LATAM to Europe + Fearless Girl – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with President of McCann Worldgroup Europe

Interview starts at 20:49

In my final csuitepodcast interview from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Pablo Walker, President of McCann Worldgroup Europe where we talked about the culture differences he’d experienced since moving from Latin America to Europe, plus his thoughts on the 3 x Cannes Lions Grand Prix winning campaign, ‘Fearless Girl’.

Chatting with Pablo Walker , President of McCann Worldgroup

Chatting with Pablo Walker , President of McCann Worldgroup

Pablo has been at McCann for about 25 years, with much of his career in Latin America but moved to Europe a few years ago.

In terms of cultural differences between the two markets, for Pablo, the obvious one in terms of the consumer is language, as in Latin American there are two main languages – Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese and as both are similar, he said that if you speak one, you can understand the other.  However, by contrast in Europe there are more than 30 languages. Therefore, he thinks that in Latin America, there is a lot of cultural activities, such as music, TV and literature that works everywhere in the same way, so there is a regional culture there, but in Europe it is country by country culture, and so he thinks that this makes it much harder to have regional level impact in Europe with the same kind of communications.

From a business perspective though, Pablo cited labour flexibility as a key difference, as he said that in many countries in Europe, it is very inflexible and so in today’s market, where you need to reshape your business very quickly because it may be changing in a very dynamic way, you need flexibility to adapt your structures and he thinks that, compared to Latin America where it is easier to do, he thinks it is very difficult to do this in Europe as it’s slow and very expensive, making it harder for companies to invest, meaning it’s not good for employees either and therefore he believes that this is a dangerous situation.

One thing that is the same across the markets, however, is that the clients are looking for the same everywhere – they all want to improve their top line and want ideas that have an impact in their market that can be measured, whether that market is developed or emerging.

From a creativity perspective though, Pablo said that both regions can learn a lot form each other.  He feels it is more comfortable in Europe, possibly due to the wealth of the region, but in Latin America, you may be able to develop ideas that are more difficult to be acquired in Europe, but then you can implement them more easily in Europe as it may be more difficult to do so in Latin America due to cost. Overall though, he feels that Multiculturalism is an asset in the industry and so believes we need people from different nationalities and gender as his business is one of ideas and those come from everbody.

It was great timing to be speaking with Pablo given McCann had picked up multiple awards at Cannes Lions for their Fearless Girl campaign, including 3 Grand Prix awards and naturally, Pablo was extremely proud and happy with the recognition it was getting.

Fearless Girl (image via Wikipedia)

Fearless Girl (image via Wikipedia)

Fearless Girl was created for McCann’s client, State Street Global Advisors, a New York investment firm, and involved the commissioning of a statue of girl of around 12 years old, that was placed directly opposite Wall Street’s Charging Bull sculpture.  The aim of the campaign was to promoting gender diversity, whilst raising awareness of State Street’s ‘SHE’ fund, which invests in businesses with female executives, among financial communities and was launched to tie in with International Women’s Day, which took place in March.  Pablo said that whilst the initial idea was to place the statue in Wall Street for just one week, due to it being so popular, the aim now was to now keep it there for at least one year.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Content Marketing and all things Barbie – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Mattel

Interview starts at 11:56

In the second part of my final csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Catherine Balsam Schwabar, Chief Content Officer at Mattel, on the topic of Branded Content, plus and all things Barbie!

with Mattel's Catherine Balsam Schwabar

with Mattel’s Catherine Balsam Schwabar

Catherine talked about how content is an expression of the brand in a different format and how brands are now looking at different ways to connect to consumers through the stories the brands have to tell.  She felt that Mattel were in a very fortunate position in that their brands are story driven and much of their narrative is around characters, which allows them to connect with both children and parents and a very content led environment, which works extremely well for them.

Catherine explained that Mattel has always led from a narrative driven standpoint and in fact were among the first companies to advertise to children on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Disney. But they have been producing content for a long time, when you consider the likes Thomas the Tank Engine or the movies that have featured Barbie in the past.

In fact, Catherine said that the narrative around Barbie’s character continues to evolve.  Barbie now has two new TV series coming out:

‘Dreamtopia’, which is actually about Chelsea, her younger sister:

Launching later this year, ‘Barbie’s Dream House Adventures’, which will be about Barbie and her sisters and puppies and the adventures they have.

Mattel think of Barbie as a person – she is now YouTube vlogger with Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in fact is very active on social media, plus she is now a fashion icon.

Whilst there has been some controversy recently around body image, Catherine said that within the Fashionistas line, Barbie has a celebration of diversity with different ethnicities and body shapes, which has been taken forward with Ken too, with the launch of a new selection of diverse dolls. She added that Mattel tries to think about diversity in all its products and that no matter who you are, you should be able to find yourself in the characters that Mattel is giving you to help you imagine what you can be in the future.   She said that this can be seen in BBDO’s ‘Imagine the possibilities’ campaign where the diverse dolls are seen front and centre in not only how the brand expresses itself to the consumer but also how the girls are expressing themselves back to the brand via social media.

Content is very effective for Mattel.  Catherine said that they recently teamed up with Hudson Media and ABC in the US to make a show call ‘The Toy Box’ where inventors bring their new toys to the show to be judged by kids.  She said it was very successful and the winning toy [ArtsplashTM], launched in May, sold out in many markets, and then appeared on eBay for four times the original price! A second season of The Toy Box is now in production.

They have a similar measurement around content they produce on YouTube for Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels, where they see a correlation between the connection their consumers have with that content and rising sales.

Catherine said that as long as the company is connecting authentically, on the right platform, reaching the right audience at the right time, it works for the business.  However, their biggest challenge is in keeping up with the rapidly changing relationship that consumers have with their screens.  Therefore, when thinking about narrative marketing, Mattel need to write for all different screens simultaneously and on a global scale.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Robotics: Can Data Make You Funnier – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Dr Heather Knight & DigitasLBi

In the first part of my final csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Social Roboticist, Dr Heather Knight and DigitasLBi’s Chief Creative Officer International, Chris Clarke.  My two guests had presented together at the Festival’s Inspiration Stage alongside Heather’s comedian robot sidekick, Ginger, in a session entitled ‘Can Data Make You Funnier?’, which aimed to look at how data and technology can act as catalysts and enablers for creativity.

Chatting with Chris Clarke and Dr Heather Knight

Chatting with Chris Clarke and Dr Heather Knight

Heather explained that the key theme of their presentation was that technology should be more than functional and Chris added that it was quite timely given we see so many headlines about the dangers of the Robot Future, with the idea that robots will replace humans.  Whilst it’s therefore understandable that many people get concerned that robots will put them out of a job, Heather said that this is referring to old fashioned robotics, which is simply about automation, whereas she is interested in more innovative use of technology where robots can work alongside people.

Chris said that the questions they were therefore asking was whether or not it is possible to code for kindness or generate empathy with a robot, which is what he believes Ginger demonstrates.  He feels that companies tend to prioritise efficiency in the use of technology, but he questioned whether this was the best goal.

As to why build a comedian robot, Heather said that she is trying to solve the complex problem of how you model people, which of course is not a single line of code!  She has therefore been looking at acting training and dance, because when you look at human performers, they have a lot of insight in how you craft characters and relationships over time.  She wanted an excuse to work with people who were in that format and wondered what could a robot do on stage by itself, and eventually decided on stand-up comedy because she thought that if technology could apologise sometimes, or make fun of itself, then we would be happier people.

Heather said humour is mostly about surprise so when she started, she thought it would be as simple as just teaching the robot a good joke.  But she soon realised that’s not quite true as a lot of comedy is about storytelling, the audience listens and is drawn in, so she had to ensure that the voice came from the robot.  It therefore makes sense for a robot to be telling jokes about its sensors or audience perception!

She started with a database of jokes that Ginger would randomly cue them and look for feedback, but as she’s learned more about the structure of comedy and storytelling, it’s become more planned, but with moments of serendipity.

Ginger The Robot

Ginger The Robot

Heather said that once on stage, the comedian is the ringleader who puts the audience in their place – particularly to hecklers for example. She said when she spoke to comedians in her research, they said that the audience is not in charge.  Chris added that even some of the most famously spontaneous comedians like Eddie Izzard, if you see their show in five different cities, it’s the same show and even the responses to the hecklers are often the same.  This is why he thinks this area is relevant to brands as they know they have to form relationships with customers, which they do through CRM, but it comes across very ‘robotic’, in the pejorative sense – something Heather hopes will one day be a complement.  Chris therefore believes that brands can therefore learn from Ginger, as he said it is possible to have an automated programme that feels human, that is self-deprecating and charming, it is not just about pure efficiency and moves away from doing tasks for people and is more towards having a real relationship.

I mentioned that when I was at the Globalisation & Localisation Association’s annual conference that took place in Amsterdam a few months earlier, their opening keynote speaker, Thimon de Jong talked about how robots could be used in roles such as on reception or as a concierge in a hotel.  Heather agreed and added that they could also be used for room service, but warned customers that they need to remember the robots will still have a camera, so guests shouldn’t thinkin they can remain naked when the robots bring the food or drink to their room!!

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

 

Conversation2Commerce – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with MLSGroup and Coty

Interview starts at 24:41

In the final part of my third csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke to Guillaume Herbette, Global CEO of MSLGroup and Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora, Global SVP of Philosophy at Coty about Augmented Influence and Purpose Driven Marketing.

Chatting with MSL's Guillaume Herbette and Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora, of Coty

Chatting with MSL’s Guillaume Herbette and Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora, of Coty

MSL describe Conversation2Commerce (C2C) as a global influence-to-impact performance platform and a new way of driving sales.  Guillaume said it’s about taking a piece of media or content such as an article, blog or video, and transforming it into an ad unit, through the use of the platform, which can then be put in front of the right target [audience] at the right time and in the right place, which enables you to measure the impact, either in terms of reputation, brand lifting or sales. MSL launched the platform in September 2016 and Guillaume said that since that time have been testing it across world with amazing results. He explained that it is data driven, with the right data, something he didn’t think traditional PR companies had much access to, and why MSL had a partnership with Publicis Media and in particular one of their group companies, Performics that deals with performance marketing.

Marie-Pierre commented that the partnership has worked well.  She said that Coty were an early adopter of the platform and for her, it is a holy grail for the brand. She believes this for a number of reasons as it:

  • closes the loop from earned media and influence to purchase
  • improves ROI and monetises earned media
  • is a genuine non-branded message that doesn’t look like the brand is pushing information of sales in the direction of the consumer – she said that consumers respond less and less when brands are openly trying to influence their purchase pattern
  • accelerates the number steps to purchase, bringing consumers to purchase faster

Guillaume believes that influence has never been more important.  He said that in the past, the brand marketers didn’t think highly of traditional PR campaigns as they felt that they have a short shelf life and it was difficult to know who was reading the newspaper and it was impossible to measure the impact of a PR campaign. However, the power of influence is changing with use of data, enabling us to measure its impact very precisely. He added that due to a recent test, the retail investment of influence is now 7 to 10 times higher and so they now define the use of influence of data, technology and measurement as Augmented Influence.

Talking through a recent small test of MSL’s C2C platform, Marie-Pierre said that in four US states, the earned media ad units were more efficient than traditional online media, with a 36% higher CTR than the benchmark.  However, they also saw the campaign drive 42,000 women to offline stores in three weeks, which she said for a small scale test was amazing. Therefore the cost per visit was 2.5 to 4.5 times lower than their benchmark, allowing them to bring so many more women to the Coty brand for much less budget.

Finally, Marie-Pierre also talked about emotional influence and the fact that Coty have three infuences on women’s life:

  • make them look good with their products
  • feel good with the philosophies that are written on the packaging to lift their spirits and self worth
  • do good, as 1% of their purchases goes to the company’s ‘Hope and Grace’ initiative, which supports women’s mental health.

In fact, Philosophy recently launched PSA called ‘How are you really’ to tie in with National Mental Health month and help create a conversation between those living with mental health issues and those who want to support them.

More information on this initiative can be found at the Hope & Grace website

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Young Lions PR – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with the Judges and Bronze Winners

Interview starts at 14:35

In part two of my third csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with the three judges of the Young Lions PR Competition, Blair Metcalfe from MSLGroup, Candace Kuss of H+K Strategies and James Hacking from BlueCurrent, plus the winners of the Bronze award, Estefani Solorzano and Christian Gomez of Comunidad CR [the competition’s Gold was won by the Hungarian team of Luca Hadnagy and Paloma Madina from HPS Experience].

L-R: Blair, Russ, Candace, Estefani, James and Christian

L-R: Blair, Russ, Candace, Estefani, James and Christian

James said that in total, this year’s Young Lions competition attracted 468 entries from 69 counties across 7 categories.

Teams of two from different agencies who had previously won their individual country rounds are given just 24 hours to answer a brief set by a non-profit organisation, and they have to come back and pitch their ideas to the judges.  The PR category was supported by The International Communications Consultancy Organisation, and had entries from 24 countries.

Candace said that it was amazing that the teams who had won their country rounds had come to Cannes from around the world, some as far as China, to compete against each other, and that being on the jury was very insightful because as judges, they learned a lot from the finalists as well as the finalists learning from the experience.

This year’s brief had come in from the British Red Cross.  It’s aim was to raise attention for ‘silent emergencies’, things that happen every day that, for whatever reason, are not necessarily picked up by the mainstream media like a natural disaster or a famine might, yet they account for about 9 out of 10 issues.  James said that judging was very challenging as the quality was extremely high and once they had narrowed it down, they had difficulty placing the winners.

Bronze winners, Estefani and Christian, had made the trip to Cannes Lions from their agency in Costa Rica and they said it was a huge honour to be there, adding that the experience of winning was overwhelming and that they are still trying to get used to it.

Explaining their idea, Christian said that their campaign started by discussing why people did not help with silent emergencies and that people are not able to respond to things they do not hear about.  From here, they decided to invent the idea of a simple hearing test, like the standard test you are given, where you tap when you hear the sound frequency, but for this campaign, when the noise passed below the 20 Hz human listening barrier, instead of not being able to hear anything, you started to hear the stories of those people who experienced silent emergences – the idea being now that you can hear them, you can help them.

This was the first year that the PR category for the Young Lions competition had been included in Costa Rica and so Estefani and Christian felt very proud to have won bronze, plus it gave hem the reassurance that they are on the right career path. Christian said that the entire process does put pressure on you but part of that pressure means that at some point you must believe in your idea and go with it, even with the language barrier, where when he speaks in English a fundamental part of what he is trying to say may not come across, as you just hope it will be as understood across the world.

Candace said that the top five of six entries were the ones that got the judges ‘in the gut’!  They were the most memorable. Many were visual, simple and impactful ideas that paid attention to the target audience well.

For Blair, the benefits of the competition are obvious.  He said that it means that your agency’s young talent is not only showcased at Cannes but also can improve and be supported.  He added that it is great coming together and sharing creative ideas with like-minded individuals but it also helps the competition entrants understand the PR world a little better and that it’s therefore a great benefit for their personal progress, their career progress but also great for their agencies too.

Finally, Christian and Estefani explained that the PR industry in Costa Rica is in its early stages and coming to Cannes is like a glimpse into the future for them. They want to harness what they have learnt and are looking forward to the next project.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Data & Creativity – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Microsoft & H+K Strategies

In part one of my third csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with two previous guests of the show, Scott Allen, CMO of Microsoft UK and Vikki Chowney, ‎Director of Content & Publishing Strategies, H+K Strategies about Data & Creativity.

Chatting with Scott Allen and Vikki Chowney

Chatting with Scott Allen and Vikki Chowney

Scott had been part of a panel session at the Festival with other CMOs from Pinterest, Dropbox and Hilton Hotels in a session entitled ‘Clash of the Titans – Where data clashes with creativity’.  He explained that it was to see how CMOs can best use the wealth of data available to them, as they tend to be rich in data but poor on insight.  Within his panel, Scott said they discussed whether or not companies are too data focused at the expense of creativity within your marketing plan, or visa versa, hiring for a modern marketing organisation if you are thinking about data and having more technical proficient people in your team, how we make data more meaningful and whether there is a need for both global and local content anymore as the data is so specific and so does the word ‘glocal’ go away now.  It was therefore a number of those topics that I wanted to therefore expand on during our podcast interview.

Vikki said that one aspect of this area that excited her was audience mapping, explain that from a PR perspective, you are now able to get great and very granular audience insights, something that is no longer cost prohibitive, which if used appropriately, can inform creative ideas.

In terms of hiring, Scott had previously said on the show that I produced in association with MOI Global, that he would like to hire people who are part creative and part scientist, but he added that it’s not a skillset that is easy to find. However, he said he looks to employ people who are business savvy, i.e., those who look at business objectives first rather than marketing tactics first, but he also wants them to have an analytical and data interpreter’s mind set. He added that whilst there is a growing use of AI technology, without the human intervention and interpretation, it doesn’t become that meaningful for you. Finally, Scott feels that the ideal people need to be comfortable integrating into the creative side of the marketing team, so the data team and creative team can lead the campaign strategy and planning together.

This all aligned with the profile of people that Vikki said H+K Strategies are recruiting too, which has changed from people with classic traditional agency experience. She said that her agency are now hiring from publishers and digital agencies, plus people who build things, so that they can work with data creatively, giving them very specific roles built on those outputs and expertise, rather than broad/brushstroke agency titles.  She said that the key to making it work is to ensure that everyone collaborates and doesn’t work in silos.

When it comes to data and creativity working together, Vikki gave an example from a recent Intel project where, using audience mapping, they looked at where people spent their time and what they were interested in. The project was in partnership with the RSC, during the showing of the Tempest at the Globe Theatre in London. She explained that by using data, they saw that the audience Intel were trying to reach about the project were high users of Snapchat, and so as a result, they came up with the idea to run a Snapchat filter – a nice simple way to use a platform already being used by the audience in a cool way.

Finally, Scott explained that data can also help you decide what not to do. As an example, he said that instead of doing something you’ve always done because you thought it was successful, data allows you to be even more uber-targeted.  He gave an example of instead of running a generic event on a particular date, you could use data to say, we need to do an event, in Manchester, on this date, with this audience and this profile, because we’ve done some propensity modelling, and these customers are likely to want to purchase from us so that you bring the right people to the venue at the right time, which will make the event more successful. Scott always tells his team to look 90% forward and 10% backwards and he said that this is a good example of how they do that.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The Anatomy of a Trend – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with WGSN

Interview starts at 31:15

Chatting with WGSN’s Carla Buzasi

Chatting with WGSN’s Carla Buzasi

In the final part of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions, I spoke with Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer at trend forecasters WGSN, who had earlier been presenting at the festival about how to predict and dissect the anatomy of a trend.

Carla explained that at WGSN she has a huge team of journalists, data analysts, consultants and product experts who go out and look for tiny bubble-up trends. These are then all brought together twice a year at the company’s Trends Days, where they then look for common themes, which they then use to predict two years ahead, what will become the big macro trends on how we will live our lives. Carla said that there is a difference between fads, trends and movements. She believes that, whilst some trends do die off, most of them are constantly evolving.

In the past year alone, members of the team at WSGN have been to 95 different countries, visited 89 music festivals and 2755 catwalk shows, looking for trends where people are, or where people are doing interesting things. Some of those places that her team have visited include Coachella, the World Retail Congress and Primavera Sound, plus she had colleagues at Cannes Lions in a reporting capacity too. Alongside these events, Carla said they also monitor hundreds of blogs and social media influencers and that to be a trend forecaster, you must have a very broad and open mind.

Carla said that businesses use the information that WGSN provide according to their customer base, so if a business is targeting someone who is cool and edgy to buy their clothes or stay in their hotel, then they need the early trend predictions.  However, mass market retailers or bigger supermarkets tend to want more established trends. For example quinoa is now on all supermarket shelves, but it would not have worked five years ago – the trend needed to be established.  So one very new trend they are saying to look out for is Rosemary water.

One trend that is very important to Carla is the improvement in diversity in the industry and she said that we’re at the stage where the influence is there because there are some amazing women at the top of the industry who are very visible, on stage in Cannes, are reported in the newspapers and write books. However, she doesn’t feel that we are at the stage of mass adaption and so whilst people love to talk about women in leadership roles, she doesn’t think enough companies are making that happen.  She therefore thinks that the industry is on an upward curve, and whilst she remains very optimistic, she said that there is still more work to be done.

Another trend we spoke about was wearable technology and Carla said that in the future, your fitbit will be built within the fabric of your clothes and you won’t even have to input what you have eaten as the calories can be counted through your sweat! There will also be wearable technology that will be able to detect STDs. Carla said that the CEO of fitbit would like the wearable tech to become like wearing a seatbelt in that you won’t leave home without being able to collect data on all aspects of your life – we are obsessed with data, so Carla sees a bright future for wearable technology.

As for the trends that Carla noticed at the Festival, she said she was going to say Goat Yoga [seriously!] but she hadn’t seen so much of that in Cannes.  Instead, she said that in her presentation, she had used the catchphrase ‘bored is the new black’ and so people need to embrace boredom more than they do at the moment – we never pause, we are always looking at our phones.  However, she said that it’s really important to give your brain time to recharge and reboot, adding that people often say they have their best ideas in the shower, which is probably because there is nothing there to distract them.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Brands and Music Artists + Era of the Engineer – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Young Guru and Jerald Cooper

Interview starts at 19:07

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Part three of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions was probably my favourite interview this year at Cannes, as I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with two truly inspiration gentlemen – Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer, Young Guru, and talent manager and entrepreneur Jerald Cooper.  Guru is best known as Jay-Z’s personal music engineer and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as ‘the most influential man in hip hop that you have never heard of’.  He had just taken part in a panel discussion organised by FleishmanHillard titled ‘Talking Tunes and Human Truths’ that took place in the ICCO House of PR, where they discussed how music effects people and how to become and remain authentic to what you are doing – he feels that authenticity is a huge part of advertising, PR and marketing.  He also said they talked about the challenges of choices you have to make when dealing with PR in terms of issues you may want to represent and how you can best do that, as well as how agencies can work with the creatives [music artists] they want to use.  We therefore continued that discussion in our podcast interview, but also got on to chat about their own project called ‘Era of the Engineer’.

In terms of how brands are working with musicians, Guru explained that it’s very different now – it’s no longer about assuming if you align your product with an artist, then the artist’s fan base will move to that product.  Instead, the fan base needs a reason to like the product and so the product has to fit into the life of who those people are. It’s therefore not about choosing the biggest artist to fit with your brand but the most effective.

Guru said that now is an important time for artists to be working with brands, particularly as the music industry has changed, with album sales that artists used to rely on not as large anymore due to the internet.  However, he said the artist has taken the album out of the centre of the circle and replaced it with themselves as the brand.  He therefore believes connecting with companies that can represent or support your brand as an artist is great, but those companies still have to coincide with the ethos of what you are as an artist.

When discussing how Young Guru works with brands himself, Jerald added that one of the key aspects in choosing who you work with is ‘purpose’, both on the brand and artist side.  In fact, he sees it as a trend where he feels that in the next three years, there won’t be a marketing campaign without purpose, which lead nicely onto the subject of Guru and Jerald’s own pet project, ‘Era of the Engineer’.

As a young black male growing up, Guru said that he was into engineering, wanting to know how things were built and constructed, but it was hard to get his friends involved as it was something that was seen as uncool and nerdy. His plan, therefore, with ‘Era of the Engineer’ is to make tall types of engineering cool – not just musical engineering and the draw of working with the highest paid artists, but the understanding that everything has been engineered.

He gave examples, that, as he described, may not be seen as sexy, but running the sound at the McDonalds Drive Through has to be engineered and it’s a job that pays! Therefore, whilst he can draw kids in through his involvement in the music industry, he can then show them all types of engineering. He said that at the moment, coding is the biggest thing and that everyone wants to invent an app, sell it and be the next Mark Zuckerberg, yet there are countries that need infrastructure. and that we will need people who know how to build roads and maintain them. He feels that whilst coding is important and is the language of the future, we need all other types of engineers – we live in a physical world, so we need people who know how to build the physical things, be that roads or the spaceship that’s going to go to Mars.  He added that it is all very nice to make the next app that is sold for millions of dollars but it is rare to achieve that, just like only 10% of people make it as professional sports people.

Jerald added that it will be hard for anyone to try and identify something that has not been engineered and so entering into engineering via sports or any part of culture makes it cool.

Guru and Jerald therefore want to change the culture – they want it to be important to know the facts, to get to the stage where your friends will think you are weird if you don’t know this information. For example, even if you are into fashion, the machines that make the clothes have been engineered, and if you think into the future, you’ll need engineering to make the 3d printers that can make shirts or sneakers.

You can find out more information about Young Guru and Jerald Coopers’ project on the website – eraoftheengineer.com.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

China’s Age of Ambition – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with H+K Strategies

Interview starts at 10:09

Chatting with H+K Strategies’ Richard Millar (middle) and Simon Shaw (right)

In part two of the second csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, for the second year running, I interviewed H+K Strategies’ Simon Shaw and Richard Millar who were presenting on the subject of ‘China’s Age of Ambition’ at the Festival the following day, alongside Glory Zhang, Consumer Business Group CMO of their client Huawei – a brand that has become the third biggest smartphone manufacturer in the World within five years.

When we spoke last year, Simon told the csuitepodcast that he was in Cannes with his clients from China who are ‘looking to move from a culture of making products to one of explaining why they are making those products’. He said that this journey is continuing and that their Chinese clients are focussing more on it now, i.e., the balance of telling the performance of the product but also their purpose – their reason to exist. He added that you have to balance those two elements depending on the market you are entering, so if it is a developing market, it might be more price sensitive and so perhaps you might talk more around the performance of the product or the value proposition, but as their clients move into more mature markets, they may need to explain to a slightly different consumer why they should choose their brand as well as their product.

Simon said that Chinese clients have speed, ambition and agility – they have a real want to learn and move quickly. He believes the culture is now totally client-centric and not just thinking they are, which is where their journey began.

Richard added that with all the brands they speak to in China, Cannes Lions is on all of their agendas as an event to be at – they aspire to be creatively excellent and if their work is recognised at Cannes, then it is one measure of their success.

Whilst China may have had a reputation for poor quality products in the past, Simon said that the truth is very different now, particularly if you look at younger consumers who have no pre-conceptions about the Chinese markets.  So whilst perhaps the slightly older generation may associate China with some of those stories from the past, the younger consumer look at China as an innovation powerhouse and a place to get amazing product.  Simon believes China is a fast follower, learning from the West, innovating and doing things quicker, better and at a better price.    Richard added that he has four children from 22 years of age down to nine and for them, China is cool and brands such as Huawei are on a parity with Apple and Samsung.

H+K has been working with Huawei for around three years and according to Simon, they share the same characteristics as other Chinese clients the agency works with across the Energy, Retail, Property and Entertainment sectors, i.e., a restlessness, wanting everything done at great speed and constant expectations for the best.

Simon and Richard’s message therefore to people in the West is to forget everything you thought you knew about China and to get wise to their brands, as we will be living with them for the next 100 years.

Whilst H+K Strategies have been writing a lot about working with the Chinese market, Simon and Richard believe it is best to experience it, which is why they have launched a the Shanghai Addition – pop up extension of their London office where they can rotate people through to see what it is like to work with Chinese companies. Simon explained that it is about two cultures learning and working together, which you need a right mind-set for.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Changing the language of communications – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with McCann Worldgroup

In part one of my second csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Harjot Singh, Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup EMEA, about the language used in the communications industry, which he has some strong views about and something it felt he hoping to see a culture shift from within the industry.

Chatting with Harjot Singh (left)

Chatting with Harjot Singh (left)

Harjot said that whilst we are living in a time of new realities, old and outdated language are still being used, and so whilst everyone in the industry wants people to like them and says things like “we want to engage, co-create, participate and collaborate”, he said that they call people a target, as in target audience.  To Harjot, a target is something you shoot at or throw things at, with the aim of destroying it- it’s about precision and how hard you hit it. There is no engagement – it’s one way – and he certainly doesn’t want to be a target!

When you then look at the second part of that target audience term, Harjot says that an audience watches a movie in a dark auditorium – they allow a movie to go over them, that it is a passive thing and that you are not joining in or getting involved.  He added that audiences are passive by definition, but we don’t want them to be passive with the messages and conversations we are trying to create.

Harjot is therefore trying to change the language his agency uses as he believes a different discourse is the beginning of a different outcome.  Therefore, at McCann, they do not call people targets, they simply call them people, and instead of message they use engaging conversations and experiences. They also refer to an audience or group of people or communities.  He added that they are also changing the language within their creative briefs and that, in fact, even the word brief has finite possibilities, which is why he refers to it as a springboard instead, as this creates more possibilities.

For Harjot, this approach is simply common sense!

Whilst he continued on his soapbox, Harjot said that this was his ninth visit to Cannes and that he had lost count of the amount of times he had heard the word authentic – it’s another one he feels needs to be reinterpreted as he believes everyone talks about it in a fixed state and that some companies use it as an excuse for not changing. Change can be authentic – for example a chameleon changes colour all the time because that is authentic to the chameleon. Therefore change can be authentic and in linking that to marketing, he said that brands sometimes make excuses for not doing things a certain way because they say it’s their authentic self, but if you are consistently inconsistent, that can be pretty authentic as well! He therefore said that we need to engage with this authentic conversation in a new context – one that’s about improvising, flexing and greater agility.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!