Cannes’ winners prove engagement planning has reached tipping point

CHE Proximity CEO Chris Howatson
By CHE Proximity CEO Chris Howatson | 25 June 2018
Chris Howatson

As Australians we can be incredibly proud of our contribution to the global creative narrative. Last year it was Clemenger BBDO Melbourne who stole the show, this year it was Host/Havas with ‘Palau Pledge’, ingeniously committing tourists to care for the generations who follow by leaving only footprints behind. 

Beyond my admiration for both agencies, four examples of transformative creative thinking will most influence Ant's and my approach to the year ahead and the ever-evolving shape of work we create for our clients at CHE Proximity.

David the Agency’s (Miami) ‘culture hacking’ approach for Burger King has stimulated an incredible body of work achieving $400m in earned media value over the last four years, helping them grow against McDonalds while being significantly outspent at the same time.

Wieden+Kennedy’s (Portland) return to ‘pride in fried’ and their ‘branded everything’ approach for KFC, rocketed the brand to positive growth after a decade of sales decline in the US. It’s a masterclass in never forgetting one’s creation story and the relevance it plays in customers’ lives today.

Saatchi and Saatchi’s (New York) pivot from owning the ‘stain’ to owning ‘clean’ together with their sophisticated chorography of channels and environments taught their American audience to look for tide ads, winning them the entire three hours of precious superbowl air time. This effort grew the brand beyond their already dominant market share and importantly now makes anything clean, anywhere in life, a Tide ad.

And finally, in London, AMV BBDO’s work for female hygiene brand Libresse, removed the shame and disgust of what is a normal and vital human function, a period. In many ways the outcomes of this work offers greater progress towards gender equality than State Street Global Advisors’ Fearless Girl.

Importantly Libresse’s efforts in removing the stigma of a period is of the highest relevance to their product’s function, unlike many brands this year who were awarded for merely finding a social cause and attaching themselves to it. Secondly, it’s brilliantly branded. Much unlike the brand behind the Fearless Girl of whom I’m sure you’ll still struggle to recall, even having read it only a few sentences earlier.

These fine examples represent not only the best in strategic positioning and creative expression, but also the next generation of engagement or channel planning.

In each example the integration of the idea into the entire ecosystem of their customers is what set them apart and allowed their audiences to not only consume their brands, but take part in owning, creating and amplifying them.

The role of influencers, publishers, the news and bought media are inseparable from each other and the expression of the idea itself. To create such work, the classic disciplines of the marketing mix – advertising, PR, media, digital - were all entrusted to the single lead agencies identified above. This enabled an agnosticism of thinking not possible when multiple agencies are placed as equals around the CMO table.

And so if there is one learning we can take from Cannes 2018, is more than ever before the medium, the message and its sequencing are inseparable from each other. To deliver applied creativity at scale, with resulting commercial performances, we truly have entered a new era of intelligent brand management, from which there is no going back.

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