Eyres, Lark and Farjami on conspiracy theories, virtual reality and the irony of Cannes

24 June 2016
Paul McIntyre, Editor-At-Large, MCN; Louise Eyres, Group General Manager Marketing, ANZ; Andy Lark, Chief Marketing Officer, Xero; Sharb Farjami Chief Commercial Officer, News Corp Australia

This daily panel show in Cannes is produced by MCN and News Corp. To see yesterday's video, go here.

ANZ’s top marketer Louis Eyres will return from Cannes with at least six Lions for the bank’s vaults and a head full of conspiracy theories.

Eyres said Oliver Stone’s interview with Sir Martin Sorrel was one of the standouts of the week.

“He was talking about macro political issues and how do we know what is being fed to us by the media is the truth?” she said. “So lots of conspiracy theories.”

In terms of professional relevance, she said Unilever CMO Keith Weed’s insights were aligned with ANZ’s own ideas on marketing.

“One of the main things Keith Weed talked about was how to have ‘campaigning brands’ rather than ‘brand campaigns’. I think that is what we are seeing with our Lion wins (for GayNZ and Equal Future); ANZ has taken a position on a particular issue and held that position firm.”

Xero CMO Andy Lark had other ideas. The former Commbank marketing chief said Cannes was “the most ironic” event for marketers.

“On the one hand [Badger & Winters CEO] Madonna Badger gives a talk on the Women Are Not Objects campaign. Then Keith [Weed] gets up and shows women as objects,” said Lark.

“On the one hand [Weed] does this marvellous campaign about getting your kids outdoors [Free the Kids]. Brilliant. But then the next minute you have women being highly objectified in Lynx ads.”

However, the panellists agreed that virtual reality (VR) was likely to become the Next Big Thing.

Lark thought it might be three to four years before a “perfect VR solution” comes to market. Eyres ventured that it may be up to a decade before VR hit the mainstream. But News Corp chief commercial officer, Sharb Farjami, reckoned brands would soon start to win Lions with VR, given the buzz around the technology at this year’s event.

In the meantime, he suggested virtual realty was something brands could learn from, citing News Corp’s recent investment in Diakrit, an augmented reality software company. News Corp deploys the software via REA to enable prospective buyers to take virtual tours of properties.

“That is completely feasible today,” said Farjami. “So why aren’t people doing more of that stuff from a retail perspective or commercial or residential property, what ever it might be?”

While Cannes was virtually obsessed with VR and its ability to free creative from the confines of rectangular screens, software’s less fashionable cousin, mar-tech, seemed to misjudge the tone, according to Lark.

Citing the likes of Oracle and Salesforce’s festival offerings, Lark said it was “like they don’t understand how to relate to the content creators.”

Farjami suggested that was a missed opportunity.

“The whole theme this year is that [technology, content and distribution] is really connected. The companies that see that will succeed. Those that don’t, won’t.”

Eyres, Lark and Farjami were speaking on a daily panel show in Cannes produced by MCN and News Corp.

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