We Are SuperHuman | Six Lessons I Learned At Cannes Lions
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Six Lessons I Learned At Cannes Lions

03 Jul 2017, Posted by admin in Events

There are lots of people are moaning that Cannes this year was a bloated version of the advertising industry today. There may be an element of truth in this. However, it was also hugely inspiring. The discussions and debate at Cannes presented a story of people, diversity, inclusion, and connection, where brands and businesses are acting with purpose and a force for good, as well as delivering commercial gain.

As always, the challenge is to take all of this positive intent and connection and put it into action back in the “real world”. In our industry, we can do this by creating amazing work that truly delivers brand growth through positive change for consumers & society.

Here are six things that I learned in Cannes about how we can do this:

1. The world has woken up to the fact that inclusivity is the route to competitive advantage. While the award-winning work shows brilliant examples of inclusivity, in reality, it’s very easy to pay lip service, and this is still happening. The stats play out that it’s just not translating into tangible change at scale. In the Refinery 29 and IPG research, 54% of women globally agreed that there were too many stereotypes in used in marketing. Change is too slow and patchy at best.

2. The intent and the desire for inclusivity and diversity is strong, but delivering it requires action. As was highlighted time and again at The Girls Lounge (amongst other places!), the biggest change that is required is to ensure that a range of voices are part of the debate in decision making within large organisations. Just taking female diversity as an example, with only 1 in 4 management roles held by women globally, this really isn’t a reality in business today.

3. The experience of inequality is influenced by lots of different elements,  which need to be taken into factored into inclusivity (such as race, class, age, sexual preference, education). The importance of each of these factors changes depending on which part of the world you come from. This was highlighted beautifully in the Refinery 29 research that was presented at the IPG women’s event.

4.  Outside of large Corporates, there is a generation of women who are taking the bull by the horns and are working to change the ratio on diversity and inclusion. The Female Quotient, Creative Equals, Free The Bid , #SeeitBeit, and #SuperHuman just to name a few.  Some of these are within organisations, others are outside of the system, pulling together communities who share their passion and desire for change, but aren’t willing to wait for the lumbering corporates to change their track. These are the true Mavericks and long may these types of organisations continue to grow and prosper!

5. Empathy is a business superpower. Yet big businesses struggle to talk about empathy with feeling. It comes across as quite cold and mechanical.  Acting on data and insight is not the same thing as being empathetic with your audience and giving them what they need. Scale can make practicing empathy challenging for large multinational businesses. Tools like programmatic advertising can take the human, creative elements out of marketing.  This can make it incredibly hard for organisations not just to be empathetic, but also to show cultural sensitivity. As we saw in the News UK talk about holding the industry to account, especially around their programmatic advertising supporting or showing alongside illegal and terrorist content on the Youtube and Google platforms.

6. The stand out work where brands acted with purpose and as a force for good to engage and connect with their audiences were truly inspirational. There were lots of examples to be inspired by. Whether it be L’Oreal’s work with the Princes Trust and Helen Mirren, Tecate Beer, showing that Alcohol marketing and advertising can practically address serious issues, while growing brand love, or State Street’s Fearless Girl, highlight the extent of female inequality in business leadership while at the same time empowering women to invest in a female led business investment funds

And so the story of Cannes Lions comes full circle. Brands who act as a force for good, delivering positive change for consumers and society at large will ultimately build brand value. But to truly deliver it needs so much more than a clever campaign with a pretty film. It requires an appetite for change and bravery to take the action required to create an organization that reflects inclusion and diversity, while building empathy at the heart of your business.

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