4 things overheard at Cannes that should stay with you all year

Let’s face it. Conferences can be full of fluff. And jargon. And acronyms. Eventually all the panel discussions, interviews, and keynotes start to blur together in your mind, especially for a five-day-long festival like Cannes Lions.

But every once in a while, you pick up a gem that stays with you. You know the moments I’m talking about: When someone on stage drops an awesome one-liner or killer sound bite. When that happens, the room starts head nodding, people say “mm hmm,” and notes are jotted down quickly.

Here are a few of those moments that stood out to me from the Google Beach at the 2018 Cannes Lions Festival. And they’re lessons with staying power, well beyond this week.

1. Represent real women in ads — and reflect that in media plans

Ukonwa Ojo, SVP of Cover Girl at Coty, caught the audience’s attention when she spoke about relaunching Cover Girl to more accurately reflect how women lead multidimensional lives. Not only did it include a diverse, new “tribe of Cover Girls,” but it was also supported by a media plan to reach women taking into account their varied interests — beyond beauty.

“Just because a woman loves beauty, doesn’t mean she doesn’t like anything else. … Women have a lot of commas in their lives. Yes, they’re moms, but they’re also girlfriends, and they also love cooking, and they also love working out, and love motorcycle racing. They have a lot of other interests.”

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2. Recognize that effective work takes both creativity and technology

Nick Garrett, CEO of Clemenger BBDO, lobbied for ditching the “creativity vs. science” debate that permeates the industry. He cautioned that some can “hide behind technology” and noted that remaining curious is key.

“Modern creativity sits in the crosshairs of art, science, engineering, and design. And to think that we’re having a ‘creativity vs. science’ battle is absolutely ridiculous. Creativity sits in the heart of everything. And the best work in the world, the most stunning work in the world, the most effective work in the world cannot be successful unless you are using all four of these disciplines.”

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3. Avoid the trap of creating voice assistant experiences just for technology’s sake

Voice assistants are the new frontier for brands. And Abbey Klaassen, president of 360i NY, likens branded experiences in voice to SEO efforts. “Unlike a visual search, voice gives you one answer. So we think about, how do we improve a client’s content so it’s the answer that’s delivered?” But to be clear, the goal isn’t to build voice experiences just for the sake of it.

“If you’re going to build a voice action, build a good one. It’s easy for brands to say, ‘I want one of those.’ But over time, I believe brands will be punished for bad experiences, not unlike quality score in search results.”

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4. Stretch the creative design process to accommodate branded AR experiences

As brands build more AR experiences, creatives are relishing the opportunity to stretch their design thinking for new variables in this dimension. Alfonso Marian, co-chief creative officer of Ogilvy USA, says “you have to understand the relationships between physical objects and AR objects, and how they interact with each other. And that’s new.”

With AR you add another way of interacting that is movement — your physical movement. You actually need to walk to the experience or walk away from it. So you need to understand that relationship. The physical space is now part of the UI.”

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Industry leaders share what’s top of mind going into Cannes 2018