Ideas, insight and inspiration

Those words get bandied around so much, they've lost their power.

See Canada has a big pair — of Grand Prix, that is for a round-up of Canada’s thought leadership at Cannes Lions 2007…

Letter to the editor: Mike Welling on Evolution and Cannes

Those words get bandied around so much, they’ve lost their power.

Cannes has a way of reminding you what they can be.

It’s empowering to see Canada doing so well – 17 Cannes Lions including two Grand Prix for Unilever’s ‘Evolution.’ The industry has pegged this film by marketing director Mark Wakefield and the O&M team as the best example of advertising transformation.

To someone unfamiliar with the overwhelming experience that is the Cannes adfest, you might think it’s only about glory. But it’s also about that motivation to do better, and the Cannes juries identified the key ingredients to achieving that.

Media jury president David Verklin, CEO of Carat, says his panel put consumer insight first and looked for inspiration. The Film jury sought big ideas, and Titanium was looking for things no one has done before. This is where exposure to global best practices comes in. And it’s why the agencies and the few Canadian marketers attending Cannes say more should make the trek. Like Luc Du Sault, CD of Montreal’s LG2, who says this time the agency brought a team of six, including account folk, in the hope of inspiring exceptional work from the brief stage on.

This year Cannes provided inspiration even before the festival. Campbell Canada, which sponsored the Young Creatives category of the National Advertising Awards, provided a brief to the competition that involved furthering the soup co’s mission to support the Canadian Association of Food Banks. The winning idea – which won Leo B art director Anthony Chelvanathan and copywriter Steve Persico a trip to the festival – was a soup can display that spelled out Hunger, and encouraged consumers to make the word disappear by buying and donating a can.

Campbell’s VP marketing Mark Childs also staged a mini-Cannes for staffers, with industry judging, shortlists and a red carpet awards show. The Grand Prix team, Nicolle Nordmann and Moya Brown, spent a week screening the best of the best, and Nicolle shared her experiences blogging for Media In Canada. And Campbell is doing it again next year.

As to the insight piece, we asked Marian Salzman, EVP/CMO JWT Worldwide, what’s most important to focus on next. Salzman, a noted trendspotter, said it’s fostering deep consumer insight practices. She also sees this happening within a fragmenting consumerverse. ‘You’re going to see a lot of narrowcasting. Any time there’s a market of 2% – any sample with a passion in common.’ Salzman identifies the strengths required to thrive in that environment as media, interactive, strategic planning and just plain good marketing. ‘Stop thinking about being in advertising, think about being in creative motivation,’ she says, as the consumer is in a state of emotional overload and has stopped accepting information.

Salzman also issued a challenge to Canada to step up a more forcefully on the world stage, as she believes the Canadian industry can take a global leadership position in the CSR/eco arena.

Other trends to watch for are mash-ups, like the Xbox Burger King games and the creation of completely new initiatives, like the WWF Earth Hour from Leo B, Sydney, which encourages individual energy consumption. Titanium & Interactive jurist Mark Tutssel, worldwide CCO of Leo Burnett says: ‘There has to be a value exchange – not just to the industry, to people.’ Tutssel sums up the thinking at Cannes this year with this observation: ‘Ideas are now the currency.’

So get on all that. Cheers,mm Mary Maddever, exec editor strategy/MiC