Young Lions 2018

Joy Q Wang

It has been a dream of mine to return to France after falling in love with Paris (cliché, I know), especially to Cote D’Azur. So, when I received the opportunity to attend Cannes Lions this year representing Mindshare Asia Pacific, I was absolutely over the moon. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is undoubtedly the biggest annual festival in the advertising and media industry and having the honour to attend a festival of such scale, I imagine the learnings to be insurmountable. Of course, one simply cannot attend Cannes Lions without dreaming of bumping into a celebrity at an opportune moment in the glistening washroom of a posh hotel (ex. Sophia Amoruso), or leave the festival without feeling like you just explored the whole world of advertising. Having worked in Canada and now based in Singapore, not only am I extremely excited to meet world-class marketers and key opinion leaders, I’m also looking forward to engrossing myself in teachings from a wide spectrum of industry topics.

Above all, I’m most thrilled to experience how the media and advertising industry will tackle and bring connectivity, experiential moments, and the human 5 senses to the next level. Some of the coveted sessions covering these topics are Sonic Arousal (a live neuroscience experiment), The Tongue Paints What Eyes Can’t See: Power of Voice hosted, Triggering Memories and Connections Through Sound, and Creating Exceptional Experiences for One Billion Users hosted by Tencent. These are just a few amongst a whole slew of sessions I’m dying to attend, all showcasing how fast voice and sound marketing is upon us, and how to redefine experience and connectivity marketing in a way that will force marketers to adapt for the future and generations beyond. Apart from the talks, the most interesting will be seeing the brilliant campaigns that brought these themes to life.

Voice isn’t a thing of the past, in fact, it’s been a growing trend/area of growth for large tech giants and one that’s been creeping up on consumers with the introduction of Google Assistant & Home, Amazon’s Alexa, Baidu’s Little Fish, and more. In a global trends and insights report done by Mindshare, JWT, and Kantar called “Speak Easy”, ‘ComScore forecasts that half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, and by 2021, Ovum predicts that there will be more digital assistants than humans on the planet.’ The study found that when people asked a question involving a brand name, their brain activity showed a significantly stronger emotional response compared to typing. As users globally move towards voice assistants, it would be vastly interesting to see how marketers continue to test the waters with voice and sound technology, and perhaps soon it will become more of a norm rather than a gimmick. As Mindshare move to keep on top of such trends, how can we quickly adapt programmatic for voice searches so that our clients’ products are always top of mind for existing customers, and an entry point for new customer acquisitions.

In regard to eliciting a stronger emotional response from consumers, sound and connectivity certainly are powerful elements for creating a more meaningful experience for consumers. As brands continue to explore different ways of keeping their customers engaged and interested, IKEA’s “Oddly IKEA” campaign stands out as one that deviates from the typical quick, attention-grabbing spots. Their focus on the content and products themselves, with the added attention of a soothing voice-over, calm imagery, and relaxing mood and tone, really shows that they know how to appeal to one’s senses while maintaining their usual, quirky brand image.

Because the Chinese ecosystem has been a huge topic for the past couple of years and present, it’s no wonder that this year, the festival has a day called “China Day” on June 20. China has become a forefront market for all-around connectivity, from mobile to physical, marketers understand that in order to seamlessly integrate brand between offline and online, real-time relevant communication need to be served in a way that’s not only visual and engaging but appeals to human emotions and sympathy. In a mobile-first market like China, making sure that the consumers are there every step of the way results in loyalty along with fan mentality that could result in an “internet red” phenomenon (when a person or brand is popularized dramatically as a result of an event or certain behaviours showcased in real or online life). Such an example is seen in Nike’s “High School Basketball League” campaign where Nike told the story of future professional basketball players in China from the very beginning, from competing in their small high school courts to competing against other high schools nationally. How can we ensure that a campaign of smaller scale also exhibits the same effect on its target audience?

On top of these marketing trends, one topic that sits close to heart is the topic of gender equality. Especially in the advertising industry, we must be at the forefront of championing this topic so that when we do execute for brands, we can channel our work to move societies. I’m hoping to gain insightful takeaways from the session “Can We Redefine Femininity with Creativity?” by CoverGirl & Droga5 and from meet ups with amazing ladies in the creative industry to take back to APAC. With the recent gender equality survey done in APAC, how do we as an industry flip old mentality around to not only create purposeful content for our clients but to also attract new talent, which is a concern for the industry.

With all that Cannes Lions has to offer, I can say that I am totally overwhelmed by the vast number of topics presented and the endless number of events and talks that I cannot seem to fit seamlessly into my schedule. All that’s said, wish me luck in a week’s time and bon voyage to all who will be making their way there soon!