Cannes Lions and the momentum for change
I’ve commented elsewhere about some serious questions the ad industry needs to ask itself if we are to guide our clients through these tough and complex times.
In my previous post for M&M I talked about how Perth needs to place a greater value on creativity. This is just one area of radical change that I think we need, and the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this week has provided some great information, inspiration and most of all provocation to guide us on our way.
Several advertising industry figureheads have addressed this need for change from within, but what are the implications for marketers in Perth?
"It’s not so much confidence as having a healthy, delusional ambition." - Pharrell Williams
I had lunch today with the CEO of a major recruitment firm. He asked me if Perth is able to produce its own creative talent. I gave him examples of several Perth-trained advertising creative directors who have gone on to have a significant impact across the world. This includes J.Walter Thompson Global Chief Creative Officer Matt Eastwood, ECD of Ogilvy Melbourne Brendon Guthrie, Ogilvy Hong Kong CCO Reed Collins and creative director at BBDO New York Levi Slavin, to name but four.
So the answer to my friend’s question is a very strong “yes”. And when you throw in our world class musicians, photographers, film makers, fashion designers and so on, it’s clear that Perth could be well placed to become a significant creative capital.
But as far as marketing communications is concerned, this will only happen with some major changes of approach and thinking.
I’d like to talk about three conclusions I’ve drawn from this week.
1. We need more ambition
Ryan Seacrest interviewed musician and actor Pharrell Williams earlier this week. I usually avoid celebrities, but Williams said something quite profound. When asked how he found the confidence to implement such innovative ideas, he said, “it’s not so much confidence as having a healthy, delusional ambition.”
The point for marketers and their agencies is that without ambition to be world class we will not optimise the ROI from our hard-earned marketing budgets. Quite simply, it has been proven that award winning creative work outperforms conventional work significantly. Just ask Coca Cola, Heineken, P&G and Unilever. Each of these major brand companies has spoken at this Festival about how they need, even demand, more cut-through creative work.
I feel that if we move from having an accountability culture (clients) or a creativity culture (agencies) towards a shared creative effectiveness culture, then boards and senior management would start to place greater value in marketing.
2. We need radical change
Amir Kassaei, Global CCO of DDB, talked about how our work needs to be measured against real impact with real people.
That means we need to go back to the ideals of the marketing concept – having a proper customer perspective – so that our work is judged against providing a real difference in their lives. Sadly at the moment we are too often focused on spending less money in less time instead of the quality and impact of the work.
Agencies, according to Kassaei, need to use their talents and knowledge to guide clients through a more difficult and complex environment than we’ve ever known.
Clients need to challenge their agencies against measurable outcomes, and be prepared to provide and share the all-important data with them.
Professor Brian Cox told us to “respect the data”. If we do this, he said, it can be the springboard for better and more effective work, as well as providing a benchmark.
3. We need to be braver
I really don’t like it when agencies talk about taking risks. It’s not their money and reputation that’s at risk, at least not to the same extent.
However, much of the very best work this week has shown how great creativity can be rewarded with amazing results.
Any winner at Cannes qualifies to enter the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions the following year. To win, you have to prove that the work was both creative and effective.
If you had said that a retailer could win top spot by disrupting the convention of product-based advertising to drive huge sales growth, you’d be called mad.
But the John Lewis department store chain in the UK did just that (and in fact every year) with their 2014 Christmas campaign. It was awarded the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix. They ran a fully integrated campaign that simply told the story, using music and animation, of a bear and a hare sharing the bear’s first Christmas.
The story was built from a simple but brilliant human insight that at Christmas, the best gift of all is Christmas itself. So the real value they delivered was emotional, not rational.
The results in terms of hard sales and profit were amazing, and all because the agency was smart enough to work on delivering real value, and the client was brave enough to back their advice.
If you’d like to see the case study, let me know.
So ends another year at Cannes. To my mind, this year could be a game changer. In a world where customers look for relevance and value, the game changers win.
This matters, because today more than ever, businesses need fresh thinking, fresh approaches and fresh ideas to solve tough challenges.And that will only come if we are all ambitious and brave enough to seek real change.
Profile Image: Wikimedia