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ADMA faces calls for boycott for Trump “support”

The Association for Data-Driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA) is the subject of social media backlash after announcing the data team leader of Trump’s election campaign as the keynote speaker at its upcoming conference.

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The Facebook ad promoting ADMA’s upcoming Data Day

Matthew Oczkowski, also the head of product at Cambridge Analytica, is described by ADMA as a “product specialist who focuses on building tools and strategies that better connect people with their underlying behaviours and motivations”.

The speaker description also notes: “Matt’s team was responsible for creating real-time dashboards of data, which were used by the Trump campaign as it crafted advertising and focussed on the most contested states, especially in the final months”.

After a social media post promoting the event asked: “The man behind the data of President-Elect Trump’s campaign, Matthew Oczkowski, will be at Data Day 2017, will you?”, social media commentators pushed back on the association, questioning its promotion of the speaker when there are other, less controversial, alternatives.

Commenter Joshua Rowe, former creative director of M&C Saatchi and R/GA, answered ADMA’s question: “No and hopefully people will boycott the event in disgust. You’re marketing is clumsy and tone deaf” [sic].

Rowe also noted there are “many fascinating people working in this space”, negating the need for ADMA to choose someone “that supported a very divisive and hateful figure in gaining power”.

Others noted Trump’s questionable and controversial comments on women and Mexicans and the adverse affect the association between the new president and ADMA’s other conference supporters could have on brands.

“I do not see how the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Qantas or any of your other members could support giving a platform for such a message. Your choice to put this kind of bigot up on your stage is a rude slap in the face for your members. I too will not be attending your event and I hope nobody else does either,” said Derek Glass.

Speaking to Mumbrella about the backlash, ADMA’s CEO Jodie Sangster said the inclusion of Oczkowski in the event’s line up is in no way political and noted marketers could learn serious lessons from his achievements.

“This is not political at all,” she said, adding that Obama’s data team had spoken at a previous ADMA event.

“What was important for us was both the Brexit outcome and that Trump outcome were completely unexpected and there’s a huge amount to be learnt from that.”

ADMA CEO Jodie Sangster responded to the backlash saying there are lessons to be learnt from the success of the Trump and Brexit campaigns

ADMA CEO Jodie Sangster responded to the backlash saying there are lessons to be learnt from the success of the Trump and Brexit campaigns

Sangster said regardless of your position on Trump and Brexit, there are learnings from Oczkowski’s work, and marketers need to remove emotion from their education.

“Our job as an association is to give people the learnings. That’s why we’ve done it,” she said.

“I completely understand it’s an emotional subject matter, but we’re hoping people can get some insight into how on earth it got the result it did.

“I think unfortunately [the social media conversation] has gotten a bit emotional and quite personal.

“As marketers we should approach everything with an open mind. That’s our job. It’s not appropriate to launch a personal attack.”

Sangster said shutting down opposing views in a time of such division and diversity was unhelpful and “not going to be beneficial to anyone”.

ADMA has also noted the commenters’ concerns on Facebook and justified its inclusion of Oczkowski in the lineup, responding : “Thank you for your comments and we recognize your concern. Cambridge Analytica provided the data and analytics behind both the Trump and Brexit campaigns. We understand the result of these campaigns were both unforeseen and controversial. It’s for this reason we believe that the learnings should be widely shared so we all understand how such unexpected outcomes were achieved. With this knowledge, marketers and campaigners will be better equipped for the future.”

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The association also noted that “no employee at ADMA can or will be swayed by political positioning” and said it held the concepts of education and free speech in “high regard”. In addition, ADMA contended “having Matthew Oczkowski speak at Data Day 2017 is by no means supporting Trump”, echoing Sangster’s sentiments and reminding social media users it also had the analytics team behind Obama’s campaign speak after his election win.

The event, which also features speakers from Qantas, Apple, ABC, Coles, Google and Coca-Cola, is in Sydney on April 3 and Melbourne on April 5.

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