Monday, July 06, 2015

Why What Won, Won

Juries no doubt think they are objectively choosing the best work they see.

But the fact that every year certain styles of work are more heavily awarded than others has to mean that juries aren't just choosing the smartest, most emotive, or most insightful ideas... but also what is somehow on-trend.

Hate the word 'trends'. It implies a flash-in-the-pan - buzzwords like 'big data' and 'storytelling' which flare up one year and disappear the next.

But in terms of trends that have been around for a while and look set to be with us for a while longer, you'd have to pick out two - cause-related marketing, and technology ideas.

Cause-related marketing used to be something that was done separately, by a company's 'CSR' department. Now it's at the heart of many brands' communications.

Dove was one of the first, and they're still doing it - this is a brand that sells itself not on its moisturising qualities, but on its concern for female self-empowerment. P&G's Always doesn't talk about 'no leaks', it encourages respect for women by asking us what it means to do something #LikeAGirl. And Honey Maid is sticking up for tolerance and diversity in society, with its re-definition of what is wholesome.

Trend 2. New technologies have revolutionised our entire world, and that includes advertising. From the dawn of subservient chicken, to today, when a Cannes Grand Prix is awarded to Crispin Porter for a piece of utility that enables consumers to order Domino's by tweeting a pizza emoji.

If 'cause-related marketing' and 'technology' are the two mega-trends, then it stands to reason that work which sits at the intersection of the two, will be the most on-trend.

And so it proved.

The biggest winner of the year was probably Volvo Life Paint, by Grey London, which took out two Grand Prix - in Design, and also in Promo & Activation.

This is a brand addressing a social problem, using the technological innovation of invisible reflective paint. Cause, and tech, in one. 

Across all the categories, the Golds, Silvers and Bronzes, you will see multiple examples of juries' love for the place where ‘cause’ intersects with ‘tech’. 

A stationery store in the UK tries to reduce the environmental consequences of discarded ink cartridges - Ryman ‘The Eco Alphabet Project’. 

Samsung. They sell phones. They sell TV’s. What can Samsung have to do with road safety? Samsung Road Safety Truck by Leo Burnett Buenos Aires. 

Now, it’s highly possible that some of these projects were made more for awards juries than the public.

This has certainly been the accusation in a lot of commentary during and after Cannes.

But set against that, you’d have to acknowledge that Volvo’s Life Paint idea got great PR for Volvo all over the world.

These ideas are spreading, and spreading organically via social media. They’re associating the brands involved with good causes – in a way that’s relevant, and likely to make them more preferable to consumers. 

They work.

But it's because they’re on-trend - and not necessarily because they're the cleverest or most insightful ideas - that they're winning the biggest awards.


Anonymous said...

" They’re associating the brands involved with good causes – in a way that’s relevant, and likely to make them more preferable to consumers. "

Are you 100% certain about it? How can you be sure? Could it not be that consumers just applaud a campaign for good in social media because they feel it boosts their own cred in the eyes of their peers....and take no putchase action whatsoever?

Anonymous said...

The bike paint was invented by 3M
That's why it stopped winning awards by the end of the week.

Scamp said...

I think the link between affinity and purchase intent has been pretty well established by now. I don't see that it could make a difference whether the affinity was created by social media, PR, or a TV ad... could it?

Er... said...

But "Volvo's Life Paint idea" wasn't actually their idea at all, was it?

Scamp said...

It's funny, I've been hearing that argument quite a bit. Quite correct that Grey did not invent Life Paint, 3M did.

But repackaging a generic product, and marketing it for a brand... that's a core skill we ad agencies are supposed to have.

It's no different to who 'really' made that brand of beer we drink, or that fridge we put the beer in. Is it?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure "on-trend" is right Scamp. There is a much more pernicious culture at work here, currently based around three main ways of ensuring a "win".
1.) Make Cannes the last award of the year, then enter your work at every major award show around the world in the year preceding your target festival. Since international juries tend to come from a shallow pool of ECDs, your work will begin to get noticed, if not awarded at first. By the time Cannes comes around, however, it will be firmly engrained in judges' minds as an "awarded piece" good for at least bronze. Everyone loves a "proven" idea. This approach costs about 5-6k in entry fees, assuming you focus on one or two categories.
2.) Reserve 40-50% of your budget for a really big PR push in Feb/March (or at least any time after Christmas) The bench mark is to get onto somewhere like the UK's Daily Mail. Since papers have long since stopped creating their own (journalistic) content and starting buying in syndicated feeds, you need to use your media agency to sell your idea into these content channels (flatter your target channels by suggesting "co-creation") . Vice and Buzzfeed are the favourites. The end result of successful syndication is an idea that appears to be everywhere, on every news site (in news not tech) and on all your friends news feeds, around the same time.This is how Volvo's Life Paint did it this year. Advantages include the short time scale between idea coming out and Juries voting which allows bad news (like it not really being your idea at all) to be hidden until the last few days of the festival.
3.) If you are from less scrupulous markets or your target KPI is awards, you could always try the shock of the new - an idea that no one has seen (because it only ran once, if that) uploaded to YT or the app store on 29th April, just in time for the final deadline. But this is increasingly hard to pull off given the time between finalists being announced and award night - there is an army of bitter creatives poring over the shortlists to cry foul across social media.

You'll find 60-70% of everything awarded this year will fit into one of the above.

Anonymous said...

Scamp, surely Volvo should tell us about that amazing gizmo in their car that prevents it from running me over at night, as opposed to "here's this product you spray on yourself so the Volvo driver can see your ugly mug a mile away". Which funnily enough, vw does nicely in these videos:

Scamp said...

Previous anonymous, you certainly sound like you know what you're doing!

Sell! Sell! said...

Hey Mr Scamp, what is your source for "the link between affinity and purchase intent has been pretty well established by now" I'm interested in reading it?

Being in Australialand I'm sure you're very familiar with the work of Byron Sharp – his book How Brands Grow seems to suggest that the link between attitude and buying behaviour is not very strong at all?

Scamp said...

I got sources, buddy. So does Byron Sharp of course. And his stuff is pretty cool, no doubt about that. One of the great problems with advertising is that there is no unified theory of how it works - as so eloquently explored in Paul Feldwick's book 'Humbug'. Having said all that, I think you'd be having a meeting in a phone box if you set up a club for people who believed that people are LESS likely to buy a brand if they like it...

Sell! Sell! said...

Ha - I'm genuinely interested in reading them, where can I find them? I agree there is no unified theory of advertising, and that tallies with my own experience of different approaches that have been successful. I'm sure you're right, surely no one is LESS likely to buy if they 'like' a brand - it does however beg the question of whether getting people to like your brand is the best way spend ones advertising dollar..... that's what makes Mr Sharp's stuff quite enjoyably challenging to the 'lovemarks' and brand guru people.

Anonymous said...

Not only was it not their idea... it doesn't actually work :/

Anonymous said...

Not only does it apparently not work, it's quite expensive as well. A can will cost you between £13-£18 (depending on the colour). A high visibility jacket at Halfords will cost you between £10-£15. And you'll have to re-apply the spray from time to time, even if you don't wash whatever you spray it on. Utter bollocks.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sell!Sell!.
Byron doesn't prove link between affinity and purchase.
far from it.
nor is there any other reliable proof.

"... that people are LESS likely to buy a brand if they like it..."

true. but sadly, the opposite is also true: people don't like [here the commenter names a well-known fast food chain - apologies for censorship - Scamp] (I didn't say hate, see?) but eat their frequently. they even take their kids there.