June 17, 2013

Cannes highlights, from the new world of Web video to an ‘awesomer’ world

Posted by: in Europe|North America

This week Cannes is hosting its 60th annual advertising extravaganza, and we’ll be posting on some of the highlights. In a morning session today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Yahoo! VP Erin McPherson talked about the shift to video consumption online and on mobile. “Video is critical to Yahoo!’s vision,” said McPherson, head of video at the Web company. “We are committed to sourcing, developing, producing and broadcasting video content.” One Web series Yahoo! is bringing to life this fall is Ghost Ghirls, a comic endeavor backed by actor, producer and musician Jack Black.

McPherson pointed to the benefits of Web series, extolling the speed—the first 12 episodes of Ghost Ghirls were written in one month and shot in three weeks—and fluidity. “We’re able to experiment and listen to our audience in real time and optimize accordingly,” McPherson said, noting that brands are underwriting this kind of innovation. Black, meanwhile, talked about finding content he wants to produce: “If you ever detect a whiff of desperation, that’s usually a good sign it’s not something you should pursue. … You have to wade through a lot of shit to get to the diamond.”

In addition to video, Yahoo! is investing in what we termed News Bites—summaries of articles for on-the-go reading—in one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2013. In March, the company acquired Summly, reportedly for a hefty $30 million, from teenager Nick D’Aloisio, who also participated in the panel. The digital wunderkind, who founded Summly at age 15, said he’s trying to make the exploding digital world small again through personalization and summarization. “Time’s the new currency, right?” D’Aloisio said, explaining that he’s trying to give people back time.

Coca-Cola, named Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes, hosted a session on “Work That Matters,” showcasing its commitment to campaigns that make a difference in the world. The presenters echoed the notion that doing good and promoting purpose makes good business sense—an ethos we spotlighted in our trend Rise in Shared Value in 2012. Coke spotlighted its new global campaign, Play Fanta, which centers around a nine-chapter story about a group’s quest to save their world after play disappears and features playable content across platforms. The campaign fits in with one of our 10 Trends for 2013, Play As a Competitive Advantage, which predicts that more adults will infuse their lives with play and unstructured time, a way to foster imagination, creativity and innovation.

Continuing on the theme of play, documentary filmmaker Mary Mazzio kicked off JWT’s seminar, “Meet the Parents,” with some thoughts on the dearth of playfulness in the lives of today’s children. “Everything is so scheduled, kids don’t play by themselves anymore,” she said. “It’s not good from a creativity standpoint.” Added Mazzio, “If your kid says, ‘I’m bored,’ too bad—find a way around it.”

The seminar looked at key lessons today’s creative minds learned early on. “Our parents are the ones who protect us from the enemies of creativity,” said JWT North America Chief Creative Officer Jeff Benjamin. The most important lessons Benjamin learned from his parents? The notion of being scrappy and the joy of doing it yourself. Among those joining Benjamin was Internet star Kid President (aka Robby Novak), whose “I am kid president” campaign champions the idea that kids can change the world and seeks to empower them to do just that. All suited up for his Cannes appearance, Novak declared, “We need to make the world awesomer!”

Image credit: Fanta

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