Eight Things Ogilvy PR’s Exec Learnt From Cannes

Eight Things Ogilvy PR’s Exec Learnt From Cannes

Cannes, the massive creativity festival in the south of France, may be over, but that doesn’t stop the plethora of lessons coming out of it. Richard Brett, managing director of consumer relations at Ogilvy Public Relations has penned his thoughts for B&T about this year’s Cannes and what we should know as an industry.

Despite all the exciting new data and technology developments, there is renewed talk of a creative renaissance in marketing communications at Cannes: because in 2015 a great idea has to be a shareable idea. Many speakers are reminding us or re-connecting us to some fundamental principles in effective creative marketing and creativity, and showing us how new technology will allow ever more interesting and exciting branded creative output:

1. Have a Purpose

It might sound obvious (it certainly did to me at first), but upon hearing from four brands with a really strong purpose (Avon (Beauty with a Purpose), Dove (Real Beauty), Quaker (Start Goodness) and Hershey (Bringing Goodness to the World), it really bought home to me the power of a truly deep, authentic purpose for your organisation; one that has meaning not just for consumers, but for your employees and indeed the world. Why do you exist and what good do you do for humanity? If you don’t know you need to work it out, because in today’s world of transparency and conversational communication, your entire organisation needs to know what its greater good is and how to behave to deliver it.

2. Snapchat will become the new CNN

Hearing about the innovation focus of Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel really opened my eyes. With a whole host of new tools now available or being launched, the platform is opening up new dimensions to people powered communication. Perhaps the most interesting is how the Story function is changing news generation. This is a new democratic style of news capturing and sharing that the platform is facilitating. Spiegel talked about the recent tragic events in Charleston and talked very emotively about how seeing so many different perspectives and contributions from people in the city gave the story a much richer perspective. Fifteen million people contributed to a New Year’s Eve 2015 Story on Snapchat; compare that to just five million that watched the traditional NYE countdown on the ABC network in the US.

3. It’s okay to fail

Another theme is the revolutionary power that social media is having in bringing the world together. One of these universal human truths that almost all the speakers have talked about is the importance of listening to their instinct and inner voice on their creative journey. This is coupled with a universal fear about what’s next and where their next idea is coming from.

So whatever your idea is, it’s okay to be scared about the journey that you might have to take to make it happen, but follow your heart to make it reality

4. Brief the Subconscious

Gerry Graf, chief creative officer of Barton F. Graf 9000 spoke about the revolution that big data has bought onto the way we develop insights.

Graf quoted Bill Bernbach; “The facts are never enough”, and our job is to turn the numbers into an emotional conversation with consumers. To do this is to brainstorm with the team, but Graf led with the importance of the subconscious. Stop and reflect – tell your subconscious to work on something in the background once you have absorbed the data.

5. Change the Model

Three leaders of Florida based agency CP+B Chuck Porter – Andre Keller, Neil Riddel and Chuck Porter – gave us a fascinating and inspirational new business model: use the creative talent in your business to launch your own brands.

It’s an idea they stumbled upon five years ago when a guy they knew from the liquor business had a whole load of bourbon (as you do) but no brand. So together, with some venture capitalists, they created a new whisky called Angel’s Envy and it has been a roaring success. It is highly differentiated, arriving with a feminine and highly disruptive bottle with a purity of packaging that you just don’t get with the category.

But what CP+B did very smartly was to use their best creative minds to develop a highly engaging brand story – it’s this business model which is their key. To use the creative agency strengths – design, branding, advertising, content – to create a highly engaging, authentic and deep story and then partner with VCs and experts in the category across sales, distribution and production.

6. The Arrival of Mixed Reality

Microsoft’s HoloLens will change the world. The talk by Kudo Tsunoda, CVP Next Gen Experiences at Microsoft Studios convinced me that this innovation will literally change everything. Seriously, I am not trying to be dramatic. It really will.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, I suggest you watch for yourself here. HoloLens is the world’s first untethered holographic computer and gives us a whole new way of presenting ideas and stories. It is a new medium called Mixed Reality. Mixed Reality is different from augmented reality (placing digital assets into the world through your phone) and virtual reality (a fully immersive digital world) because it is the real word enhanced with holograms. It places digital assets and real world assets together at the same time.

The device has a see through visor like Google Glass, but has spatial sound to create real sounds as you would hear them from the holograph wherever it might be, advanced motion sensors for hand gesture control, gaze recognition technology and Skype functionality.

7. Don’t talk about digital

Everything is digital at Cannes. Everything. At the awards for the PR, outdoor, media and creative effectiveness every single one of the winners had or was led by a digital component.

So to talk about digital is no longer relevant; talk about marketing in the digital age; a thought which was reflected by a couple of speakers. Today digital is the locomotive pulling the rest of marketing communications train behind it. The big brand presence this year is from digital companies Google and Microsoft, and the most packed lecture I have been to so far was with Evan Spiegel, the co-founder and CEO of Snapchat. So don’t talk about digital, just know that whatever you do will be digital.

8. The rise of the machines

I felt very privileged to hear Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who of course invented the World Wide Web, and Mike Cooper, Worldwide CEO, PHD talk about what is clearly going to be the next revolution in marketing – the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI). Sir Tim predicts it will be with us within 15 years. Cooper likened it to the revolutions of the internet and social media, and it will fundamentally change our business (again).

AI’s first use will be the arrival of the true virtual personal assistant (VPA). So AI will not look like humans at first, but be a truly smart device in your pocket; the phone of 2025. The VPA will be able to think for itself and therefore for you. So if you are delayed at a conference, it will automatically change your travel arrangements, tell your loved ones, book a new restaurant and it will do this based on what it knows about you from your searches, from your social feeds and your behaviours. It will know all about you from your data.

VPAs will then totally and radically re-organise marketing. Marketing will move from influencing humans to influencing machines. It will move from a frontal cortex decision to an algorithmic one.  Everyone’s marketing decisions will involve VPAs. Web, social, attribution modelling and search will all become one and it will all be decided by algorithms in the VPA. Companies will then monetise these algorithms, so for example if your VPA knows you need a restaurant that evening, it will outreach to talk to restaurant VPAs in your location to find your perfect table based on your preferences and budget, and like Google, the algorithmic search recommendation and booking can be changed through restaurant VPAs bidding for your custom.

Get ready for the revolution.


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