Cannes Wrap

After titling this “Cannes Wrap,” I was very tempted to write a Cannes Rap. However, I have not had nearly enough caffeine this morning for that to happen. But if you ask me about it later, I will oblige.

I’ve said it before, and it remains true so I’ll repeat it…Cannes Lions was so much more than I ever expected. I went to France knowing that my experience would be amazing. I anticipated learning about marketing and digital media from highly skilled people. I expected to meet great people and talk with them about the industry, their experiences and life in general. I thought I would have a lot of fun with the other four girls on the trip with me from Newhouse. This all happened. But Cannes Lions went above and beyond my expectations. I am going to try to come back every year. It is beyond amazing.

Goodbye toast with NewhouseIDSM before leaving Cannes.

Throughout the week, I was constantly impressed by the work on display and the humanity brought in to the advertising. Many international campaigns worked to make society better. I wish more ad agencies had this mindset. I feel in love with Lowe + Partners for their work with the Colombian government. They used creativity against terrorism. Many of the campaigns that were showcased at Cannes blew my mind.

I’m a big fan of trying new food, so I cannot travel without finding something that I love. First off, chocolate croissants are amazing. They are infinitely better in France than in the few places I’ve tried them in the U.S. But for a real meal, I suggest Le Cafe Florian. The duck is delicious. Also the waiter Jeffrey (I’m probably spelling his name wrong) was, without a doubt, the nicest person I met in Cannes. He was super friendly and attentive. We ate there twice, and he remembered what we had ordered the first time. If you’re ever in Cannes, eat there. You won’t regret it.

Getting back on the topic of communications, here are my top tips from Cannes:

  • Consumers like to be a part of something bigger, but they don’t have a lot of time to spend doing these things. INVOLVE your audience in what you’re doing, but keep it simple. They should not have to run around in circles before figuring out how to be involved.
  • LISTEN! This applies to most everything in life. Listening will almost always help you find an answer to your problem. If you truly listen to your audience and learn, not only what they think of your product/service, but what they’re going through in life, you can determine how you can make their lives better. This will create rapport with your audience and will increase your brand loyalty.
  • If you want your audience to remember something, TELL A STORY. Don’t just list facts (like I’m currently doing.) When you tell a story, your audience is drawn in, and they become emotionally invested in the story. Because of this, they care more about it and remember the details.

If you have any questions about my experience at Cannes Lions, tweet me @HeatherCosson.

Au Revoir!

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Creating a relationship with generation social

Many of the sessions I attended at Cannes Lions discussed how to reach generation social AKA the millennials. Side note: I much prefer generation social. The millennials sounds like a bad wannabe pop band. My generation is extremely social, at least online. We like to share pretty much everything. While I was in Cannes, the girls I was with instagramed everything. They wanted their friends and family to see what they were doing and experiencing in southern France.

My generation wants to feel involved and engaged in something bigger. We want to be a part of the conversation. I believe most people probably feel this way, but it is amplified in my generation. While I was live tweeting from the conference, I was most impressed with the brands that had someone live tweeting during the session to keep the conversation going online. Not everyone was able to do this because a few speakers were by themselves. When this happened, they often responded or retweeted things after the session was over.

Contagious Magazine at Cannes Lions

Contagious Magazine did a great job of actively engaging the online conversation during their presentation.

Here are a few tips for reaching generation social:

  • Keep it simple
  • Be sincere
  • Keep the conversation going
  • Listen
  • Continue listening
  • Offer your audience a solution to one of their problems
  • Do not use social media to push a product!

This last tip requires elaboration. Social media should be used for building rapport and trust with your audience. Use it to listen, find out what they like, don’t like, need and wish for. If you use it to push a product, you will lose them. Because social media is intended to create conversations and relationships. Make sure you never forget this.

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There are always a few disappointments

Cannes Lions was, without a doubt, the most enlightening and informative conference I’ve ever been to. While I learned more about advertising in one week in Cannes than I did in an entire semester, there were a few seminars that did not live up to my expectations. The two that really stood out as lacking were Twitter and Hill & Knowlton.

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The Twitter seminar was presented by Chief Executive Officer, Dick Costolo. The seminar wasn’t bad. Dick Costolo was a good speaker, and he was very comfortable on stage. However, there wasn’t anything new in his presentation. Twitter is most effective for real-time conversations. You should be honest and genuine in your connection with your audience and offer them a reason to be involved in the conversation. Why should they use your hashtag? What will they get from following you on Twitter?

All of this is pretty standard. If you’re using Twitter, you already know this. I would have liked to learn more about using promoted tweets and stories. The advertising platform for Twitter is in beta. I have used it, but not for long. I only used it for a client 24 hours. This gave me a brief sense of how it works, but I certainly do not fully understand the benefits of the platform or which circumstances are best for promoting tweets versus users and so forth. So while Twitter had a nice presentation in terms of the speaker and the images on the screen, it was lacking in the content.

The Hill & Knowlton forum was one of the sessions I was most looking forward to at Cannes Lions. The topic was “Selling Presidents, Prime Ministers and Products. How It’s Different. Why It Matters.” Each of the panelists discussed their experiences working on political campaigns, and that was it. I didn’t learn much of anything. This might say a lot about what I have learned at Syracuse University through my studies of public relations and international relations. Even still, I expected a more in-depth comparison of promoting politicians versus promoting companies from one of the top PR firms in the U.S.

From my experience, it all goes back to a basic principle: people want connections and relevance. If you truly understand who your audience is, you will know what they want, what they need and how they spend their time. When you know this, you know how your company/public figure fits into their lifestyles. This is where any great campaign starts. Know your company, know your audience and see how it all works together.

While I was let down by Twitter and Hill & Knowlton, there’s always next year. Hopefully they’re paying attention. I don’t want a repeat of everything, I’ve already learned and heard 100 times. I want to learn something from your company that I would not get from any other session at Cannes Lions. Give me a reason to choose your session over the rest.

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Creativity Against Terrorism: Using Advertising for Good

Friday at Cannes Lions, I attended a session by Jose Miguel Sokoloff with Lowe + Partners. The Colombian government worked with Lowe + Partners to motivate demobilization of the FARC guerillas.

Here is video about the award-winning campaign, Operation Christmas: 

These campaigns inspired me. They were built around humanity and emotion. The Colombian government wasn’t criticizing the FARC or condemning them. They just wanted them to come home and rejoin society.

For one campaign, Colombia got popular football (soccer) stars to sign soccer balls with messages calling for them to demobilize. These soccer balls were dropped into the jungles.

Another campaign was built around feminine beauty products. When women join FARC, they are treated the same as the men. In the ads, previous FARC women would call for other women to demobilize and be a woman again. This campaign was responsible for the highest percentage of female FARC demobilization.

My favorite campaign shown involved plastic balls that had blue lights in them. These balls were filled with messages or trinkets from citizens asking for their family members/friends to demobilize and return home. The ball were sent down the waterways into the jungle and the blue lights shown through the night. While the messages did not reach the specific people they were written for, the humanity and emotion in the campaign convinced FARC members to demobilize. In addition, when FARC leaders demobilized, they participated in the campaigns by sending messages of peace in ads. They told FARC members that they were being treated right and they were now free.

This is amazing to me. While I can respect great advertisements for products, I am truly inspired when I see advertising campaigns that work to create a better place for us all to live.

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Compromise & Creative Cooperation

At last night’s final seminar, Bill Clinton addressed the advertising community. He spoke on the problems we’re facing in the world today and what steps we need to take towards finding a solution. Compromise is something Americans are struggling with. Our country has become increasingly polarized. Republicans vs. Democrats. Instead of working together, we are tearing each other apart. Because of this, the United States is beginning to fall behind other countries in terms of progress.

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Bill Clinton told a story of a time when he was called to Brazil. The government was trying to increase technological progress while preserving the rainforest. Top members of government met with execs from oil companies and other companies that had an interest in the hydrotechnology they were working on. Everyone sat around a table and, despite their differences in career fields and interests, they spoke respectfully working towards finding a solution. While a perfect solution was not possible, they wanted to find the best one.

“In a complex world with a lot of variables, there is wisdom in diversity.” -Bill Clinton.

We cannot do everything on our own. It takes many people of different backgrounds and opinions coming together to create a better world. As was the case in Brazil, there is no perfect solution. We will not solve every problem, but by working together, we can get closer to perfect. Every day we should strive to be a little closer to perfect than we were yesterday.

How can we do this? By working together. By listening and learning from people with different experiences than ourselves. By putting this knowledge together to create something great. That’s creative cooperation.

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Coca-Cola, Cannes & Connections

Emotional connections. Rapport. Trust.

This is what you need to reach your audience and build a connection. And that’s what people are looking for. A connection. Relevance. Meaning. To achieve this, you must take chances, risk something, make a change.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola said this in his seminar at Cannes Lions.

To connect with your audience, you must know what they’re about. This generation is optimistic. Coca-Cola recognizes this and creates marketing that the audience can relate to.

You build rapport through listening and understanding your audience while providing opportunities for connections between the brand and the audience. It’s not enough to be there. You need to show that your company stands with the audience and behind them through their trials.

If you support them, they will support you.

Love and hugs from Cannes!

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Cannes I Keep Up?

20120618-224715.jpgUntil today, I didn’t fully recognize the magnitude of where I’m at and what I’m experiencing. This week, I am in Cannes, France for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Tonight was the award ceremony for PR, Promo & Direct Advertising. I was in the same room with the people who created these amazing campaigns. Not only that, but I have the chance to connect with these people as well as the presenters for the seminars. The last seminar I went to today was called “Better with the Brand” by Contagious Magazine. The presentation emphasized that advertisers should focus on solving problems for their consumers. It’s not enough to sell them a product. Do more for them. Build a relationship. I loved this presentation, and I’ve been a fan of Contagious since my ADV professor introduced the magazine to my class. As with all of the seminars, I live tweeted the event. @Contagiousmag was tweeting during the seminar and responded to a few of my tweets.

After the seminars, I stopped by the Cannes Connect Happy Hour. Then I heard about the Google Sandbar. Google always goes above and beyond! Always. They had rented a section of the beach and had put up a stage, mini circus tents, a bar and more. This place was fantastic. Daily they will hold 20 min talks, during the day there is a smoothie bar and at night there is a happy hour. The cocktails were amazing. But the drinks were not the best part. I met up with the guys from Contagious including two that I had tweeted with and one of the presenters.

At Cannes, I am surrounded by people who make a living off being creative– coming up with ideas that no ne else has thought of to make sure the company stands out and gets attention. Right now, I feel like a guest. But within the next two years, I will make sure that I not only belong at Cannes Lions, but I have a campaign to submit.

Cannes I keep up? I will!

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