News & Views

Cannes Lions / Thursday’s Highlights

by Contagious Team

Another action-packed, sun-soaked, rosé-fuelled day has come to a close in Cannes. Contagious is here all week, bringing you the insights from a day of key seminars in the Palais. Here are the best bits from the day, whittled down into a more digestible format.



Saatchi & Saatchi: New Director’s Showcase /

Things kicked off in the Grand Audi with the ever-popular Saatchi & Saatchi New Director's Showcase, in which several hundred of the world’s hottest young film makers are whittled down to just a handful by Saatchi’s worldwide creative board each year. Highlights for this year included London-based Josh Cole and his frenetically compelling portrayal of Manilla street kids in the music video for UK drum ‘n bass act Rudimental’s Not Giving InEd Morris’ haunting #dontretaliate promo for anti-online bullying charity, Cybersmile, and Tripp Crosby (one half of YouTube sketch comedy duo, Tripp and Tyler), whose massively viral A Conference Call in Real Life both delighted and depressed the assembled audience in equal measures.


Unilever: #BrightFuture / Unilever chief marketing officer, Keith Weed

With the marketing world changing so rapidly, Unilever’s CMO Keith Weed offered up three areas that he thinks are vital for the industry to address.

Firstly, Weed believes that mobile, social and data will effect change as dramatic as the introduction of the internet itself. This new wave has created an incredibly complex and fragmented landscape, with numerous channels for marketers to exploit. However, it can be very hard to hit the right note.

One campaign that showed the potential of social, data and mobile is All Things Hair: a content-based campaign that harnessed the power of Big Data to drive purchase choices. Realising that there were 7 billion online searches for ‘hair’ every year, Unilever and its agency Razorfish partnered with Google and created a YouTube channel of instructional videos. Google used data to predict future trends for hair, and Unilever then partnered with leading bloggers to create content based on this information. When customers visited the site, they could click through and purchase Unilever haircare products. ‘This isn’t Big Data,’ said Weed, ‘it’s big insights.’

Second, Weed pointed to the need to unlock creative talent within the industry. ‘There’s never been such a premium on creativity,’ he said, because creativity is the key to break through a noise market and stand out. Unilever’s Foundry was created to connect creative startups and brands together. Partners are given a $50,000 grant to pilot an idea, which Unilever then uses to determine whether it can scale. There’s a few examples of experiments on the Foundry’s website, here.

Thirdly, Weed talked about the importance of scale: the ability brands now have to connect huge numbers of people around the world. ‘We are going beyond the idea of purpose at Unilever. We are mobilizing people at scale,' he said. Weed used Project Sunlight, part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, to highlight this point. 


Weed also mentioned that it took 12 specialist companies to bring Project Sunlight to life, and pointed out that there was a huge task in orchestrating these different agencies. He said that the industry needs to have communications professionals who can connect these specialists, so that they can deliver a holistic solution for the brand, not just for mobile or social or press etc.

If the industry can get its head around these three things, says Weed, then brands will start to market for people, not at them.

Ogilvy & Mather: Cosmic Quandaries and Creativity /

Arguably the most anticipated speaker in the Grand Audi was astrophysicist, author and general promoter of science, Neil deGrasse Tyson. He was brought in by Ogilvy & Mather for the network’s seminar: Cosmic Quandaries and Creativity. Undoubtedly an engaging speaker (why has no one else ever pranked the sound guys by mouthing silently into their mic to start things off?),Tyson’s talk nonetheless felt a little retrofitted for Cannes. 

Talking broadly about the importance of using creativity to solve problems (and in doing so, change or advance the world), Tyson sought to draw comparisons between the world of science and the creative industries, emphasizing the importance of taking risks and claiming that ‘if you stop making mistakes, you are no longer on the frontier’. 

Direct learnings for advertisers were thin on the ground, but even so Tyson qualified his various arguments with compelling insights that clearly appeased the audience. These included an explanation of how a country’s national identity or cultural values are reflected in their scientific achievements. He cited the UK’s discovery of the ‘noble’ gases – inert elements that refuse to interact with others – as a clear sign of how that country’s ‘class system had ended up on the periodic table’, and showed how those discovered by the US were clearly biased towards weaponisation and the physics of war.

Remarking on how scientific problem solving as a preserve had shifted across different races and cultures over the millennia, Tyson finished by musing on what the future would look like and who might be shaping it. In a thinly-veiled shout-out to his native US, he posited the theory that those countries where it is more acceptable to question your elders and rebel against tradition, might prove to be the more scientifically and creatively bold…we’ll just have to wait until the 2050 Cannes Lions to find out we suppose.



Dentsu: The Augmented Human /

Proving that the Cannes Lions seminars are nothing if not varied, Japanese ad giant Dentsu Inc. eschewed the opportunity to talk about advertising and instead opted to address a specific area of technological development clearly close to its heart – Augmented Sports. 

Senior Creative Director Yasuharu Sasaki began by explaining (quite refreshingly) that ‘our world and our business is changing so we can’t stay in our comfort zone of advertising anymore’. He then introduced on stage Sony Computer Science Lab's Professor Jun Rekimoto – one of the founding fathers of augmented reality. Rekimoto gave a potted history of interface design, claiming that the next significant frontier in his field is the direct augmentation of (human) physical ability – singling out sport as the one thing ripe to be transformed.

According to Rekimoto, there are three aspects of sport that could be reimagined by augmenting technologies: playing, training and watching. He proceeded to show demos of various technologies his team had been developing for each, including a live demonstration of a drone-powered football that he claimed could address discrepancies in sport caused by disabilities or age and general ability. To show off the most complete (and impressive) example, however, he introduced Yuki Ota – an Olympic fencer who claimed a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ota explained how fencing lacks popularity and recognition because people can’t understand it; the speed of a match makes it nearly impossible to understand who is scoring and how. To address this, Rekimoto and his team combined a series of sophisticated technologies that are capable of tracking a fencer’s movements in real time and visualizing the results for viewers. The most useful of these – a system which uses a marker on the end of the sword to ‘paint’ streams of light showing the fencer’s various cuts and parries – was even demoed live on stage, with assembled Dentsu boffins pointing bits of expensive kit at Ota as he stamped and thrust his way across the stage.

The ultimate goal of augmented sports, explained Yasuhara in his conclusion, is to create truly immersive experiences that are grounded in good ol’ fashioned emotion: ‘ The key is using technology not for efficiency, but to create emotion to move people’.



The Debussy auditorium was taken over by a sea of green and yellow today, as Cannes Lions hosted an entire day championing the creative work and culture of Brazilian agencies. Here are some of the key takeouts from the seminars:

Social@Ogilvy told the audience that social media habits are divided in Brazil. Young people use Twitter, Facebook and the like for ‘fun’, whereas older consumers veer more towards informational content. The team at Ogilvy used Hellmann’s ReciTweet’s as an example of capitalising on this thirst for informational content.

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) used their seminar to highlight the importance of smartphones in Brazilian marketing. Smartphones are no longer the reserve of the Brazilian upper classes, with 41% of Brazil’s Class C owning one. This compares to only 5% in 2011. Greg Stuart, CEO of the MMA, reminded people that mobile marketing is very personal: ‘nothing gets you closer to consumer than mobile.’ 

In thenetworkone: Spirit of Brazilian Creativity seminar, Julian Boulding, CEO of thenetworkone, called for more Brazilian independent agencies. There are only three independent agencies in the country’s top 20 list, and Boulding believes that a new generation of indies is required to drive modern Brazilian creativity. Boulding made the point that, even though Brazil has won 65 Lions from 2011 to 2013, these have mainly been in more traditional categories, such as press and outdoor, rather than Titanium or Cyber.

Finally, in DM9 DDB’s seminar, the agency explored the entrepreneurial drive of the nation. Brazilians are very good at finding alternative ways of doing, fixing or creating. This tends to be the case in all poor countries, but in Brazil, a country with a real entrepreneurial drive, this creative way of addressing problems isn’t driven by necessity, it’s driven by opportunity. Laura Chiavone, strategic planning vice president at DM9 DDB, also used San Pedro Valley – Brazil’s equivalent to Silicon Valley, with 200 startups, incubators and accelerators – as an example of the culture of entrepreneurship and invention.