News & Views

Cannes Lions / Monday Seminars

by Contagious Team

Dealing with data, participation, disconnecting from technology, and brands improving the world were key trends from Monday's Cannes seminars

Adobe - Is data killing creativity?

Data is a navigation system for brands, not the autopilot, said data analysis firm Marketshare's CEO Jim Vein in Adobe's wide-ranging if rather too affable discussion of the role of data in advertising. Contentiousness was replaced with consensus on panel where Vein was joined by former P&G global marketing officer Jim Stengel; McCann Worldgroup's CCO Linus Karlsson discussing social data, metrics and privacy around perhaps the hottest topic in marketing.

Data was a nice to have five years ago, now it was a need to have, said Vein, before cautioning that brands that sided too heavily with either data or gut instinct risked suboptimal results. The panel converged on data and creativity as complimentary, not conflicting tools for brands to reach people; Karlsson cited Picasso's Guernica as an example of cultural context matched to evocative creativity to powerful effect.

Clients had, said Stengel, become too siloed and slow in their approach to data; a danger echoed by Vein, who said that decontextualised data could only paint one part of a picture that was misleading. But he argued that data's commonality made it a valuable tool for CMOs to bring ROI to discussions with CFOs about creativity and advertising spend, in one case, he explained, raising a CMO's budget by 30% after proving a campaign's success.

On the thorny of privacy, the panel agreed that this would get tougher legally, but that a generational shift would see younger consumers increasingly comfortable with the value exchange of behavioural data for better services and products, argued Stengel.

Karlsson meanwhile argued that with the shift of power to consumers, understanding them and the market had never been more important. 'Clients came to us with a product, and we understood consumers and sold it. Now, the power shift is around consumers. We've gone from building brands, to creating consumer value on behalf of brands, which is a very significant shift.'

The Huffington Post: Tapping the Zeitgeist

Presentation to participation; disconnecting from technology to reconnect with ourselves, and connecting to make the world a better place: three megatrends identified by Arianna Huffington in her packed Monday morning seminar that was equal parts PR exercise for new video-based news venture Huffington Post Live and informative digital forecasting.

Typically well-presented, entertaining and insightful, Huffington argued that technology has accelerated far faster than she had anticipated, with 3bn more people joining the global conversation by 2020. But hidden in this Garden Of Eden for self-expression, she argued, was a snake. That snake was our fetishisation of what was trending, at the expense of assessing the value of what was actually being said. 3% of all tweets in 2010, she pointed out, were about Justin Bieber.

But that snake was also that hyperconnectivity inhibited our inability to connect with ourselves and each other, to 'unplug and recharge'. Apple's zeitgeist-tapping addition of the Do Not Disturb feature in the new iOs was an important measure of that, along with the explosion of well-being and stress-related apps including, conveniently, HuffPo's very own GPS For The Soul. But brands, she argued, could capitalise on this need to help people disengage and go offline, to connect with themselves.

Presentation, she went on in her second forecast, was becoming participation, handily demonstrated by HuffPo's founding editor Roy Sekoff and echoing many of the themes Contagious identified in our Social Business trend of acting transparently, and collaborating internally and externally across all parts of a business. That had seen Huffington Post Live move beyond simple TV news to a video-based platform that placed news content and social commentary and engagement on an equal footing across everything from content to design, technology use and hiring.

Her last trend identified people a new urge: looking to go beyond the psychological needs of survival, sex and power, to a fourth need, purpose. Citing their Shared Motherhood online editorial initiative with Johnson & Johnson on the Huffington Post website, she said there was little point in brands mastering social and digital, she said, if their DNA didn't mean anything to people: 'Archimedes said give me a place to stand and i'll move the world,' she said. 'Without that place where it stands, the DNA, it doesn't matter about social.'

Contagious -- Better With The Brand 

We're also extremely proud to say that the Contagious seminar - 'Better With The Brand' - on Monday afternoon was a roaring success. Founder/editorial director Paul Kemp-Robertson and Insider consultants Will Sansom and Katrina Dodd took to the stage in front of a packed out Debussy to champion 'a new mandate for marketing', in which 'brands become an interface through which the lives of real people are made better'. Covering areas including service design, collaborative culture and social business, the trio showed some of Contagious' favourite campaign case studies from the last year, including Carling Black Label's Be The Coach via Ogilvy Cape TownRed Tomato Pizza VIP Fridge Magnet via TBWA/RAAD Dubai and Chipotle's Back to the Start, via CAA and Nexus Productions. If you'd like to hear any more about these trends and topics, feel free to shoot the Insider team a message at