Why CMOs needn’t feel guilty about going for Cannes Lions

25 Jul,2012

By Delshad Irani


What does a chief marketing officer of a very large global company do when he wants to be proficient in Twitter? He asks the CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo to provide the best resource they possess for an intensive reverse mentoring session. According to Antonio Lucio, global chief marketing, strategy and development officer, Visa, it is critically important for him as the head of a global marketing organisation to be an expert on social media and be able to build the Visa brand on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.


Interestingly, he has been a marketer for over 30 years and it is his first time at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and the first time Visa has attended the festival as a company. The question then is why now? For starters, digital media has changed the rules of engagement. However, the cases of truly successful integration and application of digital media are few and generally set on loop. “The fact is that when people talk about social they keep using the same concepts and best cases, for instance, the Old Spice campaign. This means that there really isn’t a clearly articulated model,” said Mr Lucio.


So clients like him attend festivals like the Cannes Lions to spot inspiring ideas, particularly in the digital, social and mobile and media worlds. Reasonable grounds for marketers to attend with teams of 5 to 15 senior management level employees.


But, it wasn’t too long ago when if you were a client and you said you want to go to Cannes for the ad festival you might not have got permission from management to do so. However, it is due to the efforts of a few that has led to the institutionalisation of the client’s side of Cannes. Marketers like Mr Lucio can come with midsize teams and it’s no longer considered an indulgence. P&G, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Heineken, Kraft, GM, McDonald’s and Mars, among others are just a few of the big global marketers who were present at the 2012 Cannes Lions.


Some have been attending longer than others. Like Joseph Tripodi, executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial officer, The Coca-Cola Company, who is particularly impressed with the attention the festival is receiving from media owners like Time Warner, in addition to growing participation numbers from clients as well as delegates from agencies. Keith Weed of Unilever, who has come to Cannes three years in a row and has been CMO for as many years said: “We have 15 people here this year and we do a combination of workshops, meeting our agency partners and recognising and acknowledging that creativity is great. In a cluttered media world, we need creativity to cut through.”


So apart from networking and opportunities to meet all their concerned parties, old and some new, in the same place, at the same time, these marketers are on the look out for inspiring work from across the world. And set creative benchmarks wherever possible. According to Cyril Charzat, senior global brand director, Heineken: “It’s very much about stimulating our marketing people to be stronger when they evaluate work from creative agencies; to define what is progressive and inventive. Our key message is to stimulate inventiveness and that’s what we try to do.” And Cannes is a part of that story.


On the Indian front, however, it is not yet a vital chapter. And Cannes remains the exclusive domain of adwallahs, with a light sprinkling of some regular clients like Mr Kakar of Aditya Birla Group, who has been attending the festival for over half a decade. Then there are first-timers like Mahindra & Mahindra. The company wanted to test French waters and therefore Vivek Nayer the company’s VP-marketing for the auto division attended the festival. But he left a tad disappointed and overwhelmed by the creative clutter. Other Indian marketers in attendance were Parle Agro (with Nadia Chauhan also a jury member), Dabur and Flipkart. Clearly, Indian marketers are grappling with the big question – to attend or not to attend? Meanwhile, clients from markets on our left and right, up and down, are strategising on ways to find the best creative result during the seven days spent in the Cote d’Azur.


However, the challenge for most is to put all that inspiring work to actual use. And here’s how some intend to do it. “We are not going to come in like the advertising people who get inspiration and go back home to figure it out. We will have a very structured approach with sessions of inspiration followed by sessions of perspiration, daily.


It’s my responsibility during the week to ensure that Cannes becomes a truly business building program for us,” said Mr Lucio of Visa. In other words, for marketers to take Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity seriously there must be “enough perspiration to pay for the inspiration.”


Fair enough.


Source: The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.