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Cannes 2018: Six Takeaways from the Festival of Creativity


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This year’s Cannes Lions Festival took a back-to-basics approach with a renewed spirit of creativity. It was a smaller festival but, still filled with big ideas.

Here are our major takeaways.

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Cannes 2018: Six Takeaways from the Festival of Creativity

  2. 2. This year’s Cannes Lions Festival took a back-to-basics approach with a renewed spirit of creativity. It was a smaller festival but, still filled with big ideas. HERE ARE OUR MAJOR TAKEAWAYS.
  3. 3. SPEAKING UP FOR THE VOICES NOT IN THE ROOM Diversity and inclusion is the issue of the year in the advertising industry. This year at Cannes, it was not only the subject of a handful of conferences and panels, but also the underlying topic of most talks. Questions of gender and racial diversity and inclusion—in agencies, in the client’s marketing team, on air—are on everyone’s lips. This necessary discussion is key for our industry, because we need to continuously offer our clients a different creative angle on their business problems. Ad agencies have always been more diverse than their clients, and it is our collective responsibility to make sure that we maintain a broader point of view and an openness to new ideas. Diversity is not only a good business strategy (because diverse teams generate better work), but also a great way to maintain our creative lead over new competitors. Ultimately, brands and companies will have to work on creating inclusive environments that promote gender equality to support people in being their authentic selves—however they define their gender. Futurist and consultant Faith Popcorn said it best in her panel “The Death of Masculinity and Its Impact on Creativity,” “This is a fact: change or die out.” ONE
  4. 4. BRANDS ARE TAKING SOCIAL STANDS ON POLARIZING ISSUES Trying to be everything for everyone has always led to uninspiring and “beige” creative. As more companies jump into social-oriented marketing, we are observing firsthand the way brands can become agents for positive social change. This crop of creative pieces addresses LGBTQA+ equal rights (specifically regarding same-sex marriage) and protecting animals. The cause that we should keep on our radar for years to come is our attention, or lack thereof, in the ever-distracting era of smartphones and social media. “Throughout my entire career, I’ve always believed in the power of what we do and the power of creativity,” David Droga, Co-Founder and Creative Chairman at Droga5 said during his keynote.. “Good intentions, talent, and ethics—they will power through anything.” TWO
  5. 5. THE GOLDEN AGE OF B2C: BUSINESS TO CHINESE The influence of the Chinese market, the rise of new technology, and China’s new openness to the world have made understanding Chinese culture key for many marketers and advertisers. With scores of conferences about Chinese consumers, attitudes, and perception of the famous “Made in China” label, China was on everyone’s lips at Cannes Lions. In China, a new generation is transforming consumption and brand building like never before. Previously, emerging individualism launched the conspicuous strutting of luxury logos for fashion, but that was recently replaced by more discrete forms of brand bragging. Today, the desire to balance individualism and cultural collectivism has led to the revival of traditional Chinese culture in brand building. Instead of going for recognized international brands, the Chinese consumers are increasingly buying brands that proudly depict Chinese names and celebrate their heritage. In her talk, “Finding Meaning in China’s Post-Consumerism Culture,” Laura Liang, Chief Strategy Officer of DDB China Group, explained the new attitudes of the emerging middle-class, highlighting how the new generation is progressively changing its consumption behavior from luxury to experience, from ostentatious to meaningful, from showy to purpose-driven brands. THREE
  6. 6. MAKING MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS IS NOT ABOUT TECH When brands have an authentic voice that taps into a shared topic of interest, that’s when they become relevant to consumers. Maria Garrido, Senior Vice-President of Brand Marketing at Vivendi, led the talk “Meaningful Connections Across Print, Digital, Film, Music, and Entertainment,” with an all-female panel who have roles in music, entertainment, and communications—all industries with master storytellers who know how to create content that moves people. “When we talk about meaningful content, meaningful brands, we’re not just talking about something that we think has meaning,” said Kamal Sinclair, Director of the New Frontier Labs Program at the Sundance Institute, on the topic of meaningful content. “We’re talking about adding meaning to people’s lives.” And with the awarded work, it was pretty evident that experience over technology is the new standard. The days of using new technology just to use it are over. Instead, agencies and brands are now using that technology in a natural way that provides a real value to consumers. If you’re not thinking about the consumer experience, you’re out of the game. FOUR
  7. 7. VOICE IS THE PACKAGING OF THE FUTURE By 2020, we will be more likely to speak our keywords rather than type them when searching online. The rising popularity of voice assistants makes voice one of the most overlooked brand-building tools available. Customers like voice for its speed, accuracy, and natural feel. With the right tone, the right accent, and a brand-aligned strategy, brands can create a deep emotional bond through voice. During “The Tongue Paints What Eyes Can’t See: Power of Voice,” Verra Budimlija, Chief Strategy Officer of Wavemaker, and Thom Noble, neuroscientist and Co-founder of NeuroStrata, observed that voices are decoded at a subconscious level. When tested against a human voice on specific value associations, synthetic voices lose emotional matchups by 17 to one. And brands not only need an actual human voice, they need the right one—one that fits a brand’s desired value associations. With the growing use of voice assistants and voice devices in connected objects, marketers will soon be forced to revise their brand books to include the values and sentiments they want their brand voice to represent…and to design that voice accordingly. FIVE
  8. 8. TO FEED YOUR CREATIVE TODDLER BRAIN, IGNORE BEST PRACTICES Children are born creative but begin to lose this ability through the enforcement of social norms—we’ve known this for a long time. In trying to prevent toddlers from hurting themselves despite their creative explorations, we are also teaching them to avoid risk. As we age, we tend to ignore possibilities, and we become overtaken by our focus on limits. Conducting broad competitive reviews and establishing best practices is the agency equivalent of “adulting” a brand process. By focusing too much on past successes, dos and don’ts, and the industry’s sacred cows, we are training our brains to follow rules. Best practices can quickly get in the way of next practices. At best, studying best practices leads to being slightly better than average. In order to build brands, we must rediscover an appetite for going beyond better than average. Children don’t settle for the ordinary; they are constantly striving for the magical and the extraordinary. If we want to bring this vitality to the brands that we manage and build, we must surround ourselves with people who are as much in love with the problem as they are with the solution. Solution- seeking inevitably leads to “aging” and losing the fresher perspective of our inner creative toddlers. Robert Wong, VP at Google Creative Lab, closed out his “What Creativity Can Do” talk by saying that creativity, no doubt, can shape our future: “No one knows what the future looks like, but if we use our creativity, use our hearts, use our imaginations, hopefully they will know when we’re done.” SIX
  9. 9. By Stéphane Mailhiot SVP and Head of Strategy, Havas Montréal Natasha Smith Strategic Communications Manager, Havas Group Sami Viitamaki Executive Creative Director, Digital, Havas New York