How to win a Cannes Lion

The Cannes Lions Festival for 2017 has drawn to a close. We laughed, we cried, we gasped in horror. We were inspired, we were in awe, we were definitely jealous.

We thought there would be more campaigning brands again this year – and there were. We knew there would be some best-in-class use of tech and innovation, real-time campaigns and jaw dropping publicity stunts and there surely were all of those things. We predicted more ‘problem solving products’ and brands creating new media channels and again, we weren’t surprised.

Back at our desks in the cold light of Monday morning, we are feeling inspired and determined but none the wiser as to how to get Cannes worthy work ourselves. As much as we all wish we’d be clever enough to map Google Street View with sheep or create a new beer named Responsibly, what we really want is some help on how to do this ourselves back at the ranch – right?

To this end, I have unpicked some of the common themes and delivered them to you via as series of questions you can ask to help you apply some of the common strategies from award winning campaigns.

Is this a fool proof formula? Of course not.  You also need to be tenacious enough to fight for a good idea, to the point that those around you think you’ve gone mad. And then, you need a client brave enough to say yes. You need to be surrounded by a team of people who share your vision and are committed to working day and night to make the impossible happen.  But I believe, hand on heart, that some of the best opportunities will never come to you in a brief. Instead, we must go back to our desk and ask ourselves these questions:

How can my owned assets solve my audience’s problems?

I talked in my trends prediction piece about ‘problem solving products’. They were again, everywhere this year.  You will never come up with an idea to turn your retail stores into polling stations at a general election by focusing on short term sales targets, nor will you ever get a brief that asks you to come up with an idea for a washing machine brand that involves underprivileged school children. These ideas come from thinking about the audience first. We must ask ourselves, what are my owned assets? What do I have?  What do I do? And how can that be of use to someone else? How can I solve my audience problems using what I have?

Three of the best at doing this this year were:

BOOST YOUR VOICE BOOST MOBILE

CARE COUNTS WHIRLPOOL

APARTMENT STORES DELAMAISON

 

What can I do that will leave a legacy beyond my campaign, to make the world a better place?

I know what you are thinking: who am I as a seller of laundry powder/ soft drink/ insurance/mobile phones to have a legacy idea that will change the world for future generations? Well did you think that a beer brand could save the environment? No? Well DB Export in NZ have done it two years in a row. Did you think a bank could be invited to the UN to discuss climate change? No? Well guess what… it happened. Stop thinking about what you sell and starting thinking about how what your brand stands for can help make the world a better place – permanently!

Some of the best 2017 campaigns here.

ALAND INDEX / BALTIC SEA PROJECT THE BANK OF ÅLAND

FEARLESS GIRL STATE GLOBAL ADVISORS

CHANNEL 4 PARALYMPICS CHANNEL 4

 

Why does my brand exist? What am I really in the business of?

I once heard the owner of a Michelin Star restaurant ask ‘What am I in the business of’ – well food of course. No. Entertainment and nightlife? No. “I consider myself to be in the business of memories,” he said.

Ask yourself, why does your brand exist? And don’t say to make money.  What is it we really do for people? Look beyond the product to the emotional benefit your brand provides.

Airbnb are about Belonging, IKEA’s mission is to Create a better everyday life for the many people. TV2 in Denmark exist to Unite the nation.

If they had thought about accommodation, wardrobes and TV shows instead of their more emotive brand led purpose, they would not have got to these magical ideas:

 ALL THAT WE SHARE TV2

UNTIL WE ALL BELONG AIRBNB

IKEA RETAIL THERAPY  IKEA

 

You will notice that all of these trends have one thing in common: they are audience first. The future of great ideas is not based around products, or media channels, they are based around audiences.

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About Author

Claire Dean

Claire is Deputy Head of Strategy at OMD UK. She has a great passion for connecting brands with people and limitless curiosity to dig for rich consumer and cultural insights.

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