2016 marked the 63rd year of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. On one hand, many brands and brand practitioners from the world of advertising, media and marketing made a visit to this Mecca of creativity, their annual pilgrimage. On the other hand, there are many more that are yet to experience the magic. And many among them do ask this question — Why Cannes?
As a person who has been fortunate to attend this melting pot of ideas, inspiration and creativity, I place before you some facts, along with my observations and learnings:
Why do over 13,500 paid delegates from around 90 countries converge for an annual festival that stretches across a full week?
Why does the festival receive more than 43,000 entries across 17 categories, with every one of them aspiring to take home the prestigious and coveted Lion?
Why do over 300 undisputed leaders of the industry invest their time and effort to judge the work by way of a rigorous process that runs across days?
Why do celebrities from all walks of life, be it films, music, sports, politics, journalism, creativity or marketing, choose to come and share their stories on this platform?
Why do celebrated and competing brands and marketers agree to be present under one roof and address this gathering?
Why do the time-tested and new age brands and platforms choose to participate in this festival?
So, if the likes of Samsung, Heineken, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Mars, Ikea, Unilever, Volkswagen, Procter & Gamble, Honda, Citibank, MasterCard, Bank of America, Nike and Adidas are here, kuch toh baat hogi. If the likes of YouTube, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Airbnb are here, kuch toh baat hogi.
If your boss is far-sighted and big-hearted, do aim to attend and go home humbled with a peek into the future; inspired by all that can and needs to be done back home, on your brand. And if you are not so fortunate, do make an effort to track the happenings and learnings. Even a distance learning is better than distancing yourself from Cannes.
Some of my observations and learnings from this year’s fest:
Virtual reality is now a reality. Samsung took the mantle to make the delegates experience the magic of VR, first hand, thanks to its headset and 360 camera. At Cannes we could enjoy surfing, a movie or a rollercoaster ride, as if you were living it live. Look all around, up, down, left or right and we got the 360 visual experience, making it difficult to differentiate the real from the virtually real. The technology is here. It offers a challenge and opportunity for all marketers, brands and categories to evaluate how they can use it to engage and mesmerise their audiences and consumers. Going beyond mere demos, how will this technology be used as part of the brand’s customer experience? Only time will tell.
Every minute there are: 15,00,00,000 emails sent, 2,08,00,000 WhatsApp messages exchanged, 24,00,000 Google searches, 9,72,000 Tinder swipes, 5,28,000 Snapchat photos shared, 38,000 Spotify hours of music created and 1,400 Uber rides taken. Realise and accept that till yesterday, it took decades for brands to make their presence felt. Today, brands that were born just a few years back are competing with these new brands. And brands are losing steam and relevance faster than ever before. How soon will you make your success a legend? How long can you retain your relevance and leadership?
India was definitely on a high this year. Some of the categories where we won include Print & Publishing, Creative Effectiveness, Design, Glass Lion, Healthcare, Promo & Activation and Radio. We have won the entire spectrum of Lions; be it Bronze, Silver, Gold, a Grand Prix and (a first) Agency of the Year. But take a look at the categories where we did not hit a bullseye — PR, Digital Craft, Direct and Product Design. Will you be the one to break the jinx in these prestigious categories next year?
Ad agencies are beating PR agencies to win PR Lions. Countries like Romania, Egypt, Sweden, Belgium and Bangladesh are getting used to winning Lions.
The lesson in here?
Beware of complacency. Ideas can come from anyone or anywhere. Agencies can no longer claim monopoly over their specialisations. Also, the size of a country or market no longer matters. Why can’t you aspire to win a Lion next year? Why can’t you aspire to attend the Cannes Lions Festival next year?
By Ajay Kakar
(The author is CMO – financial services, Aditya Birla Group)