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Can You Really Cancel Cannes? – Highlights from Lions Live

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Can You Really Cancel Cannes? – Highlights from Lions Live

Cannes has gone virtual this year, and while there’s no rosé to sip on La Croisette in between talks and parties, the reigning Festival of Creativity hasn’t skipped a beat in terms of insightful conversation and thought-provoking creative.

Against a backdrop of a global pandemic and social movements like Black Lives Matter, many of the conversations at Lions Live—Cannes’ (virtual) Festival of Creativity—centered around the importance of digital and its role in creating authentic conversation (and action that backs it up). From marketing effectiveness to fueling creativity with insights and tech, we’ve pulled together some of the biggest ideas of the week.

Tech and Creativity Make Good Bedfellows

We’ve long called for a confluence of tech and creativity to enable creatively differentiated experiences. Speaking to B&T about Cannes this year, S4Capital Executive Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell discussed the role that data and technology play in building effective creative. “You need to look at data as an enabler, it will give you insights that will make creative even more powerful.” In addition to making creative more effective, striking a balance between creativity and technology helps fuel innovation.


Sir Martin in conversation with B&T.

And speaking of innovation, Unity Head of AR/VR Ad Innovation Tony Parisi painted a thrilling picture of what the near-future of 3D digital content could look like powered by mixed reality in his Future Gazers segment. Ecommerce took much of his attention in particular. “All products will have a 3D virtual twin,” he said. “Imagine an ecommerce website today that had only text, no pictures. Absurd, right? The same will be said for 3D content.” Parisi noted that customers who interact with 3D models are 2.5 times more likely to complete a purchase, and that 65% are more likely to make a purchase when a platform includes AR features.

These predictions align well with MediaMonks Executive Producer Marie-Céline Merret Wirström, who told AdNews last month about the potential of 3D content and experiential retail. “Not only can you try something on at home, but you can easily assess how well the item matches up with what you already have,” she writes. “The emotional impact of being able to connect with the product personally and envision how it fits within your life (as opposed to flicking through images featuring a model that may look nothing like you) is powerful.”

Monk Thoughts Imagine an ecommerce website today that had only text, no pictures. Absurd, right? The same will be said for 3D content.

Forget What You Knew About Effectiveness

In collaboration with WARC, Cannes Lions dropped its Creative Effectiveness Ladder framework (and accompanying 122-page report), which offers a hierarchy of six effects that creative marketing produces, ranked from least to most commercial impact. The need for the framework came from an insight from last year’s festival: there was no clear, shared understanding of effectiveness and what it means for different goals and initiatives.

A key finding from the report is that an overbearing focus on performance can be threatening to brands—a point that Cannes Lions Head of Awards Susie Walker reiterated in her presentation, “Lions Intelligence Presents a Guide to Creative Survival.” A lack of balance between short-term goals and long-term investment can weaken a brand, which is why we advocate for creative experiences that build long-term loyalty.

In discussing the Creative Effectiveness Lions, Ann Mukherjee (Chairman and CEO, North America at Pernod Ricard) discussed the need for “magnet creativity” in addition to “mirror creativity” that reflects culture. “Great brands speak to human conditions,” she said. “Great brands help to elevate what we want to think, differently—the art of that possibility. It is what we call magnet creativity, not just mirror creativity. So, it’s really critical, even more so in this environment, for that human condition to really come to the forefront, as we judge the work.”

Monk Thoughts Great brands speak to human conditions.

Marketing effectiveness can be particularly challenging for small and medium-sized businesses, who are especially reliant on digital platforms. Our just-launched Boost My Business video series, covered in Adweek, aims to help smaller businesses achieve effectiveness through digital creative. Both informative and entertaining, the series follows Tan France as he meets business owners around the United States, teaching them how to use platform features to boost performance and engage their consumers in creative ways.

Authenticity Remains Essential

One of the hottest topics at Lions Live this year—authenticity—intersected with a social platform that’s definitely caught brands’ attention since this time last year: TikTok. In an inspiring CMOs in the Spotlight session, Katie Riccio Puris (Managing Director, Global Head of Business Marketing at TikTok) discussed how the platform is centered on active participation in culture. Offering advice to brands that are interested in marketing on TikTok, she said, “Don’t make ads, make TikToks. It’s not about like, comment and share. It’s like, comment, share and join.”

Puris’ segment came hot off the heels of the TikTok for Business launch. The platform provides brands with useful tools to amplify their efforts. Having partnered with the platform directly in China, UK, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands since its early days, here’s our advice to first-timers on the platform: first, delegate creative control, whether that means handing the creative reins to influencers or encouraging audiences to augment your core message through UGC. Second, understand that the platform is content-based, not connections-based, which means tapping into cultural trends (or starting new ones) is essential to success.

Monk Thoughts Consumers want to see what narrative you are helping to put out into the world.

In discussing cultural trends, Chelsea Clinton (Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation) spoke with Bob Lord (Senior Vice President, Cognitive Applications, Blockchain and Ecosystems at IBM) about how emerging technology can help accelerate change. Clinton spoke about the importance of brand role: “Consumers want to see what narrative you are helping to put out into the world, how you believe yourself to be, and is that backed up by what you’re doing?”

It’s an important question for businesses to ask themselves. As brands aim to inspire audiences to shift their worldview, offer a unique perspective on society or integrate themselves authentically within digital communities and culture, they must take the opportunity to listen and understand their audiences—and bring about new solutions through creativity and emerging technologies. It’s fitting that these conversations should happen while Cannes takes a break from its regular programming; after taking learnings from a year that has challenged old ways of working from all angles, it will be fascinating to see what wins next year.


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