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Opinion and Insight

I’m Fed Up of Faking Ad Event FOMO

LBB Editorial , 2 years, 6 months ago

Being smartly selective when it comes to seminars, award shows and events is tricky business, as Laura Swinton ponders

I’m Fed Up of Faking Ad Event FOMO

It’s a busy old time of year for the advertising industry. Last week we were torn between SXSW in Austin, Adfest in Thailand, the Creative Circles in London and the AWARD Awards in Sydney. And this week Londoners are tasked with navigating the sprawling schedule of Advertising Week Europe while finding time to make themselves pretty for the British Arrows Awards (and come to think of it, make themselves pretty the morning after it too… oof, I think my liver just had a flash back. Is that a thing?). It’s going to be like this till at least Cannes, people. 

The proliferation of conferences, festivals, hackathons, hang-outs, screenings and awards means that attending events can, if you’re not careful, turn into a full-time occupation. At this point I can hear my inner voice veering dangerously into Lumpy Space Princess territory (Oh My Glob! I can’t help it! I’m too popular!) – don’t get me wrong I love meeting, partying with, learning from new people and this industry is probably the funnest place to do that. 

And this isn’t just Laura Swinton Party Pooper; we seem to be on a mission to become an industry of Minority Report-style pre-cogs, chasing trends and technologies before they even happen. As yet though, we’re not quite channelling the unearthly serenity and alien detachment of Samantha Morton in said film. We’re more like these dogs you see on YouTube that go mental when they’re bombarded with tennis balls – so desperate to have ALL THE BALLZ that they never quite settle on one, running around snatching, haphazardly.

This is not cool-hunting:

Nor is this:

The hype train is quickly resembling the overcrowded locomotives you used to see on mid-90s travel shows about India… anyone with a working set of vocal chords is scrambling aboard in pursuit of their TED talk aspirations, whether or not they have something of value to say. I deeply appreciate speakers who think through why they’re actually on stage – and, crucially, do more than just show off their latest work. Equally, I admire those organisers who curate their events with a thoughtful and critical eye – it’s painfully easy to see who is just chasing dollar. There are times I suspect the circuit has become less about content and debate and more about having something to Instagram. But, personally, I’m running out of patience with barely-veiled sales pitches and empty blah. 

Seminars, live-streams, thought-leadership events clogging up the calendar, it’s like we’re expected to exist in a perma-heightened state of excitement. It’s putting our shit-filter – and adrenal glands – under some serious strain. To survive schedule bloat, it feels you have to either drink the Kool Aid, embrace your inner tennis ball crazy dog and accept it – or become a virtual hermit and risk missing out on some genuinely interesting or inspiring events. The middle path – being smartly selective – is just as tricky because that way you end up straining to peer behind buzzwordy, obfuscative titles and end up investing far too much time sorting the bullshit from the belters. And, if anything, that ends up making the FOMO even worse.

Ultimately, though, if you don’t have time or headspace to let all that information sink in it simply ends up washing over you, and washing away. And what’s the point in that?