OMR Festival

OMR 2024 looking for customers in left field

6 May 2024
Success can be simple and inexpensive, if you know all the latest marketing hacks - an interview with Philipp Westermeyer and Isabelle Gardt, Managers of OMR

The Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) festival 2024 gets underway from May 7-8, 2024 and will plunge the entire city into a frenzy. Visitor numbers are expected to top the 70,000 who flocked to Hamburg's exhibition halls for Europe's largest digital festival last year. In an interview with Hamburg News, Philipp Westermeyer and Isabelle Gardt, part of OMR’s management, reveal all the latest digital trends. Westermeyer also tells Hamburg News what he would like to do, if he were not Managing Director of OMR.

Hamburg News: You are offering the first dedicated space for non-profit organisations and stints on the Conference Stage OMR24 for Impact this year. The topic is not new. What led to this event?

Gardt: We want to make the festival more sustainable, but that does not happen overnight. We've had a sustainability manager for two years now. “Vegan first” is our priority. The travel concept is sustainable and prioritises train travel, a reusable concept and keynotes on the stage and in masterclasses. OMR24 for Impact is a new idea. Fourteen out of 88 NPOs that applied have received a free stand and access to the network including Correctiv, Hanseatic Help and Score 4 Impact. (Click here for our preview of OMR.)

Hamburg News: Philipp, your keynote on day two focuses on the "State of the German Internet" and is eagerly awaited. What will it be about this year?

Westermeyer: We'll be giving tips on AI again and about winners, losers, lessons and another trend called "left field". It's American slang for the unexpected or ideas that come out of the blue, away from big obvious things. If you can't be at the Super Bowl, how do you achieve a similar effect? Obviously, everyone wants to experiment with Tim Mälzer in the cookery area or Pamela Reif in the gymn. Left field is about finding surprising niches. Take for instance, the star chef gio1neun, who cooks in a backyard Berlin. He prepares his steaks on upturned shopping trolleys and at the highest level, which is pretty unusual and zany. New stars or quirky people frequently have a huge reach. Marketing is a question of time slots and being fast.

Hamburg News: In your opinion, what is the most surprising trend or innovation?

Westermeyer: I don't see one huge trend, but rather many small, original ideas and developments. Tiktok, e.g., is being used more as a search engine nowadays. Companies have to be found, so you need Tiktok SEO. But you don't have to be a choreographer.

Gardt: It's important to understand that Tiktok's target group is very young. We can find our crew helpers there, for instance, but Tiktok is not our main channel for targeting companies and partners.

Hamburg News: You have yet another impressive line-up with stars, pop icons and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian, influencers Mrs Bella and Dagi Bee, football star Bastian Schweinsteiger. But also experts like Kara Swisher, Matt Navarra and Rick Rubin. What characterises your speakers?

Gardt: We look at who and what is relevant in the digital and marketing industry at the moment. We look for experts, influencers and people who have a wide reach, but also podcasters and decision-makers in politics and commerce from whom our visitors can learn something.

Hamburg News: Isabelle, you are the initiator of the OMR 50:50 Stage on diversity and equality. Where is Germany on a scale of 1 to 10?

Gardt: The development is good, but there is still a lot to do. So, I would say, Germany is more like 5. The challenge is to reach people outside the bubble and that’s what we want to do during OMR.

Preparations OMR24

Hamburg News: Last year, we at Hamburg Invest featured in the Startup Area with Startup City Hamburg. Why is there no designated area for start-ups this year although many are expected?

Isabelle: That's right, instead of a designated area, start-ups can be found in all of the exhibition halls. And we have the area for NPOs.

Hamburg News: Philipp, you're handing over the baton to Isabelle. I hear you would like to take time off. What's going on?

Westermeyer: There are four of us in the OMR management team. Isabelle has been on board for a while now and is now taking on more of a communications role, which we want to strengthen. But that does not mean that I want to stop or never come back. Of course, sometimes you ask yourself what you want to do with your life. If I'm not careful, I'll be doing this for the next 30 years. That's cool, but why not try out something different for a few months? That will be difficult, but I can't apply for a job anywhere.

Hamburg News: Why not? What would you like to do?

Philipp: I would like to work as a documentary filmmaker. We at OMR are currently setting up a department called OMR Originals. I have already produced three films. I would like to expand that.

Hamburg News: More than 70,000 visitors came last year. What is the current situation and do you want to grow further and, if so, where?

Westermeyer: I expect the numbers to remain stable. However, we have adjusted our ticket structure, which makes it difficult to forecast this year's figures. Whether we grow in 2025 is not up to us alone. Even though we have already enquired about additional space in the Congress Centre Hamburg (CCH), we are in talks with the city and official bodies to see what they think makes sense. But first we have to deliver this year.

Hamburg News: Thank you very much for the exciting interview. Good luck!

Interview by Karolin Köcher.

Sources and further information

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