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OPINION19 June 2012

The pace of change and the power of celebs

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.