Cannes Day One: The Creative Revolution

Peita Pacey is OMD Australia’s on the ground reporter for the week, soaking up everything the festival has to offer so make sure you don’t miss out on the action. Check out her daily wrap up here:

Cannes Lions 2018 has officially kicked off, and Day One is done and dusted.

Monday marked the official opening of the festival and the first of 5 nights of award shows. First up were the Health Lions, including Health & Wellness and Pharma Lions. Some great Australian campaigns are represented here like Metamucil “Gutsy”, ALS Associations Project Revoice and AAMI Smartplates. These campaigns have so many fantastic elements to them, so it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the more generalised categories over the next few days too.

Monday was a long, but very interesting day for me. As a first time Cannes-er, the sheer scale of this conference is impressive.  Taking over the entire frontage of the beach, seminars are held across 9 stages within the Palais des Festivals, all running simultaneously. In addition to this are the numerous cabanas beachside from sponsors galore, including many of our major tech partners – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Spotify, to name but a few.

But for me, it’s what’s inside that counts.  If I could sum it up into one major theme it would be “the creative revolution has arrived”. Every single session I watched had common elements of the idea that the creative process as it previously has been, is no longer applicable. The new tools we have at hand, technology and data, are upheld by thought leaders as the only future we have – and if you don’t know how to use them, it’s time to get educated.  48% of CMO’s globally surveyed will be working with agencies that leverage partnerships with technology companies, and three quarters of them believe that AI will be powering their businesses in the next 2 years.  What we’re seeing now is this is no longer “future possibility” talk, but “present reality” in market.  My question is how are we currently limited in the potential of this activation of data and tech? Can we fully utilise the data potential to hand, or are we still moving towards this utopian ideal?

But what’s most important to note is that technology itself is considered a tool which liberates creative thinking, not hinders it, and that the intelligence transformation is at the heart of this creative revolution. In plain English (because who doesn’t love a bit of marketing bingo), it means that by adapting the creative process to find new sources of insight and execution, will only enhance what goes to market and how we speak to consumers.

Speaking of marketing bingo, my two favourite phrases of today were “Velocity” and “Digital Exhaust”. Again, for us normal people, we’re talking speed here.  The sheer volume of digital content required at ever increasing speed, is noticed as both our biggest opportunity and our biggest challenge.  When you have brands bragging about putting out over 1400 pieces of copy in one campaign, you know there’s no going back.

And why so many pieces of copy? Because it’s all about the customer and consumer experience, ensuring that every single brand touchpoint is delivered to make them feel something and to delight them. Data allows us to find “insights”, which allows us to communicate content through context, something which WGSN called the single most important demand from consumers in the next 5 years. Agreeing on the definition of “insight” is going to be tricky, because all the examples I saw of work lauded as great examples of this, were observations – something of interest which could be applied and actioned quickly but did not find new meaning in a human truth.

Finally, the interesting thing that I heard was KFC China refer to itself as a technology company disguised as a chicken business. They have the same issues there as they do in Australia, with millennials finding the brand neither “sexy nor charming”.  Still, where in Australia we solve this problem with buckets on heads, in China they solve it through facial recognition and live dining streaming.  And that’s where culture and context come into play, but more on that later…