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#CannesLions — Everyone is a Creative Director

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.

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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.”

Blurred Lines: The Fine Line between Ads and Editorial at Advertising Week Europe

As part of DGC’s annual exchange program with Eulogy! – in which one DGC’er and one Eulogite have the opportunity to work from each other’s offices for a full week – I’ve been lucky enough to not only be in London, but also attend Advertising Week Europe.

I am less than 48 hours into being in London and have already experienced a couple of sessions with the likes of News Corp and Mashable execs. Here is a brief snapshot:

The Future of News & Advertising

This unique fireside chat between Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corporation, and Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Global, brought two luminaries to the stage. They spoke to numerous pressing topics today from the future of traditional media, to who’s to blame for failing with digital advertising.

Native advertising was definitely one of the hot topics of discussion. Sorrell explained how the boundaries between the editorial and business sides are breaking down and that it’s fine as long as there is transparency along the way. In fact, both executives agreed that, in an ideal world, consumers would prefer to opt-out rather than opt-in, and people will pay for content if it is good. Thomson also admitted that quality content can be expensive, so it’s critical to identify more ways to increase the monetization of such content. He further explained that the value of content creation proves more than ever that distribution is important.
The session wrapped up with Thomson and Sorrell debating over whether numerous industries, including that of public relations and public affairs, have been creatively or destructively disrupted by digital. Only time will tell…

Fast Company Founder’s Conversation 

This much anticipated session shed a new light on the editorial direction of Mashable. The fireside chat featured Bob Safian, Editor of Fast Company, casually asking questions of Pete Cashmore, the very well-known CEO and Founder of Mashable. And once again, native advertising was a hot topic. Pete agreed that it’s a good thing as long as it’s a win-win for all involved, and that a reader’s best interest is always kept in mind.

The message Pete drove home throughout the session was Mashable’s seemingly transformed focus on its editorial content – no longer restricting its walls to social media and other such related topics. His vision is to bring forth what the world cares about across the board on various topics – even weather.

Pete called out that journalism is a part of Mashable’s DNA. It was evident that the outlet wants to shift its perception of being more like a New York Times than that of say a BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post. That said, Pete still feels strongly that Mashable will always target its core audience of early adopters as they are “likely at the cutting edge of everything – not just technology.”

Something Pete Cashmore mentioned in his session was proven true today: the proliferation of technology has changed the playing field, with anyone and everyone having the ability to be successful from anywhere – not just Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley. It’s safe to say that Advertising Week Europe will continue to grow in its presence over the coming years.

It was a whirlwind of a first day! I’m looking forward to attending additional sessions during my trip and will be back at week’s end with more key takeaways and learnings. In the meantime, follow the conversation @digennaro and check out some pics here to get a snapshot of my week in London and Advertising Week Europe.

Music Helps Marketers Win Brand Fans

One of the recurring conversations during Advertising Week was the role music plays in marketing programs. Utilizing music in marketing initiatives has helped launch artists’ careers, provided once-in-a lifetime experiences to fans, launched entire festivals sponsored by brands, and more.

That was the focus on a star-studded panel of brand marketers at the “Live for the Applause” panel, sponsored by Live Nation. Moderated by Fast Company’s Tyler Gray, the panel included Paul Chibe, VP Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Jennifer Breithaupt, SVP Entertainment Marketing, Citi, Chris Holdren, SVP of SPG & Global Web from Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Russell Wallach, President, Live Nation Media & Sponsorship.

Each of those companies market their brands through music. Anheuser-Busch collaborates with Jay Z to create the Made in America Festival, a successful two-day concert covering a range of genres and artists. Citi works with their rewards program to allow fans unique access to concerts, and also utilizes artists like Katy Perry in special events. Starwood rewards their SPG members with intimate concerts held in their hotels as part of their “Hear the Music, See the World” initiative, where members travel around the world to meet and watch their favorite artists perform.

Below, hear from Paul Chibe, Jennifer Breithaupt, and Russell Wallach on the importance of music in their marketing decisions and connecting with passionate fans.

Scandal is just a Brand Opportunity in Sheep’s Clothing

M.I.A.’s Super Bowl finger flip may be old news now, but we thought the topic was relevant considering our recent post on crisis communications.

Arnell Group CEO, Sara Arnell, explains how scandals like this can actually be great branding opportunities – and how companies can effectively take advantage of set-backs to grow positive awareness.

Read more on Fast Company

Helping Brands Transform the Concert Experience

Last month Live Nation Network President Russell Wallach joined Singer/Actor Jared Leto and President and General Manager John Landgraf of FX on stage at the Fast Company Innovation Uncensored Conference to discuss how technology is helping them succeed amid massive changes in their businesses.

Take a look at video coverage from the event below and learn how Live Nation Network is helping brands transform the concert experience.

Extending the Brand
http://video.fastcompany.com/plugins/player.swf?v=18d262c63b9cf&p=fc_social

Weaving Brands into the Mix
http://video.fastcompany.com/plugins/player.swf?v=2b6497686c55e&p=fc_social

Are You Saving Trees?

Interesting news came out of the publishing world in recent weeks, with Hearst Magazines announcing a deal to begin selling three of its magazines – Esquire, Popular Science and O, the Oprah Magazine – for the iPad, using Apple’s subscription model. That came shortly after Time Inc.’s announcement about its Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune titles, and was immediately followed by today’s news that Condé will soon offer iPad subscriptions to its Vanity Fair, Glamour, The New Yorker and others. Seems every major publisher is getting on board. The challenge, however, is how to get advertisers to do the same.

You’d think the ultra-targeting of ads that technologies like tablets offer, and the ultra-effective types of ad units publishers are developing for the digital realm, would help lock the deal. The challenge is how to count a digital subscriber relative to a print edition subscriber when it comes to determining ad rates. According to The New York Times, the Audit Bureau of Circulations has said that each digital subscription should count toward the rate base — the number of copies used to sell advertising. At the same time, publishers still demand a much higher premium for a print ad versus one that appears online.

It’s an interesting situation and one that I’ll leave to the advertising world to shake out. As a PR guy, there’s a similar issue to grapple with tied to earned media and its value, as dedicated online content delivered by publishers becomes more robust. Forbes’ CEO and CMO Networks, The New York Times’ Media Decoder, and Fast Company’s 30 Second MBA are just three of many highly influential online destinations we work with regularly to help showcase the vision and leadership of our C-suite clients. When a video interview posts to such a site, or breaking news hits there first, we can tell within minutes that the marketing influencers and brand decision makers we’re trying to reach are, in fact, paying attention to the message, sharing it with others, etc.

Despite the proven effectiveness of these types of placements as part of a broader thought leadership strategy, the fact is that many C-suiters ask that our efforts on their behalf focus almost exclusively on securing opportunities on the printed page. They believe their inclusion in a Fast Company printed edition story, for example, will carry a higher perceived value among prospects, clients, employees, investors and business partners than even deeper editorial coverage that would appear on FastCompany.com. We have a multitude of evidence that suggests otherwise, including their own admissions that they’re consuming most of their business reading online today. It doesn’t seem to sway them – yet.

What about you? Do you find yourself more engaged, persuaded, impressed, etc., by a story or mention that appears in print rather than – or in addition to – online? For me, the answer is a definite “no.” In fact, other than diving into that beautiful thing that is the Sunday New York Times every week, my life has become so “digital,” the impact of one distribution channel versus another has entirely faded away. I guess I’m saving a lot of trees. How about you?

Are You A Media Darling?

Every week, if not every day, clients inevitably tell us that their most coveted desire for media coverage is to be in Fast Company and The New York Times’ “Corner Office” column. We wholeheartedly agree! Yet there’s so much more to placing that proverbial “story” than meets the eye, so to speak.

To get into a top-tier publication like Fast Company, one must be, do, have or talk the innovative walk to meet the desires of the magazine’s readers for under-the-radar information not found elsewhere. The Times’ “Corner Office” and other executive columns of this type require compelling personalized accounts of successful career strategies or business lessons learned that the column’s readers can use to improve their own efforts.

Coming up with that unique point-of-view or learning oftentimes requires digging around in and re-packaging existing experience in a fresh and creative way that fits a reporter’s, producer’s or specific column’s format. What does this mean? While most CEOs and entrepreneurs have encountered the usual challenges (say, the need to develop a leadership style or an effective negotiation strategy), it’s the personal details and specific anecdotal examples that make a story resonate with the audience.

To that end, here are three tips for developing an inner Media Darling:

1. Think about the 5 Ws: Examine the who, what, when where, why (and How) of your existing experience, knowledge and business information. Assemble the facts and develop unique (dare we say provocative) anecdotes about challenges faced or reasons for innovation. Then compare it to what’s currently in the press. How does it sound? The same? Different?

2. Personality Please: Give your story character and always reveal personality through the use of lively and entertaining language in your own voice. It gives your story credibility, depth and sincerity. Whether writing an article or giving a telephone interview, this is critical to giving your story life.

3. Deliver the Goods: The client in this situation is the media outlet and its audience – the readers or viewers. Sell the story, not the company. Breakthrough takeaways are necessary to score the premium real estate.

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