Why do the Germans beat the Brits at media conferences?
I’ve just returned from Dusseldorf, where I presented the keynote speech at the German broadcasters’ ‘TV Effectiveness Day’ at the hugely impressive Tonhalle. It was my third time presenting at this event, and this was the best of the lot. Everything passed by with a ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ efficiency, the entertainment was first class and the catering alone cost more than most conferences cost to stage in total.
What impressed me most was the attendance. Well over 1,300 attendees, of which almost 1,000 were from media agencies or advertisers. In fact, the number of advertisers alone – around three hundred in total – is more than I’ve seen at a year’s worth of media events in the UK.
Why should this be? The German media market is not significantly different in size to the UK’s, and there was consensus in Dusseldorf that the UK’s media market is vibrant and innovative. So, why are their media practitioners and marketing professionals so much more interested in media that they would turn up for conferences with attendance levels to put a League Division Two crowd to shame? Why do most equivalent conferences in the UK struggle to attract a crowd worthy of the Blue Square Conference North division?
I don’t have an answer to that, but I suspect it is partly to do with greater confidence in their economic and financial future, a more open-minded approach to business and (from what I heard in the bar) a stronger relationship between German media agencies and their clients.
Still, one thing we Brits did beat them at was in creating a world-renowned television trade body. The Germans announced their own version of Thinkbox at the conference – Wirkstoff TV – and Thinkbox’s influence on their thinking and the overall template is plain to see. Admittedly, the Germans may well have beaten us to that accolade, but the regulators had previously blocked such plans as they felt it could represent cartel-like behaviour. It is good that they have seen the light.
So, perhaps it is 1-1. It doesn’t really matter; they’ll probably still beat us on penalties if it stays that way at full time!
Here’s a pic of the amazing Tonhalle;