Every year at the Cannes Lions festival there’s an inexplicable divide between tech companies and creatives. The festival is a rare opportunity to explore the creativity behind the ads, and the rapid advancements in tech which can make new stuff happen, so it’s a mystery to me why the two groups remain so polarised. It’s about time these two worlds collided.
I’ve worked on the tech side for creatives for the past 20+ years mediating (or, often, translating) between the two worlds. This year, in the spirit of unity, progress and better ads, I’m sharing my tips ahead of the festival to bring the two worlds together.
Creatives, see my tips below on making the most of tech’s opportunities. Tech people, scroll down to see how to connect with the creatives on the Croisette.
Creatives, You Need to Read This
1. SEE PAST SEXY
It can be easy to get drawn in by flashing lights, futuristic headsets and sci-fi wizardry and ignore everything else. Whilst VR, AR and AI are all important trends to get our heads around, you shouldn’t overlook the functional tech companies. If you’re running big projects, you’ll always need to have a platform underneath that. There are some huge developments happening in the worlds of media sharing and reviewing software, versioning and project management. These could be game changers for you, and this is your opportunity to understand what they could offer. Don’t miss out.
2. HAVE A GANDER AT GAMING
There’s a lot of exciting things going on in gaming at the moment. As gaming becomes ever more realistic, immersive and cinematic, there are huge opportunities for advertisers, and for picking up tips about digital storytelling.
If you haven't ever played on a console, do it now. Kick your kids off their consoles and have a go at Minecraft, Overwatch or even the venerable World of Warcraft. The size and scope of these titles are amazing. Just don’t blame me for teenage meltdowns when you get hooked.
On mobile, fully immersive games and augmented reality based games are changing the ways we interact with stories and brands. Last year, the Pokemon Go explosion, which saw the masses hunting Pokemon and following stories IRL proved you can bring virtual games and stories into the real world and change behaviour. This is not to be underestimated! The Cannes Lions festival is your opportunity to find out: if it worked for Pikachu, what could it do for you?
3. DON’T VEER AWAY FROM VR
The take up on VR hasn't been as quick as people were hoping for, but it’s not about to go away either. As the tech becomes more affordable over the next few years, the platform will get wider adoption. So make sure to soak up the discussion at this year’s Cannes Lions. Will we soon enter the Ernest Cline, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor worlds of immersive VR? I hope not, but VR is yet another fairly untouched platform to advertise into: who knows where that could take you as a brand. Now is the time to understand its potential.
4. TALK ABOUT TARGETED TV
The world of TV advertising is evolving and it’s time the world prepares for more targeted TV ads. Yes I use the word TV - ads are still being shown on screens via Chromecast, Fire Stick or native ‘smart’ TV Apps on resolutions up to 4k. Your ad is competing for eyeballs: never has there been a time where the creative and the quality of ads have mattered so much. Whether it’s targeted to your postcode or IP address, your ad has to look and sound amazing. At the Cannes festival this year it would be smart to seek out the tech guys that can help answer the question: how do we get those eyeballs advertised to?
No matter what people say, this is the golden age of TV. Not only are programmes better than ever, but more and more people can watch what they want, when they want. As ads become more targeted, there won’t just be one version, there will be an explosion of targeted versions. Depending on whether or not you’ve invested in understanding the tech behind it, as creatives you’re heading into a new world of exciting opportunities and an even higher demand for content! Managing the complexities of such a system will eventually need the likes of IBM’s Watson and Google’s Deepmind. They’ll be at Cannes. Don’t miss them.
Tech Companies, You Need to Read This
Tech companies that don’t go to Cannes Lions are potentially missing out on a huge area of revenue. The advertising world is always looking to create something that hasn’t been done before. If you can offer them a way to do something revolutionary, they’ll make plenty of time for you, not to mention money.
1. FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE
The people creating content are the people you want to reach. Ultimately, these are the guys whose lives you’ll be able to make easier. If you can sell it to them, they’ll sell you into their business for you.
2. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE FRINGE
A lot of the big tech companies set up ship in the pavilions. Whilst there are many interesting creative delegates to meet, you shouldn’t underestimate who’s out on the fringe. Many legacy creatives and Heads of TV (ultimately the gatekeepers to the budget) spend most of their time away from the Palais, up in the hills, on yachts and at the fringe. These are people you don’t want to miss. Tear yourself away from the Palais, and explore the rest of Cannes Lions.
3. GET THE WOW FACTOR
As much as creatives need to learn to ‘see past sexy’, at the end of the day they’re in advertising and their game is visuals. You’ve got to do something to catch their eye before you’ll catch their attention with your product amongst the other exciting goings on at the festival.
And Finally, Everyone Needs to Read This
ASK YOURSELVES ‘WHAT IS THE BIG IDEA?’
When it comes to success in advertising, for tech and creative to work in harmony there must be a proven and brilliant idea that works across all mediums. We’ve all seen creative ideas fail because the tech can’t support it, or cool innovations fall flat because the concept is weak. Cannes is a great place for everyone to get inspired, so get out there, see the work, and understand what you need to make great things happen.
And if this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship for any of you, I’ll be on the LBB Beach all week. You can thank me over a beer.