Vive la Revolution! Why The Cannes Lions 2014 signify big change

Cannes-Lions-2014-Logo1 As the Internet and digital technologies have disrupted everything around us (just ask Mary Meeker) is this the year they have finally broken through to disrupting mainstream advertising? The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2014, kicks off this weekend in the French Riviera, a week that is seen as the barometer of creativity in advertising. The annual 61 year-old festival brings together delegates from over 90 countries that attend seven days of seminars, talks, networking, and the prestigious central Cannes Lions awards. As someone with a keen focus on (read: huge bias towards) the social and digital space, for me the mix of the event has always been skewed to underrepresent the category. Both when rewarding fully integrated social as well as reflecting social and digital innovation in its content and schedule. Until this year. Hear the Cyber Lions roar In 2014, the previously smaller Cyber Lions awards have been revamped to include a specific social category, highlighting executions with social thinking at their core. The entries have been judged on metrics many of us have been living by for a while now – including engagement levels, social reach and quantifiable commercial results.

When it comes to the more well established categories, including creative effectiveness and Grand Prix, the industry is in agreement that the most likely award winners will be those campaigns that are truly revolutionary – industry stalwart Leo Burnett’s predicts those who will win big next week “defy categorization”, and are taking “lessons from the past and producing something entirely new— signposts to the future.”


Social platforms front and center at Cannes The social platforms will be in the South of France actively building marketing campaigns, as well as relationships, with brand and agency partners. The Facebook team will be working on campaigns onsite with Nestlé, JWT, 360i and FCB Brazil to name a few. Instagram is holding similar sessions, focusing on taking advantage of the moment to work with brand partners. Pinterest co-founder Ben Silberman is one of the high profile speakers at Cannes, taking to the stage to talk about the magic of discovery and the creative opportunities this represents for brands. Twitter by now is well embedded – this year, CEO Dick Costello will participate in the annual Cannes Debate chaired by Sir Martin Sorrell. In a rather meta Cannes move, Sir Patrick Stewart, Aaron Paul, Al Roker star alongside ad and media execs in a documentary about Twitter to be screened during the festival And YouTube is a big part of bringing Lions content to the outside world – its Lions Live partnership with Mindshare will broadcast one crowd-selected session per day live to viewers globally.

Vive La Revolution 

I can’t help but draw a very high level parallel to another period of time that also took place in France – the French Revolution. This was a defining moment for the country at the end of a century. It marked a change in the old regime, the rise of democracy and nationalism and accelerated development of many other liberal ideologies around the world. Now of course the Revolution of today is not the bloody mess of the 1700s, and has not required we guillotine all that has gone before to achieve change. In fact, far from it. TV as a reach vehicle for brands is now complemented by measurable and scalable social and digital campaigns.  These serve to make TV advertising more, not less, important. Consumers want to engage, discuss, share and talk with brands in real-time, with TV is a huge driver of these conversations. It has shifted social media to the forefront, moving it from a bright, shiny object to vital part of an effective integrated campaign. The most innovative in advertising are blending the best of reach media and tying it to measureable social media campaigns. It means we recognize a new era of working partnerships rather than seeing some left by the wayside in the change. It is the collaborations, digital labs, command centers, incubators and hackathons between brand, agency and technology partners that are the driving force behind today’s big ideas. And it has put the original audience - the consumer - at the heart of communications. They possess a vital voice in the conversation rather than being spoken to from on high. They have opinions that shape creative work and influence the decisions of others, to the point of becoming an equal with a brand in social conversations. All very reminiscent of the French revolutionary mantra of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" (freedom, equality, brotherhood) developed more than 200 years ago.

Gemma Craven's picture

Gemma Craven

Gemma is the Executive Director of Strategic Markets at Spredfast where she leads Spredfast's North American team of Market Directors - social business practitioners and key partners to Spredfast's clients and prospects. She is also a WOMMA board member, runner, and owner of a Boston Terrier named Stella.