Matt Williams at the Cannes Seminars

Coca-Colapic.jpgMatt Williams, content editor at The Engine Group, London offers his take on the Cannes Seminars running throughout the week, exclusive to CB.

When it comes to selecting Cannes' 'Creative Marketer of the Year', we've all heard the rumours about the judging process.
 
That it's not really about the work at all - that instead it's down to a brand campaigning for months to get chosen, promising that if they win they'll spend lots of money at the festival, bring hundreds of delegates and enter more awards than ever before.
With this in mind, I was intrigued to see Coca-Cola's seminar in the Grand Audi today. As the brand of Cannes 2013, could they justify the hype?
 
In less than 45 minutes, any cynicism that may have been in place was quickly washed away.
 
It was replaced instead by an admiration for a brand that has genuinely remained at the forefront of advertising for decades, that understands and is proud of its place in the creative industry.
 
Coca-Cola's Jonathan Mildenhall and Ivan Pollard were the guys doing the talking, and introduced the concept of 'Work that Matters' - i.e. brands that build their social purpose into their storytelling. This provides companies with a huge creative opportunity, Pollard explained, and one which he believes Coca-Cola tries to grab on every possible occasion.
 
To prove this - and thereby underline Coca-Cola's credentials for being a worthy winner of Creative Marketer of the Year - Pollard and Mildenhall took the audience on a journey through the brand's trailblazing past. It started in 1955, when the brand made a radical move to feature a black woman in its advertising campaigns for the first time (this was in the same year, Mildenhall reminded us, that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on a Montgomery City bus and started a movement that would change the world).
 
This desire to defy stereotypes set the tone for the Coca-Cola brand, whether it was racial equality statements like the iconic "I'd like to give the world a Coke" ad, or issues focusing on gender (you forget how powerful a statement the 'Diet Coke break' ad was for gender equality, Mildenhall said).
 
In short, Coca-Cola's marketing campaigns have shown the brand's ability to read the pulse of popular culture. It's a brand that straddles borders, that is built on a sense of togetherness and inclusion. I was taken by Mildenhall's claim that Coca-Cola is nothing but "stubbornly optimistic", which lives and dies by the philosophy "What unites us is greater than that what divides us."
 
OK, so the seminar might all sound a bit too self-congratulatory, and you did at times sense that Mildenhall and Pollard were only one step away for claiming Coke to be the main reason for ending World War Two, sending man to the moon and capturing Osama Bin Laden, but it was a worthy reminder of the sense of social good that a brand can do when it gets creative. Here is a brand with confidence and a clear purpose. And, whether you choose to believe the rumours or not, here is a brand that deserves to be celebrated as Cannes' Creative Marketer of the Year.

Leave a comment

About Campaign Brief Asia

A blog for advertising creatives in Asia. To pass on news or advertise on the CB Asia blog, or to subscribe to Campaign Brief Asia or Campaign Brief Australia/NZ magazines, or The Work 09 Annual, email: Kim or Michael

Latest jobs

Retrieving latest jobs

House rules for commenting

Here are the ground rules for posting comments on stories: This site is a moderated blog. Comments that are seen to be more abusive than witty and/or constructive will not be posted. Obviously, we do not allow 'hate speech' or comments that are seen as a personal attack, defamatory, degrading or prejudicial to an individual or company. Overly abusive language also adds nothing to any discussion and will not be published. On occasions we will be asking people to contribute work, opinions and views on various topics - you are free to disagree, so long as you observe the above rules and remain constructive.