How Cannes got serious

Business, meaning, audience insight and partnerships were at the core of this year's successful work at Cannes, says MediaCom's chief transformation officer.

Serious about business

The best of the work this year curated in the MediaCom suite had business success running right through it. Sure, the collection of work had plenty of stunts littering it still, but the cream of work that rose to the top included fabulous strategic thinking.

This is, of course, true of the winner of the Media Grand Prix – MediaCom and Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s work for Tesco's "Food love stories". A campaign that drove sales for the supermarket at an unprecedented rate.

There was lots of discussion about best practice for the future of our business. The impact of voice on marketing came up in several sessions. While it’s a long way from taking over, the role of a voice personal assistant is already changing some consumers' lives. There’s lots to learn about what needs to be done, but every brand should begin to think now about whether their memory structures are sufficient for standout without visuals and where a purchase decision will be based on just a couple of options spoken by Alexa, rather than scanning a shelf full of product.

Serious about meaning

I watched the full Glass Lion shortlist with my co-curator (and co-author of The Glass Wall: Success Strategies for Women at Work – and Businesses that Mean Business) Kathryn Jacob. The vast majority of entries this year were about gender equality.

As we showed the work to our guests, clients and worldwide colleagues, in advance of the jury’s final decision, we asked our audience to vote for their winner. They chose an entry from the Miss Peru competition where the finalists subverted the normal recitation of so called "vital statistics"  – bust waist and hip measurements – and instead substituted truly vital stats about domestic violence in Peru. It had standout and impact. As did the worthy Grand Prix winner, Bodyform/Libresse's "Blood normal".

Serious about audience insight

There was plenty to hear about how to reach audiences with real impact. For one audience, Viacom has developed some interesting insights about the new marketing imperatives for reaching under-35s. It points out that there has been a step-change in culture, which every marketing plan needs to consider. Its point of view on the "Culture of Proximity" dissects the developments, and mandates a new approach. As Maya Peterson, Viacom’s director of culture and creative insights, says of her audience: "People are acting like brands and they expect brands to act like people."

Serious about partnership

It was clear throughout Cannes week that success isn’t achievable on your own any more. Even the disrupters are subject to disruption now, and no-one knows the path forward in isolation. Leaders today will share best practice with generosity and make strategic alliances to win.

So the news of the alliance between News UK, Guardian News & Media and The Telegraph for The Ozone Project – a jointly owned audience platform to combat industry-wide digital advertising concerns, including brand safety, data governance and ad fraud – is to be welcomed.

It mirrors one of the standout pieces of work on the Titanium Lions shortlist: a quality journalism campaign, "Read more. Listen more", for which Unesco created an alliance of news channels to recommend reading their traditional rivals, rather than fighting for market share.

As the future continues to challenge everything at a speed that takes the breath away, it's important to build teams that can work together to support the growth of brands, business and meaning.

Sue Unerman is the chief transformation officer of MediaCom


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