Andy Lark: The Cannes Conundrum

Andy Lark: The Cannes Conundrum
SHARE
THIS



Ex-CommBank, Ex-Xero CMO and industry straight shooter Andy Lark, who now boasts the job title of chair at Group Lark, spent a week on the Cote D’Azur at adland’s annual love-in, and penned this summation of his experience.

Let’s not forget that this is the “Festival of Creativity”.

It’s not meant to celebrate marketing effectiveness, efficiency or even relevance. It’s not there to heap praise on creative that drives commercial outcomes for its sponsors. It’s not a platform to discuss the challenges facing marketers. No, it’s just a festival of creativity. And it’s ok for that, and that alone.

We should celebrate creative that is beautiful, brilliant, witty and wise. I’ve long argued that marketing is, in part, a product, and creative is a key ingredient. But you’d be forgiven wandering through the halls of the Palais for forgetting that it is just one ingredient. Every other element  –  from effective research and use of data, through technology and business results  – takes a back-seat to the primacy of creative.

David Ogilvy was right when he said: “You cannot bore people into buying your product.” That idea follows a more important reality, which is: “You can’t make commercial creative detached from a commercial reality.” Wieden + Kennedy has won a stack of Lions at Cannes in for the Old Spice campaign ‘The man your man could smell like’, and they doubled sales in only six months and put the brand back on the world map. That’s what was missing for me across the board. Beautiful creative powering beautiful commercial outcomes.

So, with that as the caveat, what can I offer you up from a predominantly sober attendance over seven days at Cannes? In no particular order:

The creative halo (reality distortion field) in marketing is alive and well. While more subdued than last year there was plenty going down around the event. There are few events that offer the opportunity to connect and light-up opportunities like Cannes. As Scott points out, Cannes mimics the broader chasm emerging between the digerati and those that can only aspire.

The intensity (whether meetings or partying) of activity around the likes of Facebook and Google was a step ahead and up from any other media there. What was seriously absent was executive presence and a focus on the CMO from digital brands. Any media brand trying to justify their presence at Cannes should invite a friendly B2B marketer to audit their event  – they’d likely be embarrassed by their performance in generating leads, connecting and generally reaching the hundreds of CMOs there.

The PR profession needs to get its shit together and that starts with fixing both the work and the judging. Entries based on a mix of antiquated (ad equivalency and eye-balls) and short-term metrics resulted in stunts taking the limelight over effective campaigns. Earned brand power is all the rage, but there is little substance to PR’s new moniker. PR must create a new performance playbook.

New media  – YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Google  –  dominated the beaches with rich experiences. Old media and their advisers sat atop super yachts seemingly unaware of their impending annihilation. Snapchat had a ferris wheel out front  –  a great meeting spot but looked like an awful idea to take a ride with the airborne cabanas akin to floating microwaves.

Consultants are coming in force. Accenture, PwC and others plied their trade from the marina but have a great deal of work to do to become relevant to CMOs. But then they don’t have to do they  –  they are already relevant to the CEO, and that’s the path in. Which begs two questions : what were they even doing there, and, why is adland so slow in concocting a response?

What happened to VR and AR? Snapchat Spectacles littered a few tables but the Samsung tsunami of last year was gone. Not a headset to be seen.

AI, machine learning and data circled nearly every keynote. Baidu’s work in China was super impressive.
Grandstanding was a distraction. Publicis’ posited the bizarre idea that cancelling attendance at and participating in events like Cannes would somehow result in a inflow of cash to fund an AI experiment. Wow. There is nothing like a little grape throwing while hiding behind your rosé and enjoying the view. I tried to connect the dots but still haven’t. When I try I get lost in a weird agency alter reality  –  they really spent that much money on parties, awards and rosé? Just. Saying. Like. WOW!

Industry issues make the agenda and that’s great. We desperately need more diversity! Fake news made for good fodder with few ideas on how to solve. No real discussion of the blatant fraud in video media. No talk of the rise of the CCO and CDO over marketing  – and their rationalisation of spend and strategy. The usual CMOs (noticeably white male) trotted out their egotistic drivel on what our agenda should be while largely skirting the fact that Google and Amazon are eating their lunch. What didn’t get discussed enough is the slow and agonising death of the advertising-industrial complex, which is likely to lose 130,000 plus jobs if Google and Facebook meet their combined targets.

Noticeably absent  –  Amazon. Amazon will cause havoc on the media ecosystem over the next two years and present an unprecedented opportunity and threat to major brands. Alexa and the Amazon brain is about to set up shop in two-thirds of US households  – disinter-mediating traditional media. I’d say Amazon will have little interest in Rose, La Colombe d’Or, or the beach.

The rich legacy of great products and today’s amazing creative was beautiful to watch. Seeing Stan Smith on stage talking about his partnership with Adidas was special. The Saatchi new directors showcase is still a spellbinder.

So, to go or not to go, that is the question.

I’ll take a pass this coming year while the organisers find some real moderators and new-generation CMOs that probe and speak to what is actually happening. They’ll hopefully also fix their shitty event app and impossibly bad website that makes connecting and figuring out what is happening a near impossible.

And during that time maybe, just maybe, the agencies and media elite will figure out they are actually spending their clients money and work harder to engage CMOs at the event.

It’s a beautiful event showcasing beautiful creative.

The opportunity is to connect it to beautiful commercial outcomes.

C’Eest La Vie Cannes.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Retail Software Player Vend Moves Into AI As Part Of Platform Revamp
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Retail Software Player Vend Moves Into AI As Part Of Platform Revamp

Point-of-sale (POS) retail software company Vend has taken its first steps into AI to help retailers grow and compete as part of a major platform refresh. Dott aims to help retailers make better decisions about their stores and how to grow, bringing the much talked-about promise of AI to life for retail. Neither male nor […]

One-on-one With Pacific Magazines’ Wendy Moore
  • Media

One-on-one With Pacific Magazines’ Wendy Moore

With audiences consuming more media than ever before, Wendy Moore, general manager of Pacific Magazines’ homes and food titles, sat down with Magazine Networks to outline two unique projects in her portfolio. When she’s not gracing our TV screens as a judge on Seven’s House Rules, Wendy Moore oversees Pacific Magazines’ portfolio of homes and […]

Enough With Your Shitty Videos Already
  • Opinion

Enough With Your Shitty Videos Already

In this opinion piece, Mike Cardillo (pictured below), co-founder, executive creator director and resident frustrated soul at Sydney-based production company Sixteen Corners, argues why making a video for the sake of making a video will never do, and offers some words of wisdom to those looking to create a clip. So, the solution to every marketing, comms, […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Amazon Effect! Study Shows 88% Of Aussies Hate Local Retailers
  • Marketing
  • Media

The Amazon Effect! Study Shows 88% Of Aussies Hate Local Retailers

Amazon’s Australian launch is imminent and if you had any concerns about its ability to succeed Down Under you only need to look at a new survey that reveals a whopping 88 per cent of Australian shoppers say they’re no fans of local bricks and mortar retailers. The study, by tech solutions firm Pitney Bowes, showed a […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Bauer’s Christian Fricke Resigns As MD Of Xcel Media
  • Media

Bauer’s Christian Fricke Resigns As MD Of Xcel Media

Further to today’s news that Bauer Media will close three of its magazine titles, the publisher has announced the resignation of Christian Fricke, managing director of Bauer Xcel Media. According to a statement sent to media, Fricke, who had been in the role a mere 18 months, will return to Germany for family reasons. Commenting on Fricke’s departure, Bauer Media […]

WWF Campaign Labelled “The Saddest Christmas Ad Ever”
  • Campaigns

WWF Campaign Labelled “The Saddest Christmas Ad Ever”

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has unveiled its annual Christmas ad campaign that has been labelled as “one of the saddest Christmas adverts ever produced. The global campaign aims to daw attention to the devastation caused by Africa’s ivory trade and the tremendous cruelty inflicted on its elephants. It was produced by the WWF’s as part of their Just Like Us campaign and […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Former Aussie Cricket Captain and photography enthusiast Steve Waugh for SnapSydney.  Picture: John Appleyard
  • Campaigns
  • Media

News Corp Expands ‘Snap Australia’ Campaign To Regional Titles

News Corp’s award-winning Community Media’s ‘Snap Australia’ campaign continues to build momentum. ‘Snap Australia’ is a social media movement that celebrates what Aussies love about where they live. The feel-good factor of the initiative has extended into each capital city and into News Regional Media, with an additional 18 regional publications joining the initiative. Today […]

Virgin, Yellow Brick Road & GoSwtich Flock To Sports Content Platform PlayersVoice
  • Marketing
  • Media

Virgin, Yellow Brick Road & GoSwtich Flock To Sports Content Platform PlayersVoice

Six weeks after its launch, sports content platform PlayersVoice is winning the hearts and minds of consumers and brands. Established as a platform for rich and raw first-person sports storytelling, PlayersVoice has created an environment where elite sportspeople feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears, shining a light on ‘The Human Behind the […]

Red Agency Grows Partnership With The Whiddon Group
  • Marketing

Red Agency Grows Partnership With The Whiddon Group

NSW aged care specialists The Whiddon Group – a longstanding PR and social client of Red Agency – have widened their remit to include content, paid social and SEO in line with the evolution of the aged care sector. Whiddon, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year, delivers care services that enable quality of life […]

Image lead story Toby’s Estate Taps Influencers To Launch First Concept Coffee Range
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Toby’s Estate Taps Influencers To Launch First Concept Coffee Range

Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters has launched its first ever concept coffee range – the Underdog Series. The series shines a spotlight on the world’s relatively unknown, but emerging specialty coffee producing regions. The Australian business leads the local market in selling specialty coffee from regions including Uganda, Malawi, Mexico and Myanmar. For the first time, […]

Image lead story Our Revolution Shows Off Packaging For New Smallgoods Player The Smokeman Brothers
  • Marketing

Our Revolution Shows Off Packaging For New Smallgoods Player The Smokeman Brothers

Locally-sourced Australian brand The Smokeman Brothers, has hit shelves with packaging mastered by independent creative agency Our Revolution. The Smokeman Brothers is different to your average deli meat. It is a range of premium crafted meats, made in Australia, and authentically smoked using sustainable timber sourced from the Victorian Highlands and The Riverina regions. Our […]

Yarra Trams & Icon Agency Introduce ‘Tram Coach’ For New Passenger Safety Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Yarra Trams & Icon Agency Introduce ‘Tram Coach’ For New Passenger Safety Campaign

Yarra Trams has appointed Icon Agency to deliver a new passenger safety campaign, following a competitive three-way pitch. The campaign aims to reduce the incidence of slips, trips and falls on trams via Melbourne’s latest safety ambassador, ‘Tram Coach’. Commencing today, Tram Coach will be travelling the Yarra Trams network throughout the week. His mission […]

The Red Republic Appoints New General Manager
  • Marketing

The Red Republic Appoints New General Manager

The Red Republic has strengthened its management team with the appointment of Mai Aristoteli (pictured above) as general manager. Aristoteli joins The Red Republic from Talk PR in London, where she has worked for nine years as a board director. The appointment of Aristoteli follows The Red Republic managing director Lynn Mooney’s relocation to head-up […]

PR Deadlines Inks Deal With GlobalCom PR Network
  • Marketing

PR Deadlines Inks Deal With GlobalCom PR Network

Sydney-based agency PR Deadlines has extended its global reach after inking a partnership agreement with the GlobalCom PR Network. The agreement gives PR Deadlines’ clients access to some 70 independent agencies covering all European Union states, as well as 60 more in countries worldwide. In turn, clients of affiliated agencies will have access to PR […]

Fintech Start-up InstaReM Names Aussie Cricketer Matthew Wade As Brand Ambassador
  • Marketing

Fintech Start-up InstaReM Names Aussie Cricketer Matthew Wade As Brand Ambassador

InstaReM, which offers international money transfers to individuals and businesses, has signed on Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade as the sports face of the brand. InstaReM lists Australia as its founding market, having begun life here in 2014. Since the company’s modest start in Australia, InstaReM has since successfully spread its wings to other corridors by […]

Australia Is Diverse… Does Your Brand Have An Inclusive Digital Presence?
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Australia Is Diverse… Does Your Brand Have An Inclusive Digital Presence?

As Australia continues to grow and the population becomes more ethnically diverse, it is important that marketers ensure digital environments are more inclusive, especially for those who don’t speak English as a first language, writes Siteimprove’s Haley Doel (pictured below). Having a readable and accessible website is no longer just a high priority for large […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Pepsi MAX Teams Up With PHD & Time Out For New Data-driven Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Pepsi MAX Teams Up With PHD & Time Out For New Data-driven Campaign

Pepsi MAX has partnered with PHD and Time Out to not only inspire Australians, but also enhance their ability to ‘MAX’ out their summer this year. Through the use of a live dynamic data feed, consumers will be served ads by the brand on events taking place around them that are relevant to their personal […]

AI – To Join It Or To Beat It
  • Media
  • Opinion

AI – To Join It Or To Beat It

I'm afraid we can't let you read this piece Dave! That's a joke about A Space Odyssey 2001, young B&T readers.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine