Last call for Cannes takeaways

Even the tardiest visitor has wended their way back from the south of France and co-workers have grown sick of war stories from Cannes, but it's worth taking one more glance back to identify learning that will inform work over the next 12 months.

Even the tardiest visitor has wended their way back from the south of France and co-workers have grown heartily sick of war stories from Cannes, but it's worth taking one more glance back to identify learning that will inform work over the next 12 months.

These are personal observations gleaned from conversations, interviews, panels, plenary sessions, and general networking on and around La Croisette this year:

1/ Executives at Coca-Cola, one of the world's most-recognizable brands, have reformatted their marketing to place paid media fourth in the order of priorities, after owned, shared, and earned, but candidly admitted to me they have yet to crack the content effectiveness measurement conundrum. The way they communicate has fundamentally changed – but it's still a work in progress.

2/ The leader of the world's largest marketing services agency network, WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell, told me that if we accept the premise that marketing is converging on one space that is great news for clients, because clients want the best people working on their business and they don't care where they come from. Historical attachment to vertical disciplines is being superseded by horizontal integration.

3/ Sorrell's observation is not necessarily good news for PR agencies. He says clients still see PR as discretionary spend that is on the chopping block when times get tough in slow-growth markets such as the US. But it is more positive in high-growth markets where there are funds to support spending.

4/ The most successful campaign ever at Cannes – ‘Dumb Ways to Die' from McCann Melbourne in Australia – was essentially a clever radio jingle backed with incredibly smart social activity around it. It was conceived by McCann's AC/DC rock singer lookalike John Mescall, who certainly lives up to his ad agency heritage by not lacking in self-confidence when coming up with a Big Idea.

5/ Commitment to a Big Idea and sticking with it over a number of years can still pay dividends. Unilever's much-heralded ‘Real Beauty Sketches' campaign for Dove was the latest iteration of ongoing work that continues to engage consumers and redefine attitudes to the CPG giant's products.

6/ Up to 30% of the 12,000 delegates in attendance were from the client side. That's a networking opportunity no agency exec can afford to miss. And if you're not there, you can be sure your competitors will be courting your clients.

7/ It is not every week you can speak to the CEOs of every major global agency network in a relaxed and convivial environment where they are in the mood for talking. This is a boon for journalists, but also anyone else who is interested in what is driving global marketing and communications.

8/ PR firms achieved a turning point but not yet a breakthrough. They are learning to present their work in a similarly effective way to their ad agency brethren, but are still not yet submitting all of their best work. Judging chair and Ketchum EMEA CEO David Gallagher believes there are particular opportunities for PR firms to shine in the crisis, corporate communications, CSR, and public affairs categories.

9/ In the spirit of finishing on a random number, which seems to be the fashion in these BuzzFeed/Mashable-dominated days, I will stop at nine and wish you bon chance as you start preparing for next year's festival. Get working on those award submissions: you can be sure your advertising brothers and sisters are already prepping furiously on their entries. A bientôt.

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