As I sit in recovery after few most excellent days in Cannes, and reflect on its value, I’m reminded of those that say that Cannes is the advertising industry at its most indulgent, salacious worst. Just how much pink wine can be drunk in a few short days?
But this year, it was more apparent than ever to me that all the rosé de Provence in the world can’t hide the talent, creativity and opportunity we have as an industry to make the world a better place.
With ideas such as Like a Girl for Always, I Will What I Want for Under Armour, the Ice Bucket Challenge, Life Paint for Volvo, and even the Berlin Wall of Sound in the radio category winning a Grand Prix already, it seems that ideas that have a higher purpose than simply promoting brands is now firmly the goal for brands.
It is clear how this has come about. We live in a perfect storm of millennial audiences seeking greater levels of authenticity in their interactions with brands, combined with the digital and social capability for us to take part either positively or critically with brands that provide meaning and societal benefit.
It clearly works and is arguably the route to brand success and value. Richard Curtis launched an ad to promote new sustainable development goals, and we heard that in 21 years Comic Relief has raised over £1bn. An amazing achievement, but compare this to the following seminar in which Unilever’s Keith Weed spoke about the £5bn Dove brand, built with fantastic campaigns over the years including the latest campaign Dove Choices.
Weed went onto say that of all the Unilever brands those that had brand purpose at their heart were growing at twice the rate of those which focused on the product benefit.
I truly hope that this is not merely a tactic, with brands becoming opportunistic, leveraging a trend in consumers seeking brands which are more authentic. I hope it’s a change for good, literally.
Maybe all this is summarised best by Will.i.am in his debate with Sir Martin Sorrell on Wednesday: “If you don’t add value then I don’t give a shit about your advertising.”
Richard Hill, founding partner and planning director, Atomic London