The main trend in the world today is collaboration. Particularly in the world of advertising. This was no more apparent than at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, earlier this year, says advertising industry expert and former Grey Canada and South Africa CEO, Ann Nurock.
Nurock was speaking at the Media24 Lifestyle Magazine Summit in Cape Town in September on creativity and trends in advertising. The theme at Cannes this year was ‘Thank you Creativity.’
“I liked the theme because creativity really can make a difference. It can change stereotypes, bad social norms, health practices… around the world… Never before have the lines been so blurred between traditional advertising and communications. Everything mixes together.”
What was particularly interesting was the increasing dominance of digital media companies – in previous years at Cannes, the global advertising networks dominated. Nowadays it is the digital and social media companies like Google and Facebook which have set up shop at Cannes and who everyone wants to hear from.
Nurock, who attended Cannes this year, reported back on the key trends and themes she observed for the South African advertising, media and marketing industry, while interspersing her presentation with the impactful and beautiful advertising that won big at Cannes this year:
Technology was the overriding trend of the Cannes Lions festival. Technology is bringing creative and brand ideas to life in ways that they have never been before, reported Nurock. She referenced an ad by ING Bank, ‘The Next Rembrandt,’ which used technology, data analytics and a 3D printer to create a replica of a Rembrandt painting, in his style. Everything was replicated after detailed analysis – from the dimensions of his subjects, his painting process, to his brush strokes. “Data was the painter and technology the brush.” Almost 100 million people joined in the conversation and the campaign went viral, reaching mainstream media. As Nurock explained: “Technology is becoming almost invisible, integrated into our everyday lives.”
- Virtual reality:
From Google to Samsung, everyone is talking about virtual reality, said Nurock. In a campaign with the 164-year-old New York Times, Google distributed 1.3 million Google Cardboard VR headsets to subscribers of the venerable newspaper to enable them to view a 360 degree short video advert on the plight of three refugee children on their journey to find a new home. It was described as boundary breaking storytelling and an unprecedented collaboration between brands. “What is important to remember about VR,” said Nurock, “is that it is not cinema, it is not an evolution of the video game. VR is giving people an experience, immersing them in stories, in a way they have never experienced before.”
“We are moving to a world of collaboration. As technology develops, we shall have to collaborate with people who know technology. And they will have to collaborate with us for ideas. Clients are telling us that our complexities are not their problems – they want agencies to deliver,” Nurock pointed out. She referenced a campaign that went viral massively by Burger King, which approached McDonald’s to create a “truce” between the two brands and “collaborate” on International Peace Day to create a new burger, the ‘MacWhopper,’ with proceeds going to the worthy cause of peace. Of course Burger King’s invite was through a newspaper advert – and McDonald’s refused and suggested a phone call next time. This didn’t stop the internet from going crazy over the idea and other brands stepping up to collaborate with Burger King, which in the end created nine billion impressions for the guerrilla campaign and a successful activation for International Peace Day.
- Simplicity, authenticity and the big idea:
“Simplicity and authenticity ruled when it came to ideas at Cannes this year and this is what most of the judges were looking for. It doesn’t matter how much the budget was,” said Nurock, referring to a breast cancer advert for a charity in Argentina. The Macma charity created one of the most successful ads for breast cancer advising women on how to check their breasts for lumps – by using a hairy chested man’s “man boobs” to great effect and to avoid being censored by social media sites. #Manboobsforboobs trended and generated 193 million impressions for the campaign. The most successful breast cancer ad ever.
- Creativity can change the world:
As Nurock reiterated: “You can do well and you can do good. It is all about the brand with a higher purpose.” She referenced an ad from Cannes by Heineken, which has actually created a fuel from a by-product of beer, called ‘Brewtroleum,’ which it is actually now rolling out across fuel stations in New Zealand and the brewer has plans for the rest of the world. The campaign slogan of “Drink beer, save the world” was particularly apt and very popular with consumers, winning big at Cannes. Brands are changing the world, indeed.
- Stop gender stereotypes and the objectification of women:
Leading women in advertising and marketing and celebrities are calling on the advertising industry to stop objectifying women. Unilever is one which has decided to stop stereotyping women in their advertising. This is what brands must never do to women in advertising if they want to remain relevant to their current and future consumers, Nurock emphasised:
- First of all, a woman mustn’t be seen as a body prop.
- Women must not be used as body parts.
- A woman mustn’t be so retouched so that she becomes unrealistic looking.
• And most importantly, brands must be empathic when it comes to gender stereotypes and measure their advertising against how they would feel if it was their mother, sister, daughter potrayed.