As Havas global director Marc Maleh rightfully notes in his Cannes Lions president’s message, it’s been quite a year for data. “We read headlines involving Equifax, Uber, Whole Foods and Yahoo and most notably Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and GDPR,” he notes. “Brands know more than ever about consumers but consumers are also savvier, and have new expectations around how they interact with brands and how the information that brands collect is used. Consumers continue to crave experiences from brands and demand multi-platform content as opposed being told about products and why they should love them.” This makes the Creative Data Lions - for which he is jury president - one of the most intriguing awards to watch at this year’s festival. How have brands navigated this minefield to use data both effectively and ethically?
LBB’s Alex Reeves asked Marc for his thoughts as he heads into the dark of the jury room.
LBB> How are you preparing for your stint leading the Creative Data jury this year?
MM> Judging for Cannes starts before you even get off the plane. As jury president, it’s important for me to spend a little bit of time getting to know the other folks on the jury as well as their backgrounds so I can better facilitate meaningful discussions about the work.
LBB> Use of data has been receiving a lot of attention this year - not necessarily for good reasons! How do you think Cambridge Analytica and the mainstream discussion of data around things like GDPR will play into your jury deliberations?
MM> Leveraging data through advanced techniques in media and advertising is nothing new. However, the backlash arises when those brands and organizations use this technology unethically. The silver lining from this turmoil is that we might see companies develop imaginative ways to safeguard data and give end-users more control over what they share. Call it the humanizing of creative data.
LBB> Artificial intelligence is a tool inherently linked with making sense of data. What sort of uses of AI and machine learning are you looking for from entries?
MM> Rather than start with I am looking for I’d prefer to articulate what I’m not. Buzzwords without substance. Case studies that boast they’ve utilized machine learning or AI but in fact, have not, will get a lot less love from me. That said, I’ll always enthusiastically endorse work that not only incorporates data and modern AI systems as an added bonus, but as a native facet of the initial idea.
LBB> How can you tell whether data is being used well as an intrinsic part of a creative campaign, or just because it's available?
MM> If you were to remove a data set or AI system and the concept itself falls apart, then you’ve arrived at an idea that relies on data as its central premise. It’s just that simple.
LBB> Last year's Grand Prix in the category went to Whirlpool's 'Care Counts' from Digitas. Is there anything in that that you'll be looking for in the work this year?
MM> I loved that work. Maybe because I’m a dad or maybe because it’s an interesting use of fairly simple technology that serves a greater purpose. But again, that was an idea that required data and technology implementation to succeed. If they had not used it to present the connection to attendance, the entire concept would have failed.
LBB> What words of advice will you be giving to your jury?
MM> I would say that people should pace themselves and make sure they are giving each case study the attention it deserves. Also, while at Cannes, take advantage of the breadth of ingenuity, art and intelligence. Go out and meet all those smart, creative people and consider attending events that pique your interest (if you have time). Don’t just show up to your agency party. Branch out! Afterwards, I would recommend people take the time to share the inspired work they saw with their peers back home who did not have the privilege of attending. So often we live in our own bubbles and don’t take the time to appreciate work from other regions or clients.
LBB> You'll be locked inside for a lot of Cannes 2018, but how do you hope to spend your time when you're not in the jury room?
MM> In the sun with friends and peers away from technology.
LBB> Outside of your jury, what do you think subjects Cannes 2018 will be abuzz with?
MM> I think a lot of people are going to be talking about GDPR with its recent launch. Specifically how it will impact brands’ communication strategies across Europe. Additionally, many will probably be discussing the recent, positive news regarding net neutrality here in the US.