Six key takeaways from Cannes Lions 2015

A Load of Cannes-Do: 6 Things That Inspired Us

With more than 20,000 delegates, 40,000 award entries and 256 official talks, the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was bigger than ever, offering marketers plenty of food for thought. While many of the themes discussed onstage were consistent topics we’ve heard before, what’s interesting in 2015 is that a lot of past “hype” finally came to fruition in the work that was celebrated. Others though, while still hotly debated buzzwords amongst the industry, have yet to transpire. After assessing everything we saw and heard at the Cannes Lions, along with the firehouse of post-mortems and press, we’d like to offer six takeaways that we believe could have the greatest impact on your business.

Serve a purpose

Altruistic brand purpose has finally grown up in 2015, as more and more consumers are demanding that brands stand for something. It’s no longer just about selling stuff but it’s about delivering actual benefits too, ultimately demonstrating the power of marketing to create change and challenge stereotypes.

2. Get gender equality right

The theme of “doing good” extended more specifically this year into the issue of gender equality; not just in the portrayal of women in advertising, but equally in our industry. This year, six of the 21 Jury Presidents were female, speaker ratio moved dramatically closer to an even representation, and Cannes Lions created the Glass Lion, an award to celebrate work that addresses issues of gender equality, helmed by Cindy Gallop. It was also a popular topic on stage with MediaCom’s own Global Chief Digital Officer, Deirdre McGlashan, and Dell’s Allison Dew, Global Marketing VP, joining a panel of other senior technology leaders bent on tackling the gender gap in the global creative tech sector.

3. Create the content with the connection in mind

At MediaCom, we talk about content and connections as the two pillars of any brand’s communications system. “Content” (anything from a tweet to a 60-second ad and everything in between) is the fuel for the system, and the “connections” are how we distribute that content to ensure a highly functioning system without dead ends or waste. Content was still a hot topic in Cannes, although it didn’t necessarily translate all its potential to the work we saw. Many campaigns that judges saw this year started with content but didn’t see it all the way through to the end. Instead, they created content for content’s sake and did not marry it up with marketing objectives nor relevant media choices that could exhaust its full potential. Where we saw content working best was when both the message and the medium were a seamless unit – where content was designed with the connection in mind.

4. Fuel creativity with innovation and technology

As Ad Age has reported, the next big thing for the Cannes Lions may be to attract the start-up and venture capital communities. This year, Unilever brought its Foundry50 (the world’s top 50 marketing-tech start-ups) and the Festival itself ran a Start-Up Academy, offering 10 fledging companies a Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank-like opportunity. But for all the talk of adtech taking over Cannes, and the introduction of the new Innovation and Creative Data Lions, there was a clear disconnect between the on-stage conversations and the work that won. Very few of 2015’s winners were driven by the creative use of technology, and the first-ever Creative Data jury declined to award a Grand Prix. Fortunately, there were still a few stand-out examples of innovation.

5. Get powered by data

How to use media and social negative buzz to full effect Data remained a hot topic this year, and it was good to see the conversation begin to shift from data mining and big data to the use of data and creativity. In fact, we saw many great campaigns that successfully used data to enhance creativity (and in many examples, it actually drove and determined the creativity itself). MediaCom’s own Lion-winning Listen for Yourself campaign for Bose tapped into real Spotify listening data from around the world – something that had never been done before – and uncovered burgeoning music scenes in places you would least expect them. Based on these unique insights, we delivered custom music content to power the Facebook feeds of our Millennial audience.

6. Spread love, not hate

While the incidence of hate speech on the Internet has become increasingly challenging for marketers, several brands used the intrinsic characteristics of social media to turn the conversation around. Under Armour’s Grand Prix Cyber Lions winner, the I Will What I Want campaign, encouraged women to ignore judgement and negative stereotypes. A live social experiment projected negative comments about supermodel Gisele Bündchen into online and TV ads, that instigated as many if not more positive comments from fans, which were posted simultaneously – empowering women to put the “haters” in their place.

MediaCom Beyond Advertising’s award success
Five takeaways from this year’s Silicon Valley Summit