The Six Biggest Take-Outs from Cannes Lions 2014 & What We Need To Do About It

img-thingThis is a one-off Possums post- different to the norm. Delete if not relevant to you. But if you are in business, and want to know the major, critical trends happening globally in marketing and communications, then do read this. It has some powerful insights

The annual Cannes Festival of Creativity means many different things to many different delegates.

Some party hard. Others connect. Lots go for the Awards. For me, it’s all about the content.

Out of all the content presented at this year’s conference held in June, there are six big take-outs for me that are front-of-mind. Not earth shattering. But for me, will help shape many conversations and focus for the months ahead. Here they are.

1. Constant, Lightening-Speed Change Is Our Constant Reality

The biggest message for me from a week at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity was about the speed of change.

Yes, yes, ho hum and we have heard all that already yawn, etc. But when the leaders of Google, Facebook, YouTube, Vice, DreamWorks, Yahoo, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, the big advertising groups and many others are all standing there, pale and trembling, and all saying : ”WOW! Things are just changing soooo fast….”, well, maybe they are. One described our business environment today as ‘an epidemic of extinction….’ If we are not grasping change, and moving fast with it, for many in our industry, this is a period of genuine and total demise.

2. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

‘Mobile is BIG,’ said Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO when asked what was most on her mind. Yeah sure- we know that, so what’s new? What’s new is that the technology with mobile has changed so much in the past 18 months that now, more than ever, the full reality of how quickly consumers are shifting screen time habit and loyalty to mobile is smacking business hard across the face. “We have to think mobile first or this will be the cause of the extinction event for many in our industry.” You can’t push desktop thinking to mobile devices. We need to create and build for that medium, and to engage in the ‘stream’ or the ‘feed.’ The feed is the new design paradigm, and our work has to be contextual- designed and delivered for the ‘work, on the go or home’ usage situations- all which require different styles of content delivered via mobile.

3. Video Is The New Black

And with the new power of the mobile technology (all of which will be hugely improved every few months from now and forever more…) comes the golden age of video. Video (higher quality and more credible video that is) is THE new and dominant distribution platform of our age. It is the platform on which most advertising (whether pure, infomercial or native) will be delivered going forward (until the next innovation game-changer).

4. The New Media Companies Are Masquerading As Tech Companies

Thanks Sir Martin for this insight. Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Vice, YouTube. These are not tech companies. At their core, they are the new media companies of today and tomorrow. Note YouTube’s daily YouTube Nation curated show, see how Facebook is quickly introducing curated feeds and bespoke channels, look closely at what Vice is doing- with Vice TV, and all the highly specialized and personalized channels they are developing. These so called tech companies are becoming brilliant ‘conveners and curators of content’, and all powered by deep data on their consumer. “In this ocean of content, there needs to be a lighthouse. And we are that lighthouse,” one of them said. Does not matter who said it- they all meant it. One more thing- big brands are becoming brilliant curators too- see McDonald’s promotion with Spotify as an example.

5. It’s All Personal Again

Yes, we know this. It’s all moving from mass marketing to mass personalization. My big take-out was this- how damned exciting is this return to personalization for us!!!

It used to be marketing TO people, now it is marketing WITH people, and the future is all about marketing FOR people, says Unilever’s CMO. It’s now all about the mix of art and science, with great creative and great targeting (via data), where the content feels like ‘it was made for me.’ Remember- great content ALWAYs wins. Imagination will outrun logic.

Oh- and have I mentioned that phrase STORY TELLING. It was the most used two words at Cannes. Story telling. It’s at the heart of modern marketing- of video, native advertising, purpose and all those other ‘must do’s’. We’ve been telling stories for the entire history of our industry, and now it’s about evolving that core skill into story telling in new platforms and formats, with deeper purpose and relevance, delivered to the right person, at the right place and time, with the right relevance, on the right device.

6. A Golden Age For ‘Advertising’ Is Upon Us

We are on the edge of a new golden age for communications- an age where we have the opportunity for creative vision to explode out of one platform and connect in deeply personal ways with consumers. It’s a new golden age of ideas- with technology enabling a bigger canvas than ever for creativity. At the core of our opportunity is the power of creativity- this is the time to unlock the creative talent. There is massive permission- more than ever before- for creativity to break through the clutter.

The key is for creative ideas to earn their way into the hearts and minds of the audience, says P&G’s CMO.

1. Start with something that is true

2. Consider why anyone would care

3. Make your brand matter in that story

Remember this definition of ‘modern marketing’…. Data + Content + Social + Mobile. That’s it.

Think like a marketer, behave like an entertainer, move like a tech start-up.

Are We Dealing With Change Fast Enough?

Debbie Harry put it this way some time ago: “You must be constantly reinventing to stay on top.” But brands that have FAILED or are FAILING, according to Collective magazine, have two problems in common:

1. Preservation Obsession– they are unwilling to change as times and needs evolve. Traditions become an anchor that holds them back when these should be a foundation from the past that gives them something on which to build the future.

2. Progress Addiction– it is equally as dangerous to change too much too quickly, or to simply make changes for the sake of it.

We need to be constantly challenging ourselves around ‘change’… avoid ‘preservation obsession’, and just as importantly, avoid ‘progress addiction.’ And we have to change while at the same time delivering the right returns today. A big percentage of our revenues and profits comes from so-called ‘old or traditional’ marketing techniques. This will be the case for a long time. So we have to continue to be brilliant at delivering what we do today, and evolving and innovating at the right pace to keep ahead of clients while learning how to make the right returns out of the new stuff.

So- keep thinking hard about the change your business needs to deliver to clients, today and tomorrow. We need to be outstanding in trying to predict client needs. Do not think our clients know what they need. As Henry Ford said: “If I’d asked my customer what they wanted they would have told me a faster horse.”

Read constantly, keep track of what the thought leaders are saying at the big bleeding edge conferences within your specialty around the world, in our trade press, our clients’ trade press, on the websites of the very best in our industry, from the major holding company market announcements.

Ask yourselves: “How do we need to – sensibly, commercially, cleverly- evolve and change to remain absolutely and vitally relevant to our clients businesses – to be indispensable to our clients- and to make a relevant return for our shareholders along the way.”

What a great time to be in this industry!


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18 Responses to The Six Biggest Take-Outs from Cannes Lions 2014 & What We Need To Do About It

  1. Paul Alexander July 16, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    nice and valuable insights filtered thru your mindset here – thanks – and no mention of scam
    Paul A

  2. Paul Alexander July 16, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    PS a lot of use of the word ‘relevant’ which, of course, is is relevant

    • Chris Savage July 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      Thanks Paul

    • Chris Savage July 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      Paul- thanks

  3. Hayley Buckner July 16, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Awesome insight! Thank you!

  4. chandra armstrong July 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Wow! what a great post, thank you for sharing very educational and informative.
    Chandra Armstrong

    • Chris Savage July 16, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

      Thanks Chandra

  5. Mark July 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Love this, and really like Henry Ford’s quote.

    Thanks as always Chris.

    • Chris Savage July 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks Mark!

  6. Patrick Ashe July 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Great insights and thanks for sharing !

    • Chris Savage July 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks Patrick

  7. Barbara July 17, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    Thanks, Chris. Terrific piece with great advice. I especially like the “Read constantly..” paragraph which I do with your informative business and leadership related blog articles.

    • Chris Savage July 19, 2014 at 11:58 am #

      Thanks Barbara!

  8. Nicolle Jenkins July 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Love this article! Thanks for sharing your insights…

    • Chris Savage July 19, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      Thanks Nicolle

  9. Michael July 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. Great insights.
    Nice stuff Chris.

    • Chris Savage July 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      Thanks Michael!


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