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Agency Life

The Return to Cannes Lions

The Return to Cannes Lions

Stéphane Mailhiot

Stéphane Mailhiot

June 17, 2018

After a seven-year festival hiatus, Stéphane Mailhiot, SVP and head of strategy at Havas Montréal, gears up to report on the biggest trends at Cannes Lions.

"I’m hoping to see projects in this new context that will lead the way in the celebration of creativity."

Back to Cannes after seven years.

The last time that I flew to the festival in 2011, the primary focus was still film. But organizers changed the name—from the International Advertising Festival to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The new name embraced new categories beyond film and traditional media. In 2011, we celebrated the best of TV ads with powerful spots, such as “Write the Future” (a World Cup film for Nike by Wieden + Kennedy), “After Hours Athlete,” (a Puma TV commercial created by Droga5), and a second year full of Old Spice ads from Wieden + Kennedy.

The most intriguing campaign, however, was a thoughtful project to promote search engine Bing—featuring 300 pages of Jay-Z’s geo-autobiography: The Decode. The campaign looked like nothing else. It was primarily a billboard campaign, but every billboard was placed in a location inspired by a specific story in Jay-Z’s book—giving fans context and insight into the music mogul’s personal life story. In a way, it was the beginning of a new era of advertising, underpinned by the proliferation of online gaming and digital amplification—an era in which attention isn’t just bought but earned. It was less about eyeballs and viewership and more about prompting a real conversation where each story was shared and inspired.

Since that time, Instagram got real. Snapchat has made a name for itself. Branded content became a marketing category. Mobile became a force. Personalization, data-driven messaging, and social activations are now all part our agency’s daily routine. We create campaigns today that in 2011 would have gotten attention for their brilliant use of these “new possibilities.”

Now with all the hype around AI, mixed realities, consumer experience marketing, algorithm-enabled content strategies, I’m hoping to see projects in this new context that will lead the way in the celebration of creativity. I hope to be surprised and inspired by the new ways that make it impossible to ignore brands—the way that Bing did seven years ago.

I’m back on the long stretch of La Croisette, and I look forward to witnessing the best work from the top agencies, each working to take advantage of all these new possibilities. If innovation is about “creating something new” and creativity is “transcending traditional ideas and creating new ones out of the known possibilities,” I hope this year the Festival of Creativity will celebrate the inventive ways that we tell stories today, highlighting the innumerable possibilities for brands to make real, meaningful connections.

"I’m hoping to see projects in this new context that will lead the way in the celebration of creativity."

Back to Cannes after seven years.

The last time that I flew to the festival in 2011, the primary focus was still film. But organizers changed the name—from the International Advertising Festival to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The new name embraced new categories beyond film and traditional media. In 2011, we celebrated the best of TV ads with powerful spots, such as “Write the Future” (a World Cup film for Nike by Wieden + Kennedy), “After Hours Athlete,” (a Puma TV commercial created by Droga5), and a second year full of Old Spice ads from Wieden + Kennedy.

The most intriguing campaign, however, was a thoughtful project to promote search engine Bing—featuring 300 pages of Jay-Z’s geo-autobiography: The Decode. The campaign looked like nothing else. It was primarily a billboard campaign, but every billboard was placed in a location inspired by a specific story in Jay-Z’s book—giving fans context and insight into the music mogul’s personal life story. In a way, it was the beginning of a new era of advertising, underpinned by the proliferation of online gaming and digital amplification—an era in which attention isn’t just bought but earned. It was less about eyeballs and viewership and more about prompting a real conversation where each story was shared and inspired.

Since that time, Instagram got real. Snapchat has made a name for itself. Branded content became a marketing category. Mobile became a force. Personalization, data-driven messaging, and social activations are now all part our agency’s daily routine. We create campaigns today that in 2011 would have gotten attention for their brilliant use of these “new possibilities.”

Now with all the hype around AI, mixed realities, consumer experience marketing, algorithm-enabled content strategies, I’m hoping to see projects in this new context that will lead the way in the celebration of creativity. I hope to be surprised and inspired by the new ways that make it impossible to ignore brands—the way that Bing did seven years ago.

I’m back on the long stretch of La Croisette, and I look forward to witnessing the best work from the top agencies, each working to take advantage of all these new possibilities. If innovation is about “creating something new” and creativity is “transcending traditional ideas and creating new ones out of the known possibilities,” I hope this year the Festival of Creativity will celebrate the inventive ways that we tell stories today, highlighting the innumerable possibilities for brands to make real, meaningful connections.

Stéphane Mailhiot is SVP and Head of Strategy at Havas Montréal

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