McCann NY CCO Sean Bryan on Cannes Lions, Fearless Girl & attention capturing - 'Creativity is reaching new heights'

Sean Bryan

McCann New York chief creative officer, Sean Bryan, has high hopes for this years' Cannes Lions festival in part because he believes creativity in advertising is reaching a level he has not seen it reach before in his career.

Bryan believes that “creativity is reaching new heights,” according to his interview with Beet.TV. “I actually think the industry is better at doing what really matters than we’ve ever been, at least in my time. So much of what is exciting to our industry and to me in particular is the longer form of storytelling."

He uses the example of McCann New York’s groundbreaking "Fearless Girl" campaign where the agency helped client State Street Financial Advisors install a bronze sculpture of a girl standing defiant to the Wall Street Bull bronze statue, the tweets, selfies and news reports mentioning the artwork resulted in an estimated $7.4m in free advertising.

“I could have put together a miniseries about that thing and what it did in the world,” Bryan says as it particularly opened up a dialogue about women and finance.

The longer form of storytelling has worked well for McCann's clients including Godiva, Microsoft and Nespresso, but also functional brands like Lysol. An installation under the Brooklyn Bridge and a TV, social and video launch illustrated how “mothers in nature are the biggest bad asses there are." The campaign and exhibit taps into the deep and universal human instinct to keep loved ones safe and enabled the team to "take a functional story and elevate it to emotional."

Bryan also points to the importance of 'who' will be watching long form storytelling and determining what they’re going to be interested in.

“If you want to hold somebody’s attention for two minutes, three minutes or even longer you need to be telling them a story providing some news, some information that is going to be rewarding to them,” says Bryan. “It’s a different kind of storytelling.”

He added that he was not suggesting that traditional 30 - 60 - second commercials could not command consumers’ attention, citing an effort for Nespresso coffee machines starring George Clooney and a host of actors from classic films. “As a 60 it’s fantastic because you really get to enjoy all the great scenes from all the great movies we wanted to see growing up,” Bryan says.

“We are talking to people about stuff they care about. We’re making brands matter and making them relevant in peoples’ lives. And we’re doing it in a different way.”

For more on marketing insights and storytelling, got to The Drums’ new series What’s the Story?

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