The advertising world descends on Cannes this week. #OgilvyCannes will be there in full force. I am looking forward to pretty much what is the anti-Cannes experience – sessions, seeing the work, valuable meetings with brands and partners and the press.
I know. It’s about parties. That’s often what is described as the real Cannes. A highly social event where agency and brands, from the tippy-top of the organization to the creatives in the ranks, get to stay up late and celebrate hard just as they worked hard to get their work there.
The Business Connection at Cannes
The real reason we are there with the type of investment it takes to get there, is that we believe creativity sells. While more cynical minds might disagree, no amount of pomp and circumstance could get so many agencies and brands to spend all that money. We go because creativity has a big business impact.
Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy & Content Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company, captures this POV succinctly in a recent blog post.
“I have long been an absolute believer in the correlation between outstanding creative success and outstanding commercial success. In this year’s marketing platform for Cannes Lions I am quoted as saying ‘If Cannes has taught me one thing, it is that creativity drives effectiveness. You can not have one without the other. That knowledge has been instrumental to my career. I have been going to Cannes for nearly 20 years and can’t help but notice that the the client organizations recognized as Advertiser of the Year often enjoy periods of historic financial success at the same time.”
He references the work of James Hurman, who analyzed data on advertising creativity to demonstrate the connection to effectiveness of that advertising and the overall business performance of the advertiser.You can see a summary presentation here. He offers some defining characteristics of 'creativity.' And within that he hits on word of mouth.
"Creativity's third effect is that it makes advertising more likely to generate 'fame' and conversation."
Much like Twitter is now being used by television studios and networks as a barometer for success, how consumers talk about and share with their social graph about marketers will increasingly become the indicator of success.
Awards as a Predictor
It stands to reason that quality awards programs like Cannes Lions will put a premium on the results of a campaign - more objective than subjective - and on the creativity - more subjective than objective. There should be a correlation.
The big question is whether this year’s awards are predictive for what may win and, therefore sell, next year. I believe that we will see a shift towards more authentically ‘social’ work and more work that doesn’t resemble traditional advertising nor have an iconic video at its heart. Sure, creativity sells. But so does social and so does delivering value to people.
How Social Are They
I am looking forward to seeing tons of work. We have a bunch in there including quite a few that have ‘social’ at the center of their program. I believe it’s time for Cannes to adopt a super-category for Social. Next year, perhaps. For now, there are sub categories in other disciplines.
No doubt there will be many campaigns up for awards. Likely, not that many ‘always-on’ programs will be considered. They often lack that big piece of disruptive advertising which catches the eye of weary judges. I have already seen some terrific programs, like the Ogilvy Thailand anti-smoking videos, that have disruptive video at their heart. While that can be a terrific hook for driving word of mouth (see “Disruptive Ideas” in the Principles of Social Design here), too many creative rely solely on hitting a home-run with a precious piece of content.
We will see how many brands put social at the center of their programs this year. Meanwhile, the entire Ogilvy team will be sharing valuable content, sparking conversations and interviewing interesting people all week.
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