On the Road: My First Global Marketing Meeting
Posted January 15, 2019
What do 50+ agency people from all over the world have in common? Hellacious travel tales, nightmare client stories and thankfully, a shared language, which fortunately is my native tongue. However, once you got past the awkward introductions, expected conversation topics and shared experience of a singular client, I discovered more meaningful commonalities of a welcoming, warm and incredibly intelligent group of people that I can’t wait to see again next year.
I had the honor last week of attending my first global marketing meeting hosted by our client the California Walnut Commission. Agencies from Germany, the EU, Spain, Korea, Japan, China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates flew to Southern California for three straight days of strategic planning and ideation sessions.
Free time was at a minimum. Group breakfast was served at 7am and we often didn’t separate until dinner was finished some 14+ hours later. That’s a lot of time to spend around the same group of people, especially for someone like me who’s not exactly an extrovert when it comes to professional events.
But by the end of a long three days, I found myself relishing the stimulating conversations, both work-related and personal. It was pretty common to be sitting at a table with eight people from different countries with different roles from different agencies. Conversations bounced everywhere, from raising children to the sacred town of Varanasi to sevens rugby to a new product in China that’s made from dried anchovies and walnuts.
I learned quite a bit this trip about walnuts, the global export market and shared human experiences that don’t count geography as an obstacle. Here are some key observations.
Walnuts are amazingly healthy.
Ok, I already knew this, but I was astounded at the breadth of new research published about this amazing tree nut. Trust me, eat more walnuts. Your heart, brain and general well-being will thank you.
I used to think I traveled a lot.
I probably took 25-30 trips last year. That’s a lot. However, all of my trips were domestic and most were less than three days. My agency counterparts from around the world travel just as much, but often internationally and for extended periods of time. I have officially had my “Travel Complaint Card” revoked.
Food trends are similar from the EU to Asia.
Sure, every market has its peculiarities, but overall there is much more in common in food trends than I previously thought. Unfortunately, every country is battling obesity and an increasingly unhealthier population. Fortunately, food manufacturers are responding by making healthier products.
The USA needs to get its shit together.
Trade wars, tariffs and government shutdowns are wreaking havoc on the global agriculture market and farmers are taking the brunt of the damage. These farmers depend on exporting their products to other countries for a living. However, the export market falls flat when massive tariffs are levied. The current state of play in my country is an embarrassment, and the grown-ups need to sit down and figure it out.
It takes me a while, but I can let loose.
The first day and a half of this event were a challenge for me from a social aspect, and I found myself clinging to people I already knew. However, with time and red wine, I relaxed a bit, left my comfort zone and made new friends. I even participated in games, crushing the competition for the walnut spoon carry.