Gamechangers Cyprus … Brand Congress 2016

September 30, 2016 at European University Cyprus, Nicosia

Gamechangers Cyprus … How to create innovative strategies for business and brands in a fast changing world

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Across the world, new ideas, new businesses and new solutions are transforming every market. “Gamechangers” think and act differently. They innovate every aspect of their brand and marketing.

From Alibaba to Zipcars, Ashmei to Zidisha, Azuri and Zynga, a new generation of businesses are rising out of the maelstrom of economic and technological change across our world. These are just a few of the companies shaking up our world.

Gamechangers are disruptive and innovative, start-ups and corporates, in every sector and region, reshaping our world. They are more ambitious, with stretching vision and enlightened purpose. They see markets as kaleidoscopes of infinite possibilities, assembling and defining them to their advantage. They find their own space, then shape it in their own vision. Most of all they have great ideas. They outthink their competition, thinking bigger and different. They don’t believe in being slightly cheaper or slightly better. That is a short-term game of diminishing returns.


I asked 1000 business leaders to nominate the companies who they believe are creating the future in each different sector. The top 100 innovators are big and small, spread across every sector and continent, from Asia to the Americas, finance to fashion. And then we wanted to understand what they did differently.

They range from well known innovators like Amazon and Apple – the magic Dash buttons creating a direct link between consumer and brands, the ecosystems that go beyond devices – to new brands like Brazil’s Beauty’in fusing the world of food and cosmetics, or even Zespri redefining the obscure Chinese gooseberry as the superfood Kiwi fruit.

They capture their higher purpose in more inspiring brands that resonate with their target audiences at the right time and place, enabled by data and technology, but more through empathetic design and rich human experiences. They fuse digital and physical, global and local, ideas and networks. Social media drives reach and richness, whilst new business models make the possible profitable. They collaborate with customers, and partner with other business, connecting ideas and utilising their capabilities. They look beyond the sale to enable customers to achieve more, they care about their impact on people and the world, whilst being commercially successful too.

Brand building also doesn’t require big budgets. We live in an ideas world, where a relevant, distinctive and contagious idea can spread rapidly across social media, and through brand partners, engaging a target audience by word of mouth, tweet to retweet, or Facebook like. Consider “shoestring” budget brands with big ideas, examples like the Dollar Shave Club, challenging the global beauty giants, or Oriflame’s spread across Asia, through networked marketing.

As they say in the GoogleX moonshot factory, in seeking to reinvent everything from cars to healthcare, “Why be 10% better, when you could be 10 times better?”


09:10 – 09:20 Welcome and introduction

09:20 – 10:50 Gamechangers Part 1: Innovative Strategies for Business and Brands  by Peter Fisk 

  • Kaleidoscope World: making sense of change, to find new opportunities for growth locally and globally
  • Exploring new customer expectations and aspirations; emerging markets, powerful millennials, new women
  • Thinking bigger, thinking differently. Combining big data with big ideas to focus and engage people.
  • Disruptive Innovators: Learning from the world’s most innovative brands, large and small
  • Winning Strategies: Creating innovative strategies to shape markets in your own vision
  • Building brands that are audacious, inspiring, collaborative and enabling

10:50 – 11:30 Networking Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00 Gamechangers Part 2: Making your best ideas happen fast and effectively by Peter Fisk 

  • Getting Started: Practical tools to help you think differently, define and change your game
  • Building your momentum – finding ways to accelerate growth – future back, outside in, focused and fast
  • Changing your brain to change your game – staying smart as a business leader in a fast changing world
  • Be the Gamechanger – what will you do to shape your future, change your market, out-think the competition
  • Applying the best ideas to your business – personal, practical, and profitable – and the Gamechangers Toolkit
  • Q&A … Be bold, brave and brilliant

13:00 – 13:10 Summary and close

Cypriot Gamechangers

So who are the “Gamechangers” of Cyprus? Economic crisis and changing geopolitics have challenged the Cypriot markets in recent years. In January 2015, for example, Cyprus Airways flight 337 from Athens touched down at Larnaca airport – the final landing for an airline established 68 years ago. In June 2016, a new Cypriot airline launched, Cobalt, with 49% Chinese state investment. Like AirAsia and JetBlue, it combines the value for money pricing of low-cost airlines with high tech interiors and modern service. Meanwhile the best funded start-up in Cyprus is seeking to “democratise smart investment”. Founded by Ophir Gertner the new player offers “smart investing opportunities for everyone, including portfolio management, access to a range of alternative investment strategies and trading platforms”. The company was founded in 2014 when a group of financial experts united around a common goal – to break down the barriers to alternative investments. They believed that the time had come for everyone, not just the very wealthy, to enjoy their high return potential and low market correlation.

The event is sponsored by Cyta (Cyprus Telecommunications Authority). Cyta provides a broad range of services and facilities for voice and data applications in both fixed and mobile telephony. Particular emphasis is placed on the provision of value added services, such as content/multimedia via the Internet. Cyta has provided mobile telephony service since 1988, which currently operates under the name Cytamobile-Vodafone, following a Network Partnership Agreement with Vodafone in 2004. It provides Internet access since 1995 under the Cytanet brand and it now offers broadband services DSL Access. Branded as miVision then, Cyta entered in 2004 the digital and interactive television market, and was renamed Cytavision.

More about Gamechangers

Kaleidoscope World … Making sense of fast changing markets to find the best new opportunities locally and globally.

Key concepts

  • Change drivers, global trends and new opportunities
  • Exploring the new customer expectations and aspirations
  • Thinking bigger, thinking different, 10 times not 10%
  • Emerging markets, powerful millenials, and new women
  • Winning in an ideas economy – outthinking your competition
  • So how could you change the world? Exploring the 10 themes

Example cases

  • Aeromobil – the flying car from a little town in Slovakia
  • Li and Fung – the Hong Kong business that can do anything
  • Google X – driverless cars and free wifi from the Moonshot Factory
  • 23andMe – DNA profiling for $99 changes the future of healthcare
  • Zespri – redefining your market in your own vision, words and rules
  • Xiaomi – from start-up to global superstar in 5 exponential years

Distruptive Innovators … Learning from the next generation of business and brands, to drive innovation and growth

Key concepts

  • The world’s 100 most disruptive businesses and brands
  • The future of banking, technolodgy, retail, healthcare and more
  • Why fast speedboats will beat the big supertankers
  • Being digital and physical, to create reach and richness
  • Designing new business models, including 36 new templates
  • Driving innovation, that disrupts and transforms markets

Example cases

  • Airbnb – the sharing economy beats the old economy
  • Dollar Shave Club – building brands on shoestring budgets
  • Juan Valdez – better than Starbucks with local authenticity
  • Nespresso – the power and profitability of new business models
  • Tesla – harnessing technology to make life better
  • Umpqua Bank – learning from anywhere but your competitors

Winning Strategies … Creating innovative strategies to outthink the competition and shape markets in your own vision

Key concepts

  • Building brands that are inspiring, collaborative and enabling
  • Combining big data with big ideas to focus and engage people
  • Telling stories, through liquid and linked content that keeps moving
  • Real time marketing, that is fast and personal, real and believable
  • Creating richer customer experiences, about customers not products
  • Building communities that connect and mobilise people

Example cases

  • GE – connecting the ideas of B2C to B2B businesses
  • Jonny Cupcakes – turning t-shirts into a richer experience
  • Nike+ – its not about the shoes, its how fast you can run
  • Periscope – inspired by revolution, how new ideas go viral
  • Rapha – building clubs and communities around people and passion
  • Threadless – being a little crazy, and more loved, in a changing world

Be the Gamechanger … how you can drive innovation, change and growth … how will your change your game?

Key concepts

  • Where to start – where you’re a big company or small company
  • Building your momentum – finding ways to accelerate growth
  • What leaders do – the new role and rules for effective leadership
  • Changing your brain, to change your game
  • Getting started with the Gamechangers Toolkit
  • Being bold, brave and brilliant

Interview with Peter Fisk

In advance of “Gamechangers Cyprus” Peter Fisk answered questions for local journalists.

How does one move from nuclear physics, to managing brands such as British Airways, Virgin and Microsoft?

Science is about making sense of the world – based on experimentation that starts with a creative hypothesis, and then proving it through demonstration and analytical method. For me, being a physicist was interesting and a good training, but my passion was much more about people, creative ideas and innovative action.

Similarly in marketing we need “right-brain” thinking to imagine new possibilities, find new market opportunities and observe new behavioral patterns – and then “left-brain” thinking to analyse the big data, quantify the impact, and focus our effort. We need to do both more than ever. Marketers need both, more than ever, to make better choices in a big and connected world, and to “out-think” the competition.

For Cypriot marketers this is even more important. Success is not about how big you are, or even where in the world you are based. It is about thinking bigger, different and smarter.

How has technology changed strategies for business and brands? How has it made life easier for the promotion of a brand and at the same time, how has it made it more complicated or challenging?

Technology has transformed markets, and how to win in them. Genetics, robotics, infomatics, nanotech – over the next 15 years we will see more change than in the last 300 years. It creates new markets, sectors converge, and geography becomes irrelevant. These new technologies change are lives (for example 23andMe’s DNA profiling for $99 transforms healthcare, and your personal future), and change the ways of doing business (for example, WhatsApp creating $19bn of value in 3 years with 17 people).

Marketing is also transformed by technology. Not only in terms of digital channels and interactive media, big data and personalization, but also in the fundamental ways in which people make choices and engage with brands. Marketing is about pull not push, doing business on customer terms – when, where and how they want. Businesses can engage directly with consumers (look at Amazon Dash), so retailers and distributors need to think differently. Consumers trust each other more than any brand, so loyalty is built in communities (like Harley Davidson).

For marketers this requires us to think differently. To seize the opportunities of technology, we need to think strategically – we could be in almost any market (product or geography), though new partnerships, sharing capabilities, and new business models. Through services and broader solutions, any brand can find new revenue streams, be they ancillary activities, or moving to a subscription service, for example. We shouldn’t just think of technology as digital channels, but as ways to reframe and reinvent our business. We also shouldn’t think of digital as something extra, it should just be the normal way of working, physically and virtually, for every business.

You have well known clients such as Coca Cola, P&G, Red Bull, Oriflame, British Airways, Aeroflot as well as purely technology-based ones like Microsoft. What are the similarities and differences from a marketing perspective when approaching different brands with different objectives?

In market, we get obsessed by our own industry. We think we are so different. But consumers work across sectors every day without ever thinking about it. The best ideas don’t come from seeking to imitate your competitors (who are almost the same as you), but by taking ideas and insights from other markets, and then adapting them. For example, a bank learning from a retailer (where the consumer is the same person, and so you can already see what works and doesn’t!).

Marketers need to be better at learning from other markets. Retailers learning from travel brands, food learning cosmetics, healthcare learning from financial services, and on. Even in business to business, we are still talking about people. Indeed B2B is becoming less and less different from any other consumer or industrial sector. Data, social media, content and experiential marketing are just as important. People still ultimately make decisions in 2.8 seconds (according to neaurologists!).

What is interesting is how technology markets have led the way in being more collaborative – open innovation, platform strategies, co-creation and ongoing collaboration. Companies like ARM, the world’s leading semiconductor business, have become 10 times more successful than Intel, for example, through the power of ecosystems, working in partnership with customers, fast and agile.

Can you talk about the marketing sector in Cyprus?  How would you describe it and assess it?

I want to learn more about the Cyprus market and local brands. Local people are the experts of the market, I can bring new ideas and examples to inspire them to think and act differently!

As I said, being a small country, is no longer a disadvantage. You are not limited by your geographical size, both in taking local brands to global markets, or in being focused and relevant locally.

Two examples I do see which seem to illustrate the changing Cypriot brand landscape are the rise of Cobalt (new investors, new business model), and also (new proposition, global market) – alongside the decline of traditional models and companies.

In January 2015, for example, Cyprus Airways flight 337 from Athens touched down at Larnaca airport – the final landing for an airline established 68 years ago. In June 2016, a new Cypriot airline launched, Cobalt with 49% Chinese state investment. Like AirAsia and JetBlue, it combines the value for money pricing of low-cost airlines with high tech interiors and modern service. Meanwhile the best funded start-up in Cyprus is Invest com seeking to “democratise smart investment”. Ophir Gertner, the founder, says it offers “smart investing opportunities for everyone, including portfolio management, access to a range of alternative investment strategies and trading platforms”.

As a global thought leader, expert consultant and keynote speaker in marketing with your vast experience what would you advise a marketer nowadays regarding the promotion of a brand?

Times of change are the most exciting times. Every market is changing faster and more dramatically than ever – everything from banking to newspapers, winemaking to healthcare. Change is disruptive, but also exciting, because it brings new opportunities.

Now is the most important and exciting time to be a marketer. Marketers are the people in business who can make sense of changing markets, they navigate the future trends and opportunities, and guided by changing customer attitudes and behaviours. Technology is just an enabler in all of this. For Cypriot marketers, you have more opportunity than ever before, global markets and local advantages. You just need to think. Think bigger, think different, think smarter.

Now is the time to be a gamechanger. To think how can you change “the game”, the way your market works, and the way your brand can win. Marketing is not simply about promotion – of the same old products, through the same old channels. You can do better than that. Be the Nespresso coffee of your market (great and profitable). The Dollar Shave Club (cheap and cheeky). Or the Tesla car (direct and connected). Whatever your business, size or sector, you can change.

Come along to Gamechangers Cyprus on 30 September and I will tell you how!

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