Cannes 2015: Building a better world with branding

Strategy's Mary Maddever on the buzz about cause in Cannes.

As SAWA and Project Everyone launch “#WeHaveAPlan” – the world’s first global cinema commercial – the power of advertising for doing good is rivaling tech for the spotlight at Cannes.

Backed by the United Nations, the Screen Advertising World Association created the ad for Project Everyone, with the aim of reaching seven billion people in seven days, to share the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development the UN will release on Sept. 25.

The spot’s director, Richard Curtis of Project Everyone, and Sir John Hegarty of BBH were among those on hand to introduce the new initiative and enlist the aid of the media and marketing industry to help get the word out. Addressing the big issues from health, inequalities, hunger, climate, peace and justice, the urgency is to get everyone doing their part to make the needed change.

Curtis told the Cannes audience that he “wants you all to tell everyone.” He appealed to the media companies, anyone with TV shows or other platforms of connection, “to think today about how many people you can contact. It’s not a hard thing, we’re not asking for money.”

Hegarty concurred, spurring the audience to harness their extraordinary creativity and influence to share the save-the-planet to-do list with the world. When asked which of the global goals was most urgent for him, Hegarty chose climate change, saying, “If we don’t get that, we’re all fucked.”

“There’s a role for all of you,” he told the audience. “Make sure our nations stick to the plan.”

Cause is hogging the podium, as well as the conference stage this year. Which correlates to the other ROI of doing good – more brands are aligning with cause to appeal to consumers.

Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO, also took to the stage after the “#WeHaveAPlan” unveiling to share his Marketing For People manifesto.

Weed says a transformation is needed in the marketing industry, citing the fact that decisions are made emotionally, and that rational benefits-based advertising is not as effective as ideas that touch hearts, like the Dove “#ChooseBeautiful” work.

He also said the change to channels – the growth of mobile and limited attention spans – points to a need to find creative ideas that work in five seconds.

Trust is another theme he touched on, and in talks with industry gurus, said what came up a lot is trust among partners and companies we collaborate with. He said the big challenge is to build trust across the industry.

And Weed said the ultimate transformation needed is “to get to marketing for people.”

At Unilever this is underway with its BrightFuture partnership with Upworthy to make the world a better place, and The Unilever Foundry, which engages with startups, offering pitch-to-pilot help of $50,000. “Those sorts of partnerships are how we’re going to get to that transformation.”

Weed called for marketers and agencies to step up on sustainability, and cited stats showing the brands that did this grew twice as fast as others, seeing a 50% spike.

“It’s something we need to do together as an industry,” says Weed, pointing to Collectively as an example – companies working together to scale the building of a better future. “Brands and marketers need to lead – we can make marketing great again,” he says.

“There’s never been a better time for you and I together to create a bright future.”