The creatives have had their say, the planners have pontificated and the holding company bosses have been everywhere giving their opinions. But as we come to what must be the last few breaths of the Cannes Lions 2015 (externally anyway – still plenty of internal meetings to have), I haven’t seen many agency marketing leaders asked for their thoughts. So, thank you, Marketing, for letting me put an opinion out there.
'Beacon' brands get consumers to come to them, rather than the brand chasing them, and there was confidence on display the entire length of the Croisette.
Given brands are at the heart of any marketing department, it probably comes as no shock that the work I liked (and which won the most) was that displaying brand confidence. 'Beacon' brands get consumers to come to them, rather than the brand chasing them, and there was confidence on display the entire length of the Croisette.
If you have brand confidence, you don’t have to say too much. Great work speaks for itself. One brilliant example of this was the 'Cease Fire USA' campaign, which showed people buying guns being told about that violent history of that firearm (many of the stories being about how a child had found it and killed a relative). Simple, but truly hard-hitting, emotional and exceptionally effective as a piece of work. But who knows whether it can make any impact on the gun issues facing the US?
Emotion was prevalent in the winning campaigns this year, particularly in categories such as the Glass Lions. I think Pharrell Williams summed this up best when he said: "Don't just hear the music, feel it." A prophetic sentiment for this year’s festival from a multi-Lion-winner. Authenticity, depth, transparency in brands have never been more important. And, as Generation Z (who actually demand authenticity, not just want it) prepare to step forward and become the most important consumer base to our clients’ budgets, it was heartening to see so many award-winning campaigns doing just this.
John Hegarty once said that advertising is "80% idea and 80% execution". This was evident throughout the work in categories from Cyber to Film. Just as much effort needs to be put into the craft of ideas as goes into the conception. In a decoupled world, this becomes a challenge that marketers need to think about.
Falling for a scam?
This leads us nicely on to my final thought. There was much rosé-fuelled, late-night chatter about whether many of the campaigns that won big were actually campaigns at all, with the really cynical detractors asking whether much of the work was a new breed of scam ad (Nu-Scam, if you will). An add-on bit of work that was funded mainly by the agency and simply signed off by the client, with many questioning whether it actually did anything for the client’s brand other than being entered for awards.
Whether this is Gutter Bar scuttlebutt or raises legitimate questions about validity, the fact remains that there was some amazing work on show again and the levels of creativity should continue to make us all proud about the industry we work in. And if the work was done on the sides, pushed by the agency, what a lucky client.
My main take-out was that great work comes when you let the creative minds take it somewhere you feel uncomfortable – both as agencies and clients. This is something we all definitely need to do more of.