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Cannes Lions 2011 Review

David Ogilvy at 100 - Cannes LionsLast month I had the opportunity to attend the 58th annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The first thing I'd noticed (sweltering heat aside) was the festival had changed its title from Advertising to Creativity. Given that advertising is a sub-section of marketing, the name change was not only welcome but relevant - design for example cannot be classed as advertising as it is about the construction process, just as illustration is as much about the technique.

The seminars this year compromised of a mixture of established advertising agencies (Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, R/GA, Grey, Leo Burnett), super brands (Coca Cola, Ford, Time Warner) and tech giants (Google, Adobe, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft). In amongst these were a splattering of writers, musicians, film stars, academics and creatives.

Google and the shape of search to come

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, provided one of the most intriguing seminars of the festival. His 45 minute talk ranged from the biggest challenges facing Google, the future of advertising, the explosion of mobile and how search engine marketing (SEM) continues to evolve.

Most creative ideas come from those that are unconstrained by the zeitgeist of what can and can't be done with technology.

Eric Schmidt, Google

It is a known fact that within the next two years the quantity of information on the web will double every 11 hours. While this might sound like a staggering amount of data, Eric was quick to address that "one should look at the source of the information", implying the overwhelming growth in the mobile market and user generated information were the underlying factors for this explosion.

There's more information, but we want the information that we care about. Google needs to move beyond the current search format of you entering a query and getting 10 results. The ideal would be us knowing what you want before you search for it.

Eric Schmidt, Google

To date, over 100 million Android phones have been sold. Using Moore's Curve of technological advancement, mobile phone performance will improve by double every two years, so in ten years time mobile phones will be thirty times more powerful than the smartphones of today.

Eric predicted a future where everything in your pocket, i. e. , your money, your keys, your credit cards, your identification, etc, would become part of your phone. This convergence has already been realised in iterations over the past ten years with the iPhone and other smart devices, but with the huge rise in information the Google chairman said that relevant information needed to be more accessible.

In order for agencies to stay relevant, they must embrace the Culture of Code... leveraging technology in a simple and creative way will get us closer to capturing the hearts and minds of consumers of the 21st century.

Rei Inamoto, AKQA

Schmidt sees the future of mobile as a personalised experience for every user, one where the phone makes the suggestions for you based on your social past history and social data. This could be anything from suggesting something to watch on television in the evening, to which item of clothing to buy based on your proximity to a certain store. The phone would also be used to purchase the item by simply tapping it at the counter. This is now possible with Android and Google Wallet (launched last month).

For advertisers, this presents a major shift from talking to people as consumers to talking to people as people. Search and advertising becomes more personal, with Schmidt foreseeing the end of typical search/return and the rise of personalised, suggestive search.

"The Internet represents human activity " says Schmidt. "Cities are the creative engines of the world. The proximity of people creates opportunities for business, growth, etc. Never in history have there been four companies growing rapidly as platforms (Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon). They're all building ecosystems that allow developers to use their platform and add to it."

Facebook: Social by design

Schmidt's sentiments were echoed by Carolyn Evett, Marketing VP of Facebook.

"Social is at the core of everything. A great campaign needs to start with a great idea that people will share"

Carolyn Evelyn, Facebook

Evett provided a lively, well informed seminar on the rise of social search and sponsored stories. One of the key motifs throughout the festival was the emergence of digital media and how it affects the structure of the traditional agency. It was no surprise that the biggest winners at the awards gala were campaigns that embraced social media - Nike's Write the Future (Agency: R/GA) and Old Spice's brilliant Youtube campaign The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (Agency: Wieden & Kennedy) being prime examples. Edding's Wall of Fame campaign for their marker pens also had social media at its heart, using a giant interactive live drawing board for illustrators to collaborate with other artists in real time. To date, the board has had over 40,000 drawings.

"The Facebook 'Like' button is currently the most important button on the Internet"

Nike

It almost goes without saying that when looking for a recommendation, people almost always ask their friends first. Facebook advertising uses this word of mouth model, making their advertising social by design. "Spark a story and let people share with friends", argues Evelyn.

Check-ins are great form of sponsored story. By showing to friends that they have simply visited your shop or restaurant, the business has immediately advertised itself for free to the customers friends and family. Not only that, but it becomes an endorsement from that person as they thought it good enough to visit (although they may later post a more measured review). Because of this, sponsored stories from friends have been proven to provide between two to seven times the level of engagement of traditional advertising.

"Brands need to speak to people, not consumers"

Leo Burnett

92 of the top 100 advertisers in the world now work with Facebook to bring their products to a larger, social audience. Nike's Write the Future campaign was so successful that it had over 2 billion page views at a minimal cost. The cost of having your advertisement seen by so many people in traditional media (including television and print) would never have been achievable like this without a huge, huge budget.

Embracing digital and the rise of tablets

Other big winners this year had new digital technology at their heart, such as Arcade Fire's video for The Wilderness Downtown which made excellent use of HTML5 and Google Chrome, while Renault's iPad app for the Espace 360 allowed the user to move their tablet around them to simulate the view from the car's interior.

"The iPad is the most important device in my lifetime"

Jeffrey Katzenberg,
DreamWorks Animation CEO

"Every iPad is a reflection of who we are", argues Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. "Every iPad tells you everything about your life."

James Murdoch of News Corp discussed the ubiquity of the tablet and how it had transformed the way journalists present storytelling. Being one of the first UK newspapers to charge an online subscription fee, Murdoch cited how The Times had successfully made the transition from print to web: "Over 230,000 people now subscribe to The Times Online. Over 1 million people subscribe to the Wall Street Journal." Features such as audio, video and interactivity completely change the storytelling process, allowing for a far richer and, arguably, more enjoyable experience. The audience has more capability and, with that, advertisers will be able to connect directly with its customers.

Future Lions

Visiting Cannes never fails to inspire me, from the great work on display in the Palais, to the excellent seminars, the awards galas and even from just around other creative minds. The switch from Advertising to Creativity is definitely the right way to go and hopefully, in future, more creative people from outside of the traditional advertising groups will be more likely to come and join the festival.

My complaints were limited to very few, the biggest gripe being that I would like to see a system where the Cyber Lions is given a little more prominence.

Rei Inamoto, AKQA, argued that "In order for agencies to stay relevant, they must embrace the Culture of Code." Rei's argument is that agencies should look beyond storytelling and take their cues from software developers. The rise of digital changes the way we interact with stories and subsequently advertising. The traditional ad agency is evolving from its setup of art director and copywriter to include dozens of new jobs that would not have been around 10 or 15 years ago. With the explosion of digital and socially based campaigns, it would make sense that these new works be given the platform they deserve.

Until next year.

Peter

Our Top 5 picks

Here are five of our favourite entries from Cannes Lions 2011 in no particular order:

Espace 360

Espace 360°

An iPad application that offers consumers a 360° view inside of the Renault Espace from the comfort of their own homes.

Edding Wall of Fame

Edding Wall of Fame

A real-time multi-user drawing experience. With eight pens to choose from, the user can illustrate alongside other users in real time.

Quick Draw Wins

Quick Draw Wins

A series of printed illustrations to promote the game Pictionary.

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Wieden and Kennedy's excellent viral campaign for Old Spice.

Shu's Stationery

Shu's Stationery

Shu’s Production is a visual production company who offers creativity and strong uniqueness. Their corporate stationery was designed to chemically react with the envelope so the logo would be unique to every person.

World's Biggest Book

World's Biggest Book

Judged by reknowned UK photographer Rankin, we had six of our photos included in the World's Biggest Book!

Published by The Brand Union and Lambie-Nairn, the World's Biggest Book weighed a massive 8 tonnes and was on display outside the Palais des Festivals for the entire week of the Cannes Lions festival.

"In a world where commercial art is king,
it's great to be part of celebrating individuals' creative talent"
- Rankin

David Ogilvy at 100

What Inspires You?

June 23rd marked the 100th birthday of the former cook come door-to-door salesman come farmer that would go on to be recognised as the father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy.

To celebrate this, Ogilvy worked with Cannes Lions and rolled out a red carpet that went from the Palais des Festivals and stretched all the way across the Cannes promenade.

Sir Ken Robinson launched the Ogilvy & Inspire Series seminar to mark David Ogilvy's birthday, with David's wife also present in the theatre. His speech was the best received of the festival, receiving a standing ovation.

"The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas, it's to create a condition where everyone has great ideas and they feel valued for it." Sir Ken Robinson