Monday, June 30, 2008

Lessons from Cannes... and SA too!

Back from Cannes and running hard. So what’s new? I found a little time this weekend to reflect on what I had learnt and also to catch up on some really interesting digital stuff happening in SA

Go to class in Cannes - Well this is easier said than done, considering the temperature was consistently warm the whole week, the skies were blue and the sea calm as a fishpond, only it was azure blue in colour and well you could understand that a lot of people couldn’t resist being on the beach, rather than being learning mode. I was disappointed to see that not enough local marketers and media specialists go to Cannes.. They should, because it is the one event where the entire global community of advertising agencies gather, talk about and show off their work. There’s a lot of useless pontification, but there’s some invaluable new insights and inspiration to gain by sitting in the classroom at Cannes. Marketers entrust their precious brands to their advertising and communications agencies so why do so few think it’s important to find out what’s pushing the world’s communication buttons?
Old Screens Merge with the New - I noted in my previous blog my disappointment at some of the half empty digital sessions and the overflowing television/film sessions. Well in the end it seems, digital got its just reward. In a controversial decision for the first time in the 54 year history of Cannes, the film category awards were split between two campaigns, but with a common link – Digital. The Grand Prix Television/Film was shared by Cadbury’s Gorilla Ad, was also an extremely successful viral campaign online and XBox’s Halo 3 Viral campaign.
The Gorilla ad features a gorilla playing the drums to the soundtrack of Phil Collins 1981 hit “In the air tonight,” It got everyone talking, some liked it, others hated it, some wondered whether in fact it was a real gorilla or a man in a gorilla suit – and there were even those who suggested it was Phil Collins himself. Comments posted on the website purported that the word Cadbury had been mentioned more times since the campaign went viral than in its 150 year history. This ad was voted the most popular in the UK in 2007 and the most successful viral video. It was also the most debated ad of the year. Cadbury’s reported a 5% increase in sales over the period (in a mature/static market, this is seen as good lift).
Cannes organizers also introduced a new award, the Titanium Award to reward innovation in advertising and marketing concepts. This went to a Japanese agency for a digital campaign Uniqlock for clothing brand Uniqlo. Rather bizarre stuff, but worth taking a look.
We are all human after all - Importantly, technological advancements don’t replace human feeling. Digital won’t replace our fundamental human fears, hopes and desires. If anything it heightens them – look at how social media like My Space, FaceBook thrive. What technology is doing is forcing marketers to pay particular attention to their customers needs more than ever before. As Plato said There’s no learning without emotion”. Digital takes no prisoners and if you are not relevant, salient, and consistent and you don’t establish a human connection of trust with your audience, they will click to somewhere else instantaneously and DELETE you from their lives. People like stories that they can relate to, that touch them in a unique and meaningful way. What really counts is that you are enriching the consumer’s communication experience. And that’s what the world’s top marketers are really good at doing. Cadbury’s Gorilla stood the test of ‘social proof” It touched consumers. The same can be said for the inspiring work for Burger King, the groundbreaking HBO TV Voyeur, for which its agency BBDO New York was awarded the Ad Agency of the Year Award for this work at Cannes. Incidentally, it had been hotly tipped to win the film Grand Prix too. And then there are amongst many others the likes of Nike, Budweiser and of course lest we forget Coca Cola’s Happiness Factory – to name a few. They all seek to engage, enrich and entertain and give back to their audiences.

Marketers who focus on really understanding who their audience is, what their needs are, how best to serve these needs and where to communicate to them will thrive in the digital age. And let’s be honest, this sure isn’t anything new!

Back in South Africa, the mobile revolution is becoming ever pervasive given there are more cellphones in the world than all televisions and PCs combined. Vodacom, the
cellular giant with some 56% of the local market launched a mobi-soap with another market leader, Nokia. SolikeLife's available free to all Vodacom subscribers from Vodafone Live. Mobile consumers who do not subscribe to Vodacom can also access the content free of charge. However, they must pay a service charge to their own provider. Heads up on the innovation Vodacom, but boy am I amazed the journalists out there didn’t pick up on the ultimate cost of downloading the soaps – with our cellphone operators, nothing is for nothing. Someone will pay after all and I have no doubt it will be the end user. Which reminds me, I had better tell my son I won’t be picking up the tab for any additional airtime that is sucked up by this stuff? As it is SA consumers are getting ripped blind by cellphone operators when compared to rates charged around the world!
The other real piece of digital innovation I read about today was the launch of a site called This is a really neat idea developed at the innovation hub in Pretoria, an incubator center for technical innovation. This site which links online and mobile applications allows the mourner to post a digital tribute to a loved one. Now your dearly departed can live on forever in cyberspace. With the escalating death rate in SA and the inevitability of it for all of us, this has to be a winner!

1 comment:

William WA said...

So this is what you do when you are sick in bed! Rest my angel and get better!