Brilliant Reads: a roundup of behind-the-scenes inspiration from Dots 2016


Dots conference 2016

We heard about how companies are embracing digital transformation, what it takes to build a successful creative company from scratch and the power of emojis. If you weren’t able to attend Dots this year the blog posts and slides will fill you in on all of the fascinating details of the day. We’ll also be publishing videos of the speakers over the coming weeks.

The morning

We kicked off the day with digital anthropologist Lydia Nicholas, on what it means to be us online. Lydia discussed the conflict between building relationships and protecting privacy. Up next was Chris T-T, a musician and songwriter, who has collaborated with the National Trust to create a set of ballads based on the incredible history of The Workhouse, Southwell. Chris spoke about taking the National Trust out of its comfort zone and the research behind the body of songs.Brilliant Noise client Nina Jones from Jaguar Land Rover rounded off the first session. “No one at the company really knew what customer first meant,” explained Nina, who went on to describe the transformative, customer-focused journey Jaguar Land Rover has taken over the last three years.

Mid-morning Nishma Robb from Google took to the stage and spoke about challenging gender roles in advertising and the rise of femvertising – pro female advertising. She was followed by professor Vyv Evans – an emoji expert – who believes emojis can give brands an edge in the digital age. 80% of people now use emojis, so how can brands harness this universal language? Duncan Hammond rounded off the morning with a speech on how the Guardian is turning strategy into action and keeping liberal journalism relevant in an increasingly complex digital space.


After lunch we were welcomed back with an entertaining talk by Dan Shute from Creature of London. While working with the Green Party Dan’s company broke every rule of advertising and it led to some great content. Martin Gill, of Forrester Research, introduced his talk with a warning: don’t be the next Jar Jar Binks. Don’t assume what your customer wants. Martin explained that customer-led companies understand what their customers do and why they do it. Last to speak in the third section was David Greenfield from adidas who began by asking, “what is digital transformation?” David demonstrated how to bring a brand to life in the digital age.

Starting the last session of the day was Andy Whitlock, Head of Brand at Lost My Name. Andy described life at a start-up and how trying to make an idea work at scale is very messy and crazy but joyful. The penultimate speaker, Will Hudson founder of It’s Nice That, let us in on the secret of the company’s success: hard work and luck. Will described how the company went from a university project to working with the likes of Nike. Dots closed with a talk from Caroline Webbabout her book How To Have A Good Day. Caroline explained how you can edit your reality, change the mood in a room and make time go further.

Take a look at the Dots 2016 reading list for titles to inspire and challenge.

‘Female-focused advertising must evolve or it will get stale’, urges Nishma Robb

Marketers need to work harder to normalise the portrayal of strong women in their advertising, says Google UK’s head of ads marketing, Nishma Robb. 52% of female customers would buy a product based on the positive way it portrays women – but female-focused advertising risks becoming stale if it doesn’t evolve. To avoid fatigue brands need to work harder at placing strong women in everyday advertising narratives.

‘Female-focused advertising must evolve or it will get stale’ urges Google’s UK marketing chief
Marketing Week 2 mins

Golden insights into Dots 2016

Reflections and golden insights from the Dots conference, including Will Hudson’s advice of dream big and experiment small, and Nishma Robb’s words to break gender stereotypes early.

Joining the Dots in 2016
Digital Inferno 11 mins