Edelman: consumers frazzled, see tech innovation as profit grab

Paul McIntyre
By Paul McIntyre | 15 July 2015

Jamie Oliver was Richard Edelman’s clickbait for the world’s biggest PR firm at Cannes. And tasty clickbait Oliver was. The chef supremo disclosed he “fucked up about 40%” of his business ventures and programs although even at that rate he’s still worth an estimated $250 million. “I don’t know if that is acceptable or not acceptable,” he told the audience. “That 40% is quite painful. I’m trying to turn those mistakes into what maybe you guys call R&D. What is the percentage of turnover that is right for innovation? What is healthy? Is it 10%, 20%? Is 40% reckless?”

It was a good show by Oliver who revealed a couple of rather intriguing points – his books and websites had a 70% skew to chicks but on YouTube the audience was 60% blokes. The underlying rationale wasn't just about the gender bias for different distribution pipes; blokes, he said, unlike women, couldn’t give a toss about plating the dish. Rather, they just wanted to know how to cook something fast without the fancy bits. On YouTube, far less of Oliver’s time was spent on presentation in favour of the fast how-to. The exception on fancy was that he showes the plated dish upfront and early so the gents actually knew what they were cooking.

But outside Oliver’s musings, Edelman’s global CEO Richard Edelman presented some rather sobering views on the industry obsession with innovation versus global consumer sentiment on the subject. People were frazzled keeping up with the waves of new products coming at them at relentless pace and that most product updates – hardware and software - were about the profit motive more than anything useful or helpful.

“There is great concern about the pace of innovation,” Edelman said in opening remarks with Oliver. “Two-thirds of people believe it is more about profit than about making their lives better. There are concerns that innovation is infringing on people’s privacy and there are concerns that a constant flow of new products – and the disposability of old products – is bad for the environment.”

Edelman said marketers are doing innovation backwards. “60% of people think marketing isn’t listening. They feel products are being pushed to obsolescence. They want to be reassured first and then inspired. It’s the opposite of what we are doing at the moment. We have to enable peer conversation. That’s the number one job for marketers.”

All salient points but the thousands who showed up then raced out of the Grand Audi after their 40 minute flirt with The Naked Chef to get a fix elsewhere on the next possible tech-led game changer to rock the world and a balance sheet.

This article first appeared within the Cannes 2015 Special Report in the July 10 issue of AdNews. Subscribe to AdNews in Print, or get it now on iPad.

Read the rest of the report:

Paul McIntyre wraps up Cannes

Cannes encourages lionesses

Future TV

Monica Lewinksy: the price of online humiliation

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