This year marked the launch of a new Entertainment event at Cannes Lions, introducing a fresh energy and obvious nod to the increasingly blurred lines surrounding branded content creation.
The musical lineup at this year’s festival alone, including artists by the likes of Usher, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, and Poo Bear, was a clear indication that brands are well on their way to becoming some of the biggest investors in music properties and talent of the future. Their presence also signified that brands are engaging with music in a more meaningful way than ever before, and truly investing in culture with a fresh perspective.
While music will undoubtedly continue to be a prominent fixture in culture, the traditional model of creation is shifting. Music lovers no longer choose to pay for albums or singles, therefore leading traditional labels and publishing companies to take less risks and in turn pave the way for brands to step in and own music from top to bottom. So, with audience attention spans continuing to wane, marketers must bring their A-game when it comes to the type of music they’re attaching to a brand, and consider artists as their own brands while doing so.
This theme rang true throughout a number of sessions this year. A fireside chat between Justin Beiber’s main musical collaborator, Poo Bear, and Jingle Punks co-founder and president, Jared Gutstadt, addressed these issues by explaining the importance of music for brand building today, as well as how essential it is to make music part of a dynamic marketing strategy right at the upfront.
The notion of music as a conduit for brand affiliation can also be seen in television and film, with a whole new revenue stream opening up to artists who get involved in producing tracks for longer-form content, supported by brands/TV shows that no longer simply front the basic sponsorship they’ve done in the past. There is more of an importance for music to win over the consumer and influence behavior and decision-making preferences than ever before, and that sentiment has echoed throughout the Entertainment track.
Amongst winners of the inaugural Lions Entertainment for Music category this year was none other than Beyoncé for her acclaimed “Formation” music video, taking home the coveted Grand Prix Lion Award. While “Formation” may not seem like your typical brand campaign, the video symbolizes a complete repositioning of the artist’s personal brand, and its impact on issues around race and the perception of women in culture. This win has set the tone with an impossibly high standard for those shortlisted within the category for years to come.
All in all, it was evident at this year’s festival that the role of music in advertising should by no means be underestimated.
Thank you creativity.
It’s the clear theme of the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival. And it’s also what you can’t help but feel when you walk inside the Palais or stroll down the Croisette.
No one deserves that thanks more than Spotify’s Daniel who personifies creativity. His passion for innovation has helped Spotify become one of the world’s largest streaming platforms and he is not stopping there.
Video and data are two of the most prominent trends at Cannes – both of which Ek was quick to point out Spotify has in abundance and will look for innovative ways to good use. Spotify’s deep insights into who is listening to what, when and where has impacted every facet of the music business. Bands like Metallica are analyzing what songs are most listened to in each city on their tour to determine what their playlist will be for that particular show.
Creativity has also found its way into the American presidential race. Creativity on the Stump, a panel that featured PR players and writers from Politico, looked at the campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In a “one-minute” news cycle, Trump’s unorthodox but authentic approach, especially on Twitter, is rewriting political campaigns. Not lost though was Sander’s more traditional TV spot “America.” Borrowing its soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel, the comparably long (.60) spot demonstrates that even in an age of social media, the power of creative television advertising is very much alive and well. That ad notwithstanding, Politico’s editor in chief, John Harris, did proclaim that Donald Trump might be a better marketer than most everyone in Cannes.
While creativity is essential to winning Lions it’s vital to attracting and winning new business. Flanking the Palais are rows of cabanas where the likes of tech startup Luma hand out cans of oxygen to passersby and host clients and prospects for meetings looking out towards the Mediterranean. Beyond the Palais are rows of yachts where agencies and their partners like SteelHouse and the Daily Mail have taken up residence for the week hosting clients. On land, SteelHouse’s CEO Mark Douglas looks to discuss how technology is making creativity more intelligent. He’ll be speaking alongside Jose Molla, Founder & co-chief creative officer at The Community and Peter Horst, Chief Marketing Officer for The Hershey Company. Global media agency, MEC has taken imaginative marketing to a whole new level with their welcoming presence at the Carlton Hotel. Throughout the week, MEC plays host to a number of sessions including Breaking the Band which looks at how MEC Wavemaker, its content specialist arm, helped uncover an aspiring new brand.
Other themes throughout the week remain centered on technology, the blurred lines between agencies and brands and the merits of the work being shown in the Palais. Cannes celebrates all the rapid fire changes in our industry, but holds paramount the one unchanging element that separates the best work from the ad clutter: creativity. That will never change.
The Ad world morphs at lightning speed. Traditional lines of branded entertainment, advertising, technology and media companies continue to blur, data scientists now sit alongside artists, data has become a crucial part of the creative process, etc. One of the only constants is The Cannes Lions Festival – the industry’s global celebration of creativity. It remains the center point of the ad world– a moment for all of us to look back and honor the best of our industry while simultaneously looking ahead and preparing for the changes yet to come. If the festival has changed at all, it’s only that it’s gotten bigger.
With this year’s event just days away, our team will be on the ground supporting clients and sharing the week’s most exciting news, bringing you insights from industry players, highlighting trends and observations and sharing live content right from the Croisette. As in years past, this year’s festival has attracted top names to the Palais including, Vannes Bayer (Saturday Night Live), Anthony Bourdain, Anderson Cooper, David Copperfield and many more.
Some of the sessions we’re excited about:
- Tuesday, June 21, 11:00AM: “How to Change The World Through Advertising”, Cindy Gallop, Lions Lounge
- Wednesday, June 22, 10:00AM: “Fireside Chat with Daniel Ek, Spotify”, Inspiration Stage
- Thursday, June 23, 3:30PM: “Is Technology Making Creative More Intelligent” Mark Douglas, SteelHouse, Jose Molla, the community
- Friday, June 24, 4PM: “Music as Marketing: Flipping the Script on Celebrity Talent” Jared Gustadt, Jingle Punks, Inspiration Stage
We expect a jam-packed week with lots of learnings, applauding the best of the best, networking with clients, prospects and friends, and, hopefully, having a moment in all the fracas to take a sip of rose and toast to everyone’s hard work.
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.”
Last week, Nina DiSesa, a creative consultant at R3:JLB, had a column in Ad Age talking about how love and trust were necessary ingredients in successful relationships between clients and their advertising agencies. She defined a “successful” relationship as one steeped in the following:
1) Longevity. Love and trust made the client-agency relationship last a long, long time because it meant that during any rough patch, the account lead was able to empathize and smooth things over. Thus, throwing an account into review was a rare occurrence.
2) Solid relationships between the client and agency allowed the agency to feel comfortable taking chances to produce stellar creative. The constant threat of having to pitch against other agencies makes creative professionals insecure, and they freeze up.
3) Good relationships lead to a happy result. Agencies produce work that resonates with customers, and client sales go up.
DiSesa should know. For many years she was chairman chief creative officer of the New York office of McCann-Erickson. DGC’s own CEO Sam DiGennaro wholeheartedly agreed with DiSesa’s column, offering, in part, this insight (via online comments):
“… intimidation, ‘gotchas’ and fear tactics have the trickle-down effect of demoralized talent, marginalized results and, worst case, commoditized offerings. This hurts everyone in the long run.”
A lot of others weighed in as well with equally interesting perspectives. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it.