News & Views

Cannes / Publicis + Contagious Seminar

by Contagious Team

The benefits of being in the Five Percent club

To round off a week of seminars and debates that covered everything from Star Wars to Cappucin Monkeys, last Friday Publicis and Contagious finally took to the stage of the well-populated Debussy auditorium. The theme of the seminar - The Five Percent Club: Risk and Reward as Change Continues - was the need to be proactively experimental in a media landscape that is constantly and rapidly evolving.

Contagious editorial director Paul Kemp-Robertson highlighted the post-WW2 inception of Lockheed-Martin's Skunk Works - a crack team of engineers given the remit and freedom to develop a new jet-fighter that could outperform Germany's superior planes. Years before the arrival of Silicon Valley's famously adaptive innovation culture, Skunk Works came up with a system that combined creativity and practicality to hothouse innovation. 

The relevance of this for agencies now has become impossible to ignore. Those most willing to devote a small but significant portion of their budgets and time to running creative experiments - the 'Five Per Cent Club' - are increasingly seeing brave ideas develop into compelling marketing projects. From Publicis we have the example of the The Megane Experiment, a sweetly random riff on the ratio of Renault Megane's to happiness in an obscure English village. 

Between them, Kemp-Robertson, Contagious's Jess Greenwood and Publicis worldwide chief creative officer Olivier Altmann put forward the case for maintaining a level of exploration alongside the regular machinations of agency culture. By doing so, they argued, brands have the best possible chance of seizing the first mover advantage when a new and exciting idea emerges. Westpac Impulse Saver was shown as an example here, with Skittles' lightweight real-time Facebook interaction used to demonstrate another successful tactic - being prolific, not precious, and keeping up a steady flow of low-cal entertainment to amuse your target audience.

The need to lobby - showing rather than just telling an audience about the values of a brand - was also explored, with Electrolux's Gold Lion-winning project Vac from the Sea  illustrating the point. Moving into the final section of the seminar, the crucial role of data was also showcased, emphasising how the smart analysis of the deluge of information we have about consumers can help to guide and inform successful marketing. Intel Museum of Me was shown here to demonstrate that our perception of data as essentially cold, flat number-crunching can be increasingly confounded by intelligent visualisations that reveal a lot about who we are and what matters to us the most.

The presentation was well received by the audience, who eagerly launched themselves at the redoubtable Contagious team distributing copies of their latest magazine throughout the auditorium.