Carat @ Cannes: Day 3


Hooray,​ it’s WARC Strategy Day! Massive opportunity to geek-out on the work of the world’s smartest strategists. It is one of my favourite days of the year. It hasn’t let me down so far and coupled with going to bed before 2 AM every night, is making me feel in top Cannes form.

Cannes Lions 2019

The Future of Strategy is not outsourcing common sense

WARC always runs a seminar on this topic. This year it pivoted around the move to put experience at the heart of the model and what this means for strategy and strategic approaches. Three speakers offered up their view and the best by absolute miles was Harjot Singh, CSO of McCann, Europe. An incredible speaker and very funny, he hit us with the pithy maxim, ‘We will always be in the business of moving people.’ A great thing to remember. ‘If it doesn’t move people it won’t move the market.’ He kept them coming!

Here are his six rules to keep strategy powerful in the context of experience:

  1. We are in the era of meaning
  2. Data always needs context
  3. Be ready to work together in eclectic teams
  4. Innovation and creativity are not the same things. Innovation is the application of creativity
  5. Tech should be like salt — tastable not visible
  6. Blur boundaries.

Oi, the Attention Economy is our thing!

I stepped out from the ‘planathon’ at WARC to enjoy a brilliant presentation on delivering outstanding creativity in under 6s. This was delivered by Andrew Robertson of BBDO (famous ad man with good cars) and centred on how to succeed in a world of attention deficit and multiplying formats.

The brilliance of this presentation was not just the work he showed, which featured amazing snackable executions from the likes of Honda, Mars, Tide (amongst others), it was in his angle. He argues that print and outdoor have always had the under six-second problem as people leaf through magazines or drive at speed down main roads. We have always had to find ways to attract attention super-quickly. If you want to make great creative for very limited times on small screens, start from static formats, a one-second ad and build out to six-seconds. Don’t fall into the trap of starting with 30 and cutting down. No more ‘cut downs’ but lots more ‘animations’ or ‘expansions’ please.

This was a great example of looking at a problem differently and creatively, and in a stroke of genius, flagged rules for poster and press copy that were written Jim Aitchison in ‘Cutting Edge Advertising’ in 1955. A great way for a ‘traditional’ agency to make its point.


Total inspiration from some of the ‘Dons’ of strategy

An outstanding and inspiring presentation from two of the world’s top strategic planners, Martin Weigel of W&K and Rob Campbell of R/GA. It was entitled ‘Your strategy needs more chaos’. They made the case that ‘we’ try to exert too much control and predictability on the process of coming up with ideas. Order is the enemy of originality and they want us to bring back more ‘Dangerous Ideas’. ‘Dangerous Ideas’ define the future, are bigger than ads and scare the establishment. Campbell shared Richard Branson’s brief for the new Virgin Airlines Lounge as ‘wanting to make people want to miss their plane.’ Dangerous thinking indeed.

They cited work from the Santa Fe Institute (they are found here) that shows that cities grow and thrive because they are ungovernable and chaotic whereas corporations stunt growth by applying too much governance.

They offered a series of exhortations for us to be rigorous about bringing more chaos into strategy. Here goes.

  1. Meet people and be interested in them
  2. Look at the culture around the category
  3. Prioritise resonance over relevance
  4. Play at the edges — where cultures, territories, tribes meet (in the natural world the most bio-diverse places)

Bang. More chaos, please.

See you again tomorrow.

Cannes Lions 2019
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