Cannes Conversations

June 22, 2015


This year’s 2015 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is as fertile as ever. The rich roll call of celebrity speakers and marketing luminaries has sparked many conversation threads and debates. I’ve picked out six trends that have resonated with me.

Rise of Asian influence.  The purchasing power of the millions of Chinese netizens has been well-documented. However, what’s different is the increasing influence of Chinese brands such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and as innovation leaders on the world stage. Their technologies are creating new ways of engaging with consumers that have the potential to transcend cultural and language boundaries and disrupt current communication norms.

Inspiration can come from anywhere.  There are two trends here: the first is the rise of new creative models and centers. There have been many moments in history where cities have had rich creative periods – belle epoques such as 1900s Vienna, 1930s Berlin, and 1960s London and New York. Today, Tokyo is arguably one of the most creative centers in the world. It is turning existing creative models upside down by tapping into Japanese traditions and philosophies and combining them with new attitudes and cultural phenomena. The result: the “perfect mismatch” that can take brands to new places.

The other trend is the democratization of creativity through technology. The internet has leveled the playing field. Creative breakthroughs are as likely to happen through crowdsourcing as they are through intellectual discourse in cafes or backroom bars. Consumers are getting together virtually to solve points of friction that have rubbed for too long.

From all you can eat to snackable. Technology improvements have increased the rate of content consumption, making it even more important for brands to provide content in the form and manner that consumers want. For brands, this means more filtering, more targeting and more bite-sized content consumers can “eat” on the run. More is no longer better.

The selfie-absorbed society. Peter Kim from Chiel talked about the “selfie-absorbed” society. “Engagement” is no longer enough. Consumers want a more intense experience. They want brands to make them laugh, to make them cry and to make them famous. They want brands to help them extend their connections and their sense of self-worth – either in the highly curated form that apps such as Tinder offer or the true-to-life version of Snapchat or the common language created by Spotify.

Saving the world is big.  Ironically, in this “selfie-absorbed” society, brands with a higher purpose at their core are appealing to consumers who want corporates to take a lead in solving some of today’s most pressing issues. Consumers want to feel good about the brands they support and are quick to vote with their feet with brands that don’t meet their exacting standards. As the level of transparency increases, the need for authenticity and sustainable business practices is rising as well. Brands caught in the cross-fire of consumer scrutiny will find that trust is earned over the long-term and quick-fix marketing solutions don’t work unless there is integrity at the operational level.

Harnessing the power of #now. Brands often get infatuated with big events such as the Super Bowl and New York Fashion Week but Twitter’s Chris Moody says they should also look to harness the everyday conversations around cultural topics such as sport, music and fashion, not just the big global cultural events. Far from being mundane, the everyday conversations provide predictable platforms that allow brands to connect with consumers in more meaningful ways, allowing a more genuine engagement to be created. Brands can also do this with moments of social change. Think of Emma Watson’s #heforshe campaign.