What a rotter: Data and tech now key to Cannes success

BKAdland’s luvvies might not like it but it seems that data and technology were two of the biggest drivers of Grand Prix-winning work at this year’s Cannes Creative Effectiveness Awards, although amplified experiences, social causes and agile creativity did also feature.

That is according to a new analysis from WARC, released today, which identifies trends and themes common to this year’s Lions, which returned in 2021 as a virtual event after the 2020 programme was scrapped due to Covid.

The “Insights from the 2021 Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions winners” report pinpoints the key areas as:

Tech is creativity’s invisible enabler
Tech’s role in communications is evolving from protagonist to support act, working behind the scenes to enrich creative ideas. From Burger King’s geofencing to German Rail’s programmatic targeting, winners used tech as a spark-plug and force multiplier in their activities. Work by Pernod Ricard and Huggies also highlighted how science, data and technology can all work in service of emotional storytelling.

Jury member Jean-Paul Burge, who is chairman and chief executive of BBDO said: “There’s a nuanced but important differentiation between developing a new piece of tech that we argue is ‘the great idea’ and using tech to amplify, enable or catalyse our idea, which is where the genius really lies.”

Amplified experiences drive cultural impact
Several winners looked beyond the visual and the verbal to create culturally-relevant experiences which relied on influencers and PR for amplification, the report explains. Often making use of unconventional touchpoints – from ONE’s sleeping bags to KMSZ’s DNA-testing lollipop – such work showed how unexpected creativity drives media coverage as well as cultural and business impact.

Judge Neil Dawson, who is head of global strategy at Wunderman Thompson, commented: “It’s important to showcase that creativity is not just the visual and the verbal: it can be a product, an experience, the changing of a word. There’s no singular definition of creativity.”

Agile creativity benefits the whole funnel
Among this year’s winners were brands that tackled apparently mundane briefs through agile, short-term initiatives. Applying creativity and “challenger thinking” to lower-funnel activities, winners Huggies, Burger King and German Rail proved how such an approach can work alongside long-term efforts to strengthen brands in the face of competitors.

Jury president Ann Mukherjee, chairman and chief executive of Pernod Ricard North America, explained: “In today’s world of performance marketing, creativity has to go from the top to the bottom of the funnel. You may get briefs that are not the sexiest, but there is opportunity for exciting creativity in mundane tasks too.”

Belief-led bravery leads to commercial impact
WARC believes that Grand Prix winner Nike showed how brands can reap the commercial benefits of standing up for issues that matter to their consumers and are true to their business.

Mukherjee added: “It’s a virtuous cycle that we wish to see more brands embracing: touching lives is what makes people come to your brand.

“In a performance-driven marketing environment, creativity is still the oxygen to growth. If we are to thrive as advertisers, we have to help our CEOs and CFOs understand that what we do as an industry is the heart of what drives profitable growth.”

A sample of the report can be downloaded here. The full report is available to WARC subscribers>

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