It’s easy to get seduced at Cannes by the sunshine, shiny boats and abundant glasses of rosé, but there was also some great work on display at Cannes Lions 2015 and brilliant creatives were quite rightly rewarded at the Palais. This year we were also surrounded by simple, new and innovative ideas that went beyond advertising/communications into product development. No question – our business is changing and amongst the glitz and glamour, there were four themes that I think were particularly interesting.

The changing model

Although difficult to pin down as to exactly what the new model is, everyone is in agreement: there’s an urgent need for change and it’s being spearheaded by brands, media owners and agencies alike.

Interestingly, the most celebrated integrated marketing idea, this year’s Integrated Grand Prix “Emoji Ordering” for Dominos from CP+B, was the creative use of a single emoji, socially propelled to capture consumer and media attention. According to Mark Fitzloff, Cannes Lions Jury President, “We felt really good about awarding an idea that has the potential to really impact a big advertiser’s business model”.

Bob Greenberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO, R/GA, received the Lion of St. Mark for devotion and vision that has helped shape the way forward for the industry. His agency business model has transformed every nine years to ensure that it’s in tune with business change. challenged the industry to look at a new model that links brand success to ‘when it is adopted by the masses’. Will Lewis, CEO of Dow Jones, suggested that at the heart of every brand model still needs to be the story, “If you stop doing the stories brilliantly, and it’s all about cats on skateboards, then none of this will work”.

It’s clear that we need to explore new business models. New avenues for creativity. New promises. New standards. More of the same isn’t an option.

Uber partnerships

Partnerships, both likely and seemingly unlikely, were announced almost daily – all triggered by the need to connect with today’s empowered consumer. Snapchat, Daily Mail and WPP combined to form content marketing agency Truffle Pig in response to consumer craving for quality as the digital world overflows with content. is teaming up with TV’s number one daytime talk show host Dr Phil McGraw to launch a brand new daily television series in the US this autumn. Believing that this merger of brands will disrupt the current TV model, Dr Phil said, “People are less willing to sit and passively let you feed them content for half an hour, or hour, you have to have the pace of interaction”.

Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Keith Weed, launched the female-focused channel, Broadly. Keith said, “We believe that Broadly can drive purposeful, authentic and lasting conversations with our consumers, particularly the worldwide community of young women, who can now engage with content that focuses on what matters most to them”.


Awards recognised the issue of gender inequality or prejudice, the very worthy Grand Prix winner went to P&G’s Touch the Pickle campaign, created by BBDO to tackle the taboo subject of menstruation in India. Given that the first 45 minutes or so of outdoor awards on this evening were accepted by a stream of male creatives, and just two women, this is a category that’s needed for the industry, as well as the world. We should endeavour to make prejudice obsolete, but I fear it will take quite some time.

Gender equality was another big part of Richard Curtis and Sir John Hegarty’s Global Goals Campaign, a worldwide initiative aimed at raising awareness of the United Nations’ “to-do list for the planet”.

Women as a focus carried through the week – from Grand Prix campaign winners like P&G’s Always #LikeaGirl campaign and Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” featuring Gisele, to actress Samantha Morton and Dazed founder Jefferson Hack introducing the Female Firsts Film Fund, helping female directors source funding.

A higher purpose

Campaigns with a social conscience were the talk of Cannes.

P&G was the most awarded brand at the Festival, an accolade Brand Union’s global CEO Toby Southgate said is all down to brand purpose being at the heart of its advertising. “Brand purpose is not new of course – it’s a key component of contemporary brand strategy, most eloquently validated in Milward Brown Vermeer’s Marketing 2020 work. But this year’s results show that as well as being a pillar for driving commercial value and brand equity, it clearly enables and inspires the world’s best creative work too”.

David Pemsel, CEO of Guardian Media Group, talked to Johnny Hornby, Founder of The&Partnership, about the need for brands to have purpose and add value to people’s lives (watch this interview here).

While Keith Weed revealed that having a higher purpose is one of his marketing mantras for 2015Brands with a purpose do better than those that don’t”. Start thinking what you can do for the world. Marketing and sustainability should no longer work in silos.

I’ve been sharing highlights of the week with our clients and the Oystercatchers network – Cannes is a wonderful catalyst for curious minds.

Forbes has rounded up some of the great quotes from the week – click here to be inspired.

As well as the froth and glitz, there was lots of substance at Cannes this year. Thanks to everyone who made it such an exciting, informative and fun week.