This week, leading lawyers, regulators and marketers attended the 37th Annual Brand Activation Association (BAA) Marketing Law Conference in Chicago. At BAA I gave a presentation on how disruption is permeating advertising, media, and marketing today. Over the next few days, I will share with you three video clips from my presentation. Let’s dive into the first one…

The lines between advertising agencies, digital agencies and even product development shops are blurring.  We are seeing the rise of “brand activation agencies” that use shopper technologies, experiential marketing and targeted promotions to create products and foster consumer engagements.  Just like the four innovators in the video, marketers and agencies are becoming agents of disruption.  These companies are changing the way we travel, invest, pay, read, book appointments, and more – while upending a currently existing sector.

Why is this happening now? Disruption is being driven forward by two important trends – digital interconnectivity and the millennial generation.  This generation is tech-savvy, adventurous and socially conscious.  They seek to commit to causes with minimal effort; they seek convenience, preferring to rent, not own. Brands are tapping into that audience by aligning themselves with causes that are relevant, incorporating causes as a foundational element of their core business models, and actively using technologies to tailor, target and push their causes.  Now, retailers can deliver tailored information about products with a cause right to consumers’ smartphones.

What does this mean for lawyers in today’s disruptive world?  Don’t forget that this is a heavily regulated area, especially where cause-related marketing tactics such as environmental campaigns are concerned.  Think about the FTC framework; think about the USDA; think about automatic renewal and negative option statutes; and most importantly – remember that marketers should not overpromise. This is an area fraught with consumer class actions and regulatory enforcement actions – think about the issues on the state and local level as well as the federal.  To effectively counsel brands in this disruptive world, lawyers need to stay on top of the evolving legal landscape as well as the technologies the laws are intended to regulate.