Cannes, Creativity, & Purpose (And What This Means For Content Marketers)

As the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity draws to a close and the much coveted Palme d’Ors are dished out, creatives and agencies around the world are assessing the landscape and asking themselves the question ‘what next?’

Cannes is generally regarded as a good measure of the creative zeitgeist of the moment, with thousands upon thousands of eyes worldwide watching and waiting for a signal as to where they should channel their energy and budgets within the coming year.

When looking through both the winners and the nominees this year I was particularly struck by how purposeful every campaign was. It seems that the creative industries are (finally??) embracing their platforms as a catalyst for change.

With Google’s open source technology and accessibility project ‘Creatability’ winning big for Design, and Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ taking home awards for both Outdoor and Sport it seems inevitable that a sea change of social good is upon us.

But, what next?

Both Nike and Google (and Ikea and BBDO and GSK and Johnson and Johnson and Childish Gambino and The New York Times and…) have huge budgets. The sort of budgets that can buy change. They can certainly buy visibility and innovation, which is often half the battle. How do smaller agencies, individual creatives, and in house teams channel this energy for purposeful creation? And does creation have to be purposeful?

Content Marketers are constantly fighting the scaling vs meaning battle, with high pressures from senior management to have a large visible output and with huge results. Whereas Content Marketers know that a large visible output is often a detraction from gaining huge results, as you spread your resources and energy too thin.

It’s a well known and well proven fact that the majority of content on the internet goes unnoticed. There is 300 hours of content uploaded to Youtube every single minute of every single day — and the successful channels are the few rather than the many.

So instead, good Content Marketers aim for quality, only creating content that will provide genuine value to their audience. This often means the output is much less visible, but it is more meaningful.

I think it’s clear to see from this years Cannes that the question of purpose will only become more pressing. I mean this in terms of social purpose (sustainability, equality, society, environmental etc) but also in a ROI way.

Companies will come under more and more pressure to show what they are doing outside of their own bubble. What are they giving back to the world?

Starbucks have ditched plastic straws, Amcor have pledged that all of their packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2025, household names such as Patagonia and Ben and Jerry are certified B Corps. Sustainability is (finally???) embedded in our consumer narrative. The winners of Cannes merely reflect a wider cultural movement.

And we should celebrate that purpose is now a consideration, even if not a core requirement, of big business.

But on a more immediate level, companies will also come under more pressure to show that the work they produce is garnering meaningful engagement.

The big winners were agencies and companies who placed themselves into the center of a movement. They did not advertise *at* people — they stood *with* people. The advertising came from name association.

When the big guns in the game are producing content and campaigns designed to resonate with a cause, the bar is raised so much higher. It elevates the idea of meaningful engagement to a new level, and is a stark reminder of the importance of value within the content we create.

We have to content smarter, think bigger, and be part of a wider ecosystem of society. We no longer send content out into the void or chase the conversation; Cannes has proved that we need to create the conversation.

British lass in Canada, writing about politics, pop culture, feminism, class, being a millennial, telly, and myself. Tweet me @blerhgh

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