Wake up with The Economist at Cannes Lions 2017 — “Daniel’s Dozen” Top Takeaways

Every morning at the Cannes Lions festival, our “Wake up with The Economist” sessions featured three leading CMOs or equivalent, in conversation with Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of The Economist, or Alexandra Suich, the paper’s West Coast technology correspondent.

The backdrop — just by the beach, with the sound of Mediterranean waves as background music — was stunning, and the content was stimulating. The fifteen panellists were from Deloitte, Mastercard, Samsung Electronics, P&G, Tommy Hilfiger, Lenovo, Diageo, Johnson & Johnson, HP Inc, Burger King, Vivendi, Dell, SunTrust, Hilton and EY.

The overarching Cannes theme of creativity was explored, but conversations ranged widely depending on the individuals, their company and market.

Catch the highlights from each panel here.

Daniel Franklin’s dozen top takeaways:

1. Get used to speed

• Companies are having to move faster, because of speed of market change and spread of message, e.g. via social media
• Generational gap is getting bigger
• Need for organisations to be “always-on”
• Speed means loss of control
• Much talk of “fail fast” innovation

2. Take responsibility for growth

• It’s what business needs above all
• Trend of CMOs being styled “chief growth officers”, and being held accountable for growth
• Not just about growing market share: a rising tide lifts all boats (as Marc Pritchard of P&G stressed)

3. Embrace new technology

  • AI, bots etc are on the way: it’s early days, there’s a lot to learn
    • VR/AR: we’ve not yet figured out the right formula for it
    • Trend of aiming for seamless digital-to-physical experience (“phygital”, as Geraldine Calpin of Hilton Worldwide put it): Hilton’s app is an innovative example
    • Mobile phone is “the remote control to the world”
    • But beware of disrupting the customer experience, rise of ad-blockers: “craft v crap” (Marc Pritchard, P&G)
    • So many new platforms, tonnes of data
    • But we need to use them well — it’s an art, and often the challenge is to simplify

4. Go beyond waffle on “purpose”

  • Lots of talk about “purpose”, eg Susan Johnson of SunTrust “first purpose-driven bank in the US”, Deloitte’s Diana O’Brien, “not about making money but about making a difference”, first thing stressed by Geraldine Calpin of Hilton
    • But also talk of a “purpose backlash”, it has become a buzzword 
    • Similar talk (and a certain scepticism) about “authenticity”
    • The lesson on “purpose” is that being serious about it is hard work, not just slogans, requires thought, time and money, often internal focus first (spreading the idea across the company) before taking it external
Wake up with The Economist (left to right: Lucien Boyer,Geraldine Tunnell, Axel Schwan, Alexandra Suich)

5. Get serious, now, about tackling the lack of transparency

  • Candid views from Marc Pritchard of P&G on how the industry needs to get its act together to “clean up the digital supply chain”
    • Way too much fraud (up to 30% bot fraud), content on unsuitable platforms, rebates, lack of clarity on what all the millions of ad dollars are actually buying 
    • Tech companies have no real excuse for lack of transparency
    • Industry needs to get together to insist on verification, standardisation, policing
    • According to Pritchard: about half-way there, we must complete in 2017

6. Tell a compelling story

  • SunTrust created a role of “Chief Storyteller”
    • Mastercard goes even further: customers become “Storymakers”: experiential marketing
    • “Creators are our athletes” (Marc Mathieu, Samsung); a lot of young people don’t watch TV, need to create content on YouTube
    • Emotional connection is key: there’ll be “artificial intelligence” but no prospect of “artificial emotion” (Axel Schwan, Burger King)

7. Do much more on diversity

  • Much frustration: “too much talking and not enough doing”
    • We have heard the same in previous years
    • More evidence (on panel and in audience) of gender diversity than of geographical/ethnic diversity
    • Challenge: leverage ad dollars to change attitudes

8. Tap into global talent

  • Related to diversity: missing out on talent
    • Good ideas can come from anywhere in the world, need to tap into widest possible talent pool
    • Think individuals, not agencies (Marc Pritchard, P&G): “I’ve found, frankly, within the agency it’s good not to call them agencies. Who are the people in the agencies? Who are the people who are the creatives? When you start naming them individually you take out that monolithic view of agencies and that’s when you get greatness because at the end of the day creativity is a uniquely human endeavour.”

9. Be a maestro at partnerships

  • CMOs have to “conduct an orchestra”; swelling number of partnerships
    • Have to make sure all playing the same tune, the whole band on brand
    • Some are creating in-house agencies, or moving that way
    • Can move faster in-house
    • But agencies are still important, and new types of agencies in the mix too to help bring creativity
fWake up with The Economist (left to right: Daniel Franklin, Marc Pritchard, Avery Baker, David Roman)

10. Learn from your consumers

  • Call them “guests” (Axel Schwan, Burger King)
    • “Complaints are a gift. We learn from our guests”
    • Consumers increasingly saying ‘I don’t want your stupid ads’ (Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard)
    • Consumer tastes changing faster than ever

11. Juggle competing demands

  • Speed up v slow down
    • Take risks v don’t get carried away
    • Manage myriad partnerships v simplify
    • Use data v too many metrics

12. Rise to the ever-bigger challenge of being a CMO

• Role is getting wider, harder but also more exciting than ever before (Antonio Lucio, HP Inc)
• Some abandoning the title because it is too narrow
• Needs to be a business person, seen to be building the business
• Also chief personnel manager
• Chief alignment officer
• Chief storyteller
• Plus storyteller who loves data
• Continuous learning
• BUT: “We’re less important than we used to be, as marketers” (Geraldine Calpin, Hilton)

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