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Why Cannes still has it over SXSW - by top US marketer


By Noel Young | Correspondent

March 15, 2012 | 4 min read

One of America's top advertising talents has given his verdict on SXSW Interactive, just finished in Austin, and spelled out why Cannes in his view "still keep its edge for marketers."

Rei Inamoto: SXSW v Cannes

Rei Inamoto, chief creative officer of San Francisco agency AKQA, summed up SXSW on Twitter as "like the live version of the Internet: a whole lot of noise & short attention span."

Just like the Internet itself," you unfortunately end up with a lot of content that is mediocre at best", he writes today in AdAge.

"When you have close to 2500 panelists in less than five days, 60 panels happening simultaneously at ANY given time, chances are you'll have more misses than hits - even if you know what you are doing."

One reason startups and agencies flock to SXSW is to find the Next Big Thing, says Inamoto.

"Twitter's launch in 2007 is now a legend. Then came Foursquare in 2009 - they entered SXSW with 50 users and left with 5,000, apparently." Since then, though, people have been waiting.

"Again, this year no startup managed to break through (some might argue for Highlight, but I doubt people will be talking about it next year).

"If your goal is marketing and branding," he tells AdAge, "SXSW can be a good place to do so, especially if you are interested in reaching tech influencers - as AKQA client Nike tried to do in its first foray into SXSW."

But he says , SXSW is not right or relevant for every marketer. "If you don't have a killer product, whether you are a startup or brand, you shouldn't try to make a splash."

Inamoto , says that in the world diary of advertising events "Where SXSW falls down in programming quality is where Cannes excels."

" Cannes may not have the cauldron of innovation, but it manages to continue its importance by consistently maintaining the quality of content."

"There are nowhere near as many panels or seminars at Cannes. The standard of presentations is much more dependable. People seem more prepared in general. And the theme always has a clear focus: the festival is about creativity and inspiration. "

That's where Cannes keeps its edge for marketers, says Inamoto.

"Attending SXSW cemented why Cannes really matters: celebrating creativity and inspiration on a global stage and elevating what we do.".

Inamoto's conclusion, "At the end of the day, what separates a good idea from a great idea is just that: Does it inspire?"

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