the ads shown will be made from more and more of the successful genes and therefore should be more successful/attention grabbing ads.
The faces viewing the ad are tracked by a Microsoft Kinect camera, specially developed by to work outdoors. This tracks whether faces look at or away from the screen, as well as their facial expression e.g. happy/sad.
Clear Channel /
Tate Sensorium /
Can taste, touch, smell and sound change the way we see art? This summer, Tate Sensorium invited visitors to find out, bringing multisensory installations to four artworks in the Tate collection.
At Most Contagious meet the Sensorium creators, Flying Object, and sample one such installation, while learning how our senses work together – often in unusual ways – to create perceptions in the brain.
Tate Sensorium /
Framestore’s VR Studio will exhibit their most recent Virtual Reality experiences on a range of devices, from the powerful Oculus Rift to the hands free Samsung Gear VR device.
Orange Labs /
Rasperry Pi /
Each year, Contagious shortlists six to eight Small But Perfectly Formed companies, as featured in the pages of Contagious Magazine, for the Most Contagious Startup award. The companies are selected for their achievements in investment, growth and disruption to their sector (forget sectors: some even created totally new categories).
A representative from each startup takes to the Most Contagious stage to pitch their company to the audience of 400+ delegates from the world’s top brands and agencies. This year’s shortlist will be announced at a later date.
Period pants startup THINX won the Most Contagious 2015 Small But Perfectly Formed Startup Award.
The brand’s clever reimagining of feminine hygiene products and purposeful stance on womens’ education impressed the judges. THINX were chosen for not only creating a product which brought innovation to a category which had seen no new developments for decades, but which also had the potential to positively impact millions of women.
Founder and CEO, Miki Agrawal, collected the award at the event in 2015. She said afterwards: ‘We have a lot of work ahead of us. There is a real gender-equality problem on our hands. Tackling that through creating a category disrupting product is a great start.’