At Cannes, Brands Find Themselves Redefining the Boundaries of Advertising


As this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity comes to a close, it seems that the word ‘advertising’ is no longer big enough to encompass the varied amount of content that brands are charged to produce nowadays. 

With more distractions than ever, brands are fighting for consumer attention as they expand from traditional media into more mobile and social endeavors. Ad content needs to be more fluid, and with that, Cannes needs to be more all-knowing. 

“The word advertising for advertising’s sake is hopefully going to die,” James Hilton, co-founder and chief creative officer AKQA told AdAge. “Brands are producing things that contribute to people’s lives and the time of advertising as interruption is very much over. It’s time for festivals like Cannes to redefine what the word advertising means.”[more]

Top of mind for many advertisers, digital campaigns like Intel’s “Beauty Inside” and Oreo’s “Daily Twist” took home the festival’s Cyber Grand Prix, a category that has been hotly contested as the digital definition continues to grow. 


“Cyber has become a Frankenstein’s monster of an award as skills and applications expand. More stuff gets bolted onto the award, so I think it requires an entire rethink not just of cyber, but also the awards structure,” Hilton said. 

In a world where social media is ubiquitous, audiences are fickle and on-the-go, and brands and agencies are being welcomed as content creators, both brands employed a unique approach to garner attention and renew interest. 

“Beauty Inside” is a ‘social film’—a riff on Ovid’s Metamorphosis to depict ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’—a play on Intel’s “Intel Inside” tagline. At the other end of the creative spectrum, Oreo’s “Daily Twist” celebrated the brand’s 100th birthday for 100 days with daily posts of their signature cookie reflective of current events, culminating with an Oreo in rainbow colors to celebrate Gay Pride Week and a staged finale with the final cookie being created in real-time in New York’s Times Square. 

Both campaigns showed “how big a proposition it is when you merge web, mobile and social together,” notes AdAge, but not all campaigns are as engaging. “Just because something is on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t make it modern or social. You need to apply proper rigor and apply human protocols to the idea,” Hilton commented. 


LinkedIn CEO along with Razorfish Global CEO Bob Lord, and Citi Bank’s Global Venturing head Vanessa Colella spoke further on social campaigns. While Lord said its about creating engaging content, Colella cautioned that “merely creating and putting out content, which weaves a brand’s values and proposition, is not enough. The content on the platform needs to be nurtured and cared for, much like a plant, to ensure it leaves an impact.” 

Brands should spend at least 10 percent of their time on experimenting, said Lord, who said many of their best ideas are coming from interns and 19-year-olds who “organically live in the social world and understand it without any skill sets.” That praise was echoed by Tumblr founder David Karp, who told the crowd that advertisers are “more talented than any one in the Tumblr office or in Palo Alto or Sunnyvale. We’re constantly in awe, constantly in service.”


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