Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cannes [isn't just] for Creatives

I just had my inaugural Cannes Lions experience. The Cannes Lions festival is widely known as being a “creative” awards show. But once I was there, I found it to be a melting pot of not only creatives, but of planners, account directors, developers – and clients.

As I walked the seemingly endless sea of blue walls, sat through seminars and workshops, and analyzed the accolades, there were several things that struck me. It’s not just the way we work that’s evolved. It’s the way we think. The way we talk. The way we generate ideas. Our audience has changed. As marketers, we should no longer be talking at consumers. They are empowered. They decide how and if they want us in their lives. “Integration” has taken on an entirely new dimension.

In the past, integration has been about how well different elements of a campaign work together. Does the online look and feel similar to the offline? The old school model of integration was made up of a pretty cut and paste media mix too: TV, print, website, banner and email. Today, it includes a much wider set of deliverables. Advertising is in places that are new and different (and even immersive enough to not feel like advertising). Today’s media mix can be enormously diverse, depending on your idea. One example is the Titanium Grand Prix awarded to Crispin Porter + Bogusky for Burger King for developing a series of video games for the Xbox 360 where users are actually immersing themselves into the world of “The King” and paying for it.

“ Titanium stands for breakthrough ideas. It might be a brand new idea, or it might use an existing idea in a brand new way. ” – Alex Bogusky

In order to reach “the people” we have to speak their language, interact with them and give them meaningful experiences. Integrated is now defined as how well a campaign utilizes these different mediums to tell a story. It’s about context. Where you are and what you’re doing makes all the difference. These mediums don’t just coexist harmoniously, they feed off each other in order to form a collective whole.

The industry trends we face as marketers and brands were evident at the festival. The Titanium & Integrated category received a 60% increase in entries. The Cyber Lions and Media categories also contributed to the overall growth of entries this year. As a creative director, I looked at their work and asked myself, “How did they do this?” Unique use of media is quickly becoming a creative solution. Our Samsung Shout-Out campaign, which short-listed in the Media category at Cannes, used online elements working synergistically with in-stadium placements. Winners in this category included ambient, outdoor, direct, mobile and cinema (and when I say cinema, I mean that the product plays a lead in the movie itself – not just as a placement or cinema spots).

One might say the only thing that limits us is our own imagination. The truth is, it also depends on the people required to help turn a great idea into reality.

Today’s marketing mix brings big ideas into emerging and ambient media spaces such as online widgets and customized outdoor, guerrilla and events.

I looked at work through this filter while at Cannes. As a creative director, I not only have to believe in my team’s ideas and visions, but inspire others to want them just as badly. Samsung Shout-Out was one of these challenges. It was a challenge to pull together and pull it off. I think short-listing at Cannes makes it all worth it. I came back with a new attitude about believing in ideas and how important it is that others around me do the same.

The Cannes Lions festival is a must-see for anyone in the business at least once in his or her career. It will challenge you, it will educate you and it will inspire you. I’m considering spending the weekend doing some COOK uploads to make sure I get to go back next year.

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