Cannes need not be a week long party but a business building exercise
P&G, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Heineken, Kraft, GM, McDonald's and Mars, among others are just a few of the big global marketers who were present at the 2012 Cannes Lions.
Interestingly, he has been a marketer for over 30 years and it is his first time at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and the first time Visa has attended the festival as a company. The question then is why now? For starters, digital media has changed the rules of engagement. However, the cases of truly successful integration and application of digital media are few and generally set on loop. "The fact is that when people talk about social they keep using the same concepts and best cases, for instance, the Old Spice campaign. This means that there really isn't a clearly articulated model,” says Lucio. So clients like him attend festivals like the Cannes Lions to spot inspiring ideas, particularly in the digital, social and mobile and media worlds. Reasonable grounds for marketers to attend with teams of 5 to 15 senior management level employees.
But, it wasn't too long ago when if you were a client and you said you want to go to Cannes for the ad festival you might not have got permission from management to do so. However, it is due to the efforts of a few that has led to the institutionalisation of the client's side of Cannes. Marketers like Lucio can come with midsize teams and it’s no longer considered an indulgence. P&G, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Heineken, Kraft, GM, McDonald's and Mars, among others are just a few of the big global marketers who were present at the 2012 Cannes Lions.
Some have been attending longer than others. Like Joseph Tripodi, executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial officer, The Coca-Cola Company, who is particularly impressed with the attention the festival is receiving from media owners like Time Warner, in addition to growing participation numbers from clients as well as delegates from agencies. Keith Weed of Unilever, who has come to Cannes three years in a row and has been CMO for as many years says; "We have 15 people here this year and we do a combination of workshops, meeting our agency partners and recognising and acknowledging that creativity is great. In a cluttered media world, we need creativity to cut through."
So apart from networking and opportunities to meet all their concerned parties, old and some new, in the same place, at the same time, these marketers are on the look out for inspiring work from across the world. And set creative benchmarks wherever possible. According to Cyril Charzat, senior global brand director, Heineken: "It's very much about stimulating our marketing people to be stronger when they evaluate work from creative agencies; to define what is progressive and inventive. Our key message is to stimulate inventiveness and that's what we try to do." And Cannes is a part of that story.
However, the challenge for most is to put all that inspiring work to actual use. And here's how some intend to do it. "We are not going to come in like the advertising people who get inspiration and go back home to figure it out. We will have a very structured approach with sessions of inspiration followed by sessions of perspiration, daily.
It's my responsibility during the week to ensure that Cannes becomes a truly business building program for us," says Lucio of Visa. In other words, for marketers to take Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity seriously there must be "enough perspiration to pay for the inspiration." Fair enough.