Aby Sam Thomas

With Election Day behind them and a chilly New York morning to greet them, people from all spaces of the digital media world came together Wednesday, Nov. 7, for the first day of the ad:tech conference at the Javits Center in New York City. Starting off the two-day conference was the keynote presentation by Frank Cooper, Chief Marketing Officer of Global Consumer Engagement at PepsiCo, whose session was entitled, “The H-I-T Factor: How Humanity, Imagination & Truth Will Define the Next Generation of Market Leaders.”

With an audience that was clued into his every word, Cooper was at his charismatic best as he used real-world examples from his time at PepsiCo to explain how companies can create “hit” products, digital campaigns, marketing strategies, etc. by using the three integral elements of humanity, imagination and truth. Cooper defined humanity as the personal identity we use to connect with each other as people, imagination as the fundamental aspect of creativity and solving problems and truth as the transparency to be used in our communications with people.

Putting together these three facets results in what Cooper called the H-I-T factor, which companies and brands can use to become part of the so-called “pop culture” that is a part and parcel of people’s lives today. “All culture is pop culture,” declared Cooper, encouraging companies to think outside the box and invest in initiatives that their customers will both appreciate and find interesting. Cooper explained this using PepsiCo’s “DEWmocracy” campaign, which allowed fans of Mountain Dew to suggest and design new versions of their favorite soft drink.

To drive home his point about the importance of pop culture, Cooper peppered his presentation with a number of examples from that genre. A scene from the movie “Inception” was played to indicate the extent and possibilities of imagination and creativity. Quotes from both Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein and Grammy Award-nominated musician Drake enjoyed equal billing onstage, and a short vignette from The Simpsons was enough to showcase how truth should be used to connect and interact with consumers.

As Cooper came to the end of his presentation, he said that there were three main points he hoped people would take away from his talk. “Shift your cultural behavior to a creative life,” Cooper said, encouraging the audience to “waste time” and thereby allow themselves to “become creative.” Cooper then stressed the need to restructure relationships both within and outside one’s companies, so as to both foster a spirit of sharing and working together, and also create an environment that’s filled with a diverse group of people and ideas.

Finally, Cooper said, companies need to “pursue truth”—that is, to find out who their customers are and also figure out what their brand and product is about. “To stand out today,” Cooper explained, “I think we need to move one step beyond and actually take a stand within culture.” Besides the usual metrics like eyeballs and impressions, Cooper said that companies need to focus on things like how customers are engaging with their brand and how they are sharing that brand with others—that, he said, is what ultimately measures a brand’s success.

Cooper ended his talk by bringing to the stage the team of Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based company that bills itself as a group of “builders, inventors, makers and developers,” with the team’s Eric Gradman making a grand entry on the stage by standing on top of a giant track ball. Although a software glitch prevented them from showcasing their interactive game of which the ball was a part of, Two Bit Circus certainly made an impression with the innovative streak of ideas and concepts they introduced to the ad:tech New York audience.

If the resounding applause was any indication, Cooper’s H-I-T factor presentation was certainly a hit with the hundreds of ad:tech attendees in the room. With the conference starting on such an exciting and interesting note, the bar has been set high for the rest of the presentations and conferences that are scheduled for the remainder of ad:tech New York.

For a full replay of Frank Cooper’s talk at ad:tech, check out the live stream link by clicking here.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.