One of the things I miss professionally about home is the high standard of industry events and speakers. There is always something on to keep your brain stimulated and generally challenge the industry’s often institutionalised way of doing things.

Now I’ve been in Australia three years, so I think I can say this, but I’ve generally been underwhelmed with most conferences. No offence, but it’s the same people, talking about the past, or passing off creds as thought pieces.

So last week wasn’t just an improvement, it was a huge success thanks to The Communications Council. The first ‘Circus – Festival of commercial creativity’ was actually worth the money thanks to an awesome bunch of speakers.

So here were my highlights in no particular order.

Rob Campbell of W+K was both refreshingly honest and inspirational. If clients and agencies follow his call to arms, I think the industry will be in a good spot. Here’s his presentation, but without the F-bombs and candor it doesn’t quite have the same impact.

Despite the ironic tech issues (Prezzi is cool, but not that practical) Marvin Chow of Google gave a good insight into how the organisation approaches marketing. As an engineering company the cliché of creativity coming from anywhere actually seems to be true thanks to process and beliefs. Substantiated by the fact that the ‘Life in a Day’ project came from the mind of marketing co-coordinator in London and not a highly awarded Creative Director and advertising agency.

Jess Greenwood of Contagious not only had nice feet, she took us through some of the themes that are bubbling around the world of marketing -I particularly loved her statement that ‘everything is advertising’. Never a truer word said.

Agnello Dias was very humble talking about his work with The Times of India. Whilst I think he was a bit modest putting it down to luck, Dias demonstrated how agencies can lead the agenda for brands.

Josh Spear and Jeffery Cole were also fantastic. It’s great to see people talk about digital with some rigor and genuine insights. The whole concept of behaviour changing due to technology is fascinating and probably widely underestimated by people still concentrating on pumping out ads.

Charles Wigley was also great talking about the biggest problem in our industry – The marketing wind tunnel. The reason most advertising these days is either ineffective or homogenous is because of the process we all go through is essentially the same and unenlightening. You can read it here.

All up a great few days and I can’t wait for next year.