News & Views

Cannes Lions / Wednesday Seminar Debrief

by Contagious Team


Rounding up Wednesday's action on stage at the Palais

LinkedIn: The Next Big Challenge: Creativity in social media 

Razorfish global CEO Bob Lord joined LinkedIn chief executive Jeff Weiner and Elyssa GreyCiti's head of creative and media North America, to talk about the rise and future evolution of content marketing this afternoon in Cannes. 

Weiner outlined the importance of content to LinkedIn, which he said is continuing to invest aggressively in the space, as evidenced by acquisitions like newsreader Pulse. 'Content marketing is the next chapter in our marketing solutions,' he said, citing influencer posts, managed groups (like Citi's Chief Household Officer), and sponsored updates as examples. Stories, he added, are just the first part of the story as brands move into services and utility. 'There will be an evolution of social beyond Likes into commercial gestures. That will enable people to buy and get more information.' 

Time Warner: What Connects in Comedy 

Comedy writer and presenter extraordinaire Conan O'Brien blew away the Wednesday morning cobwebs in the Grand Audi with some deliberately provocative statements: 'Advertisers are scum - they need to be told what to do and when to do it... but there are none here I am told.' CNN anchor Anderson Cooper had a tough time keeping an exuberant O'Brien on-point (and in his chair), but when sitting, he delivered some useful tips for brands looking to integrate themselves and their products into online comedy content, like the clips available on his Team Coco website: 

Hands off / 'Sometimes advertisers just get it - they are hands-off and let me do my thing... I always saying to them, "If it works for us then it's going to work for your product."' 

Be authentic / 'If you chip away at the audience or back away from the value just to make something more profitable, it suffers. People have to not just feel the content is authentic, but actually know it is.' 

Involve the audience / 'We now have the opportunity to reach out and create a partnership with the audience. There is a lot of creativity out there and if you get people involved, they'll be engaged with your content like never before.' 

The Guardian: From Soho to Sunset Boulevard: Sir Alan Parker in conversation with Alan Rusbridger 

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger was in fact not at Cannes to speak to legendary film director and former ad man Alan Parker, since he was occupied with managing the paper's coverage of computer analyst Edward Snowden's NSA whistleblowing affair, but he handed the honour over to BBC TV journalist Kirsty Wark

Parker, who is behind such classic films as Bugsy Malone and Fame, recounted his background in advertising. Speaking of the difference between feature-length films and 60-second ads, he said that in a spot 'every tiny moment matters'. 'In 60 seconds you have get their interest and, ultimately, sell the product. Sometimes we forget about that last bit.' 

When he transitioned into feature films, he was berated as a 'rubbish director' because all serious critics felt that filmmakers, like himself and Ridley Scott, could not be legitimate directors if they started making commercials. He recounted how the Financial Times critic said of him: 'Alan Parker comes from advertising, which gives you an easy stick to beat him with.' Parker explained: 'We were thought to be rather vulgar because we were selling a product.' 

Unilever: Unilever's Secret of Eternal Youth: 30 Years of AXE 

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, entertained the Cannes crowds with a healthy dose of sexual innuendo in the form of Axe advertising. Weed showcased some of the best campaigns from the deodorant brand's 30 year history, courtesy of agencies BBHPonce Buenos Aires, and Lowe. Axe (also known as Lynx) has won 42 Lions prior to this year. In the UK 60% of 12 to 16-year-old guys use the antiperspirant. 

Weed explained that the brand's success is due to its marketing being culturally iconic, courageously creative, and connected everywhere. He detailed how the brand has adapted its marketing to reflect the changes in youth attitudes and cultural waves, such as 90s lad culture. He also explained how YouTube allows the brand to take creative risks that wouldn't have necessarily been possible on TV: 'While some ideas are good at engaging young guys, they're not as good at engaging the boardroom. That's why we have the internet.' 

RGA and MasterCard: The Next Creative Revolution 

In The Next Creative Revolution, Alfredo Gangotena, chief marketing officer, MasterCard Worldwide and Nick Law, global CCO, RGA, began looking at new media by tracking old. 

Law traced the history of the ad from Gutenberg to descriptive early ads to entertainment and the creative revolution of the sixties.'What Bernbach realized was copywriters couldn't solve all his problems,' Law said, and our modern creative ideology was developed. It fit with the times. 'That made sense because this media had a certain characteristic; it was top-down messaging,' Law said. 'That has defined the language of advertising.' Now, Law surmises, we live in the era of participation, with elements of communications bubbling up. 

The challenge for MasterCard, in this environment, is bringing the "Priceless" messaging from a top-down communications architecture to relevance in the new bottom-influenced culture. 'People tend to spend 80% of their money within 14 miles of their home,' Gangotena said, an observation that led to MasterCard trying to create priceless moments for people in cities. 'We created around the world different experiences with different passions, like the Yankees in New York and music.' The music component includes a sponsorship of world tours from the likes of Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé. This moves forward to intent, using customer data to figure out what customers want. 'The era of earning an audience is on us now.' 

Twitter: The Social Soundtrack 

Later, Deb Roy, Twitter's chief media scientist, talked about television and social media combining to create a hybrid form of communications in a presentation called TV x Twitter. 'As this audience-driven dynamic starts to gain scale, Twitter's turning into a synchronized social soundtrack people can contribute to and follow along as they watch TV,' Roy said. 

Goodby Silverstein & Partners: When Advertising Grows Up 

'We've got to lose the muscle memory of seeing every business problem as something that can be solved with an ad,' Gareth Kay, chief strategy officer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, said during a seminar on how the advertising industry should transform itself. Arguing that the industry was losing relevance and struggling to attract talent, Kay said: 'We need to stop being advertising people and become hackers.' He suggested that one way to reinvigorate the ad agency was to recruit non-ad people. 

Paul Bennett, chief creative officer of IDEO, detailed his company's move from 'making' things to building the 'spaces for influence'. Speaking of the power of no, he said: 'You're as identified by the things you haven't done as the things you have these days.' 

Translation: Culture as a Creative Catalyst 

Steve Stoute of New York-based creative agency Translation provided a predictably grandiose introduction to his guest, Sean 'Diddy' Combs, who was in Cannes to share his experiences of translating hip hop culture into his various entrepreneurial endeavours, from Ciroc vodka to his clothing line, Sean John

Combs was most keen, however, to talk about the launch of Revolt - his new cable TV music channel that he claims will provide everything currently lacking from the likes of MTV etc. This includes a properly journalistic approach to covering music, supporting new emerging artists, and championing of their culture(s). 'It was devastating to the art form when [MTV] stopped playing music...What we want to do with Revolt is just be true to the movement of music.'