NEW YORK — The best marketing ideas should make companies feel uncomfortable, particularly if they hope to spur concrete consumer action, heard delegates at the Holmes Report's inaugural In2 Innovation Summit in New York today.

During a session focused on 'why actions work better than advertisements', moderated by Olson Engage EVP Tricia Ewald, McDonald's manager of brand engagement communications Emily Lyons pointed out that "ideas that make everyone feel a little uncomfortable...are the best ideas."

Lyons said that it was this kind of thinking that helped McDonald's two of its more successful recent campaigns, one for the 'Frork', and one for McDonald's special sauce. 

"Marketing is what a brand wants to say to customers and communications is what your customers say about you," said Lyons. "And you have to earn that."

Finding those ideas, meanwhile, requires both a collaborative spirit and an element of trust, added Lee Andrews, VP of corporate affairs at Mars Wrigley Confectionary.

"It’s about trust — I don’t think it matters where the ideas come from," said Andrews of Skittles famous Super Bowl 'ad for one'.

"It’s about recognising that the ideas will come from different places," continued Andrews, referring to the challenge of winning over internal sceptics. "As long as you have influence and a seat at the table, people are willing to listen."

Minnesota Wild VP of brand marketing and communications John Maher agreed, pointing out his team's successful recent campaign owed much to collaboration beyond the marketing group across the entire company, especially when it comes to finding out customer feedback.

"This kind of creativity seems to me to be much more collaborative," said Holmes Report chair Paul Holmes. "I think it’s shifted the notion of what creativity is and where it comes from.

"Reach without engagement is pretty empty," added Holmes. "What we see is a complete reversal in this realm. Let’s come up with a really great idea to engage people and take action and use advertising to amplify it. The core concept has to be action driven — I would say all of these campaigns are PR driven."