Thought Leaders in association withPartners in Crime

Cannes 2017: What Is the Value of a Lion?

Asset Management, distribution and software
London, UK
INFLUENCER: Richard Carter, CSO at Honeycomb, challenges award shows to reflect a new era of technology-fuelled creativity

It’s that time of year again: every pub conversation among ad industry people veers into increasingly heated debate over the value of Cannes, proving that the importance of creative awards remains a hot topic in adland. It’s true that the award show scene is saturated, and that the reasons prizes are awarded can be questionable, but despite the controversy, I believe that award shows like Cannes are still important in the advertising world. 

In an age of fast-moving tech and processes, Cannes remains one of the best opportunities of the year to share creative knowledge and see the latest developments. With programmatic and ad tech on the rise, the festival is an opportunity to understand what the industry is currently doing, and how that is going to change. Keeping on top of trends and new opportunities is more important than ever.

And let’s not forget that the creative community is exactly that: a community. Like any other community of professionals, it needs a venue where it can share knowledge, thoughts, insights and observations and a place where every member can measure themselves against the best.

However, award shows are routed in a simpler past, and in order to stay relevant, they need to keep up. Our access to audiences (and the technology we use to reach them) is changing quickly, but there is still a lot of catching up to do for award shows when it comes to tech. 

You only have to look at the music industry to see why it's so important to keep up with technology. The way music is created, consumed and shared has changed fundamentally over the last few years and the music industry simply wasn’t quick enough to react. Similar change is happening right now to video advertising - and we don't want to get ourselves into that situation. 

As we accelerate into this process, there are so many questions to be answered: who will be the incredible new creators growing up in this new world? Who will be doing the work that reflects these changes? Are the awards set up to recognise these changes and give merit where it’s due?

Who is using this new technology in new and interesting ways? If you can target people in interesting ways, who will be the creatives who do something great with this?

To understand the current conversation around creativity, it is imperative to understand who is expanding the vocabulary and who is moving the art forward. The best way that can be done is by the common acceptance of who the best practitioners are and what the best work in the industry is — judged by the industry itself. Right now, we are at an interesting nexus point, which makes the opportunity to evaluate ourselves and others even more valuable. There have been dramatic changes to the process of creating and delivering an ad over recent years but creativity must remain the driving force: while campaigns are delivered across more media platforms through increasingly complicated technology, the creative concepts at the heart of these multimedia campaigns must be increasingly strong.

As advertising moves towards a programmatic future, increasingly granular, personalised messaging will cause the industry to shift away from buying programmes towards focusing on audiences. It’s all becoming more complex, and the advertising community clearly profits from constant innovation to take advantage of these changes. Award shows and festivals are a great way to learn how the best practitioners of creativity are exploiting new opportunities technology offers. They are the perfect platform to incubate, nurture and share powerful ideas.

At the other end of the industry, technology is lowering barriers of entry to the creative process. Film-making equipment that used to cost millions is now available in a bedroom near you. More people are now able to contribute to the creative process - through ideas, trans-creation, music, soundtracks, visual effects and so on. Technology will enable localised advertising and will open opportunities for smaller businesses to become involved in video and TV advertising. It is allowing people with smaller budgets and fewer connections to put their stamp on the industry. I’m really interested to see how our community and award shows can and will embrace that. 

Creativity is innovation and inventiveness – both values at the heart of Honeycomb. We are creating new ways to complete old tasks faster, better, and cheaper, and we’re hoping that technology and the democratisation of tools will be a big topic of conversation at Cannes this year. We see programmatic advertising as the next great opportunity for the advertising industry, and we’re building some of the tools the supply chain needs to create the best audience-centric campaigns - when people think programmatic, we would like them to think Honeycomb. 

I’m sure that the value of awards will continue to be debated in the bars of Cannes this year. I’ll be flying the flag for the festival: I’m optimistic that we’ll see the awards changing to recognise and reward innovation in this new environment. Cannes must keep up to keep relevant, but I believe that by adapting and embracing changes in the industry, Cannes will continue to be an important celebration of creativity.  


Richard Carter is Chief Strategy Officer at Honeycomb.

Honeycomb provides supercharged video advertising delivery through innovative cloud-based software which reduces deadline stress with faster and more reliable QC in a more efficient and cost-effective process.