News & Views

Cannes Lions / Friday Seminar Debrief

by Contagious Team

A rundown of key points from Friday's Cannes Lions seminars

TBWA: Legends: a million stories

Veteran art directors George Lois and Lee Clow woke up a sleep-deprived palais audience with a feisty Q+A hosted by Michael Wolff, a columnist at USA Today. Having created brand-defining campaigns for (I want my) MTV and Apple, Clow and Lois both represent a clarity of vision and steely determination to preserve the integrity of their ideas.

Brands today need a clear sense of who they are and what they believe, and everything they do - across every single touchpoint - has to reflect that. With so many tools and touchpoints at their disposal, many brands struggle to put forward a coherent, cohesive identity.

Both men emphasized that the most important thing is 'finding great clients, smart clients. If they don't let you do great work fuck 'em.'

Diageo: Keeping ahead of the creativity curve: what's next for Africa?

With Diageo's Andy Fennell recently appointed president and COO, Africa it's unsurprising to see him leap at the opportunity to champion the creativity and potential on the verge of being unlocked in the African continent. 'In ten years time we'll be looking back and talking about the transformations that have taken place in Africa and celebrating the heroes that caused that transformation,' he said during a seminar co-presented with Dale Tomlinson, founder and CEO of Durban-based creative shop The Hardy Boys.

'Africa is stereotypes on steroids,' said Tomlinson, who went on to argue that that for brands to succeed across this diverse and rapidly developing continent, a lot of assumptions will have to be put aside first. Fennel was also eager to stress that the onus is on brands and organisations to do their homework and get to know the varied, vibrant cultures that represent the most exciting opportunity for business in the decade ahead.

Guinness has been available in Africa since the first barrels arrived in Sierra Leone 1827; Diageo now sells more of their signature stout in Nigeria than in Ireland. Currently as much as 50% of alcohol consumption on the African continent is illicit - homebrew of variable quality and dubious safety.

The pair were also at pains to highlight another wide-open opportunity: increasingly empowered women. 'Half of the firms in Ghana are owned by women,' said Tomlinson. 'This is the generation of female emancipation in emerging markets.' The key for businesses looking to connect with African consumers? Be sensitive, and be brave.

The Cannes Debate with The Coca-Cola Company:

This year's Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year award went to The Coca-Cola Company, whose pursuit of innovation and emotional connection with a global audience has resulted in some stand-out campaigns across the year.

Coke's CEO Muhtar Kent, and chief marketing & commercial officer Joseph Tripodi were interviewed by WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell, and reiterated the organisation's commitment to its 2020 goals of doubling system revenue and servings per person over the next seven years. The conversation touched on Coke's approach to compensating agency partners on the basis of the efficacy of their work, a policy they feel pays off for both parties. Agencies that don't like that model, suggested Kent, are not confident in their work.

The subject of obesity was also raised, and Kent and Tripodi emphasized their company's commitment to working with government and civic organisations to ensure transparency and clear labeling of calorific content on the front of bottles. They also flagged their policy of not targeting their marketing at children under the age of 12.

Other Seminars:

The day's other seminars included Wired magazine's David Rowan in conversation with Chacho Puebla, a creative at Lowe + Partners agency Lola, Madrid. Entitled 'Is the machine the message?' their session touched on the tension between the emerging field of tech-driven creativity and the need to ensure that marketing retains a 'human touch'.

IBM's John Kennedy spoke on the subject of Big Data, and its ability, when parsed intelligently, to help organisations and brands deliver meaningful, personalised experienced to individual customers. He also took the opportunity to show the audience the mind-boggling technology that enabled the brand to create it's extraordinary film created with stop-motion photos of atoms, A Boy and his Atom.

Burberry's Christopher Bailey spoke with Google's Lorraine Twohill on the collaborative relationship the two companies have developed over the last few months. The conversation focused on the role of 'dreamers' within each organization, and the importance of an almost innate understanding throughout each team of their brands' respective DNA.