VMC - back with a bang for the 10th anniversary

Dominic Bernard
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The BPIF’s Visual Media Conference (VMC) event returns to Leeds’ Rose Bowl on 4 April 2023, for the first time in three years.

Industry insight: VMC features a packed conference programme
Industry insight: VMC features a packed conference programme

The one-day event, which is intended to provide a vivid insight into marketing communications, will showcase the place of print and packaging in the visual media landscape, and will feature a range of high-profile speakers from brands such as Kellogg’s, Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate and Lexus.

The event is organised by Creative Digital Industries (CDI), a BPIF special interest group, and itis free to attend, although those wishing to attend will need to register as places are limited.

Robert McClements, president of CDI and curator of the event, says the organisaing team had decided to return to an entirely in-person format for the conference’s 10th anniversary, after a virtual event in 2021 and a fallow year in 2022.

“The three day virtual event was a great success, with international reach to an audience of 650, including one person in Mongolia,” he says, “but it was a broadcast and felt like one-way traffic.

“The richness of real life was missing; we took soundings, and there was a resounding agreement to go live in 2023.”

No event was held in 2022, as organisers held a summit in September 2022 to decide the future shape of the VMC.

“We wanted to take stock of the appetite for real events, and be certain we understood the industry’s future priorities,” McClements says.

The summit settled on this year’s themes of innovation, creativity and sustainability within the visual media industry, and the key role of culture in all three.

McClements says the event’s emphasis is on practical solutions for the themes of the conference: innovation from printing to the metaverse; creativity in design and successful business methods; and sustainability for the environment from companies that are themselves sustainable.

“Since the summit, we have been rising to the challenge to find the best informed speakers who would bring real value to the debate, with experience, case studies, and a mixture of education and entertainment,” says McClements.

Securing Tony’s Chocolonely to speak about its culture, marketing methods and vision of ensuring entirely “slave-free’ chocolate production, McClements adds, the organising team knew it had gauged the themes correctly.

BPIF CEO Charles Jarrold adds: “The theme this year is so relevant to our industry as we focus on sustainability through innovation. The conference continues to create opportunities to share learning with outstanding speakers whose experience and knowledge provide invaluable insights.” 

The 2023 event will be held in association with headline sponsor Drupa. Print industry speakers include Sabine Geldermann, Drupa director and global head of print technologies at Messe Düsseldorf, Charles Jarrold, chief executive of the BPIF, Jonathan Tame, managing director of paper advocacy group Two Sides, and Beatrice Klose, secretary general of Intergraf, alongside a long list of business leaders from companies such as Communisis and Precision Proco.

VMC’s return to Leeds comes during the city’s ‘Year of Culture’ celebration, which McClements said was a welcome bit of serendipity considering that 2017’s VMC event had helped the city launch its bid to be a European city of culture.

Brexit notwithstanding, the city decided to hold its own Year of Culture celebration, chiming with 2023’s VMC theme of culture, McClements says.

Keynote speaker and Kellogg’s vice-president and general manager UK and Ireland, Chris Silcock’s session, for example, will be called ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’; Communisis’ director of responsible business, Ricky Alfred, likewise, will speak on the power of culture in purpose-led organisations.

The event will be kicked off with a welcome by Sir Roger Marsh, chair of NP11, the business-led voice for the North that brings together the 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) from across the north of England. Marsh will highlight how the creative and digital industries can play a significant role in strategically transforming the North’s economy. In addition to keynotes sessions expect insightful panel discussions featuring international experts and fully immersive demonstrations.

The event will have a capacity of 300 guests, McClements says, adding that spaces are likely to go quickly and that anyone wanting to attend should register now. 


09.00 Registration and coffee in the exhibition area

09.40 WelcomeRobert McClements, President CDI and curator of VMC

09.45 Opening remarks - The View from the Bridge

Sir Roger Marsh, chair of NP11, provides a unique insight to the meeting point of business and government, setting the scene for the conference – the importance of its debate and exchange of ideas in an industry that has a vital role to play in future economic success. 

09.55 Keynote: How mission-led firms are taking the lead

Hannah Groom, direct sales manager, Tony’s Chocolonely

Tony’s Chocolonely is one of the fastest-growing brands in chocolate. Find out how it does that with effective marketing while paying fairly throughout the cocoa value chain.

10.25 Intergraf International panel – Print’s place in digital communications

Chair: Gareth Ward, editor and publisher, Print Business

Panellists: Sabine Geldermann, director, Drupa; Charles Jarrold, CEO BPIF; Beatrice Klose, secretary general of Intergraf

11.00 Coffee and networking break

11.30 Keynote: Making a difference while making a profit – the business end of responsible business

Ricky Alfred, Director of Responsible Business, Communisis

Corporate responsibility, in its many forms, is evolving into organisations wanting to unify their colleagues around a central purpose that goes beyond making a profit. 

12.00 True innovation – online, offline and in beautiful design

Paul Wolstenholme, regional marketing manager, Lexus

How Lexus has succeeded in its journey from the ‘relentless pursuit of perfection’ to the fifth-generation Lexus RX. The culture of the organisation in the pursuit of excellence in all aspects from the design and development of beautiful cars to the all-encompassing customer experience. 

Alistair Maclean-Clark, CEO, Prox & Reverie

Where worlds collide and the metaverse meets reality. Creators of Chanel’s virtual world. Don’t miss the chance of a full headset experience in the exhibition area.

Ajaz Ahmed, chairman, Quba

Chief provocateur at Cut the Cr*p. Ajaz is the entrepreneur who founded Freeserve, the UK’s first billion-pound internet business.

12.45 Lunch break

14.00 Embracing technology to lead the way forward

Ayelet Szabo-Melamed, vice-president of marketing, XMPie

Case studies to demonstrate multichannel and VDP Marketing Software that creates serious opportunities for business growth and efficiency. The smartest multichannel marketing technology to reach an audience with personalised, relevant communications across print and digital media

14.30 How to attract and retain the best creative talent in today’s world

Julia Cole, strategic marketing consultant 

Dr Oliver Bray, director of arts, Leeds School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University

Zak Lebetkin, graphic designer and creator of VMC23 branding 

Meeka Walwyn-Lewis, head of membership, BPIF

15.00 Keynote: Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat 

John Barnes, director and serial entrepreneur, Rockfish

Inspirational insight into how businesses and businesspeople have thrived by exploiting previously insurmountable ‘opportunities’ and how we can profit from their experiences.

15.30 Panel Session: Sustainability - Buzzwords & BS 

Why the truth matters when it to comes to sustainability. 

Challenging misconceptions and providing a reality check. Facts, figures and insight into how to manage your brand to help customers make informed decisions.

Chair: Darryl Danielli, editor and publisher, Printweek 

Panellists: Barnaby Patchett, managing director, One Nine Nine agency, Ryan McSorley, co-founder, NEAT, Jonathan Tame, managing director, Two Sides 

16.00 Keynote: Kellogg’s – Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Chris Silcock, vice-president and general manager, UK and Ireland

As the world becomes more digital, as consumer needs evolve and as shopper behaviour changes, Chris will discuss how driving the right culture enables companies like Kellogg’s to stay at the top of their game.

16.30 Close of conference

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