Cannes Lions 2018 | Three Important Learnings for Executives
Cannes Lions is like the Oscars of advertising, coupled with a large conference, mixed with a networking event. Primarily for the benefit of big media companies, why should anyone outside of communications and marketing be interested?
The marketing and communications industries are very much the first responders to disruption in the business world. Keeping up with the newest tech, the latest cultural trends, and the general sentiment of different markets is vital to the day-to-day operations of all businesses. Watching how they respond provides a litmus test for the challenges other companies are about to face in the next few years.
Trust; earned, not expected
This is a hot topic in the business world. Building and maintaining trust in a brand doesn’t just happen. Social media can drag a company into a messy situation through the actions of staff or third-parties associated with (and sometimes unassociated with) the brand. A great example is when Burger King was thrown into the firing line for an obscure and offensive advert during the World Cup.
Burger King, of course, has the team and loyalty to deal with this, but most others don’t. Companies need to realise that trust is built through long-term, authentic communication. It’s too late to find friends when you need them – those relationships need cultivating.
Just like big consumer brands working to authentically connect with their customers to maintain market share, all non-consumer companies need to work hard at connecting with their stakeholders and shareholders.
Without diversity, life would be very boring
It’s not a surprise that diversity in the workforce was a big topic this year. Gone are the days of having to provide a business case for diversity; research paints a very clear picture; a diverse company has a greater chance of success. As developing countries develop maturing markets, western-focused communications become less and less relevant.
From a PR perspective, a good example of this is the Billabong Ballito Pro surf competition gender pay gap debacle. It is not only affecting the organisers but also their parent company and sponsors. The effect of this isn’t just a temporary drop in share price. Community backlash has reacted by leaving negative Google reviews about the companies involved, and finding sponsors for the organisers of WSL Australia/Oceanic may be harder for the next few years.
Changes – not just recognising change, but acting on it
Disruption leads to transformation. If your business isn’t changing, then it’s probably not tackling the disruption. The most common reaction to disruption is to wait and watch what your competitors do, then follow those who do well. However, this ‘playing it safe’ attitude can come at a cost; opportunities are missed of course, but it also means you’re ploughing someone else’s furrow and tending away from your core business.
Tackling disruption requires balancing competition observation with creative thinking around your company’s unique place in the market. What opportunities are arising that your company is specifically suited to explore?