Seth Godin, a famous marketing guru and accomplished author is of the viewpoint, that “…our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go. Every time we waste that opportunity, every page or sentence that doesn’t do enough to advance the cause, is waste.” In this last part of Cannes festival review we will have a closer look at awarded projects embodying this philosophy.
THE SPIDERMAN APPROACH
The old school of advertising said – to simplify – that you need to clutter the spaces your consumers move around (be it TV channels, magazines, streets, buses or websites) with your brand. Make the logo bigger. Aim for highest GRPs. If you beat your competition in those regards you will enjoy better brand awareness translating into sales.
However forward-thinking marketers have believed for years now, that brand communication and marketing in itself should bring real benefits to the customers. How? Possibilities are several. The very literal approach is one, probably best represented by consumer contests and giveaways. Other, less literal, is offering the customers inspiration and entertainment. But probably the fullest realisation of this idea are branded utilities – a fashionable solution for a few years now (many of such utilities I’ve talked about in the first part of this analysis).
However many say this is not enough. That marketers and communication creators are in an incredibly privileged position (having control over more eye-time of mankind than any single medium) . That because of that more than anyone else we can and should strive to change the world for the better.
Basically, this approach can be summed up by the cliche words “with great power comes great responsibility”, words which contrary to the belief of many were not originated by Stan Lee, the writer of Spiderman, but were used by many men of power throughout history, including Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I have promised you examples among this year’s Cannes award-winners and I shall deliver. With ease, considering how many such projects earned the silverware. Let’s start with one you have probably already seen considering it went viral heavily – a short video Everything is NOT Awesome (the song comes from the Lego Movie for added relevance). Even more remarkable than the video itself was it’s success – the Greenpeace campaign put so much pressure on Lego they decided to end it’s cooperation with Shell. A job well done.
Significant and measurable success has also been achieved by another gold-awarded project aptly named The Most Boring Viral Video. Or is it? Well, what it lacks in special effects it makes up in comprehensive explanation why the time watching it is as well spent as it gets and how you have just helped Arrels Foundation get some funding (from the unlikeliest of sources) for changing the world for the better.
But it’s not just viral videos. Hope.ly for Red Cross (project that already featured in the first part of the article) has achieved a lot of good as well.
LINKING BIG BUSINESSES AND BIG CAUSES
One common factor all the campaigns I’ve mentioned above share is the client being an established non-profit organisation. We are used to them being the marketers for the good. But isn’t it better if we step out of this pattern? If the money invested in communicating and eventually doing the right thing come from those, who can spare the most the easiest? The corporations. That’s why I’d like to give the biggest thumbs up to brand which took this route and to the agencies, that managed to talk them into it.
First one goes Grey Ecuador and Panasonic for ACH2O. The idea and solution’s swift and effective implementation mean a lot (and then some) recycled drinkable water for the region which so desperately needs it. And in case my thumbs up wasn’t enough, they also came home with five Lions, including a gold Innovation Lion.
Another one of those Lions went to Leo Burnett Argentina working for Samsung on developing Safety Trucks. While simplistic (it’s not a complaint, best ideas always are) this concept has the potential to improve road safety around the world.
Meanwhile in Turkey the Vodafone’s Red Light app is making great progress in improving other type of safety – that of numerous women endangered by widespread domestic violence in this extremely conservative society.
THE REAL CHANGE
Such small inventions that make lives safer, easier, more planet-friendly of people using them are a great way affect the world we live in. But modern communication has even more “firepower” than this. The changes we incite don’t have to be so incremental. Advertising can also inspire a revolution, even in most high-profile areas of world politics and lawmaking. Several Cannes Lions went to campaigns aiming for such a change for the good.
In a joint effort American and Canadian FCB agency offices and PFLAG human rights non-profit organisation gave birth to a moving, albeit quite sad Nobody’s Memories campaign. It aired shortly before US Supreme’s Court decision on same-sex marriage. It is safe to say the powerful message significantly contributed to a verdict in favour of equality and humanism.
Staying in North America the Grey agency has developed two impressive projects, for different clients but both focusing on combating laws permitting popular gun ownership. In Canada they’ve created a campaign to challenge Kroger – one of the country’s biggest chain of supermarkets – and their allowing of open gun carry in the shops. At the same time in New York they have opened a very specific gun shop. Both campaigns were brilliantly tailored to gather as much PR and free media coverage as possible. And both won gold Lions.
But maybe the best poof of the power we hold in our hands is The Red Thumb campaign for KAFA Lebanon – an organisation for women’s rights. They have worked with a local Leo Burnett office with very little time and a very difficult task to accomplish – convince a 97% male parliament to vote for the unpopular, pro-women (and anti-violence) legislature. When against all odds the law passed it was advertising that could take the credit for making the world a little better place. Again.
What does it all mean? Different thing to different people. Some call it a drop in the ocean of needs. Others – hypocrisy from normally profit-driven and ruthless business. Others still – an attempt at awards and admired portfolio entries, things to be later monetised. There is some truth in each of those perspectives. But if you asked me I would tell you that I’m now a little bit more proud to be in the communications business and a little bit more optimistic about it’s future. More so than ever before.