Head Fairfax lioness speaks Cannes truth, destroys Cannes lies

Niche creativity, consumer empowerment via social media – and, therefore, engagement measures – and the innovative uses of media hardware are the themes dominating Cannes Lions this year.

The seminars and workshops throughout festival week are creatively inspiring and thought provoking. And the wonderful thing about Cannes Lions is that these sessions are practical and useful whether your gig is creative or media. You gain insight and insider knowledge to a wide variety of topics around the themes. For example, workshops on how B2B marketers can exploit social networking; writing for digital media; how design is key in developing brand equity; building apps; and 3D advertising viability. And then seminars on consumer behaviour; digital across cultures; harnessing the power of creativity; gaming (the next big thing); and bringing the romance back into media. The list goes on and on…

For six and a half days, my biggest issue has been deciding which sessions to go to as the seminars and workshops run side by side throughout the day. Call me a girly swat but it causes some angst. Anyone out there saying Cannes is a junket, I dare you to think again and come and experience it.

On Sunday, I went to a seminar called Digital is Dying. I wondered how I’d completely missed this phenomenon. Had I missed all the world’s servers crashing while I was en route to Cannes? I needn’t have worried. It was all about how the whole world is a media platform, that digital is not new and it’s about time the industry realised it has been absorbed into the world at large.

There has since been seminars on agency structure and how these last bastions of companies thinking digital is “special” should rethink structure. And mercy me, communication creativity is not the sole domain of an art director and copywriter or that an ‘idea’ is not digital or mobile. Just like an idea is not TV or magazine or press or radio. I’m sure a few creative bottoms were squirming in their Palais chairs. I do jest, but art directors and copywriters doing everything is the old model and interruption advertising is not it anymore.

With all media channels integrating and blending, communication forms around a brand need to be based around a tangible, emotionally driven human insight. They need to create total immersion of the brand experience, keep the audience engaged long term, and create sustainability for the business goal. There’s not one person in an agency who can do this singlehandedly as lines are now so blurred.

Many of the seminars to date have covered lessons on how to transform advertising and it’s not about throwing out mass market channels but how to bring many channels together to work in a complementary way to create the immersion model. And that’s integration on all platforms. Even at our place nothing in marketing generates more violent debate than the blurring of lines between advertising and content, but it’s here, and here to stay.

Really interesting is how mobile now fits in the mix and how the ”mother screen” is upon us and what that means, how advertising works, clever use of measurement and the almost celebrity status given to the latest hardware. But, be warned. Again, it’s less about exploiting advances in handset technology but the interaction ability with consumers on the go that counts.

Although the seminars have been incredibly inspirational and stimulating, I have to say the absolute highlight for me has been how our Young Lions representing New Zealand have conducted themselves in the Cyber and Media category competitions. Augusta, James, Nicole and Simon have been fully engaged with what’s going on inside the Palais (through the day at least: the nights may have been slightly different). Their dedication and commitment and the sheer bloody hard work on their entries is a credit to them. Spark and Y&R, you should be proud.

And I can’t sign off without mentioning those goose bump moments when New Zealand comes up time and time again as winners on the world stage. Makes me love being a Kiwi. Did you know that we index as being the top performing country, above all others, for winning Lions on a per capita basis? Magnifique!!

  • Sandra King is the sales and marketing manager for Fairfax Media Group.

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