It’s that time again. The final CS Presents of 2015 kicked off on the 6th October and this time it was all about the future. What it means for our industry, for us and which bits of Sci Fi we really wished would come true! Before all that though, our ears were pricked with the mention of the Great British Diversity Experiment.

A brilliant endeavour undertaken by a group of creative leaders, CEOs and CSOs to help expand the diversity in our industry and make us the best we can be.

(If you are interested in getting involved in The Great British Diversity Experiment send an email to [email protected])

Simon Goodall (@sigoodall), CSO, Lowe Open, started the talks by looking at what the future had already told us.

I think it’s safe to say Simon is a big fan of Sci Fi. Handy really, as Science Fiction is all about trendspotting. It shows us that we’re living in the future already; incredible innovations change our world all the time. But of course the future isn’t just about the tech, it’s how we deal with it. 500 years from now less than 10% of humans will be doing paid work, says Steve Jurvetson. Automation is everywhere, is the automation of creative work next?

To stop that thought from depressing us too much, Simon showed us some great Sci Fi clips that illustrated unlikely futures, possible ones and some that are already coming true (although hopefully not my favourite, the scene from Demolition Man).

On the theme of how we use our tech, Simon mentioned the unfortunate individual we’ve probably all heard of, who missed a life changing moment with a whale because he was on his phone. Oh dear, we really should pay more attention. Nomophobia, the fear of being without our phones, is taking hold. Often they are the last thing we touch at night, and the first in the morning!

A brilliant quote that stuck with me was from Martine Rothblatt on the subject of artificial intelligence: “one of the greatest philosophical aspects of cyber consciousness is that it creates the greatest mirror humanity will ever have.” Let’s hope we remember to look in it from time to time.

Rose Lewis (@roselewis), Founder, Collider, spoke to us about the future of agencies.

Ad tech start-ups are everywhere, and it’s Rose’s job to work with them and to get the creative industry working with them. In her words “It’s time for advertising to take over mad tech”. Disruption is everywhere; Airbnb rents more rooms per night than the Hilton group and in our industry there’s a new start up disrupting every day. Our assumptions are being fundamentally challenged.

Ad blockers should be a catalyst for change; if people aren’t choosing to watch the advertising content that is created, then the content needs to change. We were treated to a brilliant reading of a Dr Suess poem (once an illustrator in an ad agency himself) on why The Consumer Doesn’t Trust Advertising. So the big question, how can brands harness the power of start-ups to improve how they communicate? We’re all consumers after all and ones at the heart of the industry; the future is in our hands.

To point us in the right direction, Rose had a handy checklist to make sure we’re keeping up with all the start-ups in town:

1) Read the tech news every day,

2) Make an effort to go to tech meet ups or events each month,

3) Meet a start up a week,

4) Think of ways you can work with them and improve their product, instead of competing with them.

In order to keep London at the centre of mad tech we’re going to need to be brave and break rules. Like Elon Musk said, “if things are not failing, you’re not innovating enough”.

Leading Left Founder, Matt Follows (@mattfollows), addressed the future of our minds and how we might all attain ‘sustainable high performance for creative athletes’.

Our industry is fear based, it’s so mentally and physically demanding. And that’s where Matt comes in. For people working in advertising, being seen as stressed out is often a badge of honour. That is a problem. We don’t talk about what’s really going on underneath that stress.

Stress is after all, just a code word for fear. Matt did a survey through Campaign on the emotional state of the industry and the results weren’t good. Over 80% of respondents reported stress and frustration as a daily emotional state, 55% of creative leaders said they had or were burnt out and 27% considered themselves not burnt out ‘yet’.

So why is stress so bad? After all lots of us do our best work under tight deadlines. That’s because we deal with both positive stress and distress, it’s only when we tip over into distress that we’re not performing as well as we could and the cracks start to show.

But before we start to worry too much, turns out there’s a simple solution. We need to start working with our body’s natural rhythm, not against it. Naturally our ultradian rhythm peaks and troughs every 90 minutes and that’s how we should be working; in sprints of 90 mins with frequent breaks. There’s a bit more to it of course, but that’s what Matt can help with. Ultimately, if we can learn to chill out when we really need to, we may find our work improving a whole lot because of it.

Lawrence Weber (@lawrenceweber), Managing Partner, Karmarama, was interested in the future of creativity and innovation.

Lawrence started us off with a caveat, that he did indeed love agencies, creativity and innovation. But he can’t help notice that agencies are getting assaulted from all sides by different facets of the tech and media world. Nestle, for instance has decided to do away with its website and only use Tumblr. Brands are paying YouTube over directors and he recently heard the term ‘programmatic creativity’. That one made us all scratch our heads.

As for Domino’s recent Titanium grand prix for its emoji pizza, there’s no denying it’s innovative. But is it useful and is it really the way forward? As creative agencies, human insight and creativity are our secret weapons. They are things we are better positioned to do and can do better than anyone else. For instance, it is a planner’s job to study, understand and distil people and there are not many industries outside of academia where that is the case.

When we’re at our best, we understand people pretty damn well. So let’s use that to our advantage. As agencies, let’s form partnerships not collaborations. Let’s use insight not serendipity to create products and services. Brands will forge ahead regardless- think Unilever Foundry, Barclays Digital Eagles- so better that we be part of those partnerships than without them.

Nadya Powell (@nadsbads), MD, Sunshine, was looking to the future of people.

We started by playing a round of The Generation Game – the idea being to match up a statement with the generation it most likely came from. Nadya, quite rightly, is bored of generation stereotypes and wanted to address the generation currently most plagued by stereotypes; Generation Z.

As marketers it’s natural that we seek to understand people and like to categorise them. But there can be a tendency to veer away from intelligent analysis and understanding to too much putting people in boxes. She drew very interesting parallels between ‘gen Z’ and the silent ‘war’ generation. Both grew up in a time of uncertainty, chaos and economic downturns. It may be that they have more in common with each other than the generations in between.

For Generation Zs, their supposed entrepreneurialism is because they know there are no easy jobs! They are also working harder; students are staying in more and drinking less. Rates of both smoking and binge drinking have both fallen in under 20s. The welfare state for students is over; uni really isn’t about partying anymore. Before we start stereotyping, let’s remember that Gen Z have grown up in a very different world.

After a hefty whack of mental stimulation crammed into two hours we all made our way back to the bar for a touch more libation and a chat over some of the more philosophical questions of the evening, ‘is creativity for creativity’s sake important?’ ‘Can creativity be reproduced by a non-human entity?’ ‘What even is creativity anyway?’ Feel free to crack open your own beverage and have a think about that one.

Big thanks as always to our partners:

Because Source LF are all about Connected People, Connecting People, Creative Social is the perfect event to sponsor as people can network whilst benefiting from leading industry knowledge. To help conversation flow, our friends at Source LF will also be sponsoring the bar.We are sorry that other recruiters are not able to attend this session.

Special thanks to our venue partners DigitasLBi for providing us with ‘The home of Creative Social Presents..’ a top notch venue for creative thinking.

Finally a big thanks to our Digital Production Partners Roll Studio who helped us build this – Go click to find out how Hacker, Maker, Teacher and Thief you are.