Brand experience and marketing trends from Cannes Lions 2014
The Big C’s
Collective Themes from the 2014 Cannes
Lions International Festival of Creativity
From gold lamé to vin rosé, Cannes is a special place indeed.
It’s home to the world’s largest and most
revered awards festival for the best creative work in Film, Film
Craft, Media, Press, Outdoor, Cyber, Promo/Activation, Direct,
Design, Radio, Mobile, Branded Content/Entertainment, PR,
Creative Effectiveness, Integrated and Titanium.
The week’s content includes seminars, forums and workshops
presented by creative leadership from around the world — both
from inside and outside the marketing industry.
Brand experiences such as the Google Creative Sandbox and
the Ipsos Ladies Lounge provided insight and inspiration in a
Oh — and of course — there was legendary partying in true
Just a few of the personalities featured
in Cannes sessions...
Just a few of the big winners at Cannes...
Winner of the Innovation Lion
and a pretty cool tactic.
First and foremost Cannes is a true
celebration of Creativity — and this year
was no exception.
From thought-provoking sessions to
show-stopping shortlists; from longtime
legends to the new leaders of today; it
seemed that for everyone, in one way or
another, Creativity does indeed start with “C.”
A number of common themes emerged in
this year’s Cannes content in the pursuit
of Creativity — in award-winning work and
festival talks alike — on the Big C’s that
are breaking through the clutter in today’s
evolving marketing world.
It’s not a story
anymore, it’s a
Crispin Porter Bogulsky
Marketing is no longer push; this is equally a pull environment — a balance
between creation and curation that is perpetuated through conversation with our
Sir John Hegarty, BBH, declared “Global advertising does not work” today. In an
age when consumers have all the information on product attributes at our
fingertips — they want to understand a brand’s values and determine if they
align with their own. People want to hear a brand’s story and be invited to join in
it. They want to be entertained and engaged through a complete brand
experience that ultimately enables and fosters their lifestyles.
In the wake of this evolution, there has never been a more exciting time for
creativity than right now, said Marc Pritchard, Global Brand Building officer for
P&G. Media fragmentation may have killed the golden age of advertising but it
has given birth to a golden age of ideas — where we can work with an ever-
evolving and expanding creative canvas of marketing opportunity.
People engage with brands “not because they have to watch [ads] but because
they are truly drawn in. Ideas have to earn their way in,” Pritchard said. “The job
of our work is to start the conversation.”
If brands are to engage in conversation that is inherently talkable and
interesting, they need to exhibit some key human behaviors...
In the give and take of
conversation, brands need to be
honest and transparent to earn trust
and engagement. Today there is an
intersection between news,
entertainment and marketing that is
unprecedented. To be anything
other than forthcoming and
authentic is to be at best ignored
and at worst disdained.
Show your flaws.
Being real and honest means you’re
going to expose shortcomings
and/or mistakes; but this
imperfection is what not only makes
brands believable as partners in
conversation, it makes your story
more intriguing and believable,
inspiring consumers to fight on your
Live in the moment.
Rather than presenting a static persona,
brands need to be a living, breathing,
evolving organism. You must be able
to prototype ideas in the marketplace,
allowing consumers to join in the
creative process and get a little skin in
the game. You’ll move faster and be
more inclusive in the process.
Brands should have more than
just a positioning. They should have
a distinguishing personality and a
recognizable point of view, making it
clear to consumers what they value —
whether compassionate or clever,
refined or rebellious — enabling people
to see themselves in your brand.
In the year of the inaugural Lionheart awarded to Bono for the (RED) campaign,
ideas that used creative power for good were recognized more than ever. These
efforts in cause marketing go well beyond charity sponsorship with an emphasis
on “doing” versus “giving.” Brands are demonstrating real help. As Bono told the
Cannes crowd, he’s not interested in philanthropy for (RED), he’s interested in
creative brains and their ideas. “It really is about heat and noise... This is the
most important room for (RED) to be in. You’re heat-seeking missiles.”
The world wants
to create more
In his presentation “Nice is the New
Black,” Lubars acknowledged,
“Decent people need something
decent to hang onto.” The Honey
Maid “This is Wholesome” campaign
by Droga5 was just one example of
recognizing what’s important to
people in this changing world and
allowing consumers to evolve and
direct the evolution of a living multi-
Cause. The success of these varied creative ideas proves that taking a stand on behalf of others can be
the best way to show the people who matter most to you just what you’re made of.
programs shined a light on
perceptions of women.
The illuminating Pantene
drew attention to how often
women feel compelled to say
Titanium Lion winner The
Autocomplete Truth delivered
a shocking truth of
via the most common Google
Many creative examples
went beyond sharing ideas
to taking action.
Project Daniel, brought to us
by Intel and Not Impossible
Labs, told the real story
of technology for the sake of
humanity — taking a 3D
printer into the heart of
war-torn Sudan to give a
wounded teen boy a life-
saving 3D-printed prosthetic
arm, while teaching a
community to use the
technology moving forward
and help the many injured in
Connecting people with
different needs to help each
other fulfill those needs is a
beautiful thing for a brand
CNA Inglés Definitivo, an
online English school, won a
Gold Lion with FCB Brasil for
Speaking Exchange — an idea
that connects its students “who
want to practice English with
those who just want someone
to talk to” — connecting
students with retirement
communities in the USA, UK,
Australia and Canada.
This year’s Grand Prix for
Good winner took the idea
of cause to a whole
new level. Sweetie, the
brainchild of Netherlands-
based LENZ agency on
behalf of advocacy group
Terre des Hommes, used a
girl to not only raise
awareness of the crime of
Webcam Child Sex
Tourism, but the work lead to
more than 1000 arrests
globally of predators whose
names were turned over to
On the other hand, sometimes to stand out, you have to
stand for something completely different. Like pure,
unadulterated commercialism. Winning big at Cannes
including a Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix, was
Adam&EveDDB taking a very different approach from all the
cause-focused work. “Sorry I Spent It On Myself” celebrated
unabashed selfishness for retailer Harvey Nichols.
After all, we are
in the business of
Innovation isn’t about
doing something first,
it’s about doing it right
for people… Plan for
emotional reaction, not
Technology has to be in the service of great ideas — it is not the great idea in
and of itself. But it’s so easy to get dazzled by the magic of technology and lose
sight of the meaning it desperately needs in order to make an impact. Eddie
Moretti, creative head of new media magnate VICE, warns against getting
“platform fever” or becoming so enamored with technology that we lose our
focus on the story we’re trying to tell, the conversation we’re trying to have.
Jack Morton’s own Head of Digital Leesa Wytock said,
“We love the technology that we don’t even know we’re
using.” It’s the invisible, unobtrusive technological
connections that purposefully facilitate our relationships with
brands. In fact, technology today has shortened the distance
in time and space between brands and audiences, creating
personal connections that enable the type of emotional
exchange that a person might have with a friend.
In Japan, the Coca-Cola coffee brand “Georgia” and
Dentsu managed to do just that — to become a friend to its
consumers — making an emotional, human connection
between an audience and a brand through technology.
Futurist Jason Silva suggests we must embrace technology as
the “7th kingdom of life”; it not only sprouts from us, it is us.
And with that in mind, as the world becomes more
indistinguishably digital vs. analogue, Wytock posed the
legitimate questions — Are there digital ideas anymore or
just ideas? Do we really still need digital agencies? Or is
the agency of the future the Human Agency?
The next generation of creative marketers are more often than
not in an education system structured to create workers for a
19th century industrial economy, not the ideas economy
of now and the future. And it’s not just about effective
marketing. Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson warned us that
our culture will fade unless we value problem-solving creativity.
We need to foster a culture of curiosity — in our agencies, in
our brands, in our communities and in the world. This is exactly
the issue Sommer + Sommer addressed in their ‘How to Foster
Creativity in 21st Century Education?’ workshop. Along with
the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, the German
creative agency asked Cannes greatest minds (as well as more
than 100 other creatives and futurists in 35 countries) to inspire
an innovative framework for 21st century schooling which will
be published as the Classroom Thinktank.
Creative thinking starts in the schoolroom, and if we want our
industry to thrive we need to actively participate in the future of
education. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker discussed how the Arts
Program she helped pilot teaches children in high-risk schools
that they have value. That they have a voice that is worthy
of being heard. The results have been life-changing for these
kids — not just in creative efforts but with strikingly positive
aptitude and behavioral results.
We are all born
creative. We just
got it educated
out of us.
Tham Khai Meng,
Ogilvy & Mather
Brands are getting in on the action and not just at the school level.
Recognizing that in this changing world of endless opportunity we’re all
students forever, companies such as Unilever and Samsung have built
programs to support innovators and artisans with the power of their brands.
Samsung’s Maestros Academy pairs master artisans with up and
coming young craftspeople realize their ideas.
Unilever’s The Foundry is a collaborative space that connects
innovative startup companies with mentor Unilever brands to support
each other with an exchange of ideas and experiences.
the new limited
Creativity is more important than ever. It’s changing business
models in our industry and beyond. Creatives have a seat at the
table, we’re core to the business. We are seeking rewarding
work. Using data to complement instinct. Making stuff fast,
failing often, learning and re-iterating in real time. We ‘re
finding ways to make complicated information simple.
Inevitable even. We know that people seek solutions, not
brands. That is the world we live and work in today.
CPB’s Porter warns that creatives shouldn’t worry too much
about the future, quoting Thomas Carlyle that “our main
business is not to see dimly what lies ahead, but to what is at
hand.” But with the world changing at an exponential pace, the
future is what is at hand. As creative leaders we have to pull the
present into what Silva calls the “Adjacent Possible”
to meet the future today.
With that in mind, we can’t wait to see what Creativity looks
like at Cannes 2015. After all, while the awards are the big
story, the critical conversation at Cannes is not about competing
with each other. We’re competing against mediocrity.
The Big Challenge.
As we look ahead to future opportunities, how can we
leverage the Big C’s to build breakthrough creative brand
For each upcoming proposal, we’ll to take on the challenge
of leveraging one or more of the Big C’s to make ideas
stronger, more engaging and empowering for our
As part of creative reviews, we’ll go through a Big C
Scorecard to determine how we’re doing against this
Over the course of the next 12 months, we should submit
an idea to a client that focuses on one of the Big C’s until we
complete the full list — they can be for RFPs, proactive
outreach or an existing program. By next summer, we should
feel confident that we have developed sellable,
breakthrough, beautifully executable ideas that can compete
in these areas.
How does our idea allow the audience to contribute and evolve the experience
into a collaboration? How does it make our brand more human?
Will our idea resonate with the audience and give them something to believe
in and share? Does it take action to support this belief?
Do we have an idea that goes against the grain? How is it unexpected?
How committed is it to being different and standing out?
Does our idea use technology for technology’s sake? Does it make our
brand more connected to the audience or does it get in the way?
Does it feel inevitable or forced?
What does our audience get out of the experience? What do they learn
from our experience? How does the brand facilitate that learning?