This year I was lucky enough to go to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for the first time. I was all set for the week-long Account Leadership Academy and (nerd alert) excited to get insights from like-minded people from all over the world. Unfortunately, three weeks before I was due to leave, my course was cancelled and I was offered a place at the Media Academy instead. Panic ensued… CPC, RTB Programmatic and DSP’s – WTF came to mind. All was not lost though. After speaking to the Dean of the Media Academy I was reassured a broad slice of the marketing world would be represented.
And so it began. Our class was broken up into teams and assigned to soak up all we could from the speakers and workshops throughout the week. We were then asked to present our take on ‘What is Media Now’ and discuss our point of view on how the industry is being shaped. It was difficult to summarise a week’s worth of information into a ten-minute presentation but we gave it a go. And as it so happens, I have the main points below for your pleasure.
Big Robots are coming, but we’re not afraid
Media is changing. Constantly. ‘Brands are spending more money on campaigns, but their clients need them to be that much more effective.’ ‘The media environment is becoming increasingly cluttered’ – some of the things we heard all week. It can be daunting to look to the future when we’re not really 100% sure of what is coming down the line but the one thing that will remain constant is US, the talent which makes up our industry.
We are insightful
We heard from some of the leaders within the digital industry and were introduced to a panel who discussed how big data is shaping societal change. And how it is going to be one of the biggest forces of change we will see in our lifetimes. They spoke about how digital advertising is growing up – especially with the introduction of programmatic. We have an unprecedented amount of data about consumers, their behaviors, their emotions and all the various aspects of their lives. It is up to us to take this data, link it together and create campaigns which genuinely make an impact. Data can only deliver so much; the rest is up to us (btw I still don’t know what RTB Programmatic means).
We are reactive
There was so much opportunity throughout the week to get insights both in and out of the classroom and I jumped at the chance. (What? I gave you a nerd alert earlier).
I got chatting to a Media Executive from Starcom Australia about AI and technology making our lives easier, she had this great line: “If the world is perfect, there’s no room for mistakes. And mistakes are where creativity is born”
Technology aims to make our lives perfect, to free up our time. But if the world was completely perfect there would never be any mistakes. It reminded us of the Cannes award winning work by Hershey’s. Back in 2015, Reese’s Christmas trees became a viral hit, but not for the right reasons. Customers took to social media to ridicule them and hashtags such as #ChristmasTurd began trending. Thankfully, Reese’s social media team knew how to shut down haters. They embraced how shit (pun intended) the trees looked and started a campaign to end “tree shaming”. No machine could have seen the trolling and certainly couldn’t have come up with the fun response. Proving that creativity is at its best when it’s human.
We are brave
A big winner of the week was Kraft Heinz’s re-launch of their mac + cheese. They removed all the additives and preservatives but instead of telling everyone about it, they didn’t tell anyone. Their aim was to prove that the product still tasted as good.
Now, we all come from a media or agency background, we know what this brief would have looked like. Re-vamped product – xx million dollars – maximise reach etc. The bravery in the team’s response to that brief. To essentially sit on their hands for three months and let the product do the talking. Not only that, but also the bravery from the marketing team to buy into that approach. Imagine sitting in a board room at a client presentation – and now for the big creative reveal: Do Nothing (shudder).
And it worked – they proved it tasted just as good and the product flew off the shelves and I watched them collect a gold Lion! An algorithm could never have made that decision, because we are brave, we take risks and we are willing to throw out the rule book to achieve great work.
We are Storytellers
Storytelling is at the heart of our industry, for me it’s the most important aspect of my job. It makes the best creative relatable, emotional, and culturally relevant. We heard from Sir Ian McKellan about how the best storytelling strengthens film and Ira Glass has us hooked on the rise of audio and podcast.
As our industry moves forward we are seeing that it’s not just the brands telling stories – they are letting down their barriers and inviting consumers to contribute with their own stories. NASA gave a great talk about how they publicly crowd source solutions and marketing ideas and implement them into their ways of working.
We also heard from Ben Jones, Creative Director of Google, that even in this increasingly cluttered media landscape consumers are still actively seeking out rich long form content. The way we consume media will change but great storytelling will always lie at the heart.
So what did I learn from my week? Two main take outs from me were:
- I survived a week in media school and realised marketing solutions, whether they come from a creative, an account person, a client, or a media or technology company, are the end game now!
- Every speaker said the way we communicate is changing. And this is exciting. But there is a reason over 11,000 delegates have been celebrating creativity for the last 64 years in Cannes and will continue to do so – there is so much passion and energy in the people who work in our industry. Big Robots are coming but we’re not afraid!
Susan Nelis is an Account Manager with Rothco.