Alex Josephson & Katrina Stirton Dodd on what it takes to be a global talking point

Cannes Lions 2019: Alex Josephson, Head of Global Brand Strategy, Twitter & Katrina Stirton Dodd, Head of Trends, Contagious, spoke about conversations that shape culture

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 17, 2019 5:02 PM
Cannes 2019

The first day of Cannes Lions 2019 saw a number of speaker sessions and among those was one on: What does it take for brands to break through the noise? How do you become a global talking point – for the right reasons? 

Alex Josephson, Head of Global Brand Strategy, Twitter and Katrina Stirton Dodd, Head of Trends, Contagious, took the stage for the session – Conversations that shape culture. Josephson and Dodd spoke about how a year ago the International House of Pancackes (IHOP) created a stir with their campaign design on Twitter that led the Twitterarti going in frenzy over IHOP undergoing a name change. 

Dodd said conversations that shape culture rarely fall out of thin air. "Participation is too important to leave to chance. What we chose to share, is like what we chose to wear, it says something about us. You need to have the brand understanding that is absolutely essential. The first pillar of Communication beats Consumption."

"Repurposing media not for consumption but for communication is the underpinning of this social age, said Dodd, quoting Ze Frank, Head of R&D, Buzzfeed. People will share something if it helps to express themselves and help them to communicate better, she added. 

Josephson next spoke about how brands have been igniting Twitter’s audience to shape culture. He quoted Jen Mc Donald, Chief Client Officer, VMLY&R, who had said, “Everything we’ve done, that’s exploded and had made people uncomfortable at first.” He further said the brand which has been fearless over the years and has consistently evolved is Wendy’s. The brand had used the word Bae in 2013 to create a stir on Twitter. "The trick is not to sound like Wendy but be more like who you are. Be more or like yourself. Be fearless in most of your vulnerable moments." 

Meanwhile, Dodd said that the brands have to stick to the five pillars - Communication beats Consumption, Identify based-content, Emotional Content sparks Empathy, Communication > Consumption (People focuses rather than products) and Listen (take out your AirPods!). 

“If you want people to share, make it about THEM. Help people to express themselves, don’t turn up with a sales pitch,” she added.

Dodd is of the opinion that good listening is the foundation of participation. "For brands to break the noise, one thing that should be kept in mind is - people’s indifference to brands should be the starting point and one should find a way to make people care immediately or find a connection to what they already care about. “If you would like your marketing to be 26 per cent more effective, get people involved with your campaign.”

Dodd warns: Remember No One cares. The challenge is to stop the scrolling. Make people care or make a connection for why people should care.

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