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A Fearless Girl and plastic bricks jolt the Cannes Lions

THE 64TH CANNES LIONS FESTIVAL OF CREATIVITY | 2017

showcasing the worlds best creative work

THE EPICENTRE OF CREATIVITY IS HONING ITS STANDARDS WITH A NEW SCHOOL AND ITS OWN CAMPUS ON SITE FOR NEW GENERATIONS TO COME. A FEARLESS GIRL IS DISRUPTING WALL STREET AND BRANDS ARE PAYING ATTENTION AS TO WHERE THEIR ADS SURFACE IN THIS DIGITAL CHAPARRAL.

 

Text Stefan Jermann, Patrick Weiss
Photography Stefan Jermann

 

Summing up the 2017 Cannes Lions in a few phrases would be simply preposterous. It just seems like the amount of keynotes, presentations and talks has grown again. We get reminders for private invitations, interviews and cocktail parties by the minute, our smartphones are screaming for an additional assistant who could intertwine this act of endless coordination and tell us what to do next. But lets recap this week that was coined by compelling connections, stimulating keynotes like reverend Jesse Jackson who battles for more diversity, especially in the top tech giants executive boards. Or Nigel Morris, CEO of Dentsu America who gave a relaxed speech at the Youtube beach about the „dead hand of conservatism“ pointing out that the only constant in life is change and that we shall not battle against it.

We also spoke to one of the most powerful producers, Sergio Lopez who believes that despite a globalized world, everything is local and needs to be approached that way. Great storytelling is still key, but technology and data will have a huge influence on how the audience will engage.

 

This year for the first time. The Cannes Lions Creative Campus is conducting workshops for the new generation under 30.

«USE YOUR CREATIVITY TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE!»
Reverend Jesse Jackson

Rev Jesse Jackson at Cannes Lions by Stefan Jermann
Rev Jesse Jackson at Cannes Lions by Stefan Jermann

LEGO
THE POWER OF A BRANDS AUDIENCE AND A KRONKIWONGI WHAT?

 

Despite the fact that kids pick up electronic devices much earlier nowadays, there is no need for parents to worry that the physical building process will ever disappear thanks to one cool 85 year old privately held company from Denmark called Lego. Since Lars Silberbauer was appointed Global social media manager a couple of years ago, interesting things started to happen, to give you an idea when Silberbauer started around 2011 Lego didn’t even have a Facebook account. So how do you turn a company around in the digital age that has essentially stayed the same for decades, manufacturing bricks of plastic? Lars Silberbauer warns the audience upfront manifesting that he’s neiter a digital evangelist nor a prophet of any sorts: „I am a toy salesman“. However, as he states Lego is also a company of imagination, of experience and one that creates stories by their users, whether young or old. When Lego hired Silberbauer he was the only one at the company in charge of social media and that kept him quite busy for the 130 market he had to look after.

Award winning Lego campaign.

After around six years of work, Lego is accounted as the most digitally engaged brand worldwide and the second most watched brand on youtube, just behind Red Bull. Today the social media team is spread all over the world an consists of about 50 people from all nationalities, which is crucial according to Silberbauer because only like that can Lego gain the cultural and local insight. At Lego two core social needs have been defined across all cultures. „Building together“ – thus learning and acquiring the creative skills from each other.

 

Second is the „Pride of Creation“ for instance with the First Lego Leauge, where 70’000 kids are building robotics and then compete against each other.

 

This pays off on several levels, because the kids want to show their parents what they created and the parents want to show the world what their kids created, a double win win situation so to speak. With the „Kronkiwongi“ project, Lego wanted dive into the kids imagination even further. While we as adults think in categories and schemes, Lego asked children what the imaginary word „Kronkiwongi“ means to them and how they would build it. The result was an increase of engagement by a staggering 61% in social media. Lars Silberbauer concludes his keynote with the remark that the creative power of Lego’s audience is so much bigger than what Lego could ever do. And we must agree, this is a very unique case where kids and growns ups become immediate brand ambassadors, all based on a plastic brick, think about it.

FEARLESS GIRL
WHEN A CAMPAIGN BECOMES PART OF SOCIETY

 

This is without a doubt one of the most talked about campaigns (we’d rather call it an intervention) at this years Lions. A bronze statue of a little girl facing the bull on wall street was basically placed overnight and became a sensation. The initiative sparked by State Street Global Advisors was aimed at companies to add more women to their board and it also promoted State Stree’s „SHE“ fund which invests in companies where women hold top executive positions. Lori Heinel, Deupty Global Chief Investment Officer of State Street explains the campaign in her own words as:“We believe it is our job that companies are doing the right thing to drive shareholder value and one of those things is diversity. What you find repeatedly is that diverse boards make better decisions and drive better results.“ Right after fearless girl took its stand on Wallstreet Mayor de Blasio announced that the statue will remain there at least until next years national womens day. He also pointed out the biggest womens demonstrations in US history right after the presidential election and how important it is for women to stand up and erradicate fear in a male dominated world. De Blasio points out that:“This statue has crystalized this moment in history and it gives a message of empowerement to women and girls.“

Fearless Girl has created news and engagement in staggering figures and brought awareness to the topic like no other campaign before, but why is that? Mark Tutsell, Leo Burnett’s global chief creative officer gets to the heart of the issue and sums it up like that in the Wall Street Journal:

 

“It transcends how we think about work, it’s become part of the society and created conversations.“

 

As we’ve already pointed out, we prefer not to call Fearless Girl a campaign, because it transcends far beyond that. Call it an intervention, an art happening or a genius PR stunt; whatever you please — but what was the impact besides global news coverage and hundreds of thousands of social media engagements right after the bronze statue was set up? According to the Wall Street Journal, the firms „SHE“ fund increased by 384% in daily trading volume and inbound requests from prospective institutional investors increased by 15-fold in the weeks after the statue was put up. Now, would you be surprised if Fearless Girl didn’t make it big at this years Cannes Lions? Not only did it end up with 4 Grand Prix and 18 Total Lions, it became one of the most highly honored campaign in the history of the Cannes Lions. Mirus salutes the folks at McCann New York and the progressive minds at State Street for this daring and inspiring venture.

Nadeschda Andrejewna Tolokonnikowa photographed by Stefan Jermann
Nadeschda Andrejewna Tolokonnikowa photographed by Stefan Jermann
Savion Glover

Top large: Nadeschda Tolokonnikowa backstage
Top Left: Savion Glover – right: Pussy Riot

Bottom left: Helen Mirren for L’Oreal/Princess Trust Campaign
Right: Ian McKellen during press conference

Ian McKellen

LOST IN THE DIGITAL AD JUNGLE
BRAND SAFETY IN THE AGE OF PROGRAMMATIC ADVERTISING

 

If any credit to achieving anything (besides leaving us in awe about his tweets) can be given to the current President of the United States, then it’d be the manifestion of the term „fake news“. Oddly enough he invented that term way before his presidency by spreading fake rumors that former president Obama was not a US citizen. Only recently had we learned how harmful fake news in the digital age can become. It can not only determine the outcome of elections, but also destroy brand value in the millions. Again one of the most famous cases attributed to the relatively new term „Brand Safety“ can be attributed to Breitbart, a right wing populist website that all of a sudden ran a series of ads by electronic accesories maker Belkin, despite that Belkin never wanted to advertise on Breitbart in ended up there. More and more such discrepancies occur due to automated advertising also known as „programmatic“ ad buying – the majority of digital display ads are sold this way. The way it works is based on your browsing, purchasing and demographics history on the net. Like that the buyer of the ad space can target you, the user, very specifically. Sounds great, right? Well, the downturn to the wonderful world of programmatic advertising is that the brands can’t fully control where their ads end up. Try to imagine the looks of a sophisticated digital marketing manager of a global bank when he has to justify to his executive board why the current ad campaign also ended up on porn sites, anti-semitism or along fake news plattforms

67% buy a specific brand for the first time because they make a social or environmental difference.
Richard Edelman

 

 

A number of companies have now appeared to police where ads may show up, but taking full control over that may just be an illusion. Brands have an enormous influence these days. Richard Edelman points out that brands are the islands of stability in the chaos. 67% buy a specific brand for the first time because they make a social or environmental difference. Programmatic advertising is still very powerful, but many companies are becoming very aware of the problematics, that’s why closer collaborations with publishers are the way to go, instead of just focusing on the masses.

While the digital age is rapidly moving and hurdles in terms of distribution need be mastered, we observed througout the festival that innovation, the «big idea» and compelling storytelling is more important than ever. Especially in a time where the attention span of the audience is getting shorter and shorter, you got to be very different in order to stand out. One commercial that we will personally remember with a great smile is Maya Rudolph’s hillarious tampon „vajingle“ for Seventh Generation. The piece is daring, funny and surprising — exactly the kind of adjectives we expect to take home from the worlds greatest creative affair.