What Cannes we really do for clients?

I have just finished the shortlisting round of judging for Cannes 2017. I’ve reviewed 287 entries across the last couple of weeks in the Ambient Media and Branded Content space; that’s about 10 hours of videos watched, 150,000 words read, 1,000 pictures viewed, 200 expletives uttered (anger, shock, surprise, admiration, all mixed up) and 2 tears shed.

I give these stats, not to brag about my (oh so selfless!) efforts but to make a general point around the work I’ve viewed.

There were a lot of similar stats in the results sections — I should have added them up — I reckon we’d be in the region of trillions of impressions, billions of people reached, millions of shares, hundreds of thousands of people for whom brand metrics have grown and…


…20 business outcomes.

So I ask, what should we be expected to deliver for our clients and what does good really look like?

I’ve seen some genuinely amazing pieces of work, that moved me emotionally, and clearly moved a lot of people around the world in the same way. Sometimes laws were changed, injustices highlighted and addressed, and amazing causes supported, but all too often I saw little or no evidence that the brand has benefited. In some cases, I remember the work well — I saw it as a “real” person sometime over the last year and engaged with it deeply, but the first I knew a brand was involved in it was watching the award entry!

Now logically, I understand that there will be some “better perceptions” about a brand from the great works they are doing and supporting, but I also firmly believe that our job is to help our clients grow, to be incredibly responsible with the huge sums of money that we invest on their behalves. Increasingly, those budgets are under threat, the world is uncertain and marketing investment is lagging GDP growth — this means we need to work harder on proving the effectiveness of what we do on the brands that we do it for.

As agencies, consultants and (hopefully) partners to our clients I think we need to work harder (and push them harder) to ensure we have the right structures in place to clearly understand:

· What we’re trying to do for the brand — measurable objectives (for the brand and business — measure what’s important, not just what’s easy!)
· How we’re actually going to capture the right data and do the right math on it (maybe put aside some budget to fund this!)
· The impact of activity on the short and the long term (because then you’ll deliver for today without sacrificing future growth)

This does not mean we should become purely Math Men, sacrificing creativity and leaps of faith, but it does mean we should have a measurement strategy as part of the creative / faith leaping communications strategy, invested in accordingly. The connected digital economy should make this easier as we have loads more data and we actually get it quite quickly, but we need a strategy for what we’re going to do with it.

So I’m looking forward to my trip over to Cannes, yes I’m sure I’ll enjoy a Rosé or two (they never serve it in anything less than Magnums!) when they let me out of the judges’ cellar, but I’m really looking forward to the debate with my fellow judges on the above.

I’ll be the one repeating, “We Cannes (and must!) do more for the brands that are paying for this!”

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