News & Views

Cannes Lions / Wednesday's Highlights

by Contagious Team

Yep, that’s a picture of Jared Leto, who was on stage at the Grand Audi today. If you’re asking what sort of wisdom the artist formerly known as Jordan Catalano had to impart to Cannes Lions delegates, read on below…. (spoiler: very little). Along with Jared Leto, the main themes of the day were storytelling, future creativity and acquisitions. To hear more from Contagious at Cannes, check out Storystream, listen to our daily podcasts and follow us on Twitter.



DreamWorks Animation and Vice Media: YouTube: The art of storytelling on YouTube / Jeffrey Katzenberg (CEO of DreamWorks Animation), Jacob Soboroff (Host of YouTube Nation), Eddy Moretti (Creative Director, VICE)

Thought storytelling on YouTube was just about getting a goat to maaa-maaa in a really cute way? Think again! Rather, authenticity, a strong editorial voice and collaborating with your community were the key points that emerged from this seminar. Really though, this session was less about the art of storytelling on YouTube and more about the importance of YouTube to the future of DreamWorks Animation (DWA), as was evident by the presence of Jacob Soboroff, host of YouTube Nation, alongside Jeffrey Katzenberg

For those of you a little sketchy on your Internet geography, YouTube Nation is a DWA-produced daily series that shows off the best of YouTube. The series is just one part of an ongoing strategy by DWA to leverage online video platforms as it adapts its business to a world in which the small screen is eclipsing the big screen in importance. YouTube is a major part of this strategy and the company debuted its YouTube arm, DreamWorksTV, on Monday, building on last year’s expensive ($33m in cash and up to $117m in other consideration) acquisition of Awesomeness TV. As Jeffrey Katzenberg noted in the seminar, Netflix is also going to start running an original television series from DWA in an agreement that marks Netflix’s biggest deal ever for original first-run content and includes more than 300 hours of new programming. 

As DWA scrambles to become more digital-focussed, Vice reminded delegates that they've already got this internet thing figured out. ‘We are digital-first’ said Eddy Moretti, 'and we will remain digital first because that’s the engine that fuels the hubris.’ By which we believe he means that nobody ever went broke by banking on narcissism. Moretti also talked about the importance of respect, stating that ‘brands have to start valuing internet communities…[in the same way they value] TV audiences. They’re really valuable audiences and they’re not getting the value they deserve.


Mccann Worldgroup & the Paley Center for Media: The Truth About Universal Storytelling – How (And Why) Creative Ideas Travel / Steven Moffat (Sherlock writer), Gareth Neame (executive producer, Downton Abbey), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Suk Park (co-founder DramaFever), Rob Reilly (global creative chairman, Mccann Worldgroup), Teressa Iezzi (senior editor, FastCo Create)

Park, whose DramaFever site has made South Korean drama massive across the web, talked about the consumption of cultural narratives on a global scale.

Televisions are machines of empathy, and being able to consume content created outside your country…is all very important,’ Park said. ‘We believe there’s a growing community of millennials that are hyper-connected and were raised in a much more multilingual and multicultural content era and are seeking out foreign content for their own growth.’

‘There’s no secret to how to make great content,’ Park said. ‘It’s just hard work and good gut and flawless execution.’

Ironically, Gareth Neame, executive producer, Downton Abbey, talked about how reverse-engineering the reasons for success is inherent in creative endeavors (perhaps the raison d’etre of Cannes, non?): ‘When there’s a success people are constantly trying to figure out why it was a success and they’re constantly trying to reverse-engineer a reason.’

If there’s any secret to making great television, Neame said, ‘You have to try and make sure you don’t allow it to get fucked up, and it will get fucked up by people interfering. You have to be very careful. Television is extremely good at fucking up its own ideas.’

Facebook: Making Marketing Personal Again / Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook with Abbey Klaassen, associate publisher, AdAge

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg used her time on stage to push advertising agencies to create impressive, story-led content that will draw people into their newsfeeds -- while subtly plugging opportunities for brands on the platform. Stating that 63% of Facebook’s 1.3 billion users return every day, she celebrated the impact that advertising has on the social platform and said: ‘What makes something that’s not personal feel like it’s just for you is great creative and great targeting.’

She added: ‘When things went digital many people said that keyword and algorithm mattered more than the creative, but what people experience on their newsfeeds are stories.’

Of Facebook’s relatively recent acquisitions, Sandberg said ‘Instagram exists at the intersection of art, creative, people and technology.’ Some 200 million active users of Facebook Messaging combined with Whatsapp’s 500 million users help Facebook with its mission to ‘connect the world’. Sandberg explained: ‘Messaging is one-to-one sharing. People really want to share and connect, some one-to-one, some publicly.’ And is there a role for brands in this kind of communication as well? Sandberg says yes. ‘Would I want to receive a one to one message from a brand or a product or service that I like? Absolutely!’

However, the COO believes that virtual reality headset Occulus Rift (‘so good I got motion sick’) are an investment that both provides ‘a near term opportunity, which is gaming, and a bet on a future communications platform.’




Microsoft: Make the Most of Every Moment / Dan Lin (CEO Lin Pictures), Stephen Kim (VP global agencies and accounts, Microsoft)

Using Lego founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen’s motto ‘Only the best is good enough’ as a starting point, Lin and Kim discussed how Lin’s production company approached dramatising the epic toy brand in The Lego Movie. Lin also revealed the next Lego film’s subject: ninjas. But between the concept and the finished product, which Lin says he wants people to play rather than watch, it’s a long road. ‘We always go back to the origin over everything else: story, story, story,’ Lin said.


AKQA: Future Lions / Future Lions winners, AKQA CCO Rei Inamoto and co-founder James Hilton

AKQA introduced its 2014 Future Lions winners, with over 40 countries represented and 1,760 students entering their work.

‘We didn’t want to have to come up with a trending topic or timely topic to give our presentation,’ Inamoto said, giving context to the session. ‘And when we looked at Cannes as a festival, and any awards shows out there, a criticism I have is the categorisation of ideas…there are so many categories…the dilemma that we judges get into is half the time we’re debating about what the category should be.’

Underdogs with passion, Inamoto said, were the talented people and ideas AKQA wanted to celebrate. The standing brief is simple: Connect an audience to a product or service in a way that’s not possible five years ago. The five chosen, which Inamoto and Hilton unveiled, where these:

Donate By Update for Apple + Product (RED) by Tim Blaney Davidson and Batisan Lievers from the Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands proposed the Product (RED) ecosystem be extended to Apple’s software updates and operating systems.

Google Gesture for Google by David Svedenstroem and Ludwig Hallstensson from Berghs School of Communication in Stockholm, Sweden proposes the search giant uses motion-tracking bands like the Myo to interpret and then vocalise sign language.

Do Zero For Climate Change for Ben & Jerry’s by Fabian Lakander, Pia Hansson Näslund, Afshin Piran, Sebastian Sandberg and Linda Kraft from the Berghs School of Communication in Stockholm, Sweden (which was named ‘School of the Year’) suggested Unilever’s hippie ice cream brand tell people to turn their freezers to zero degrees (many are usually set lower) to save energy by putting a thermometer on the packaging.

HEARt Me for the Children’s Heart Foundation by Anne Walde and Nicole Schurz from Miami Ad School of Europe proposes a solution for kids with heart defects. Kids could wear a shirt that monitors their hearts in realtime and contacts doctors and parents when potential problems arise.

Passion is Power for IBM by Adam Radi and Mathias Trads from the School of Communication Art 2.0 in London, UK suggests using vibrational energy sheets to capture fans rockin’ in the World Cup stadiums to bring electricity to favelas.



PARTY and dot x dot: COMBINING STORIES, CREATIVITY AND CULTURE / Qanta Shimizu (founder and CTO of Party), Saqoosha (founder and CTO of dot x dot), Yuseke Tominaga (co-founder and CEO of dot x dot)

Japanese digital production and creative companies Party and dot x dot showcased a range of their work for brands as part of the Independent Agency day. Highlights include a twitter modification for Super Important Tweets, a series of lifesize and incredibly lifelike Lady Gaga dolls to (almost) give fans access to the pop star when Gaga toured in Japan.

A live demo of Focus clothing also took place on stage. The range, built for Trident gum, blocks mobile signals when a phone is kept in the jacket's pocket. And Party’s Qanta Shimizu also showcased an open source 3D printed video for Cut Copy (see above).  

Forsman & Bodenfors Epic Lecture: Volvo Trucks Live Test Series / Björn Engström and Martin Rignqvist (creatives and senior partners at F&B) and Annika Viberud (director brand and marketing communications, Volvo Trucks)

Forsman & Bodenfors’ Epic Lecture saw the agency and their Volvo client take the audience through their work with the truck brand from 2010, when they took over the global account. As part of the independent agency showcase, creatives Björn Engström and Martin Ringqvist were joined by Volvo Trucks’ Annika Viberud to dissect the campaign that they started working on in 2010. The presenters were charmingly coy while the packed audience whooped and applauded the work and the strategy. 

The campaign for Volvo’s first new truck launch in 60 years not only targeted a scattered and hard-to-reach group of people, it also aimed to solve a wider problem of recruiting truck drivers -- a goal that, if achieved, has the potential to improve things like fuel efficiency and the punctuality of the delivery itself.

A stunt with a ballerina served as a teaser for the truck’s launch, with the first vehicle off the production line being sold on eBay, eventually for over double the market rate. 

A microsite with films and interactive modules provided information about the trucks before the live robust tests started, highlight things such as ground clearance, or, most memorably, steering control in Epic Split. On top of the massive view counts (currently 100 million for Epic Spilt and 50 million for associated spoofs), the agency reports that the campaign gained $170m worth of editorial coverage through PR and over 50% of the truck drivers who watched the films were more likely to consider a Volvo for their next truck purchase.

Annika Viberud praised the partnership between Volvo Trucks, F&B and other creative agencies, saying: ‘As a client I want to emphasise how much I appreciate when agencies can work well together.’ She added that the campaign conveyed one message across all channels more or less simultaneously, and its successful distribution was also down to working to ensure local markets bought into the work and made it their own. Now the team is just left with the challenge of what comes next (see Epic Shit picture above).  



Clear Channel Media and Entertainment: A Conversation with Jared Leto and Benjamin Palmer 

This session was introduced by Bob Pittman, the Chairman and CEO Clear Channel, who basically said that the rationale for having Benjamin Palmer and Jared Leto in conversation, rather than Clear Channel saying anything itself, was because they were both really creative guys.

So Palmer and Leto get on stage and there are squeals from the audience. The girl sitting next to me in the Grand Audi theatre literally died when Jared Leto sat down. (Don’t worry, she didn’t literally literally die.)

Palmer and Leto start talking, and the conversation starts off about radio. Because, of course, Clear Channel owns online streaming service iHeartRadio and it seems like they’re starting to do pretty well out of it. The company just announced that iHeartRadio has surpassed 50 million registered users in just three years. A few months ago Pittman also disclosed in an interview that the service is now making "hundreds of millions" of dollars in annual revenue, and catching up to Internet radio leader Pandora. There aren’t any more exact figures because Clear Channel was taken private in 2008 and, while it reports its financial results because of public debt, it doesn’t break this down across the financial health of its digital streams.

So, anyway, they talk about radio for a bit. Turns out Jared Leto likes radio. In fact it changed his life. He quotes something Bono once said about radio being like a friend. Then he gets bored of talking about radio and he pulls out two girls in the audience to take a selfie. The girl next to me is now literally, literally, literally, dying.

Before you go search twitter for pictures of the selfie, let me tell you that the key takeouts of this session were:

  1. Jared Leto is still good looking
  2. People still think taking selfies is cool
  3. iHeartRadio is doing pretty well