Wilmar's Web Summit: Day 2 Highlights

By Wilmar Tax, 18 May 2020

From Humanity to the Future of Agencies (and of course Water again!)


In the upcoming days I will cover the highlights I have seen at the Websummit, according to Reuters the biggest tech conference in Europe and the Guardian calls it the Glastonbury for Geeks. Here are the highlights of day two. For everything I saw on day one click here.

Opening night already was phenomenal. Let me give you a glimpse of what happened by calling out some big trends and connect them to speakers and/or businesses.

Every one of them deserves the earned attention Het PR Bureau / HPB Amsterdam strive for as they are all based on deep human, cultural or societal insights.


Plastic Polution Coalition founder Dianna Cohen and surfer and environmentalist McNamara inspired us to help, stimulate and be the movement behind both smarter water management and at the same time stop using single-use plastic by never to use a single plastic product ever again, by not buying any plastic bags at supermarkets ever again, by always bringing our own reusable water bottle and by making it more fun to make every day as environmental friendly as you can. Diana Cohen: “After all, we are a water planet.” 

Furthermore Diana called out to stimulate companies to do something about the environment, but to also hold them responsible if they don’t. Her example was that Starbucks got rid of plastic straws, but introduced plastic stirrers that were heavier than the straws. However, she also recognized we need these big companies  to make big impact!


Brian Collins, Mel Edwards (Wunderman) and Sarah Ashman (WolffOlins) had a panel discussion on the future of the agency world with some interesting thoughts on:

  • Consolidation - Brian Collins: “In the agency world it’s not about being bigger, but about being better.” Both talents and clients want the right agency, not necessarily the biggest one. Both talent and clients can go anywhere else real quick, so it’s good to keep being true to yourself and have a clear and relevant Point of View.

  • Storydoing - as agencies and brands we should be more about storydoing than about storytelling, have purpose but more importantly live the purpose, because that’s what consumers and stakeholders expect.

  • Pitches (of course ;): Mel Edwards stated pitching is part of our agency DNA. Brian replied that he loves presenting, but not giving away free work. To be honest, I am more in Brian’s camp and would like to argue that we also might not yet fully understand the clients/brands’ challenge to the fullest during a pitching process.


Gail Heimann showed us two wonderful cases:

  1. Clearchannel helps homeless people in Stockholm to find the nearest shelter when it’s below -7 Celsius, using tech. 

  2. Cannes Lions winner“Go Back to Africa” in which this unbelievably hurtful sentence often used on our internet was responded to by playing a fabulously inspirational video on the beauty of Africa, therefore pushing this sentence to be more connected to inspiration and beauty instead of discrimination.


University of Washington professor Margaret O’Mara kicked off the day by calling out Silicon Valley’s success. The entrepreneurial rocketship began with one of the biggest project of the 20th century: the race to the moon. The US government stimulated the development of small tech companies to help them win that race. So, of course, this highly successful area had the right people from the right companies (Netscape, Apple, Intel, etc.), but also the right focus and funding to spiral it like a rocket. Loved this historical context, which more than scratches the surface and shows us how important government involvement can be. Let’s see where 10 more years of Web Summit in Lisbon will take that beautiful and vibrant city!

Stay tuned for more WebSummit news in the oncoming days.