WMG Davos Diary – Key Takeaways from WEF 2020

Many World Media Group members were at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week to discuss the global, regional and industry issues affecting business leaders today. Here are some of the key takeaways, as observed by Katya Ionova, Creative Director, UK & EMEA, Business Insider and Damian Douglas, Managing Director, EMEA, Time.

Youth Power

Although the average demographic of attendees at Davos is aged 52-54 for men and aged 49 for women, the question of how we can support the younger generation was a critical theme that ran across many areas of discussion. Concerns ranging from the kind of planet we’re passing on, to the lack of funding for the global mental health epidemic that’s affecting the younger generation were high on the agenda. Greta Thunberg wasn’t the only young voice to be heard this year – 10 teenage activists from all over the world were invited along to encourage collaboration between generations.

Sustainability

Environmental risks, renewed commitments to sustainability, carbon-neutrality pledges, the circular economy and financing a sustainable future were all big themes and more CEOs were seen wearing the SDG pin. The message was clear: we have less than a decade to act, so maintaining the status quo or ‘business as usual’ is no longer acceptable.

Stakeholder Capitalism

The growth of stakeholder capitalism was a frequent discussion point. Companies can no longer serve only their shareholders but must consider all stakeholders, using business as a platform for change to address the environmental and societal issues that matter most to today’s employees and consumers.

Transformation

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and technology such as AI, driverless cars and the IoT formed the basis of many discussions around digital, organisational and societal transformation. The transformation of people was another important theme, from supporting mental health issues to unlocking the potential of human capital.

Brands as Content Creators

A packed fringe agenda featured events from brands such as Accenture, who produced a daily live show. Bank of America, EY and Refinitiv used their social and digital channels to deliver lively content throughout the week. Many World Media Group members led with a content agenda, such as The Wall Street Journal, which hosted The Journal House again, curating discussions on topics aligned to the seven themes of the main agenda. Media newcomers included Condé Nast’s Vogue, which hosted a networking nightcap in Davos House.

Purpose-Driven Marketing

Will we see Davos’ ‘Youth Activism’ theme translate into purpose-driven marketing campaigns? If previous years are anything to go by, they will trickle down from CEO to the rest of the boardroom and start to manifest in 9-12 months. Two years ago, the themes at Davos were around Women, Gender, Diversity and Equality; it’s no coincidence, then, that we saw an increase in DNI campaigns at Cannes last year. We predict that we’ll start seeing Gen Z-centric creative at Cannes in 2021.

Finally, we couldn’t sign off without mentioning the best-branded swag at the event! Every year, Zurich Insurance provides blue woolly hats and they were everywhere – even featured on posters for the Zurich-sponsored airport WiFi. Zurich gave out 13,000 hats this year and pledged to plant 13,000 trees. It goes to show that merchandise can still be an effective marketing tool if it’s a) useful, b) on-brand, and c) entirely fitting for the environment it’s being shared in.

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