Category Archives: Conferences
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is always a frenetic and fun week for DGC and the industry. It’s a unique opportunity to bring together creative minds across the world to celebrate terrific work, focus on challenges, and how to give back to the world. As we recover from a week of hard work, lack of sleep and amazing views, we wanted to share a few takeaways.
- Business happens when you least expect it. Always be prepared to talk shop, even when you’re walking from the Carlton to the Palais on the Croisette. You never know who you’ll run into and when the conversation will turn from the quality of the rosé to solving business challenges.
- Madison Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard are intersecting more now than ever before. Much of the short and long-form content that won Lions was on-par with short films and documentaries typically generated by Hollywood studios. Branding took a backseat to storytelling – with compelling content and incredible visuals. If you didn’t know you were at the Cannes Lions, you could easily have thought you were at the Cannes Film Festival. [insert this link http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en.html]
- Be Clear. Be Honest. Words taken from the session of healthy-cooking advocate Jamie Oliver rang true throughout the week. Consumers are now more than ever attracted to brand messages that are sincere and honest.
- Know your audience. It was clear throughout the week which speakers knew their audiences and which were speaking to serve their own agendas. Facebook executive Chris Cox gave an excellent presentation that spoke to the larger issues of cultural sensitivities in communications. In one of his many examples, Cox gave advice about brand messages in India–don’t use the word “password,” he said, because while that word is such a part of the day-to-day lives of Westerners, it is entirely meaningless even to English-speaking Indians. Knowing your audience and what they need from your brand has become increasingly crucial to gaining consumer receptivity.
- Strike the right balance of work and play. There’s plenty of work to be done at Cannes – handling the press, networking, going to sessions and identifying new trends, etc. Yet, time spent with your clients and colleagues – at dinner, at drinks, on a yacht, etc. – is just as important. Loosen up a bit and take a moment to get to know the people you partner with a bit better. You’ll find that a few days in the south of France can equal a year’s worth of relationship building in the States.
- Be a better global citizen. One of the themes that resonated throughout the week was that we need to use technology to be better citizens, a message that also came through in some of the work that won big at Cannes. From the ALS Bucket Challenge and Like A Girl to Twin Souls, it was all about being more compassionate and sympathetic to one another. Monica Lewinksy, Jamie Oliver and DDB’s Amir Kassaei all spoke to how we can use our skill-set to do good.
How and from whom is creativity generated? At the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, it may seem odd that something this fundamental is actually being asked.
Yet, in an industry where mathematicians, statisticians and engineers now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with art directors, answering that question is not as straightforward as one would think.
For the first time, Cannes Lions today unveiled its Lions Innovation event. Described as a “festival within a festival,” Lions Innovation is a two-day event where data, technology and creativity intersect. On its site, Cannes Lions describes itself as the industry’s “mirror” – acknowledging that “data and technology are driving creative solutions in ways never seen before.” It’s a theme that has permeated much of the week’s programming.
In fact, during a Microsoft/Fast company panel yesterday entitled “Creativity That Matters – How Brands and Agencies Drive Impact” Wendy Clark, President, Sparkling Brands & Strategic Marketing, Coca-Cola North America, said something that really struck a chord. Strategists – not artists – are developing the most incredible creative work. Panel participants, Kathleen Hall of Microsoft and Sophie Kelly of The Barbarian Group, were in full agreement as well.
Driving home the point, Audi’s Luca De Meo told a packed audience during his talk “The Moon. Land of Quattro,” that the most creative people play not just with words, but with numbers as well.
Today’s creativity comes from some unlikely places. From data. From technology. From strategy. In the past, that may have seemed more than a little counterintuitive. But at the 62nd Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, it’s becoming abundantly clear. Everyone in the industry – whatever their title – is a “Creative Director.”
Pharrell is “happy” by nature, not just because he wrote and sang the 2014 Oscar-nominated mega-hit but because, according to himself, he goes after what he wants. He truly embraces collaboration through creativity and is unafraid of working to get the creative mix of people he knows will win.
American TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest sat down with Pharrell at the Cannes Lions Festival on June 24 to talk about collaboration and creativity. Pharrell provided some crucial advice about bringing one’s “A” game to creative projects.
Here’s what we learned.
- Intention is essential. When Ryan asked Pharrell to give the young creatives in the audience advice, he emphasized “intention,” noting that if you are going to create something, make sure to “write some intention in there.” What is your intention for a given project? Intention should be the number one ingredient in everything that you do and, if it isn’t, consumers won’t buy into it.
- Multitasking is important. Multitasking allows you to diversify projects without “blurring the lines,” Pharrell said. It’s important to have your hand in different things to get the creative juices flowing. That said, you don’t want any crossover between your projects because it will keep them from being truly fresh and unique.
- Have a “second element.” A song isn’t great just because of the way it sounds, but because of the way that it makes you feel. Just like a movie with all great actors and no plot – you may think that you’re going to like it, but it fails by not providing consumers with the second dimension they need and crave.
- Creativity and commerce are related. Many people believe that you can’t have both, or that one relies on the other, but as Pharrell so simply put it, when you really concentrate on your creativity, it translates into commerce.
- Bottled delusion would sell millions. Pharrell noted that if you were able to bottle the delusion for greatness that many people have, it would be a wildly successful product. It’s like the people who genuinely believe they are good singers, but can’t sing a lick – it’s that sense of confidence and delusion that helps people succeed, in addition to providing a fantastic laugh.
- Adele is the master of intention.
The 9th Ad Age Digital Conference kicked off today in New York with a packed first day lineup. Some of the hot topics addressed today included viewability, humanity, and failing.
The morning’s first discussion between Rob Norman, Global Chief Digital officer at GroupM and Lisa Valentino, SVP, Digital Sales at Conde Nast, surprised some in the audience when the two executives vaguely discussed the terms of a recent deal where Conde Nast agreed to only charge GroupM’s clients for ads that were guaranteed to be viewed by consumers. While 100% viewability is never a guarantee, the two partners stressed that they reached an acceptable & agreed upon viewability level for their ad units.
The afternoon panel “The Story Makers” talked about the evolution of storytelling to storymaking – where consumers work with brands to create the story. Hirschhorn stated that it can be much less risky for brands to enter stories already being told rather than create one of their own. Anne Lewnes, SVP and CMO of Adobe, showed an inspiring video celebrating Adobe Photoshop’s 25 year anniversary wholly created with user-generated imagery and exhorts viewers to “Dream On.”
We loved the “Fail Fast Forward” series of 10 minute vignettes, that highlighted a “fail” moment, the learning, and what was implemented to “fix” things. Meredith Kopit Levien, EVP, Advertising, New York Times, led with the story of a 161-year old article in the Times about Solomon Northup, aligned with the release of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, and a subsequent Gawker piece entitled “This Is the 161-Year-Old New York Times Article About 12 Years a Slave” that performed way, way better than the Times piece about the original article.
The three actions the Times took? One was to “defy the gravity of tradition”, by embracing the notion that finding the audience is just as important as the story itself — Alexandra MacCallum was recently appointed to audience development and there is now a “masthead level” or leadership-level focus on finding the right audience. Two was to “Invent new ways to create value” which spurred the creation of T-Brand Studio and the Times’ entrance into the branded content biz, continuing striving to create content that makes people feel things, regardless of whether it is paid or not. Number 3. is to “never lose sight of what got us there in the first place” summed up with two simple words: Quality. Storytelling.
Our favorite quotable from the “Moving at the Speed of Culture” interview with Beats by Dre’s Omar Johnson: Jimmy Iovine said to me one day “What’s a SWAT? Your job is to sell headphones, right?” We had to work at a speed that most brands don’t have to. And they live it every day – Beats agency, R/GA, has to present every idea on one slide. Love this challenge!
Atlas’ Jennifer Kattula wrapped the day eloquently with “Five Things Marketers Ought to Know,” challenging us to move on from the Four Ps from Philip Kotler’s 1967 book Marketing Management, to the 4 Cs…. from Product to Choice, Price to Convenience, Place to Cross-Device, and Promotion to Creative Sequencing. Some compelling stats within, including touting the cookie’s demise and how people-based marketing is more effective for reaching the right people at the right time – something that digital marketers have a responsibility to aim higher on.
This post was written by DGC’s International ACE Award winner, Senior Account Executive Megan Sweat. Recognizing her stellar work and contributions to the agency, DGC sent her to London to spend time at Advertising Week Europe and to meet with our strategic partner Eulogy!
Many people in the U.S. ad market are oblivious to Advertising Week in London, and vice versa. This year Advertising Week Europe ran from March 23-27, and compared to past ones in New York (which take place in the fall) the programming had a unique edge.
Many of the players were the same, including Publicis Groupe, Google and the IAB but the gorgeous historic venues such as St. James’s Church and outdoor settings (pictured below) gave Advertising Week Europe an entirely different feel from the New York edition.
Outdoor seating outside of the ADARA Stage
St. James’s Church in Piccadilly
Collaboration, creativity and inspiration were recurring themes throughout the week, and here are some of the highlights that stuck with us:
- When asked to leave the audience with one “astounding nugget that would blow their minds,” Steve Hatch, Director of EMEA from Facebook replied that everything in our industry “starts and ends with people.” To be successful, we as an industry need to follow people’s trends, and the customer is truly always right, he said.
- Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, predicted that marketing will become more and more about the “omnichannel” experience. With a few exceptions, he said this is still a complicated world to clients, and it hasn’t yet been mastered.
- Inter-agency collaboration and how to foster it was also top of mind. One possible solution that came out of MEC UK’s session was having a shared workspace, where a client’s different agencies could meet and work together as opposed to working in silos and trying to come together at the end.
As one panelist put it, “We tell our clients they need to co-own their brand with their customers… Now, we need to co-own our ideas with others.”
A handful of other memorable declarations over heard during the week made us laugh: (Since these are not exact quotes, I’ve removed the attribution—which didn’t include people’s titles and affiliations either)
- “Pitches are the crack cocaine of our industry – we’re all addicted to them.”
- “Is it better to follow your dreams and not make it, or make it and betray yourself along the way?”
- “Stupid people think complicated is clever. If you can’t explain it to an 11-year-old, you have failed.”
- “Be uncool. Coolness is a form of orthodoxy. Being uncool is actually a powerful creative force.”
“The first rule of building a ‘love culture,’ is to love what you do.”
Although the session’s panel descriptor was about the brain, Spence and his co-presenter Mac Brown (founder of Spur Leadership and Founding Pastor of Lake Hills Church in Austin) spent the bulk of their time talking about the heart.
They offered three rules for building what they call a “love culture” within your organization:
1) Love what you do. Spence, who built GSD&M with four partners from the ground up over the past 45 years, encouraged audience members to “create an environment where people can play to their strengths.” He relayed a story from his childhood about his struggles with spelling. After numerous C grades, he scored an A- on a term paper when he was about 14 years old. His mother remarked that while he may not ever be a great speller, but she could see that he was a great writer. Her advice? Don’t waste your time trying to be average at something you’re bad at doing, but spend every second trying to great at what you’re good at doing.
2) Hang out with people you love. “Love cultures are about people helping you, and you helping people,” said Spence. Brown added that part of loving people is accountability: “You have to operate alongside people with an established set of values. As a leader you have a greater responsibility to the group than the individual. You have to be willing to let someone go if you want to build a love culture. You have to do it for the health of everyone else. You love people when you hold them accountable.”
3) Love the impact you have on lives and communities. Brown said that any thriving organization has two things: Love and good deeds. Spence recited some of the purpose-based companies he and GSD&M have worked with over the years from Southwest Airlines to Whole Foods.
Their one common denominator? They’ve all cracked the code on creating environments where people can love what they do, be deliberate and intentional about their jobs and have license to literally change the world. To Spence and Brown, those are the ultimate markers of a “love culture.”
As the session came to a close, one woman asked Spence for his personal definition of a leader. He replied: “I’ve never called myself a leader, but I do know this…If you don’t have followers, you’re not a leader. Leaders build the ship, and they do so through love.”
The DGC team hit the ground running on Saturday morning at SXSWi with a quick stop at and an 11 a.m. deep-dive into how data will build high-performing humans. The panel featured New York Giants star wide receiver Victor Cruz and Equinox President Sarah Robb O’Hagan, joined by Michael Gervais and Mashable’s Haile Owens. We were fascinated with the panel’s discussion on how data can make even the highest achieving athletes more powerful on and off the field. One nugget we took away from the session was data and tools are great, but don’t forget about your body’s biggest source of information: your brain.
After a quick selfie with the man of the hour, our team dispersed to other sessions before gathering to prep for DGC’s first-ever #SXSWi happy hour. The team set up shop at the JW Marriott to entertain clients and friends of DGC over margaritas, chips and guacamole, and the best darn jalapeño cornbread Austin has to offer.
Day three saw us checking out some of the week’s best brand activations and experiences. We swung by Samsung’s Studio Experience, where our colleague, Sara Ajemian, made a DGC t-shirt in its design studio. While the A&E network offered up nightly stays at a faux Bates Motel to promote its series of the same name, neighboring station National Geographic took it to the extreme with a challenge to promote its new season of “Life Below Zero.” We dared to see if we had what it takes to Escape the Cold, as the promo was called, encouraged players to find clues to get out of the room in twenty minutes working with teams of 6. It was tough going – we didn’t find the key. Brands should take note for 2016 as this was an incredible way to bridge the gap between brand experience and user interaction. It tied to “life below zero” which is a show about people living in isolation in Alaska
Other panels we checked out:
– Argonaut, an agency that’s part of Project Worldwide, had two executives on a panel: Robbie Whiting, Creative Technologist, and Garrick Schmitt, digital advisor, who spoke to a packed house about “Malevolent Marketing.” Recap the conversation on Twitter with #letsbeevil.
– Deep Focus CMO Jamie Gutfreund cracked the code on Millennials at the Pandora Lounge, encouraging marketers to be smart about their consumer and audience. She was later joined on stage by Nana Menya, AVP of Investment Strategy of GE, whose talk on the mindset of music was equally intriguing.
– DDB’s Global Business Director Marina Zuber discussed art, tigers and an #EndangeredSong with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and on-the-rise band Portugal the Man.
Stay tuned for more!
The weekly DGC Roundtable is monitored by our current intern, Jamie Kurke.
This week was a hectic one. Everyone was shuffling in and out of the office to attend Advertising Week events for our clients– or just for fun! With that in mind, this week’s question was:
What was the best session/ learning/ quote you heard from Advertising Week?
Patrick Wentling, Account Executive:
There was a lot said this week, but my favorite quote actually came from Michael Strahan during his conversation with Facebook’s Carolyn Everson, where he spoke on how his dad said “not if, when.” It was an inspirational story considering how great his career – before and after football – came to be. Although I spent my youth booing him, I now have a new found respect for him.
Megan Sweat, Account Executive:
“Consumers are living in a state of ‘present shock.’ They are living in a world where everything happens now, and they are in a constant state of emergency interruption. There’s no time for advertising and being interrupted. Don’t interrupt me in the flow, provide me with the thing I need when I need it and not a second after.” – Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist and author
Jackie Berte, Account Executive:
Quote of the week: “You’ll regret it if you don’t take a picture with the Aflac Duck” – at the Advertising Week Icon and Slogan Hall of Fame
Chrissy Perez-O’Rourke, Account Director:
When brands are looking to operate at the “speed of culture” they should be asking themselves three things:
- What makes sense for their brand?
- Which aspects of real-time trends and culture are a fit with the brand’s core messaging and essence?
- Does the brand want to enter an existing conversation or create a new one?
To read more about the panel Chrissy attended, check out her latest Hit Board post!