Claire Davidson sits in on the Cannes Lions Festival seminars: Day 2 on Snapchat, collaboration and a chat with Marilyn Manson

ClaireDavidson_Cannes.jpgClaire Davidson is back in Cannes taking in the seminars and reporting for Campaign Brief Asia. Here's her round up of the speaker sessions on Day 2 of the Festival.

Monday, June 22, 2015
Wow.  The 'Official' Cannes Lions Beach is very swanky.  It's delightful.  What are we all doing inside the Palais Des Festivals all day?  I'm definitely definitely going to aim to catch more seminars at the beach during the week.  It's an undiscovered gem.

I went along this morning (following the 'Official' Cannes Lions Beach blue carpet as I sauntered) to catch "Wake Up With The Economist:  Meet and Mingle With The World's Most Creative Marketers".  Moderated by Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of The Economist, he discussed today's topic with Pete Blackshaw, Vice President of Digital and Social Media for Nestle, SA, Bruce McColl, Chief Marketing Officer of Mars and Jonathan Mildenhall, Chief Marketing Officer of Airbnb.

Traditionally it's been the agencies that have led creativity, but in today's chaotic world of communication, and the various and varied channels open to us, it's the clients who are increasingly contributing to their innovative content.  Creativity is more important than ever in marketing, particularly with regard to these current technologies surrounding us.  This is largely based on the fundamentals. 
Brand storytelling is still the fundamental.  If you then manage to get your brand position (and story) onto all of the platforms available to you, you win lots and lots and lots of points.  The digital landscape has really expanded the creative canvas.  It's mindboggling.  How do we take full advantage of that canvas to delight consumers and build brands?

ClaireCannes_Day2_L1000359.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000362.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000364.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000367.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000369.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000385.jpgTechnology has been a great enabler.  Data too allows us to look at people's buying behavior to see what advertising strategies are working.  You have to be able to measure your brand success.  Boring advertising doesn't work.  You need to get people's attention.  Engage people, and then inform them.  Have a creative idea for your brand that you want to build.  Build it on those technological platforms that will work for you.  Never underestimate the power of virality.

Ok, so we've heard all of this before.  This isn't new to any of us, so I'll put a stop to writing more on it.  I glumly left the beach and quickly ran off down to the Palais Des Festivals to catch "The Millennial Mind:  Creativity and What It Means To The World's Largest Living Generation" to look at a take of another successful brand who has done all of the above and hear it from their perspective.  Joanna Coles, Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan spoke with Snapchat's Co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel.  The line up to see this session was so long that by the time I was actually in the seminar room Spiegel had been speaking for fifteen minutes.

With nearly two billion millennials globally they have a super duper spending power of over one trillion dollars per year.  Holy moly.  Millennials consume their content via new platforms, and brands must stay ahead of their changing habits.  One such brand is Snapchat.

Snapchat is the third most powerful app among millennials.  It began in 2011, much like Facebook, in a University dorm room.  It has grown significantly since then.  It is now the best way to reach 13 to 34 year olds.  Well that counts me out then.  More than 60% of 13 to 24 year old smartphone users in the US are Snapchatters.  There are more than 2 billion video views every day on Snapchat.  Stories are updated in real-time and expire after 24 hours.  They are a reflection of who we are in the moment.  They aren't everlasting.  So no need to worry too much if you're having a bad hair day.  At it's essence, Snapchat provides a personal window into the way we and our friends see the world.  The company has nearly 100 million daily active Snapchatters.  Snapchat is now valued at a whopping 19 billion dollars.  It's the third most valuable venture capital backed company in the world.  Impressive stats indeed.

Snapchat feels that many different perspectives are better than just one perspective.  It has a depth of experience that you can't get with just one linear viewpoint.  The company - well its users - are very competent at covering events, and journalists are also starting to covering with them.  A story lasts 24 hours. 15 million people put their stories on Snapchat at New Years Eve this year.  NBC had a mere 5 million people view their coverage in comparison.

How do you keep people moving forward (and make them feel that they are creative) on social media, which is judged by likes and traffic? Sometimes creativity isn't expressed because of fear.  Sometimes it's scary to do something new.  Social media is so quantified and so there is pressure there to perform.  Snapchat tries to increase the velocity with which people make decisions.  Snapchat itself has faced its fair share of uncertainty, but once it started to get traction it was a forward movement ahead.

The company looks to understand the world through the eyes of people.  Empathy is a core value for Snapchat.  Listening is key.  They want to know how people feel.  Fun and play are important.  People like to communicate with one another.  From an advertising point of view, Snapchat got lucky when building its advertising platforms.  Firstly, by having full screen vertical content on their phones, allowed Snapchats advertisers to thus utilize the same.  They have also started inserting videos in the middle of their content, and this makes people watch it.  Their audience is passionate and engaged.  Snapchat has quite a lot of partnerships with brands.  For example, yesterday they celebrated Fathers Day with P&G.  People from all around the world submitted videos and P&G's advertising in turn fitted the context of the videos.

ClaireCannes_Day2_L1000387.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000391.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000399.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000410.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000413.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000414.jpgIn essence, Snapchat shows stories that are different and can make a difference.

Next up for me was "Jefferson Hack and Samantha Morton Champion Female Creative Talent".

Ninety-five percent of Hollywood directors are men.  Only six percent of the top 250 films of 2013 were directed by women.  In parallel, seventy percent of the PR workforce are women.  Only one woman director has ever won an Oscar in the film industry, with just four others having been nominated.  The drop off rate for the already limited amount of female directors is most acute at their second or third feature film.  But it hasn't always been this way in cinema. During the golden age of Hollywood, the most successful screenwriters were women.  Where did it drop off?  What can be done to address the gender imbalances in cinema?  What can we do to bring more women directors to our industry?  

Jefferson Hack is the Editorial Director and Publisher of Dazed, and Samantha Morton started her career in the film industry when she was eleven.  She's been an actress ever since, and more recently a film director.  She's worked with celebrated directors such as Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen.  Throughout her entire career she has been vocal about the lack of well-written roles and directing positions for women.  Today Hack spoke to Morton and us about this.

Morton has passion, resilience, and integrity.  She has what it takes.  We have to inspire young women today to have the confidence to follow their dreams.  We need education in cinema.  We need to become masters in our trade.  We cannot carry on having a male dominated opinion.  It's not about making feminist films.  It's about have gender equality. We have to bring back the trust to women.  We have the power to change this and we can do it.

Today at Cannes Dazed are launching the Female First Film Fund.  This is a kick starter production fund awarded to 'revolutionary' female directors, such as Morton, who really are fighting to bridge that gap between male and female career imbalance in the industry.  There are certain criteria with the fund.  It will finance a percentage of the film's production budget.  It must be a woman's first or second feature film.  It can be any genre from any country.   Hack is looking for brand partners to support the fund.  At its essence the fund and what it produces is to be part of a global cultural mission for female equality.

Well after that it was time for "A Conversation With The Antichrist", also known as Marilyn Manson, brought to us by Tor Myhren, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of Grey Group.  The last time I saw Manson in person was when we interviewed him nineteen years ago at the State Theatre in Sydney when I worked for MTV.  I remember holding my blank clipboard and looking at him in absolute awe.  He was so unique... and enchanting.

Myhren started the talk by asking Manson if he did indeed have a rib removed so that he could perform oral sex on himself.  The rumor apparently started because Manson used to wear a medical back brace. Manson was quick to confirm for us that it wasn't actually about wanting to suck his own dick. Good to know.

Manson feels that he's reached approximately the 12th grade now.  He hasn't grown up as yet.  His writing process / musical process turns off at around 3am.  Once he starts to rhyme words that don't exist he goes to bed.  Manson worries that his music may one day overshadow his image, not the other way round.  He's held a consistently solid brand for the last twenty years.  He works very hard.  His mantra is to stay true to himself but to keep evolving.  Don't get lazy.  Don't rest on your laurels.  Don't rest on your fan base.  Manson wants to make new fans.  It's difficult to maintain 'not emptying the bucket of mystery' but he never gives in.

Manson spoke of his father a lot today. His father gave him three pieces of worldly advice.  Firstly, if you are ever with a woman squirt lemon juice on her. If she screams she has a disease so don't have sex with her. Next, when you get a job, on day one fire someone so that the other staff members fear you.  People have to believe in you.  It's easy to create things that are fake. Manson's name is fake - a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. Manson moved on and didn't tell us the third element of fatherly advice.  I had been quite interested to hear what it might have been.

M_Manson.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000425.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000428.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000426.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000420.jpgClaireCannes_Day2_L1000424.jpgManson and his image cross multiple fields from being a musician to an actor to a painter.  All come with provocative ideas and ideals brought about from his razor sharp intellect.  There is minimal difference when he is on stage and off stage.  When he is off stage he's talking to people he knows.  When he's on stage he's talking to people he doesn't know.  He's shy.  He's awkward.  But he can hide that on stage.

Manson doesn't feel that all PR is good PR in today's age where everyone is striving to have their own fifteen minutes of fame.  Having an avatar doesn't give you a personality.  Everyone can't rise to the top.  Only the best will get there.  Thank you Marilyn Manson.

After that inspiring talk I went to see "Creativity in The Age of Data", which was presented to us by Koichi Yamamoto, Executive Planning Director of Dentsu Inc.  We live in an age of data.  Most of what we watch is created, and then selected by data. Entertainment is driven by data. Travel is driven by data. Even going to work each day is driven by data.  We're all busy on our smartphones getting to our workplaces.  Data is the new air.  We increasingly rely on data every day of our lives.  It often feels we are drowning in data. 4.4 Zetatabytes were produced in 2014.  That's 4.4 Trillion Gigabytes for us all.  And this is just the start.  What is to come is unimaginable.

Smart devices are driving this data, as too are wearable devices, such as the smart watch.  Also sensors.  Sensors are everywhere - on our phones, in our cars, in our buildings.  This creates the internet of things.  It's is estimated that there will be 50 billion devices connected to the internet in the next few years.  Data makes life easier.  It also makes marketing much easier - adaptation, acceleration and automation.  It makes marketing better.  It makes it more efficient.  But can data make creativity richer?  That's what we want to do and aspire to do.  Take Sounds of Honda, which created a complete emotional experience.  It's a unique piece of data.  The data was the DNA of the experience.  It, as one example, has shown us that data is the new medium.  It can bring about the creation of emotional content.  Big data visualization is another area of this growth as too is geo-data visualization.

What is the next data-led creative platform though?  How do we bring data to life and tell the story embedded in the data?  What is the new process of creativity?  It started with visualization which led to analytics.  In turn, this is leading on to artificial intelligence.  We looked at the Machine Generate TED Talks as an example.  Other good case studies we studied were Inceptionism by Google Research, Poi Bot and Petiteco, a car that talks.  What, no more Kitt?

As artificial intelligence evolves will it take over creative thought?  Will computers take over our creative profession?  There is already an automated programme that will write copy for you and design websites for you.  Yamamoto believes that only the human brain has the power to imagine.  The combination though between us and computers is endless.  New collaboration is essential to expand data creativity further.  Data is the new source of creativity.

Last up for me today was "Collaboration for Greater Good:  Game Changing Partnerships That Galvanize Social Change".  Moderated by Emma Grede, Chief Executive Officer or ITB Worldwide, she spoke with Adrian Grenier, Actor, Producer and Social Entrepreneur (swoon swoon), Allison Dew, Vice President, Client Solutions Marketing of Dell, and Aimee Mullins, Actress, Athlete and Model and Livia Firth, Creative Director of Eco Change.

Today we looked at meaningful partnerships that aim to do more than conveying a brand's message, and also go to the heart of that brand's value, particularly in the 'cause' based space.  Can brands impact social change?  The answer is yes they can and yes they must.  You need to add value to the brands though.  There is no point in doing something without reason.  You need create change with real action.  It's important not to just talk the talk.  You must walk the walk as well.

It's about mutually beneficial partnerships for a greater good, that have the planet as their focus.  It's the marriage of ethics and aesthetics. It's the creation of sustainable strategies.  Yes, companies will need to invest and spend money to make these changes.  Authenticity and integration are key.  Relationships must be sincere.  The company intrinsically must want to make real change. It must be within their DNA.

Let's all contribute to the world around us and make it a better place.  We have the power to move the needle.

Claire Davidson, Managing Director & Executive Producer - ASIA + MENA @ The Sweet Shop, reporting for Campaign Brief Asia at Cannes Lions 2015.

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