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The Talk at Cannes

The Talk at Cannes

Stéphane Mailhiot

Stéphane Mailhiot

June 19, 2018

So, what are the major topics this year? Stéphane Mailhiot, SVP and Head of Strategy at Havas Montréal, identifies the big, big, big ideas from the festival talks.

Today’s three big ideas from the Cannes Lions.

 

1. DEVELOPING A SUSTAINABLE ATTENTION MODEL FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

Most social media platforms are designed to cause us to become addicted to likes and other feedback. Social validation is embedded in Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and others, making these platforms responsible for the rise of fake news, teen troubles like depression, self-comparison, and addiction, and our increasing inability to focus. Tech companies and advertisers also share responsibility, as they operate and finance these platforms.

At “Addicted to Likes,” speaker Tristan Harris, Former Design Ethicist at Google and “the closest Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” encouraged us to hold the tech giants accountable for their attention maximization manipulation. He also emphasized the need to develop a sustainable attention model, in the same way that sustainable energy is now a standard.

More balance will be good for advertisers, too. Many YouTube watchers and Instagram surfers have become so addicted that their dislike of sponsored ads trumps the positive association of being seen on the platform. All in all, stronger attention management is better for social balance and for advertisers. And when it’s good for people and revenues, it can’t be bad for the Googles and Facebooks of the world either.

2. VOICE IS THE PACKAGING OF THE FUTURE

By 2020, we collectively will be more likely, when searching online, to speak our keywords rather than type them. The rising popularity of voice assistants makes voice one of the most overlooked brand-building tools available. Customers like voice for its speed, accuracy, and natural feel. With the right tone, the right accent, and a brand-aligned strategy, brands can create a deep emotional bond through voice.

During “The Tongue Paints What Eyes Can’t See: Power of Voice,” Verra Budimlija, Chief Strategy Officer of Wavemaker, and Thom Noble, neuroscientist and Co-founder of NeuroStrata, observed that voices are decoded at a subconscious level. When tested against a human voice on specific value associations, synthetic voices lose emotional matchups by 17 to one. And brands not only need an actual human voice, they need the right one—one that fits a brand’s desired value associations.

With the growing use of voice assistants and voice devices in connected objects, marketers will soon be forced to revise their brand books to include the values and sentiments they want their brand voice to represent…and to design that voice accordingly.

3. TO FEED YOUR CREATIVE TODDLER BRAIN, IGNORE BEST PRACTICES

Children are born creative but being to lose this ability through the enforcement of social norms—we’ve known this for a long time. In trying to prevent toddlers from hurting themselves despite their creative explorations, we are also teaching them to avoid risk. As we age, we tend to ignore possibilities, and become overtaken by our focus on limits.

Conducting broad competitive reviews and establishing best practices is the agency equivalent of “adulting” a brand process. By focusing too much on past successes, dos and don’ts, and the industry’s sacred cows, we are training our brains to follow rules. Best practices can quickly get in the way of next practices. At best, studying best practices leads to being slightly better than average.

In order to build brands, we must rediscover an appetite for going beyond better than average. Children don’t settle for the ordinary; they are constantly striving for the magical and the extraordinary. If we want to bring this vitality to the brands that we manage and build, we must surround ourselves with people who are as much in love with the problem as they are with the solution. Solution-seeking inevitably leads to “aging” and losing the fresher perspective of our inner creative toddlers.

Today’s three big ideas from the Cannes Lions.

 

1. DEVELOPING A SUSTAINABLE ATTENTION MODEL FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

Most social media platforms are designed to cause us to become addicted to likes and other feedback. Social validation is embedded in Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and others, making these platforms responsible for the rise of fake news, teen troubles like depression, self-comparison, and addiction, and our increasing inability to focus. Tech companies and advertisers also share responsibility, as they operate and finance these platforms.

At “Addicted to Likes,” speaker Tristan Harris, Former Design Ethicist at Google and “the closest Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” encouraged us to hold the tech giants accountable for their attention maximization manipulation. He also emphasized the need to develop a sustainable attention model, in the same way that sustainable energy is now a standard.

More balance will be good for advertisers, too. Many YouTube watchers and Instagram surfers have become so addicted that their dislike of sponsored ads trumps the positive association of being seen on the platform. All in all, stronger attention management is better for social balance and for advertisers. And when it’s good for people and revenues, it can’t be bad for the Googles and Facebooks of the world either.

2. VOICE IS THE PACKAGING OF THE FUTURE

By 2020, we collectively will be more likely, when searching online, to speak our keywords rather than type them. The rising popularity of voice assistants makes voice one of the most overlooked brand-building tools available. Customers like voice for its speed, accuracy, and natural feel. With the right tone, the right accent, and a brand-aligned strategy, brands can create a deep emotional bond through voice.

During “The Tongue Paints What Eyes Can’t See: Power of Voice,” Verra Budimlija, Chief Strategy Officer of Wavemaker, and Thom Noble, neuroscientist and Co-founder of NeuroStrata, observed that voices are decoded at a subconscious level. When tested against a human voice on specific value associations, synthetic voices lose emotional matchups by 17 to one. And brands not only need an actual human voice, they need the right one—one that fits a brand’s desired value associations.

With the growing use of voice assistants and voice devices in connected objects, marketers will soon be forced to revise their brand books to include the values and sentiments they want their brand voice to represent…and to design that voice accordingly.

3. TO FEED YOUR CREATIVE TODDLER BRAIN, IGNORE BEST PRACTICES

Children are born creative but being to lose this ability through the enforcement of social norms—we’ve known this for a long time. In trying to prevent toddlers from hurting themselves despite their creative explorations, we are also teaching them to avoid risk. As we age, we tend to ignore possibilities, and become overtaken by our focus on limits.

Conducting broad competitive reviews and establishing best practices is the agency equivalent of “adulting” a brand process. By focusing too much on past successes, dos and don’ts, and the industry’s sacred cows, we are training our brains to follow rules. Best practices can quickly get in the way of next practices. At best, studying best practices leads to being slightly better than average.

In order to build brands, we must rediscover an appetite for going beyond better than average. Children don’t settle for the ordinary; they are constantly striving for the magical and the extraordinary. If we want to bring this vitality to the brands that we manage and build, we must surround ourselves with people who are as much in love with the problem as they are with the solution. Solution-seeking inevitably leads to “aging” and losing the fresher perspective of our inner creative toddlers.

Stéphane Mailhiot is SVP and Head of Strategy at Havas Montréal

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