Young Lions – Wednesday’s Key Trends

Change is Coming

On day three of this year’s Cannes Lions festival there is a distinct focus on revolution. From the beginning of the first day every other talk has brought to life how the industry and the wider world is unrecognizable from what it once was. Who knows what next year’s festival will look like.

The Kids are Alright

Millennials are dead, long live Generation Z. After a number of years where the focus of creative industries has been placed firmly on understanding the fabled Millennial this year’s festival see’s the attention turn to those who came after, Gen Z, and how they are changing the world and how advertising is trying to keep up.

Leading this analysis were two Future Five sessions, with the first led by Youth Media experts Awesomeness who summed up this generation in their session by exploring who will become the media voices, of the teens of today, and how marketers should approach working with them without corrupting the very reason they’re so popular – their authenticity. And even though we’re not long out of our teenage years we had no idea who any of these influencers were which, whilst it made us feel a little old, was also intriguing to see.

The second session, with Captiv8, focussed on how Gen Z are using social media beyond catching up on their favourite insta-stars but rather enacting social change in the real world. The US gun control organization, Never Again MSD, are at the forefront of this idea, with its founders; David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez & Cameron Kasky; all survivors of the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Florida a few months ago.

This trend continued in a WARC session on lessons from the world’s best campaigns. The talk explored the successes of recent advertising campaigns that spoke to the younger generation and how through understanding the true cultural significance of a product; what is stands for in today’s society (plus a whole lot of time and rigor developing the concept) brands can be rejuvenated with purpose.

One case study referenced was Barbie – facing declining sales following a booming launch in the 60’s and 70’s, ‘Millennial Mums’ as they’re named, were no longer buying Barbie dolls for their own children, despite playing with them themselves growing up. The talk demonstrated how a product, through a brilliantly strong insight and cultural understanding of what those growing up now want from a brand can regain its positioning with a new purpose. Through such campaigns younger generations are growing up feeling empowered and fuelled with the idea that anything is possible.

Viva la Revolution

Whilst plenty of conversation has been around how the Youth are changing the world around us, whether we like it or not, questions have also been asked whether these changes go deep enough.

After months of news headlines on data misuse and fake news, the influence of big tech companies is firmly under the microscope.   Nowhere was that more apparent than in Scott Galloway’s rousing call to arms on the innovation stage: The Breakup of Big Tech. Here the argument was laid out that the power and influence accumulated by the big four tech companies: Facebook, Google, Amazon & Apple is fundamentally detrimental to society.  With hard facts about the duopolies over ad revenue enjoyed by these players alongside compelling social & cultural data. The power that these companies have influences not only people’s emotions but also the economies and laws of the countries they operate in.

With a desire to enact change The Power of Big Tech Platforms saw The Economist host a panel asking whether the promise of social media and big technology platforms will enable a fairer more open society has failed. With noble ideals abandoned in the support of profit and revenue, previously thought unobtainable, is it time to admit that they are driving disunity in society & centralizing too much power and influence in the hands of a few individuals living beyond consequence?

Every discussion at Cannes this year seems to start with adapt, adjust or transform. It is possible to walk away from one talk filled with optimism for a brighter future only for 45 minutes to pass and you now feel like we’re heading for the end of society. So who knows what next year’s festival will look like, and what our clients will be focussed on. But one thing you can guarantee is – change is coming.