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Cannes virgin Mandeep Malhotra on technology, creativity & Microsoft

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Cannes virgin Mandeep Malhotra on technology, creativity & Microsoft

‘Wow’ is the expression that has repeatedly occurred to me in the last two days. This is my first trip to the Cannes Lions festival, considered the Mecca of creativity, and I can unashamedly accept that I am ‘WOWED’. The only goal that I have set for myself here is that I should be able to cram as much knowledge as I can in my ‘turban’ before I go back. And, mind you, it's going to be a task.

I see all the amazing, intriguing activities and festivities around me and my only fear is that I will miss something interesting. The repercussion being, I am glued to my auditorium seat, holding base in the front row closest to the screen, clicking snaps like an obvious Cannes virgin. Not sure about others but I definitely feel like one.

I entered the auditorium today with my ‘knowledge hunt’ agenda. Yesterday’s Coca Cola session, titled ‘New rules of Marketing and Consumer Engagement’ had the audience glued to their seats. I had hoped for the same with technology giant Microsoft with its new vision of ‘Device love – where technology and creativity converge’. However, Microsoft's Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela's session was an advertising spiel, seemingly intended more for the consumers then the advertisers. Full marks to Microsoft, though, for understanding the consumer need of keeping it simple ‘as we are human’.

I loved the session ‘Technology is killing creativity’ – it offered quite a bit food for thought. Microsoft plans to become the primary enabler of convergence, providing a platform for technology and creativity to converge. This can be seen in their new offerings, from the new
Windows 8, the latest Skype versions and the more intriguing, newly evolved X-Box. The session showcased how touch, voice and gestures could be integrated with technology that we use in our daily lives – be it tablet, phone or television.

Chris, in his own haughty manner, went on to explain how Microsoft was planning to achieve this through the marketing principles it believes in. ‘Live and breathe the customer journey’, being the foremost one, meant a single user interface for all screens which would make a consumers life ‘simple’. He emphasised that Microsoft would like to talk about the differentiators in its offerings, rather than a few specific feature. They called this ‘Romance – our product truth’. When Chris spoke about ‘know and respect your competition’, I realised that Microsoft is well aware that it is not a monopolistic market anymore and there are players such as Samsung and Apple, which would give them a tough time.

Smart Guerrilla marketing is the route they plan to take to reach out to the consumers – ‘throw fewer pebbles, make bigger waves’. They understand the need to spend wisely, utilising marketing budgets smartly to enhance customer perception, thus killing competition smartly. The last point he put across was ‘Skate where the puck is going to be’ or, to put it in layman's terms, move with the times. While it is true that a lot of strategies and plans might fail, it is imperative for us to keep re-visiting our plans and re-designing them as the need arises.

While Microsoft is generally seen as a technology solutions provider, it would also like to frame its own boundaries, by designing the hardware. What was interesting to me was that while the world wants to bridge the gaps with technology and make it unified, Microsoft wants it to be a technology savvy art – a convergence of ‘human-ness’ with technology – “our reach, your creativity”.

While we will have to wait for the holiday season and the launch of Windows 8 to see how successful Microsoft’s recent initiatives are, it does seem confident of itself.

Till later,

With love, from Cannes

The author, Mandeep Malhotra is President, DDB Mudra Max. He is attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year and was blogging on the session ‘Microsoft Advertising - Device Love: Where Technology and Creativity Converge’


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