Wong: Content and creativity dominate Cannes buzz

Cannes Lions may be over, but the buzz continues to build as marketers head home and apply what they have learned.

Cannes Lions may be over, but the buzz continues to build as marketers, enriched by a week of innovation and inspiration, head home and apply what they have learned. I had the opportunity to attend the conference as a presenter and as a juror. Here are my takeaways from Cannes.

Creativity is much more important as we enter the age of emotion.
Although usually shortened to Cannes Lions, the official name is Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. That last word is key in today’s marketing landscape, where technology is often used as a crutch to substitute for creativity.

If there’s an industry where it seems like creativity has been abandoned, it is mobile advertising. Fortunately, a new view on mobile marketing is taking shape that focuses on the forging of emotional connections, instead of racking up impressions.

At Cannes, I presented new mobile research from IPG that reveals the "age of emotion" has arrived for mobile marketing. The findings indicate that emotional engagement must evolve from banner ads that negatively impact a consumer’s impression of a brand to targeting positive mobile moments, such as finishing a to-do list or logging a workout, where consumers are more receptive to brand influence.

Ultimately, the true fuel of advertising lies in a brand’s ability to connect with audiences emotionally, which is why we wanted to unveil this to creative pros at Cannes. Whether it was through moments or ad technology, there was a consistent thread throughout the conference of visionaries showcasing their creativity to design experiences that wowed the industry.

Highlighting work and creativity from around the world is highly beneficial to the marketing industry.
Just as creativity is in the official name of the festival, so is international. As the world’s biggest festival for the creative communications industry, Cannes Lions provides a unique opportunity to hear from a range of voices and see how different countries and cultures approach innovation – something you don’t get at local or national conferences.

I was fortunate enough to judge entries as a member of the Innovations Lions Jury, an ambitious category. We awarded the first Innovation Grand Prix to Russia as a country for creating the world’s first 3D selfie on a grand scale. Before, you wouldn’t necessarily regard Russia as forward-thinking, but Cannes gave the people there a platform to show their innovative side.

Obviously, pulling off global conferences such as Cannes Lions is a huge challenge, but it would be great to see events that showcase international creativity like this done more often.

Content supplants social as the new king of the conference.
After years and years of a hyperfocus on social, it was exciting to see other breakout platforms oriented around content take precedence. Social is almost old news now as content in all its forms took center stage.

Getty Images’ #RePicture campaign illustrated the power of photos as a form of content that change perceptions and even break down stereotypes. The company examined key concepts such as love, age, leadership, beauty, and working women through a different lens (the Lean In collection).

At night, Spotify showed off a cool experiment by projecting people’s favorite song connections onto the palais, highlighting the power of music as a universal connector. Whether it was songs, photography, or something else, it was interesting how the attention seemed to be directed more toward new ways of connecting with people using content as opposed to a pure social play.

Startups are on the scene in full force.
They are now flocking to Cannes like they do to Austin, Texas, for SXSW. This year I encountered more startups than ever, and there’s a reason for that. The huge collection of agencies and their clients is lucrative for emerging businesses. Because of the generally more relaxed atmosphere, it is easier to access prominent players, especially CMOs, and create partnerships that drive tremendous value for your company. 

Brian Wong is CEO and cofounder of Kiip, a mobile advertising platform that generates 500 million achievement moments per month and works with 350 brands.

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