3 C’s; Content, Collaboration and Cannes

Jamie Toward, Head of Content, discusses content & collaboration from this year’s Cannes Lions.

The after sun has now done its job and those slightly reddened faces have been soothed to a healthy glow for those who had the good fortune to travel down to the Cannes Lions.

There was so much big news in the content marketing and collaboration spaces this year that there’s almost not enough space to do it justice but here goes:

  1. Collaboration and content in one awesomely named wrapper…yes that’s right we witnessed the birth of Trufflepig last week. This was a very big reveal from the partners involved – WPP in the Form of GroupSJR, Daily Mail Group and SnapChat. It’s easy to see that each party brings something unique to the collaboration. GroupSJR bring significant expertise in the creation of content for brands (and potentially access to those brands), DMG bring great reach into a global audience and have some native delivery platforms that need to be shown off at scale. Snapchat bring the effortless cool of the new kids on the block, but more importantly they’re right on top of the emerging trend in portrait rather than landscape video. While the name has been called out as a touch silly by some it’s hard to argue that there’s a need for somebody to hunt out the highest quality bits of content for brands and consumers and this collaboration might well have the power and scale to do just that.
  2. Pharrell, Ryan Seacrest and Bob Pittman (CEO iHeartmedia) hit the nail on the head in this short film when asked about creativity and collaboration. You can check the film here, but I’ll paraphrase some of what they say. In short collaborations make all the participants better, we can learn a lot from one another and that’s not just creatively, but from a process point of view (Pharrell said that – he’s clearly a secret project manager). Bob Pittman really sums it up by saying that collaborations bring about the ‘third idea’ – the one that pin wheels out of the meeting of multiple parties and is better than both the ideas those parties came in to the collaboration with. Verra Buddimlija and I have spoken on this very subject at AdWeek – you can catch the film of our (and our guests) view on it here.
  3. For the second year running no Grand Prix was awarded in the Branded Content category at the Lions. I thought David Lubars, the President of the Branded Content Jury and BBDO’s Chief Creative Officer summed up why there was no Grand Prix “The thing about this category to me is that it’s not even a category anymore — it transcends. It’s just how the world is now,” See, this is the point – Content as a descriptor of marketing activity has now been used to capture so many different types of assignment that it’s almost become meaningless. Of course there has been great content marketing work this year (the jury lover W&K’s Honda Type R work – The Other Side, but it wasn’t entered) but it’s hard to put a hard edge around the category as it starts to merge into Social, Advertising, Partnerships and just pure innovation. So how can a Grand Prix be awarded in an area so sprawling? Maybe it’s time to admit that Content is now so mainstream that it fits across many other categories and if you’re managing a finite award entry budget you’re going to think twice about entering a category that’s had no outright winner for two years.

In the broadest sense of the word ‘Collaboration’ was on display permanently at this year’s Lions, in the form of the thousands of agency, media and platform owner and ad tech people who descended on the temporary Rose wine consumption capital of the world. There genuinely is a real buzz about the place with many new ideas, deals and collaborations spiraling out of the platforms at the Palais and even more from the various hotel lobby and bar conversations. There was an even greater commitment to collaboration demonstrated by the couple who caused a social tidal wave with their late night out door antics (that story can be found here) and, on a more serious note, by the many people who banded together to overcome the transport problems that struck on the Thursday and Friday.

I think the last word goes to Marilyn Manson (who knew – an epically insightful speaker and, it seems, marketer) “I think that consumers can see right through marketing that tries too hard to be something it’s not. Messaging that is not authentic will be seen as irrelevant and lead to bad experiences with content.” That’s just bang on the money. Maybe if somebody can follow this as a base rule set then we will see a Grand Prix for Branded Content next year.