NEWS10 February 2022

Sustainability, brand purpose and business transformation hot topics at Impact 2022

Impact 2022 Innovations News Trends UK

UK – The MRS annual conference takes place virtually on 16 and 17 March, with speakers that include former president of the Supreme Court Lady Hale and Professor Dan Breznitz of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, while panels will feature brands such as Mondelez, Panasonic and Macmillan.

Woman taking part in online event on laptop

Here, we round up comments from companies operating in the MRX space to find out what they’re most looking forward to at this year’s event.

Joe Stubbs, global brand director, Interbrand
For me it has to be the keynote from Paul Polman on Net positive: How courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take. Polman is one of the most visionary business leaders and has set a new standard in terms of commitment to sustainability while chief executive of Unilever. Leadership is so crucial to brand success and building brand value, so his views on net positive and how companies can be braver and bolder with their ambitions will make this a session not to be missed.

Vicky Bullen, chief executive, Coley Porter Bell
I’m very interested to hear the debate entitled, Walk the walk, how to avoid greenwashing on your sustainability journey on how brands can find eco-minded solutions. Greenwashing – once such a problem among brands – is increasingly called out as people can so easily gather information online and scrutinise claims. As businesses across sectors embark on their sustainability journey that overused buzz word, ‘authenticity’, is absolutely applicable. Brands need to be honest about their progress and intent.

Chris Bland, managing director, Walnut Unlimited
As managing director of the human understanding agency, the debate on Neuromania and the new irrationalism is it time to put the ‘human’ back into research?  is one I’ll definitely be tuning in for. I’m personally looking forward to seeing where this debate leads and where the expert panellists will land on a topic close to all our hearts here at Walnut. Elsewhere, I’d be remiss not to be looking forward to seeing our own project work with debt management firm Lowell, showcased in the session, Understanding vulnerability: accessing and communicating with vulnerable customers.

 Steve Phillips, chief executive, Zappi
As chair of the MRS Sustainability Council, I am obviously interested in topics around the sustainability agenda, so it’s great to see Jigsaw Research working with the WWF to harness the power of insight to bring people together. In the session, Ten years to save the world: How communities can shape a greener future they will be talking about bringing supporters together to drive positive action. This is a challenge the insight industry is always working on, as we should be able to genuinely help make the planet a better place.

I will also be looking forward to hearing from Danielle Todd from Relish on harnessing our creativity and innovation in Not another mid-life crisis: We need to stop the navel-gazing and start creating. Innovation is very dear to our hearts at Zappi. This call to arms for creativity should make for a great session.

Ruth Partington, founder and director, Empower Translate
This looks to be a fantastic and varied two days of getting to the heart, and head, of insight. From an operational perspective, I am keen to hear the panel discussion on international innovation and leadership, chaired by Crispin Beale, which looks to be a promising, thought-provoking session on business transformation.

I am equally looking forward to hearing about the heart and power of our industry through the Raise her voice: marginalised girls finding their voice in no man’s land case study involving teenage girl refugees. This is an inspirational piece of research that opens us up to a world of possibilities around empowering marginalised communities.

Fiona Blades, chief experience officer, Mesh Experience
I am particularly looking forward to Baroness Hale’s keynote interview – as a women-owned business, I admire her relentless championing of equality or, as some term it, ‘the Brenda Agenda’.  Baroness Hale describes it as “the belief that women are equal to men and should enjoy the same rights and freedoms that they do”.

Pete Markey is chief marketing officer at Boots and his speaking slots are always fascinating. This time, he’ll be shining a lens on balancing customer needs and broader issues around sustainability and DEI.  I’ve known Pete a long time and if anyone can provide a perspective on these thorny issues, it’s him.

The Rachel Lawes session, The Tomorrow People: How to talk about the future? on the use of semiotics to unlock insights about the future looks valuable, as it’s so often challenging to get participants to discuss topics that are beyond today’s horizon. We quite often collaborate with Rachel and clients are always impressed with her insights.

David Kells, director of strategic partnerships, Raconteur
I’m interested to see the international innovation and leadership debate. Bravery is the key ingredient that many research campaigns often lack – ultimately, it’s bold and original questions that lead to stand-out insights. I’d be interested to see the panel discuss whether they think some brands create research just for research’s sake. If brands don’t commit to being brave in the early stages of research planning, then they should save their money, as it won’t make a significant impact.

Lucia Juliano, head of research, UK and the Netherlands, Toluna
I’m very much looking forward to hearing Paul Polman’s session on how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take. Brand purpose is a core area of research for us, having broadcast a number of global webinars on this topic where we brought together business leaders to discuss how research can support a purpose-driven agenda, as well as drive business growth. It’s sure to be a highlight session of this year’s event and provide a thought-provoking and enlightening narrative for agencies and clients alike.

To find out more and to book tickets click here; discounts for block bookings are available. 

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