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Ketchum: Classic Hollywood collides with YouTube at Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions seminars, snack-sized!

created on Tuesday 20 Jun 2017

At one of the busiest sessions of the day, hundreds crowded into the Lumière theatre to get up close and personal with stars of two wildly popular – albeit very different – screens. Film star Laura Dern and YouTuber Grace Helbig might have built huge followings from different worlds, but as producers, directors, actors and content creators, both, as Ketchum’s Marcus Peterzell asserted in his introduction, are “multi-hyphenate” stars.

"For years, actors succeeded by portraying other characters well. Now audiences want us to play ourselves."
Laura Dern

Peterzell opened the discussion by asking about the pair’s relationships to the branded communications industry – and both (no doubt to the relief of the Cannes Lions audience) sung its praises. “The world of brands and advertising supports film. When you love working with auteurs and directors […] part of being in your world gives us the autonomy to work independently,” said Dern. 

“People don’t necessarily want to watch commercials,” Helbig added, “but as a creator you start to realise the connection with your audience means there’s an opportunity to create revenue. We’re very mindful of the content we make with them though. As creators, you don’t want to make something half-assed.” 

When asked about the way she goes about working with a brand, Helbig said it was a fairly independent process, but that “I’ve delivered videos to clients where I’ve got notes that…don’t make sense to me,” generating one of the biggest laughs of the session. 

Dern is increasingly working with brands too, explaining, “It’s only in the last year or two that I’ve had an agent who’s in your world.” And while YouTube star Helbig has recently dipped her toe into the traditional acting pond, Dern in turn seems to be taking on a role more commonly seen among social stars: “For years, actors succeeded by portraying other characters well. Now audiences want us to play ourselves.”

Their differences were still clear, though. Specially for the talk, session hosts Ketchum PR had challenged the two to come up with a marketing idea for self-drive cars. Asked to present them to the audience in 90 seconds, Laura Dern claimed “That's too short!”, prompting Helbig to cry “I thought it was too long!” According to one audience member on Twitter, “That said it all.”

Talks and work from Cannes Lions 2017 will be available on the Cannes Lions Player.

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