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A view from the Festival: Lions Innovation and China Day

The team behind the Cannes Lions Live blog deliver their round-ups of the fourth day of the Festival.

created on Wednesday 21 Jun 2017

Day four of Cannes Lions opened with an inspiring talk from neuroscience professor and Founder of Lab of Misfits Beau Lotto on the Inspiration stage, who debated a rather controversial subject: “Data is meaningless’. 

Beau argued his point by questioning the audience’s perception with a number of visual animations, such as light dots that appeared to change when surrounded by a different colour, despite not changing. He explained this through the theory that data is all the same, but the brain sees it differently due to tis own history and experience. Therefore the brain perceives a meaning through what it seemed was useful in the past – not a true meaning of the data.

“I hope you now know less than you knew at the beginning,” he said before the end of the mind-bending session. “Enter conflict with doubt, with questions and not knowing than the answer to the questions.”

The fourth day of Cannes Lions also gave host to China Day, a day dedicated to putting Chinese creativity and innovation under the spotlight, and midday saw a panel talk on the possibility of foreign brands successfully navigating the power of the eastern giant. Introduced by Chinese corporate and marketing communications industry luminary, Serge Dumont, panel guests comprised Sophie Shao, Chief Marketing Officer, Midea, and Nils Andersson, regional creative president of TWA Asia.

The pair discussed what global marketers can learn from China, with Sophie telling attendees that she believes Chinese companies apply or express themselves creative differently. “For instance, how to solve a problem and tackle business opportunity - this is rooted into Chinese culture and background,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Nils got somewhat enraged about a question that compared the creativity of China to India and Thailand, due to his belief that the advertising and marketing industry in China is way too young for comparisons, being merely 15 years old. “For China it’s just the beginning,” he snapped. 

The session came to an end with Sophie quoting a friend in reference to Chinese advertising and marketing techniques: “It’s all about 10 percent knowledge and 90 percent sweat,” she said. “Applying really simply framework – advertising is all about connecting with consumers, being relevant and unique and also credible – but finding a sweat spot between the three” she concluded.


The day came to an end with creative legend Sir John Hegarty interviewing Neil Waller, the co-founder of an innovative marketplace for creators with influencers called Whaler on the Innovation Stage. 

Being what has to be one of the stage’s busiest talks of the week so far, the pair discussed how the world of influencers can help liberate brands to connect better with audiences. exploring the relevance of the modern creation of influencers. The main thread of the chat was how brands can flourish by finding great content and putting it on great channels to help it to travel far and inspire others. 

To conclude the final day of Lions Innovation, the session came to an end with the pair making a strong point around ethics of influencers, and if there is risk that they are duping audiences with native advertising – that is - pretending content is real when really it’s a paid advertisement. 

Expressing that brands can really benefit from leveraging the power of social influencers who are truly fans of their work, Neil also stressed the importance that everything is out in the open when it comes to such collaborations, and when done properly it can drive “real relevance”, otherwise it could destroy the brand.