8 take-outs from the Bristol Vision conference

Kerry Baillie

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Bristol Vision conference. The event, now in it’s 7th year, exists to open minds, develop new ways of thinking and help delegates challenge conventions.

I didn’t get to see everything, and choosing between the speakers wasn’t easy, but here are my top takeouts from the day.


1. Creativity and algorithms can work together

Anna Rafferty, Global Director: Digital Marketing at BBC Worldwide, showed how content and campaigns can work effectively in an increasingly algorithmic world. Where once it was assumed that algorithms would hinder great creative work, Rafferty argues otherwise.

She outlined the importance of designing work FOR the Algorithms. Careful curation, underlying metadata, rigorous testing and the art of ‘stopping the scroll’ are all part of the creative process today.


2. Context is as important as content

The ‘build it and they will come’ attitude will no longer suffice. If we want people to engage with our content, context is key.

Unlike TV advertising which plays to a captive audience, Facebook video is often consumed on the go. Anna Rafferty talked about using a three second grab at the beginning of a Planet Earth II trailer on Facebook to pull in the audience quickly.

When it comes to Facebook Live video though, she suggested that the opposite is true. The BBC used live video to show the creation of the Blue Planet II soundtrack - and the slow build worked perfectly. As the piece is unfolding in real-time, people don’t demand instant gratification.


3. AI offers exciting opportunities - but there’s a lot to consider

In his eye-opening talk, Dave Hrycyszyn discussed the excitement and disappointments of AI over the last 60 years. But what really interested me was the resulting discussions and questions. Do we pass on our own biases into our algorithms? And as machine learning becomes more prominent in fields such as medicine and law, how will these biases affect us?

Equally interesting, is the tax deficit that will emerge when machines replace more human roles. Will Robot Tax become a reality?


4. It’s important to say what we think

Keynote speaker Blair Enns, shared 5 key laws of new business success. The laws, or ‘constraints’ he would put on businesses, included working with only 10 clients, keeping proposals to one page and always saying what you think. By speaking honestly, we can gain a deeper understanding of a client’s needs and therefore offer a better service. Blair summed up this point brilliantly with the phrase: “Be ruthless in behaviour, but kind in words”.


5. We need more 'free-range' workspaces

Well-being, and ‘free-range’ workspaces aren’t just nice. They boost productivity.

Using examples from Ikea, Google and &.Design, John Grant showed how creating different meeting spaces for different personalities and achieving better balance between work and family, helped companies to flourish.

He revealed that 58% of people would happily take a financial hit in exchange for better balance. Let’s hope more businesses take note.


6. We need to collaborate more

Collaboration came up in several talks at Vision. Tarek Nseir made the bold claim that ‘the next 10 years will see the same technological progress as the previous 200 years’. With technology moving at such breakneck speed, no one agency has all the skills necessary to meet people’s growing expectations. Pooling skills and working together is absolutely critical for success.


7. Big ideas can happen without a big budget

I saw some hugely inspiring campaigns over the course of the day. This one from Barbie, and this from the Big Issue. But one campaign I really liked used no advertising at all.

Painted across the back of trucks in India, is the phrase ‘Use Dipper at Night’, which means people should flash their headlights as they pass. When it came to promoting safer sex amongst truckers, India’s largest trucking company Tata Motors used this existing slogan to promote a condom. They called their condoms ‘Dipper’ and hey presto, they were being advertised across the country without spending a penny. Genius.


8. In the age of AI we need to have ethical debates

Futurist Tracey Follows, talked about the need to debate ethical choices and to work together to manage the balance between man and machine. Going forward, we all have to hold each other accountable. Everybody needs to be involved in talking about how technologies will change our society and our lives.


Great speakers. Provocative questions. Inspiring chat with members of the Bristol creative community. For me, Vision was a brilliant day all round. Thanks to Bristol Media for organising and Armadillo for giving me the time out to go.