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Cannes Update: Human Beings and Tech Make the Best Creative

Exponential growth in technology, and specifically in artificial intelligence (AI), has shattered the traditional consumer journey, and created a set of both challenges and opportunities for brands. On a societal level, we’ve seen increasing examples of technology replacing the work previously handled by human beings, such as self-serve checkout counters in grocery stores, automated manufacturing equipment, and perhaps most simply, the ATM. While there has been clear penetration of automated technology in manual labor, could it be possible that AI will soon also replace humans in creative occupations? This was the topic of conversation at this week’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in a panel titled, “Will a Robot Win a Lion?” A quick show of hands proved that many creatives believe they could someday be replaced, but the panel of marketing and technology professionals organized by Omnicom’s PHD Worldwide didn’t seem to agree.

“We think our own creativity is really special or mystical, but there are lots of mechanical aspects to it,” said Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly. “Creativity is not just a human thing, which begs the question: Can a robot be creative enough to win an award? The answer is yes, but in a different way.”

At Olapic, we tend to agree. Certainly, modern technology can accomplish some fairly incredible results, and human beings possess a sort of shrouded magic in our ability to engage one another. That’s why the most impactful creative results in the future will come from a balanced integration of human ingenuity and artificial intelligence. We’ve written extensively on this topic before, and our co-founder and resident AI expert Luis Sanz has discussed in TechCrunch how we should be thinking less about robots replacing humans, and more about how AI can make humans better.

With our clients, the real opportunity seems to be the ability to analyze the performance of various creative characteristics, at scale, and serve relevant messaging and content to consumer segments accordingly. For a long while, now, human beings have been implementing technology in their creative work. So, if a robot were to win a Cannes Lion, it would simply be taking some of the credit it already deserves!

What Else Is Happening at Cannes?

Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and the creative director of Condé Nast, knows how to engage an audience, and she’s not delicate in sharing her expertise. While speaking at the event, she discussed how the publisher has been able to shift into the digital age.

“How does Conde Nast expect to set itself apart in the digital age, when its strengths, a stable of high-profile magazines, a big circulation base, and some of the most iconic print and photography journalists of the era must now face off against ‘Ten surprising facts about Donald Trump’s hair,’ or ’15 irresistible photos of morbidly obese cats?’ All of these questions have the same answer … finding your way doesn’t mean surviving, just as pleasing an audience doesn’t mean twisting your editorial around search engine optimization and Facebook algorithms. For one thing, everybody is doing that, it’s unimaginative, it’s old hat. For us, creativity means thinking about the lives of our audience and how to connect with them.”

This is a growing reality for brands inside and outside of the entertainment sector. Consumers, bombarded with information and media, crave relevance and utility in the experiences they choose to have with brands. They are sick of overly cultivated messaging, and expect brands to deliver more authentic relationships with them. Wintour agrees, continuing, “We live in an age that prizes authenticity. Just look at our current Vogue cover girl Amy Schumer, whose success is built on a raw, unfiltered and very human person. Bringing personal experience and emotion to the table resonates with audiences … audiences respond to people who dare to be different.”

Finally, a personal favorite individual of mine, Will Smith, spoke at the event on the parallels he sees between entertainment and branding. Smith shared three tips for brands to stay relevant in our fragmented market, including:

  1. Start with a meaningful, profound idea.
  2. The product should always be at the core of what you do.
  3. Try to improve lives.

These concepts may sound simple, but brands should be consistently using them as a lens through which to make important decisions. Specifically, continually improving your product, creating things that add value to human lives, should be both an idealistic and practical focus for modern brands. Our colleague, Justin Berger, wrote an article recently on the surprising marketing insight Will Smith has to offer.

Certainly, there are many other stories coming out of Cannes this week, these are just a few. Olapic is excited to be a part of the event this year, sponsoring visual screens throughout the festival showcasing delegates’ experiences through the hashtag #MyCannesLions. For those in attendance, check out the gallery and be sure to connect with us while you’re there!

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