I’m on my way to Cannes, thinking ahead to what I might find at this year’s festival. So here are a few predictions.
The GREENING of the Lions. We’ll see more environmental do-good programs as brands (and agencies) discover the power and popularity of marketing wrapped in the environment. Last year’s popular Earth Hour program from Sydney has shown us the willingness of consumers to adopt a movement when it’s cleverly marketed, and subtly branded (or, in the case of Earth Hour, not branded at all,really). Im anxious to see how many marketers are sticking a GREEN label on themselves this year in an effort to make consumers pay attention.
Social Networking. Finally the web’s subversive, penetrative abilities are being leveraged by smart marketers. This includes user-generated content, my favorite “en vogue” request from clients in search of making their brands more contemporary and “connected.” But im not so sure this is a GOOD thing. We work hard to control the hearts and minds of consumers, and now we’re relinquishing control to the monkeys. It’s fun to watch, but im not so sure it’s healthy for the brands. But the trend is just taking hold, right? So we’ll see what happens as it happens. So far, packaged goods brands like M&Ms and Doritos seem to have leveraged this trend the best, but it remains to be seen if it’s a brand-building exercise. At least it’s cheap, since consumers do all the heavy lifting.
Last year, when I was served on the Promo Lions Jury, we saw a lot of web-based user-generated promotions, from all over the world, but not many of them were tied back to the product. I’m anxious to see if marketers have done a better job this year actually selling product with the promotions that have been deemed award-winning.
One more prediction: ambient advertising will be all over the festival. It seems like unusual postings are now considered to be “promotions” even without copy that urges action. I’ve seen a lot of transit posters and bus shelters with very provocative creative, but lacking a call to action, or even a distinct point of view beyond “look. That brand is on a building.” Or a sidewalk. Or a cow. Or a naked man. We saw all those last year, by the way, and I can only assume newer versions will be entered this year. But without a required action, how can it be called a promotion?
We talked about this last year as a Jury. What defines a promotion? And what criteria can be applied to eliminate entries that are in the promotion category as a shot at sneaking into an underutilized category? I’ll report next on what’s been entered this year, and how the category is holding up. Stay tuned.