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'Don’t Be A Client - Be A Partner'



Global CMO’s discuss authenticity and risk on day four of Wake Up With The Economist at Cannes Lions 2017

'Don’t Be A Client - Be A Partner'
The Economist held its fourth Wake Up with The Economist panel session at the Cannes Lions festival today. Moderated by Alexandra Suich, US Technology Editor at The Economist, today’s session offered insights and anecdotes from Axel Schwan, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King, Lucien Boyer, CMO, Vivendi and Geraldine Tunnell, SVP Consumer and Small Business Marketing at Dell.
Risk taking and bravery were once again a theme on today’s panel. Burger King were this year awarded Cannes Lions Marketer of the Year, and for their marketing chief Axel Schwan, “fearlessness and boldness” are what is needed to get great creative work that stands out.
For Schwan, authenticity manifests in the creative execution. He emphasised “the best idea is worth nothing if you don’t embrace and really love the execution”. Tunnell agreed authenticity cannot be achieved without creativity, commenting, “you can tie together all the data points and still fail - that’s where the art of marketing comes in”.
Lucien Boyer argued authenticity is even more important in the entertainment industry, saying, “there is no balance, either it is fully authentic or it doesn’t exist”. Mr Boyer continued, “people might eat something if they are hungry, they might use a computer if they need one, but nobody is going to watch something if they don’t want it”. For Boyer, it is vital to remove any artificial hurdles in order to connect the artist with fans.
Lucien Boyer also discussed entertainment’s increasing relevance for brands, advising “media planning is now, entertainment planning is 5 years from now...but the brave brands should make the most of it now”. Boyer sees an opportunity for brands “to be part of the conversation, be in the content in a genuine way - not to do one transactional piece of content, but to be really part of real life”, referencing Santander’s Gold Lion at last night’s Entertainment Lions as a brilliant example of this.
On the topic of entertainment, Axel Schwan took a different angle. “Retail is detail”, he said, “the most important touchpoint we have with our guests is actually the restaurant, we have 16,000 restaurants around the world and this is where the magic happens...this is our place of entertainment”. 
Geraldine Tunnell also discussed Dell’s recent movie partnership with Sony, explaining it was important for the partnership to feel authentic, “when you do content for content’s sake, it doesn’t feel right, it falls flat”, Tunnell said. 
Both Schwan and Boyer agreed marketers should not use the word consumer, for Burger King they are ‘guests’. For Boyer, “everything starts with people”, he commented, “technology is amazing, but we talk about artificial intelligence - I’m not sure anybody will ever talk about artificial emotion...we need to work out how to combine artificial intelligence with authentic emotion”. Boyer’s wake up call to the industry? Forget about brands, forget about consumers, think about people.
Towards the end of the panel the conversation turned to brand and agency partnerships, with Schwan referring to Burger King’s agencies as “the most critical partnership we have”. Schwan continued, “If you want to be a good client, don’t be a client - be a partner...agencies are not vending machines. You can’t throw in money and hope that good work comes out” 
For Axel Schwan, PR agencies are equally as vital as advertising for a challenger brand like Burger King, “you need partners that understand the essence of the brand, that embrace it, and then the ideas will flow - it sounds almost too simple but we shouldn’t over complicate things” he said. 
Finally, circling back to risk, Schwan said, “we are always scared, because it is only when you are scared that you are flexible...fear creates energy, it keeps you awake”, he continued, “we always have a ‘play’ budget...because you need to be prepared to do things that come out of the blue”.
“Today’s Wake Up With The Economist session reminds us that agencies continue to play a vital role for brands”, said Paul Rossi, President, The Economist Group. An authentic, people-focused brand message matters and the right agency people, truly inspired, can help achieve that success.”
Tomorrow’s final Wake Up with The Economist panel will be moderated by Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor at The Economist, and includes the following world-class line-up:

Susan Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer, SunTrust
John Rudaizky, Chief Marketing Officer, EY
Geraldine Calpin, Chief Marketing Officer, Hilton
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