If there's one conversation in advertising that shows little sign of ever letting up, it's the one around budgets. And it's exactly with that ever-important topic that day two on the LBB Beach at Cannes Lions kicked off.
The opening panel discussion, entitled 'Budget's Down. Pressure's Up. Who's Giving a S#*t?', was hosted Murphy Cobb Associates, with the company's CEO Pat Murphy lending his thoughts to the debate. Alongside him on the panel was Great Guns founder Laura Gregory, PwC Australia chief creative officer Russel Howcroft, Brothers and Sisters founder Andy Fowler and BT Sport head of marketing Job Crowshaw. It was chaired by LBB's editor in chief Laura Swinton.
Given the varying sectors of advertising that each panelist plies their trade in, it's little surprise that this debate stirred empassioned views and a range of opinions - even considering the early morning kick-off time.
Andy - the agency guy on the panel - spoke of his belief that "a brilliant idea is still a brilliant idea", agencies just need to tailor their thinking to adapt to different mediums. We're also in exciting times for agencies, providing they're progressive thinkers and not stuck in an "old school, linear world". That was something Pat agreed with, saying that more work will continue to come out of agencies due to what he called “bad practice”, citing a recent Hovis job with RSA Films that he was recently involved in as an example. There was no agency involved but one very happy client, reportedly.
When questioned on the sheer volume of content released by brands, BT Sport's Job said that there was a place for both beautiful, multi-million pound TV commercials and its uglier cousin, the quickly produced social content. He made no claims that the budgets of the past could ever return, but did express his belief that if an idea is good enough, they will pay to make it happen.
Russel echoed his point, exclaiming that recency and high amount of content is important - but also admitted that his point plays into the hands of people that claim creativity is no longer as important for brands. Every answer is "paradoxical" he said.
The conversation also touched upon AI and its implications on the future of creativity. The general consensus was that it needs to work side-by-side with humans, with Laura noting that no machine could ever walk into the Audi factory and spot Vorsprung Durch Technik, referencing how John Hegarty came to pen the brand's famous tagline.
Speaking of Sir John, the advertising legend was a guest on the second panel on this Wednesday in Cannes. He was joined by the CMO of The Economist Mark Cripps and Alastair Duncan from Splash Worldwide, who hosted this chat (Splash's chairman Graham Hinton introduced the chat to the audience). They set to decide if 'creativity and performance' can be friends again.
Sir John, one of advertising's most celebrated creatives, and Mark, a digital-first marketing guy, generally agreed that each other's bread-and-butter belonged to serve each other. Sir John opened with a remark deeming that "we live in a constantly false world". He was also critical of the "always-on" nature of advertising today, claiming that it's rarely necessary and is often driven by the world's big tech companies, who benefit from such content. In a comedic but relevant quip, he cited the Catholic Church as the brand he's always admired most. "Christ preached to the masses," he said. “He didn't get up and say, 'I'm looking to reach 18-25-year-olds who earn a certain amount of money…’”
The final talk of the day, right before happy hour drinks and music kicked off, came from Marine Tanguy, founder & CEO MTArt and founding partner of Visual Diet (which she presented in her session). The initiative is aimed at transforming the type of content that we consume with our eyes, from Instagram to ads and more. LBB's CEO Matt Cooper chaired a panel on the topic in the Palais earlier this week. Read more about it here
and check back tomorrow for a recap of day three on the LBB Beach.
Elsewhere on the LBB Beach, things were looking very beachy.