In this opinion, Fjord lead Bronwyn van der Merwe (pictured below) discusses the work to look out for at Cannes Lions 2018.
I fully expect there will be some staggering examples of creative brilliance at Cannes Lions this year, and I’d recommend anyone going resists having their attention pulled by projects that are largely based on disruptive hype.
Look out for projects that showcase how brands are changing the way they think about their customer.
We should seek out those who aren’t busying themselves chasing customer loyalty but are flipping the tables by focusing on becoming loyal brands.
These brands are continuously adapting and shifting around their customers’ needs and expectations in a quest to remain relevant and helpful.
In today’s world, this is the only way brands can achieve sustainable growth – and that’s what winning is all about.
We work with our clients to transform them into Living Businesses that seek to do exactly that – to unlock growth with relevance, profitably delivering products, services and experiences that are hyper-relevant to customers, even as their context and needs evolve over time.
You should be looking for brands showing signs of this kind of thinking at Cannes Lions.
As consumers, we’re bombarded by choice at every turn – promotions in our social feeds, related or suggested product lists on e-commerce sites, and acres of retail space packed with offers.
This could be tackled with better advertising and communication.
However, we also face a more regular – and aggressive – onslaught from social upheaval, tension and technological disruption; so much so, it’s come to characterise modern life.
This more substantial challenge will demand that businesses use their resources and knowledge to work towards actively improving our lives, rather than simply flogging us more stuff.
This year at Cannes Lions, be on the hunt for entrants showing evidence of the following:
- Work that makes a human impact. Projects that reach beyond a worthy message to do good. Advertising campaigns can blow your socks off, but I’ll always be more interested if there’s substance to back them up.
- Initiatives that break beyond the remit of a select team – like marketing or digital – to make a positive impact across a whole experience rather than a ‘big idea’ campaign. A recently launched piece of research from Accenture on Living Businesses has found that 93% of the highest performing companies prioritise organising their entire business around customer need, instead of relying on siloed initiatives to positively impact consumers.
- For instance, real impact for a bank could be enabling people to visualise their finances in a new way that helps them to proactively avoid overdrafts or to make savings. Even stronger would be a bank that could do that at every touchpoint – an app, online banking, in the branch and through a messaging bot. Now that would be deserving of an award. And you never know, a great ad might be part of the picture.
- Living Business principles like company-wide focus on the customer, and multi-disciplinary teams that work closely together without being constrained by the traditional parameters of defined roles.
The beauty of focusing on becoming a loyal brand is that it’s the best way to earn loyal customers in today’s business landscape – it’s simply a new route to the same end.
Accenture research suggests that Living Businesses are 50 per cent more likely to stand firm and succeed in the face of industry disruption, and three times more likely to achieve above-average revenue and profit growth.
This is evidence enough that a firm focus on creating experiences that genuinely enrich consumers’ lives will win Living Businesses much more than a Cannes Lions award – though the latter is always a glamorous, if short-term target.
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