5 Lessons from ad Festivals Around the World

cannes creativity

Creativity and innovation, it’s a love story as old as humanity itself. We tend to talk about this topic a lot in ad land but I think we often get going without first stopping to define the difference between the two. Simply put, creativity is about generating new and novel ideas, and innovation refers to the application of these ideas.

This year I have been lucky enough to do a lot of industry-related traveling, and as such have managed to get to chat to some of our industry’s top players…often in a bar at 3am….but nevertheless: based on these chats and observations I will share with you five helpful points around innovation and creativity.

  • The Rise of Branded Utility – To me this refers to brands creating products and services that are useful to our everyday life.
    If you think about it this is common sense.
    I would say that people are not really interested in brands, they are more interested in things that can solve their everyday problems.
    If agencies and brands want to continue to be relevant and ladder up the food chain, we need to point our creativity much more in this direction and innovate. Just look for human pain points and then see how you can take out steps to make things simpler. Time is becoming our most precious commodity, so the more you do this, the more you will win.

  • Collaboration is key – Innovation is impossible without collaboration and creativity tends to be bettered by it. In today’s world people are increasingly finding that the more we share the more we win.
    Step one is to make your company more porous, open your doors, get out into your community, share and look for interesting people and brands to build something incredible with.
    The two most common examples in our industry of this so far are collaborations with start-ups (particularly tech ones), and brand partnerships that focus on social good.
    I have a feeling that “Think like a start-up” is said about every 2mins at any big 2016 creative gathering.

  • Be fast and do good – Our attention span four years ago was on average twelve seconds; today it’s about eight seconds. For context, the attention span of a goldfish is nine!*.
    We live in a world where our views and opinions are increasingly public and global news travels literally at the speed of light. Snapchat and other types of short messaging services are some of the fastest growing companies in the world now.
    People often share things because they want to appear to be good, a like here and a tweet of a clever article there acts as a form of social currency.
    Because of this, brands are seeing that doing good can not only help make the world a better place, it can also help their bottom line. As Monika Lewinsky said at Cannes Lions last year: – “Clicking is a public act, I would argue a moral one too. With every click we make a choice.” Make sure that you become a brand that people want to click.

  • The link between data, tech and neuroscience is going to be key –
    Data and technology work best when they enhance the human experience.
    The lines between machines and humans are blurring fast and it’s essential, not just for our industry, but also for humanity, to better understand this space.
    The majority of the world’s population now have a phone, essentially it’s an extension of the human brain, if we want to know something we just ask it and then move on with our day. A friend at Google said to me recently that ‘knowledge is powerful’, but it’s how we use it that defines us.
    The more brands and agencies can figure out how to merge tech and data to just seamlessly work, feel natural, and enhance our lives, the better we will all do.

  • Everything has changed, but everything remains the same – The Shifts from atoms to bits hasn’t changed the fundamentals, despite all the advances in technology going on in our world, the fundamentals have remained constant – We still burn with the power to succeed, to survive, to love and to take care of one’s own.

When it comes down to it, culture is the most important thing that separates one business from another.
We need to take more heartfelt care not just of our customers but of our own staff, the better we learn to empower both groups, the better, and more profitable our world will be.
Some of the most powerful work in recent years has been around empowering culture shifting movements, these are very much about the heart.

Creativity and technology will be doing a dance for some time to come, it’s a modern day conduit for how we express ourselves. Innovation in this space will continue to grow exponentially each year. If we can follow some of the steps above, I believe we are much more likely to dance towards a more positive future.

People Eating Dog Food Without Knowing

People eating dog food
Freshpet, a company that makes fresh natural pet food products, got people to eat and enjoy their dog food and cat food products. Have a look at the video below and enjoy.
The film was set up by YouTube specialist ad agency Shareability.

Otherwise Engaged – A Short Film on Social Media Obsession

Otherwise Engaged
Am lucky enough to be at a wedding in the South of France this week, and one of the people I had the pleasure to meet yesterday was film director Alicia MacDonald.
Alicia just created a wonderful short film mocking our obsession with social media and online validation. It’s only 4mins long, if you want a laugh watch it below.

An Instagram powered screen made of thread

21threads screen
Forever 21
 have created a screen made of 6,400 spools of thread to display any Instagrams that are hashtagged with #F21ThreadScreen. If you fancy a go you can see your pictures turned into art at F21ThreadScreen.com.
Work by New York design agency BREAKFAST.

Honda Create a Wild Pink Pony Chase

Pink Pony
If you like pink ponies, you will like this new ad for the Honda CR-V Series II.
The ad is good fun, not sure how it really will help sales but great work nonetheless by Leo Burnett, Melbourne.

The best work from Cannes Lions 2015

Cannes Can
Spending 10 days in Cannes at the Lions Advertising festival was incredible, but one thing I didn’t see enough of till I got home was all the work.
I have made up a presentation with what I believe are the key trends, but before I share that I thought I would share some of the top work. Below are my top 10 picks from across all the categories in no particular order. The best advertising makes the new, familiar and the familiar, new. Enjoy.

Ok I really need to share some more….so here are my next top 10.

Apologies again for not updating the site for so long, I have resigned from Ogilvy and WPP and from next month will be running a new company of my own. Will share more in due course but the basics are to do with rethinking the way education is taught online…till next time.

Wisdom from a living legend of advertising, Keith Reinhard

Kieth Reinhard
Sorry for the quietness, I have been at the Cannes Lions festival of creativity, it’s the largest global festival of creativity and all the who’s who of advertising are here..as well as all the big tech companies. But by far the most incredible session I was honoured to attend was a session with Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB. I honestly think he may be the last living godfather of advertising.

The session was held by the Berlin School of Advertising, the best school for creative leadership in the world (if you ever can go take a course with them). Keith popped by to share some lessons of leadership and advertising. Below are some highlights from the talk.

Innovation is talked about a lot nowadays, the word is synonymous with technology, but really it just means change, Keith said “Change or die. That’s life, standing still is a death sentence.”

The ad world has changed a lot over the years and currently all CEO’s and ad execs are having high level meetings to figure out what the future model will be like.
Keith shared a wonderful story, he basically said it’s all our own fault.
Some 200 year ago the first ad guy said to a client – “Hey why deal with all these newspapers, I can do it for you, just give me 15%.” It was a good deal so the client went ahead with it. Later the ad guy said “Hey listen I have read your copy and think I can improve it.” So the client said “Great how much will that cost?” The ad guy replied, “Nothing.” so the client went ahead again. Later the ad guy said “Hey these ads would be even better with pictures!” The client said “Great sounds good, how much will that cost?” and the ad guy replied “Nothing.”
Basically we trained our clients from the very beginning to pay nothing for the one thing they can’t and don’t really want to do themselves.

Keith also talked about the power of inspiring others, he reminded us that the job of a creative director is not to create great advertising but to inspire others to create great advertising. If they struggle, below are some tips you can do to try help

  1. You can plant one of your ideas in the head of one of your team, and get them to embrace it, built upon it and make it their own. (e.g. Hi Sam, that idea you told me about the other day [insert your idea here], it was great, you should look into that more!)
  2. In the absence of the team having ideas, come up with the thread of an idea then challenge your creative team to better it.
  3. Once you have approved an idea, back it all the way.
  4. Learn the art of salesmanship. It’s essential if you want to sell great ideas.
  5. Take responsibility, but remember to give credit to all involved (especially the client).
  6. Be the creative director that everyone wants to work for, if the word gets out that your team are having the most fun and doing the best work,  you will attract the best people (This can become a wonderful vicious circle).

Keith said the ultimate leadership question is “Why would anyone want to follow you?”

Today’s world of advertising is very complicated, and things have changed, but consider that the shift from atoms to bits has not changed the fundamentals. Human nature remains the same. We still burn with the drive to succeed, to survive, to love, and to take care of one’s own. “The importance of brands has not changed,” Reinhard said. Nor has the importance of ideas. The nature of leadership is also unchanged. In order to lead oneself, Reinhard says, you need to have a dream, the passion to pursue it, the persistence to see it through, and the curiosity to do it all over again. Leading others—a learned skill, not a bestowed title—depends on sharing your vision and values while helping others grow and keeping them inspired.

Keith finished the session by sharing a story of the best advice he ever received. It was from Lewis Thomas who used to head up the Memorial Sloan-kettering Cancer Centre. Thomas said, “If you want a bee to make honey, you do not issue a memorandum on solar navigation or protocols on carbohydrate chemistry. You do what you can to arrange the environment around the hive, and when the air is right the science will come.”

If you ever have the chance to listen to him talk, or meet Keith in person, please do yourself a favour and cancel everything to make it happen. The fact this hero of creativity and humanity in our industry isn’t spoken about more is a crime, what a true gentleman.

An annual report that’s worth getting

Paint roller annual report
Habitat for Humanity, a volunteer run company that builds affordable housing,  have created an annual report that demonstrates how easy it is to get involved and lend a hand.
I love these kind of simple ideas, they sent out their annual report on paint rollers, to read it people had to roll out the report. The report encouraged the reader to take the paint roller in their hands and come help out.
Brilliant work by Trampoline.

Fiat creates an interactive parking billboard

Parking Billboard
Fiat in Germany created an interactive video billboard that helped people park in order to highlight their park assist technology.
The billboard was hooked up to sensors that controlled the video parking instructions being displayed.
You can tell Cannes Lions is around the corner, the sensors were stuck onto the cars (not really practical / legal in real life), plus the cost to scale this would be ridiculous….however it’s always nice to see brands testing new creative innovations out, maybe it will lead to something in the future.
Work by Leo Burnett, Germany.

Costa Rican Beer brand creates a billboard with an erection

Parrillera Pilsner billboard Parrillera Pilsner
Costa Rican beer brand Republica Parrillera Pilsen has created a billboard that from behind looks like a giant erect penis.
On the front is a barbecue fork stuck in a large sausage, but from behind it looks very different.
It’s not yet known if this was done on purpose but it’s getting huge global attention…..as you know the first rule of advertising is to get noticed.

images via Reddit/Imgur