A whole lot of hot air? An outsider's perspective on the big topics at Cannes Lions
Anoop Menon, creative agency partner at Meta in India, wasn't at Cannes Lions this year but he dutifully followed along through the medium of LinkedIn. Here's his wry take on the big talking points of this year's festival.
It was the Cannes Lions week and India had its best-ever year. Our agencies are going to pay so much extra baggage with the gold and the Grand Prixs, a few airlines are going to finally come out of the red after the pandemic. Careers have been made, agency reputations solidified, and many a business relationship renewed in the South of France during the Cannes week. The past week will change the Indian advertising industry forever. Not just by the number of awards won, but also by the type of ideas that won.
But as almost two decades of unrelenting grind in the advertising industry has taught me, if a tree falls in the forest and no one was around to talk about it in a panel discussion, take pictures and post it on LinkedIn, did it really fall?
The virtual evolution of Cannes Lions 2022
So, I dutifully followed a few of these panels on LinkedIn in the hope that I will become smarter and get to go to Cannes next year. Here are some of my takeaways.
The first thing I learned from watching a large agency network’s panel was their confident proclamation that a brand is like your life partner. The thought blew my mind so hard that I immediately changed the nominee in my bank passbook to my favourite dishwasher tablet. We are now talking about having kids, and I have decided to take her advice on whether crypto is a safe investment for our retirement plans.
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Another agency said that the way to build a D2C brand is to not erase your childhood and take stories from there. Imagine how terrible a piece of advice that would be for Ryan Reynolds’ gins. Speaking of Reynolds, he did come across like one of my strategy bosses who had a penchant for the stratosphere. I challenge him to use his advice of ‘try breaking the campaign structure’ for the drainage unblocker line extension launch that I am currently working on.
Many of the big networks also had something to say about their employees back home. Granted, some of the discussions about diversity had panels that were as diverse as a Madison Avenue corner office. Nevertheless, it is better to have done something meaningless but symbolic than not doing anything at all.
Having said that, I was genuinely shocked by the agency leader who said that the best way to bring people back to the office is to make offices more fun. Work-life balance, health and safety, and new domestic pressures arising out of two years of WFH be damned as long as there is a pool table and free bananas in the canteen.
If you go by the panels, consumer behaviour has fully transformed digitally. All consumers including your grandmother and eight-year-old niece are lining up to shop in the metaverse. There is absolutely no need to make boring, old-school assets like posters or TV spots when we can make low-quality 3D renders on the Metaverse of legless avatars.
I was also bemused by the performance marketers who were in Cannes this year. Their discussion topics were brilliant, the stages looked fine, and e-commerce is indeed an advertising discipline. I just hope there were enough people in the audience attending those panels. I couldn’t see if there were from the one-sided pictures you posted on LinkedIn.
But my favorite was the Captain Obviouses who dropped nuggets of wisdom like briefs have to be honest, the key to success is hard work, and that health is a priority for consumers. What will we hear next from them? That water is wet, there are not enough women in senior roles in Indian advertising, or that an 8-10% increment will not offset the inflation and you’ll be a poorer account executive than last year?
Finally, a note of thanks to the highly profitable ad agencies who sent their top executives in business class to appear on panels. If not for them and their LinkedIn posts, how would the junior copywriter who could not get a 500 USD increment because of bottom-line pressures learn how much the agency cares about them? Grateful.
Anoop Menon is the creative agency partner at Meta in India. The opinions expressed are that of the author and do not reflect the opinions or views of their employer.