Day four of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2007 had some of the most awaited sessions of the festival like Contagious - Leo Burnett sessions on the brands of the future, the Hermann Vaske presentation and a lot of creative debates.
Without doubt one of the best seminars of the day was by Leo Burnett and Contagious, which took their property ‘Wildfire – Ideas that spread and sell’ further this year. Where last year, the two entities spoke on the phenomena of ‘wildfire’ as the way forward for brands of this age, this year they spoke on some of the examples of such ‘wildfire’ brands of last year and what worked for them. The speakers in the session were Paul Kemp–Robertson, Editor, Contagious and Richard Dale, Engagement Planning Director, Leo Burnett Asia Pacific.
It was not that Kemp-Robertson and Dale spoke of new trends --- they did, like many speakers at Cannes Lions, focus on interactivity, technology and the changing consumer experiences leading to a change in the role of advertisers and advertising agencies from brand guardians to brand hosts. However, the perspective that they brought to the table was something to look at. The role of technology is not giving birth to new mediums, but it is redefining traditional mediums, and that is where the focus should come to.
Discussing more on personalisation of communication; the expectations of the new age consumer who smells lies and does not like it; the clever use of technology, the retail revolution, Kemp-Robertson said, “The idea is to capture people’s imagination, harness word of mouth and keep technology at a brand’s core to create communities and some brands that have managed it have spread like ‘wildfire’.”
Some of the examples of such brands that have been seen in the recent past include gaming device Wii, Joost TV, Pret Foods, Jet Blue Airlines and usual suspects Apple with its latest iPhone and Nike with its recent initiative Nikeplus.com.
Dale took the audience through the emerging trend of branded utility, where the consumer has to take something more than he expects from the brand while being completely involved with the brand; meaningful partnerships where the new and the old media come together to give birth to a whole new way of communicating and how advertising can pick a social debate and make a difference.
Some of the examples they quoted on the final point was Net Bank and the solar billboard initiative that the bank did in South Africa and 60 Earth Hour in Australia.
Hermann Vaske took the audience through the importance of Web 2.0 and gave examples of what the medium is doing for brands that recognise it. He said, “The web medium is like dropping Post-Its in Brazil and hoping some one sees it. The point is what do we do for the audience to notice these Post-Its, interact with it and keep the conversation with the brand going even after it.”
Prof Jeffery Cole of Centre of Digital Future at USC Annenberg, made a presentation on ‘The Web and the Big media: Friends and Rivals’, where he spoke on the continued existence of the popularity of television. He took the audience through a journey of the evolution and history of television as well as the Internet, emphasising on the ensemble and interlinking of both in the future. “We are entering an age when television is going to be viewed a lot on your mobile phones, and while initially you only used your free time for SMSing and calling, now it will be on television. Hence, the industry can only grow in terms of production and content, just the medium of viewing will see alternatives.”
While consumer classes begin to reshape themselves, one truth significantly emerges – the richer families ensure the presence of a television, mobile phones and the Internet, whereas the poorer families will let go of the Internet, retaining their cell phones and television sets. Concluding the research findings he stressed that forms of media would never die, just that their business models and scale would be modified forever.