At AIGA’s Gain Conference, Tough Crowd for ‘Girl-Approved Design Methodology’

AIGA gain.jpgLast Thursday, AIGA kicked off its hugely popular Gain Conference in New York City. Moderated by IDEO’s Tom Kelley and with a speaker line-up that included Brian Collins and Malcolm Gladwell, the three-day event emphasized “innovative approaches to generating greater return on investment, fostering emotional connections, and providing positive brand experiences for customers.” Fostering connections and promoting positivity proved difficult for one speaker, reports Benjamin Kessler of Graphics.com. In a presentation entitled “Girl Market Relevancy. Rethinking Creativity,” Heidi Dangelmaier, founder of all-girls marketing firm 3iying, aimed to convey new ways to “achieve deep emotional connections with the consumer.”

The 3iying team claimed that design professionals can sometimes settle into an “I Am God” mentality, according to which design skills alone are enough to create a genuine connection with an audience. Dangelmaier’s view, however, is that “there are some things you just can’t fake.” Without the ability actually to see the world through another person’s (in this case, a young woman’s) eyes, all the technique and hard work in the world won’t help you get through.

During the talk, I sensed some resistance to 3iying, even a slow-building resentment of their message among some conference attendees. There were at least a handful of walkouts before the Q&A session, and a pointed silence greeted 3iying’s joking description of their simultaneous collaborations with brands and agencies as “threesomes.” Later in the day, Stephen Doyle of Doyle Partners injected an out-of-nowhere 3iying putdown into a talk about designing for Martha Stewart Living, saying, “I have one thing to say to 3iying: ‘Like, oh my God.'”

“I could have made them laugh for an hour, but my talk was about business,” Dangelmeier told Kessler yesterday. “I think biases got in the way. Maybe they didn’t want business from a girl.” You haven’t heard the last of 3iying. The company’s sassy-bordering-on-obnoxious website promises “More Cool Sh*t Coming Soon!”