Back to brand
A dynamic approach is required to celebrate the power of brands and turn every touchpoint into an opportunity to engage. This was evident in awarded creative work and talks across Festival stages.
“Brands are key to organic growth,” said Marcel Marcondes, Global Chief Marketing Officer, AB InBev, in the Creative Marketer of the Year Seminar. And despite the claim by Scott Galloway, Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, that "the era of brand is over", the evidence of brands' power both on stage and in the winning work suggested otherwise.
It's clear, though, that how brands are showing up is changing. Nearly half of the global creative community (48%) is prioritising investment in targeted promotions to drive sales uplift above brand-building and customer experience, according to LIONS’ State of Creativity Study released in April 2023.
Brands need to explore how they can do both at the same time. Creative work that Juries awarded showed new ways to build brands that disregarded traditional models, seized attention and demonstrated how to convert it into engagement and action.
“Every entertainment platform is going to become a commerce platform,” predicts Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, Chief Creative Officer FCB, Canada, and Jury President, Creative Commerce Lions.
Talks from a range of speakers across the Festival confirmed that new models are already in play. Sofia Hernandez, TikTok’s Global Head of Business Marketing, said: “The TikTok community is disrupting the purchase cycle, from linear to an infinity loop.”
MARCEL MARCONDES | GLOBAL CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER | AB INBEV CREATIVE MARKETER OF THE YEAR SEMINAR
Mine your heritage
In the Outdoor Lions, many household name brands took a playful, modern approach to highlighting household and heritage brand status. Working effectively across digital and traditional channels, they showed how to brand-build through short-term activations. Roanna Williams, Chief Creative Officer at Net#Work BBDO and Outdoor Lions Juror, explained that the Grand Prix, ‘A British Original’ by Uncommon Creative Studio, London, for British Airways, was chosen because the idea went “deeper, not wider” and spoke to the consumer “at just the right time”. 'Proudly Second Best', by DAVID Madrid, saw IKEA use gentle humour and humility to depict the realities of family life and the retailer’s place within it. It was awarded in the Film, Print & Publishing and Outdoor Lions.
Heinz was shortlisted for 21 awards across multiple Lions. 'Heinz Ketchup Fraud' by Rethink, Toronto, acknowledged tightening budgets while reinforcing brand love with a knowing smile. Its other wins included a Bronze in the Creative B2B Lions for ‘Is That Heinz?’ by Wunderman Thompson, Istanbul. This dealt with ketchup fraud among small businesses. It empowered customers to spot the brand’s bona fide products, while encouraging restaurant owners to prioritise quality and authenticity.
A BRITISH ORIGINAL | BRITISH AIRWAYS
UNCOMMON CREATIVE STUDIO, LONDON | 2023 GRAND PRIX OUTDOOR LIONS
PROUDLY SECOND BEST | IKEA
DAVID MADRID | 2023 GOLD FILM LIONS
KETCHUP FRAUD | HEINZ 2023
IS THAT HEINZ? | HEINZ 2023
WUNDERMAN THOMPSON TURKEY, ISTANBUL
Double down on what makes your brand unique. Be clear about what makes people come back to it again and again.
Pivots and participation
ROSALIA MOTOMAMI | LIVE EXPERIENCE ON TIKTOK
TIKTOK, SÃO PAULO | 2023 GOLD ENTERTAINMENT LIONS FOR MUSIC
To synchronise short- and long-term marketing strategies, winning work saw new models emerge to invite deeper, more immersive participation. Triple Lion-winning ‘Rosalia MOTOMAMI Live Experience on TikTok’, an inhouse activation by TikTok, São Paulo, saw the superstar play to the social platform's strengths. She released an exclusive live performance through the app’s livestream feature, shot her new album entirely on an iPhone and offered exclusive snippets, including a red carpet section with other musicians, to get fans excited. Similarly, in a bid to gain market share in Saudi Arabia, Coca-Cola’s ‘I See Coke’, through VMLY&R Commerce, New York, converted product placement into direct sales. It did this by rewarding viewers for spotting the brand in screen-based media they were already watching.
Audit your company's infrastructure and assets to work out how you can use them to modernise how you show up.
Turn the spotlight back to product
Tor Myhren, Apple’s Vice-President of Marketing Communications, urged brands to look for answers in the product rather than jumping on ephemeral trends. Much of Apple’s winning work focused on product features while remaining powerfully emotive. The Entertainment Lions For Music Jury awarded a Grand Prix to ‘The Greatest’, an in-house initiative by Apple, Cupertino, with Jury President Danielle Hinde, Owner / Executive Producer, Doomsday Entertainment, commending it for integrating its accessibility features in a way that was “organic and seamless”. And through a funny sequence featuring a hapless pet sitter and a lizard, ‘Relax, It’s iPhone – R.I.P. Leon', a Film Lions Grand Prix winner, reminds viewers of the handset’s calamity-dodging unsend feature.
RELAX, IT'S IPHONE – R.I.P. LEON | APPLE
APPLE, CUPERTINO | 2023 GRAND PRIX FILM LIONS
Vice-President of Marketing Communications | Apple
Speaking at the Cannes Lions session 'Unboxing'
“You cannot tell me that product stuff cannot win big at Cannes. If you embrace the product, it makes a huge difference. Often the answer is inside the product, you don’t have to delve into pop culture, you don’t need to jump on a trend. It’s right there. People want to feel involved with a product and you have to help them do that.”
Grab attention in new places
Marketing to people who don’t want to be marketed to is an evergreen challenge, but Karen Nelson-Field, Amplified Intelligence's Founder and CEO, offered hope: strong creative can improve campaign performance. What's more, taking a 'blue ocean' approach and inserting creative work into unexpected contexts can safeguard brand health. For instance, to dodge the sponsorship ban at the FIFA World Cup, Heinz sent one eponymous ambassador, Thomas Heinz, to be an outdoor billboard at the tournament. ‘The Heinzjack’, by FP7 McCann Dubai, earned a media ROI of 45:1, showing how effective low-budget work can be. It took Gold in the Outdoor Lions.
And New Zealand insurance brand Partner Life’s ‘The Last Performance’, by Special, Auckland, partnered with a popular TV murder show to bring its dead victims back to life as spokespeople for the company. Winning 10 Lions including the Grand Prix in the Health and Wellness Lions, and a Gold Lion in Creative Strategy, the films were shot by the same director and crew. They aired after the show and before the credits, catching essential, engaged eyes: entertaining audiences without hard selling.
KAREN NELSON-FIELD | FOUNDER AND CEO, AMPLIFIED INTELLIGENCE
THE LAST PERFORMANCE | PARTNERS LIFE
SPECIAL, AUCKLAND | 2023 GRAND PRIX HEALTH & WELLNESS LIONS
Consider how your brand can show up with heart and humour in new, unexpected ways. Think about a 'blue ocean' strategy – turning up in places where your competitors aren't – and what that could look like for your brand.
Global Chief Executive Officer | Ogilvy
Jury President Creative Effectiveness Lions
“How do you create relevance? Obviously it’s through the products you create. But you need people to know the products you’ve created. Creativity and innovation drives everything. When you do stuff at the edges, you lose the core of your brand behind.”
YOUR FINAL THOUGHT:
Refocus on brand. For impact, the onus must be on boosting both brand equity and short-term business results at the same time. How you do that for your brand could mean celebrating heritage, supercharging new ways and places to engage, or doubling down on the unique role your brand plays in people’s lives.