Reimagined Rakuten Optimism US Fuels Meaningful Connections and Positive Vibes

Rakuten Optimism made a successful return to the U.S. after a five-year hiatus, debuting a dynamic new format and feel. Held during the last week of May in sunny, Carlsbad, CA, the flagship event brought together nearly 1,000 marketing leaders and professionals under the theme “Fueling Meaningful Connections.”

Rakuten Optimism returned to the U.S. after five years.
Rakuten Optimism returned to the U.S. after a five year hiatus.

Organizers of this year’s Optimism boldly reimagined Rakuten Advertising’s influential Dealmaker event by expanding the audience to include retail clients, agencies and brand partners from Rakuten Rewards in addition to its core audience of advertisers and publishers. The result was an enhanced conference experience with deeper networking opportunities and impactful content that addressed the attendees’ most pressing business needs.

The event offered deeper networking opportunities for attendees this year.
The event offered deeper networking opportunities for attendees this year.

Rewarding experiences and content

The connections began the moment guests arrived. Upon registration, each attendee received a wristband linked to a series of Rewarding Experiences offered throughout the three-day event. Attendees earned points for participation in various activities along with chances to win prizes with their progress tracked in the Rakuten Optimism app. The app also helped them navigate the daily schedule of presentations and wellness events, such as yoga and pickleball, and arrange client meetings in one of many connection rooms or outdoor spaces.

Experts discussed how to connect with the world’s most powerful consumer market.
At Rakuten Optimism US, experts discussed how to connect with the world’s most powerful consumer market.

The Optimism agenda was filled with insightful panel discussions that dove into some of the most significant trends and advancements in affiliate marketing and e-commerce. Topics ranged from integrating card-linked offers and diverse partners into performance marketing to harnessing the power of micro-influencers. Consumer trends in travel and data-driven, full-funnel performance strategies were also explored.

Session Discussions

  • Innovate, Connect, and Reward with AI
  • The Rise of Parasocial Relationships
  • Winning Her Business: Connect with the World’s Most Powerful Consumer Market
  • Fueling Virality: Unlocking the Potential of Rising Creators
  • World Class Affiliate: A True Global Approach to Affiliate Marketing
A Conversation with Jason Sudeikis - Interviewed by Monica Padman.
A Conversation with Jason Sudeikis – Interviewed by Monica Padman.

Main stage star power

Jason Sudeikis, star of the popular TV series “Ted Lasso,” proved to be a perfect choice as the headline speaker. The Emmy award-winning actor, comedian, producer and writer drew a standing-room-only crowd to hear him share his creative process of building human connections through storytelling.

B2H: Business to Human Marketing featuring Omar Johnson.
B2H: Business to Human Marketing featuring Omar Johnson.

Omar Johnson, the marketing genius behind Beats by Dre, captivated the audience with his insights on the importance of a human-centric approach to building a brand’s authentic sense of purpose. And Rakuten International CEO Amit Patel also took the main stage in front of a full house where he announced the upcoming launch of Rakuten+, the expansion of Rakuten into the UK, and emphasized the value of forums like Optimism for building critical industry connections and sharing insightful and inspiring ideas.

Amit Patel, CEO of Rakuten International, announces the upcoming launch of Rakuten+ in the UK.
Amit Patel, CEO of Rakuten International, announced the upcoming launch of Rakuten+ in the UK.

“When you leave here, you’ll feel like you’ve fueled meaningful connections with the people in this room,” Patel told the crowd. “And taken away lessons learned and ideas and inspiration about how you can fuel meaningful connections with your audience.”

Keynote Sessions

  • B2H: Business to Human Marketing – Omar Johnson, ØPUS United
  • Executive Remarks – Amit Patel, Rakuten International CEO
  • A Conversation with Jason Sudeikis – Jason Sudeikis, interviewed by Monica Padman
The Golden Link Awards winners.
The Golden Link Awards winners.

Celebration and recognition

Evenings were reserved for celebration and fun. The Golden Link Awards, hosted by comedian Preacher Lawson, recognized the successes of partners within the Rakuten Advertising Network. Golden Hour and After Glow parties offered food, drink, a photo booth, live Taiko drummers, a DJ and an electric atmosphere to forge new business relationships.

Guests enjoyed some fun and competition at the pickleball tournament.
Guests enjoyed some fun and competition at the pickleball tournament.

Rakuten Optimism received a notable number of positive responses from attendees in the event’s post-event survey, solidifying a successful return to the U.S. in what the company aims to be a premier marketing event in the region.

Planning for Rakuten Optimism 2025 is already underway.

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