The Black Eyed Peas singer clashed with Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, and Google’s top marketer, Lorraine Twohill, over whether people skipped online adverts. Will.i.am was talking about the definition of advertising, and questioning whether songs like Busta Rhymes’s Pass The Courvoisier could be included, when he said people skipped traditional adverts that interrupted content on platforms like YouTube.
Twohill and Sorrell both disagreed with him, with Twohill citing a statistic that 87 per cent of adverts on YouTube were watched.
“Regardless of what your metric says, we’re not paying attention to it,” will.i.am said. “If you don’t add value to people’s lives, I don’t really give two sh**s about your advertising.”
This isn’t the first time that will.i.am has brought up the topic of making conversation instead of ads. He suggested that the world was in the midst of a major shift. “In some ways it’s like we’re back in the 1600s when everybody were racing to discover the new world,” he said.
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To put his point across, he likened Google to the French, Twitter to the Spaniards, Facebook with the English, Microsoft with the Dutch, and Apple to the Portuguese.
The ocean is the internet and computers and software are the ships and they are all sailing to find and conquer new land. However, will.i.am claimed that brands have stopped asking what has caused the shift and why businesses are striving to conquer it.
If you don’t ask you won’t be able to stay relevant when the energy of change is finished, he said.
He suggested that looking to the past was no way to secure a future. For example, the movie industry has recently been filled with remakes; Mad Max, RoboCop and Point Break, to name a few.
“Where have all the creative minds vanished to?” Will.i.am said. “Who stopped investing in the dreamers?”
To stay relevant, he claimed that brands needed to be part of a conversation. He advised that businesses needed to start conversations, invent, as well as listen to the community.
“There is a whole new concept of brands and businesses that bring community together,” he said. “You don’t have to go about the traditional way of marketing and advertising. Today, you need to turn a moment into momentum and momentum into a movement.”
This is something that can’t be done with 30-second commercials, he said. If an advert, marketing plan or communication doesn’t increase, rebuild, enable or empower community, then don’t do it, he said.
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