Live from Cannes Lions
On the final day of Cannes there was an inspirational speech from two creative heavyweights, Sir John Hegarty of BBH and Dan Wieden of Wieden & Kennedy.
The speech was a whistle-stop tour of some of their best campaigns from the last 30 years, including work for Levi’s, Xbox, Nike and Old Spice, to name a few.
Wieden went on to present his recent Old Spice campaign paying particular attention to the bit where the hero character reacts directly to messages via social media and creates personalised video responses. Hegarty stated that this was exactly the type of freedom that creatives need in their work: the ability to react without having to research their ideas.
It is clear that research – or “f*****g research” as it was referred to more than once on stage – is still perceived as the enemy of the creative industry.
We at Tuned In were at the festival to challenge this perception. We have worked directly with creative directors before, and to great effect – helping to co-create a Cannes-winning campaign with Proximity London for the RNLI.
The issue is, as researchers, we often find ourselves testing creative in a focus group scenario, which is very much out of context. No wonder creatives hate it. We believe that there are much better ways to have research feed into the creative process and – dare I say it – even inspire it.
During his speech Wieden showcased his new campaign for P&G to run during the Olympics, which celebrates the role of mums. It is well worth a look as it’s a highly emotive piece of creative that actually resulted in widespread, instantaneous applause around the auditorium. The ad shows the journey that mums go on with their children and depicts those special moments in their development, culminating in grown-up sons and daughters winning gold at the Olympics with proud mums looking on.
How could research have played a role in the development of this campaign? We could, for example, have challenged mums to recount the real-life stories of the pivotal moments in the development of their children. I would argue that this would best be done within a community environment, where the debate could evolve over time to find the most emotive scenarios. With relevance and authenticity so high on the agenda, this type of approach could add significantly to the impact of the creative.
Another way of aiding the process is to substitute the type of focus group testing that is so prevalent and look at other ways of gauging reactions to concepts. Some of the most powerful feedback that we have received is that ideas are fragile at their earliest stage and that they need space to grow, develop and evolve. Again, we find communities are the best way to aid this iterative process.
So rather than move straight into testing we can instead develop ‘creative experiments’ – ways to expose consumers to very early creative ideas. We can see how engaged they are with concepts based on the amount of additional content they create. We can see how they interact with ideas rather than just ask them questions. This allows us to provide insight at the earliest stages of development, which is where it is often most valuable.
What is clear, though, is that in order to be truly useful to the wider creative community, we researchers need to be working harder to find ways to aid the creative process, rather than kill it.
Ex-president Bill Clinton hit Cannes yesterday on a mission to inspire the audience of communications specialists to be a positive force for change.
Our world is increasing one of consent, Clinton said, “as all the upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa has shown”. And in a world of consent, it’s the communicators who will have “a profound influence on how the next 20 or 30 years turn out,” he said. “I want to leave this earth knowing that my daughter and the grandchildren I hope to have will live in a world where our common humanity matters more than our interesting differences… And I can’t think of any other group of people more likely to make it happen than you.”
Earlier in the day, I managed to catch some research-focused speeches, including one from Naked Communications entitled, ‘Ideas worth interacting with need insights that inspire action’.
Naked’s argument was that in order to create campaigns that people actually want to interact with then ideas need to be stronger. This in turn means that the role of insight is more important than it has ever been, with the company looking toward insight communities and other new insight approaches to help them generate and develop these ‘big ideas’ before campaigns are launched.
They went on to speak of the need for ‘real time planning’, where you create the platform idea and then wait to see how the audience reacts to the initial elements before creating the next chapter of the campaign, a combined insight and communications approach. A good example of this was a fantastic campaign that they ran to promote road safety in Australia.
The campaign involved the small town of Speed, which has a population of 450 people. The local residents, who were keen to help raise awareness of the road safety issue, agreed that if 10,000 people ‘liked’ their Facebook page the town would officially change its name to SpeedKills. The campaign quickly took off, receiving a huge amount of media attention and achieved its goal of 10,000 ‘likes’ within 24 hours. The question for them then became what they should do next to continue the campaign.
After seeing the strength of reaction to the campaign creative and the traction with the concept of ‘name changing’ they looked for opportunities to extend this. The idea was born that for an extra 10,000 ‘likes’ one of Speed’s residents, Phil Down, would change his name to Phil Slowdown. This was achieved in another five days. The earned media coverage from this campaign was phenomenal, enjoying global reach and also putting the issue of road safety firmly on the national agenda.
It was a great session and also very heartening to hear some of the creative community embracing research and actively looking to integrate this into their campaign development plans. This has not been a common theme at Cannes, but more on that tomorrow.
Cannes-goers love to gossip and last night’s conversations were all about WPP buying a majority stake in AKQA. Among AKQA’s clients is Nike, whose vice president Stefan Olander gave one of the talks of the day yesterday alongside Bob Greenberg of digital ad agency R/GA, explaining their vision of the future and how Nike is transitioning beyond products and changing its game.
“Nike is becoming a company that isn’t just focused on products, but is focused on products and services,” Olander said. “It used to be that when you bought a product, that was the end of the relationship. It’s classic marketing. ‘Great, you bought the product. See you in a year, when the next campaign comes along.’ That thinking has flipped on its head. Now, the purchase of any Nike product needs to be the beginning of the relationship we have with the consumer.”
Nike realised that rather than merely inspiring customers to ‘Just Do It’ it now needed to enable them too. This started with the introduction of the Nike+ initiative and is being taken to the next level by FuelBand, which is a device you wear on your wrist that tracks your activity and energy expenditure and translates that into “Nike Fuel.” Users can then sync the device to a computer or mobile phone, use software to create and manage exercise goals, and upload their data to the Nike+ website. This allows people to better measure performance and compete against their peers in new ways – taking bragging rights to a whole new level.
It’s not just about how to make a better shoe, Olander said, it’s about how they make a better you.
- Excitement is building as former US president Bill Clinton hits the stage tonight to give us his take on how advertising can build a better world. I’ll make sure to let you know how that goes in tomorrow’s post.
- Another key topic of conversation yesterday was the announcement of the deodorant brand AXE (Lynx in the UK) & BBH winning the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix for their Excite campaign (below). We at Tuned In have worked on AXE for the last seven years so we were particularly happy to see them recognised for the fantastic work and also proud to have played a role in our own way by running their global online community.
The sell-out event of yesterday had to be Facebook’s talk, and it didn’t disappoint. Among the gems of insight there was a bit of drama too, when global head of brand design Paul Adams got a dose of stage fright, froze and actually needed to leave the stage to compose himself before carrying on. The Cannes audience gave him a very generous welcome back and it was definitely a good recovery from what could have been a high-profile PR gaff.
But let’s turn to the meat of the talk. First came a history lesson reminding us all of how poor we as marketers are at using new formats and how we overlay the rules of what’s gone before onto new technology, rather than work out what is most appropriate. We got to see the first ever TV ad, which was quite an underwhelming experience and a nice demonstration of this point, as really it was a mix of a static print and radio ad techniques.
Essentially advertisers were told that they are not using Facebook in the right way yet. Facebook is about engagement and interaction rather than diverting attention to a brand’s messages. This means that we need to work harder at adding to this engagement, not disrupting it.
One example Adams gave of how to use Facebook effectively featured the TV show Dallas and their re-launch campaign. To fill in the gaps since it was last aired it has populated Facebook’s timeline explaining the back-story and providing different pieces of content for fans to interact with and share.
Adams explained that he is often asked to provide some top tips on ‘social’ and said that his best advice was to go and speak to your friends and family. Learn what interests them, learn about conversations and then start your own. He also predicted the future and a place where our sharing will be extended and where we will be able to see what brands and products our friends are buying and their thoughts on them.
To me the most interesting point focused on how we should be planning social campaigns and rather than focusing on what we want to do, we should be looking at what we can do for consumers. It’s about looking at people’s existing behaviour and supporting it, not trying to change it.
“For decades, people who pushed the boundaries of print and TV advertising sat in these rooms and were inspired,” said Adams. “Some people here are going to look at the transformational technology of today and… embrace it and go on to do incredible, amazing creative things. Make sure it is you, and not just your neighbour.”
I’m getting quite into my new morning routine in Cannes, consisting of pain au chocolat (why don’t they taste like this in Camden?), coffee and blog writing. My walk to “work” is very picturesque, taking in cobbled streets and the view of sun-drenched harbour.
But this idyll threatens to be shattered by the festival itself, where people are constantly baffled and fretting about the pace of change – whether that’s media formats, engagement approaches or the way we do business and work with agency partners. There is a real sense that the rulebook is being (constantly) re-written and many are struggling to keep up.
On this theme, the pick of yesterday’s talks was a session called ‘Five Sneaky Ways To Get Great Work’, which focused on how agencies and clients can work together and featured the excellent Dana Anderson from Kraft Foods. The talk highlighted a number of different approaches to strengthening the creative relationship, including “lost and found sessions”, which are a no-holds-barred opportunity for agencies to challenge their clients and be totally upfront about what they think their problems are and how they’d fix them. Ideally this should already be happening on a regular basis. Often it isn’t – but a more grown-up, honest relationship between agencies and clients is what’s needed if we are to produce the best work we can.
Another session focused on celebrities versus brands, inviting a healthy debate to decide which is the most important and powerful. The celebs (with House actor Omar Epps fighting their corner) kicked the ass of the brands throughout with some great points and stories. My favourite was an Oreo campaign where the brand ran a campaign to set a new Guinness record for the most Facebook likes in a 24-hour period. Epps said that when rapper Little Wayne got wind of the Oreo effort, he drew on his own social media legions to ambush Oreo’s effort, and the result was: Oreo = 100,000 likes; Little Wayne = 600,000 likes.
Things are hotting up on the Cote d’Azur, both from a temperature perspective and in terms of a packed Cannes Lions schedule.
The festival proper kicked-off on Sunday, with the highlight for me being the Independent Agency showcase, hosted by TheNetworkOne, where I learnt about a football-themed campaign from Spain.
Carlos Holemans, founder and CEO of El Laboratorio, presented a case study about the ‘Dona tu estrella’ (Donate your star) campaign, which started by chance after a cock-up in the changing room of the Spanish national football team.
It was the team’s first game after winning the 2010 World Cup and Fernando Llorente was the only player among the Spaniards not to be sporting the world cup winners’ star on his shirt. That sparked a wonderful idea for a campaign for one of El Laboratorio’s clients, Save The Children.
The campaign launched with Llorente touring India, highlighting the work done by the charity and donating his star to Aarti, a young girl he met on the trip. The campaign gathered huge momentum and culminated a few weeks ago when Spain played their final warm up match for Euro 2012 – the entire Spanish team wore shirts without their stars, having donated them to the campaign, sparking millions of Spaniards to do the same and raise a fortune in the process.
There’s lots more to look forward to today, with sessions from the IPA, JWT and Contagious, as well as another evening of networking with creatives from Canada, planners from Portugal and Brazilian brand managers on the sunny roof terrace bar at Cannes Connect.
It’s a hard life!
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is the place where, and I quote, “creative professionals come to debate, learn and be inspired; where the greatest industry honours are bestowed; where those pushing creative communications forward are celebrated”.
And I’ll be joining them.
My name is Douglas Dunn and I’m the founder and CEO of Tuned In. We build insight communities for a range of clients and I like to think that creativity is central to how we approach our work. That’s why we wanted to go to Cannes.
The festival runs from 17-23 June. There will be some amazing speakers (the line-up includes Bill Clinton, Ridley Scott and Ronaldo - the Brazilian one), an eye-watering number of parties to attend and, most importantly, lots of insights to uncover. It’s going to be a busy and sleep-deprived week.
Through this blog I’ll be keeping you updated on the big topics, the big speakers and the big debates. We’ll also be flying the flag for all of you creative research agencies out there, and showing that in no way is research boring.
Now, where did I put my flight details?