Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Latest news from the Cannes Innovation Festival – A special article by Susan Perolls


By Susan Perolls, Cannes Correspondent for theMarketingblog (from a series of events and interviews across Day One of Cannes Innovation Festival)

As Cannes Lions welcomes its mini Innovation Festival for the second year, it’s interesting to hear speakers telling us that, while the elements that make up innovation (data x tech x ideas) are driving the changes and growth in the industry, there is also a ‘back to basics’ mentality in the minds of senior practitioners.  They want to do great things and do them better – but in order to do so there is a desire to bring rigour to a lot of advertising processes that has got lost along the way.

At this morning’s #wakeupcannes event with The Economist, Mark Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer at P&G, took a huge step back in time. As he explained, ‘I love the word ‘advert’ as it derives from the Latin word meaning ‘turn towards’. If your ad doesn’t make your audience turn towards your product then it’s not doing it’s job.’

And yet, while he cited many great ad campaigns that make ‘his spine tingle’, he also despairs at the ‘crap’ in the industry too. He explained that, while the technology has enabled brands to express themselves across a fantastic range of media, it is these bad ad and marketing campaigns that have brought the bad guests to the party, such as ad blocking and ad skipping.

Getting around these barriers has been at the centre of good advertising since time immemorial: great creative ideas, delivered to give the right person, the right value/message at the right time. However, the way in which great content and creative is actually delivered is seeing big changes that are shifting the way the industry works.

As Brad Jakeman, President Global Beverage Group at Pepsico explained, ‘The task of creating great, entertaining and engaging entertainment is a huge task. Whereas the company used to take six months to create a piece of content at a cost of $2m, today Pepsi needs to create 5,000 pieces of content a year. And today it needs to take six hours or six days and cost $20,000.’

With such a major task in hand, Pepsico have taken the huge step of building their own content department with, according to Jakeman, some of the best creative minds in the world. Indeed, while the content department isn’t making money yet, they will be soon as they are selling content to media platforms and shifting the whole relationship between brands and publishers.

What’s interesting, though, is that while content is a big topic across the conference and is seen as one of the most exciting areas for creative ideas and delivery, Pritchard reminded his audience, ‘It is essentially the oldest form of advertising there is. The first ads were the ‘soap operas’ sponsored by detergent firms – becoming synonymous with creating great entertainment and providing added value, but without pushing the product down the consumer’s throat. We may in a new era of content creation, but the principles remain the same.’

What has also stayed the same, but is seen as an area that requires real change is campaign measurement. Many major brands are still measuring ROI using methods that have essentially not changed in 40 years and are really not fit for purpose.

Lori Lee, Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing at AT&T said, ‘I can’t believe that the whole of the media landscape has changed but measurements haven’t.’

It’s a thorny issue. Bringing together measurement from across many media channels for different types of campaigns and seeing where results fit within the consumer decision making tree is extremely complex and, at the moment, according to one speaker, it is like holding everything together with duct tape.

Jess Beldner Maurer, Business Development Director at ad server firm Flashtalking explained another one of the big problems. ‘The minute Google purchased Invite Media and became the biggest media company in the world, it should have lost its role in measurement. Advertisers need to demand unbiased measurement and this can only come from objective third parties’.

Given all the issues, several people we spoke to suggested that reach may currently be the best measure for campaigns. After all, you need to know that your campaign made your brand grow.

As Basem Nayfeh, CTO of AudienceScience, advertising automation software company explained, ‘Brands talk about reach being a good proxy for measuring sales but what they define as reach in today’s complex marketplace is not a quality metric. There are so many issues that impact on reach – for instance, the TV may be on but is anyone actually watching it?’

Change has happened so fast in advertising, but the thinking and processes going forward need to be built on strong foundations. But then, hasn’t that always been the case.

As they say in Cannes, ‘la plus plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’.

Susan Perolls,