Marketer@Cannes: “We are loyal to our agencies, but always looking for new ideas” – Joseph V Tripodi, The Coca Cola Company

Coca Cola started planning its FIFA World Cup campaign almost four years ago. The key learnings from the entire planning and execution for the campaign were: no short-cuts to the big idea, collaboration makes everyone better, and only authenticity can be scaled. For Joseph V Tripodi, EVP, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, The Coca Cola Company, ideas can come from anywhere, and Coca Cola works on the “open source” model, where anyone with a good idea is welcome.

Dhaleta Surender Kumar 24-June-2010

Marketer@Cannes: “We are loyal to our agencies, but always looking for new ideas” – Joseph V Tripodi, The Coca Cola Company

Coca Cola, one of the partners of the FIFA World Cup 2010, being held currently in South Africa, had started planning its campaign for the tourney four years ago. The key lessons from the entire planning and execution of the campaign, according to Joseph V Tripodi, EVP, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, The Coca Cola Company, are: no short-cuts to the big idea; collaboration makes everyone better; and authenticity can be only scaled.

Tripodi said that the company had worked with 11 agencies (including creative, media and PR) for the campaign and ideas from everyone were welcome. For example, the PR agency came up with an idea where a local hero of every country would be celebrated in a 60-second video. “Even though there were 11 agencies in a single room, we were open to ideas from everyone. We are fiercely loyal to our agencies, but good ideas are welcome from anywhere. This is collaboration,” he said, adding, that the company didn't treat the agencies as vendors, but as a team.

He added that even though the company was loyal to its agencies, in the age of internet, the company was open to ideas from anyone. “Anyone can come up with ideas and reach to us through the internet,” he said, adding, “Great stories can come from anywhere.”

Tripodi was speaking during the session on ‘Scale Meets Story-Telling’ at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2010, where he told about the journey of the company’s FIFA World Cup campaign.

“There are many stereotypes and misconceptions about South Africa. However, our research showed that the country was about optimism, colour, dance, rhythm, chaos and vuvuzela,” he said.

To start with, a sense of grandeur was given to the journey of the FIFA World Cup trophy tour through 84 countries.

Subsequently, the company chose to adapt the song ‘Wavin’ Flag’ by K’naan as Coca Cola’s theme for the World Cup. “The song is about optimism and positiveness. It is an honest emotional and magical song and is scalable. So, we chose to adapt it,” he said.

Further, the company chose to celebrate Roger Milla, a Cameroonian and former football forward, in a 60-second video. Milla had scored four goals in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, celebrating each one with a dance around the corner post. The dance has since then become a popular goal celebration.

The celebration song has been localised into 20-language versions that celebrate local heroes. “This authenticity inspired a lot of activations... and link with global customers,” Tripodi said. The company also tied up with McDonald’s and YouTube. Since then, thousands of videos have been posted on YouTube about celebrations by people.

“The big lesson for us was that content has value, and with right partners, you can take it to any level,” he added.

According to him, Coca Cola currently has 1.6 billion servings a day. It aims for 3.2 billion servings a day by 2020.

Asked on what was Coca Cola’s USP, Tripodi said, “Apple’s design focus is fabulous. Similarly, Nike has a great emotional connect. No one can be best at everything. We are trying to collaborate the best of all.”

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Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival to become Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in 2011; to add Cannes Effective Awards

Cannes Lions is making a statement on where the festival is headed. Festival Chairman Terry Savage pointed out an announcement from the Festival, calling the 2011 festival - Cannes Lions 58th Festival of Creativity. This is not just a change in name but a reflection of the changes in the festival that has included domains beyond advertising - PR, Media, Design, to name a few. Savage also informed that the Festival would be including Effectiveness Awards, for now called Cannes Effectiveness Awards.

Noor Fathima Warsia 28-June-2010

Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival to become Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in 2011; to add Cannes Effective Awards

Cannes Lions is making a statement on where the festival is headed. Festival Chairman Terry Savage pointed out an announcement from the Festival, calling the 2011 festival - Cannes Lions 58th Festival of Creativity. He explained that this is not just a change in name, but a reflection of the changes in the festival that has included domains beyond advertising - PR, Media, Design, to name a few. Savage also informed that the Festival would be including Effectiveness Awards, for now called Cannes Effectiveness Awards.

This is perhaps the first time that the Festival name has been changed in its recent history. Savage observed, “The very fundamental of Cannes Lions is that it reflects the reality of the business, and this is where the business is headed.”

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Cannes Lions 2010: Ogilvy wins a Silver Lion; India’s final metal tally – 17 Lions

With zero shortlists in Titanium & Integrated and Film Craft Lions, India’s last fighting category was Film Lions, and Ogilvy & Mather India has won a Silver Lion Campaign for Breakthrough. With this, the final metal tally for India is 17 Lions. Last year, Indian agencies had won a total of 25 Lions.

Noor Fathima Warsia 28-June-2010

Cannes Lions 2010: Ogilvy wins a Silver Lion; India’s final metal tally – 17 Lions

With zero shortlists in Titanium & Integrated and Film Craft Lions, India’s last fighting category was Film Lions, and Ogilvy & Mather India has won a Silver Lion Campaign for Breakthrough. With this, the final metal tally for India is 17 Lions. Last year, Indian agencies had won a total of 25 Lions.

Jury Member Ramanuj Shastri said that the work was very well received. He said, “Just about every jury member came up to me later to say that this was very good work. The other two shortlists were also good, but this one really stood out amongst the work done from India.”

Ogilvy India’s Abhijit Avasthi said, “We feel super for the win, and especially for this piece of communication, because we can already see the kind of difference that it is making.”

Overall, India’s metal tally this year is lower than that of the two years’. Looking at some numbers – last year, India’s haul at Cannes Lions was 25 metals; in 2008, India had won 23 Lions, including a Grand Prix. 2006 and 2007 both saw India winning 12 metals, while in 2005, India had won just three Lions. While Indian creativity has come a long way since then, and India has been on an upward graph in the last five years, a score of 17 Lions this year is a step down.

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Noorings: Faster growing markets, tete-e-tete with advertisers, India… another Cannes Lions over and new lessons learnt

In a sense, it was yet another Cannes Lions that I am glad I did not miss. The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival has operated like Madonna, reinventing itself every year for the last 57 years. And it had a surprise for everyone in store too, when for the 58th year, the organisers are changing the name of the festival. Every year, there is someone new to talk to and new things to learn – I wonder, when does the learning stop and boredom begins. Hasn’t happened in my case yet, though I was warned five years back that it would happen.

Noor Fathima Warsia 28-June-2010

Noorings: Faster growing markets, tete-e-tete with advertisers, India… another Cannes Lions over and new lessons learnt

In a sense, it was yet another Cannes Lions that I am glad I did not miss. The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival has operated like Madonna, reinventing itself every year for the last 57 years. And it had a surprise for everyone in store too, when for the 58th year, the organisers are changing the name of the festival.

Cannes Lions organisers had the announcement tucked in the delegate handbook, where, apart from giving the dates for 2011 and 2012, they had also called the festival Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. When you are a journalist at Cannes, you are not interested in anything more than the Cannes Lions press kit, which is a bible to reporters covering the festival, and one could see that Festival Chairman Terry Savage took some pleasure in pointing out to my colleague and me that we too missed that announcement.

Speaking to us some more on this, he said that the Festival was a reflection of ground realities of the advertising business and this was the reality today, the business is no longer about creative agencies – Media, PR, Design, all played an important role, and today Cannes Lions too was honouring all of these functions.

As an Indian, India’s performance did leave me disappointed too… Every year that I have been at Cannes, India’s tally has been better than the previous year, but this year, India was eight Lions behind last year with no Grand Prix and only one Gold. Aman ki Asha not making it through to even shortlists had severely disappointed many in the Indian contingent.

Terry Savage, however, advised not to see the festival from year on year view, but a five-year view, and in that, India’s graph has lowered this year from the last two years, but is better than 2007 and 2006 – should that keep one happy? I don’t really think so.

The best part of the Festival still had to be about meeting people, and I loved meeting some of the industry heads this year – whether it was P&G’s CMO Marc Pritchard with whom we had one of the most fantastic interview sessions, or Ian Maskell, Global Marketing Director, Heartbrands, Unilever, who was fun to have spent time with. Meeting Babs Rangaiah, Global Communications Planning Director, Unilever, was a pleasure – his views on business have always been ‘different’ and in our conversation this time, he again had some of the most interesting things to speak about.

Meeting advertisers is always fun, and couple that with meeting people like IPG’s Michael Roth and it is a perfect Cannes Lions…

And then there are conversations where the likes of WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell and Publicis Groupe’s Maurice Levy don the interviewer’s hat – yes, it is fun to see that and notice the way in which they have prepared for their sessions.

Sir Martin Sorrell and Maurice Levy may not agree on much, but in their respective sessions at Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the word ‘developing markets’ was re-termed as ‘faster growing markets’. Sorrell, in fact, said that it was insulting for these markets to be called developing markets. The other points that came out from these sessions were that procurement could come in the way of hiring good talent and the road forward had to be about collaboration.

Everyone has something to say about the festival every year, and as we get busy filing 10-plus reports every evening, sometimes even I wonder what all this is about. But as I look back, I am glad I did not miss this Cannes Lions, the year when marketers come in the picture full force and more important discussions made their way on the Cannes stage.

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Cannes Lions 2010: P&G President & CEO Bob McDonald on the ‘operating plan’ of touching and improving more lives

Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2010 saw P&G’s CEO and President, Bob McDonald, talk on the new growth drivers at P&G, where the shift is to touch and improve a billion more lives in the year ahead. McDonald also informed that technology was at the centre of everything for the company – whether it was moving away from bench laboratory prototyping to staff promotions.

Noor Fathima Warsia 28-June-2010

Cannes Lions 2010: P&G President & CEO Bob McDonald on the ‘operating plan’ of touching and improving more lives

The Cannes Lions stage was set – Publicis Groupe Chairman Maurice Levy on the asking end and the answering end was P&G’s relatively new President and CEO, Bob McDonald, who has been in his current role for a year now. In this tete-a-tete with Levy, McDonald speaks on the company’s new growth drivers, the role that technology plays for P&G and why collaboration is the name of the game moving forward.

Speaking on his run as CEO so far, McDonald said, “Last year was bad, but we rededicated ourselves to our purpose, which was to serve people and turned that into an operating plan, touch and improve more lives of consumers. Today, P&G reaches 4 billion consumers, and we plan to increase it to 5 billion in the year ahead. An average consumer is spending $12 a year on P&G products and our target is to increase it to $14. So far, things are going are as planned. We have learnt that focussing on ‘purpose’ has inspired us and our employees on building relationships with our consumers that are not just about marketing our products to them, but serving them and improving their lives.”

According to McDonald, one guiding aspect of P&G is to understand what it means to connect with 4 billion people. He said, “It causes you to realise how thoughtful you have to be to connect with people all across the world, and how the purpose to change lives can be such a guideline.”

Levy then asked McDonald what it was like to connect with 548,000 consumers every day. The latter reiterated that the focus on the purpose and making the purpose pervasive had become a part of P&G philanthropy – to move from marketing to serving, where innovation was key.

For McDonald, it was ‘fun’ to think about products that consumers would want five years from now, and that was where consumer knowledge and insight played a role. He pointed out that the company spent billions of dollars in this area and was always looking for partners who could share that vision.

P&G had extreme clarity that in order to achieve the company’s growth targets, the company had to invest in all markets. McDonald pointed out that while the US was one of P&G’s strongest markets, the company was still not developed with Hispanic consumers as it should have. Of the 20 new factories that P&G is working on, one of the biggest is in the US.

McDonald added to that, “We are four times bigger than the next best in China and yet we are only in 15 categories in comparison to 35 in the US. Across all markets, what we need to do is touch more lives and bring our full portfolio of brands in each of these categories.”

McDonald further spoke on consumer facing initiatives from the company like P&G’s water purification endeavours in various markets and internal initiatives like focus on the environment that saw P&G reducing it carbon footprint by 50 per cent and the expectation is to bring that down even further.

The panel was then joined in by Google’s Nikesh Arora and Microsoft’s Darren Houston. Needless to say, the conversations from there were about collaboration and technology.

McDonald was clear that P&G had to become the best technology-enabled company in the world. He informed that the company had worked hard on digitisation not only on aspects like moving away from bench laboratory prototyping, but also in everyday work to bring in more effectiveness. He divulged that at P&G, the executives had to be comfortable with technology before getting a promotion.

The four panellists discussed that there was still time before the Microsofts and Googles of the world competed with each other. There was place for everyone. Even as various benefits of technology and its role in bringing brands closer to consumer were discussed, for McDonald, there was no substitute for ideas. He said, “The 1s and 0s cannot create ideas, and that is where our agencies come in because we want to impact people.”

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Cannes Lions 2010: Ogilvy wins a Silver Lion in Films; India's final metal tally - 17 Lions

With zero shortlists in Titanium & Integrated and Film Craft Lions, India’s last fighting category was Film Lions, and Ogilvy & Mather India has won a Silver Lion Campaign for Breakthrough. With this, the final metal tally for India is 17 Lions. Last year, Indian agencies had won a total of 25 Lions.

Noor Fathima Warsia 27-June-2010

Cannes Lions 2010: Ogilvy wins a Silver Lion in Films; India's final metal tally - 17 Lions

With zero shortlists in Titanium & Integrated and Film Craft Lions, India’s last fighting category was Film Lions, and Ogilvy & Mather India has won a Silver Lion Campaign for Breakthrough. With this, the final metal tally for India is 17 Lions. Last year, Indian agencies had won a total of 25 Lions.

Jury Member Ramanuj Shastri said that the work was very well received. He said, “Just about every jury member came up to me later to say that this was very good work. The other two shortlists were also good, but this one really stood out amongst the work done from India.”

Ogilvy India’s Abhijit Avasthi said, “We feel super for the win, and especially for this piece of communication, because we can already see the kind of difference that it is making.”

Overall, India’s metal tally this year is lower than that of the two years’. Looking at some numbers – last year, India’s haul at Cannes Lions was 25 metals; in 2008, India had won 23 Lions, including a Grand Prix. 2006 and 2007 both saw India winning 12 metals, while in 2005, India had won just three Lions. While Indian creativity has come a long way since then, and India has been on an upward graph in the last five years, a score of 17 Lions this year is a step down.

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Cannes Lions 2010: And a blank from India in Film Craft Lions too

Film Craft Lions was introduced this year in order to honour craft of the filmmaking process – the direction, copywriting or editing, or the skilful use of music or sound design. India had sent 29 pieces of work in the debut year of the category, however, none has made it to the shortlist.

Noor Fathima Warsia 26-June-2010

Cannes Lions 2010: And a blank from India in Film Craft Lions too

Film Craft Lions was introduced this year in order to honour craft of the filmmaking process – the direction, copywriting or editing, or the skilful use of music or sound design. India had sent 29 pieces of work in the debut year of the category, however, none has made it to the shortlist.

Jon Kamen, Chairman and CEO, @radical.media is the Jury President of Film Craft Lions. There was no Indian jury member in the category this year.

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Cannes Lions 2010: India draws a blank in Titanium & Integrated Lions

The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival has announced the shortlists for the Titanium & Integrated Lions. In what would prove to be an extremely disappointing development for India, no Indian entry has made it to the shortlist. Indian agencies had sent four pieces of work this year in comparison to the 11 sent last year. The only other category where India did not manage even a shortlist so far was Cyber Lions.

Noor Fathima Warsia 26-June-2010

Cannes Lions 2010: India draws a blank in Titanium & Integrated Lions

The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival has announced the shortlists for the Titanium & Integrated Lions. In what would prove to be an extremely disappointing development for India, no Indian entry has made it to the shortlist. Indian agencies had sent four pieces of work this year in comparison to the 11 sent last year. The only other category where India did not manage even a shortlist so far was Cyber Lions.

India Camp was looking forward to The Times of India’s Aman ki Asha to score in this category. Bob Greenberg, Jury President, Chairman, CEO and CCO, R/GA is the Jury President. There was no Indian jury member in the Titanium and Integrated Lions Jury this year.

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Pratap Bose’s Blog@Cannes: In august company

The big guns were on show on the penultimate day in Cannes. When you have names like David Droga, Chuck Porter, Sir Martin Sorrell, Tim Mellors, Yoko Ono, Jon Wilkins, Bob McDonald ( CEO of P&G ), the new CMO of Unilever (Keith Weed), and James Hilton from AKQA, among others, the expectations are naturally sky high. Though I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day, I must admit it was day well spent, writes Pratap Bose, COO, Mudra Group and CEO, Mudra Max, in his blog exclusively for exchange4media.

Pratap Bose 26-June-2010

Pratap Bose’s Blog@Cannes: In august company

The big guns were on show on the penultimate day in Cannes. When you have names like David Droga, Chuck Porter, Sir Martin Sorrell, Tim Mellors, Yoko Ono, Jon Wilkins, Bob McDonald ( CEO of P&G ), the new CMO of Unilever (Keith Weed), and James Hilton from AKQA, among others, the expectations are naturally sky high.

Though I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day, I must admit it was day well spent. I realised that listening to power packed sessions for eight hours is as tiring as actually having to present yourself.

Chuck Porter was brilliant in his advice to all those looking to break out and start up their own agency from scratch. I particularly liked three things that he said:

• Hire people with Brains, Talent, Passion, Creativity and Experience in that order

• Hire Ninja Account people. Those who will die to make ideas work

• Go out on a limb. Way out. Don’t play safe with clients and give in to what they want. Give them what you believe in.

David Droga spoke extempore on the same subject, and when David speaks… you listen. His mission statement for Droga5 is to be “the most influential creative agency in the world”. One can’t disagree with him on that can you? Especially, after having won three Titanium awards at Cannes three years in a row.

I pushed myself into a seat on the second row to listen to the Cannes Debate between Martin Sorrell (the interviewer) and the CMO of Unilever Worldwide Keith Weed. Before the interview started, I thought to myself that my ex-super boss was going to be his usual incisive self and completely overwhelm his interviewee. To my utter surprise, not only did Keith Weed hold his own, but he was hugely impressive in his responses.

Sir Martin did ask him the difficult questions, but he replied with wit and aplomb. He likened digital marketing to “high school sex”, when he said “a lot of people are talking about it… there are very few people doing it… and those doing it aren’t exactly doing it right”. That was hilarious, and so apt, if I may add.

Another great line from him was: “Social media is the modern form of letter writing”.

I decided to give the Yoko Ono interview with Tim Mellors from the Grey Group a miss because I can’t fathom why you would interview Yoko Ono to get her perspective on the music and recording business? As far as I am concerned, her only claim to fame, apart from being John Lennon’s wife, was her invitation to the press to shoot her naked in bed with John! Cannes obviously didn’t subscribe to my views, considering the long queues of people waiting to be seated, but what the heck – that’s my view!

In between sessions, my Blackberry confirmed a total wash-out for India in the Integrated, Titanium and Film Craft categories. The woes for India continue and our only hopes left are the five shortlists in the Film category. While I’m not too hopeful, all I can say is “fingers crossed”.

Another client that I was hugely impressed with today was Bob McDonald, the CEO of P&G. Unlike the other ‘super bosses’, who pop in just for their bit on stage and then fly out, Bob apparently has been in Cannes for a long time meeting people, taking notes and making connections with the advertising fraternity here on show.

In his own words: “I want P&G to digitise its workflow and be the most technologically enabled company in the world”. That was terrific, coming from the biggest FMCG company in the world, and on the subject on the importance of advertising agencies, he said, “You can’t digitise great creative ideas”.

Tomorrow is the final day at Cannes and I’m seriously contemplating spending time with my wife Seema at St Paul de Vence, which is a traditional French village near Nice. It’s been fun this week, but it’s been strenuous nonetheless, and me thinks I deserve a break.

If you miss my blog tomorrow, you will know that I did take that decision to go.

Au Revoir to you all.

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Cannes Lions 2010: Miles S Nadal, Chairman, CEO, MDC Partners throws a million-dollar challenge to entrepreneurs

Creative geniuses Chuck Porter, Chief Strategist, MDC Partners and Co-Chairman, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; David Droga, Founder, Creative Chairman, Droga5; and Miles S Nadal, Chairman, CEO, MDC Partners talked about their experiences of being entrepreneurs and what it needed to start one’s own agency in the session titled ‘How to Build an Agency from Scratch’. Nadal also had a special offer for wannabe entrepreneurs.

Dhaleta Surender Kumar 26-June-2010

Cannes Lions 2010: Miles S Nadal, Chairman, CEO, MDC Partners throws a million-dollar challenge to entrepreneurs

Miles S Nadal, Chairman, CEO, MDC Partners has thrown a million-dollar challenge to wannabe entrepreneurs – come up with a business plan and take away $1 million to set your shop. Nadal made this announcement during the session titled ‘How to Build an Agency from Scratch’ on Day Six of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2010.

“We don’t care who you are in the audience, or anybody from MDC Partners, if you have an idea, send it to us in the next 120 days and we will give you $1 million to start your business,” said Nadal.

Ten plans would be shortlisted before being invited to talk with MDC. Nadal said that he wouldn’t mind if they had five great ideas, they would give away “$5 million”.

Wannabe entrepreneurs can send in their plans to startup@mdc-partners.net. “The greats” like Leo Burnett, Billl Bernbach, David Ogilvy, Frank Lowe, and Maurice and Charles Saatchi “are about two things – brains and talent” – with these words, Nadal commenced had his presentation.

He was reiterating what Chuck Porter, Chief Strategist, MDC Partners and Co-Chairman, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, who opened the session, had said while recounting his journey in entrepreneurship when he was 39. “Brains, talent, passion curiosity, and experience, in that order, are what you need to start your own agency,” affirmed Porter.

“It took us 4-5 years to come up with a mission – to produce the most talked about and written about work in the world,” he further said, adding,

“Money will follow eventually after you are recognised. You can’t set up an agency without a client. So, get attention with no money. The closer you can get to the product, the better you can do for the client.”

Porter ended his presentation with the words: “The other thing that people underplay is luck. You need it. So, best of luck.”

It was now the turn of David Droga, Founder, Creative Chairman, Droga5, to advise not to run after money. “Don’t chase the money. Money will come to you. Do it (Start your own agency). Be sincere. We need more entrepreneurs. Let’s not talk about recovery. Let’s reinvent,” Droga said.

Droga had left his job at the peak of his career to start his own agency four years ago with a mission to “want to try and make the most influential agency in the world”. “When you start your own agency, you have more chances of working with people you admire,” he said.

He had opened his presentation philosophically, stating: “Unlike Chuck, I’m still starting it. We are learning every day. Some day, we are walking forward, some day we are falling forward; till you are moving forward, it doesn’t matter.”

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Cannes Lions 2010: Sir Martin Sorrell & Unilever’s Keith Weed get down to business at the Cannes Debate

Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2010 may have had its share of weak sessions this year, but the Cannes Debate has been one of the best so far, and clearly one of the best sessions of the festival. The conversations between Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP, and Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever, discussed many concerns of the industry. The best part was the tough questions, coupled with candid answers.

Noor Fathima Warsia 26-June-2010

Cannes Lions 2010: Sir Martin Sorrell & Unilever’s Keith Weed get down to business at the Cannes Debate

Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival may not have had the best of sessions like last year, but the Cannes Debate on the sixth day of the festival surpassed any so far. The conversation between Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP, and Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever, covered many concerns of the industry, but the best part was the tough questions, coupled with candid answers.

Procurement Vs Marketing

Sorrell got in the ‘debate’ without wasting a minute and the first point discussed was procurement and finance functions having more power and influence over marketing. Keith Weed replied, “The answer may be different for different companies, but I know as far as a consumer good is concerned, marketing is absolutely key. There is an opportunity to formalise or professionalise the buying function. But great creativity is effectiveness, and the other part of effectiveness is professional buying.”

Did clients squeeze agencies more than they did owners, given that media owners had editorial and financial powers, and agencies were considered smaller operations? Weed observed that there was pressure everywhere, and could even be seen in the manner prices to consumers had evolved in the marketplace. He said, “Manufacturers, agencies and retailers – everyone is feeling the squeeze. But at the end of it, everyone in the media value chain needs to do a great job and gain money. If I cut someone short, it is short term gain, but I will suffer in the longer run. You will move your best people to better paying clients, and one needs good work to be able to sell, and as long as you are selling, you are in good shape.”

Weed asserted here that for any business, it were the people that were the most important. And Sorrell pointed out that as long as procurement was paramount, it would not be easy to get the best people. Communication professional would want to work on exciting business, and the more flexibility and more response there was, the better it was, but clients had to also understand that they played a role in this, which they had not played in the last 18 months.

Unilever’s digital focus: to double ad spends this year

Weed identified the changing media landscape, courtesy the digital revolution, as one of the key changes of marketing today. He observed, “Whichever way you cut it, there is a multiple effect of globalisation and digitisation, and they are both feeding off each other. It is an exciting time to be in advertising and communication also because anything is possible.”

He further stated that one of the priorities on the agenda was to get Unilever at the leading edge of digital. The advertiser had to be ahead of the consumer, so “we are there when the consumer arrives”, he added. Weed informed that Unilever was set to double spends in digital this year.

Speaking further on the digital strategy, Weed said that the category guided the strategy and was dependent on consumer insight. “You need to know if you are going to housewives in Shanghai, whether they are spending time online, if you did not know that, you have missed the bus there.” Weed quoted a statement on digital, “Everyone is talking about it, few people are doing it, and those who are doing it, are not doing it well.”

On the count of digital, the other concern that Weed had was talent. He said, “Right now, all kinds of models are going on, all sorts of approaches are going on there. We work on paid, owned and earned media, and in the owned media, whether is a dove.com, axe.com or unilever.com, there is a need for content and people who are working on your brands who know where this is headed.”

Social media was also discussed, and Sorrell asked that in the light of some of the unsuccessful attempts of social media platforms to monetise their platforms, was social media a form of pure media that should not be bastardise by making them financially driven? Weed replied, “These are guys are running businesses, so they will and they must monetise. But they still have to be careful and clever on how they monetise. The idea that brands would pollute Facebook is not true. Without brands, shopping is difficult. Brand simplifies. At some point, there is a mutual agenda that companies like ours can develop with companies like Facebook.”

Faster growing or developed– investment required in all markets

Sorrell then enquired on what the focus on the faster growing markets (“not developing – I think it’s insulting to call them developing” remarked Sorrell, while posing the question) meant for other markets. Weed replied, “You can only spend your dollar once. Half of our sales are coming from the faster growing markets, and that by definition means that the rest are coming from the developed markets. We have massive business in India, and massive business in the US that we would be mad to walk away from. So, it is not a case of either-or for us, but ‘and’. Our objective is to create more business in markets where we have a big share.”

Transparency was another point that was discussed, and Weed said, “Whenever you are doing business, better information and clarity is powerful. Fuzziness is hard to leverage, and encourages you to inspect it. There has been a step forward in transparency and understanding that Unilever is such. But there still are some markets that are opaque, which we need to get close to.”

Sorrell also quizzed Weed also on Unilever’s Chief Executive Paul Polman and some of the changes he had brought in the structure. One of the points that Weed mentioned here was that Polman had brought much greater consumer centric focus in the business. He said, “In the board meetings, you would be genuinely surprised how often we speak on what is in it for the consumer, would the consumer be willing to pay. True, it should not take a new CEO to do that, but when we make products and build brands, and competing in the marketplace on quality, there is a complexity that comes with it. When you say it is all about consumer and good value, it makes everything simple and that has made a difference.”

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