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.
8 newbies on what’s
real and what matters
to brand experience
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
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.
Cannes guide to buzzwords 3
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
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 hats.com
#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.
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 will.i.am, 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
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.
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
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.
Tactics are no substitute for human insights
By Jacque Vavroch, Senior Creative Associate
Cannes guide to buzzwords 7
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Cannes guide to buzzwords 10
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
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
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.
To be culturally
to be agile.
the speed of
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.
Brand experience is excitingly
poised. The best brands don't
sit within the boundaries of
life, passively projecting.