Flipboard at Cannes Lions 2018
Our communications designer, Ben Wasserman, reflects on the conversations, connections and creative we shared in the South of France.
Flipboard showed up to Cannes Lions this year with a number of goals: to be inspired, foster new connections and make a statement. As a creative, I shared those goals and came with some of my own: discover best-in-class creative and insights to bring home as we continue to shape our brand and voice.
At Flipboard, we’ve drawn inspiration from campaigns and activations that shifted marketing from acts of “communication to demonstration,” as Stacy Minero, Director of Brand Strategy at Twitter detailed in her Cannes panel on Brand Purpose in 2018. Spotify’s “I’m with the Banned,” campaign, Google’s “Year in Search” and “Make Google Do It,” and Giant Spoon’s #SXSWestworld were some of the leaders this year. This emotional and captivating work inspired us to take our message to the Croisette.
We displayed 15 curated collections along the Croisette for a variety of agencies, brands, groups of people and individuals to celebrate their achievements over the past year. From people making money moves (s/o Cardi B), to the agencies who we knew would win big at Cannes (s/o Giant Spoon), to the leaders in more ethical business practices (s/o Keith Weed) and to the Jet-Lagged Insomniacs — we promoted these collections on poles along the Croisette to drive awareness of our curation, but also to shamelessly show our support and admiration for these groups and people.
The collections, which you can view here, are an example of what we do best: curation. We use technology and algorithms in collaboration with editors to create collections of content curated by real people with knowledge, perspective, integrity and purpose.
In addition to sharing these collections on Flipboard and our social channels, we partnered with MOO to create a set of NFC-enabled cards that, when tapped against your phone, automatically open the curated collection on your screen. These cards lived in the MOO space outside the Palais throughout the week, where we also hosted daily “Curated Conversations” with partners and industry leaders.
The first of these sessions was between our Managing Editor, Gabriella Schwarz, and Adweek Creative and Innovation Editor David Griner to discuss trends in storytelling for brands and publishers. While the industry has over-rotated on metrics at times, Griner emphasized the importance of quality and said, it was important to be “informed by data but not driven by data.” If you only follow the numbers, he warned, “you will go to some dark places very quickly.”
On Tuesday, Flipboard’s Chief Strategy Officer Mike Owen spoke with Celtra Founder and CEO Mihael Mikek about how he sees brands navigating the competitive landscape as a creative-first ad platform. He advocated for brands to take note of the ever-changing mobile environment as a tool for communication and creativity. There’s “no way to succeed with a one-message-fits-all” approach, he said.
On Wednesday, Gabriella led a discussion about fostering a creative culture with Janet Balis, Global Advisory Leader for Media and Entertainment at EY, and Mike Allen, co-founder of Axios. They discussed the value of diversity in your career and how best to operate a new company that stays true to its values.
Later Wednesday, Nicole McCormack, our SVP of Strategy and Operations, led a panel at Brand Innovators with 8 industry leaders centered around driving digital innovation and transformation. A key takeaway from the panel: transformation is a process that needs to persist, it’s not something that you finish.
On Thursday, I sat down with Brendan Stephens, Global Creative Director at MOO, and Chris Lane, Global Head of Digital and Brand Marketing at Fiverr, about purpose-driven design, business and marketing strategies. We spoke at length about what it means to be a purpose-driven brand in 2018, how it affects them as consumers and creatives, and how their purpose comes through in the products and services they offer.
We also took time while in the South of France to reach out to our clients, partners and friends. We hosted a dinner in Antibes to celebrate the work they are doing in an intimate setting. We have always valued these smaller, more personal gatherings to the large spectacles that Cannes and other industry events have become host to over the years. While nobody can deny the allure of a ferris wheel or an 80’ yacht, some of our most treasured partnerships and quality conversations have stemmed from dinners like this one.
As we’ve done at previous events, we prepared “mindset kits” for our guests, containing a number of products and offerings to help them recenter, refocus, and find calm amidst the chaos. For Cannes, these kits included 1 year of 10% Happier (Dan Harris’ meditation app for skeptics ), Saje Natural Wellness’ Brainstorm Mists (a crowd and Flipboard favorite), and sleep masks — all bundled in our classic Flipboard tote bags.
For those back home who weren’t able to join us in France, we hand-delivered Rosé and personalized notes in the same Flipboard totes to show that we were still thinking of them.
In retrospect, we had an amazing week surrounded by inspirational people. As a first-time Cannes-goer (see our First-Timers magazine here), I arrived with no expectations, lots of sunscreen and enough excitement to annoy any seasoned vet. While others have focused their recaps and reviews on smaller attendance numbers and agency presence, I left feeling more inspired and creative than I did when I arrived. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Till’ next time, Ben Wasserman & Flipboard for Brands