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Cannes Lions 2018: Three trends to spot

Cannes is a magnet for all things advertising. It’s where the best work is celebrated and talked about, and where the industry’s brightest minds anticipate the trends of tomorrow.

Before Cannes Lions 2017 we said that Centennials would be the new Millennials, that data would power the best creative, that campaigns would increasingly be built around business models, not advertising, and that brands would increasingly need to understand culture to make their campaigns work around the world.

But, what can brands expect at Cannes Lions 2018? Here are three predictions…

1. To hell with brand purpose

Everyone knows brands are under pressure to give something back to society; consumers demand it. But many brands still aren’t getting it right. Too many forget the number one rule of doing good: you need to use your brand power to help good causes, not use good causes to help your brand. Even the biggest brands have made mistakes.

Brands must learn from these errors while still endeavouring to do good. This year with sustainability an obvious concern, I expect to see more activities aimed at making sure brands are more planet-friendly.

Shell is just one company working to support this. Over the last two years, it has launched sustainable energy solutions around the world, including a unique ‘gravity light’, which uses gravity to produce a safe, limitless source of light for people living off the energy grid. It’s a neat idea and one which feels natural for Shell to own.

Another brand getting it right is feminine hygiene brand Whisper. In India, many girls skip school every time they menstruate due to shaming. They can miss up to two months of education every year – and end up not fulfilling their potential.

To overcome this challenge, Whisper created Wings to Fly, India’s first-ever Menstruation Camp. The camp educates mothers about sanitary care for their daughters and helps them understand why more primitive or traditional sanitary solutions might prevent their daughters from participating in sports and academics. The camp has changed attitudes and improved hygiene for millions of Indian girls.

2. E-Commerce will continue to become the most transformative area of marketing

E-commerce is the most exciting and transformative area of marketing and sales tech right now. This year at Cannes, I expect to see lots of efforts that blur the boundaries between demand creation and commerce conversion, and campaigns that demonstrate a clear understanding of how to create enhance brand value and customer experience in the teeming digital marketplace.

In recent months, we’ve already seen massive advances in e-commerce and reached a point where the point-of-purchase has blurred with the point-of-engagement. In the West, for example, Amazon has become more than a retailer; it’s a platform for consumer reviews, an entertainment channel with broadcast quality content, and thanks to hardware such as Alexa, a constant presence in the homes of customers.

Amazon now allows brands to create their own ‘flagship stores’ with bespoke landing pages. Each ‘store’ gives its brand more exposure and a controlled environment for its products, a point of purchase branding opportunity

A similar example is Best Buy’s e-commerce site. This large US electronics retailer offers brands a sort of a ‘shop-in-shop’ section, where they can showcase their product selection in a ‘branded’ fashion and, in some cases, include a ‘brand experience’.

Alibaba and Tencent take the trend for native advertising and brand integration one step further, providing both content and commerce. As a result, Chinese consumers no longer see the dividing line between what is a store (or the point of transaction) and the engagement because they can go seamlessly from a branded experience to a purchase and back.

3. GDPR will change the way brands use data – not stop them using it

The exploration of data and tech in brand communications will continue to be a dominant theme, but in a post-GDPR world expect the emphasis to move away from anything that could be damned as ‘surveillance capitalism’ and more about new forms of brand experience for consumers.

MediaCom’s Theraflu AI Map for GSK shows us how brands can use data smartly to help consumers, not hinder them. Russia can get really, really cold, which makes it the perfect place for flu and colds to thrive. So, to help people know when they might need Theraflu, MediaCom built an interactive map, which predicted what the weather would be like in two weeks’ time.

The map was updated using multiple sources of data for greater accuracy, incuding weather, category sales, social mentions and search requests. As customers began to trust the map, so they began to trust Theraflu, too; sales shot up 12% year on year. That’s proof that, when used correctly, data can drive business results while enhancing consumers’ lives.

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