Day five of Cannes Lions opened with the Lumiere Theatre packed to the rafters waiting for Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, Keith Weed to take the stage and tell attendees what it is that’s keeping the world’s second largest advertiser up at night. Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post, Lydia Polgreen also joined the talk to explore the breadth of issues associated with brands and publishers across our creative landscape.
Keith kicked off the session by talking us through the three main things he believes are keeping brands awake at night. The first, he said, is “joining the dots of the digital industry, followed by the second: “embracing diversity and culture”, that is, the need to embrace everything around us and how reflect this in the industry so that we ‘unstereotype’ advertising.
And the third and final thing keeping brands like Unilever up at night is “reimagining creativity”, which Keith said refers to “breaking through the clutter and getting noticed”, something that has never been so hard to do in recent years. “We want people to better connect so that they care and spend time with our brands,” he adds.
The Lumiere Theatre’s Unilever talk was shortly followed by two very prestigious guests, the legend that is Sir Ian McKellen alongside television producer Gary Reich, both introduced by Jackie Stevenson, global managing director of the Brooklyn Brothers.
The talk centred around how brands must tell honest stories to connect with audiences, and if a brand isn’t about genuinely understanding their audience, then it will go wrong – it’s time for them “to come out of the closet”, Ian said.
The takeaway message was for future brands to not label society, especially in terms of sexuality, as the next-gen is “resisting labels massively”.
The session concluded with the speakers talking up their project called #LGBTheroes, which aims to break stereotypes and see LGBT people in ways we’ve never seen them before, such as the next action hero as a gay man or super hero as transsexual.
“There’s never been a more important time to be aspirational; to tell a story and tell it from the heart, so if we can unite brands with that purpose and come behind them, I think we could change the world, and save people’s lives,”
The audience was told to send us your thoughts on diverse heroes they’d like to see in the future via social media with the hashtag #LGBTheroes
Before the sun began to descend over the Palais des Festivals and the day came to a close, the Entertainment in Focus stage in Lions Entertainment saw Josh Rabinowitz, 2016's inaugural Lions Entertainment for Music Jury President, give a presentation entitled 'A Biased History of Music and Advertising'. With a bunch of insightful anecdotes and an insider's perspective to advertising in the music industry, Josh kicked off his talk announcing:
“Let’s talk about jingles!” He added: “They aren’t that pervasive anymore but they were once ‘the thing’ [but] if you were in music and advertising in the ‘70s and ‘80s you were a jingle person.”
He showed off several videos of some of the most famous jingles ever recorded, including the Coca Cola ad ‘I Want to Buy the World a Coke’, which he explained as such an explosive success that they decided to record a version without the Coke lyrics, as a single.
“The first band to do this was the Hillside Singers, which went to number one in several countries. The New Seekers, who were original artists who recorded the jingle, also rereleased it and in the UK, it went on to sell a million copied.”
However, he noted that the song was in fact based on a song called True Love and Apple Pie by Susan Shirley, despite many thinking it was created for that specific, iconic Coca Cola jingle, highlighting that despite influential ads being great publicity for music, there comes a time when ads need music to be successful, too.
The session ended with a question from the audience, asking Josh : “Can a brand be damaged by bad choices in music?” He agreed, using the recent Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner as an example: “Compared to the infamous ‘I Want to Buy the World a Coke’ ad by Coca Cola in 1971, the outcome is the polar opposite, it certainly can be a poor scenario when that happens.”