Last month we sent two of our team to Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in its return following pandemic cancellations – or, as the festival describes today's setting, the “Creative Comeback.”
2022 was the first time the festival recognized B2B, and our reps joined a landscape of other B2B professionals from around the world to discuss how creativity influences the entire business, from talent to data to sustainability. Here, our Creative Designer Maggie Walkoff shares her key takeaways from the event.
The six big creative themes
Business transformation today means reimagining the role of creativity and aligning it as an integral part of overall strategy. David Droga of Accenture Song and Alex Schultz of Meta – who both recently led their companies through brand name changes – emphasized the importance of involving creatives, agreeing that they should be trusted to share opinions and valued for their work.
“The best thing a client can do for an agency is trust them.”
David Droga, CEO of Accenture Song
Sustainability is top of mind across many industries, and many companies are expected to step up their game. Cannes Lions & the Advertising Association took to the stage to announce the new international Ad Net Zero Group – a five-point action plan to rapidly change advertising operations across the globe. The pledge strives to use the power of advertising to promote more sustainable products and services internationally, while also reducing carbon emissions from advertising operations.
“Marketers have a key role to play in persuading consumers to adopt behaviors that lead to a more sustainable future.”
Stephan Loerke, CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)
Creativity can speak to issues in ways that business alone can’t. Rita Ferro, CMO of Disney Advertising, shared how embracing a mindset of creative exploration led to a highly successful partnership with Hyundai. The teams collectively wanted the ‘Question Everything’ campaign to boldly speak to the companies’ shared values of authenticity and honesty, helping Hyundai move from challenger brand to industry leader.
“Be bold and take risks – if it doesn’t take you out of your comfort zone, it’s not bold enough. The more uncomfortable you feel, the more successful you’re likely to be.” - Rita Ferro, CMO of Disney Advertising
Data & Technology
As the influence of data and tech continues to grow, so do opportunities to deepen connections through virtual experiences. Tom Morton of RG/A highlighted how brands can successfully build in the fast-emerging metaverse by acknowledging that its users are human beings – and playing to the human side of the metaverse. “This is an opportunity for brand,” he said. “In the metaverse, your brand can be a world to connect with people.”
“If you only follow the technology, you go down a rabbit hole. If you only follow the money, you go down a hole of scams. We say, let’s follow people and look at the human side of the metaverse.” - Tom Morton, Global Chief Strategy Officer at RG/A
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Diverse teams and different points of view go beyond creating more purposeful and authentic content. Harris Reed highlighted how it is diversity in our thoughts, opinions, and backgrounds which allows for a fluid work environment that ultimately fuels a culture of transparency, inclusion, and positive change. “Gen Z employees in particular have enabled this change,” he emphasized, “bringing a more open-minded, curious approach to the workplace and culture as we know it.”
Addressing the challenge of attracting and retaining talent starts long before company benefits and perks – it starts with a company culture that asks: “What’s most important to people?” This year the festival’s focus on Talent & DE&I shifted from simply ensuring representation, to emphasizing the need to go further. Company narratives must now take action, rather than just preach change, by co-creating with their employees and developing new ways to benefit the communities that are important to them.
Aline Santos of Unilever discussed how companies can be leaders of positive change, saying: “Companies cannot count on passionate individuals to drive change. They can start a new movement or idea, but companies and organizations need to think about how they can create systemic change.”
What’s in a name?
Both Accenture Song and Meta recently underwent name changes and rebrands. David Droga, CEO at Accenture Song, and Alex Schultz, CMO and VP Analytics at Meta, discussed their part during this monumental time for their companies, highlighting the importance of having both creative and analytical minds in the room.
David Droga explained how Accenture CEO Julie Sweet insisted on having a creative lead the Accenture Song team and emphasized the value that a creative leader would bring to Song. The main priority with the new name was to show harmony in technology and life, with the hope that the characterization will uplift a human side of the major technology company.
Alex Schultz discussed his similar role as Facebook Inc rebranded to Meta. While he supports the analytical side of marketing, he now understands the benefits of involving creatives. When looking at options for the new name, the priority was short and recognizable, yet reflective of how the company believes the future is moving.
Building a brand in the Metaverse
Cassandra Napoli, Senior Strategist at WGSN, discussed the 4 Cs of the metaverse, each one supporting the next: Consumer, Community building, Co-creating, Commerce. Her presentation included some interesting Metaverse stats:
By 2026, 25% of consumers will spend one hour daily in the metaverse shopping, socializing, being entertained and learning.
Job posts with the term ‘metaverse’ recently grew by 1042%.
Research from Razorfish which was conducted in collaboration with VICE Media has revealed that Gen Z users tend to spend more time hanging out with friends in the metaverse than they do in real life.
15% of Gen Z’s “fun budget” is spent in the metaverse.
65% believe that their online relationships are just as meaningful as offline ones.
Gen Z spends twice as much time hanging out with friends in the metaverse than in real life.
- WGSN research
B2B in the spotlight at Cannes: Why it can no longer afford to be boring
The B2B world is notoriously ‘un-creative’. But the importance of creativity in internal communications has become clear: B2B can no longer afford to be boring – we must look to embrace many principles that more commonly drive B2C marketing, such as being simple, emotional, authentic and personal. To ensure the work stands out, we must understand our client and strive to create an emotional connection.
It was extremely refreshing and positive to see B2B creative in the spotlight at Cannes, and it has further fueled our belief that B2B marketing needs to level up its creative game. This is something we strive for with clients at The Marketing Practice, where we use our creative steps as a framework to enable us to aim higher and push ideas to the next level.