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Cannes Update: How to do Terrible Work and Not be Creative

As the global festival of creativity is reaching the end I felt compelled to attend one of the final sessions that informed attendees on “How to not be creative”, “How to not win Lions”, and “How to be maliciously obedient” in an agency-brand relationship.

Step 1. Only Talk About Yourself

Bruce McColl, Global CMO at Mars started the session by focusing on the messaging and content delivered to the audience. When brands focus on the product and talk about its benefits and features, they are unlikely to create the level of reaction required to drive success.

Their messaging needs to be meaningful, relatable and, as an example, McColl presented us with its 2015 advert for the Extra chewing gum that tells a love story and how the gum is part of that story:

I don’t know about you, but watching this advert actually brought tears to my eyes and, as a chewing gum consumer, it made me feel like sharing a piece of Extra gum with someone I care about.

Step 2. Be mindful of risk

Many brands are taking soft steps toward the way they communicate with consumers, preferring tried and tested approaches, particularly when large budgets are at stake. This way they are not only limiting themselves and their agencies, but are limiting the ability to be noticed and loved by consumers.

Step 3. Assume your agency won’t be creative either

When, as a brand, you have an idea that you feel will be too challenging to put in practice, by not discussing it with your agency, you are simply losing out on talent and institutional knowledge that could actually find a solution to the possible challenges.

Step 4. Act like you can’t think

When brands push for pre-testing every idea before going ahead with anything, they are holding back, delaying processes and showing lack of trust for their ideas and the ideas of their agencies.

Step 5. Confuse a strategy for an insight

Although research might have given you indication of positive results, sometimes brands will only be able to see results by doing something new despite no concrete proof that it will work.

David Lubars, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer at BBDO, talked about how they opted to explore Twitter in a different way as part of their Snickers campaign, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” The campaign involved the endorsement of celebrity tweets that created ‘out-of-character’ tweets and then on the 5th tweet revealed their connection with the campaign quoting the slogan.

Footballer Rio Ferdinand Tweets for the Snickers Campaign:

Snickers Campaign

The campaign revealed hugely successful results as part of a multichannel campaign, delivering great reactions on Twitter and a consequent level of PR exposure.

Step 6: Don’t talk & don’t trust

If you are unhappy with the strategy or results, avoiding talking with your agency will only ensure you do not build a trusting relationship. You will also not be in a position to fully understand each other’s perspectives or work through issues to achieve success.

Step 7: Don’t share the same ambition

If neither the brand nor the agency are raising the bar, and the brand isn’t sharing their goals and ambitions, they will not be in a position to iterate each year and improve on prior performance.

As I listened to this talk, I figured that what Mars and BBDO were transmitting on what not to do when working together, applies not only between the brand-agency relationship, but in the relationship with any supplier involved in a brand’s strategic process to deliver communications to consumers. A brand should see each supplier as a piece of their master plan. Each brand partner needs to remain informed, involved, and constantly engaged throughout the process to be able to deliver the best service. Only in these conditions, organisations can drive the desired creative results and fulfillment. Collaboration is truly the word of the day at Cannes Lions and unsurprisingly seems to be the key to helping creativity flourish.

Olapic has been at Cannes Lions this week curating and publishing the best content shared by delegates, speakers and sponsors under the hashtags #MyCannesLions and #CannesLions. If you want to see the event from the eyes of its audience, check out our collected Cannes Lions content gallery at