Cannes 2014: South by Southern France via MRY

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After spending the week at the 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the good folks over at MRY have pulled together some key takeaways from their experiences overseas. 

David Berkowitz, Chief Marketing Officer

The biggest surprise for my first year in Cannes was how much the festival resembled another that I’ve been going to for years – South by Southwest. Everywhere along the most populated areas of the Palais and the Croisette were banners for tech brands such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Pinterest, Spotify, and the Mobile Marketing Association. Yachts flew flags of companies such as Celtra, Vibrant Media, and True[x]. Even more traditional brands such as the Daily Mail and Clear Channel were heavily touting their digital offerings. On the main stage, celebrities followed suit, with Patrick Stewart taking a “dronie” (a selfie powered by a drone) for Twitter, and Kanye sharing the secrets behind his famous wedding photo on Instagram. Meanwhile, Volvo Trucks won in B2B for a YouTube campaign, while British Airways triumphed in out-of-home awards for a billboard powered by real-time flight data. 2014 is the year tech totally took over the Lions, and there’s no turning back.

Sarah Shaker, Community Management Supervisor

An active dialogue between brands and consumers can be found through digital advertising, specifically within the social media landscape. Brands have been working hard to tell great stories in social media, but those stories alone are not enough anymore to garner an active and engaged community, which emerged as an ongoing theme at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival.

Content must now must be participatory, where community members can truly engage by extending the creative. Content that leads to comments were once a metric to measure success within brand communities, but contributions are the new “it” form of engagement. Social in its most basic form can drive participation, but community members with an emotional attachment to thought-provoking content will produce higher quality contributions, rather than a higher volume of low point of entry comments.

Harding Royster, Senior Strategist

With each passing year, people increasingly question what the purpose of Cannes is.  Is it to showcase the most creative storytelling in advertising?  Is it to celebrate the most effective ideas? Is it just a big party?  Looking at what now wins at Cannes, a clear purpose behind the festival is increasingly less clear – and that’s a great thing.  Ultimately, the festival should not be defining what makes great advertising, but simply celebrating all the different ways in which brands can now tell their stories and connect with audiences–especially in ways that never existed before.  Looking at some of the winners for this year, there were 3 interesting themes that emerged:

-To make people care and share, say or do something significant. Chipotle (“Scarecrow”) and Volvo (“Epic Split”), using powerful visuals, provocative messaging, and world-class production quality, got their points across without ever truly “selling” anything. For both brands, all it took was one single video to make a simple yet major statement.

-Use technology to tell a human story. British Airways (“Look Up”) and Honda (“Sound of Honda/Ayrton Senna”) showed that putting a human element at the center of the narrative makes it far more powerful and unique.

-Be brave. Rather than just affirming their support of the LGBT community, ANZ Bank created “Gaytms”, decorating their ATMS with rhinestones and glitter.  Terres de hommes, a child rights organization, created “Sweetie,” a 3-D model of a 10 year-old girl in order to snare pedophiles and raise awareness of the webcam child sex tourism epidemic. 

Krista Bedosky, Community Manager

The reality of the digital world is that you need more than a stunning visual ad, and it’s clear from the work presented at Cannes that tech is top dog. Technology aids in the execution of creativity and design. For example, the Samsung Smart Bike concept was built with the purpose of making biking safer. The bike is beautifully designed through Italian craftsmanship, but it also comes equipped with laser beams and a GPS system. Or the Nivea“Protection Ad,” which turned a simple magazine ad placement into something parents could literally tear out and use to track their children in crowded areas. Nivea and Samsung did it right with tech-laden designs that provide utility without being gimmicky.

Allyssa Kaiser, Account Executive

Cannes 2014 revealed three major insights:

-It isn’t going to get any easier. Facing the advent of social networks and the emergence of advertising technology, it’s safe to say that the “marketer’s world” is bound to only get more complex. While intimidating, marketers who learn to embrace these newfound platforms and spaces will come out on top.

-Investing in young talent is key to agency growth. By giving junior and mid-level talent opportunities to create, manage, and own work, today’s agencies are setting themselves up for longevity.

-Brands that learn how to tell “their story” in a compelling way win out. By engaging in relevant conversations, staying ahead of the curve, and standing up for causes, we are already seeing brands succeed in the social and digital space.