News & Views

Cannes kicks off / Contagious recaps day one in the Palais

by Contagious Team

Advertising's big week is off to a -- pardon the pun -- roaring start. Throughout Cannes Lions, Contagious will be on-site and online giving you a run down of the best sessions and insights we've gathered. To hear more from Contagious at Cannes, check out Storystream, listen to our daily podcasts and follow us on Twitter. Today, it's all about changing visual culture, evolving innovation, and learning to ride the pop-culture waves.


Getty Images and Lean In: The new visual language: how brands can use images to close the gender gap / Jessica Bennett, journalist, and Pam Grossman, director of Visual Trends at Getty Images

The more media a girl consumes, the fewer options she believes she has in life. That realisation, based on research by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, demonstrates the power that images have, says journalist Jessica Bennett, a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In women’s empowerment non-profit.

Bennett took the stage alongside image anthropologist Pam Grossman, and they spoke about their work for the Lean In Collection, a hand-curated collection of imagery that promotes a more equitable, gender fluid type of world.

The Lean In Collection features photos of girls not dressed in pink but learning karate, and images of women in positions of leadership. ‘We’re trying to build a visual microcosm of the kind of world that we want everyone to live in,’ said Grossman.

Bennett explained that there’s an image gender gap, in much the same way there's wage inequality. For instance, although women are projected to hold 57% of jobs in the US by 2020, they are four times less likely to be portrayed as job holders than men in stock imagery. ‘You have to think above what message we’re sending not just to women but to young girls,’ she said. ‘If women are constantly portrayed in sexualised ways, not in power positions, what does that teach women about what they can be?’

Pinterest: The Magic Of Discovery / Ben Silvermann, Pinterest Co-founder

During his seminar, Pinterest CEO Ben Silvermann charted the journey of his image-based social platform. Silvermann explained that Google search is great at retrieving information, but noted: ‘It’s not good at answering questions where the answer for me might be different that the answer for you.' That’s why it doesn’t make much sense to ask Google ‘How should I decorate my living room?’ or ‘How should I plan my wedding?’. ‘Google’s rank order suggests hierarchy -- that one answer is better than another,’ he explained. ‘If search is to retrieve information, discovery is about seeing what is possible.’


Adobe: The New Creatives / Scott Belsky, VP of engagement and community at Adobe, Yves Behar, designer and Fuseproject founder, and PJ Pereira, co-founder of Pereira & O'Dell

Everything’s changing fast – or so we hear - but what exactly does that mean for working creatives?

Renowned designer Yves Behar, the man behind One Laptop One Child, crowdsourced games console Ouya, and connected products like the August lock – joined triple Grand Prix-winning creative PJ Pereira on stage with Adobe’s Scott Belsky to talk about cross-disciplinary collaboration and the new rules of advertising.

Behar explained how the role of design had moved from an end-stage add-on to something central to the heart of modern businesses, fueled by the web, Apple’s Steve Jobs and new tools. He cited the rise of design-led companies like Uber, August, AirBnB and Flipboard as examples. To play a bigger, more impactful role however, designers need to understand finance, HR and marketing. One approach was ‘skin in the game’ – Behar said that fuseproject often takes an equity stake in new projects to invest them in the overall success.

In this central role, companies like fuseproject team designers from all stripes together to work across UX, strategy, brand, product and marketing to come up with holistic solutions, said Behar, adding that creating ‘magic’ is a long, hard process. Specialists need coaxing to work outside their area of expertise, a process that can take two to three years.

Behar then spoke about a world of connected products, and a new loyalty metric: application. The more regularly people used a product, the more loyal they were.

PJ Pereira, the man who’s agency created last year’s content blockbuster ‘The Beauty Inside’ for Intel and Toshiba, then stepped up to discuss what advertising would look like if we were inventing it from scratch today. Advertising is about story (what people think about a brand), application (what they do with that brand) and distribution (how people find out about it), he said. Pereira argued that in a new age of content advertisers need a new approach: Madison Avenue meets Hollywood meets Silicon Valley. ‘Think like a marketer, behave like an entertainer, move like a tech startup.’

This is uncharted territory, said Pereira, but by fostering a culture of curiosity and hiring demographic and skills diversity, these 'New Creative' teams can create powerful, affective content for brands that doesn't interrupt, but draws people towards it.

Dentsu Aegis Network: prototyping for the future – bringing innovation principles to marketing / Andy Lippman, MIT Media Lab associate director, Nigel Morris, CEO Americas and EMEA of the Dentsu Aegis Network and Jean Lin, Isobar global CEO

Nigel Morris, Jean Lin, and Andy Lippman shared the Debussy stage to speak about innovation. In the seminar, Lippman explained that innovation today is moving fast not because of technology but for social reasons. His theory is that the rate of change of society is a function of the age at which the youth are introduced to the dominant technology of the time. So in the 1900s, the car was introduced to people when they were about 16 years old, so innovation moved at a pace of 16 years.

He explained that the revolution we’re poised for now is the result of the rapid simultaneous maturation of four technologies and abilities: big data, understanding people, sensors and understanding space. Innovation like Google’s autonomous cars is only possible because of developments in these four areas.

Lippman added that the world of media has an opportunity that it never had before because it has control of the platform. ‘You can invent the platform at the same time as you can invent the content. But it’s not about content alone. The people who will succeed will develop both.’

Futurebrand and Solar Impulse How creativity can create a better future!/ Futurebrand global chairman Christopher Nurko, explorers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg

Innovation’s the buzzword du jour in advertising circles, but Monday’s Cannes Lions sessions started off with Innovation with a capital I. Introduced by Futurebrand’s global chairman Christopher Nurko, explorers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg presented Solar Impulse, an aircraft designed to circumnavigate the world non-stop using only solar power by the end of 2015.

Ridiculed by industry experts for its jumbo jet wing size, Piccard – a third generation explorer and inventor - explained that they felt a little like Disney’s Dumbo, the huge-eared cartoon elephant that could fly. Innovation, Borschberg argued, was getting rid of certitudes and looking beyond traditional solutions to create the impossible.

Their focus was not on green, but clean, they went on, arguing that there is a growing trend for sustainability that is sexy, exciting and yet also created jobs and profits. Solar Impulse is a figurehead for that, an inspiration for people globally to make a better world through new technologies and solutions.

Solar Impulse is a rallying cry and awareness-raising totem for the environmental movement – an epic PR exercise to reach as many people as possible and galvanise a community to enact change, they said. Watch the skies – and social - in 2015 for more on Solar Impulse.

Say Media: Mobile is Killing Media – And Here’s What We Need To Do About It / Matt Sanchez, Say Media CEO

Matt Sanchez, CEO of media and web advertising company Say Media, took to the stage at Cannes today to explain how, in his words, 'mobile is killing media'.

Sanchez cited Erickson’s prediction that 5.9 billion people will be connected to the internet on mobile devices by 2019. However, he said, for every page viewed on a mobile device, publishers only see 20% of the revenue they’d receive from a desktop visit.

But he wasn’t just fear mongering, Sanchez also set out four themes for creating media for mobile and optimizing revenue:

1. Build for the medium.

2. Be contextual.

3. Be omnipresent.

4. Tell responsive stories.

He suggested that if you follow these rules, you can delight users on mobile in ways that create tremendous loyalty and get users spending a lot of time with a piece of content and a brand.

Sony Mobile: More Than Just Mobile, Creativity in a Multi-screen World / Matt Beavis, Crystina Cinti, Mark Walsh

Traditional product endorsement is dead, Sony’s head of PR, sponsorship and social, Matt Beavis, told Cannes attendees. Audiences are more cynical about product placement, and at the same time free technology has democratized the production and distribution of music.

Brands should focus on creating, authentic, compelling content -- alongside artists -- that draws fans in. ‘Not content for content’s sake, but content artists want to make,’ said Beavis.

Arguing that mobile is set to be the entertainment hub for the next generation, encompassing gaming, TV, music and more, Beavis showed how the brand is investing in initiatives like Xperia Access, a mobile-first platform featuring behind the scenes interviews, acoustic gigs and other exclusive content from Kasabian and Rita Ora.


Mindshare & Buzzfeed: Meme Too. How brands can successfully ride the zeitgeist / Jonah Peretti, Buzzfeed CEO and co-founder and Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer, Mindshare North America

Yes, Jonah Peretti, CEO of Buzzfeed, shared a video of kittens with the Cannes Lions audience. But he also charted how his social news and entertainment company has become a successful business.

Peretti explained that BuzzFeed is based on the following principles:

-Humour is inherently social

-Have a heart

-Capture the moment.

-Get scoops

-Use video

Peretti said: ‘Ten years ago social, mobile and digital video weren’t real businesses. They were fun experiments. It’s an exciting opportunity to make content for the way that people consumer media today. The great media companies of tomorrow are being built today.’

Following Peretti, Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer of Mindshare North America, took the stage to talk about how brands can ride the zeitgeist. He explained that the secret to this is data: ‘In the right hands it enables brands to reach audiences, drive creative and achieve results like never before. Data has become the latest tool for creativity.’

He added that brands should act more like people when it comes to making social conversation: ‘They need to plan for confidence: determine voice, cadence, personality ahead of time. Once they know themselves they can speak with confidence.’ He also encouraged brands to get creative pre-approved and keep media dollars flexible. ‘To ride the zeitgeist brands must organise for speed,’ he insisted.

To hear more from Contagious at Cannes, check out Storystreamlisten to our daily podcasts and follow us on Twitter.