With the first-ever Valleywood Dubai taking place on May 14, Team TMN caught up with Dimitri Papadimitriou, Head of LiquidThread MENA, the content division of Starcom MediaVest Group and organisers of Valleywood Dubai, to find out what we can expect from the event…
What is the concept behind Valleywood Dubai 2015?
The concept was born out of the ever-merging and converging worlds of Silicon Valley and Hollywood – hence the name Valleywood. By this, we mean that the way content is created and distributed has changed and the entertainment, technology and content creation arenas can no longer work nor grow separately; Valleywood Dubai looks at the confluence and complementarity of these worlds. TV and branded content producers are not only determining entertainment and technology trends, but also, constantly monitoring and measuring consumer habits to anticipate and create the content that consumers will find relevant. Today, they have at their disposal the technology that will help them with precision marketing and addressable content creation.
Valleywood already takes place in LA and London. Why bring the event to Dubai?
Valleywood Los Angeles and London enjoyed massive success. The decision to bring this experience to Dubai was only the next logical step. Dubai is in a unique position in that it sits at the intersection of global trendsetting and regional powerhouses. Bringing Valleywood to this city next was a natural step. The region has a lot to offer and explore and we are looking at Valleywood Dubai as a platform that will connect our clients and partners with both regional and global content creators, broadcasters, established and emerging tech players, startups, investors and publishers.
What will be unique about Valleywood Dubai 2015, compared to its global counterparts?
Valleywood is the first-of-its-kind conference anywhere in the world, so it already sets itself aside from other counterparts. What will be unique about the MENA edition is the local perspective that it will take. There will be international participants as the technology and entertainment worlds are increasingly global, but there will also be a strong focus on the local content scene.
Do you have any plans for ways to follow up from Valleywood Dubai 2015?
Valleywood is meant to challenge attendees to go beyond the boundaries of traditional thinking and explore avenues inside and outside of their industry for a new age of storytelling and precision marketing. That in itself will open new doors for collaboration between players that have, conventionally, stayed apart. We are expecting Valleywood Dubai to be the conversation starter between these players, even more so in light of LiquidThread unveiling its new capabilities and solutions – centering on addressable media and data-driven content. That’s how we’re hoping to build on Valleywood going forward.
Do you feel that the industry in MENA should be doing more to use tech and content creators for new forms of brand storytelling?
The region’s content creators have been doing great work in and around storytelling – just look at the Peeta Planet series. What we could see more of are the tech partnerships helping propel those stories, as well as other partnerships and collaboration between brands, agencies, content producers, startups and publishers. That’s the very premise on which we’re holding Valleywood.
Do you feel the content creating world is changing in MENA?
Yes, and this is driven by the maturing of the content market. It started out a few years ago with small groups of people making cool stuff to watch, and that have now evolved into proper content producers – and into fully-fledged entertainment companies, in some cases. If you look at the likes of Sa7i, Telfaz11 and UTURN, they have become increasingly structured in their content production by working with agencies and clients to create world-class work. And now, they are also tapping into tech tools that will hone this content structure. It is a very interesting success model to explore in our business.
Could you tell us more about who we can expect to see at Valleywood Dubai 2015?
You should expect to see a diversified lineup of international and regional players in the entertainment, content creation, entrepreneurship, tech and publishing industries. The likes of Google, Facebook, Vice, Fremantle Media, UTurn Entertainment and Endemol will be taking part.
What can we expect to take away from Valleywood Dubai2015?
We want attendees to leave with a look into the future of content and technology and to be inspired by what they have seen. They will draw on the expertise and learnings of industry veterans, experts and emerging talents who are creating and scaling content that is personal and relevant to people. We also hope that Valleywood starts a broader conversation around content and tech.