After seven days, over 300 speakers and more magnums of rosé than even the Carlton probably dares to think about, Cannes Lions has wrapped for another year. Whether you were stuck at home or just spent too much time on the beach instead, here’s a round-up of the trends to know about from the Palais for 2015.
Data and creativity
If there was one word used more than any other this week, it was data. This wasn’t just about debating the need for “analytics” or “insights”, or even repeatedly raising “big data” as a buzz phrase, but how we take the fact we know that’s happening and still combine and integrate it with our creativity.
Speakers referred to data as being the linchpin to creating more emotional content. They called for greater collaboration between the industry – from creatives to technologists – as a way of moving people’s hearts. Professor Brian Cox said: “Every creative person needs data to keep them rooted in reality.”
AI as the next big era
Spinning off from that focus on data came numerous references to artificial intelligence (AI) as the next big revolution in tech.
Mike Cooper from PHD referred to us as being at “11.59pm on the eve of AI”. He highlighted that over $57bn has been invested in AI to date, and that number is increasing 60 per cent every year. “Success in inventing AI will be the biggest success in human history, and it may be the last,” he joked.
But Cooper also highlighted that this is going to lead to a radical reorganisation of marketing; that we will have to change from frontal cortex decision-making companies to algorithmic ones. “AI is not just heading for our industry, it's going to pass right through our backyard,” he added.
Virtual reality and beyond
AI also made an appearance along La Croisette with a personal robot called Pepper winning visitors over, but elsewhere technologies grabbing attention largely surrounded virtual reality (VR).
Google Cardboard won the mobile Grand Prix, despite not being an actual mobile initiative per se, but an enabler for it. Speakers said there was no longer any doubt VR would be successful; the question more is when is it going to reach mass adoption?
SapientNitro introduced its new VR experience designed specifically for shopping. Created as a retail prototype, it’s an immersive piece of content that takes the user on a virtual journey to The Apartment by The Line store, in New York’s Soho. Success, said the team, comes down to storytelling.
New content formats
Creating content for VR might be one thing up ahead of us, but the here and now, according to Cannes Lions, is about big growth platforms including Tinder and Snapchat. Founders of both apps took to the stage to talk about creativity, new consumption habits, and how to be unique with what you do.
Sean Rad of Tinder said consumers arrive in the frame of mind that they’re willing to absorb content, and seemingly that includes content from brands. He called on the audience to create things that are new, exciting and unique, that will encourage users to swipe right and opt-in for relationships with them.
Calls to action
Further rally cries from the podium focused on calling upon the power of the audience and their own connections to help achieve greater goals. It was about public health from Jamie Oliver; poverty through to climate change from Richard Curtis and Sir John Hegarty; and cyber-bullying from Monica Lewinsky.
The latter referred to herself as “patient zero” in the new blood sport of viral online shaming. She asked the industry to help change that culture; to determinedly move away from a click-baiting model buoyed by public humiliation, where the media entities benefit from a revenue perspective, and the damaged individuals left behind are forgotten. It was one of the most powerful sessions of the week, and the only full standing ovation of the year.
Gender equality was another big part of Richard Curtis and Sir John Hegarty’s Global Goals Campaign, a worldwide initiative aimed at raising awareness of the United Nations’ “to-do list for the planet”.
Women as a focus carried through the rest of the week too – from Grand Prix campaign winners like Always’ Like a Girl and Under Armour’s I Will What I Want, featuring Gisele, to yet more speakers on stage addressing the role of women. Meanwhile, actress Samantha Morton and Dazed founder Jefferson Hack introduced their Female Firsts Film Fund, which aims to help more female directors source funding for their first and second feature movies.
Vulnerability and naivety
Each year at Cannes Lions brings new schools of thought around how to inspire creativity. Failing fast, taking risk and creating white space for ideas have all been key buzz phrases in the past. According to experiential artist Emilie Baltz, this year it’s about going out to embarrass yourself. “Think about one place you feel vulnerable and try to do 1 per cent of it. Putting yourself in a place of that discomfort often means you're there before others. It's a place of innovation,” she said.
Ben Jones, CTO at AKQA, turned instead to inspiration from children. He urged the crowd to seek naivety, to ask questions, and to become a deliberate beginner.
Intention as the new authenticity
Pharrell Williams was one of the headline celebrity names on the schedule (Kim Kardashian, Will.i.am and Adrian Grenier being others), bringing with him a message about intention over anything else. He said intent should be the number one ingredient in any of your work. “It’s intention that makes consumers feel something,” he emphasised,
But it was Marilyn Manson, a man who chose his stage name, his look, wrote his autobiography and even booked his first venue before he had written a song, who spoke to authenticity more than anyone else. He reminded us there’s nothing more important than being real. “Consumers see through the fake faster than ever these days,” he explained.
Rachel Arthur is a senior editor at WGSN