Cannes Lion 2010: Of digital, direct & the needed shift from 360 degree to 6 degree

Social media has changed the way how brands look at consumers. Brands “whispered to consumers, they shouted to consumers”, but with social media coming in the picture, brands are being forced “to listen to consumers”. These words from the Tribal DDB (London) presentation summed up the theme of the first day at the Cannes Lion 2010. The only contrary view came from Patrick Collister, Editor, Directory (a UK-based quarterly magazine on direct marketing), who said that direct mailing through snail mail was more engaging and personal than being online.

Cannes Lion 2010: Of digital, direct & the needed shift from 360 degree to 6 degree

If Facebook was a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world; nearly 734,000,000 people use social networking every month. The statistics thrown in by the Tribal DDB team from London – led by Matt Ross, Head of Creative, Tribal DDB, London – points out why brands should not ignore the platform.

The platform has changed the way companies do business. Brands “whispered to consumers, they shouted to consumers”, but with social media coming in the picture, brands were being forced “to listen to consumers,” in the form of feedback and collaboration, Ross said, adding, “Brands need to become friends of people; and friends listen first and then talk.”

The personal world on the social media platform is about sharing, and the platform that the Tribal DDB team pointed out is about life-streaming, connecting and finding. Brands will have to leverage on the next step of these three key aspects – geo-social, social TV and social shopping, respectively. More and more people were putting up pictures of products and asking their friends if they should buy the product, Ross noted.

Most of the brands today were talking about 360-degree communication and bombarding the consumer with messages, he said, adding, instead “allow people to reach out to you in a six-degree”.

Of the eight sessions on Day One, six focused on how brands are leveraging the digital space – what they are doing right and what they shouldn’t do. This speaks volumes about the importance of the digital world for brands. But does one size fit all? The panel session titled “Digital Across Cultures: Superglobal or Hyperlocal?” debated if a single idea could work for all cultures. Trevor Johnson, Head of Planning and Strategy, Europe – Facebook, gave examples of Nike and Nokia and shared how the two brands through their individual campaigns brought multiple markets with one creative on to a single platform. Elliot Polak, Founder, CEO – Textappeal (a London-headquartered transcreation specialist), gave examples of how some brands, while making fun of local culture, had managed to get through the law. Any foreign magazine that comes to Saudi Arabia, is scrutinised by the customs officers, and any skin show in the photographs is coloured blue with felt-pens by the officers. A Swedish lingerie brand came up with an innovative idea online and did exactly that. It coloured the skin of its models blue, leaving out the lingerie alone. The campaign was a huge success. Similarly, a TVC for Devassa, a beer brand in Brazil, was banned. To counter it, the brand invited celebrity Paris Hilton to go clubbing for about two weeks. People took her videos and posted them on YouTube and Facebook.

However, the opposite could be equally true. Different cultures have different sensibilities, Polak pointed out. While it’s “cool” to flaunt your hundreds of friends on Facebook in the USA, it may be seen as “superficial” in Japan. The ‘Facebook Wall’, which brought out one’s emotions in public, could be “embarrassing” in Japan, he added.

Polak also gave an example of Coca-Cola’s ‘Open Happiness’ campaign being a dud in Southern Europe. The campaign, which talks about opening a Coca-Cola bottle and bringing happiness is about instant gratification – an American concept altogether. However, happiness for Southern European people has different connotations. The brand had to take feedback from people, what happiness – like a baby being born, or a marriage – meant to them.

Polak also warned that brands should be careful about what they made ‘Live’ online. An adidas campaign got it all wrong when it launched a teaser campaign in the form of a game based on Star Wars. The game used Facebook Connect and Google Earth satellite imagery. The app, based on the user’s IP address, would zero in on the user’s street on Google Map and fire laser beams to create craters on the street or the user’s apartment with the words, ‘adidas and Star Wars: Coming Soon’. Unfortunately, in Japan, the geo-detection system tracked the user’s IP address to the country’s Emperor’s palace, which was bombarded in the virtual world. The campaign created a lot of hue and cry. So, Polak said, brands should “test their campaigns thoroughly, before making them Live”.

While the whole world seems to be going ga-ga over the multi-dimensional aspects of digital, there was a contrary view too. Patrick Collister, Editor – Directory (a London-based quarterly magazine on direct marketing), speaking during the ‘Stuffed, stamped and Licked’ session elucidated the importance of direct mailing – how it was more engaging than TV or an Internet ad. His entire presentation was full of examples from around the world about how different brands had innovatively used direct mailing effectively. One of the examples was that of ice-cream brand Hagen Diaz. The brand had used ice-cream flavours on stamps and the glue on envelopes to let consumers have a taste of the ice-cream when they licked them.

Another example he gave was that of how a gymming club had sent letters to the neighbours instead of the addressee. The neighbour would walk down to the neighbour’s house to deliver the letter thinking the post had been wrongly delivered to him/her. However, when the letter was opened, the other neighbour would walk back to the earlier neighbour, as inside was a letter addressed to the first neighbour. The message obviously was about the benefits of walking.

Collister, however, cautioned that direct mailing could make people take expensive decisions. “Brands should look at direct mailing not from the point of view of ‘return on investment’, but from the ‘return on ideas’ point of view,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, keeping the focus strong on digital, like the first day, the second day, too, has three sessions on digital. So, watch this space for more gyaan on digital...

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