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Cannes Lions 2015: Brand experience trends

Jack's team on the ground at the Cannes Lions festival gave two presentations, and spent the week soaking up, not just sun and rosé, but trends and ideas from some of the world's leaders in marketing and creativity.

And buzzwords…lots of buzzwords.

Didn't make it to Cannes? No problem! Now that we're back, we've looked behind these trends and buzzwords and analyzed what they actually mean for marketers and the world of brand experience so you don't have to.

Read our white paper, and see how the trends we gathered in Cannes can transform your marketing.

Cannes Lions 2015: Brand experience trends

  1. 1. Cannes guide to buzzwords: 8 newbies on what’s real and what matters to brand experience
  2. 2. Cannes guide to buzzwords 2 CannesIt’s the industry festival celebrating the best in creativity and innovation in marketing communications. But is it anything more than one big industry pat on the back and an opportunity to bandy about the latest buzzwords? And does any of it matter? On a mission to answer this, we did something different this year… We sent our team members who had never been to Cannes— creatives, strategists and account leads from across our global network. Our people who are at the front line of creativity and innovation in brand experience. We asked them to explore what’s in it for us at Cannes. What can we learn from it that will help us and our clients in the world of brand experience? And is it even relevant to our world? Cannes Lions has come a long way from its ad industry roots and now embraces the broader marketing spectrum. As such, it is reflective of the challenges and conversations of all marketers, but also a key platform for the exploration of creative solutions to these challenges. And challenging times and adversity, often stimulate creativity. Consider this in the context of our need, in the increasingly fragmented media landscape, to connect with people in a more real, personal and genuinely value-adding way, meaning brand experience, and being creative and innovative within this field, should be top of the agenda. Cannes 2015 and brand experience can only be an explosive combination. As you read on, you’ll see just how much brand experience thinking permeated throughout Cannes, and how much of this, behind the buzzwords, is real and relevant to our world. From authenticity of what is said, to deeper intention of what is done, to understanding what it means to be human and applying this through a cultural lens—it all speaks to our need to make that connection with people on a personal level. Couple this with the ability to keep up with the speed of culture and technological change that impacts on our experiences (such as virtual reality) and the opportunity that we have to create work that actually does good, and you will start to get the full picture. For marketing professionals, Cannes is an opportunity to pause for thought—to re-charge and get re-inspired. But Cannes can also be a disruptor—it can make us challenge our established thinking, the received wisdom of our industry. As our strategist, Lewis Robbins, writes in "Challenging Received Wisdom," the best brands don't sit within the boundaries of life, passively projecting. They prod and poke the place where we live—not only closing the gap between the marketing bubble and the real world, but remaking it for the better. It’s brand experience that has the opportunity to achieve this—what an exciting time to be in it.
  3. 3. Cannes guide to buzzwords 3 Behind the buzzwords 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Authenticity Watching the magician's pockets Intention Look out authenticity, you've got company... Being human Tactics are no substitute for human insights Cultural insights Life-changing creativity Work for good It's not personal, but it should be Virtual reality A virtually new creative canvas Creativity at the speed of culture Built-in agility Challenging received wisdom Or why meat sizzles
  4. 4. Cannes guide to buzzwords 4 1AuthenticityWatching the magician's pockets By Stephen Messham, Creative Associate There was one strong thread running throughout the festival—for brands to continue their success within our ever-evolving marketplace, they need to show authenticity in everything they do. We all know consumers have become much more aware of the techniques brands employ when advertising to them. They're no longer just enjoying the magic trick; they're watching the magician’s pockets as well. They are becoming more finely attuned to noticing when brands attempt to pull the wool over their eyes or are simply lazily jumping on marketing bandwagons, and thanks to social platforms like Twitter, they aren't afraid to call them out on it. For example, using national holidays as a platform to push brands is dangerous ground. The public anger and bewilderment provoked by the tweet "celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day with a hat from #MLKday" is a case in point. YouTube vlogger Grace Helbig picked up the authenticity theme in talking about the need for honesty and integrity when speaking to her 2.4 million subscribers. Like many well-known vloggers she has been approached by brands to help market products, which may or may not hold any relevance to her as an individual or YouTube personality. Having witnessed the backlash that fellow vloggers have received from blindly pushing a product in a brand-promoted video, Helbig is incredibly stringent about who she agrees to work with and the products she agrees to plug. And the easiest way for her to retain authenticity when promoting products? It’s simply to be honest. Her fans don’t care that she’s making money for promoting a brand if she admits it from the start. So how can we ensure that brands don't miss the mark and retain honesty when talking to their customers? In the world of brand experience, it's incredibly important to ensure the connection between brand and experience feels authentic. We need to be certain that the brand message is not only right, but correctly positioned and clearly visible in everything we do; otherwise, consumers will question the integrity of the brand. Questioning the integrity of the brand is a distraction brands can ill-afford. The most awe-inspiring, community- engaging, shareable brand experience is wasted if the brand’s integrity is in question. And in a world of increasing knowledge and cynicism towards traditional marketing techniques, it may now be the only way to secure brand affinity with consumers. Questioning the integrity of the brand is a distraction brands can ill-afford.
  5. 5. Cannes guide to buzzwords 5 IntentionLook out authenticity, you've got company... By Blair Dempster, Associate Creative Director Whether you work for an agency or a brand, Cannes Lions is definitely the place to get inspired for the coming year, as well as a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. With so many big name presenters, including, Kim Kardashian, Pharrell Williams, Ryan Seacrest, Viola Davis, Adrian Grenier, Marilyn Manson, and Monica Lewinsky (ok, I am name-dropping), it can definitely overwhelm you. By Friday evening, your brain feels like mush, and you start to wonder what you can truly take away from such a dauntingly full-on experience. Lucky for me, I noticed a red thread to this year’s festival from the very first speaker I saw and watched it weave its way through everything I saw in the following days. That red thread is intention. Intention is the buzzword of the year. I repeat…intention is the buzzword of the year. Only I’m 100% certain it is more than just a buzzword. It’s going to be a game changer. And the brands that are able to really embrace honest, authentic conversations— with the right intentions behind them—are going to pull away from the pack. Almost every speaker I had the chance to see at Cannes made mention of intention. Pharrell said that millennials (everyone’s new favorite target audience) can spot “fake” in seconds. He said you can see and hear intention and it’s just not enough to do the right thing anymore. You have to do it for the right reasons in order to really make an impact. Look out, authenticity. You’ve got company. Speaking of authenticity, I’m sure everyone has seen it included in a brief (or thirty) in the past. Because it’s so prevalent, it stands to be in danger of losing its power. This isn’t because it isn’t valid—it is. But the marketing industry is starting to cause confusion around the true meaning of authenticity. Authentic should be rooted in truth, but so often it’s just used as a representation of what a brand should be. And in an era where everything we do or say is picked apart on social media, consumers will always be able to see the true intent behind every action a brand takes. Moving forward, ideation is going to start with intent, and intention will become a significant part of a brand’s DNA. Those brands that make the effort to do things for the right reason and with the right intent will thrive, further separating themselves from the pack that simply chose to include it as a means of beefing up their latest brief. Like I said before…game changer. Who knew you could learn so much about marketing from music gods, movie stars and one infamous White House intern?Moving forward, ideation is going to start with intent and intention will become a significant part of a brand’s DNA. 2
  6. 6. Cannes guide to buzzwords 6 Cannes is a phenomenal opportunity to celebrate what’s fresh and exciting in the creative world, including some incredible new technology. It’s also an opportunity to hear from some of the great minds who are busy putting that technology to work and to get their insights on what is and isn’t working. What’s connecting with audiences and why? How can we take those findings and apply them to our work in the brand experience space? So…I could write about the programmatic revolution, the future of wearables, or how VR is upending experiential marketing as we know it, or I could write about what I really learned to appreciate after a week of being bombarded by ultramodern technology at Cannes; the beauty of getting back to basics. We heard a lot of different speakers over the course of the week. I mean A LOT of speakers. From Marilyn Manson to Jeff Goodby. The AOL Digital Prophet to an asteroid physicist from MIT. Busta Rhymes. Grace Helbig. Ryan Seacrest. Pharrell. Ok, now I’m just bragging…but while you may be wondering what on Earth some of these people have to do with advertising—I know I was—the truth is all of these people are massively creative (not to mention massively successful) in their respective fields, and they all have wisdom to impart to fellow creative minds. Each speaker came to Cannes armed with a nuanced approach to the creative process and a vastly different set of insights about how technology is shaping our world. The keynotes couldn’t have been more diverse, and yet there was one common thread, a fundamental theme that united the thoughts shared by each speaker: people respond to work that appeals to basic human emotion. It sounds simple, I know, but it can be easy to lose sight of this in our world of clicks and apps, pixels and cords. You can have all the shiny new technology in the world, but no one cares unless it makes them feel something. This alignment with human emotion strikes a chord in the brand experience space, where showcasing cutting-edge technology an audience can see—even touch—can be particularly exciting and effective. The key is, you have to do it right. The technology needs a reason for being there, it needs to be inextricably tied to the message being conveyed. Otherwise it’s just a party trick. Some of the strongest ideas sweeping Cannes this year were the simplest. A good example of a brand getting it right is the Always #LikeAGirl campaign which, by the way, cleaned up at the festival. Super simple. Hyper emotive. Massively successful. The technology storm we’re experiencing isn’t letting up any time soon, and brands will continue scrambling to implement the latest mediums. But mediums shouldn’t be confused with messages, and tactics are no substitute for insights. Sometimes, cutting through the clutter is just as important as being cutting-edge. You can have all the shiny new technology in the world, but no one cares unless it makes them feel something. 3Being human Tactics are no substitute for human insights By Jacque Vavroch, Senior Creative Associate
  7. 7. Cannes guide to buzzwords 7 Life-changing creativity By Matt Pensinger, SVP, Managing Director, Jack Morton Worldwide Chicago My inaugural trip to the Lions Health festival provided a completely new appreciation for the true potential of life-changing creativity. Despite having closely followed Cannes Lions for years from afar, I still somehow managed to underestimate the impact of the work and creative spirit I had a chance to experience during my first actual trip to Cannes. I did not expect the sheer force and magnitude of the ideas I had a chance to discover, but I was also really moved by the power of the insights that underpinned the great creative work. After years hearing about the pursuit of global insights for big brands that could be locally applied in individual markets, I found that I was most moved by ideas built on top of powerful cultural insights that were inherently local. In fact, breakthrough cultural insights enabled simple ideas to have massive impact and possibility in my favorite work. These ideas went beyond just moving the perception or consideration of a brand by tapping into needs or opportunities that could drive real cultural change for a given community. P&G’s Intimate Words campaign was a powerful example of how this can come together. I was really blown away by this work; it shows how a core insight about a place or a group or a tribe that beautifully comprehends context can push towards an idea that can be truly life changing. In this way, I felt that the most exciting work at Cannes showed the importance of cultural insights—and also illuminated a potential gap in how we typically think about brand-focused insights today. Consumer insights tell us a lot about individual consumers and their needs and motivations, but they may miss on adding the vital context of culture. Every tribe—whether it is a group of people from a rural area in Mexico or a group of friends united by their love for Game of Thrones—has a distinct set of rituals, style, tradition, values and taboos that create their cultural context. Of course, this context is the filter for how any creative is understood and impacts on people in a given tribe. Understanding cultural context and generating true insights about what these cultural markers tell us can be a giant trampoline for how ideas are developed. 4Cultural insights The most exciting work at Cannes showed the importance of cultural insights—and also illuminated a potential gap in how we typically think about brand-focused insights today.
  8. 8. Cannes guide to buzzwords 8 I cried in my Account Management course but to be fair, I’ve always been known to be the weepy one of my friends. We had a keynote speaker tell us about their work with Skype for the 2014 #staytogether campaign. The brilliance behind the idea was how pedestrian it was. They found three people and told their stories. But they did it perfectly. During the production period there was a pause for fear of getting too real. Were the stories too heavy? Were they sending the right message? Have a look for yourself. I think the message is right on point. As much as we say business isn’t personal, sometimes it needs to be in order for us to sit up, take notice and help achieve something good. And it’s noticed by Cannes too, of course. Work that makes us take notice and achieves something good was once again heavily recognized at the festival this year. I won’t go into each of the big winners’ highlights individually, there’s plenty to read online, but LifePaint, #LikeAGirl, Lucky Iron Fish, Touch the Pickle and the Redlight App all delivered a brand message unified with a greater social benefit. As communications specialists, we’ve honed our skills across such a wide range of talents. All designed to make people stop and take notice. We’re professional interrupters. It seems only fair that we use this skill for human benefit, as well as being able to sell products. As Keith Weed of Unilever said, “As people become more aware and engaged around issues such as climate change and societal inequality, they are increasingly holding businesses and brands who aren’t part of the solution to account. Brands need to have more depth and breadth to engage consumers. Connecting purpose to purchase.” This year’s shortlist and winners only further reinforced the benefits and solidified the legitimacy of a more broadly human and personal approach to our work. 5Work for goodIt's not personal, but it should be By Maiah Johnson, Account Supervisor As much as we say business isn’t personal, sometimes it needs to be in order for us to sit up, take notice and help achieve something good.
  9. 9. Cannes guide to buzzwords 9 Virtual reality (VR) was prominent in the conversation at Cannes this year and while not new, it’s forging ahead and getting ready to cause some excitement in our field. And it’s the continued work from Google on their Cardboard app that really sparked my interest. While the bigger more obviously exciting augmented reality and VR options are about to sweep the market, they’ll be expensive, cumbersome, and the toys of only the most affluent. Google Cardboard and the recent revisions to the native YouTube app in iOS and Android allow anyone with a smartphone (equipped with accelerometers) to experience something that is good enough to entertain and deliver a basic VR experience. The interest for me comes from two areas: the existing install base and a new creative canvas. The World Bank estimates that in less than five years, 80% of adults worldwide will have a smartphone. Almost all smartphones are capable of delivering the cardboard experience. This fact means the technology becomes a viable consideration for the industry. The second area of interest is around the whole new paradigm in film making. How do you hold viewers’ attention to an area or person, when they have access to a full 360� viewing plane? Will these issues warrant the quick death of VR experiences? Or will we seize the opportunity to create on this canvas in a whole new way and deliver experiences that the general public will actually want? How long before the excitement around virtual experiences wane? Will the inevitable raft of bad experiences that are coming in the next year or two drive people to clamor for tactile, real world experiences? I’d suggest yes, but it will be those real world experiences that use VR, much like every other digital technology before it, in a natural, intrinsic, and value-adding way that will reach beyond this and genuinely engage with people. And that’s something we discuss and play with every day at Jack. Roll on the next 12 months. It’s going to be fun! A virtually new creative canvas By James Bennett, Senior Creative Strategist 6Virtual reality It will be those real world experiences that use VR, much like every other digital technology before it, in a natural, intrinsic and value-adding way that will genuinely engage with people. Gregor Fischer / Droidcon Berlin
  10. 10. Cannes guide to buzzwords 10 Built-in agility By Craig Chaplin, VP, Senior Creative Director We live in a world of cultural "moments"—moments that create emotion (good or bad)—news stories or events that are here one minute and gone the next, but none the less provide a narrative thread to the backdrops of our lives. These days, people expect brands to have a heart and a soul. To really stand out, brands need to listen closely to the cultural conversations happening around them and provide relevant (and timely) content that proves they believe in the issues that we believe in, making it feel like the brands are equally human and living in the real world. The challenge is, most marketing campaigns take six months or more to plan, ideate, and execute into market, but nobody knows what will be trending tomorrow, let alone six months from now. So, to be culturally effective means to be agile. A great example of a brand that is doing this incredibly well is Beats by Dre—whose success is a direct result of cleverly embedding itself in the cultural moments being experienced by consumers at any particular time. From the brand gatecrashing the Olympics as an unofficial sponsor to making commentary on Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs to embracing the rivalry of the 49ers and Seahawks in the lead up to the Superbowl, Beats by Dre nails every campaign by providing timely, culturally relevant content. We are now used to this brand’s approach to marketing. Yet this was a brave idea. It took a traditional approach and turned it on its head. It identified the "when" and "where" first, so that the "what" could be culturally correct and relevant to the moment. It takes brave and agile agencies to help brands pull off such ideas successfully, but more importantly, it takes brave and agile agencies with clients who are willing to take risks. So it makes me realize how lucky we are at Jack, where we can truly optimize the brand experience in real time to align with human emotion and cultural sentiment—agility is a built- in component of what we do. 7 To be culturally effective means to be agile. Creativity at the speed of culture
  11. 11. Cannes guide to buzzwords 11 Or why meat sizzles By Lewis Robbins, Senior Associate Strategist Cannes is one big contradiction. On the one hand, it’s insular, self-congratulatory, and presents an idealized vision of our industry. But on the other hand—it’s expansive and inspiring, and full of expert speakers from various fields, valuable precisely because their point of view is different from our own. One of these people was Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal, who was talking about the need to "Question Everything" (his own motto). Reading a book on the science of cooking, one simple line amazed him: "searing meat does not in fact keep the juices in." It ran contrary to all the cookbooks he’d read, chefs he’d heard—and yet was perfectly obvious. (If searing the meat did keep the juices in, then how could it sizzle?) Blumenthal realized that we are surrounded by a veil of received wisdom. By approaching his passion from a different angle—a scientific one—he pulled the veil aside, and discovered a new way of doing things. Something quite exciting is happening in our industry right now. Advances in different fields and in data-driven techniques mean that the models and terminology of the last few decades are being challenged from all angles. And it’s by aligning ourselves, not just with other agencies, but other disciplines, that we can break out of our received wisdom and find new and better ways of doing things. A blistering critique of some of the complacency within our industry came from Amir Kassei of DDB, in a talk called "Do This or Die." Passionate about purpose and real-world relevance, Kassei included a memorable clip from Steve Jobs, another champion of pressing back against received wisdom: "Everything around you, that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And the moment you realize that you can poke life and something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, mold it, that’s maybe the most important thing." Brand experience is excitingly poised. The best brands don't sit within the boundaries of life, passively projecting. They prod and poke the place where we live—not only closing the gap between the marketing bubble and the real world, but remaking it for the better. 8Challenging received wisdom Brand experience is excitingly poised. The best brands don't sit within the boundaries of life, passively projecting.
  12. 12. Cannes guide to buzzwords 12 Want more? Please get in touch – Contact Peter Sun VP, Brand Marketing Read our blog at Follow us on twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at About Jack Morton We’re a global brand experience agency. We generate breakthrough ideas, connecting brands and people through experiences that transform business. Our portfolio of award-winning work spans 75 years across event marketing, sponsorship marketing, promotion and activation, experience strategy, employee engagement, digital, social, and mobile. Ranked at the top of our field, Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). © Jack Morton Worldwide 2015