Our top three talks at MAD//Fest 2022

Last week we attended MAD//Fest, a festival for marketing, advertising and disruptive tech. It lived up to its name with a packed venue and many brilliant speakers including comedian and author, David Baddiel. So, to keep the inspiration flowing, we rounded up our favourite three presentations this year.

1. Ugly since 2002 – Yann Le Bozec, Senior Marketing Director at Crocs

Crocs have become a global sensation, achieving huge success since the brand was born two decades ago. But how did they become this pop-culture, polarising icon after firmly being put in the ‘ugly’ category by a large number of the public? Two words. Brand vision.

Be comfortable in your own shoes

By intentionally catering to a broad demographic, their trademark ‘come as you are’ aimed to promote individuality and self expression through authentic partnerships with fans. A tweet from Post Malone led to their first authentic brand collaboration, which then led to a mass network of celebrity influencers, shifting the perception of ugly to desirable. These partnerships included major fashion brands, Justin Beiber, Diplo, as well as a collaboration with KFC which resulted in Crocs that smelled like fried chicken…

Listen to fans

It’s evident that Crocs know how to listen to their fans – and use this user-generated content to their advantage. They took on board the mass pleading, direct messaging and video content from fans, resulting in the return of the Lightning McQueen Crocs in an adult size. They also responded to the requests of healthcare professionals in need of a comfortable shoe that was easy to clean, donating 86,000 pairs. To take community building a step further, they even hijacked Crocodile Day on the 23rd of October after seeing a viral tweet, and named it ‘Croc Day’. Eventually the brand declared the whole of October to be ‘Croctober’.

Why we liked this talk

Croc’s mighty grip on pop-culture is down to the brand being comfortable with a bit of polarisation. They shifted their brand vision and used brand ambassadors to create a fiercely loyal and authentic fan base. And importantly, they listened to their community and turned wishes into action. Now if that’s not inspiring, we don’t know what is.

2. Beyond the basket: How immersive retail experiences engage consumers at every stage of the purchase journey – Jocelyn Wilson, Creative Technology Strategist at Yahoo!

If one thing’s clear, it’s that the pandemic has had a huge impact on retail and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon – online shopping is already around 30% higher than it was pre-pandemic. These new retail preferences are forcing brands to evolve the way they engage with their customers. That means more immersive, more memorable and more helpful interactions. This is an exciting time for retail brands.

So, how can brands innovate to ensure they’re listening to the needs of their customers, provide memorable experiences that convert, and of course, differentiate from competitors? Here are some great examples of brands doing just that…


By creating an augmented reality (AR) experience in their Parisian store, customers were transported through a fully immersive journey from the City of Light to the French Riviera. To add to the experience, customers were exposed to the scent of roses while strolling the virtual countryside of Grasse, perfume capital of the world. 


Building on their sense of community, Nike developed a virtual assistant app that customers can use while browsing their store. Whether that’s providing style advice, access to their concierge service or granting access to benefits, the app builds on and enhances the shopping experience.


We all wish we could teleport a sofa into our sitting room before purchasing, just to see how it would look. Well, DFS tapped into this want and provided customers – through AR – with the ability to select a sofa and ‘view in your space’. Unsurprisingly, they saw a huge increase in online sofa sales as a result. 

Why we liked this talk

From bricks and mortar to bricks and mobile experiences, we’re at a technological turning point when it comes to the retail industry. The truth is, people love to be entertained, and shopping is no exception. Brands who are brave enough to take the leap will surely reap the rewards. Is this the first step towards the metaverse?

3. Attention drives business impact – Sorin Patilinet, Senior Director Consumer Insights at Mars

We keep hearing that people don’t pay attention to ads anymore. If that’s true, then what does that mean for brands and advertisers? It seems like the metrics we’re all so familiar with such as viewability don’t cut the mustard anymore, but according to Sorin Patilinet, attention will save the industry. So what does that mean exactly, how do we grab it to begin with and can we measure it? 

Let’s take a closer look.

Attention → Emotion → Memory

When it comes to successful and memorable ads, there’s a process all advertisers should follow, and it all starts with attention. Long story short, memorability often stems from emotion, and we need to be paying attention in order to register emotion.


If you want to grab attention, your best bet is to do it at the start of your ad. You can do this through the use of sound (or lack of sound), familiar settings and of course, surprise. On platforms such as YouTube, it’s important that you grab attention within the first five seconds.


Gaze metrics are so much easier to measure now that new technology has eased and integrated itself into everyday life and societal acceptance – think eye tracking cameras and facial coding.This means measuring attention has never been so accessible.

Why we liked this talk

Attention is becoming a hot topic due to the explosion of choice in terms of media and ads people are exposed to. Within the industry it signals a shift in how we think about, construct and measure the success of ads. Looking ahead, we’re excited to see what the future could hold for attention – especially in the context of VR and AR landscapes. 

If you’d like to discuss any of the topics mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our teams. 

by Croud
14 July 2022



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