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Lions Innovation round up

created on Thursday 22 Jun 2017

From bots to fashion brands, Lions Innovation brought the creative, marketing and tech worlds together across two action-packed days dedicated to data, tech and ideas. 

Avery Baker kicked the event off by leading the audience through US fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger’s transition to a ‘see it, buy it,’ model. CMO Baker explained how in order to drive an innovation culture at Tommy Hilfiger, the business had focused on three main pillars: being fearless, including customers in the transition process and caring about their experience of fashion.


Having a fluid set of processes towards a common goal was paramount, alongside incredible talent and a team mentality, she explained. Hilfiger aimed to transition 70% of its business to change the consumer experience, including wholesale and launching a super speed production model.

To achieve this ambitious goal, digital commerce innovations were executed, allowing customers to shop the runway on their phones. AI in chat bot form was also introduced because for commerce, “it’s much more engaging.” Baker also advocated bravery among clients. “Retain the guts to keep pushing yourselves out of your comfort zones and change consumer expectations…disrupt or be disrupted.” 

Collaboration emerged as a strong theme across the two days. Alex da Kid joined IBM chief digital officer Bob Lord to explain how the first AI-created song was created. In a lively discussion, the British music producer predicted that there will be a “massive dynamic shift” in the music industry thanks to access to data and AI. “Seeing data visualisation for the first time was emotional for me,” said Alex. “Being able to collaborate with Watson took everything to another level.” 

Across the two days, innovators also shared best practice for maximising the potential of data. Alibaba’s Chris Tung gave a deep level of insight into the online market place’s data-driven approach. “People think we’re an e-commerce company but really, it’s a data company,” he explained. In China, there are over 500 million active shoppers on the platform, 200 million every day, which means there is a huge amount of data to work with. 

He shared that as a result, “in our world we no longer talk about IT, we talk about DT: data technology. IT helps you to manage technology but DT helps you see the future by analysing the data you have.” There are three prerequisites for marketing in the data age, he argued. “The availability of data, the completeness (being able to attribute it to real people – which could be based on transactional history, location or browsing habits). There should also be total visibility – to be able to use the data to build a brand through a marketing model that makes sense.” 

In Withinlink’s session, Bessie Lee joined Alvin Chiang and Winder Chen to question whether after decades of being labeled a copycat, the world is ready to accept China as a true innovator. According to Chiang, China has become one of the world’s leading powers. 

This is down to various factors, including the fact that “a few years back the government started to foster this spirit of innovation in schools.” The panel suggested that today, China is seeing “techno-cultural revolution.”  

For those looking to innovate, Chen advised against simply jumping on the band wagon. “Every brand is doing live streaming now – but is it right for you?” Shaoling argued that today, “a reverse innovation is taking place. It used to be China copying the world, but you’ll start to see the world adopting China’s ideas. Its going to go global.”

In amongst all the data geeks, Halle Berry and Dita Von Teese sprinkled their considerable star power on the event. Von Teese offered up her Spotify listening data in order for Spotify’s Vice President of Data Adam Bly to demonstrate the streaming platform’s belief that “you are what you stream.” In a packed session, Bly delved into her listening habits to show the audience just how much data Spotify has at its disposal, and how this can be used to personalise a users’ recommendations, plus reveal interesting insights into the user’s personality.


Lions Innovation also saw numerous live, immersive tech performances and demos. In DigitasLBI’s session, Ginger the robot thrilled the audience by leading them through mindfulness exercises and cracking jokes. It's key to consider the ethics surrounding robotics, Dr Heather Knight argued. But that said, there shouldn't be a fear of robots taking over the world. "There is a difference between Hollywood AI and this AI," she adds.

Meanwhile, creative legend Sir John Hegarty took a break from his typical place on the Cannes Lions stage to join a discussion with start-up founder Neil Waller. This was perhaps one of the boldest statements of the festival, demonstrating as it did the fact that today, the worlds of creativity, data and tech are inextricably linked.