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Learnings from Cannes Lions 2019

  • - Allyson Havener
  • 3 min read

Being on the croisette at Cannes Lions was much like your day-to-day back home, but with an impressive backdrop of blue sky and sandy beaches. You are constantly trying to find solutions to your most pressing problems: How do you tell a compelling story to your customers that they will actually care about? How do you establish yourself as a trusted brand amongst the noise? Why did you stay out so late last night and schedule 9:00 am meetings? You might think Cannes Lions is a boondoggle, but in reality it’s a day in the life—a dense and extremely fast-paced day. 

Here are my top takeaways from this year’s event: 

Speak to customers on their terms

It’s a balancing act to make it to all your meetings and attend sessions, but one session I didn’t want to miss was Elizabeth Rutledge, Chief Marketing Officer at American Express, and her session on human-to-human marketing in a world of technology. Rutledge reminded the audience that it’s not about you and your brand. It’s about the customer and how they interpret your brand. 

Understanding and marketing to customers the way they perceive your brand will keep the interactions very human, all while leveraging technology to create better experiences for customers as you scale your business. Rutledge mentioned, “at the end of the day, it’s all going to be about that simple, clear, and focused language to connect with the customer. You have to speak in their terms.”

Let creativity be your guide

Another thing I learned was that any noteworthy marketing campaign starts with an idea. Fernando Machado, Global CMO of Burger King, was at the LiveRamp penthouse advocating to let creativity be your guide—not technology. He says, “Don’t worry about emerging technology. Be aware of it, but start with an idea first, then use technology as a means, not an end.” Machado has led many award-winning campaigns and has won over 120 Lions at Cannes Lions — including the Creative Brand of the Year award this year. His campaigns, including “Google Home of The Whopper” and “Traffic Jam Whopper” started with an idea, then used technology to support the execution. 

Take control of your Mar Tech destiny

Lastly, looking at the technology landscape, complexity is everywhere. Ironically, platforms are trying to over simplify their solutions, which adds more to the complexity as marketers become confused by the use cases each tech platform can actually support. Each technology category that you understood existed is actually more broad or starting to converge. Technology platforms are trying to be everything to everyone, but what you realize is, they aren’t doing it well. As the swim lanes blur, more and more marketers will start to bring capabilities in-house because they can trust it and better control it. 

With constant changes in technology and upcoming regulations, the industry is on shaky ground making everyone nervous, however light exists at the end of the tunnel. Putting customers first and being honest with them in all you do will ensure that the path is well-illuminated. 

Join us at RampUp New York on September 18 for more insightful conversations and to hear the latest in marketing technology trends.