Leadership in Marketing

Cannes Advertising Lions – Presentation Suzanne Bidlake

Suzanne Bidlake speaks at Vepec Conference 1
Topic: Cannes Advertising Lions Showcase, presentation of award winning Cannes Lions
Venue: Bourla Schouwburg, Antwerp, Belgium
Curator: Vepec
Media Partner: The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute*
(*Between 2007 and 2011 the Institute carried temporarily the name ‘The Wall Street Journal Future Leadership Institute’)
07 October | FLI Networking Table | Bourla Schouwburg, Antwerp, Belgium

About Vepec
Vepec is a leading marketing research association in Belgium. Every year Vepec showcases award winning Cannes Lions televison and movie ads. (http://www.vepec.be)

In the summer of 2008 Cannes featured the 55th International Advertising Cannes Lions Competition. The winner of the “Grand Prix” was the London based agency Fallon with a brilliant ad for Cadbury Chocolad. Suzanne Bidlake, editor of Campaign Magazine, will analyse the reasons behind this victory. MC of the Vepec Cannes Lions Night in Antwerp will be Peter Van De Veire.

The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute* Networking Table
The Wall Street Journal Europe invites 4 readers to join a FLI networking table at the Vepec diner with the speakers and VIP guests of the Cannes Lions night.
Networking Table: 6.30 pm, Bourla Schouwburg Antwerp, Belgium.

A sold out Bourla Theater for the Cannes Advertising Lions 2008 in Antwerp, Belgium.

Presentation from Suzanne Bidlake, associate editor of Campaign magazine in the UK

Vepec Suzanne BidlakeSuzanne Bidlake speaks at Vepec Conference 2

Good evening everyone. I’m Suzanne, I’m associate editor of Campaign magazine in the UK …and I’m delighted to be here, talking to you tonight.
Thank you for inviting me.And I’m particularly delighted to be here because there may not be many more opportunities like this. You see, I’m not sure how long you are going to be around.Admittedly, as a group, you may be slightly worried about the global economy… and how it may affect you… but, basically, you are confident that advertising – long term – is a good bet. That you are in a growth industry…a global industry worth almost five hundred billion dollars…and, one that, despite everything, is still growing at nearly six per cent.You believe your future is assured.But I’m here to tell you different. I’m here to put forward to you an argument that is gaining momentum around the world. And if I follow that argument…then I’m here to suggest to you that advertising may actually be broken. That the business model that has kept you in Armani suits and Porsches is now permanently fractured. And that no amount of super-glue – or prayers – will stick it back together again.Why am I saying this? I’m saying this because, although the industry may be growing, we are witnessing a massive revolution, with technology its ringleader, whooping up the masses.

A revolution which could mean that advertising as we know it today will have disappeared in 10 years’ time. …A revolution that is storming the structures you have spent years building…and is bringing the walls tumbling down. I don’t actually think it’s too far-fetched to suggest, that in our lifetimes, ad agencies will cease to exist. You will be as irrelevant as the steam engine. Victim, just as it was, to technological advancements.And so, as I said…it may be that there’ll be no more opportunities for someone like me … to be talking to people like you … in big theatres like this…celebrating film ads like those Cannes winners that we’ll see later.(So I guess we’d better make the most of this evening)What’s going on then? At the heart of the matter is the democratisation of creativity that the internet has enabled.Let’s think about it.The ad industry was built on the premise that marketers would pay for a bunch of talented, creative people to get together under one roof and come up with a fabulous idea.

The fabulous idea….that creative punch…was and still is, the thing that separates creative ad agencies from all other types of business consultants. Despite what anyone might say about the wonderful strategic planning and insight that top flight ad agencies undoubtedly provide, in the final analysis, a creative agency’s USP is its creation of ideas.But now, the technological revolution means that anyone with a great idea has a place for that work to be seen.A shop window. And, increasingly, a willing buyer. Clients can go online and source ideas from anyone, anywhere. And, since advancement is all about how to cut costs, it won’t just be the creative they’ll be getting excited about.They’ll be getting those ideas for almost any price. …certainly much cheaper than what you’d charge them. I had an email earlier this year from a guy in Argentina who was setting up a virtual, online network of creatives around the globe, with a view to marketing their work directly to clients.He was drafting in people from all over – from the sophisticated ad markets such as the US and Western Europe, sure – but also from geographies with less well-developed ad economies, such as French Polynesia and Surinam.

You can just imagine the rush to the head such a fresh creative injection would give a marketing director…and for such little cost. Then…with no need for an ad agency…he can take the idea straight to a production company to have it made.This is not as fanciful as you might be thinking.Major multinationals such as American Express and Samsung have already bought work direct from a similar network in the States…called the Preditors. It’s a group made up of young creatives, with nothing more than a handheld camera and a software package.Now, there are those who will think what I am saying is absolute heresy.They believe advertising in its current form…and the current ad agency model it sustains… are at their best today and destined for a long and healthy life. They believe phenomena such as YouTube will enhance those things, not detract.But what do you think, I wonder?

Marshall McLuhan, the media theorist, once said that if you want to know about water, you shouldn’t ask a fish.Well, I’m going to ignore what he said and have all of you give your opinion on the question “Is advertising broken?” at the end…so concentrate….your vote will count….don’t let your mind wander…don’t start thinking about what you’re having for lunch tomorrow …or where Peter bought his swanky shirt. But let’s withhold judgment and, as if in a court of law, examine five exhibits that might contribute to make the case for… or against. And then you can vote.First up, exhibit one:

The consumer is in charge.Consumers, huh? What a fickle lot. They’re meant to be the ones lapping up the things you tell them, believing them, of course, and meekly obeying your entreaties to eat more chocolate, perhaps, or “Just do it” (after buying a pair of Nike trainers, naturally). In fact, the cheeky so-and-sos are telling brands exactly what they think of them (often uninvited). And what they think of their advertising too. Not only that, they are also making their own versions.Just look what they are doing to your beautiful ads.And, you know what?

In some cases, they’re doing it better.Here’s Guinness’ Tipping Point…the most expensive and complex ad Guinness has ever produced…the campaign cost 13 million euros …and involved the mobilisation of an entire Argentinean village …and a cast of 1,000 people who had no previous experience of working on camera. And it is beautiful.Let’s watch it.


And now we’ll see what some clever Johnnie has done with it and posted on YouTube, using it to the advantage of another brand, Pot Noodle.

Now I’m going to break with tradition and show you the winner of the Cannes.

Film Grand Prix at this stage. This is a piece of truly iconic work that has got the world outside of advertising talking about advertising. By Fallon London, it is the great Cadbury’s Dairy Milk drumming gorilla – but you will see that even he doesn’t escape the jokers.We’ll first see the real ad and then the spoof.


And yet, on the other hand, some would say that these type of virals create additional buzz around the brand and its advertising and help increase their fame.Certainly, both “Gorilla” and its less well-received follow-up “Trucks” (which is set to the Queen track, “Don’t Stop me now”) have both had all sorts of other music superimposed onto them on YouTube.In fact, “Trucks” – with its images of airport vehicles skidding around the place, careering up on two wheels and spilling luggage everywhere – has been very amusingly edited on YouTube to carry sound footage from the TV News from the day when Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5 opened and there was huge confusion over what luggage went where.That’s when you know you’re ad has become embedded into the national psyche.(But, you have to ask: will it sell more chocolate??)You decide.OK, on to exhibit two: Media has fragmented

[SLIDE 4 POWERPOINT – Exhibit 2 – Media has fragmented]

I don’t know the figures for Belgium, but the UK experience is likely to be mirrored here …and I can tell you that in the UK, over the last 15 years, the number of TV channels has grown from 4 to 76 ….the number of commercial radio stations has increased from 49 to 222…….and the number of consumer magazines has grown from 1,798 to 2,512.The internet, which didn’t even exist 15 years ago, in 1985, is now available in 1 in 3 households.So…with all of these extra media…with all of their extra messages…and all of that extra information to digest…what has happened to the total amount of time that people spend consuming media? In 1985, the average person in the UK spent an average of 60 hours a week consuming media of all kinds.By 2001… stimulated by all these media developments, …that figure had risen to…60 hours.

That’s right. No change whatsoever.All these extra media…all this variety and diversity on offer but no more time to do it in. We’re not living in the new media economy, or the information economy, or even the knowledge economy.We’re living in the attention economy.Because getting the attention of consumers is the greatest challenge that brands face. And they’ll want to do it at least cost.That means it’s impossible to reach a mass audience any more…and any audience you do reach will expect you to earn their attention, not buy it. You certainly can’t expect to just make an ad, stick it on the telly and influence the “massive passive” any more. You have to be more inventive – to give something tangible back in return for their attention.

It may be a game on a web site, it may be something to download and pass on to friends; it may be as simple as entertainment (as with Cadbury’s “Gorilla”).Oh …and it means you also ought to be producing bespoke communication messages that are relevant to individuals, based on their lifestage, their likes and their lifestyles.To be clear, I’m not signalling the end of mass advertising.To use a metaphor, mass TV broadcasting is like a single grenade being thrown at a mass of people.They all have to be in the same area to be affected.In contrast, mass advertising is lots of arrows fired at an audience…from different directions…at different times. This allows for greater relevance of each message for each individual. Advertising is most often ignored for being irrelevant – the “nothing to do with me” syndrome.Fragmentation could help more advertising to be “everything to do with me”.

[SLIDE 5 POWERPOINT – Exhibit three : Spectacle still has power]

So, Exhibit three – Spectacle still has power OK, no-one can argue against the potency of great ads that stop you in your tracks. Spectacular ads that burst their way into your consciousness and won’t leave your head alone.Big ideas, simple ideas, stories well-told…made with the essential spices of jeopardy and entertainment and topped off with brilliant production.These are the lighthouse ads that stand out for miles. Bright beacons that demand your attention… absolutely.But, just as lighthouses serve to highlight to sailors the dangerous rocks that surround them, so these lighthouse ads serve to highlight how difficult it is for most other executions to get anywhere near them…Beware.Perhaps only those who can create to this standard will survive in the new premier league?

I’ve brought some of the best UK film ads of the past year and tried to stay away from Cannes winners that you’ll see later. One thing I think is interesting about this year’s crop, just as an aside, is how many contain no words. First up is Hovis, by Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy. This is a new 122-second ad for a brand of bread that is 122 years old. The brand was the subject of iconic advertising in the 1970s, directed by Ridley Scott, that depicted a small boy pushing a bike up a hill to take bread home to his mother and became an emblem for northern England. In this new ad, the boy travels through 122 years of life in England to complete the same task.Please roll the film.


Next is a commercial from WCRS for Brylcreem. This ad, called “Effortless”, shows just how cool you might be. It’s sublime.[SHOW BRYLCREEM AD]And then, “Dangerous Liaisons”. Bartle Bogle Hegarty, one of the UK’s most creative agencies of all time, has produced this wonderful romp through the ages for Levi’s. I just love it.[SHOW DANGEROUS LIAISONS AD]Now, Exhibit four: agencies are changing the way they think

[SLIDE 6 – Exhibit four: agencies are changing the way they think]

No longer are ad agencies merely being asked to solve communications problems and come up with communications solutions.Now, and increasingly in the future, they are given business challenges to crack.But, if that’s the case, why on earth should a client turn to an ad agency to provide a solution to a business issue that may require more than just advertising…if any advertising at all? Why not a management consultancy – at this point I won’t be surprised to hear hisses of disapproval around the hall – but why wouldn’t a client turn first to a management consultancy which has many more general business problem-solving tools as its disposal? Well, some agencies think they have seen this curved ball coming and have picked it up and run with it. They are thinking differently. Agencies such as Ogilvy & Mother, which has installed video-cams in bars for Johnnie Walker in Singapore , so that you can check out what’s going on in 25 different bars at any given moment, before deciding which one you want to go to.Another recent example of new thinking that has caused quite a stir in the UK is a branded content project by the highly creative agency Mother.

This was a full-length feature film, created by the acclaimed director Shane Meadows, called Somers Town. It was part-funded by Eurostar, the company that runs trains through the tunnel under the English Channel and joins our countries.What made it extraordinary was its lack of overt branding. The Eurostar name does appear in the credits, but otherwise, the closest you’ll get to sniffing out the subtle scent of Eurostar in this film is its location: Somers Town is right behind Eurostar’s new rail terminal.This film – which resulted from Mother’s failed pitch for Eurostar – has been screened at film festivals around the world.…They call it the “power of unbranding”.Here is its trailer…


And so to Exhibit Five: agencies are being paid in new ways

[SLIDE 7 – Exhibit Five: agencies are being paid in new ways]

We’re talking now about agencies being paid for an idea, not its execution.It’s not about media commission any more, but fees… for brain power.And how on earth do you put a value on an idea? What happens, for example, when an idea involves handing the execution back to consumers, as it has done famously with Doritos? Are agencies getting it right? …Are they managing to carve out remuneration packages that will ensure their survival in the new world order? …Are they being paid for advertising in the traditional sense? …Or are these new payment deals a recognition, indeed, that advertising is broken?And it goes further:In these difficult economic times, will a marketing director really be happy to continue paying a creative agency’s overheads, when he can source creative and production more cheaply by going direct? …Overheads like those sexy, avant-garde buildings in trendy addresses… extravagant flower displays in reception and the expensive wining and dining of journalists? And for how much longer can that marketing director justify the expense of having a leggy blonde service his account – as well as the person who really does the work? (But I guess some people are always prepared to pay for that).

Yet, those agencies which have managed to forge a sensible payment mechanism have actually recession-proofed themselves to a certain extent.I know some agency chiefs in the UK who claim to be rejoicing that they are no longer paid by commission, now that we are in an economic crunch. Ideas and advice are more necessary than ever in times like these, they argue…and those good things are still cheaper than media commission. Their budgets are ring-fenced, or so they tell me…So let’s move to the vote There are our five exhibits and I think there are strong arguments on both sides of the debate.To paraphrase a famous quote, the future is another country. It’s an uncharted territory and fortunes have been made and lost on the ability to guess the swoops and peaks of its terrain.So now here’s your opportunity to gaze into advertising’s crystal ball and decide where you think its future lies. You can make your prediction by answering yes or no to the question “Is advertising broken?”

[SLIDE 8 – Is advertising broken?]

Well, there are a few brave souls out there saying yes at the back. But, then, I didn’t expect you to vote for your own demise.…And, of course, ultimately, the future is what you make it.Have a good evening…thank you very much.

VEPEC stands for “Vereniging van Promotie en Communicatie” (Association for Promotion and Communication).
VEPEC’s sphere of interest covers:
•commercial communication
•non-commercial communication
•sales promotion

The Objectivs of VEPEC
If you are looking for colleagues or persons who have demonstrated their interest in the compelling field of communication, you should know that VEPEC:

1.creates meeting opportunity for communication people;
2.offers you at least ten specialized programmes a year;
3.aims at elevating the advertising standard;
4.charts and tries to defend your occupational interests;
5.gives legal advise;
6.strives for the improvement of the instruction level in advertising;
7.tries to give the entrepreneur a clear insight into and sensitize him for the economic aspects of communication;
8.takes action to effectuate a positive attitude towards advertising in the consumer.

Vepec adresses itself to:
•trade and industry
•publicity and advertising agencies;
•the media

jan.bax@vepec.be (chairman)
Tel. +32 3 290 62 44

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