Cannes Lions, a place where all key stakeholders of the international marketing and advertising industry gather for one week each year. Endless panels, endless yachts, and (of course) endless rosé. Each year we walk away with inspiring ideas to take back to the office, trends that will shape the industry, and lasting connections. But Cannes Lions is a busy week, so if you didn’t get to see enough content or you preferred the breezy boat-side atmosphere, here are 2018’s top takeaways.
Embrace Risk and Purposeful Advertising
“The technology, innovation, and ideas will redefine and transform what marketing is.” — Andy Kauffman, Marriott
Short consumer attention span is not new, and advertising noise is not going away. With AI, VR, voice, and other “cooler” types of marketing coming into play, breaking through that noise is only going to get more difficult. To break through the clutter, marketers and advertisers will need to infuse their strategies with purpose and calculated risk. Clever tag lines that catch eyes, short videos that produce contemplation, and social media that induces laughter are the new ballgame. Brands that are forging ahead with risk, purpose, and boldness in their advertising — such as Wendy’s, Adidas, Axe, and General Electric — are winning with consumers. Brands with mundane messaging, however, will be left behind as they lose a share of that attention span.
Know Your Brand’s Beliefs Before You Act
“You have to be humble and take an active participation in the consumer’s journey.” — Lars Silberbauer, LEGO
Be bold, have purpose, take risks — but know your beliefs first. Brands are adapting to a world where they must be socially relevant and socially conscious; they are now judged by who they are, what they do, and how they back up words with action. As cliché as it is, the expression “put your money where your mouth is” has never been more relevant. To connect with consumers, it is no longer good enough to support a cause with words only; advertising, marketing, and the entire brand experience must back up the company’s beliefs. To avoid social flops and backlash, there must be a deep understanding of what the brand stands for and how messaging will relay those beliefs.
Make the Transition to People-Centric Marketing and Advertising
“Look for small drivers of joy and you’ll get a lot back.” — Alexander Schlaubitz, Lufthansa
As the industry shifts towards purposeful messaging and embraces involvement in social good, it only makes sense that there also be a shift to people-centric products and experiences. No longer can marketers think only of the message they want to send; there must be conscious thought and consideration for what the consumer needs at each touch point along their journey. Brands must begin thinking about changes they can make to ease the small irritations of daily life. Whether it’s a simple concept such as Dollar Shave Club or something as disruptive as Uber, the industry at large must now connect with consumers by making life more convenient. Delivering the right message, with the best experience, and adding convenience along the way will be integral in producing a lasting response that leaves consumers wanting more. Brands that are able to to get ahead of this curve will provide the most benefit to their consumers and win their loyalty.
Improve Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence With Human Input
“Innovation isn’t fast, sexy, shiny. It’s slow, it’s a lot of spreadsheets, and it’s people yelling at each other.” — Dave Meeker, Isobar
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been buzzwords for a number of years, but technology is now catching up to make it all a plausible reality. As these technologies move forward, there must be an understanding that AI and ML cannot stand alone without human assistance. Only humans fully understand how other humans behave, think, and react. Keeping in line with consumer-centric innovation and experiences, humans must code technology to understand how other humans experience the world. Brands will need to be thoughtful in building these AI, virtual, and voice experiences. Designing and testing for human use and being more predictive, rather than reactive, will be a game changer.