The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is no longer just a creative showcase. It is a place where, through creativity, brands can learn in what direction they should drive business.
Edelman was at Cannes again this year, and this time with 5 jurors, 22 campaigns submitted as lead agency, and 26 campaigns in partnership with other agencies. Campaigns have been entered from most of our offices in the five regions, including Italy, representing the best creative work across our global business. The firm placed 11 times on shortlists across 9 Lions where Edelman entered as the lead agency; and 45 times as partner/PR agency, which have translated into more medals across multiple categories. Check out more on our work at Cannes here.
Last week, Edelman Italy offered its clients a deep dive session with two of our jurors - Felicitas Olschewski (Head of Digital, Edelman EMEA), Jury Member for Entertainment Lions for Sports, and Manuel Frank (Global Creative Chair for Health, Edelman), Juror for the Health & Wellness category.
Hosted by Fiorella Passoni (CEO, Edelman Italy) and moderated by Veronica De Bernardi (Head of Brand, Edelman Italy), the virtual event offered to the attendees a better understanding of what happened during this year's Festival of Creativity; an overview of the emerging trends; an interesting discussion about the value of integrated work and the importance of submitting the work to awards.
For those who could not attend, we've rounded up our session into 5 key learnings:
THE ROLE OF CREATIVITY AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Always a source of inspiration and, above all, a mirror of our society, this year's festival edition was once again a moment where not only the communication agencies but also the companies paved the way of where the trends are going and what the future of creativity holds.
There were great vibes at this year's Cannes Lions, the first in-person edition after two years of virtual ones due to the pandemic - two years that have consistently shaped the work jurors have seen in 2022. What came out clearly is that the creative work that stands out is not the one that can be just labelled as purpose-driven anymore. What really makes the difference is the impact it can make together with the richness in terms of channels and media chosen by marketers to bring their (increasingly) digital campaigns to life.
BEYOND RECOGNITION: THE VALUE OF BEING SHORTLISTED OR RECEIVING AN AWARD
As a rule, winning awards - especially big, international ones – prove the world that you're leading the way for your industry and your category. It makes brands magnetic for consumers, but also for talents – increasingly difficult to find.
Besides, at Cannes the recognition is no longer only important for the agencies. There are a lot of shared benefits with the companies we work for as well, which are eligible to receive the most prestigious creative accolades, such as "Marketer of the Year".
To wrap things up, being recognized in a framework like Cannes is one of the best drivers to: getting noticed; showing that what your brand is doing is setting the bar; differentiating your work through creative problem-solving; standing out among the brands and industries seeking their audience attention in the current communications scenario.
And last but not least, it's good for business: creatively communicating what your company stands for, resonates with consumers who demand brands to be dedicated to a cause and to speak up on what people care about the most.
ACTIONS THAT DRIVE CHANGE: ANATOMY OF A WINNING CASE
“A lot of people create a lot of beautiful things. That's called art. We are about applied creativity, by which I mean the creativity at Cannes Lions has to achieve something. It doesn't exist for itself, and it definitely doesn't exist just to give somebody an award.” Philip Thomas, Chairman of Cannes Lions (The Edelman TrustMakers Podcast).
Every year at Cannes, there is an extensive discussion around this, "should our work not be more business focused instead of purpose-driven?" and "is there not a risk of a purpose-washing?". As Manuel Frank observed, among this year's 29 Grand Prix winners – namely the best of the best in their categories - 21 were purpose-driven work, but they weren’t just powerful claims, they also had a clear business impact.
Therefore, approaching purpose and business results as black or white does not benefit business nor society. Brands can do both, and they must do both. From the jurors' perspective, the work has to be daring and risk-taking; it has to produce a measurable impact on people and business.
But it's not enough: this purpose has to connect through how it is activated, what channels are used, and what are the business results. A work that wins it's a work that makes a difference in the world.
A winning case has not just to point out a problem; it must embrace the social tension while meeting the business goal and the business challenge: it must contain action, proof of that action, and the actual results. Great work that is winning awards generates a real impact in terms of achievements, a new powerful solution, whether it means changing a law, something in the system or, for example, being able to turn what seems to be a weakness into a strength.
Brands should be brave, with no fear of discussing unspoken topics or navigating uncharted waters. There’s no shame in considering the commercial impact because it is something that adds value to a case study. Combining all these aspects is crucial for a successful case study.
HEALTH IS NOW EVERYONE'S BUSINESS
As the Edelman Trust Barometer findings have already shown this year, Health is now everyone's business: a responsibility and an opportunity that applies to individuals, organizations, and societies alike.
Our colleagues have also seen this tendency at Cannes, which has opened up a big opportunity for other industries’ brands to venture into this space.
The implication of health in our lives has suddenly become extremely important: from employees’ wellbeing (including both physical and mental health), to going back to the office or social gatherings, to inequalities in access to the healthcare system and more; there are so many topics still to cover in this space, and brands are choosing to address them finding their way to do it: consistently with their point of view of the world, and by doing that in such a unique and creative manner that make people think, act and advocate.
'CAUSE WE ARE LIVING IN A DIGITAL (AND INTEGRATED) WORLD
If there is something that goes hand in hand with creative thinking is digital. As Felicitas Olschewski (our Head of Digital EMEA) has aptly described during our webinar, digital is an amplifier and is often part of the idea. This is what we do at Edelman: leverage digital at the core of an idea to activate it, harness it to tell a connected story into many channels, and use it to provide attractive creative technology solutions. And, if we think that probably 95% of how people experience communication nowadays belongs to this space, it is easy to understand that there always must be a digital component in a brand's work, particularly when it comes to creativity. Digital has the power to make the insight and the action impacting and resonating in an even stronger way (for example, providing a behavior change or letting people participate in something to become part of the brand as well).
There is a lot of integration in our work - with organizations, brands, and clients of all types. So how can you define, for example, what is communications, marketing, corporate, or brand? One massive job we do in counseling clients is to be aware of the awards categories. As we've seen this year, a brand doesn't necessarily have to be in its home category. Because with an integrated work, beautiful and perfectly executed in every aspect, that company should take a risk and try something out of its comfort zone to lead the way in a different category.
And as proof of the limitless opportunities to find the right fit in terms of award categories, this year's festival has seen the launch of the new Creative B2B Lions. A new segment to recognize creativity for B2B products and services and an excellent opportunity to see entries on more specific works – such as the Health Technology Products (HTP) in the Health industry.
WHAT LIES AHEAD: 5 PREDICTIONS FOR THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY
During our webinar, Veronica De Bernardi asked Felicitas and Manuel what we should expect in creativity for the years to come:
- Earned mindset. As the jurors at Cannes have witnessed across all categories, it is becoming harder to buy attention by relying on advertising. An earned or a PR-driven mindset is a trend we won't see going away. It requires developing a sharper, better, more straightforward storytelling that earns hearts and minds, shifting from buying people's attention with paid marketing to doing things that can change the culture and draw the right audience.
- Excellence in execution. Based on the quality of this year's work, we will definitely see more excellence in terms of execution, in choosing the proper platforms where the audiences live, and working more across these channels to understand what kind of impact they can have in bringing value to the creative idea.
- Innovation-led work.Beyond communications, having a problem-solving approach also involves innovation in terms of product development. At Cannes during this year's festival, jurors saw a great line-up of cutting-edge products (including digital services) developed to actually solve real problems and ultimately shape society.
- Gaming.Even though there is no dedicated category yet – there will probably be on in the next future - Cannes featured many case studies in the gaming sector. With great interest also in the Web3 and the Metaverse, brands are thinking more and more on how they can combine the virtual and the physical spaces.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. .It was another theme covered in Cannes that we will continue to hear about. Providing solutions to equity issues is a great example of those actions that have to drive change in society. Just as Vaseline (Unilever) has done with "See My Skin". The award-winning campaign - presented at Cannes by Edelman - was created to address a lack of diversity in terms of dermatological imagery. Find out more about the case here.
EDELMAN WORK AT CANNES 2022
Edelman won: a Gold Lion in the Sustainable Development Goals category for Vaseline's "See My Skin" campaign; a Bronze Lion for FELGTB's "#REALVOICESOFPRIDE" in the Media Lions; two Bronze Lions for National Grid's "The Green Light Signal" in the PR Lions and the Creative Data Lions; a Bronze Lion for Vaseline's "See My Skin" in the Health and Wellness Lions.
Edelman was also jointly recognized as Independent Agency of the Year for the Good Track, building on the momentum and success of last year when it was named Independent Agency of the Year for the Entertainment Track.
Check out more about this year's Edelman winning and shortlisted work here.