Cannes has always been an important week for creative agencies, but it also has growing appeal for chief marketing officers from leading companies, both as delegates and speakers. According to Philip Thomas, CEO of Lions Festivals, delegates from the marketing client community now make up roughly 25% of attendants.
They come to see what’s new; what’s making a difference or moving needles. And this year, a recurrent note in many of the sessions where leading CMOs took the stage was the need for brands to be bolder, to go beyond traditional ways of working – internally and with agencies, tech companies, start-ups and others – to achieve real business impact.
Brand leaders at Cannes seem to agree that in today’s hyper-competitive market, crafting stronger messages or campaigns alone can no longer create significant business growth. Now, the only key to growth is innovation. By rethinking and disrupting existing categories and technologies, brands can tap into new growth areas.
With increasing access to data, technology and consumer insight, the marketing function is now in a unique position to identify new business opportunities and drive business innovation. While the role used to be about orchestrating marketing efforts, the new focus for many CMOs is on using consumer dialogues to inform and stimulate market-driven innovation.
We’re seeing the emergence of “brand start-ups”: brand-driven business prototypes where communications leads the way. Not just any crazy idea or concept thrown into the void, but an initiative that builds on true market analysis and an evaluation of business potential.
And just as the marketing function is now no longer “just” about marketing, agency partners have the opportunity to think big, too: challenging ourselves and our clients to go beyond campaign creation, and working in partnership to drive business innovation.
Initiatives of this kind are already being awarded at Cannes. Our very own campaign for Swedish property portal Hemnet, House of Clicks, which won four Lions last week, is one example of a communications agency using data and insights to work with a client to carve out a completely new business sector.
In summary, we worked with leading analysts and architects to transform data from 200 million clicks on Hemnet into plans for Swedes’ dream home, based on factors such as the ideal size and style. The impact went well beyond massive media and social media reach: within weeks, hundreds of people from around the world had signed up to buy the “Hemnet Home” when it hits the market, to a value of $200 million. In addition to reinforcing a leading position in the property portal sector, we created a whole new market.
Many other winners this year are also creating real, tangible value for brands: new products, new services, a better experience and even new businesses. And this is probably just the starting point.
Let’s hack the communications toolbox!