“TEN BLUE LINKS”. MY CONCLUSIONS AS A CANNES LIONS 2016 CYBER JURY MEMBER.
- In 5 years we won’t be awarding campaigns but augmented human beings.
- Our body is the interface.
- We’re moving from a mobile first, to an AI first world.
- The paradigm has shifted: science-fiction is being replaced by fiction-science.
- Unlike some big networks, which are still desperate because they do not know how to survive in this new technological environment, the Cannes Lions Festival understood how to evolve. The fact that the most important Grand Prix (Innovation) was awarded to Deepmind’s AlphaGo project, is a clear and convincing proof. With that award, Cannes highlights AI as the platform for humankind’s next leapfrog.
Cannes crowning Machine Learning (in case you still have any doubt, also “The Next Rembrandt” and its multiple Grand Prix and Gold Lions counts as evidence) as the hottest paradigm of the software world: using learning algorithms (“learners”) and tons of data to “teach” software to accomplish any task. The festival understands what is at stake: the creation of a super brain. A true path towards imbuing humans with the powers of super-computers that will potentially transform us into Übermensch (and not in a poetic, Nietzschean way).
- For the big networks, Lions are an ISO that serve to demonstrate that advertising still has a valuable asset (storytelling). For the Cannes organization, more and more Lions are moonshots. A bid for finding systems that are going to be transformative in everything from medical diagnoses to driving our cars.
- If Cannes Lions would happen to be a movie, the new leading roles would happen to be venture capital firms, engineers, coders, scientists, philosophers, and journalists.
- Cannes Lions is no longer about campaigns but game-changing systems.
- We should start thinking about the moral component of an idea, as another element of the campaign. Any idea in 2016 must have mobile features, video features, maybe some old media features, and overarching all the executions, a moral component. Big tech companies already started hiring philosophers.
- Apart from super specialized agencies, some big networks still don’t have a deep knowledge about new technologies or do understand how to use them. That is why big tech companies are increasingly winning more lions. Google won a GP last year, this year, 3.
It’s Moore’s Law, dear friends, Moore’s Law.
- The advertising industry should strive to learn how to fully exploit the infinite granularity of mainstream platforms like Search, Facebook, Android, Twitter, Airbnb, Spotify, etc.
Historically, our industry had no desire to invest in education or to learn.
Either we change our habits or we change our habits.
- We still don’t quite understand how complex will be working with VR.
Content will shift from linear stories to decision trips. More power to the user. Brands will no longer decide where the story is going, or when the story ends.
- There’s an entire business in just answering questions.
And almost no brand is taking advantage of this low hanging fruit.
- More and more, the quality of an idea (to Cannes Lions standards: a Gold Lion or a Grand Prix) depends on how it relates to the user’s context (where is the user located, whether it rains or it’s sunny, whether the user checked in on his or her social network or not, etc). Dialogues between brands and users are being replaced by micro-dialogues, and connection sessions are being replaced by micro-moments. The new consumer’s journey is fractured into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven instants: small interactions that are the direct result of our growing attention deficit.
In an attempt to find the recipe for success, I would say: increasingly, everything will become liquid video + context.
- The FOMO, our augmented existence thanks to the steroids of technology (e.g., from friends to hyper-friends thanks to Facebook, from fun to hyper-fun thanks to VR), and the exponential growth of connectivity (second screen, third screen, fourth screen), have forever ended the possibility we humans had to concentrate on one thing for a respectable period of time. So potentially all content is gonna become snackable.
- While I firmly believe that we should get used to quickly launch our ideas, and iterate them until we find its perfect cooking point, we should not trivialize the use of new technologies. I saw many projects whose core technology was VR. The experiences were poor, appallingly produced, and dishonest with the user. Which brings me to an obvious and sad conclusion: we still think people are stupid. As when in 1950 a TV ad claimed that happiness depended on having a washing machine, in 2016 we claim that happiness depends on having connected pegs that will let us know when it’s the best time to hang our kitsch underwear in the clothesline.
- Apparently, we have no moral limits when the goal is to come back from France with a lion in our suitcases.
I was heartbroken after seeing how many companies, brands, agencies and creative teams, haven’t the slightest ethical filter when it all comes to exploiting some of the most painful human tragedies (the “Refugees” theme won this year’s debauchery Grand Prix) in a whimsy and sensationalist manner.
- Perhaps that is the main problem: the lion is the brief.
When it should be the grand finale of a honest work, born out of real user’s needs, flawlessly executed, and with no cheap shots.
- Speaking of cheap shots: never before in my life have I seen such cheesy soap operas, like the ones I saw out of video cases created for winning a lion abusing from a social cause. Thanks to the sagacious guide of Chloe Gottlieb, our President, the Cyber jury understood that we should separate the creative idea from the social cause. Suddenly, all the cheaters disappeared in one fell swoop.
- It has become almost impossible to sell bad products or services.
I define bad products or services as unnecessary products or services. Good ideas come with it’s own marketing built-in.
Airbnb, Uber, YouTube, Snapchat (although sometimes they make campaigns) do not need to advertise their services.
That’s why the industry should stop seeing itself as a provider of communication campaigns, and start seeing itself more as a giant network of new business’ incubators.
“Increasingly a brand is defined by what a product actually delivers, not by how the marketers tell us how we should feel about it”.
- That brings us to another major issue that remains unanswered.
The traditional business model of advertising agencies is on its deathbed. What new model will replace it? How will our work be charged? With shares of the startups we should be creating for the brands we work for?
- The word “fee” seems out of context.
Let’s be honest and talk about tips.
- The problem is not the user or the financial system.
Agencies are not an innocent little girl in the clutches of an evil wolf.
Some of them simply ceased to be efficient because instead of paying attention to users, they continued paying attention to brand managers.
Internet meant the most brutal breaking point in the history of humankind, because it handed the power to the people. The advertising industry has not yet understood that it is about time to replace the brand’s agenda for the user’s agenda.
- One night I shared the table in a nice restaurant at Rue Saint-Antoine, with a post-doctoral researcher, and an angel investor.
The researcher was in Cannes to explain the complex process behind the idea that ended up winning the Innovation Grand Prix. As her presence didn’t make sense for me, I’ve asked the angel investor, “What are you doing here?”.
“This festival is incredible because it’s constantly creating great companies that no one’s buying.”
- Those are the new tables at Rue Saint-Antoine.
Scientists, VCs, coders, engineers, philosophers.
Meanwhile, the creative flock is dining hot dogs at the carts on La Croisette. (Which is sad and unfair).
- Today Cannes Lions is SXSW + I/O + Kickstarter + Tech Crunch Disrupt+ CES + TED + Mobile World Congress. On steroids.
- Many agencies, with their great creative ideas, are proposing potentially revolutionary businesses that some day can lead to an IPO. My humble advice: the Gold Lion is not the end of the process. It’s the beginning.
It is the first check that proves that your idea may potentially become a company by itself.
- Producing truly immersive quality VR is so complex and requires so much time and investment, that I dare to say that business will be clearly outside the scope and expertise of the advertising industry.
Great quote from Björn Höglund:
Only partnering with Hollywood and gaming companies we will have the muscle to fashion those experiences.
- And I remember a knockout quote I’ve heard in a video case I got to judge: “A snowball’s chance in hell”. That is the probability our current business model has to survive beyond 2020 (vs startups).
- It also applies to the probability that most cases have to be shortlisted:
“A snowball’s chance in hell”.
With more than 43,000 pieces registered, a YoY growth of almost two digits in terms of entries, and a rate of awarded ideas that doesn’t exceed 3% of the total enrollment, you should pass your case through many filters before choosing to pay something between €500 and €1000 for submissions that most likely will harvest no fruit at all.
- Liberty, equality and fraternity are the values on which the French nation was founded. Integrity, responsibility and common sense, should be the values on which the next case you’re submitting to Cannes should be founded.
- And speaking of how to build a good video case, it’s amazing to see that in the Skip Ad era (kudos Ben Jones & Art, Copy, Code), creative teams still don’t apply that golden rule to their own work.
Time is a crucial factor in the voting process. Judges work two entire weeks (one from their homes, before arriving to Cannes, reviewing video cases at odd times, while their families are sleeping) and after a certain point on the judging process, you start hating the ideas that don’t make sense, that take advantage of others’ pain, that lie, or that simply should have never existed.
- No matter how powerful your idea is: you need to explain it in a nutshell during the first five seconds.
If in those first five seconds you’re not able to catch the attention of the jury, you’re done.
Do this exercise: whenever you think you have a good idea, force yourself to sum it up. Tweet it or Vine it. If the likes, comments or favs do not arise like a geyser, don’t bother producing it.
- When at the end of your video case you mention how incredible results your idea achieved, please do not say that you did it with zero media spend. If you decided not to spend a single dollar on such a great idea, you’re either stupid or you’re lying.
- A Gold Lion is an Aleph. It offers a brilliant solution to a real problem (from a brand or from users), with a simple and touching proposal.
Especially in the Health, Pharma, Innovation, Cyber, Titanium, and Glass categories, a Gold Lion suggests the kind of solution that politicians, scientists, or the United Nations should be proposing.
- The value of novelty of an idea, has no longer value.
The value of utility of an idea is all that matters.
- Do not treat jurors as if they were stupid or they were misinformed.
With the work you submitted, you are trying to maintain a dialogue with the smartest people in the ad industry.
- Unfortunately for creative teams, it’s not proper any more to submit the same video case to different subcategories within the same jury (e.g.: Cyber). If you’re going to enter your work in, say, the Tangible Tech subcategory, you have to explain in the first five seconds why that idea is perfect for Tangible Tech and not for Cyber in general.
- Great quote from my friend Tomás Ostiglia:
You don’t choose good work. Good work chooses you.
- Cannes may become the new Great Intersection: Scientists, Fundraisers, Media Companies and Brands.
- How may the Cyber category be measured in 2017?
“Analogue artifacts manifesting in the digital space”.
Brilliant reductionism from the one-of-a-kind Gavin Becker, Head of Innovation at Colenso BBDO, and leader of the team that created “Brewtroleum” (one of 5 greatest ideas this year at the festival), who’s for the second year in a row going back to New Zealand with a whopping 16 lions in the suitcase.
- Ad agencies are still crucial. But no longer for doing ads.
- The concentration of talent any average ad agency has is so great, that if instead of taking briefs from brands, those agencies would be taking briefs from users, they would be creating multimillion-dollar companies.
- It’s easiest than ever before to know what users want. Just be aware. Spend some time googling. Do social listening. Use the power of the web. Use the power of autocomplete. Use the power of predictive search.
- Forget everything I said above: the only thing that matters is having a good idea.
The most glorious example of this Cannes 2016 was “Manboobs” or just “Moobs”, from David Buenos Aires.
Two actors, a white background and an iPhone.
It won everything in almost every single category.
That is why although our current business model is on its deathbed, we Strategists, Thinkers, Creatives, Technologists and Producers, will have more work than ever before. Big tech companies need us to make sense of the technology they create.
- Finally: the best of Cannes Lions are not the Lions.
Neither the award shows.
Neither the talks.
Neither the celebrities.
Neither the parties.
Or the free food.
The best of Cannes Lions are not the perks.
Neither the beach.
Or to get a table at the Carlton.
Or having a mini paid vacation in France.
Or an afternoon escape to Saint Tropez or Italy.
The best of Cannes Lions are not the cinematographic restaurants of Rue Saint-Antoine.
Neither watching old people playing La Petanque.
Neither the free champagne.
The best of Cannes Lions is not having the chance of getting a cool new job. Or being just half an hour away from Cap D’Antibes, or Menton.
The best of Cannes Lions it is not taking a Uber helicopter.
Neither all the knowledge or renewed curiosity with which you return home.
The best Cannes is making new friends — that will last for the whole race.
Au revoir dear friends.
And thanks advertising for the Foie Gras.
The opinions stated here are my own, not necessarily those of my company.