Creative. It’s good thinking.

Creative. It’s good thinking.

Cannes Lions, touted as the “Oscars” of the marketing industry, is a real showcase for the sort of work every agency would love to do.

Creative catwalk trends However, like a fashion-show, it touts the sort of work that – in the real world – not every business or charity would wear. A lack of budget is the most common complaint (or balls, some would say).

The reality is that clever ideas, and clever use of media, don’t need to cost the earth.

What’s needed, instead, is an understanding that unless an organisation embraces the type of creative solution that makes people think something different, they will never do anything different.

And that – in our view – is the essence of marketing.

 

From Cannes to the DMA Awards 2017 – a sense of social purpose

Notable in all the creative awards from 2017 was creative work eschewing the more obviously commercially minded work released over the year, in favour of campaigns or projects that showed social purpose or included a higher aim than ‘mere’ selling.

OK. If you’re an out and out fundraiser this work might seem esoteric at best, and wasteful at worst. But increasingly, agencies are keeping social issues in the public eye. And this can’t be a bad thing.

It’s not only at Cannes that a social conscience has won out.

The 2017 DMA Grand Prix went to The British Army’s “This is Belonging” campaign. The combination of impactful film, with beautifully crafted copy, brings this to life

A sense of belonging may sound like a small thing. Yet it fuels you as much as food and water, because it doesn’t just feed your body, it feeds your mind and soul.

The stronger the sense of belonging – the stronger you become.

Sure, you could look for belonging in a football team or club, but the sense of belonging you’ll find in the Army – well, that’s the next level.

The less cynical amongst marketing teams will appreciate that creative brains are trying to do ‘better’. And in each of the following instances, all winners at Cannes 2017, they do.

Public safety with a twist

First off the block is a film showing how the human race might evolve to survive car crashes. A familiar public safety brief with a twist: showing the ugly new breed of survivors.

Ad creative: Public safety campaign: evolution to allow humans to survive car crashes

 

Making it personal

In Finland a bank wanted to show the effect of every financial transaction you make.

A very poignant topic as the Baltic Sea around its shores is severely polluted.

The Finnish bank Ålandsbanken’s biologically degradable credit card not only lets users see the average carbon footprint of their consumption, it also gives them the option to make up for the footprint of their purchases.

“The sea is never far away when you are based in the Åland islands, and we can’t avoid seeing the effects of pollution. Only if we all get involved will we be able to save the Baltic Sea”, says Peter Wiklöf, CEO of Ålandsbanken.

With every transaction users make using the Baltic Sea Card, users can track how their consumption affects the environment and then have the opportunity to make up for their carbon footprint, and hopefully make different choices over the longer term.

Ad creative: Finnish Bank - How can the bank save the sea that couldn't breath

 

Picking up the Cannes 2017 design Grand Prix was clever use of space

A non-rectangular football field, created by property developers AP Thai for teenagers to play on in an over-populated area of Bangkok, won the coveted Cannes Grand Prix.

Ad creative: Non-rectangular football field so football can be played even when there isn't enough space

And even the film craft Grand Prix was awarded for a film that celebrates everyone’s abilities – Channel 4’s brilliant trailer for the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

Ad creative: Channel 4's Rio olympics advert

Ad creative: Channel 4's Rio olympics advert

 

One of the most awarded campaigns was “Fearless Girl”

This campaign has quite a back story.

The striking bronze statue placed on Wall Street by McCann New York to coincide with International Women’s Day.

It appeared with no warning on Wall Street in New York on March 7 2017 deliberately in juxtaposition with the iconic Charging Bull sculpture, itself a piece of guerilla art, placed within New York’s financial centre.

The Fearless Girl is shown squaring up to the bull, in a clear act of strength and defiance.

Unlike the bull, however, Fearless Girl began life as a marketing campaign.

Asset management company State Street Global Advisors created Fearless Girl to promote gender diversity on the boards of the companies they own on behalf of investors. They also wanted to promote one specific investment solution, SHE. SHE invests in companies where a significant majority of the leadership are women, at senior levels or on the board. Because, “organisations that have diverse leadership outperform organisations that don’t. That’s a proven fact”.

Ad creative: Fearless girl with iconic charging bull

 

And finally … Care Counts

In the project Care Counts, Whirlpool installed washers and dryers in schools to see how having clean clothes effects attendance rates. The insight was that kids from poor and homeless backgrounds with dirty clothes had lower self esteem and were more likely to stay away from school.

Ad creative: Care counts - clean clothes improve school attendance

Ad creative: Care counts -clean clothes improve school attendance

Ad creative: Care counts - clean clothes improve school attendance

The cynics might say that the banks, multinationals and governments are the very people can afford to do this sort of work. True.

But it also looks like a case not of just doing things better, but doing better things.

And whilst a self-congratulatory award show such as Cannes may not represent typical campaigns, or budgets, what it does achieve is to open our minds to new possibilities.

The client brief may not be to create an L-shaped football pitch, or a bronze statue. But as the interpretation of a brief, these experiences – and the potential they have to create a movement of their own – is aspirational.