The advertising industry the world over is obsessed with the same set of problems. Subjects like branded entertainment, digital outburst and new-age consumers are still dominating the sessions at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2008. The third day, Tuesday, June 17, wasn’t much different – global industry leaders spoke on different ways of looking at these subjects and the lessons that the advertising industry should be geared for.
An interesting session ‘Can we be friends’ presented by MRM Worldwide explored the relationship between brands and consumers, and whether they can be ‘friends’. Panellists included Alastair Duncan, CEO, MRM Worldwide, Blake Chandlee, Commercial Director, Facebook, and Jay Stevens, VP, European Operations, MySpace.
The need for brands to have faith in themselves was discussed. It was felt that a brand should have the confidence to let the consumers interact or play with the brand and know that they would enjoy the brand experience.
The panel also said that brands need to recognise the changed pace of interactivity between consumers when communities are created and that the new age of communication was headed in that direction.
On the one hand, the panel was clear that it was about time that brands let go of the control that they had on the conversation with their consumers. On the other hand, the second thought coming through was that there would be marketers who would tread the tricky and dangerous line of giving the impression that the consumer is controlling the brand but would be controlling the brand themselves.
Giving up control on the brand conversation was also the theme portrayed by Wunderman EVP and CCO, Nick Moore. His advice was “Join the conversation, don’t lead it.” He quoted Barrack Obama as an example of how right strategies in conversation and constant conversation made the brand a success story in a span of as little as eight months. He spoke of Obama’s digital strategy during the campaign to state that the creator doesn’t know in the beginning what the end result would be like, but chances are that new ideas would work or at least resonate well with the advertiser.
‘Active listening’, another key point that Moore made, was heard in the June 16, 2008, conference as well. The basic point is that there was a need to respond at a fast pace to keep the audiences engaged, than just give a platform to them to listen.
The ZenithOptimedia team took the audience through what they believe is the ‘The Big Bang’ theory of the advertising age. Themed after ‘Star Trek’, Steve King, CEO, ZenithOptimedia, laid the backgrounder for the seminar. “The last three years have seen more changes in the media landscape triggered by the Internet but this is only the beginning,” he said. The presenters of the seminar were Frank Harrison, Strategic Resources Director, ZenithOptimedia, and Fred Joseph, CEO, Zed Digital.
The seminar was divided in three stages – the gravitations field, or real areas that the advertising fraternity needs to look into. Where the communications industry is headed and how agencies can then help clients to navigate through this digital landscape or the Big Bang theory. Harrison took the audience through the direct immediate impact of the Big Bang theory on aspects such as content accessibility, mobile marketing, brand utility and the computer cloud. Rajshri was one of the examples that he quoted while speaking about content, and how technology has reshaped content.
Explaining the three subsets, the team then examined the global economy that was divided between markets that were clearly booming and markets that were experiencing a slowdown. They also spoke on the various touch points available to an advertiser today and the need to already know the influence of each touch point, as in the changing global economy, and the changes that the communication world is set to see, the role of various touch points can be very significant. ZenithOptimedia has worked on a touch point tracker research that they would be utilising for the various campaigns they would be working on.