Stories are fashionable nowadays, says Philipp Westermeyer
The Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) festival drew more than 50,000 visitors to Hamburg in 2019. Then coronavirus unleashed its wrath forcing Philipp Westermeyer, founder of OMR, and his team to focus on other innovative projects. Yet, OMR grew during the crisis. Hamburg News spoke to the marketing expert about advertising in unusual places, primal instincts and metaverse.
Hamburg News: Philipp, how and with what tool does one reach potential customers today? What are the hottest marketing trends at the moment?
Philipp Westermeyer: Generally speaking, the question of getting into my target group's feeds without paying the respective platform is becoming more and more important. The former billboard advertising in places like Times Square is increasingly about taking and posting a photo - not conveying a direct message. The watch brand IWC, for instance, does that intensely with huge photos or paintings in unusual places e.g., of the underside of lift cars in ski resorts. Jerseys and tracksuits are sponsored and players with prominent Instagram profiles wear them and have their photos taken frequently. The same applies to big sports clubs. The marketing value of a jersey only begins with Instagram. That's new.
Hamburg News: How should companies prepare for that? Apart from cash, what do they need most in future?
Westermeyer: Companies need fast and humorous marketing teams. Stories are back in fashion and range from documentaries about your own company e.g., Penny on the Reeperbahn to Gucci in the cinema, to humorous company accounts that appear as people on social networks. The pendulum is swinging back from a time when quantitative performance marketing made a difference to content.
Hamburg News: I remember your keynote on marketing tips based on the seven deadly sins - and your appeal to "grab them by their (primal) instincts", with which you fired up the crowd at the last OMR Congress in 2019. What strategy do you recommend in the era of corona and the hopefully soon post-corona period?
Westermeyer: I think the primal instincts have been blunted a bit after all the very special years in between. Perhaps, people actually listen more to a coherent story rather than a short news bulletin or the latest discounts that appeal to their greed. The discounts always seem to disappear, even if the frenzy is somewhat subdued on Black Fridays.
Hamburg News: Your book "Digital unplugged" (Econ Verlag) describes experiences, insights and curiosities from the digital world. Will digitalisation change all aspects of our everyday lives or do you see any limits? If so, where?
Westermeyer: There will certainly be more gradual changes in the coming years....like mobile phones that have taken over more and more tasks in recent years and are changing our everyday lives. But not all at once. I don't believe in a metaverse in the sense of a dominant platform where we are be walking around with our avatars and AR headsets in the next few years.
On the other hand, people are spending more time on certain online games than in the real world. But they are likely to remain smaller target groups for the time being and not the millions on Facebook or Instagram. But the fact that a product costs money, like the AR headset, changes plenty. The big social networks were completely new at first and above all free. That accelerated their growth at the time.
Hamburg News: You are now gearing up to rock Hamburg's exhibition halls on May 17-18, 2022 with the OMR festival. Stars and starlets in the digital scene like Rezo and Fynn Kliemann have already confirmed their performances. Do have any more news?
Westermeyer: Despite the current situation, we are working all out. The industry is looking forward to a get-together. Rezo and Fynn are friends as both of them took part in previous OMR festivals. We will definitely have many, many more European creators on the stages and in the halls. In addition, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and entirely different subject areas will be officially represented. We will announce more details when the pandemic has eased off a bit. If everything works out, our schedule will be bigger than ever.
Hamburg News: Philipp, many thanks for the interesting talk!
Interview by Karolin Köcher
Philipp Westermeyer, 43, is the founder of Hamburg's Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) festival. A native of Essen and of Hamburg by choice, he studied business administration and media management and was later Executive Assistant at Bertelsmann AG. Eventually, he became an entrepreneur and founded an online marketing agency, which was sold to Gruner+Jahr. Westermeyer later founded an advertising technology company and sold it to Zalando. As a sideline, he began establishing OMR as a conference and series of seminars.