Cannes Lions Live: Adland talks diversity, remote leadership & the New Normal 

Day 1 of the virtual event also saw the unveiling of a new study on creative effectiveness, carried out on behalf of Cannes Lions and WARC

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Jun 23, 2020 8:11 AM
Cannes Lions 2020

Cannes Lions, the glitzy celebration of all things advertising, has been playing a central role in the professional lives of many agency and brand marketing professionals. With COVID-19 taking over the world in the spring, the biggest ad fest, in a first, was cancelled for the year.

 Though France’s southern beaches will not be graced by Cannes’ yachts this year, the festival still chose to continue virtually, with the weeklong Lions Live event kicking off on Monday. Day 1 packed in an interesting line-up of sessions and deliberated on relevant themes like the New Normal, diversity, remote leadership and marketing. 

The likes of Cleo Abram, Sean Rameswaram, Heather Pieske and Joss Fong discussing the value of helping audiences understand context and what the future of branded storytelling might look like, set the perfect tone for the insightful day forward.

Marketing effectiveness experts James Hurman and Peter Field also presented the world premiere of a new study on creative effectiveness, carried out on behalf of Cannes Lions and WARC. This global study involved an analysis of nearly 5,000 effectiveness case studies from 2011 to 2019. They introduced the principle of ‘Creative Commitment’ – a new metric that correlates tightly with effectiveness. Interestingly, while the Measurement of Creative Commitment over time suggests that the industry is trending away from effectiveness, the session went on to indicate how this new principle offers an actionable way for marketers and agencies to work together to turn the tide.

Keeping the relevance and importance of the conversation around diversity, Alex Bennett-Grant, CEO, We Are Pi, laid out simple steps everyone in the industry can take towards ensuring that the advertising we make promotes a more inclusive society. He contended that it is time for people at every level of seniority involved in creating advertising to speak up, call out and stop acts of racist decision making in the creative process.

 This was followed by BBDO India's Josy Paul introducing us to three of his close friends — failure, rejection and embarrassment — and how these three outliers can help build agencies, cultures and work that are celebrated across the world. With stories from his early years building David to setting up BBDO India from the backseat of his car in 2008, to the inaugural Glass Lion Grand Prix at Cannes to creating the most effective campaign in the world, Paul revealed the joys of losing, and how you can’t break through until you break down.

 Amid all this difficult news, there are people and businesses that are finding new opportunities and audiences by pivoting in the New Normal. Rei Inamoto, Founding Partner, Design, I&CO, in his session ‘How Growth Can Happen in the New Normal’ shared his ‘Imperatives for Growth’.

 The CMOs in the Spotlight session had Leanne Cutts, Group Chief Marketing Officer, HSBC; and Dana Anderson, Chief Transformation Officer of MediaLink, speak on how they're managing remote leadership during the lockdown and whether the world of marketing will really change for ever. 

 Every year at Cannes Lions each Jury President is asked to put together a President’s briefing for their jury - a set of guiding principles used to assess every piece of work. Looking ahead to 2021, Simon Cook, MD of Cannes Lions, invited President of the Creative Business Transformation Lions, Isobar's Ronald Ng, to share what that briefing looks like and how the category is set to evolve in response to changes in the wider world at present. He shed light on the new trends he's keeping an eye on, and looked back at some of the award winners that moved the industry forward, helping set the standards of exceptional creativity that the Creative Business Transformation Lions demand today.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Antonio Lucio and Mark D’Arcy reflected on the responsibility that marketers have to respond to and serve communities with action and empathy, and how creativity can help enable the shift to address consumer and business needs through the pandemic. This was followed by Spotify’s Global Head of Studios, Courtney Holt, in an enriching conversation with Bill Simmons, Founder of The Ringer, and Mallory Rubin, The Ringer’s Executive Editor. They unpacked the secrets behind agile storytelling, their content development process during the times of change, and how they are making swift decisions without sacrificing the quality that their listeners love and expect.

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