Every year we look at Cannes winners from our agency and our own markets and try to learn from them. This year we’ve had the privilege of being part of the shortlist jury that pre-vets the media entries before the awarding jury decides who gets the Lions in Cannes.
Individually we’ve reviewed around 250 campaigns each, which, assuming that there weren’t too many overlaps, means we’ve looked at around 750 entries – a fair chunk of the total – between us.
Five things stood out, some as old as the Palais and some more reflective of today’s specific challenges and opportunities.
Firstly, simplicity still rules. Despite the fact that today’s campaigns have hugely complex architectures, schedules and activations, it was the ideas that were simple that truly stood out. It’s the essence of the plan, often with a few select examples, rather than the detail that best conveyed some amazing ideas and results.
Diesel’s story about knock-off brand Deisel, designed to confront the US’s counterfeit culture head on was a great example. A simple idea told well across today’s digital landscape.
Secondly, the best campaigns were more than just ads. They burst outside the bubble, achieving strong organic social and traditional media coverage to reach a broad audience. Even some of the better ideas struggled to make the cut without this kind of proof of impact.
A bid for a football World Cup that doesn’t even open for bidding for four years wouldn’t normally get much attention. But Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay brought together Messi and Suarez to make it worthy of media attention globally.
Thirdly, purpose matters more than ever. As in 2017 we saw lots of good work from brands – not non-profits or charities – addressing issues from gender parity to voting inequality to gun control. There was clear evidence of purpose-led approaches at the heart of marketing initiatives achieving both commercial success as well as a benefit for society/community.
Audi’s new launch of a new Safety Code for Sweden, a simple fix allowing website owners to stop people being able to access their websites when they are driving, was a great example of a relevant purpose with real public benefits.
Fourthly, cultural understanding still matters. The most powerful cases were those that demonstrated a clear insight about behaviour and motivations within their target group, whether that was driven by local attitudes or an understanding of a particular group.
Canon engaged camera fans across Scandinavia to provide small local retailers and restaurants with more sophisticated photography and a better chance to compete against the global chains in the digital landscape.
If the first four trends are pretty evergreen then the fifth one is all about today, involving technology, data and innovation. While we saw some great examples of technology usage, tech and data, there were also some pretty artificial ones (the classic solution looking for a problem).
Everyone, it seems, is looking for innovative gadgets to enhance the brand experience and there were a lot of tech solutions to brand/consumer challenges outside the tech categories. Where tech, data and innovation worked best was where it leveraged creativity. While the technology and data are important, the combination with creativity (sometimes inspired by the data) was what made the difference between good and great.
BMW’s X2 Snapalizer took the work out of car configuration by creating a native solution in Snapchat. This meant digital natives could be enthused about the car without the need to download an app, placing the X2 in their driveway using AR and enabling them to change colour and much more.
We’re looking forward to seeing which of our favourites get selected by the Awarding Jury.
MediaCom’s three Media Lions shortlist judges were Tino Krause (pictured above, top left), CEO Germany, Ran Bar On (bottom left), CEO Israel and Tolga Uner (bottom right), CEO Turkey.